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Tuesday, September 14, 1999

Commissioners OK rec project proposal

Staff Writer

PECOS, Sept. 14, 1999 -- Racquetball courts and batting cages topped the docket Monday during the Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting.

Commissioners voted to continue forward with the planning stage that could result in two racquetball courts and seven batting cages being built as part of the Reeves County Community Sports and Recreation Department.

The new facilities are slated to be located on the grounds of Pecos High School, near the old gym, which was renovated over the summer in a joint project with the county, Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD and the Town of Pecos City. The county and city supplying the funding and the school district supplying the land and/or facilities under the interlocal agreement.

County Judge Jimmy Galindo said that the original plan called for the racquetball courts to be built within the existing building, but that renovation costs made a new building more cost effective.

Galindo proposed paying for the racquetball courts with moneys from the county's Employee Health Benefit Fund the self-insurance fund the county maintains for employee health insurance.

"In the interest of wellness and lowered health care cost in the future, these type facilities are important," Galindo said.

Money for the batting cages would come out of the general fund.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Felipe Arredondo and county auditor Lynn Owens both expressed concern about paying for the racquetball courts out of the health care fund.

"We need to make sure that we don't deplete the health care fund," Arredondo said.

Owens agreed, but also stated that the fund was healthy with over $1.7 million dollars and that except for August of 1999, the fund had always shown a positive growth.

"Except for last month we've always been able to show a positive flow into the fund," Owens said.

Owens explained that the fund is a self-insurance fund with a stop-loss cap of $50,000.

Once the county has expended $50,000 on a claim we have insurance that kicks in, Owens said.

"On the other hand, $1.7 million sounds like a lot, but if 20 employees have $50,000 claims then the county will have spent a million dollars from the fund just like that," he said.

"We just need to be careful," Arredondo said.

With yesterday's vote, the plan will proceed to the planning and specifications stage.

"Right now, we are estimating that the courts will cost between $125,000 and $150,000," Galindo said. "The batting cages should cost about $34,000 excluding the concrete work."

Galindo said that the county had cut a deal with the concrete contractor currently working on the Reeves County Detention Center expansion to get the necessary concrete at a good price.

"We should be able to get the concrete for the batting cages at about $55 per yard," he said.

"Once we get the plans drawn up we will be able to get a better idea of the exact numbers," he said, "and we can make a more informed decision."

Business concerning the on-going prison expansion occupied most of the court's day.

Mark Schumacher of Banes General Contractors, Inc., was on hand to brief the court on the project.

Banes is the general contractor in charge of the construction project.

Schumacher reported that the project was on schedule and currently below budget.

"Currently we are about $280,000 below budget, not counting the $1 million in contingency money built into the contract," he said. "So in essence, we are currently about $1.2 million below budget."

Schumacher submitted bid recommendations to the court for most of the remaining construction, which the court approved.

"With these bids approved today we have sub-contractors on board for 98 percent of the project," Schumacher said.

The court also took action concerning the pro shop and concessions at the golf course.

"We advertised for bids for someone to operate the concessions and pro shop about a month ago and haven't received any bids," Galindo said.

"At this point I think it is time to move on and incorporate this into regular county operations since there is no interest in the private sector," he said.

Galindo said that David Vejil had been handling the concessions operation for the county in the interim and had done a good job, and suggested the county hire him full-time to run the concessions and the pro-shop.

Lynn Owens pointed out that by law the county cannot make a profit it can only charge use fees to try to recover expenses.

"I don't think there would be a problem with the concessions stand but operating a pro-shop sounds more like a proprietary function that we would be prohibited from," he said.

Galindo proposed to compare the "profits" from the pro-shop to the costs of operating the course overall.

"I don't think there would be much profit involved when you look at it that way," Galindo said.

"The question is, `Is this a government function or not,'" Owens said. "The county can provide recreational facilities but is a pro-shop a recreational facility?"

The court voted to hire Vejil full-time as the coordinator for the Reeves County Golf Course to operate the concessions and the pro-shop as well on a tentative basis until the legalities of the operation could be investigated.

Vejil was hired at $8 per hour.

Galindo said that Vejil would report to Nora Geron who is the head of the Sports and Recreation Department.

Red Bluff gives cash for salt cedar project

Staff Writer

PECOS, Sept. 14, 1999 -- The Upper Pecos Soil and Water Conservation District got some `start-up' money on Monday for their salt cedar eradication project along the Pecos River, when the Red Bluff Water Power Control Board approved a $50,000 check as it's share of the $110,000 operation.

