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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Monday, Aug. 3, 1998

New sludge site faces court fight

Associated Press Writer
ALLAMOORE (AP) - H.L. Richey doesn't have to use words to
explain why he loves his West Texas ranch. He only has to
load visitors into his battered Jeep and steer it onto the
tortuous road scaling Eagle Mountain.

As they skirt a brushy canyon, riders are provided an
expanding view of Hudspeth County's awesome stony peaks,
with their cracked and fissured faces, and of the desert
spreading outward to touch every horizon.

``Pristine'' is how Richey describes it, and it fits.

But Richey fears that won't be true for long.

Like other area landowners, he became apprehensive when
advised earlier this year of a New Jersey company's plans to
use adjoining ranchland to spread tons of odorous New York
City sewage sludge, a substance resembling potting soil that
remains after wastewater is treated.

``This is beautiful country. It's just a shame to begin to
spoil it,'' Richey said ruefully during a recent trip across
his 26,000-acre Eagle Mountain Ranch.

He could have been speaking for a host of the other 2,000
residents in the county, where opposition is mounting
against what could become the area's second sludge project.

Richey, an oilman and rancher, is leading the charge among
landowners. He has contacted dozens of others and urged them
to voice any concerns about the project to the Texas Natural
Resource Conservation Commission.

He already has a law firm working to convince TNRCC
officials to deny R.J. Longo Construction Co. of Denville,
N.J., the registration it needs to open the proposed site
near Allamoore, 10 miles west of Van Horn and 100 miles
southwest of Pecos.

The site is also about 25 miles east of the Hudspeth County
seat of Sierra Blanca and 15 miles east of the ranch where
the State of Texas is hoping to build a low-level
radioactive waste depository.

Richey said he's concerned the sludge will contaminate the
land and the area's groundwater supply.

Longo project manager Tom Winant said in a letter to the
TNRCC that the company questions whether Richey has any
``accurate knowledge of the beneficial reuse of biosolids,''
the technical name for sludge.

Winant further noted in a written response to questions
posed by The Associated Press that applying sludge as
fertilizer is a common practice nationwide - there are about
200 registered sites in Texas alone - and that it has
already been used to successfully restore Texas rangeland.

``I think the reaction by the opposition is an emotional
response rather than one based on proven, scientific
facts,'' said Winant.

The proposed Longo ``sludge ranch'' would be the second in
Hudspeth County. The first, in the nearby county seat of
Sierra Blanca, is operated by MERCO Joint Venture, an
Oklahoma-based partnership that began spreading New York
City sludge in the area in 1992.

After a federal court barred New York from dumping its
sludge in the Atlantic Ocean as of July 1, 1992, the city's
original plan was to spread wastewater sweage sludge on the
Hudspeth County ranch for six years, while plants were build
at seven sites in New York to process the sludge into
fertilizer pellets.

However, after one pilot plant was built in the Bronx,
community opposition forced the city to cancel plans for the
remaining treatment sites. Plans to continue spreading
sludge on ranchland in Hudspeth County were then extended
past the six-year anniversary date of the arrival of the
first rail, which occurred last Monday. The new deal extends
MERCO's contract through the year 2013.

Opponents of the MERCO site are again fighting the Longo
plan. Curiously, some of their allies in the battle have
been many of the Hudspeth County politicians who supported
the original site.

``We've had all we want. No more,'' said Commissioner Wayne
R. West.

In fact, the level of opposition seems to be more than could
be mustered locally to fight a planned low-level radioactive
dump or the first sludge site. Several have said they will
go to the courts if pushed.

That's not to say there is total harmony among sludge foes.

Environmentalists feel there's something suspicious about
the commissioners' sudden turn against sludge, which has
included approval of an ordinance prohibiting solid waste
disposal south of Interstate 10 - where Longo's project
would be located. The skeptics note that the same ordinance
exempts MERCO's site north of the highway.

``It's the same sludge. It's ridiculous to be opposing one
and not the other,'' said Bill Addington, a Sierra Blanca
resident who has spent years trying to stop all dumping
activities in the county.

Also exempted is the site south of the interstate proposed
for the state's radioactive dump, another controversial
project supported by county officials.

Winant declined to comment on the origins of the ordinance.

It's unclear anyway whether the county ordinance is enough
to block Longo's attempt to get the state's permission to
spread sludge. It could, however, lead to a legal battle
should the state accept the company's application.

West, the county commissioner, says he and others oppose the
Longo site because it would be very different from the
existing project.

The land Longo picked has uneven terrain, which could cause
rain to wash the sludge downhill onto nearby properties, or
it could lead the substance to seep into underlying aquifers
that supply the entire area with drinking water, critics

Some scientists say sludge can contaminate land and water
with heavy metals and pathogens.

Other experts maintain sludge is a good fertilizer loaded
with minerals and nutrients needed for healthy vegetation

Winant said that since the company plans to use only a small
portion of the overall land it has available, there will be
a substantial buffer zone between the Longo project and
adjoining property owners.

An extensive groundwater study attached to Longo's
registration application shows sludge will not affect the
region's water, he said.

