Archives Menu|||Home Page|||Go to 1997|||


Balmorhea pool dried out to build pond for pupfish

Return to top

BALMORHEA, Mar 8, 1995 - The Balmorhea Swimming Pool in Toyahvale has
taken on a drained appearance.

The Texas Highway Department has flushed the pool, built around the San
Solomon Springs and part of Balmorhea State Park, in order to lay down
concrete for an inlet connecting the pool with a new pond located on the
east side of the camp grounds.

The project is part of an effort to recreate the original wetlands that
were there before the pool was constructed 60 years ago by the Civilian
Conservation Corps.

The wetlands are being created to create additional habitat for the
Comanche Springs pupfish and the Pecos gambusia (mosquito fish), both on
the endangered species list, according to Bob Miles, Balmorhea State
Park Superintendent.

Funds from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation of America are
being used to aid the renovation, according to an article in Eye on
Nature, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department magazine.

Department biologists, engineers and educator, along with the Reeves
County Water Irrigation District, Balmorhea-area community leader, Texas
Department of Agriculture and the Texas Department of Transportation are
all joining in to help carry out the project, which will create a living
exhibit that shows the importance of the springs and their wetlands for
the fish and wildlife of West Texas.

A project four years ago to preserve the pupfish's habitat involved
widening the path of the spring as it emerges from the Davis Mountains,
and putting a dirt bottom on the canal as it flows towards the lake.

Miles said the work will continue today and Thursday, and the pool would
be re-filled on Friday and will be open for park visitors and spring
breaker on Saturday. The pool is the largest spring-fed one in the
world, and is about 25-feet deep in certain areas.

Water board weeds through canal questions

Return to top

BALMORHEA, Mar 7, 1995 - Canal maintenance and other irrigation issue
involving farmlands serviced by Reeves County Water District No. 1
became a heated topic in yesterday's district board meeting in Balmorhea.

The meeting was held at the Water District office, where area farmers
came together to voice their concerns about the board's handling of such
matters within the district, which covers southern Reeves County.

Board President Lee Renz, along with secretary David Tipton and water
district manager Joe Gallego, called a special session to consider the
resignations of board directors Joel Madrid and Amy McIntire, and the
appointment of possible replacements.

Madrid resigned from the board soon after he was elected Justice of the
Peace, Precinct 3 last fall. McIntire resigned from both the Balmorhea
City Council and RCWID Board to enjoy her retirement.

After discussion by the board, Bob McNutt of Pecos was assigned to fill
Madrid's seat. McNutt has served on the board before and holds over 20
years experience as a member.

Cruz Adams of Balmorhea, also a former board member, was reappointed to
finish out McIntire's term. Adams has approximately 16 years experience
as a board member.

It was not until Renz called for a motion on appointing McNutt and Adams
that Freddie Shrier, Water Superintendent for the City of Balmorhea and
farmer, suggested that board members be elected. Renz stated that the
board needed people with experience.

Shrier said that he had reservations about board members being appointed
because the board was not responsibly considering farmers' needs.

"We need the water district back in shape," said Shrier, adding that he
felt the board has fallen short of this.

Shrier said that perhaps the Bureau of Reclamation, a United Stated
Department of Interior branch, should take over the district's water
distribution responsibilities.

McNutt and Adams will finish out both terms until board elections in
January of 1996. "I know both McNutt and Adams personally" said Renz. He
added that since both new members have previous board experience, they
would be an asset to the district.

The majority of water provided by the district comes from San Solomon
Springs. It emerges from underground near the Balmorhea Swimming Pool in
Toyahvale, feeds into the pool and then is carried eastwards towards
Balmorhea Lake and the city of Balmorhea.

Farmers are allotted one hour of water per acre plus an extra 15 minutes
until April 1 to avoid an overflow from both bodies of water. Per acre,
farms are charged a $13 maintenance fee. Water is distributed through
canals that branch out from Balmorhea Lake and Balmorhea Pool.

Shrier voiced his criticism on the conditions of the irrigations canal.
Cane an weed growth have impeded the flow of water, he said, adding that
silt has also accumulated in the lake. "The lake does not hold water to
its capacity," he said.

Buck Davis, area farmer, asked "How much more do we need to improve the
irrigation system?"

Another farmer, Leonard Lethco, said that the board should "talk things
out more" instead of letting Renz make all the decisions. Jack Hoffman
of Balmorhea and Larry Turnbough of Fort Davis were also there to show
disappointment with the board.

Communication between the district office and farmers has not been up to
standards David said. Renz said that this was due to the absence of an
office secretary and would hopefully be resolved with the hiring of
another secretary/bookkeeper, which was also included in Monday's agenda.

Interviews were conducted and Clay Patrick of Balmorhea was hired as
secretary/bookkeeper to the district.

California firm plans to reopen State Theatre

Return to top

PECOS, Mar 6, 1995 - Plans to remodel and update the State Theatre were
announced today, with an opening date set for sometime this spring.

The city's only movie house, which had been closed since Dec. 31, 1989,
has just been acquired by Communications Entertainment Center, Inc. of
San Diego, Calif.

