Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Tuesday, July 14, 1998
Commissioners tour RCDC site
By MAC McKINNON
Past and future expansion of the Reeves County Detention
Center dominated a day-long session of the Reeves County
Commissioners Court Monday.
Part of that meeting involved bids for additional
construction at the RCDC and the fact the bids came in much
higher than budgeted.
In the first hour of the meeting, commissioners handled a
number of items (see related story) before recessing to take
a tour of two new day rooms just completed at the RCDC which
will help expand the capacity to about 1,000 inmates.
Currently, there more than 800 inmates at the prison with
more scheduled to arrive through a contract with the U.S.
Bureau of Prisons.
A third day room is near completion. The day rooms help free
up dormitory space.
Commissioners were joined on the tour by the management team
from RCDC as well as the architect for the project, Lorraine
Dailey of DRG Architects of San Antonio. Following the tour
and a lunch served by the RCDC food service, commissioners
had an executive session to discuss personnel and RCDC
They reconvened about 2 p.m. to continue their meeting, with
Dailey reporting on the progress of construction and change
orders on the construction.
She noted without change orders, the project came in $14,000
less than the bid, but change orders as directed by the BOP,
as well as other needed projects, raised the total cost
$2.529 million. That included security measures, fire and
smoke walls and putting electrical lines in conduit.
Commissioners approved a substantial completion certificate
as well as a payment on the project.
They also authorized Dailey to get an electrical and
mechanical engineer to draw up plans for a total of $10,000
worth of work on plumbing and smoke walls. Dailey said
originally an engineering firm wanted $25,000 for the
project, but managed to obtain the services of engineers for
the lesser amount.
The future projects involved bids for a recreation building
expansion, a support services building (for laundry), site
work and site utilities. All came in over what was budgeted.
Dailey reported that Banes General Contractors was the only
bidder, although it was thought that two other bidders were
seeking to enter bids, so the Banes bid was competitive.
Banes of El Paso, is the contractor for the current
expansion of the prison.
Dailey noted that the two other general contractors were not
able to bid because they did not receive any sub-bids from
mechanical and electrical contractors. Throughout her report
she stressed how much construction work is going on, driving
up the prices, as contractors are willing to do the work but
increase their margin of profit in order to finance the
costs of expanding their own operations.
Another part of the problem is the concrete shortage with
concrete not even being available in Dallas.
Here is how the bids looked:
-- Support Services Shell Building, budget $509,552, bid
-- Site work budget (paving and ground work), budget,
$25,000, bid, $76,659.
-- Site Utilities, budget, $35,000, bid $56,500.
-- Recreation building addition, budget, $200,998, bid
Other bids included cabinet work, which RCDC Warden Rudy
Franco said could be done at the prison shop; sewer plumbing
to handle the increased RCDC capacity at $12,000; sidewalks
to the new buildings that will comply with ADA (Americans
with Disabilities Act) rules, $3,200; and networking of
computers and telephone lines, about $23,000.
After considerable discussion on what could be done legally,
Dailey and commissioners agreed that the county road crew
could do site work and it was hoped that the city and county
could work together on site utilities, part of a plan
already in place.
A representative of Banes was on hand for the meeting, and
after more discussion, the bids were approved with
negotiations to help get the cost down to less than $1
million, the amount of money the county has available for
the projects. That includes bonds and cash available from
In other matters relating to the RCDC, Franco discussed
concerns with food contractors, and it was decided the issue
could be handled by letting the contractor know of those
A bid of $41,309.10 was approved to purchased 395 single
steel inmate lockers for RCDC, and Franco received approval
to hire three new additional personnel for the
transportation crew for RCDC. Income is running above
expectations and will help pay for this, he noted, while the
need for transportation of federal prisoners is on the
Commissioners also approved a new clerk to help handle RCDC
paperwork in San Antonio, as requested by BOP, and a new
lieutenant positions for the prison to help in intelligence
matters at RCDC.
A bid for tortillas was given to La Nortena after a test
revealed that frozen tortillas from another bidder were
soggy after being thawed. Bids in the future should be more
specific to avoid this problem, County Auditor Lynn Owens
County's mid-year budget near target
By MAC McKINNON
Reeves County is running real close to budget halfway
through the year, according to County Auditor Lynn Owens in
his report to Reeves County Commissioners during their
regular meeting Monday.
