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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Wednesday, October 21, 1998

RCDC helping feds to ease overcrowding

Staff Writer
Reeves County Detention Center will be doing its part to
help ease the crunch of an inmate overload by setting up
extra cots at the Reeves County Detention Center for
temporary detainment.

Federal marshals on the U.S.-Mexico border say they are
struggling to find jail beds and otherwise keep up with a
heavy prisoner load caused by incresed enforcement of
immigration and drug laws.

"Right now we are maxed out," said Reeves County Detention
Center Warden Rudy Franco.

However, cots are going to be set up to temporarily help
ease the crunch, according to Franco.

"There are about 6,000 District of Columbia inmates that
they need to find room for," said Franco. "The District of
Columbia right now is in a disarray," he said.

The RCDC currently has a 1,032 inmate total maximum
capacity, but some of the extra beds must be reserved for
Bureau of Prison inmates. The population at RCDC is
currently at 998.

"We have to reserve a limited number of beds for the BOP,"
said Franco.

"What's happening is that BOP ran out of jail space and
immigration is prosecuting more and more aliens than they
did in the past," said Institutional Hearing Officer with
the Pecos Division, Alex Rodriguez.

Rodriguez stated that with more operations such as the Rio
Grande, Hold the Line and Gate Keeper, the history of
voluntarily returning people to Mexico or their own
countries is diminishing. "They are now demanding
prosecution to stop the flow that comes with illegal entry
and drug trafficking," said Rodriguez.

The agents are giving longer sentences due to recidivism, or
illegal re-entry into the United States and they are giving
them more time to serve because of this, according to

"Our main goal is to process them and send them back to
their own countries as soon as possible to avoid having to
house them," said Rodriguez.

The INS is also looking at building more facilities because
of this increase, according to Rodriguez.

"With the new video equipment at the RCDC we are able to
process them before they come into our custody and can
return them to their own country immediately," said

TNRCC panel votes Thursday on N-dump site

Contributing Writer
Sierra Blanca, literally interpreted to the English language
from Spanish would mean "white mountain range". Should the
rhetoric generated by the proposed low-level nuclear waste
disposal site ever settle there, the name undoubtedly would
change to Sierra Azul.

In 1991, the Texas Legislature drew a box in the area of far
West Texas and said a low-level nuclear waste disposal sight
will be located somewhere within the box. Supposedly, an
exhaustive study was made to determine the feasibility and
suitability for the specific site location.

After two rejections of locations in the boxed area,
including a court fight between El Paso County and the State
of Texas over a site in far western Hudspeth County, a new
location near the West Texas town of Sierra Blanca was

As a matter of due process, the opponents of locating the
low-level nuclear waste disposal site near the town of
Sierra Blanca must be allowed a hearing, and in July, the
administrative judges who conducted the hearing ruled
against locating of the site in the specified area.

The next step takes place on Thursday morning at 9 a.m. in
Austin, when the three commissioners of the Texas Natural
Resources Conservation Commission (TNRCC) will review the
decision of the State Administrative Judges. The
Commissioners have the power to require further study or to
reverse the decision of the Judges and approve the site,
located seven miles southeast of Sierra Blanca.

Opponents of the location have at least partially succeeded
in disputing the findings of "suitability". In the minds of
two Texas Administrative Judges, the evidence presented was
not adequate in regard to two points: (1). Tectonics. The
site is located in one of the most seismologically active
areas in Texas. (2). The Administrative Judges were not
satisfied with the arguments of the proponents in regard to
the effect the siting would have on the community of Sierra

The decision by the U.S. House and Senate to approve the
low-level waste disposal compact bill advanced the position
of the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Authority to begin
construction at the site. This construction would be funded
by a $50 million up-front fee paid by the states of New
Hampshire and Maine for site usage. However, construction is
contingent upon the reversal Thursday of the administrative
judges' decision.

