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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, August 29, 2003

Council retains counsel over water payment delay

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., Aug. 29, 2003 -- Town of Pecos City Council agreed to retain legal counsel in event of a default of Reeves County, during the executive session portion of their regular meeting Thursday evening.

The action was taken as the result of a decision by the county on Monday not to pay a $422,000 bill due Sunday as part of its share of the construction of the new South Worsham Water Field.

The agreement read that the city would appoint legal counsel in event of default of Reeves County on August 31, 2003, to give notice of default and request adequate assurance of performance. Councilwoman Angelica Valenzuela made the motion to retain counsel and Councilman Frank Sanchez seconded it.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Herman Tarin was the only commissioner representing Reeves County during the open portion of the meeting, as the council discussed the payment of the water contract by the county to the city.

Before the going into executive session to consult with legal counsel, Mayor Dot Stafford wanted to point out that the payment was not an actual water bill.

"It has been misleading to the public," Stafford said about the payment. "They think it is a water bill, it is not a water bill. It is a water payment which is taking care of the infrastructure of South Worsham Field."

Stafford said that Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo had agreed at the time of the Water Distribution and Sanitary Sewer Collection and Treatment Services Agreement that it would be due on the 31st of August.

"It is not a water bill," Stafford said. The money due from Reeves County is to be used by the Town of Pecos City to repay the Texas Water Development Board for financing of the South Worsham Field.

On Monday, commissioners voted to make payments towards bonds used in construction of the Reeves County Detention Center, and hold off paying the bill owed the city. The county has been short of funds after building the 960-bed RCDC III earlier this year and failing to secure inmates from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to fill those beds. The first $950,000 bond payment on RCDC III is due next week, and other bond payments are still due on the older 2,000 bed facility.

At the time of Monday's vote, Galindo said the city did not need the money on Aug. 31, because its payment to the Texas Water Development Board wasn't due until November.

Tarin made several statements explaining the county's position.

"It is a gift that you gave us to help us get RCDC II," Tarin said.

"I disagree with the word 'gift'," Councilwoman Angelica Valenzuela replied.

Tarin continued to tell the council that it would receive its money.

Stafford replied that it was Galindo who had decided on the pay period in which the payments for the agreement would be made.

The agreement came 21/2 years ago, during construction of RCDC II. The county needed extra water for the new facility, while at the same time the city was seeking a new water field to replace the existing Worsham and Ward County fields, which are expected to last only through the year 2008.

As a result city and county leaders met in Austin and created the agreement in which the county would handle the payment for the first 10 years.

Tarin told the council that he guarantied that the city would receive its money.

"There are still two days left in the month," Tarin said. "I guarantee that you will get you money."

Asked by council members what their guarantee would be, Tarin said that all they needed was time to work with the Bureau of Prisons.

"The fiscal year for BOP begins in October," Tarin said. "It looks positive for we will have 157 positions to fill. I think this will work out."

Stafford added that though Galindo had met with officials from the Department of Homeland Security in Washington last week, the county would not be receiving any inmates from them.

Councilman Rodriguez said that he had heard Tarin say in a conversation that they had the money to make the payment and wanted to know why they could not make it.

"We may do," Tarin said. "But I don't know that I said that."

He added that they are only asking for two extra months to allow them to make the payment.

"We are all on the same team," Mayor Pro-Tem Gerald Tellez said. "They are in a rough position. We need to help each other. They are asking for a favor, they are asking for two months."

Though the council understood that the county was in a rough position, it felt that effort had not been made prior to this month.

"We have asked to meet together prior to this," Valenzuela said. "We never received a response."

City Attorney Scott Johnson also said at this point no formal request by the county has been submitted in regards to the deferment of the payment.

"Was it tabled at the commissioners court meeting," Johnson asked?

"Yes, they tabled the issue to make the payment," Stafford said.

The council members also stated that they also appreciated the effort made by Tarin to come before the council.

"We appreciate your effort but you are only one of the commissioners," Councilman Frank Sanchez said.

City Hall security windows to be removed

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., Aug. 29, 2003 -- A little more than a year after the debate over the "open door" policy, Town of Pecos City Council members voted 3-2 to remove the security windows where residents pay their water bills at City Hall.

Concerned citizen Juanita Davila presented her opinion of the windows.

"The windows send to me a negative, unfriendly and cold feeling," Davila said. "I feel like they are hiding something."

To her City Hall was the home of the community and it should have more of a welcoming atmosphere, Davila said.

"We are all role models," Davila said. "We need to be careful of the message we send out to the community."

Councilman Frank Sanchez said that he was under the impression that the council had already solved the issue when they had agreed to take down the doors. The doors were put up two years ago and immediately became subject of debate in the community.