Several problems are on the horizon, Owens cautioned,
including high utility bills due to the heat and new locks
at Reeves County Jail, as required by the jail safety
However, income from the county jail operations are running
higher than budgeted which should help offset some expenses.
The jail has undergone a number of renovations recently.
The budget discussion was part of a lenghty agenda for the
commissioners. One item was the appointment of Belinda A.
Salcido as county personnel officer at $21,000 yer year,
succeeding Lilia C. Franco.
Franco has resigned as her husband, Orlando Franco, the
investigator for the DA's office, has gotten a new job with
the bureau of prisons in Texarkana.
Also on the agenda was approving the annual contract with
the Balmorhea Senior Citizens Center and other new hires for
the Reeves County Detention Center, county swimming pool,
Justice of the Peace office for Precinct 1 and the sheriff's
Approved was the deputation of reserve deputies Lorenzo
Arredondo and Antonio Garcia, Jr., as well as new deputy
Kim Gonzales was named labor standards officer as she has
taken on completing housing renovation grants. One final
contract was approved with Villareal Construction of Fort
Stockton to do the L. Molinar home at a bid price of $16,890.
County Judge Jimmy Galindo said that due to change orders,
the cost for renovating houses will use up all the grant
money and in order to complete the 16th house, the county
will have to pay the grant administrator's salary as an
in-kind payment for the grant. He noted that it had been
hoped at least 18 homes could have been renovated under the
The grant ends at the end of the month and all work must be
completed at that time.
In a discussion, commissioners noted that all departments
are doing well, with the exception of the juvenile detention
center. Due to the high number of local juveniles during the
Spring, the facility has not been able to accept very many
out of county juveniles, which generates money for the
There is limited space at the center and the county's
juvenile board will meet Thursday to discuss the problem.
Galindo has proposed in the past that the juvenile facility
be expanded to handle Immigration and Naturalizaiton
juveniles and generate the funds necessary to pay for the
operation as well as create new jobs.
It was pointed out long term juvenile detention rules have
changed and the local center does not have the needed
programs to provide long-term detention.
Election judges were approved for the November general
election. They are:
--Precinct 1, Elva Lujan, judge, Martha Levario, alternate.
--Precicnt 2, Nora Briceno, judge, Elisa Contrerras,
--Precicnt 3, Joan Capshaw, judge, LaVerne Williams,
--Precicnt 4, Elidia Valdez, judge, Susan Renz, alternate.
--Precinct 5, Bertha Brijalba, judge, Fidela Jaso, alternate.
--Precinct, 6, Elodia Garcia, judge, Virginia Martinez,
--Precinct 7, Brenda Casillas, judge, Jesus Casillas,
--Precinct 8, Peggy, Cox, judge, Flora Ybarra, alternate.
--Precinct, 9, Melissa Orona, judge, Orlando Orona,
--Precinct, 11, Billie Sadler, judge, Dulces Martinez,
--Precinct 12, Lyndia Thomas, judge, Estella Anaya,
The Last Roundup?
Seven-year drought endangers ranches
CLAUDE W. PORTER
A lack of range forage in the Trans-Pecos, the consequence
of seven years of steady drought, and the resulting demand
for high-priced protein supplements is driving some area
ranchers to cut herd sizes and may force some out of the
"This drought is a real serious thing," said John Moore, a
lifelong rancher in the Reeves County area. "I've been
involved in the cattle business all my life, and this is the
worst I've ever seen."
These sentiments are shared by Jim Kenney, who operates the
D Ranch in Culberson County.
A vast area of West Texas -- larger than many states and
extending beyond the boundaries of Midland County on the
east and Culberson County on the west -- has suffered
extreme heat, high winds, and no rainfall to speak of since
mid-1991. Ranchers such as John Moore, Jim Kenney, and Doug
Fernandes say this one is already worse than the great
drought of the 1950's. And there is no tangible end in sight.
Pecos has received just two-thirds of an inch of rain during
the first 6 1/2 months of 1997, and while scattered showers
have been in the area the past several days, rain totals
throughout the Trans-Pecos are well below normal.
