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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Tap opened up by city to South Worsham field

Staff Writer

The Town of Pecos City celebrated the grand opening of its new water field Thursday with a dedication ceremony near the field southeast of Pecos.

The South Worsham Water Field is now operational and is currently mixing its water with that of the two previously existing water fields, Worsham and Ward.

Town of Pecos City officials, members of the Pecos Chamber of Commerce and engineers involved with the decade-long project were at the site of the city’s new water tanks, near the location where the South Worsham Field line has been tied into the existing Worsham and Ward County lines.

According to Frank Spencer, the chief engineer on the project, the new wells in conjunction with those of the other two fields should accommodate the city’s water needs for the next 40-50 years.

“We originally looked into this project 15 years ago. At that time, we approached the city council to express the need to explore alternate sources for municipal water,” Spencer said in an interview this morning.

“The existing fields were showing signs of depletion and the water quality was dropping. It took us around 3-4 years to convince the council that something must be done,” he said. The council approved the initial effort to find a new field in 1994.

“In order to accumulate the data that would tell us decisively whether the current fields would last, the city came out of pocket for $400,000 to conduct necessary hydrology studies,” Spencer said. Several options were presented to the council based on the hydrologists findings, with possible sites ranging from as far as the Kermit area, to as close as the current location.

“We basically had two options, spend $8.5 million on a new water field, or spend $10.5 million on a water treatment plant,” Spencer said. “It wasn’t just the cost that influenced the decision to drill a new field, the cost of maintenance and personnel also factored into the equation.”

At that point, Spencer said, the next big item to accomplish was the acquisition of funds for the project. “We, and when I say we I mean the city council, the mayor, and myself, all fought with the Texas Water Development Board to get the grants needed. We talked with the governor’s office, and anyone else that would listen, to try and get the TWDB to understand the situation that Pecos was in.”

The town finally received a loan for the needed amount, 8.5 million, at a one percent interest rate. Spencer added that it was at this point that negotiations between the city and the county to basically split the cost of the construction between them.

“One we were funded the hard work began” Spencer said. “Drilling these wells isn’t as easy as it sounds. It is not like we are drilling into an aquifer, it is more like drilling into small underground streams, so it was kind of hit or miss. When I say miss, I don’t mean that it was dry, just that this particular well’s production was not high enough for the city’s needs.”

However, Spencer added that these low producers were now in use as monitoring wells, so not all was lost.

Wells at the new field over a two-year period beginning in November of 2001, contract documents were drawn up over a four-month period beginning in November of 2002, and February through October of last year was spent constructing the holding tanks, installing pumps and motors and most importantly installing the telemetry monitoring and control system.

“The way that the field is set up, water comes into the new field from Ward and Worsham, and is mixed with the new water from the South Worsham wells. This mixing is to maintain a total dissolved solids of around 800 milligrams per liter, where previously the TDS was around 1300 milligrams per liter,” Spencer said. “ Now here at the completion of construction, we have laid over seven miles of transmission line from the field to the town. 16 sections of land with 15 wells producing in the 150-600 gallons per minute range, and 12 monitoring wells.”

“One of the new developments for the town of Pecos that will help out with the city’s water needs was the acquisition of the nine sections of land that the Smithers Test Track is located on.”

Spencer is referring to the acquisition of the land and the track by the Pecos Economic Development Corp for the city. PEDC President Gari Ward is looking to find a buyer for the track, which has been idle since early 2002. Smithers donated the land, while, at the same time, Ward had the water rights to the nine sections reserved for the city itself, no matter who buys the land.

The test track is adjacent to the new water field and Spencer said lines were laid with the possibility of drilling on that land in mind. “That land probably saved the city anywhere from $600,000 to $1 million in today’s dollars. If it were to be bought later when it is needed, who knows how much it would cost.”

Board to again discuss Love’s retirement plan

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board members will meet behind closed doors in closed session at 6 p.m., today in the Technology Center to discuss the status of Superintendent Don Love, along with several other items.

A discussion of Love’s request for voluntary retirement was on the agenda a week ago, during the board’s regular monthly meeting, but no action was taken at the time. The board will meet tonight as authorized by the Texas Open Meetings Act, Texas Government Code, Section 551.001 et. Seq., Section 551.074: a. To deliberate the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline or dismissal of a public officer or employee:

(1) Employment of teacher/coach

(2) Consideration of superintendent’s contract, term and conditions

(3) Consideration of superintendent’s retirement and voluntary retirement agreement

b. To receive confidential legal advice, Section 551.071:

(1) Consultation with attorney regarding personnel matters including consideration of superintendent’s contract, terms and conditions and/or voluntary retirement agreement.