"Our plans right now are to remodel the building," said president Tena
Nercessian, who was in town this morning. "We're getting bids from
contractors on the work that needs to be done."

The new owners are hoping to open the State Theatre by May 1, if
everything goes as planned. "All these plans are tentative, but they are
plans we want to realize," Nercessian said.

Nercessian and her father-in-law, Abraham Nercessian, are talking with
contractors both about bids and on what needs to be done to improve the

"There's lots of remodeling to be done, the front doors will be moved
up, to expand the food service area," she said. "The roof also needs
fixing along with painting everything."

Along with plans for great movies, the owners also have plans for a
bigger and better snack bar area.

"We plan to offer different snack ides, maybe pizza or something,"
Nercessian said.

"We want to make the theatre pretty before we open up," she said. "We'll
also be showing good movies, at least two movies a week."

"I will be purchasing the movies from studios," said Narcessian. "I want
to being the best movies so that people won't have to travel anywhere to
see them."

A special matinee night is also planned which will probably be set for

"Children need something to do in town," said Nercessian. "Hopefully we
can make everyone happy."

The South Oak Street theatre will also employ local people to help run
the ticket and food areas.

The State was formally operated by United Artists Theatres. It was
closed at the end of 1989 as part of a corporate decision to shut all of
its single-screen movie theatres in Texas.

Reeves County officials have both sought a buyer for the theatre and
discussed operating it themselves as a non-profit corporation during the
past several years. Two groups had talks with the Pecos Industrial
Foundation last year about getting a loan to restore the building, but
the Nercesians' purchase was not conducted through the foundation.

Chabarria gets visit home after

ordeal with Cuban riots

Return to top

PECOS, Mar 2, 1995 - A young Pecos soldier had the misfortune of viewing
the recent riots involving Cuban refugees taken to Panama firsthand,
while serving there with the United States Air Force.

"There was a big riot in December" said Robert Chabarria, Jr., who was
stationed at the Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba for close to two years,
safeguarding the Cuban refugees who had fled the island in makeshift
boats. Chabarria said soldiers also had to take care of domestic
problems which seemed to arise daily at the Cuban camps.

"Cuban camps were set for the refugees inside a fenced area and
basically we were there to restore order and keep them from leaving the
country," said Chabarria.

A mass exodus of Cubans from the regime of Communist leader Fidel Castro
began last fall. In the past, Cubans fleeing Castro had quickly been
allowed entry into the United States, but President Clinton ordered that
policy changed, due to the fear that Castro planned to empty his jails
and mental institutions and send them to the U.S., as he did back in

U.S. ship picked up refugees on the high seas and transported many of
them back to Guantanmo, the Naval Base the U.S. operated in Cuba under a
treaty signed at the turn of the century.

"Some of the Cubans were allowed to leave and come into the United
States, mostly children and their families," said Chabarria. "But there
were just so many that wanted to leave."

Chabarria also spent a week in Panama, transporting Cubans to that
country after the U.S. ran out of space at Guantanamo.

"We flew them to Panama, making four trips a day," said Chabarria.

Chabarria was a linguist for his camp while in Panama.

"There were different camps and each one had their own linguist, or
translator," he said. "Our camp was the only one that didn't have a lot
of riots or serious confrontations."

The camp did have occasional domestic problems and small altercations,
but nothing really serious.

"I made a lot of friends, not all the Cubans are bad," said Chabarria.
"Some were actually very nice and we had a good time visiting when we
had a chance."

"We also had a chance to learn a lot from them. They taught us how to
dance the 'salsa' and the 'meringue,'" Chabarria said laughing.

The troops got two days off a week and the rest of the time working from
seven a.m. until late at night. "Except when the riots were going on,
nobody had any time off," he said.

The riots were videotaped to find out who the instigators were. "After
the videotapes showed us who started the riots, the individuals were
separated and placed in a different camp," said Chabarria.

Operation Safe Haven transported some of the Cubans to the states and
handled the riots that arose during that time.

"Even with our riot training we were still pretty shook up and scared,"
he said.

Chabarria was also responsible for 500 Cubans and transporting them to
their respective camps, when he first arrived in Panama.

"They had us talking to the Cubans and interpreting for the other troop
members," he said.

The troops had a specific camp set up for troublemakers.

"Camp 5 is what we called the camp that was the prison camp for those
creating trouble," said Chabarria. "We used that camp quite a bit,
putting individuals who were fighting or caught stealing."

Chabarria also had the opportunity and pleasure of meeting several
celebrities of Cuban descent.

"Jose Canseco, Gloria Estefan, Willie Chirino are among the many
celebrities we got to meet," said Chabarria. "The celebrities go to the
camps and talk to the refugees, boosting their morale and giving them

Chirino is a up-and-coming Cuban star who performs salsa music. "He's
real popular in Cuba," said Chabarria. "Robert Duran and Celia Cruz were
also there, visiting and meeting people."

"That was the fun part about being there, getting to meet all those
famous people," he added.

Chabarria will return to his base in Great Falls, Montana next week.
"From there we'll see where they send us next," he said.