A cross-section of area ranchers interviewed this week
paints a bleak picture for cattlemen at this time. Facing a
drought which has continued in some areas for seven years,
most ranchers have had to yield to the reality that their
herds could not be maintained.
According to Roddy Harrison, who operates the High Lonesome
Ranch in Reeves County and the Scott Ranch in Culberson
County, "There is no grass and no mesquite beans. It is a
totally uneconomic situation and I'm selling my cows."
Under drought conditions, cattle are generally lighter and
of poorer quality. This reduces their value in the market.
Also, the markets are flooded which reduces the price of
cattle even further.
Ironically, stock water, which would seem vulnerable under
drought conditions, does not seem to be a problem. According
to Harrison and others, adequate stock water is available
from windmills, submersible pumps, and pipelines. However,
there is no standing water in surface dirt tanks.
It is the lack of range forage that is grinding the cattle
business to a halt. In some areas there is little or no
grass. In other areas there are still a few clumps of grass
but no new growth in the past three or four years.
What grass there is has little to no nutritional value,
making it necessary to supply the herd with a liquid protein
free-choice feed supplement or a range cube protein
The cost of feeding range supplements to herds is
astronomical to the ranchers. The price for bulk cubes range
from approximately $175.00 per ton to over $200.00 per ton,
depending on the ratio of protein, fat, and fillers. Several
tons per day is required for most herds.
The D Ranch in Culberson County reported that they have very
little grass. Kenney, the ranch's manager, said all the
surface water has been dried up for at least three years.
They have not sold any mother cows yet, but will have to if
it does not rain by the end of August.
"We're feeding a 20 percent (protein) range cube," said
Kenney. "An operation the size of ours invests a lot of
money in a hurry in livestock feed under these conditions."
Mike Harrison, who operates the Anderson Ranch located in
Reeves, Loving, Winkler, and Ward Counties, said they have
been reducing their herds for the past three years.
"We have already reduced our herds by 50 percent," said
Harrison. "There will be a much more drastic reduction
unless we receive a general rain by the end of July. Of
course, we have received some spotted showers over the most
northern parts of the ranch, but nothing that will really
give us any relief."
"We don't have any surface tanks, but if we did they would
all be dry," said Fernandes, owner of the Fernandes Ranches
located in Ward, Winkler and Ector Counties.
"We depend on water from windmills and pipelines," he said.
"Stock water is not the problem, there is nothing to graze.
"We may be better off than some, because we started
emergency measures sooner," Fernandes added. "We have
reduced our herds, trying to anticipate what was on the way
weather-wise. We are faced with more reductions still if we
don't get a general rain by the end of August."
Moore, who ranches in Reeves, Jeff Davis, and Culberson
Counties, indicated they had begun reducing herd sizes in
"We will have to sell all of our cattle if it doesn't rain
by August," he said. "We might move some instead of selling
them if we can find anywhere to go with them."
The drought presents an additional problem to ranchers who
breed registered stock, such as the Brangus breed raised by
Moore. Blood lines and technology developed over the years
are decimated when herds have to be compromised.
This poses the inevitable question, "How will this affect
people involved directly and indirectly in the ranching
Although no rancher would respond directly to the question,
"Will you reduce your number of ranch hands commensurate
with your reduction in herds?" Doug Fernandes pointed out
that the problem is much more widespread than ranch hands.
"If we don't have any cows to feed, then we won't need
anyone to manufacture, store, sell or deliver cow feed,"
said Fernandes. "We are a family operation and only employ
seasonal hands. Our situation is different from some."
Gary Loftin, foreman of the Anderson Ranch, summed it up
this way, "I don't think it's asking too much to ask the
public to pray for rain."
Man granted new drug trial by Furgeson
BY PEGGY McCRACKEN
A Fort Stockton man has won a new trial rather than a prison
sentence in U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson's court.
Furgeson on Monday granted a new trial for Obdulio
Oyervides, whose trial last month almost ended in a hung
jury. No specific reason was given for the decision.
Oyervides' attorney, Gerald Lopez, made such a good case for
the defense that the jury deliberated several hours before
finding him guilty of aiding and abetting marijuana
His co-defendant, Richard Sheehan, has yet to be tried. His
case was continued. He was arrested Oct. 27, 1997 on a
marijuana possession charge, and to avoid going to prison,
he made a deal with the government, Lopez said.
