Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Tuesday, September 1, 1998
Latest rains still not enough for ranchers
By CLAUDE W. PORTER
Rainfall is welcomed in West Texas. Almost any rain, any
amount, and at anytime is looked upon with favor.
So ranchers are naturally pleased that some rain has fallen
over the area in the past three weeks, but they say there
has to be more.
Fast approaching the point of too little too late, ranchers
seem to be staring into the fall and winter season once more
with nothing in the pastures except hungry cows. The herds
that still remain on the land cannot survive without the
regular feeding of range cubes or liquid protein
Trey McElroy, who ranches with his father in the Toyahvale
area, says, "We have had 4 1/2 inches this year in one area,
but only one inch in other areas. There is no way we can
winter our herd without more moisture, and soon enough to
give the grass a chance to gain some growth."
This same scenario is repeated by John Moore, who ranches
within the Toyah-Balmorhea-I-10/I-20 junction triangle of
western Reeves County.
"Cattle are skinny . We haven't had but 2.3 inches of rain
at Toyah, and it's still bone-dry down toward Balmorhea,"
The Fernandes Ranches, which cover areas of Ector, Ward, and
Winkler Counties, are in about the same shape as the others,
according to Doug Fernandes of Pecos.
"Ector County," says Fernandes, "is still dry. In Winkler
County, even the shinnery is dying, and in Ward County, in
areas where we have had a little rain, it is very slow
coming back. Evidently, the roots are dead in some areas
because there is no sign of greening."
According to Gary Loftin, Foreman for the Anderson Ranch,
"In the past three-weeks we have had some rain on nearly all
of our range. The problem is, we have gotten from three
niches down to .70 inches. There's nothing consistent. It's
very spotted. In the small areas where we received three
inches, it has greened up some, but over around Pyote
everything is still dead."
"On the northwest end of our range," Loftin says, "things
are greening up and we have even caught a little surface
water. `P' Lake, which was dry and cracked three-weeks ago,
now has a little water standing in it. But, that doesn't
break a drought."
Loftin, indicating a need for a general, soaking rain, said,
"Light cattle going into a winter on a range with very
little growth on the grass is not very encouraging. We need
enough rain over enough area early enough to get substantial
new growth, so the cows can maintain their body weight. They
don't have any reserve."
Several area ranches have completely liquidated their herds
because of the continuing drought conditions. Most of the
others have cut back. Others will be forced to seek relief
through the market if needed rain does not come soon.
Heat, drought broken slightly in August
After seeing summer begin about a month early this year, and
seeing almost no rain at all since last fall, August's
weather was a welcome relief for Pecos residents.
The city has not had a 100-degree day since Aug. 13, and had
only seven days of triple-digit temperatures for the entire
month, with the highest 102 back on Aug. 3-4. Meanwhile,
Pecos' rain total for the year more than doubled in August,
with 2.4 inches after only 1.08 inches fell between January
Most of the rain fell in the final 11 days of the month,
with .77 inch on Aug. 20, 1.02 inch on Aug. 29 and an
addition .06 inch the following day. Aug. 30 was also the
coolest day of the month, with the high reaching only 88
Temperatures topped out below 90 degrees on two other days
in August, with the first, on Aug. 7, also recording the
month's low temperature, of 64 degrees.
Waste site fights
By MICHELLE MITTELSTADT
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON -- The day of decision is near for Maria Mendez
and the West Texas town of Sierra Blanca.
The 66-year-old mother of eight and grandmother of 16 has
crisscrossed Capitol Hill in recent days, buttonholing
Senate aides with a last-ditch plea: Their bosses should
vote against the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal
She and a dozen other West Texans who are opposed to
construction of a low-level radioactive waste dump near
their town, some 90 miles southeast of El Paso, have been in
Washington over the last week to lobby against passage of
Gov. George W. Bush has said Texas will not begin
construction on the dump absent congressional approval of
the compact, which would allow Maine and Vermont to ship
low-level waste from decommissioned nuclear plants,
industries, universities and hospitals to Texas in exchange
for payments of $25 million apiece.
The House approved the deal in July, leaving only Senate
ratification before congressional action is concluded.
Senate debate was expected to begin today, with a vote
tonight or Wednesday.
Mrs. Mendez, who is co-chair of the Sierra Blanca Legal
Defense Fund, holds out little hope of success. The House
approved the arrangement by a wide margin, and Senate
opposition has been confined to one vocal critic: Democrat
Paul Wellstone of Minnesota.
``To tell you the truth, I have no hope,'' she sighed. ``My
only hope now is ... maybe Christ will help us change their
hearts and they will see our plight: That we are really
being abused and imposed on.''
Compact supporters note that the deal is silent on the
future dump's location. The Sierra Blanca activists, they
say, should take their case up with Bush and the Texas
Legislature, which long ago selected the Hudspeth County
Congress already has approved nine other compacts covering
41 states. The Texas-Maine-Vermont deal is following the
``tried-and-true path'' of the earlier deals, said Dave
Lackey, a spokesman for Sen. Olympia Snowe, the Maine
Republican who authored the Senate compact legislation.
``We're confident that we will ultimately prevail,'' Lackey
Wellstone, who has delayed Senate action on the agreement in
recent years, has used every parliamentary tool at his
disposal, his spokesman says.
``We did everything we could, but ultimately there has to be
a final vote,'' said aide Andrew McDonald.
Mrs. Mendez and her allies recognize they are up against a
well-funded lobbying campaign by representatives for the
nuclear industry and the states of Texas, Maine and Vermont
-- with whom they keep crossing paths as they knock on
``They are well-financed and we have people who have come on
their own, eight staying in one place together,'' said state
Rep. Norma Chavez, D-El Paso, who cashed her frequent-flier
miles to come to Washington and is staying with a friend.