Winant also pointed to a Texas Tech study of MERCO's
operations that shows the land there appears to have
benefited from sludge application. MERCO has been spreading
an average of 200 tons daily on a roughly 15,000-acre area.

Longo wants to apply between 225 tons and 510 wet tons of
sludge daily on a 17,000-acre parcel of land, which is part
of a ranch that will continue to be used for a full-time
cattle operation.

Both companies maintain their projects are aimed at helping
the land become more fertile and productive.

Critics argue the projects are only about making money,
since disposing of New York sludge can be lucrative.

Longo did not disclose the value of its 15-year contract,
but MERCO's initial six-year contract, since extended to add
another 15 years, was worth an estimated $168 million.

Ranchers faced with having Longo as a neighbor are also far
from convinced that there are benefits.

``I don't want to smell it and I think no matter what they
say it's going to contaminate water,'' Richey said. ``I
think labeling these programs as beneficial use is

Richey recently detailed these and other fears in a letter
to the TNRCC that implored the environmental agency to
reject Longo's registration application.

TNRCC officials said all public comments will be considered
before a final decision is made, likely later this year.
TNRCC must also consider whether the project is
environmentally sound.

Roy Thomas, general agent for the Texas Pacific Land Trust,
which has thousands of acres in the area, also has been
among the numerous landowners to express concerns about
contamination to the TNRCC.

He said the project could damage trust land on several
levels, including causing a decline in property values.

``I don't know how they can assure me that none of this is
going to happen,'' Thomas said from his Dallas office. ``Can
anyone give me a guarantee, short of someone putting a stop
to it?''

Trial opens for Barstow man in marijuana smuggling case
Staff Writer
Opening statements in the federal jury trial of Gilberto
Gonzales Juarez, 29, of Barstow, were completed before noon
today in Senior Judge Lucius Bunton's court.

Juarez is charged with possession with intent to distribute
more than 500 pounds of marijuana. His co-defendant, Alma
Rosa Perez, 32, of 707 S. Palm St., pleaded guilty and is
expected to testify during the jury trial.

Others pleading guilty this morning were Thomas Brient Sykes
of California, possession with intent to distribute
methamphetamine and failure to appear for trial; and Luis
Exiquio Carrillo, 19, transporting illegal aliens.

Fred Brigman III of Alpine is prosecuting for the
government, and Scott Johnson of Pecos represents Juarez in
the jury trial, which is expected to continue into Tuesday.

Judge Bunton has two sentencings set for noon Tuesday.

Post Office gets flags flying again

Staff Writer
Broken ropes, lost flags, miscommunication or government red
tape: all have contributed to a dearth of flags flying over
public buildings in Pecos in recent weeks.

Reeves County Courthouse and the Pecos Post Office are
currently without flags, citizens have noted.

Norman Hill, Post Office clerk, said the rope broke on their
flagpole, and they have been unable to get anyone to replace
it. Both the fire department and Texas-New Mexico Power
Company has equipment that would reach the top of the pole,
but neither would do the job, Hill said.

John Jackson at Texas-New Mexico Power Co. said this morning
that he knew nothing of that request, and he would get
someone to replace the rope.

"We will definitely fix it for them," he said.

Across the street at the county courthouse, it is a
different matter. The former janitor stored the American and
Texas flags, and nobody can find them. New flags have been
purchased in Odessa, but have not been picked up by the
current janitor.

New flags are flying on the civic organization sign next to
the courthouse, after those in place became worn and

Tattered flags are not new to that area. The new federal
courthouse at 410 S. Cedar St. had a tattered flag for
several months before the General Services Administration
was finally moved to provide a new one after several calls
by courthouse staff and this reporter.

Veterans of Foreign Wars provide the American flag on
special occasions for businesses and individuals who request
them. They deposit the flags in stands along the business
front early in the morning and remove them late in the day.

The universal flag code, adopted June 22, 1942, provides
that the flag be displayed only from sunrise to sunset on
buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. It
should hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously. The flag
should not be displayed on days when the weather is

The flag should be displayed daily, weather permitting, on
or near the main administration building of every public
institution, in or near every polling place on election
days, and during school days in or near every schoolhouse.

School board to discuss tax rate increase

The Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school board is scheduled to discuss
their 1998 tax rate, including plans for a vote on a tax
increase during a special meeting Tuesday evening at the
school board office on South Park Street.

Board members are scheduled to vote on a proposal to
consider a tax rate which increases total tax revenues over
the 1997 tax year's revenues. Board members will also
discuss and take action on scheduling a public hearing on
any proposed tax increase as required by Sections 26.05 and
26.06, Property Tax Code.

Other items for discussion include contract adjustment for
AEP Manager and elementary handbooks.

The group will meet in closed session to discuss personnel
and or hear complaints against personnel.

In open session they will discuss the personnel and any

Several positions are still open in the PBT ISD professional
capacity including one speech therapist for the district,
one reading teacher at Crockett Middle School, a sixth grade
teacher at Lamar Middle School, a special education teacher
at Bessie Haynes Elementary School and a first grade
bilingual teacher at Austin Elementary School.

