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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Wednesday, December 3, 2003

Council weighs cost options for sewer repairs

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Dec. 3, 2003 -- Increases in water and sewer rates for Town of Pecos City residents and the average household income of local residents were among the items discussed Tuesday by the Pecos City Council, as they reviewed the application for a $9 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make urgently needed repairs in the city's sewer system.

Council members Gerald Tellez, Danny Rodriguez and Mayor Dot Stafford were on hand to hear a presentation from Frank Spencer and Eduardo Madrid of Frank Spencer and Associates on the financial commitment and timeline of the grant.

The application is to cover the cost of repair for the towns deteriorating sewer system according to the presentation put forth to the council at the last city council meeting by Spencer and Madrid, whose engineering firm will be overseeing the construction.

The sewer repairs that Pecos needs can be split into two different aspects, Madrid said. Those are the collections side, which includes the lift stations and the sewer lines themselves, and the treatment system, which the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has recently scrutinized.

If approved by the USDA, the money allocated to the city would be 45 percent grant and 55 percent loan, with a 40-year time frame for repayment. The total is not in the form of a 100 percent grandt because of the government agency's estimation that the Town of Pecos' median income is above the 80 percent mark of the nation's median income.

"The figures that the USDA are using are higher than we think the income level of Pecos actually is." Madrid said.

The presentation outlined two possible routes for Pecos to take, accept the full grant amount of $9.1million, and raise water-sewer rates by $22 per month in two years, or take half the grant, fix the treatment aspect first and only raise the water-sewer bills by $7 per month in two years.

"There is no doubt that both are in need of fixing," Councilman Rodriguez said, "I cannot see any way around it. I just don't agree with the USDA estimation of our median income."

"The USDA does provide the survey option to re-estimate the median income level of the town," Spencer said, "But the outcome of the survey could actually raise their estimation. The USDA will pay for the study, but their representative said that he had rarely seen the surveys work out for the town's benefit."

Councilman Rodriguez asked whether the USDA might use the free-reduced lunch percentage that it currently uses to evaluate the schools' acquisition of commodities. "They receive a report from us already, why can't they use that as a guide to the income levels of the town?"

"The USDA is very particular on the system that they use to estimate the income," Spencer said, while adding "You are welcome to come and meet with the representative that will be at our offices tomorrow (Wednesday), though."

Mayor Stafford asked about the possibility of the city conducting its own survey, possibly by going door-to-door. "I just don't think it is fair that they will only allow the survey to be conducted by this one company," she said.

The council was told that the grant would cost the city approximately $178,000 per year for 40 years, using an estimated 5 percent interest rate, according to the figures presented by the engineering firm.

"When would the rate increase have to come?" Rodriguez asked.

Spencer said that the increase would need to be in place in time to cover the first payment, which not including the cost of the preliminary engineering plans would need to be in effect by June of 2005. The initial plans put forth by Spencer and Associates would have to be paid for out of the city's pocket until the final plans were approved by the USDA, after which the money would begin to come in to cover costs of construction and pay for the engineering services needed to design and study the project.

"According to your figures, we will need $340,000 to cover the start-up cost of the project and the money from the USDA should arrive in September of 2005?" Rodriguez asked.

"That is what we estimate," Spencer said.

"And the deadline for application is January?" City Financial Director Sam Contreras asked.

"No, but if we don't get the application in by then, we will be at the bottom of the stack and might not even get looked at until the next year," Spencer said. "We must be careful not to exceed the life of the permit that allows us to apply for these USDA funds, which will expire in September of 2005. The USDA is the only place to get grants in the amounts needed to fund a project of this size."

Mayor Stafford recommended to the council that the city should send a representative team to meet with the USDA representative today. The other council members agreed, and decided to call another workshop in the future to discuss the information they gained today with the other council members and to make a decision at that time.

Reeves-Loving Pecan Show entry pushed back

PECOS, Wed., Dec. 3, 2003 -- The Annual Reeves-Loving Pecan Show and Pecan Food Show will be held on Friday in the lobby of West Texas National Bank and entries are still being accepted for both competitions through Friday morning.

The entries will be taken between 9 and 10 a.m. and Friday at the bank and judging of the entries will be held at 10:30 a.m. A bake sale will be held immediately following the judging.

Tuesday was scheduled to be the deadline for entries in the pecan show, but Sue Evans of the Reeves-Loving Extension Service office said late entries will be accepted through Friday morning.

Pecan show participants are limited to one entry of each variety they grow. The grower may enter as many seedlings, known hybrids or natives as he wishes.

The exhibitor must be the grower and a minimum of 45 pecans are necessary for each entry. The minimum sample of 45 should represent the variety and be uniform in size and shell color. Mixed samples (more than one variety in an entry) are disqualified.

Pecans are judged on the basis of size (number per pound), appearance and shell color. Kernel quality is equally important and is based on the percent kernel, color, general appearance, texture, hollowness, taste, freeze and spots.

Nut entries which do not qualify for regional competition may be picked up at the Reeves County Extension Office by next Monday. Entries not picked up at this time will become the property of the Reeves-Loving Counties Pecan Show.

Plaques will be awarded to the Champion Pecan entries in each variety division. Rosettes will be awarded to the Grand and Reserve Champion entry. First, second and third place ribbons will be awarded to each variety division.

The two division in the Pecan Food Show include adult (19 years of age and older) and youth (0-18 years of age).

The classes are breads, candy, pies, cookies, cakes and miscellaneous.

Pecans must be an ingredient in the recipe and they do not have to be grown by the exhibitor.

The entire recipe must be entered for judging. In the cookies and candy divisions, exhibitors must enter a sample of two dozen.

The event is co-sponsored and hosted by West Texas National Bank and Texas Cooperative Extension.

Rotary to hear district governor during meeting

PECOS, Wed., Dec. 3, 2003 --The District Governor, Howard M. Mercer, of Rotary District 5730 will be in town to speak to Pecos' Rotary members Thursday at noon.

The visit is part of the governor's duties that require at least one visit to each club in the district during his term. District 5730 covers area from Pecos to Sweetwater and all of the Texas Panhandle to the north.

Mercer is scheduled to speak at the weekly meeting of the civic club. Rotary members and their spouses are urged to attend.


PECOS, Wed., Dec. 3, 2003 -- High Tuesday 74. Low this morning 43. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows near 35. Light and variable winds becoming southeast near 10 mph after midnight. Thursday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 70. Southeast winds near 10 mph. Thursday night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower to mid 30s. Northeast winds 10 to 15 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the lower to mid 50s. East winds 10 to 15 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the upper 20s.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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