Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
February 9, 1999
Dam project runs into concrete roadblock
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, Feb. 9, 1999 - Replacment of the gates at Red Bluff Dam may
be more complicated and cost more than expected, but water rates for 1999
will be staying at the same level as in the past, Red Bluff Water Power
Control Board members decided during their monthly meeting on Monday.
The board voted 4-3 to keep the district's water rate at $2.50 per acre/foot,
rejecting a recommendation by general manager Jim Ed Miller that the rate
be raised to cover part of the district's $150,000 operating deficit.
Red Bluff is currently able to make up the deficit out of interest on
the $14 million settlement it received 10 years ago in the Pecos River
Compact dispute with New Mexico, but Miller said the district should save
some of that money for other projects, including the Red Bluff Dam work.
Board members delayed their vote on the water rate until after listening
to a presentation by Sonny Kretzschmar of HDR Engineering about the plan
to replace the gates on the irrigation flow channels through the dam. In
December, the board approved replacing the current slide gates, only one
of which is currently operative, with knife and jet flow gates, at a cost
of just under $1 million.
Kretzschmar said HDR officials and Miller checked out the concrete housing
at the dam last Tuesday and found "more concrete than we anticipated,"
which will have to be removed before the new gates are installed.
"The good news is the concrete is in real good shape. The bad news is
it masks at lot of specs we'd like to look at," Kretzschmar said. Because
some mechanics may be embedded in the concrete, he said HDR is "rethinking
our 1996 report," and that a second option to install new slide gates may
now be more economically feasible.
"It's not real attractive for the contractor getting into the middle
of the dam," he said. "They have to do a lot of chipping around the mechanical
work inside the dam and they don't want to break anything."
Kretzschmar said the slide gates are more prone to wear and leakage
and would probably last only half as long as the jet flow gate option.
HDR estimated installing slide gates would initially be $235,000 cheaper,
but would have to be replaced in 20 years instead of 40, at an additional
cost of $300,000.
"Perhaps if we're very careful selecting the metal alloys it (the slide
gates) will last longer than 20 years," Kretzschmar said, who added that
by installing two different sized gates in the tunnels the water flow could
be controlled better, though not as well as with the knife gate/jet flow
"If it's safe to go in there with a jackhammer and bust out the concrete
it won't make much of a difference," in the cost estimate, he said. "But
we don't want to damage the juncture between the conduits and the dam."
Kretzschmar told the board HDR would be looking at the problem more
over the next month, and will report back to the board at their March meeting.
Following the presentation, board members resumed their discussion on
water rates, finally deciding 4-3 to maintain the current $2.50 to the
seven water improvement districts along the Pecos River.
Board president Randall Hartman, who voted with members Cecil Lee and
Teresa Walker to raise the current rate, said the current charge hurts
full-time farmers within the districts, because short-term growers plant
crops in high water allocation years, draining off Red Bluff Lake's reserves.
Earlier in the meeting, the board set 1999 water allocations at 25,000
acre/feet, down from 40,000 last year. Board member Lloyd Goodrich said
the lake currently has 70,756 acre/feet of water, about 30,000 less than
a year ago, and due to water losses downriver, Miller said it takes about
a 50,000 acre/feet release to deliver the 25,000 acre/feet downstream.
"We've had it as low as 13,600, but when you do that the core gets low
and the dam cracks," said Goodrich, who was the strongest supporter of
maintaining the current $2.50 rate.
"If we give it (water) all away one year and don't have it next year,
it's our own fault for mismanagement," Hartman said.
"It's not Red Bluff's business to conserve water, that's the (local
water) districts' business," Goodrich said. He said an increase of $1 in
the rate would cut just $25,000 off the $150,000 deficit estimated by Miller.
Goodrich said water sales have never yielded what originally was estimated
when the dam was built and for a time, sales from the dam's now-closed
electric power station made up the difference. Board member Richard Slack
asked whether the planned electric power deregulation in Texas would make
starting the plant back up more viable, but Hartman said the district would
have to put up its own power transmission lines and register as a public
utility if that is done.
Miller said Red Bluff "probably has the cheapest water in the state,"
though Goodrich pointed out the high salt content reduces crop production
by about 25 percent. Carlsbad, which gets its water from the Pecos River
before it's joined by the Malaga Bend salt spring, charges $17 per acre/foot,
and Hartman said some farmers in the El Paso area pay $20 per acre/foot
"I feel the oil income (loss) is going to add to this (deficit) by at
least $10,000," Hartman said. "You can set it as low as you want, but I
feel like we're cutting our own throats."
Board members Charlotte Wilcox and Manuel Lujan joined Goodrich in opposing
the rate increase, with Slack casting the deciding vote to keep the rate
at the $2.50 level.