The opposition to the building of a nuclear disposal site at
Sierra Blanca is led by the Sierra Blanca Legal Defense Fund
(SBLDF) headquartered in Austin.

According to Richard Boren of El Paso, who is affiliated
with the Defense Fund, "It was a serious mistake to place a
nuclear waste dump-site in the most seismologically active
area of West Texas. It is not justifiable scientifically. It
was a political decision."

A spokesperson for the SBLDF in Austin pointed out that
while the Hudspeth County Commissioners Court has spoken in
favor of the site, they have never passed a resolution to
support locating it in their county. Twenty adjacent
counties have gone on record as opposing the construction of
the Sierra Blanca site. Reeves County is among those in

Five border states in Mexico, along with the Mexican Federal
Government, have taken offense at the selection of a site so
near their borders. A spokesperson in Austin reports that a
Mexican national in a van parked in front of the Texas State
Capitol Building is observing a hunger strike in protest of
the site.
There seems to be considerable unity among West Texans in
opposition to a nuclear waste disposal site anywhere within
their region. Their reasons are broad-based.

Scientifically, there is a buried fault-line in the area of
the disposal site, which if becoming active, it could
potentially pollute the groundwater in a very large area.
This is a serious concern for citizens living south and east
of the site as the natural travel of proliferation would be
in their direction.

An April, 1995 earthquake on a different fault, near Alpine,
100 miles east of Sierra Blanca, underscored the threat. The
5.6 magnitude tremor was felt as far away as Central Texas,
but Ruben Alvarado, chief engineer for the Sierra Blanca
site in 1995, said the seismic threat "was always taken into
account," and that the planned facility could withstand a
quake 10 times the magnitude of the one recorded three years

It is also thought by some that a nuclear waste disposal
site in West Texas would result in a cheap bail-out for
power companies using nuclear energy to generate
electricity. Texas Utilities with a nuclear generating plant
at Glen Rose, and Houston Lighting & Power with their South
Texas Project at Bay City, now store their waste on site at
their facilities at their own expense. By transferring the
waste to an off-premises location they would be absolved of
the expense to store, and they would be released from
liability for potential damages resulting from the waste.

With the passage of Senate Bill 2722 by the U.S. Congress in
1994, a Compact Commission was to be established to deal
with nuclear waste transported and deposited in the Sierra
Blanca site.

Section 3.03 of the Bill reads, "The Commission is a legal
entity separate and distinct from the party states and has
governmental immunity to the same extent as an entity
created under the authority of Article XVI, Section 59, of
the Texas Constitution. Members of the Commission shall not
be personally liable for actions taken in their official
capacity. The liabilities of the Commission shall not be
deemed liabilities of the party states."

No one seems to be sure what recourse would be available in
case of accident in transport, or if leakage should occur at
the site.

Reeves County is especially vulnerable to the transportation
hazard. Three highways and a mainline railroad could
possibly be designated as nuclear waste routes. Interstate
10, running through the southern part of the County, impacts
the towns of Saragosa and Balmorhea, while I-20 running
through the central part of the County, impacts Pecos and

Trucks carrying low-level nuclear waste already are
scheduled to begin passing through Pecos sometime within the
next year, along I-20 and U.S. 285, north to the WIPP site
near Carlsbad, N.M..

"If an accident involving nuclear waste should occur on
Third Street in the proximity of the County Courthouse, the
entire nerve center for both the City and County could be
neutralized," says Clark Lindley, Pecos citizen. "The City
Hall, police department, fire department, EMS service,
County Courthouse, the sheriff's office, and the Federal
Courthouse would all be in jeopardy."

Bill Addington, a resident of El Paso and longtime opponent
of a West Texas nuclear disposal site, says, "The people of
Texas have been lied to by their officials as to the nature
of the materials to be deposited at the disposal site. They
are saying medical wastes and oilfield wastes. All nuclear
uses in Texas outside the use of nuclear energy to generate
electricity only make up 1/2 of 1 per cent of the total.
Ninety-nine and one-half per cent is waste from nuclear
power plants."