Area Roundup

The Big Bend Sentinel

MARFA, July 30 - The cost of operating a remote school,
combined with an elementary teacher shortage in Presidio,
have forced the trial closure of Candelaria School for one
year. And when school begins in less than two weeks, the 38
pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students will be
making a daily round-trip bus ride of 100 miles. In a move
that surprised Candelaria parents, students and teachers,
Presidio school board members last week voted 6-1 to shut
the school's doors, at least for the 1998-99 school year.

The International

PRESIDIO, July 30 - A 29-year-old Missouri woman was killed
but four children survived a one-vehicle traffic accident
near Shafter on Friday. Maria D. Gonzales of Southwest City,
Mo., was pronounced dead at the scene near the Cibolo Creek
bridge late on the afternoon of July 24. Louis Arrieta, 16,
Ricardo Arrieta, 17, Perla Arrieta, 15, and Omar Gonzales,
5, were transported by EMS ambulance to Big Bend Regional
Medical Center in Alpine and released to relatives early the
morning of July 25. Presidio County Sheriff Danny Dominguez
said telling the children their mother had died was one of
the most difficult duties he's had to perform as the top
county law enforcement official.

The McCamey News

McCAMEY, July 30 - The Permian Basin Area Agency on Aging
is celebrated Governor Bush's designation of Friday, July 31
as Ombudsman Day with a party honoring Ombudsman volunteers,
on July 28. The homemade ice cream party is for Permian
Basin volunteers from Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, Kermit,
Fort Stockton, Pecos, McCamey, Monahans and Crane who
provide invaluable service to nursing home residents through
visitation and advocating for their rights.

Sanderson Times

SANDERSON, July 30 - Early reports of meetings of
officials concerned about a location for a spaceport
indicated that Terrell County was out of the running and
that Fort Stockton had been approved as a site for the
facility in Texas. These rumors were proven to be false
Saturday morning when Economic Director Terry Toler was
contacted about what happened at the meeting in Austin last
week. Toler stated that while the Dryden site had high
ratings due to the expanse of land available and the
terrain, availability of accessible rail traffic, not in a
general fly-way for major airline traffic, and many other
points, there were other desirable qualities that were
already in place in the proposed Fort Stockton site that
made it a little higher on the scale of possible sites than
the Dryden site. He quickly added, however, that the Dryden
site was not eliminated from possibilities.

Van Horn Advocate

VAN HORN July 30 - Culberson County Hospital District
received notification this week that it will receive some
$60,171 in 1999 as a part of the final tobacco lawsuit
settlement reached by the State of Texas and the tobacco
industry last week. Hospital Administrator Scott Hensley
reports that in addition to the initial payment in 1999, the
district expects to receive additional funding for the
following two years as well.

Iraan News

IRAAN, July 30 - Drought tightened its grip as July began,
squeezing moisture and profits from rangelands. The Texas
Agricultural Extension Service said statewide economic
losses for Texas agriculture could top $1.7 billion.
Government agencies were scurrying to provide relief for
beleaguered ranchers and farmers.

Monahans News

MONAHANS, July 30 - Robert Foret, chief financial officer
for Ward Memorial Hospital in Monahans, has resigned.
Foret's resignation was effective on Friday, July 24,
reports Ward County Judge Sam G. Massey. Foret has asked the
county operated hospital's board of managers to renegotiate
a two-year contract which had provided he pay a $12,000
penalty if he chose not to complete the agreement.


Ruth Eubank

Services are incomplete for Ruth Francis Eubank, 77, who
died Saturday, Aug. 1, 1998, at Odessa Medical Center.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Hattie Smith

Services are incomplete for Hattie Mae Smith, 88, who died
Saturday, Aug. 1, 1998 at Reeves County Hospital.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Ramon Lujan

Ramon M. Lujan, 73, of Pecos, died Saturday, Aug. 1, 1998,
at his home.

A mass was held at 10 a.m., today, at Santa Rosa Catholic
Church with burial in Mount Evergreen Cemetery.

He was born Oct. 1, 1924, was a carpenter, a lifelong Pecos
resident and a Catholic.

Survivors include his wife, Concha Lujan of Pecos; five
daughters, Maria Olivas, Justina Aguilar and Beatrice Chavez
of Midland, Sulema Ulate of Pecos, Maricela Fason of Conway,
Ark.; five sons, Ramon Lujan, Jr. of Pecos, Jose Luis Lujan
of Midland, Juan Lujan of Houston, Rodolfo Lujan of Big
Spring, Maurildo Lujan of Fort Stockton; 27 grandchildren
and 13 great-grandchildren.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


Pecos, Aug. 3, 1998 - High Friday 100, Saturday 101, Sunday
102. Low Saturday morning 73, Sunday morning 76, Monday
morning 73. Forecast for tonight: partly cloudy. Low near
70. South to southeast wind 10-15 mph. Tuesday, becoming
mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of afternoon
thunderstorms. High in the lower 90s. Wind becoming north
10-20 mph.

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Pecos Enterprise
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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