"He would provide information;... would be a snitch for the
government and buy his way out of prison," he said.
Three elderly defendants were also sentenced Monday.
Aubrey Dean Price, 72, of Pyote, will serve 24 months for
marijuana possession, concurrent with 21 months for
violation of supervised release. Herbert Nauman and his wife
of 49 years, Dolores Nauman, were placed on three years
probation for their part in a marijuana smuggling attempt.
"I'm very sorry for what we did; I didn't want to," said
Herbert Nauman. "I can't believe I am in here. We have 14
grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren."
"They are very worried," said Mrs. Nauman.
"You have just got to watch people," said Judge Furgeson. "I
always look for the best in people, but there are some
people out there that aren't what they ought to be."
Sylvester Eddings was sentenced to 70 months in prison plus
five years supervised release for possession of cocaine.
Contry Allen Hartmen of San Angelo received three years
probation, with six months in a halfway house, and a $3,000
fine for bookmaking.
Consuelo R. Montoya, 25, of Odessa, received a 63-month
prison sentence for possessing 296.42 pounds of marijuana
Sept. 27, 1997.
Others sentenced for importing and/or possessing marijuana
were Jacob Harms, 19, of Leamington, Canada; Francisco G.
Alvidrez, 12 months and one day (concurrent) on both counts
(import and possession);
Hector Medina, 21 months; Francisco Gonzales, 24 months;
Jobe Lamont Lamas, 24 months; Aimee Anderson, 12 months;
James Kriley, three years probation; Carie E. Willis, five
years probation, with six months in a halfway house;
Ojilvia Moreno-Arroyo, 10 months; Lorenzo Quintana, 24
months; Javier Jimenez, Juan Molina-Lujan and Narciso
Cervantes, 21 months in prison each; Omar Trejo, 30 months;
and Eddie L. Gibson, 18 months.
Jurors were chosen Monday afternoon and reported this
morning for the trial of Ezequiel Chavez for importing and
possessing marijuana. He was arrested at the Presidio Port
Scott Johnson is defending Chavez, while Fred Brigman of
Alpine and Tom McHugh of San Antonio are prosecuting for the
Judge Furgeson continued the trial of Tony Earl McGrew, 39,
of 515 S. Elm St., to Aug. 12. He was allegedly caught with
a 159-pound load of marijuana shortly after crossing the Rio
Grande April 1.
Anchor's error raises local valuations
By GREG HARMAN
For the first time in several years, the certified appraisal
totals show an increase in value for most local taxing
entities, according to Reeves County Chief Appraiser Carol
King Markham. The only appraised values not rising over last
year's totals are Toyah City, Balmorhea City and the
Pecos-Barstow-Toyah Independent School District.
The board of directors of Reeves County Appraisal District
met on Wednesday, July 8, to set the estimated appraisal
totals for 1998. The figures were reset and certified at the
board's Monday meeting.
Markham explained that the increase occurred despite drops
in area mineral valuations because local employer Anchor
West lost their tax abatement for the year by failing to
file by the state deadline of May 1.
Anchor West's real estate values, totalling $3.6 million,
along with the value of new equipment and facilities would
have been abated, but instead were added to the property
values of the Town of Pecos City, Reeves County Hospital and
The additions will likely be a one-year change, however.
Anchor West has requested, and most of the local taxing
entities have agreed to give the company an additional year
of tax abatement, to 2001, to make up for the mistake.
As a result of the error, the 1998 certified appraisal
totals show that Reeves County climbed from $360,492,820 in
1997 valuation to $361,666,670 this year.
Pecos City increased in value over $2 million, to reach
Toyah City dropped $5,520, to set at $1,377,480, and
Balmorhea City declined $9,010 from last year, settling at
P-B-T ISD was certified at $366,162,280 of valuation, a
reduction of over $14 million from 1997's totals.
Meanwhile, Balmorhea ISD, Reeves County Water Irrigation
District #2 and the Reeves County Hospital District all
increased in appraised value over $1 million each to settle
at, respectively, $21,368,050, $4,893,320 and $361,666,670.
The recent property and mineral hearings went well,
according to Markham. "We only had 15 property and two
mineral protests, and we have no outstanding protests."
