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Archive 2003

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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, September 2, 2003

Lease payments made on RCDC; city awaits cash

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., Sept. 2, 2003 -- Reeves County followed through on its decision to put off a $422,000 bill due the Town of Pecos City in favor of making the monthly lease payments on RCDC II and III on Friday.

Reeves County Commissioners decided at their August 25 meeting to postpone payment to the city.

The City Council voted last Thursday to retain legal counsel regarding the matter in the event the County did not make the payment to the city - which was due Sunday, August 31.

As of 1:30 p.m. today the city had not received the payment, City Finance Directory Sam Contreras said.

According to County Auditor Lynn Owens the county made the required monthly lease payments on RCDC II and III on Friday.

"We cut the checks on Friday and mailed them via certified mail," he said.

The county owed a $420,077 monthly rental payment on RCDC II and a $411,117 payment on RCDC III.

"We make monthly rental payments to an escrow account," Owens said. "The actual bond payments are on a quarterly schedule and are paid from the escrow account by the bond trustee."

The first bond payment that included the new bonds sold to pay for RCDC III is due today.

Over the past months it has been questionable whether the county would be able to make the monthly payments necessary to cover the first bond payment.

The county has run short of funds after the U.S. Bureau of Prisons opted not to place any new inmates in RCDC III, which was completed in March. The BOP has 2,000 inmates house under contract with Reeves County in RCDC I and II, but the county needs at least 600 inmates in the new 960-bed facility to meet its bond payments.

Part of the funds for the current lease payment came from a one-time payment made by the BOP to Reeves County of $800,000, which was part of a deal worked out in July that set the man-day rate for RCDC I and II at $47.32 a day. The BOP had been paying $47.47 under the interim rate, while Reeves County had been seeking an increase in the rate to $54.74 per day.

The money owed to the Town of Pecos city is part of an agreement worked out 21/2 years ago to provide increased water supplies to the prison. However, at last week's city council meeting Mayor Dot Stafford pointed out that the bill owed by the county to the city was not an actual water bill.

The bill is one of 10 payments owed by the county to the city to cover its portion for the development of the new South Worsham Water Field, she said.

The city financed the development of the field through the Texas Water Development Board and has a payment due in November.

In an agreement made between the city and the county 2 1/2 years ago the county agreed to make the first 10 payments on the project. County Judge Jimmy Galindo said during the August 25 commissioners meeting that the payment to the city could be delayed because the city did not have to repay the Water Development Board for another two months.

Balmorhea festival goes on despite rain delay

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., Sept. 2, 2003 -- Festival-goers in Balmorhea had to put up with rain for the second time this summer, but cooks were able to get in their competition during the day on Saturday, in the 28th Annual Oasis of West Texas Labor Day Weekend Festival.

Heavy rains that passed through the area over the weekend, prompting flash flood warnings in parts of Ward, Pecos and Crane counties, also struck the Balmorhea area Wednesday evening, forcing organizers to change up their plans for the outdoor dance in the downtown area.

"It hit about nine o'clock," said festival organizer Norman Ramon. "The music stopped, but we continued afterward, and started up again about 11 p.m."

The El Gusto Band, the featured performers scheduled for Saturday, were unable to perform due to the strong thunderstorms, but Marcos Mendoza Jr., and his West Texas Guitar stayed around during the long delay, and DJ music replaced the band performance for the final hours of Saturday's dance.

"This is the second event to get rained out. The Memorial Day Shrimp Fest also got rained out," said Mike Peacock, who was in charge of this year's Frijole Bean and Fajita Cook-off. "It was still a welcome rain. We got about an inch and four-tenths right here."

Peacock said a total of 13 teams entered this year's cook-off. "We had a real good turnout, and most of them stayed the night," for the chicken and ribs cook-off held Sunday morning and early Sunday afternoon. "This is the first year we've done a second day cook-off, so it wasn't a bad turnout," he added.

Winners of Saturday's Frijole Bean Cook-off were the Baeza Brothers from Pecos, with the Crider Dairy team from Balmorhea finishing second and Salcido's Kitchen out of Fort Davis taking third place.

In the Fajitas Cook-Off, Daniel Melendez Jr. of Riverside Ballroom place first, with the Crider Dairy again taking second and the Baeza Brothers team finishing third.