Mayor Pro-Tem Gerald Tellez reminded Councilman Danny Rodriguez he and Rodriguez, along with those on the council two years ago, who voted to place the doors and windows in City Hall, for security reasons.

"We do not have a problem," City Manager Carlos Yerena said. "We will do what the council wants us to do."

Speaking for his employers, Finance Director Sam Contreras said that there is a lot of money collected throughout the day and feels that the windows should stay up.

"That same point came up during the door issue," said Councilwoman Angelica Valenzuela, who was elected to the council last year while voicing opposition to construction of the windows and security doors.

She added that she understood that at times irate customers would come in, she felt that the employees as City Hall were professional enough to deal with them.

After explaining that Davila no longer went inside to pay her water bill, but now drops it off in the overnight box, Yerena asked her if anyone had ever been rude to her.

"Yes, but I did not want to get into it," Davila said.

Yerena later added that he wanted to apologize to Davila for the way she was treated and said that he would look into the matter.

Councilman Frank Sanchez asked Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney if the window could be a deterrent in which a crime could be prevented.

"Just a piece of glass probably not," McKinney said. "You must come up with a balance of safety."

The motion to remove the glass within a reasonable time frame was made by Sanchez and seconded by Rodriguez. Valenzuela also voted to remove the windows, with Councilman Michael Benavides and Tellez voting against it.

Barstow starts new fire hall construction

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., Aug. 29, 2003 -- After several years saving up funds, the City of Barstow will see its efforts pay off with the construction of its new fire station.

"The City of Barstow has been putting up funds for the building," Fire Chief Albert Navarette said. "We are a self supported community."

He said local residents have helped them with the funding.

"There are three people in the community that have given us the funds to work on the building," Navarette said. "They are Teresa Walker, Bobby Avery and Ms. Florez in memory of Lucio Florez."

The new building is located near the former Barstow Elementary. The former site was deemed to be located too close to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

Navarette said that they are expecting the building to be completed at the end of the coming month, September or the early part of October.

"The offices and the electrical wiring will be put off till a later date," Navarette said.

The new fire station will house two fire trucks and there will be enough storage for all of the new equipment.

Despite the fact that that Barstow did not complete its assessment in time for submission to the new Department of Homeland Security for rural emergency preparedness grants, Ward County has received some funding from Homeland Security.

"Ward County was kind enough to purchase phone distributors for the Barstow Fire Department," Navarette said. "Those are very important in oil field and vehicle fires."

Along with a new building the Barstow Fire Department also received a grant from the Texas Forest Service in which they received a $1,698 in cost-sharing aid for the purchase of three sets of structure personal protective equipment.

Police say cocaine, pot found in search of house

PECOS, Fri., Aug. 29, 2003 -- One person was arrested and marijuana and cocaine reportedly were found by Pecos Police, during a raid Thursday night on an Elm Street home.

Police said they and members of the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force executed a search warrant on a house at 521 S. Elm St., which was identified as the home of Christopher Mendoza Marchan, 20, and Tiffany Garcia, 20. Police investigator Paul Deishler said once the S.W.A.T. Team officers had secured all the occupants in the home, they conducted a search of the premises.

Deishler said during the search officers found an undetermined amount of a substance believed to be marijuana, along with a substance believed to be cocaine.

Following the search, Marchan was placed under arrested on charges of possession of a controlled substance (marijuana), a Class B. misdemeanor, and possession of a controlled substance (cocaine), which is a State Jail Felony. He was transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center, where he is awaiting arraignment on the two counts of drug possession.

Pee Wee football late registration available

PECOS, Fri., Aug. 29, 2003 -- Late registration is still available for the Pecos Eagles Pee Wee football league, which will also hold a series of conditioning workouts next week at Martinez Field.

The league is open to boys and girls in grades 3-6, and the late registration is $25 per player. The three-day series of conditioning workouts will be held at Martinez Field next Tuesday through Thursday from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Forms are available from the Reeves County Community Sports and Recreation Department office in the old Pecos High School gym. Returned registration forms must be accompanied by a birth certificate and signatures of both parents for both football and volleyball registration. For further information, call the rec department office at 447-9776.


PECOS, Fri., Aug. 29, 2003 -- High Thurs. 104. Low this morning 75. Forecast for tonight: Mostly cloudy with a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms. Lows in the upper 60s. SE winds 5 to 15 mph. Sat.: Mostly cloudy with a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms. Highs in the lower 80s. North winds 10 to 20 mph. Sat. night: Mostly cloudy with a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms. Lows in the lower 60s. Sun.: Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms, mainly in the morning. Highs in the lower 80s. Labor day: Partly cloudy. Lows near 60. Highs in the mid 80s.

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