Spraying on five sections of land along the river will begin at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday just south of Red Bluff Dam, board members were told by Barney Lee of the Upper Pecos Soil and Water Conservation District, which spearheaded the effort to get the project approved by state officials.

"I was among the most skeptical around town about ever getting the permits, and I want to congratulate you on it," Red Bluff General Manager Jim Ed Miller told Lee at the conclusion of his presentation, during the board's regular monthly meeting.

"We've come further than I ever thought," added board president Randall Hartman. "I think it's money well spent." Other area water districts also contributed to the project, which is based on a similar effort conducted by New Mexico State University along the Pecos River in the Artesia, N.M. area.

"We've been working with Susan Combs, the state agriculture commissioner, and she's very interested in the program," Lee said. The project could get some funding from the Texas Department of Agriculture in the future, he added, but funds this year are dedicated to a similar salt cedar eradication effort along the Concho River near San Angelo. Other future funding could come through foundation grants.

The spraying will be done by helicopter beginning Wednesday, and Lee said pilot bob Ewing North Star Helicopters of Jasper would be flying over the area today to plan out the sites where the herbicide Arsenal will be released.

"It's one of the smaller (helicopters) and he carries about 100 gallons of solution at a time," Lee said. He added that while the copter will cost more initially than using an airplane, they would have less loss in the spraying process, which will make the estimated cost $42 per acre less.

Red Bluff board members have talked about removing salt cedars from the river's banks for the past several years in an effort to both increase the water flow and lower the salinity of the river. The trees were planted along the river in the early 1900s as part of an effort to stop soil erosion, but are believed to use up to half the water flow in the Pecos River.

Arsenal is a slow-acting herbicide that will be absorbed by the leaves of the salt cedars and then carried down into the trunk and roots of the tree. "You're not going to see anything happen with the trees for at least eight weeks," Lee said. "It will probably be spring before you see anything."

The area to be sprayed will range from 25 to 87 feet wide along the river, with cost based on a 50-foot average. Lee said the spraying will be effective if it's done at least two hours before any rain, with a 95 to 98 percent kill rate expected.

The Upper Pecos district was able to get wetlands permits for Arsenal spraying, and Lee said "all restrictions on Arsenal we're exempt from," as part of the test project.

He did add that cattle that might be within the spraying area shouldn't be slaughtered for 30 days, but added that New Mexico State University has done three studies on Arsenal application "and have found no adverse effects at all."

Wednesday's spraying will only cover the area south of Red Bluff Dam in Reeves and Loving counties, though under the project proposal spraying would eventually be conducted all along the Pecos River between Red Bluff Dam and Girvin.

Another proposal to lower the salt content in Red Bluff Lake and the Pecos River received a much cooler reception from the board.

Pecos River Compact Commissioner J.W. Thacker said the commission has been presented a proposal by United Salt Co. to drill up to 10 wells at its site east of the Pecos River in Eddy County, N.M. in order to pump water from underground salt springs that feed into the river just north of the Texas-New Mexico state line.

Thacker said the company proposes to pump 1,000 acre/feet a year from the wells, but Red Bluff board member Lloyd Goodrich said the spring has a flow of only about a third that total annually.

"The grade of their salt is deteriorating, and they want to improve it," Thacker said he was told by T.E. Kelly, who was representing United Salt in their negotiations. However, Miller and other board members said they had dealt with the company before, with negative results.

"When they first came to us to get salt they said we would have to build it (a pipeline)," Miller said, adding that the district already has a deal with Loving Salt Co. to pump water from the Malaga Bend salt springs to ponds, where salt would be removed after evaporation.

Loving Salt president Albert Wagner has been unable the past several month to get final permits for building his salt ponds, and Miller was unsure if United Salt would continue the project if Wager's project was eliminated.

"Keep this is mind. If we make an agreement with them, they have to uphold their end," over the period of the contract, Hartman told Thacker. The board also asked Miller to further investigate United Salt's plan.

In other action, board members reappointed Miller for another one year term as the district's general manager, received an update on the new weir for water measurement at the Pecos County Water Improvement District No. 3 diversion point; discussed financing for the upcoming gate replacement project at Red Bluff Dam and approved accounts payable and cash disbursements for the month.