The closure of Freeport McMoRan Sulphur Inc.'s Culberson
County mine will have no effect on Reeves County in terms of
property, Markham said. Although some of Freeport's property
is within Reeves County, none of it contains development or
The pinch will be felt, she said, if families who lost
employment at the mine, start to move out of county for work.
"This will have a tremendous effect here in the future,"
said Markham of the mine's closure. "It will certainly hurt
Red Bluff seeks to control vandalism
By JON FULBRIGHT
Red Bluff Water Power Control Board members discussed ways
to combat vandalism to pump gauge houses and gates along the
Pecos River and area canals, while also getting updates on
the salt removal and salt cedar eradication projects during
their regular monthly meeting Monday.
The board has discussed the problem in the past, and member
Jay Lee said another incident involving a shotgun occurred
at the Imperial Dam sometime Sunday night.
"David (Lewis, who checks irrigation ditches for the
district in the Grandfalls-Imperial area) is checking every
gauge house every morning, so we'll know about it, and won't
ever be more than a day off," if the water gauges are
vandalized, board president Randall Hartman said.
Red Bluff General Manager Jim Ed Miller said he tried to put
a $500 reward for information into the vandalism into the
local CrimeStoppers report, but had not heard back from
anyone on the request. A newspaper advertisement offering a
reward for information also has failed to produce results.
The board discussed several possible ways to either identify
the suspects or cut down on the vandalism. At the request of
Miller, board member Lloyd Goodrich was asked to sketch out
a design for a `low profile' gauge house that would be both
more secure and less of an obvious target for people with
On the ongoing salt problems, Miller showed the board a
letter from George Peacock of the Texas Natural Resources
Conservation Service. He said use of the herbicide Arsenal
of 500 acres of land along the Pecos River would not harm
The letter, signed by Peacock and TNRCS wildlife biologist
Stephan A. Nelle, said the use would not violate either the
`swampbuster' provision of the 1985 farm bill, or Section
404 of the federal Clean Water Act.
"We're trying to get the wetlands label (for the herbicide)
so we can use it," Miller said. "This is just the first
step. The local guys have determined there are not any
endangered fish, birds or plants, but now the higher ups
have to approve."
The district is seeking to spend $50,000 for the removal of
salt cedars from 500 acres along the river between Red Bluff
Dam and the Ward County Irrigation District #1 turnout
(Barstow Dam), a distance of 61 river miles. During a
meeting last year, board members were told one salt cedar
tree can transpire 200 gallons of water a day, under the
Miller also told the board that Albert Wagner of Loving Salt
(formerly Sun West Salt) was currently seeking an
environmental impact statement in New Mexico, so he could
begin building artificial lakes where water from Malaga Bend
would be diverted.
Loving Salt would take water pumped out of the salt spring
by Red Bluff and divert it to the lakes, where the salt
would be mined after the water evaporated. The process would
cut salt levels at Red Bluff Lake and in the Pecos River
below Malaga bend.
The board also approved accounts payable and cash
disbursements for June, along with the monthly water report.
Miller said Pecos County Districts 2 and 3 swapped water
last month, and the release numbers would have to be
altered. The lake measured 68,146 acre/feet at the end of
June, down from 74,472 at the start of the month, but up
about 10 percent over the end of June a year ago.
Cruz Ramirez, 88, of Pecos, died Sunday, July 12, 1998 at
Memorial Hospital and Medical Canter in Midland.
A rosary is scheduled for 8 p.m. today at 717 S. Walnut
Mass will be held at 10 a.m., Wednesday, July 15, at Santa
Rosa Catholic Church with burial in Greenwood Cemetery.
She was born May 3, 1910, in Ojinaga, Mexico, was a lifetime
Pecos resident, a housewife and a Catholic.
Survivors include one brother, Vivian Ramirez of Ojinaga,
Mexico; two sisters, Gregoria R. Lujan of Pecos, and Petra
R. Carrillo of Ojinaga, Mex., and several nieces and nephews.
Martinez Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
High Monday 101. Low this morning 73. Forecast for tonight:
Partly cloudy. A 20 percent chance of thunderstorms. Low mid
70s. Southeast wind 5-15 mph. Wednesday, partly cloudy. A
less than 20 percent chance of thunderstorms. High around
100. Southeast wind 5-15 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