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Economic Development


Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, February 20, 2004

Developer questioned about north side homes

Staff Writer

Organizers of a planned housing project to be located on the north side of Pecos held a town hall meeting Thursday to allow citizens to voice their concerns over the planned rental property addition. And the developer seeking to build the 30 to 50 new homes met with a rather hostile environment at council chamber in City Hall, as attendees vehemently voiced their disapproval over the choice of location.

The program is funded in part by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs tax credit program, designed to bring affordable/low income housing to those areas that need it.

John Armstrong, a landowner in the Roberson Addition area who voice opposition when the project was first announced last fall, began the question and answer session by inquiring as to the time chosen for the meeting.

"You said that you welcome meetings. If that is true, why would you chose to hold this at 2 p.m., when everyone is at work?" Armstrong asked project planner Vaughan Mitchell, owner of Oak Timbers-Pecos, the company that is seeking to develop housing on the land in the Roberson Addition "We chose this time before anyone had voiced their concerns over the time choice, however once we had heard that people wanted a later meeting, it was too late, the notices had already been posted in the paper," Mitchell said.

"But we would be glad to have another in a few weeks, we want to make sure that everyone who has questions has a chance to get an answer," Mitchell said. "We didn't mean to inconvenience anyone."

"We commissioned a $4,800 market study a month ago to let us see if there is a need for this type of housing out here," Mitchell said. "Ed Ipser, out of Dallas/Ft. Worth was out here working on the market study last week. He did say though, that initially looking at the numbers, he did see a need in the community."

"Why have you just now commissioned the study, when you decided to come out here in September?" Armstrong asked.

"I base my decision on where to apply for the tax credit program on a scoring system put forth by the TDHCA. The program showed that Reeves County, and especially Pecos, scored high on the TDHCA system. The only other proposed project in the area is one located in Big Spring, and Pecos scored higher than that one did," Mitchell said. "We look at the points first, then decide whether it is worth the money to commission the market study."

"During the meeting of September 24, you engaged Reecia Pigman to present your plan to build affordable housing, specifically not low income. But during the meeting in November, you said that it would all be low income housing,"

Armstrong said. "So why the sudden change, were you intentionally the PEDC?" "It all depends on what you call low income. The State of Texas has estimated the median income for Reeves County at $29,000 per year for a single person. That makes the rent for the proposed houses at around $400 per month for a single person household that makes less than $14,850 per year. The majority of the houses have been allotted for the 60 percent of median income level. That makes the rent $511 for a family of four that makes less than $25,440 per year. PEDC board member John Grant then asked Mitchell how much he expected to sell the houses for at the end of the 15-year rental period.

"Well the cost of each unit will end up being around $90,000, but we are looking to sell the units at the end of the 15-year time frame around $40,000-$60,000 each," Mitchell said.

"Never mind the fact that that price is about twenty dollars per square foot higher than the current valuation of the houses in town," said Grant, who is also president of West Texas National Bank. "Is that comparable to homes currently on the market Ms. Pigman?"

"It is hard to compare these homes to anything in town, there are so few new homes in town," she replied. "But not a day goes by that someone comes into my office looking for a home to rent, but there are just none available."

"But why this location?" Grant asked. " When this first came up, the PEDC was told that this piece of land was the only one that would satisfy the TDHCA's requirements, but now we've come to find out that you have a couple of different options in you land selection."

"We chose this property because it lies in a Qualified Census Tract. That allows the project to be better funded, because the Office of Rural Community Affairs will grant funds to housing developments built in this predetermined section of land," Mitchell said.

"We are here to try an figure out what is best for our community, not necessarily what will make you the most money. Will your market study show whether a senior community would do well in this area?" Grant asked.

"My preliminary research shows that there are not enough income qualified seniors in the area," Mitchell said. "But once the official market study is done in a few weeks, I will be glad to send you one and we can come back and have another meeting then. The market study will tell us if this project will work or not."

Chamber of Commerce President Al Gomez was on hand to voice his concern on the project. "There is no question whether or not there is a need for rental housing in this community. We just don't want our neighbors put out by the development," Gomez said.

RCH board OKs new dialysis machines

Staff Writer

The Reeves County Hospital Board met last night to approve the purchase of dialysis equipment for the hospital soon to be opened dialysis treatment center, in addition to approving two items dealing with the May 15 hospital board election.

The board approved the purchase of the actual dialyzers, the machines that actually move the fluids in and out of the patient, after hearing a report presented to the board by hospital administrator Robert Vernor and the hospital's chief financial officer Bill Conger.

"Our dialysis analyst Larry McGowan has recommended that we go with Fersinious for the dialysers themselves. Fersinious supplies most of the dialysis machines to the hospitals in the Midland-Odessa area, and subsequently has service technicians in close proximity," Vernor said.