Information on the winners of Sunday's cook-off was not available.

Ramon said the turnout for this year's festival was good, despite threatening skies throughout the weekend. "I'd said we had about 1,500 people at some point," he added, including those participating in a washer tournament in the downtown area and at the two-day softball tournament held at the Balmorhea City Park.

Local blood drives planned to deal with shortage

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., Sept. 2, 2003 -- Two blood drives have been scheduled in Pecos for late September and early October by United Blood Services of the Permian Basin, as part of a regional effort to increase blood supplies in the Permian Basin and southeastern New Mexico.

Officials with United Blood Services said over the weekend that their stocks had been depleted to "emergency levels," and that donations are urgently needed.

"At this point they have no blood on their shelves," said Nancy Ontiveros, Reeves County Hospital Director of Special Programs. "Reeves County Hospital is stocked with blood on hand for emergency situations at this time, but we may have problems if we need additional quantities."

Lee Hartmann, Associate Executive Director with United Blood Services in Midland, said the start of school recently along with the Labor Day weekend has helped create a shortage of donors.

"Coming off the Labor Day weekend, everybody is low at the moment," said Hartman. "On a good day, we need to collect about 200 pints for the entire area."

"Right now we're planning two blood drives in Pecos for the latter part of September and early October," said Ontiveros. The second, a community blood drive, has been set for Oct. 2 from 12 noon to 7 p.m. in the lobby of Reeves County Hospital, while the date for the first blood drive is tentatively set for Sept. 21 at Santa Rosa Catholic Church, though Ornelas said, "I'll have to check with Father Ben (Flores) first."

Ontiveros said United Blood Services mobile blood unit will be at Santa Rosa when the blood drive is held there. "The next campaign, we're going to focus on people who have not given blood before, or those who haven't donated for a while."

"When we come down to Pecos we liked to collect about 25 pints of blood each time we go out," Hartmann said. She added this would be the first time the agency's mobile unit has been used for a blood drive in Pecos, and that other blood drives will be held throughout the Permian Basin over the next several weeks.

United Blood Service's coverage area includes 43 counties in West Texas, along with three in southeastern New Mexico. Blood collected is used by 47 hospitals in the two state area, Hartmann said.

Instruments needed for 6th graders, other new members

Pecos Eagle band director Merle Lenfest is looking for people wanting to sell instruments to beginning band members, while band instrument rental representatives will be in Pecos Wednesday afternoon.

Lenfest said the band department is in the process of forming a sixth grade band and is seeking instruments. Anyone with instruments to sell can call him at 447-7218, and he will pass the information along to a beginning band member.

The representatives from N-Tune Music will be at the Pecos High School band hall from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday to talk with parents about getting an instrument. Lenfest said instruments can be obtained on a rent-to-own basis.

N.M. residents die in I-20 rollover near Wickett

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., Sept. 2, 2003 -- Two New Mexico residents were killed Friday afternoon and two others were injured when their 1998 Ford Explorer went out of control and rolled on Interstate 20, just west of Wickett.

According to the Department of Public Safety report Mercedes Shields, 19, of Tularosa, N.M. was driving eastbound on I-20 about 5:55 p.m. when the tread on the right rear tire separated and Shields lost control.

The vehicle swerved off the road to the right and then rolled several times before coming to rest on its roof.

Shields was treated and released from Ward Memorial Hospital with minor injuries.

Charlene Wesley, 21, of Las Cruces, N.M., was also treated and released from Ward Memorial.

Lonnie Guilez, 23, and Amber Aragon, 19, both of Tularosa, N.M. were pronounced dead later that evening at Ward Memorial.

DPS troopers Christopher Ryan and Eric White worked the accident. According to their report the survivors of the wreck were both wearing seat belts while Guilez and Aragon were not.


PECOS, Tues., Sept. 2, 2003 -- High Monday 91. Low this morning 59. Forecast for tonight: Mostly clear. Lows near 60. Light and variable winds. Wednesday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 90. East winds 5 to 15 mph. Wednesday night: Mostly clear. Lows near 60. Thursday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 90. Friday: Partly cloudy with isolated thunderstorms. Lows in the mid 60s. Highs near 90.


Elena Carrasco and Eusebio "Chevo" Rodriguez

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