Commissioners opt to seek

applications for LEC lieutenant

Return to top

PECOS, Feb 28, 1995 - Two lieutenants were appointed and a third
position left open at the Reeves County Law Enforcement Center,
following a 90 minute executive session by Reeves County commissioners,
as part of Monday afternoon's session of commissioners court.

Morning and afternoon sessions were held Monday, and another session was
set for this afternoon to deal with remaining business on the agenda.

Raul Palomino and Rochelle Ybarra were named to fill two new lieutenants
posts, at salaries of $20,000 per year, with the third new lieutenant
position left vacant.

It was announced after the executive session that application for the
third position will be taken both from people currently working at the
Law Enforcement Center and also from any individual who feels he fits
the criteria for the job.

"We're here to fulfill our agreement with the Bureau of Prisons," said
County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo. "Each of us has a role to play."

"We need to communicate, it helps us all tremendously, but we all want
to do what is best for the county," he added.

"Nobody will be excluded from applying for the position," Galindo said.

Galindo and Sheriff Arnulfo Gomez had clashed during Monday morning's
court session over filling the third lieutenant's post with Marc
Contreras, Jr., who recently resigned from the Pecos Police Department.

A statement in Monday's Enterprise attributed to Gomez saying that the
sheriff said LEC Warden Joe Trujillo was being forced by Galindo and
County Attorney Bill Weinacht to hire Weinacht's brother-in-law,
Contreras, for the lieutenant's position was in error.

Gomez said that Galindo was trying to force Trujillo to hire Contreras.
Weinacht's name was not included in the statement.

Trujillo denied during Monday morning's session that he was being
pressured to hire Contreras.

In other action Monday afternoon, Gabriel Martinez was promoted to
director of maintenance at a salary of $21,000 per year and Richard
Gomez and Steve Apolinar were both named sergeants, at a salary of
$19,000 per year.

No action was taken on the sheriff's department liability insurance,
sheriff's department mileage allowance and reports and Law enforcement
Center pay increases, all three items were tabled until today at 2 p.m.,
when commissioners were scheduled to reconvene in the third floor
courtroom at the Reeves County Courthouse.

"We still need some more information that the sheriff is going to get
for us, so it will be discussed tomorrow," said Galindo.

Galindo blasts delays in HOME renovation

Return to top

PECOS, Feb 15, 1995 - Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo said a project
to rehabilitate homes in a Pecos subdivision with funding under a
colonias program is well behind schedule, and an extension will be
needed in order to finish the work.

During the regualar meeting of the Reeves County Commissioner's Court on
Monday, commissioners were told of the delays in the HOME Program
Project, a Farmers Home Administration (FmHA) project funded through the
Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

"The rehabilitation of the proposed homes in the Lindsey Addition is
some 18-months behind schedule," said Galindo. "This is a project that
was approved as of May 1, 1993," he said.

According to a chart provided by Galindo, rehabilitation construction
was scheduled to have started in September of 1993 and have been
completed by the end of this month for the homes, which are located in
the Lindsay Addition of southwest Pecos.

Follow up visits, the final audit and close-out were scheduled to have
been completed by April 30.

"There is absolutely no excuse for this project to be so far behind
schedule," said Galindo. "The county and it's Grant Administrator
(Carlos Colinas-Vargas) have had some problems with regard to program
administration and meeting the necesary deadlines."

"At this stage of the approved Project Implementation Schedule, we
should be in the process of auditing and closing out the project,"
Galindo said. "However, because certain people have dropped the ball or
were indifferent to the implementation schedule, construction is just
now beginning."

As a result, Galindo said the county will have to request an extension
from the FmHA in order to continue the project past its April 30

According to information provided by the county judge, a total of
$342,000 was to be spent on owner-occupied home rehabilitation, under
guidelines for the contractor to follow in the County's 1992 HOME
Program Application:

The contractor was charged with implementing a housing rehabilitation
program utilizing a combination of grants, deferred loans, and/or low
interest loans. The goal was to rehabilitate a minimum of 28
owner-occupied houses with an average amount of $112,214 to be spent on
each unit rehabilitated.

In addition to the $342,000, the contractor was given $18,000 of funds
to carry out all project administration activities, including the cost
associated with the required annual program compliance and fiscal audit.

Under the program, any costs above this contract amount incurred by the
contractor for these activities shall be paid for with local funds or
other funds.

Reeves County is designated as a 'border county,' making it eligible for
colonias funds, which are designed to improve living conditions,
including water and sewage disposal, for low-income residents in
specific areas at or near the U.S.-Mexico border.

At Monday's meeting, he discussed the problems and quiestioned the
amount Vargas is being paid to administer the project.

Vargas was also in Pecos on Monday to participate in a public hearing by
commissioners for a preservatio grant program from the FmHA. Vargas
said the grant would ask for $200,000 from the agency, and added there
was a deadline of next Tuesday for filing the application.
Return to top

Return to Top

Copyright 1996 Pecos Enterprise
324 S. Cedar, Box 2057, Pecos TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321