According to Vernor, Fersinious is one of the top dialyzer supplying companies. The product they offer is not the least expensive, but with the use that these machines will see, the hospital would do better to go ahead and buy the better quality equipment.

The board postponed the approval of the water purification systems for the new wing of the hospital. According to Conger, the bids submitted for the purification systems did not itemize the costs associated with them.

"The bid we received from Marco was very reasonable, however the cost of the installation could run as high as $25,000,' Conger said. "Service is very good with Marco as well, but we are waiting to see if the installation and some other equipment are included in the bid before accepting it."

The board did approve a grant application for $48,000 to the state Office of Community Rural Affairs (ORCA). According to Vernor, the grant will help offset some of the cost of the dialysis unit. "We are also looking at a federal grant for around $250,000 to help with the new wing's cost in the future," Vernor said.

"I would also like to remind the board that we have received over $320,000 in grant money over the past three years. We are going to continue finding these grants, and when we find those that we qualify for, we will go after them," Vernor said.

The board approved the order to hold the hospital election on May 15, in addition to the approval of workers to staff the early voting and Election Day polling sites. The board also reviewed the layout for the elections, that includes: the scheduling of early voting April 28 through May 11, the location of the voting boxes throughout the district, and the appointment of volunteer to the various election and counting boards.

The board then heard from Vernor on the administrator's report, which updated board members on the progress the two new doctors were making in the transition to Pecos.

"We are hoping to have the dialysis center ready by the first of July. Texas Department of Health won't come for their inspection until the unit is in operation. Dr. Morti won't be finished with his fellowship unit June," Vernor said. "We are hoping to have everything installed and ready to go by the time he gets here, and TDH can make their inspection one we are open."

Vernor added that Dr. Abdu, the new general surgeon, had been approved for his H1V1 visa, but had not yet received his Homeland Security clearance. However he said that it would follow soon.

Hospital board president Linda Gholson asked about the progress on the construction on the new wing, which Vernor said was still ahead of schedule and under budget. He went on to remind the group that the grand opening would be taking place on March 11, at 3 p.m., and tours were planned for the next day for anyone who could not make the official ribbon cutting.

New Town of Pecos City Manager Joseph Torres was on hand to introduce himself to the board and to enlist the board's cooperation the projects that Torres has planned for the future.

Torres spoke to the board about the renewal of the ambulance contract the city has with the hospital, as well as the changes, such as the addition of the South Worsham Field to the city water supply and the new software that the water department had put into use recently.

Torres also reminded the board that the roads around South Worsham leading to the new municipal dump would be finished soon, and the demolition of decrepit houses would soon follow.

Second RCH board member files for new two-year term

Staff Writer

The second of three Reeves County Hospital Board members up for election in May has filed to retain his position on the board.

Incumbent Bill Wendt filed for the Precinct 3 position on the board, after first being elected to the board in 2002. He joins incumbent at-large member Leo Hung, who filed for a new two-year term on Monday. Hung has served in the at-large seat for the past two election cycles.

The other seat up for election in May is in Precinct 1, a seat currently held by Chel Flores. He has held his seat for a decade, but is currently running in the Precinct 1 race for Reeves County Commissioner in the March 9 Democratic Party primary.

Along with the hospital district, voters will be deciding city and school district races on May 15. Candidates have until March 15 to file to run in the hospital district election, the Pecos, Barstow, Toyah and Balmorhea city races, along with the P-B-T ISD and Balmorhea ISD school races.

Michael Benavides has filed for reelection to his seat on the Town of Pecos City Council. Benavides currently is completing his first two-year term on the council. Along with Benavides, the city council seat currently held by Angelica Valenzuela and the mayor's seat, currently held by Dot Stafford, are up for election this year

In the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD election, the three-year terms currently held by Crissy Martinez, Lila Cerna, and Saul "Chip" Florez will be up for election. No one as of yet as filed in the school board race.

Balmorhea voters will also be casting ballots in their city and school board election on May 15, as will voters in city elections for Barstow and Toyah.

Account is set up at bank for victim of home explosion

An account has been set up for burn victim, Manny Rayos, at Security State Bank.

Rayos and Sylvia Valasco were severely burned last Saturday when the trailer home they lived in, in the 300 block of El Paso Street in Balmorhea, exploded, severely burning both occupants.

The two are current undergoing treatment for their burns in a Lubbock hospital. The account number is 373214 and all donations will be greatly appreciated.


High Thursday 82. Low this morning 41. Forecast for tonight: Mostly cloudy. Lows near 35. East winds 10 to 15 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 70. East winds 10 to 20 mph. Saturday night: Mostly cloudy with isolated showers. Lows near 40. Southeast winds 10 to 15 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy. Isolated showers in the morning. Highs near 70. South winds near 10 mph. Sunday night: Mostly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of rain. Lows in the lower to mid 40s. Monday: Mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the lower to mid 60s. Monday night: Mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers. Lows in the mid 30s to the lower 40s.

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