Earlier, the board approved the final audit report for fiscal 1998 by
Randy Graham, and approved both accounts payable and cash disbursements
Oil industry's layoffs keep jobs office busy
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, Feb. 9, 1999 - Business is booming at one office in Pecos, but
it is mostly due to the lack of business in private industry.
The Pecos Workforce Center (formerly Texas Employment Commission) has
had 891 visitors to the office at 215 W. Second St. in January alone, said
center director Elva Arreguy. Clients come from area counties where there
is no office, or where the local office is not equipped to handle their
problems, Arreguy said.
With the downturn in the oil business, an estimated 300 people who lost
their jobs have turned to PWC over the past three months, said Dora Pineda,
who handles unemployment claims.
Even seismograph crews are affected, she said. Roughnecks, roustabouts
and two secretaries are among those seeking unemployment benefits and a
"If it is affecting this many people in the oil industry, it is also
affecting your service industry," Pineda said. "It has a domino effect."
Those laid off can expect to draw unemployment checks for six months,
based on a percentage of their former wages. No extended benefits are available
at this time, Pineda said.
Work orders have come in for convenience store clerks, which is a constant
demand, she said. And she has had a lot of calls for truck drivers.
One job order for a derrick hand is the only positive note related to
the oil field, and that is for a small pulling unit, Pineda said.
Freeport McMoran is using contract labor, such as roustabouts, heavy
equipment operators and welders on the landfill being dug at the Culberson
sulphur mine, she said.
Clerk Maria Ortiz helps job applicants use computers in the center to
do their own job search. They have access to "Job Express" for private
industry, the state government job bank and a nationwide database.
"We are more geared to offer services to applicants," Pineda said. "They
can use the fax machine, and we have a telephone so they can call a toll-free
number to inquire about job openings.
Pamphlets are also available to help in the job search.
"Our main goal is job training," Pineda said. "We are all working together
to offer our services to the community; try to get them back into the work
Arreguy has been office manager since Nov. 2. Her former position with
JTPA was eliminated when all state job-related services were merged under
the Texas Workforce Commission.
"We are all under the same umbrella," Arreguy said. "We are a satellite
program here. We don't offer full services like the bigger offices do.
We don't have room to house other agency representatives, like the Texas
Department of Human Services, MHMR, recruiting offices and Texas Rehab."
Much remodeling has already taken place in the former Texas Employment
Commission building, which now has a training room for employers to meet
with potential employees.
"We are basically a job training office," Arreguy said.
When all the new furnishings and equipment are received, Arreguy plans
to hold open house to acquaint the community with the new look and the
Judge OKs probated sentence in marijuana bust
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, Feb. 9, 1999 - Tony Earl McGrew drew a probated sentence in
federal court Monday when U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson departed downward
from the sentencing guidelines.
McGrew, 40, of 515 S. Plum St., had pleaded guilty to importing and
possessing 159.08 pounds of marijuana on April 1, 1998. His sentencing
was continued several times due to treatment for colon cancer.
Public Defender Kurt Mayer filed the motion for probation, which Judge
Furgeson granted. He sentenced McGrew to five years probation on each count,
to run concurrently.
Others sentenced Monday were:
* Octavio Chavarria-Castillo, 28, of Amarillo, 37 months in prison for
possession with intent to distribute 340.72 pounds of marijuana.
* Alejandro Carrette, 24, of Chihuahua, Mex., 18 months in prison for
possession with intent to distribute 72.7 pounds of marijuana.
* Isaac Savedra, 18 months for possession with intent to distribute
* Jose Padilla-Flores, 37 months for importing and possessing marijuana
with intent to distribute. The two terms are to run concurrently.
* Antonio Arzola-Mendoza, 42, of Mexico, time served for illegal entry,
with release to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
* Noe N. Tobon, 28, of Mexico, time served for illegal entry and release
to the INS.
Pleading guilty were:
* Enrique Flores-Gonzales, 53, of Mexico, conspiracy, import and possess
220.75 pounds of marijuana.
* Ernesto V. Madrid-Mega, 24, Mexico, illegal entry after deportation.
* Maria Rosales-Castro, 48, of Delicias, Chih., Mex., import 90.2 pounds
of marijuana. Charges of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute
to be dismissed at time of sentencing. All three charges were dismissed
against co-defendant Ricardo Gonzales-Rosales.
* Gregg Herrera, 19, of Monument, N.M., possession with intent to distribute
298.32 pounds of marijuana.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Stuart M. Platt also accepted several guilty pleas
for Judge Furgeson and arraigned two defendants.
Commissioners updated on TxDOT projects
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Feb. 9, 1999 - Texas Department of Transportation representatives
discussed current and future projects with Reeves County Commissioners,
during their regularly scheduled Monday at the Reeves County Courthouse.
John Salcido and the new area engineer, Paul Henderson, with TxDOT told
the court that an ongoing project of landscaping along the major highways
"We want to carry on with Mr. (Doug) Eichorst's plan and we want to
formally ask that we start preparing the paperwork and submit that to the
district and from there to Austin," said Henderson, who replaced Eichorst
after he transferred to Odessa.