Richard Boren, of the SBLDF, states that of the nine
disposal sites in the United States, six now leak. Those
sights, according to Boren, include Maxey Flats, Kentucky;
Sheffield, Illinois; Barnwell, South Carolina; West Valley,
New York; Beatty, Nevada; and Hanford Washington.

Boren submits that a reasonable alternative to underground
storage, which would ultimately migrate to taxpayer
liability, would be to store the nuclear waste in special
concrete bunkers above ground. These bunkers could be
located at the source of the waste, which would eliminate
the transportation hazard. They could be more readily
monitored for leaks, and environmental proliferation would
be less likely. They would also remain the liability of the
party producing the waste.

Asked if he would approve an above ground facility for
Sierra Blanca, Boren stated, "That would not remove the
transportation hazard, and it would remove liability from
the party producing the waste. We would still oppose the

The hazardous waste disposal site located on the New Mexico
state line west of Andrews has been suggested as an
alternative to the Sierra Blanca site should the TNRCC deny
the license. A spokesperson for SBLDF stated that this would
not be acceptable.

Although the side would be just 50 miles from the WIPP site
in Eddy County, N.M., Fear of contaminating the Ogallala
aquifer beneath that region would be just concern for their
continuance of opposition.

According to political pundits, it is speculated that, after
spending literally millions of tax-payer dollars in studies
and political posturing, the TNRCC will not grant the
license outright. Another study will be called for, or the
license will be denied.

Addington says, "I hope they do not use the meeting as a
ploy to placate the opposition by denying the license, and
then schedule a re-hearing in 30 days, which would put them
past the November elections."

County joins appeal of farm suit ruling

Staff Writer
Reeves County has joined two defendants in filing a motion
for new trial in the Pecos River Livestock Inc. suit
concluded last month with a judgment in favor of Reeves

Defendants Dr. Elvia Reynolds and Louis Lively also seek a
new trial, claiming that their guaranty on the $131,000
low-interest loan from Reeves County was modified without
their consent and that Reeves County was not authorized to
make the loan.

Lively also claims that Judge Paul McCollum should have
given full credit for $19,650 guaranteed by Randy Reynolds,
who was not a party to the suit. Reynolds paid $9,500 cash
and signed a promissory note for the remainder of his

"This is an arrangement between Reeves County and Randy
Reynolds, who is not a party to this lawsuit, and all
defendants are entitled to full credit to any judgment in
favor of Reeves County," Lively said through his attorney,
Robert Scogin of Kermit.

John Stickels filed Reeves County's motion for new trial,
alleging that the court erred in determining each defendant
was not liable for the full amount of $19,650, which was
their personal guaranty on the loan for a goat dairy.

Judge McCollum found that the corporation's principal amount
due is $82,156.41, plus interest and attorney fees. Each of
eight guarantors are liable for $8,462.68 plus $864.27
attorney fees, Judge McCollum found. He assessed defendant
Rosemary Wilke $16,248.78 plus attorney fees of $1,624.88,
plus any additional sum up to $19,650 not paid by other

P-B-T's anti-drug rally set for Friday

A District Drug-Free Rally will be held from 9:30-10:30 a.m.
this Friday at the Eagle Stadium.

All students will be bused to the stadium Friday morning for
the one-hour event, which is being held in conjunction with
Red Ribbon Week that will be observed next week in Pecos
public schools.

The rally is sponsored by the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD
Guidance Counselors with the assistance of the Pecos High
School Student Council, administrators, teachers and the
community of Pecos.

Red Ribbon Week is Oct. 23-30, with a variety of upcoming
events. Those activities scheduled include "Put A Stop on
Drugs!" - everyone is encouraged to wear red for Red Day on
Monday; Tuesday will be "Boot Out Drugs!" - wear boots;
Wednesday will be "Put a Cap on Drugs" - wear a cap;
Thursday, is "Black Out Drugs" - wear black and Friday will
be "Drugs Turn You Inside Out" - wear T-shirt (purple-gold
day, inside out).