Board members will take action if any, on items discussed in closed session. Consider and possible action on professional personnel appointments, reassignments, change of contract, retirements, resignations including: employment of teacher/coach and superintendent’s contract, terms and conditions and/or superintendent’s retirement and voluntary retirement agreement.

The group will consider and take possible action on employing TASB as the consultant service to assist in the superintendent search process.

PHA board studies FLH buy-out from feds

Staff Writer

Pecos Housing Authority board members discussed the possible purchase or modification of usage of the Pecos Farm Labor Housing, along with discussing changes in the rent system for those apartments, during their regular monthly meeting on Wednesday in Pecos.

The board discussed a March 3 meeting with officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rural development department, and a letter from John Perkins, Community Development Specialist for the USDA office in Fort Stockton. Perkins’ March 17 letter outlined the possibilities for changing the status of the FLH apartments, which under current rules have to be kept vacant for migrant workers during harvest months.

“The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the possibility of the Housing Authority acquiring property which is Farm Labor Housing, and what it would entail for us to purchase it,” said board president Frank Perea.

Perkins, in his letter to the board, said the apartments would have to be appraised to determine current market value, which would then be paid to the USDA. “It was going to be based on the number of units rented,” said Perea. “It shouldn’t be much; the units have been there since 1984.”

Perea said the PHA has asked a Dallas appraise to study the FLH apartments and determine their market value.

The requirement that the 56 apartments be available during the spring and summer for migrants has kept them from being filled for much of the rest of the year. As a result, the FLH apartments have been operated at a loss, and have had to borrow money from the Pecos Housing Authority to meet expenses.

“We discussed with them those units. At the time of the meeting we only had eight units rented,” Perea said. “We explained to them last year we had to have all units vacant to make them available for laborers from the Valley. When they leave we’re left with 56 vacant units.”

He said before the recent USDA rules came down, about 20-25 FLH apartments were rented year-round to generate income for the agency.

In his letter, Perkins said aside from the outright purchase of the apartments, the PHA could request an exemption to allow some of the apartments to be rented to ineligibles on a permanent basis. He also said 10 of the 56 units would be given rental assistance at this time by the USDA.

“Once we qualify, they’ll pay for those 10 units, minus the $386 payment we make to them every month for the loan,” Perea said.

During the unfinished business portion of the meeting, PHA/FLH Executive Director Nellie Gomez said the FLH owes PHA $2,611, and has $9,310 in unpaid bills, with a bank balance of $1,492.

“Now we have enough to pay the more essential bills. When we get more money we’ll start working on paying more of this debt,” she said.

Perea then told the board that the USDA officials said the FLH had been in error in giving back partial monthly rents to growers housing migrants at the apartments, if the apartments are either left vacant or rented for only part of the month. Growers would still be entitled to get their deposits on the apartments back.

“If they want 20 units effective June 1, that’s when the rent starts,” said Perea. “We’re supposed to meet later on with some growers to explain to them the way it’s going to be from now on. Perkins from Fort Stockton said if you want me to be at that meeting, I will.”

Board Vice Chairman Jim Workman said in talking to area growers he was expecting a low number of migrant workers in the Pecos area this harvest season, and Gomez told the board that the Texas Migrant Council already has moved out of its office in the PHA Apartments on the east side of Pecos because of the low number of migrant families in town last year.

NWS plans course on weather spotting in Pecos

The National Weather Service in Midland will offer a severe weather spotter training session, from 7-9 p.m., Tuesday at the Reeves County Civic Center.

The training session will include such topics as: tornado and downburst production; classification, structure and behavior of single cell, multi-cell and super-cell thunderstorm; airflow in and near tornadic thunderstorms and additional examples of severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, wall clouds and downbursts.

The training session is designed for the purpose of training spotters. The presentation represents an opportunity to receive training that could be of great value to the community, business, school and home.

For more information contact the Emergency Management Office at 432-445-5418.


High Wednesday 89. Low this morning 55. Forecast for tonight. Partly cloudy with isolated showers and thunderstorms. Lows in the mid 50s. South winds 10 to 15 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs near 90. South winds 10 to 20 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Lows in the mid 50s. South winds 10 to 20 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy with isolated showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid 80s. Saturday night: Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Lows in the mid 50s. Sunday: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs near 80. Sunday night: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Lows near 50.


Betty Jo Croft, Jose Jesus Madrid and Marvin Smith

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