``I know they have all the money ... but we have to fight
until the last vote is taken.''
Ms. Chavez and other dump opponents met Monday with a White
House official, urging a veto if the compact legislation
hits President Clinton's desk. Among their arguments: Siting
of the dump in a majority-Hispanic, overwhelmingly poor town
would constitute environmental racism.
Federal judge throws out dump lawsuit
MIDLAND (AP) -- A federal judge on Monday dismissed a $1.1
billion lawsuit filed by one company against a rival who is
also trying to build a nuclear waste dump in West Texas.
U.S. District Judge Lucius Bunton threw out the lawsuit by
Waste Control Specialists against Envirocare of Utah,
Envirocare of Texas and company founder Khosrow Semnani.
Waste Control Specialists, based in Pasadena, Texas, had
charged that Envirocare was violating antitrust laws and
shutting WSC out of the disposal business.
Both companies are bidding for a federal contract to dispose
of low-level nuclear waste. Each owns land in Andrews
County, along the New Mexico border six miles east of
Eunice, N.M., where they hope to locate a dump.
``We hope that both companies will now turn their attention
to their business of managing and disposing of waste,'' said
Frank C. Thorley, general counsel for Envirocare of Texas.
Waste Control Specialists is controlled by Dallas investor
Harold Simmons. WSC has gone to state and federal courts,
Congress and the Texas Legislature to overcome opposition by
state regulators to its plans for a waste dump in Andrews
The company tried unsuccessfully to get the legislature to
change a Texas law that prevents a privately held company
from operating a nuclear waste dump.
It also sued the Energy Department to force the agency to
let the company bid on nuclear waste disposal contracts, but
Waste Control Specialists officials could not be reached for
comment late Monday.
Company files countersuit over pipeline plan
EL PASO (AP) -- A company that plans to pipe gasoline from
Houston to El Paso sued a refining company and a law firm
Monday, alleging they conspired to monopolize the West Texas
gas market and maintain high prices.
The action by Longhorn Partners Pipeline is in response to a
federal suit brought by several ranchers who say they fear
Longhorn's plans to use a 48-year-old cross-Texas pipeline
will endanger the environment.
Longhorn alleges the ranchers' suit was inspired and
bankrolled by New Mexico-based Navajo Refining Co. with the
intent of stifling competition.
The ranchers' suit led U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks to
issue a preliminary injunction last week stalling the
pipeline project until an environmental impact study is
``Our suit basically goes right to the core of what has been
a suit, sort of cloaked in an environmental guise, that has
been brought by a competitor,'' said Carter Montgomery,
Longhorn's president and chief executive officer.
Longhorn is seeking up to $1 billion for restraint of trade
in its suit, which was filed in state district court in El
Longhorn is currently extending the old pipeline from its
former terminal in Crane to El Paso. Workers came through
the Pecos area in July and August, laying pipe below
Interstate 20 five miles east of Barstow and sending it
across the Pecos River about six miles north of Pecos.
Calls to Navajo seeking comment were directed to its parent
company, Holly Corp. of Dallas, which was also named as a
Holly Corp.'s counsel, Chris Cella, did not return a phone
call from The Associated Press seeking comment on Monday
A third defendant, the Austin law firm of George, Donaldson
& Ford, which represented the ranchers, issued a statement
saying partners there had not seen a copy of lawsuit and
could only make limited comments.
``We believe the lawsuit to be a frivolous reaction to the
federal court finding,'' the statement said.
Petra Ramirez Carillo, 79, of Pecos, died Monday, Aug. 31,
1998, at her residence.
Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 2, in
Ojinaga, Chih., Mexico with burial in La Esmeralda Cemeterio.
She was born July 21, 1919, in Presidio, was a lifelong
Pecos resident and a Catholic.
Survivors include two sons, Francisco Carrillo of Pecos and
Edmundo Carrillo of Midland; five daughters, Elva Bustamante
of Carlsbad, N.M., Dora Villanueva and Maria Elena Garcia of
Pecos, Albina Vasquez of Presidio, Delia Hernandez of
Midland; two sisters, Vivian Ramirez of Odessa, Gregoria
Lujan of Pecos; 34 grandchildren; 42 great-grandchildren and
six great-great grandchildren.
Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Virginia Pipkin, 86, died Friday, Aug. 28, in Amarillo.
Burial was held at 10 a.m., today in Stillwater, Okla.
She was preceded in death by one grandson, Hal "Jimbo"
Pratt, Jr. of Pecos.
Survivors include two sons, Hal Pratt, Sr. of Pecos, Bill
Pratt of Amarillo; one daughter, Kathelin Jackson of
Victoria, Tx.; two sisters, Abbie Cline and Emma Lou Riden;
eight grandchildren; 24 great-grandchildren; three
great-great grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
Norman Richard Steinmetz, 59, died Monday, Aug. 17, 1998 at
Franciscan Skemp Medical Center in La Cross, Wisc.
Funeral services were held Friday, Aug. 21, in La Farge
United Methodist Church with burial in Bear Creek Cemetery
in La Farge.
He was born Sept. 11, 1938, in Webster, Wisc. For much of
his life he worked for DuoFast as a salesman, then state,
national and international sales manager. Later he started
his own fastener distribution company in La Farge.
Survivors include his wife, Carole Elizabeth Lattner
Steinmetz of La Farge; one son, Jon Steinmetz; one daughter
Caron Steinmetz; his father and two brothers.
High Tuesday 95. Low this morning 68. Forecast for tonight:
Fair. Lows around 65. East winds 5-10 mph. Wednesday, partly
cloudy. Highs in the lower 90s. East winds 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