All schools will be competing to see who wears the most red
during Friday's Drug-Free Rally.

Mexico continuing dump location protest

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- The Mexican government -- under heavy
political pressure at home -- announced it has sent the
United States a 15th diplomatic protest about a planned
nuclear waste dump near the border.

Deputy Foreign Secretary Carmen Moreno Toscano told members
of Congress on Tuesday that the latest protest against the
Sierra Blanca project had been sent earlier in the day.

Mexico's Congress has strongly denounced the plan to build
the nuclear waste dump near Sierra Blanca, 15 miles from the
Mexican border. The dump would take waste from power plants
and other installations.

Even though a commission of Mexican experts said it had
found no evidence the dump posed a danger, Mexican officials
say it violates a 1983 treaty to ``prevent, reduce and
eliminate sources of contamination'' within 60 miles of the

The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission,
appointed by Gov. George W. Bush, is to meet Thursday to
decide on licensing the dump.

Recreation pact, city's Y2K status on agenda

Town of Pecos City Council will meet Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
to discuss and consider community recreation interlocal
agreement with other governmental entities.

City council members will consider the Y2K computer problem
and a request from the Meals on Wheels Program.

In other business council members will discuss police
participation with Permian Drug Task Force and Pecos Police
procedures, mainly the lack of police protection at the
Reeves County Fall Fair Concert which was held Oct. 3.

Council member will meet in executive session to discuss and
consider acquisition of real property, water field/pipeline

Other regular agenda items include:

Approval of monthly reports:

* Municipal court report

* Juvenile court report

* Tax collector's report.

* Accounts Payable.

The meeting will take place inside the council's chambers at
City Hall.

Routine items only at hospital boards meeting

"Routine" describes the monthly meeting of the Reeves County
Hospital board of directors Tuesday, said President
Jeannette Alligood of the 25-minute session.

The most exciting item of business was to change the times
fort future meetings from 6:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Errors and corrections for 1997 and prior years on the tax
roll were approved as presented by tax assessor-collector
Lydia Prieto, who also reported on current and delinquent
tax collections.

"Nothing outstanding" was noted in financial statements and
budget amendments, Alligood said. Bills were approved for
payment, and Charles Butts gave the administrator's report
to update the board on operations.

"Things are going real well at the hospital," Alligood said.

Flood forces evacuations from Victoria

Associated Press Writer
VICTORIA (AP) -- Water Street is aptly named. So is West
River Street.

Both are under several feet of swirling coffee-colored muddy
water today from the raging Guadalupe River, forcing
hundreds of people to flee to high ground.

The flooding, the latest in South and Central Texas since
nearly 2 feet of rain fell over the weekend, is the worst
since 1936 to inundate parts of Victoria, a city of 60,000
about 125 miles southwest of Houston.

Scattered light rain and drizzle was expected across much of
Texas today, including the flood-ravaged South Texas region.
The National Weather Service said rainfall amounts should be
below one-tenth of an inch, with no additional heavy rains.

Victoria is only 35 miles from where the Guadalupe River
empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

``If you live on or near the river, please get out before
it's too late,'' Mayor Gary Middleton on Tuesday urged those
of the 60,000 residents who live in the river's flood plain.

The exact number of people who took his advice and left on
their own or waited and had to be pulled out by boat or
helicopter was uncertain, although Middleton said 500 to 600
homes had water damage. About 100 people were staying in
five shelters but most people out of their homes chose to
stay with friends or relatives.

At least 22 people have died from the storms that began
Saturday and swamped 60 Texas counties, nearly a quarter of
the state's counties. A 7-year-old boy and four members of a
San Antonio area family are missing. A state emergency
spokeswoman said today preliminary damage estimates top $400
million and are expected to be higher.

