Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Tuesday, June 2, 1998
Company changing pipeline's direction
By GREG HARMAN
Years ago Exxon was pumping raw West Texas crude down 450
miles of pipeline from Crane to Houston for processing, sale
and global distribution. Now Longhorn Pipeline, a
transportation company, hopes to reverse the flow of the
existent line, add 250 miles of new 18-inch pipe stretching
west from Crane to El Paso, and ship unbranded distillates
and gasoline to West Texas area consumers.
Longhorn Pipeline, a limited partnership between Exxon,
Amoco, and Williams pipeline companies and Beacon Energy
Investment Fund, hopes to begin transporting gasoline
product to West Texas consumers by the end of the year.
"There will be benefits down the whole way," said spokesman
Michael Patterson, speaking of the project. Terminals to
sell gasoline product will be set up in both Odessa and El
The underground line which will initially ship 72,000
barrels per day, down from officials' estimates of 80,000
made last year, will cut through central Ward County and
central and northern Reeves County.
Williams Energy Group, out of Tulsa, Okla., had construction
crews east of Barstow leveling ground yesterday, preparing
for the channel ditch and bright red pipe. Patterson said
the capacity of the pipeline may one day near 200,000
barrels per day.
At the Barstow construction site yesterday, worker Ruben
Lopez tried to grin away 109-degree temperatures as he
measured off the pipeline stakes.
"I'm not used to this heat," he said from beneath his white
hardhat. "I've worked all over this country, but never in
heat like this," he said, citing jobs in Wisconsin and
Pipeline construction workers, who one official estimated
may number as many as 150 on some days, are provided with
plenty of water.
Longhorn Pipeline hopes that connecting Gulf Coast
refineries and shippers to growth areas in the Southwest for
the first time will decrease the cost of gasoline for
consumers in those areas.
But will Pecos, caught in the expanse between the two urban
giants, benefit also?
"We would hope that the market forces make that switch,"
said Patterson, "but we have no control over the refiners."
Self-serve gas prices in Pecos right now are between 97.9
cents and $1.05.9 per gallon for regular unleaded. That's as
much as 27 cents a gallon lower than some other neighboring
towns, such as Fort Stockton and Alpine, but still higher
than in cities nearer to the Gulf Coast.
Carter Montgomery, Longhorn's president vowed that the
company has the shipper volumes committed "to provide
economic viability of the project."
The Longhorn Partners Pipeline, beginning at a GATX company
terminal, will be the first western branching pipeline in
the terminal's existent fan of petroleum lines currently
moving product to the northeastern United States. However,
the line which begins in Galena Park, about 10 miles
southeast of Houston, faces a legal dispute.
A group of Texas landowners object to the older line,
stretching from Houston to Crane, being used to transport
gasoline product through their land without Longhorn
performing an Environmental Impact Study to assess the
hazards of potential leakage.
The 700-mile line will connect in El Paso will a longer
series of line, one moving north to Albuquerque and another
to Tucson, Phoenix and beyond.
"The southwest markets are among the fastest growing in
North America," said Roger Williams, Amoco's vice president
for distillates and asphalt. "In an environment of
rapidly-changing fuel specifications, Amoco will provide
marketers and large end users the quality energy products
they need to compete in the new millennium."
PBDTF closure drug investigations
By GREG HARMAN
Imagine trying to run an undercover operation in a town
where, literally, everyone knows everyone else.
Should the Permian Basin Drug Task Force (PBDTF) be shut
down permanently by the state, said Reeves County Sheriff
Andy Gomez this morning, it will signal the end of effective
local undercover operations, diminish the county's caseload
and bring drug dealers back out into the open.
The Criminal Justice Division of Gov. George W. Bush' office
announced Monday it would not renew funding for the PBDTF,
citing concerns about the financial integrity of the task
force's funds. The agency was the only one out of 47
multi-jurisdictional drug task forces in Texas not to have
their funding renewed.
"If there is any wrongdoing the guy (Task Force Director Tom
Finley) should be punished, but don't shut the whole thing
down," he said. "Instead of helping us out, the state is
putting obstacles in front of us."
Gomez said that there were two officers at the Sheriff's
Office that could do open investigations, but undercover
work is impossible without unfamiliar faces.
Police Chief Clay McKinney, himself no stranger to
undercover work, said that the smaller communities would be
impacted the most by the shutdown of the PBDTF. "In the past
we used to borrow officers from other agencies, and in turn
lend out our officers, for undercover work. We may have to
go back to that," said the former undercover officer.