County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo updated the court on the project and said
that new ideas are always welcome.
"To give the new commissioners an idea of what we're trying to establish,
we'll go over it briefly," said Galindo. "There's a possibility of us using
their landscaping architect to help us develop a landscape for our road
The project involves landscaping along Interstate 20, U.S. 285 and Highway
17, though Galindo said another project would involve FM 761 on Eddy Street
It would involve the traffic island, located at Eddy and Washington
streets. "The idea is to put a concrete or stone emblem and for it to be
raised so as not to obstruct the view of the motorists," said Galindo.
Another idea is setting up cut-out of longhorn cattle alongside the
"They have that in Abilene and it looks really attractive," said Galindo.
"The cut-outs are silhouettes of cattle and the same idea was suggested
on 285 and I- 20 on the southwest portion."
The cattle appear to be moving towards a windmill and a water trough
would also be set up in that area, according to Galindo.
Other ideas for beautification and landscaping were discussed and Galindo
said that the TxDOT allocated $100,000 in their maintenance budget, but
would need the county and city's cooperation on the landscaping project.
"It would mean in-kind services and also some funds for that project,"
In other business, commissioners approved an agreement with Pecos-Barstow-Toyah
ISD for GED Testing at the Reeves County Detention Center.
"It's important that we have GED Testing and BOP will also judge that
as something good," said RCDC Warden Rudy Franco, who added the inmates
look forward to achieving something.
"The judge has looked over the agreement carefully and it's satisfactory
to all parties involved," said Franco. "BOP will look favorably on this
project. Anything we can do to provide for the inmates and meet the criteria,
they look at it as a good sign."
Two additional positions at the RCDC were also approved by commissioners.
The court had previously approved a computer specialist budget assistant.
"We feel it's too much work for one individual," said Franco, who wanted
the computer specialist and the budget assistant split into separate positions.
"The computer specialist will be busy setting up a new network," said
Franco, who told commissioners the positions will help centralize purchasing
and control budget better.
Another position at the Reeves County Sheriff's Department will be to
help the RCDC with background checks and other duties.
"This individual will do all the background checks for the new employees
and other duties will be assigned," said Franco. "This entry-level position
will help once the new facility is up, but I actually need him now."
Sheriff Andy Gomez said that he would assign this particular position
to someone already on the staff at sheriff's office. "This will be someone
that knows how to the criminal history checks," he said.
Bids for a new pickup and new vans went to the lowest bidders. Sun Chrysler-Plymouth
of Odessa was awarded the bids for two new transportation vans for the
RCDC, with a low bid of $23,947 for each. Colt Chevrolet of Pecos bid the
lowest on a new pickup for the facility at $13,667.
A Reeves County/Texas Agricultural Extension Service Partnership Agreement
"We want to discuss a number of issues in regard to the agricultural
commitment and efforts to provide several services to the community," said
Galindo. "We want to establish a formal partnership agreement and clarify
pro-actively what we're trying to accomplish and set up a plan that will
be beneficial to the agricultural community."
Galindo said that the extension services agents would also be invited
to the commissioners meeting to give updates every two weeks.
New hires included Aida Baeza and Rosalina Alvarado at the Reeves County
Auditor's office with a starting pay of $16,000 per year; Daniel Christopher
Portillo was named computer specialist at the Reeves County Detention Center
at $19,000 along with new hires at the RCDC, Sylvester Carrasco, Efren
Cordova, Jeremy Ornelas and Yvonne Valles at a starting pay of $19,000.
At the Reeves County Sheriff's Department new hires were Jimmy Leonard
and Raul Garcia as jailers at $16,000 per year.
A payment to Banes General Contractor's for RCDC Support Shell and Recreational
building was approved, along with reports from various departments, budget
amendments and line-item transfers, minutes from previous minutes and semi-monthly
Lillian Ross, 89, of Pecos, died Sunday, Feb. 7, 1999 at Reeves County
Graveside services will be held at 2 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 10, at Mount
Evergreen Cemetery with Reverend Greer Willis officiating.
Ross was born Aug. 18, 1910 in Bradshaw. She was the retired owner of
Retail Merchants and a Baptist.
She was preceded in death by her husband Lawrence Ross in 1998.
Survivors include two sons, Bert Ross of Pecos, Joe Moore of Midland;
one daughter, Jean Skiff of San Angelo and five grandchildren.
Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
PECOS, Feb. 9, 1999 - High Monday 82; low last night 42. Tonight, mostly
clear. Low 45 to 50. South to southeast wind 5-10 mph. Wednesday, partly
cloudy, breezy and warm. High 80 85. South wind 15-25 mph and gusty.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, 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 1999 by Pecos Enterprise