In Victoria, Charlie Wilkes and his wife, Mary, were plucked
from their home by a National Guard helicopter. ``They just
told us it was going to be bad and we'd be idiots to stay,''
said Wilkes.

He carried a briefcase and she put her purse strap around
her neck as they rode in a nylon rope bucket suspended about
30 feet below the chopper for the harrowing ride hundreds of
feet above the swirling river before being deposited on dry

``We did not intend to come out but we didn't know how bad
it was going to get,'' Wilkes said.

Linwood Kolle reluctantly was taken out by boat when water
reached waist-deep at his home.

``I didn't get scared but I don't like what the water had
done,'' said Kolle, who worried the ``hell of a current''
could sweep his house away. ``I finally decided to go.''

Gov. George W. Bush on Tuesday asked President Clinton to
declare 20 counties disaster areas.

``It was devastating to see,'' Bush said after a 35-minute
helicopter ride over hard-hit San Marcos, Seguin and New
Braunfels in Central Texas. ``It's hard to imagine how swift
and powerful the current of the river was to do the damage
it did.''

Jo Schweikard Moss of the Texas Department of Public
Safety's Division of Emergency Management said in Comal
County alone, officials estimated $266 million in New
Braunfels area home losses and another $27 million for

She said in Wilson County, along the San Antonio River,
homes sustained an estimated $140 million in damage, with
another $7.5 million to public infrastructure such as roads
and bridges. Other counties were still compiling dollar

A federal disaster declaration was expected later today.

``It's going to be a while before they can get back in and
when they do they're not going to like it,'' Middleton, the
Victoria mayor, said of flood victims.

He also took a helicopter tour of this city and found the
normally 150-foot-wide river as much as six miles wide.

``It's awesome,'' he said. ``It makes you feel very

He said cattle, seeking higher ground, were huddled on
patches where the water was not deep. Elsewhere, debris from
far upstream collected at the underside of bridges. Fire
ants swarmed on the clutter. Officials who spent the day in
boats told of snakes and rats grasping for anything solid.

In Cuero, about 40 miles to the northwest and where the
floods hit Monday, three-quarters of the town of 7,000 was
under water after the Guadalupe crested at 49.78 feet, more
than double its 20-foot flood stage. At least 2,000 people
were left homeless.

National Guardsmen in Victoria told of people who refused
assistance and chose to ride out the storm.

``They waved us off,'' said Pete Durbin, a chief warrant
officer aboard one of the choppers.

``That's aggravating,'' said Amanda Garza, a Red Cross
volunteer at a shelter set up at a church. ``You try to help
and they say they'll wait.''

Some evacuees agreed to go only when told it was their last
chance, said some of the frustrated rescue crews who braved
the treacherous currents that turned streets into
white-water rapids.

Authorities imposed a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew to keep
spectators away from the flood areas, try to keep out
looters and because they feared a power outage could plunge
the entire city into darkness.

``We want people to be safe,'' said Charles Windwehen, the
assistant city manager.

At midafternoon Tuesday, the water level reached 34.26 feet,
shattering the 1936 record by nearly 2 feet.

``I got out most of my clothes but my furniture is still
inside,'' said Delores Martinez, 76, who has lived in her
house along the river for 50 years and has never seen such

At 3 a.m. Tuesday, she was packing dishes. A few hours
later, her daughters helped her get out before water began
creeping up to her front door.

``I'm worried about losing everything,'' she said.


High Tuesday 57. Low last night 50. Overnight rainfall 1.16
inches. October rainfall 1.24 inches. Year-to-date 5.40
inches. Tonight, cloudy with a 50 percent chance of rain.
Low in the mid 40s. Northeast wind 5-15 mph. Thursday,
cloudy with a 30 percent chance of rain. High in the lower
60s. Northeast to east wind 5-15 mph.

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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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