McKinney, who was one of several area law enforcement
officials to sign a letter in support of the task force and
commander Tom Finley -- said another possibility for the
smaller communities was the formation of a multi-county
agency to attempt to fill the boots of the task force.
Nancy Hugon, director of the Criminal Justice Division
within the governor's office, denied the PBDTF's $2 million
grant request for this year, citing "serious allegations
about the financial integrity" of the task force's funds,"
according to Linda Evans, deputy director of communications
for Governor Bush.
"The Texas Rangers, the FBI, and Texas Attorney General's
office have been investigating criminal allegations." said
Evans. "Until certain funds are secure, the criminal justice
division cannot fund the task force. The criminal justice
division is accountable to the federal government for the
use of those funds and must ensure the funds are spent
appropriately and within federal guidelines."
Evans said that other management and structural changes of
the PBDTF are being considered for the 15-county area
previously served by the task force.
Ector County District Attorney John Smith began the
investigation of the task force in late 1996, after
receiving a letter from Yoakum County DA Richard Clark in
which allegations of wrongdoing were made by a former PBDTF
The exact charges of criminal wrongdoing against PBDTF and
Finley that led to the denial of state funds have not been
explained, but the task force itself is no stranger to
Finley has been involved in an on-going legal battle against
former 143rd District Attorney John Stickels, after a letter
written by Finley and published on May 31, 1996 in the
Enterprise led to a lawsuit being filed by the
In the letter -- dated May 23, 1996 and also sent to other
area law enforcement agencies -- Finely referred to Stickels
as a "failure" as a prosecutor and publicly asked him to
step down, after Stickels refused to prosecute cases filed
by the task force within the 143rd district.
Stickels countered with a libel lawsuit in July, 1996,
against Finley that has yet to be resolved. In the suit,
Stickels states that an El Paso Court of Appeals ruled that
PBDTF had "no jurisdictional authority" outside of Ector
County and, for this reason, he was severely hindered in his
ability to prosecute PBDTF arrests.
Stickels claimed Finley's letter, published in several other
papers and reported on regional television news channels,
held him up to public contempt and ridicule.
Stickels served as District Attorney in the 143rd District
from 1992 to 1996. He did not seek a second term, and is
currently a private practice lawyer in Austin.
It was unknown if any officials involved in the current
investigation have talked with Stickels about his problems
with the task force. Neither Stickels nor Finley were
available for comment this morning.
Rabid calf means shots for residents
FORT DAVIS (AP) -- Nine children who bottle-fed an orphan
calf that was later discovered to have rabies have begun a
series of rabies shots in Jeff Davis County.
Five adults also came in contact with the calf and have been
vaccinated, officials said.
The oldest of the children was 10, Dr. Evret Newman, a
regional veterinarian with the Texas Department of Health,
Dr. Janet Greathouse, the veterinarian for rabies control
authority in Jeff Davis County, said it's not unusual for
cattle to get rabies.
``They can get bitten by a (rabid) skunk or a fox,'' she
said. ``Most people don't vaccinate their cattle, although
there is an approved vaccine.
``It can be pretty expensive when applied to a whole herd,
and it takes twice the amount needed for a dog.''
Dr. Greathouse said tests came back last Wednesday reporting
that the calf was positive for rabies.
``The saliva carries the virus,'' she said. ``Any time you
come in contact with the saliva and you have any cuts, you
are exposed. I don't think anybody has gotten rabies from a
So many people were exposed to the calf because everyone
wanted to get in on the act, Newman said.
``An orphaned calf is as cute as a puppy or a kitten, so
every little kid was giving it a bottle,'' he said.
Newman recommended that anyone wear gloves before
bottle-feeding a calf or other animal.
``People think that wearing gloves makes you a sissy,''
Newman said. ``It doesn't.''
Ministry offers aid with medication
By ROSIE FLORES
About 22 people in the Pecos area who cannot afford to
purchase their own medication have already benefited from a
local program aimed at helping those who are in need of
The Zion Ministries medication assistance program was
organized by founder Elder Billy R. Woodard, who stated that
he "gives God praise for it's continued success."
The program began operations on March 19 as a supplement
program for indigent persons needing medications
immediately, while awaiting eligibility for local programs.
Zion Ministries receives many of it's referrals from the
Reeves County Hospital indigent care program, according to
"Zion Ministries is financed by it's founder and a precious
few members by way of Biblical tithing, free will offerings,
and occasional fund raisers," said Woodard.