Hit-and-run driver leaves passenger behind

Staff Writer

PECOS, Sept. 14, 1999 -- A hit-and-run accident over the weekend landed one teenager in jail and left another without a ride.

The accident occurred in the 1500 block of South Alamo Street at about 4:10 a.m., Sunday when Danny Shelton, a homeowner on that street, called officers after hearing some noise outside.

He looked outside and saw a multi-colored truck and went back inside to call police, according to police reports. When he went outside after making the call the vehicle was gone, and Shelton noticed it had struck another vehicle parked outside his house.

However, a female passenger in the truck, identified as Elsie Rodriguez, 18, was left behind. She identified the driver of the truck as Jose Morales, 17, and he was later located at his home at 2211 S. Cactus St.

The passenger was slightly injured, an ambulance was summoned, but she refused treatment. "She was just disoriented and a little bit injured," said Investigator Kelly Davis.

The damaged pickup was found at Morales' home and he was charged with failure to stop and render aid. "Alcohol was a factor," said Davis.

Reward offered on bond jumper in cocaine case

Pecos Valley Crimestoppers is offering a reward for any information concerning a man who jumped bail after being arrested on drug charges earlier this year.

Officials are offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who knows the whereabouts of Edmundo, aka "Amberto" Lujan Saenz and can provide details that lead to his arrest.

On Feb. 6, of this year Pecos Police arrested Saenz for possession of a controlled substance (cocaine) with intent to deliver. On Feb. 9, Saenz bonded out of jail on a $20,000 bond and then failed to show up at his scheduled court date. A warrant was then issued by Municipal Court Judge Phyllis Salyer on Feb. 18 for the arrest of Saenz for possession of a controlled substance, with intent to deliver.

Saenz is 55 years old, 5'9" and weighs 212 pounds.

Anyone with information on the location of Saenz, call the Pecos Valley Crime Stoppers at 915-445-9898 and you will remain anonymous.

Task force aids Midland SO with cocaine bust

PECOS, Sept. 14, 1999 -- The Trans Pecos Drug Task Force has once again been busy helping out their neighbors, as officers were involved in an arrest Monday in Midland County.

Officers with the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force and the Midland County Sheriff's Department responded to a Crime Stoppers tip and arrested Jose Lopez, 502 W. Park St.., Midland, for possession of cocaine with the intent to deliver.

Seized from the Lopez residence was 12 bags of alleged cocaine valued at approximately $1,000.

The task force is under the direction of task force commander Gary Richards and Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez, who is project director for Reeves County, the task force's home base.


Cruz Pisana

Cruz Matta Pisana, 54, of Austin, died Wednesday, Sept. 1, after a long-term illness.

Services were held on Sept. 3, in Austin.

She was born July 3, 1945 in Pecos, graduated from Pecos High School in 1964 and was a long-time Catholic.

Pisana was preceded in death by her parents the late Juan Matta Sr. and Epigmenia M. Matta and one brother, Manuel M. Garcia.

Survivors include her husband, Bill M. Pisana Sr. of Austin; two sons, Bill Pisana Jr., and Jonathan Pisana, both of Austin; four daughters, Diana and Amanda Pisana, both of Austin; Michelle Sanders of Dallas and Annette Sanchez of Houston; six brothers, Manuel G. Matta of Ojinaga, Mexico, Juan Matta Jr., Raul Matta, and Paz Matta, all of Odessa, Pablo Matta Sr. and Hector Matta Sr., both of Pecos; seven sisters, Paula M. Ornelas, Mary Dutchover and Yolanda M. Ramirez, all of Pecos, Eloisa Casias of Odessa, Virginia M. Ramirez of Zapata, Sister Martha Ann of Tucson, Ariz., and Maria Regino of McCamey.

Lucia C. Talamantez

Lucia C. Talamantez, 86, of Pecos, died Friday, Sept. 10, 1999, at her residence.

A rosary will be held at 7 p.m., today at Pecos Funeral Home Chapel.

Mass is scheduled for 2 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 15, at Santa Rosa Catholic Church with Father Ben Flores officiating. Burial will be in Toyah Cemetery.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Frank Talamantez Sr. and one son, Joe Talamantez.

Survivors include two sons, Frank Talamantez Jr. and Ray Talamantez of Pecos; two daughters, Romelia T. Herrera and Maria "Lola" Gomez of Pecos; 22 grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


PECOS, Sept. 14, 1999 -- High Monday 81; low last night 60.

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Pecos Enterprise
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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