The program asks that if at all possible that the applicants
pay one-third of their prescription costs into the ministry
so that others may benefit from the program, according to
"If the applicants cannot afford a third of their
prescription cost we ask at some point and time that you
give a donation to the program," said Woodard.
Since the inception of the medication assistance program in
March, the program has provided much needed medications for
various persons, according to Woodard.
He said that Zion Ministries has an account set up with the
Wal-Mart pharmacy. The hospital will refer patients who need
medication to the ministry, and when they approve someone
for aid, they will call the pharmacy. Pharmacists there will
then fill the prescription and bill the ministry each month.
"There are only six people in our group right now, and more
volunteers are needed," said Woodard.
The group has already spent about $2,000 on the program and
want to help others. "But we need the cooperation of more
individuals and more funds to benefit this program," he said.
The group has been meeting on Saturday mornings and those
who would like to participate can contact Woodard at
The program is currently seeking a government grant,
community help, local church participation in helping to
keep the program in operation.
Anyone who would like to make a donation can send it to Zion
Ministries, P.O. Box 308, Pecos, Tx., 79772.
State joins areas in worries of drought
From Staff and Wire Reports
With only .15 of an inch of rain over the first five months
of 1996, farmers and ranchers in the Trans-Pecos already
know what others in Texas are finding out -- there's a
drought problem looming for Texas.
Temperatures hit 109 degrees in Pecos on Monday, and the
area is already in the grips of its second dry Spring in
three years. But with the thermometer surpassing 100 degrees
across the state every day since late last week, other parts
of Texas also are beginning to have drought concerns.
Some crops, such as non-irrigated cotton in the West Texas
high plains, might already be lost or severely damaged.
Agriculture experts say farmers may see smaller yields
unless rain returns soon.
A drop in the level of the Edwards Aquifer resulted Monday
in restrictions on watering of lawns and gardens in five
counties around San Antonio.
At least one death might have been heat related, authorities
said. A 23-year-old man was found dead on a bicycle trail at
Cedar Hill State Park south of Dallas.
During April and May, little or no rain fell in most parts
of South and West Texas. Pecos received just .03 inch of
rain over the past two months, and other cities received
less than an inch of rain. Add the recent temperatures - up
to 110 Monday in Childress - and people start using the
But many experts think the state is in good shape to
withstand a dry spell because of heavy rains late last year
and early this year.
``We're in great shape to confront a drought, and we are in
one now,'' Austin meteorologist George Bomar told the
Dallas Morning News.
Farmers in some areas of West Texas hardest hit by the
drought of 1996 are managing well because the Rio Grande's
flow has remained good. But agriculture officials in
Presidio County said if the area doesn't get rain soon,
ranchers could be forced to sell off livestock.
Heavy snowfall over the winter in northern New Mexico helped
the flow of both the Rio Grande and the Pecos River, which
raised the level of Red Bluff Lake to almost 100,000
acre/feet in early Spring. That was higher than in recent
years at the lake, which supplies irrigation water to
farmers along the Pecos River in Reeves, Ward, Pecos and
Forecasters predict the dry conditions and searing heat will
continue for several more days.
Decades-old high-temperature records fell Monday in Del Rio,
where it reached 108 degrees; Lubbock, 105 degrees;
Amarillo, 103; Midland, 106 degrees; and San Angelo, 105
Temperatures topped 100 in Dallas-Fort Worth and reached 109
in Wichita Falls and 110 in Childress.
A weekend of heavy water use caused the Edwards Aquifer
level in San Antonio to drop below 650 feet above mean sea
level, to 649.2 feet Monday. That triggered the first stage
of area water conservation rules.
Restrictions in Bexar, Comal, Hays, Caldwell and Guadalupe
counties include a city ban on landscape watering from 10
a.m. to 8 p.m.; a requirement that restaurants serve water
only on request; and a rule that swimming pools be at least
25 percent covered when not in use.
The Barton Springs-Edwards Aquifer Conservation District in
Austin also asked residents Monday to conserve water.
The high-pressure system causing the sunny, hot weather
across Texas is expected to last several days, said Robert
Robledo of the National Weather Service. But an approaching
low-pressure system could produce a chance of showers by the
weekend, he said.
High Monday 109. Low this morning 65. Forecast for tonight:
Clear, low in the lower 70s. South wind 5-15 mph. Wednesday,
record high temperatures continuing. High near 110.
Southwest wind 10-20 mph.
Mac McKinnon, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 1998 by Pecos Enterprise