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Thursday, October 14, 1999

RR crossings kept, zoo street shut by council

Staff Writer
PECOS, Oct. 14, 1999 - "No," said the Pecos City Council this morning to closing railroad crossings on Willow, Alberta and Locust Streets as requested by Union Pacific Railroad Company.

"Yes," said the council to moving the Eddy Street fence around Fairview Cemetery to allow room for a six-foot wide sidewalk to be installed by the Texas Department of Transportation.

"Yes" to a truck route around Pecos on the east.

"Yes" to closing Toliver Street for the two blocks inside Maxey Park.

"Wait" to Betty Oster Collier and Jerry Carbajal on the Texas Home Investment Partnership Program to finance housing rehabilitation for elderly, low-income and disabled homeowners.

"Well done" to Valera Gatewood for eight years of service on the Reeves County Appraisal District board of directors, whom they re-appointed.

Noting that Gatewood is the only board member with a perfect attendance record over the past two years, Councilman Johnny Terrazas made the motion to reappoint her.

"She's eight for eight," said Terrazas. "She represents us well."

Mayor Pro Tem Danny Rodriguez took over the gavel for Mayor Dot Stafford, whose voice gave out after the first agenda item. When the meeting continued for more than two hours, Rodriguez quipped that Stafford had "put everything in the air" on the two-page agenda.

Routine items approved with little discussion included awarding contracts for management and engineering services on the new $350,000 water system improvement grant to Carlos Colina-Vargas and Frank Spencer & Associates, respectively, and approving four signators for checks;

- Increasing dependent health care coverage premiums from $100 to $125 per month;

- Adopting the airport layout plan proposed by the Texas Department of Transportation;

- Hiring a part-time Municipal Court Clerk;

- Performing an internal audit of Municipal Court

- Juvenile court, ambulance and fire reports, and accounts payable.

Onion shed owner Randy Taylor and A.B. Foster voiced opposition to closing the railroad crossing on Willow Street.

Foster said the shed is in operation during June, July and August, employing 70-80 workers. In addition, 20-30 field trucks per day cross the tracks with loads of onions, and 15-20 semi-trucks haul them from the shed to markets throughout the United States.

"If we closed this street and made access off Elm, that would entail a lot of work," Foster said. "It is only a dirt road. There's bridges and culverts where you turn off Elm and it would be hard for the trucks to make that turn."

The shed, just north of the tracks off Willow Street, has been in operation since 1964, Foster said.

"It would be a definite hardship on us if they close this crossing," he said.

Utilities Director Octavio Garcia said that closing the Locust Street crossing would create a hardship for families who live in the area on both sides of the railroad.

"Alberta is just a crossing to residences outside the city limits, and they can use Alamo Street," he said.

Rodriguez said that when the closings were considered previously, emergency personnel objected that it would hinder their reaching victims north of the tracks when a mile-long train is blocking U.S. Highway 285.

Consolidating the six crossings into three would increase the hazard as well has having an economic impact, said councilman Ricky Herrera, who seconded Rodriguez's motion to reject the proposal.

John Salcido reported that TxDOT plans to install a six-foot sidewalk around Fairview Cemetery on the Eddy Street side to make it safer for pedestrians, particularly school children. The cemetery fence needs to be moved at least two feet, he said.

City Manager Kenneth Neal said the fence can be moved farther to the west, leaving evergreen trees and the watering system outside the fence.

"We are also going to landscape the island on Washington Street," Salcido said. The sidewalk will also connect with ramps that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, he said.

Armando Gil presented a plan to close Toliver Street between the buffalo pen on the north and Kid's City on the south, to protect children both playing in the area and crossing the road to view animals on both sides of the street.

"Another problem is vandalism at night," Gil said. "People are driving through there, drinking and throwing beer bottles inside the animal pens."

The council approved fencing off the closed roadway, but rejected a suggestion to install a narrow gate in the north end for foot traffic.

Councilman Larry Levario said that TxDOT does not want to encourage people to park on the I-20 access road and enter the park.

City Attorney Scott Johnson drew up an ordinance closing the street, which was approved on first reading. The second reading will be at the next council meeting Oct. 28.

Chamber eyes Civic Center alcohol permit

Staff Writer
PECOS, Oct. 14, 1999 - Applying for a liquor license to sell alcoholic beverages at the Reeves County Civic Center was a suggestion brought before Chamber of Commerce Board members during their regular meeting, held Tuesday.

Dyer Lightfoot, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agent in charge of the Odessa area, and David Jackson were on hand for the meeting to answer questions and provide input.

Dick Alligood told board members that the taxing entities can't continue to maintain operations at the civic center, and other ventures need to be looked at.

"We need to take a look at the facility and possibly think about filing our own license for alcoholic beverages," said Alligood.

He told the group that people who rent out the center sometimes get temporary licenses, but if the chamber had a license they could keep the funds generated from the sale of alcoholic beverages at the facility.

"At looking at the concert and other events, we're very well aware of what we can do with the sales of alcohol," he said.

Alligood said that the chamber would need to look into the legalities of it and assess the liabilities, before taking that step. "And also, do we want to be in that type of business," he said.

"We need to find out if we as a chamber can file, or do we have to form a separate corporation," he said.

Lightfoot told the group that the chamber could apply to have a license, since they have the lease on the facility. "You also have to consider that this lease is for 365 days a year, so the chamber would essentially be in charge of all alcoholic beverage sales out there," he said.

Lightfoot said that the group would either have to hire some management, or could do it themselves, but would have to go through some training.

"The liability factor is always there, when holding this type of license," he said. "It's important to train people and keep them abreast of all the new laws."

Lightfoot said that the chamber would have to keep tabs on the individuals at the facility if they had their own liquor license.

"If you've got a problem with someone there, take care of it, if there's someone there that looks to young to be drinking don't sell them alcohol, if there's someone who is drunk, find them a ride home," he said.

The chamber would also go through a criminal history check. "But that's standard procedure when applying for the license," he said.

Alligood said that by owning the license, the chamber could monitor activities at the facility better.

"We've had incidents where the facility is rented out for a private occasion, then chamber staff will go out to the facility on Monday and find graffiti and other damages done," he said. "If the chamber was selling the alcoholic beverages out there, they could keep better tabs on the people, and possibly prevent these things from happening."

The license would cost from $700-$800 the first year, but the cost would go down in the second year, upon renewal, according to Lightfoot.

All beer sales funds would go to the chamber and the license would belong to the chamber.

"In other words, people who rent it out can't bring in their own alcoholic beverages, except liquor," said Lightfoot. "Beer sales would belong to the chamber, but it could also sell set ups for mixed drinks."

Chamber members agreed to look into the matter further before deciding if they want to apply for the license.

"We need to discuss this and see if want to do this," said chamber president Linda Gholson. "We need to discuss if we even want to be in the liquor business."

Alligood said that if the chamber does opt to apply for the license, the city would need to be in on it as well, along with the West of the Pecos Rodeo Committee.

"We invited Starkey (Warren) to be with us today, because he is the president of the rodeo committee," said Alligood.

Lightfoot said the liquor license would not interfere with beer sales at the annual rodeo events, since they are two separate facilities. "The rodeo grounds have a different address and they hold a license of their own, so it wouldn't interfere with their sales at all," he said.

In a related subject, Gholson gave board members an update on the results from the Annual Fall Fair and concert.

"Things were great at the fall fair, we did really well," she said, referring to the events at the Reeves County Civic Center. "It was a huge success."

Chamber director Tom Rivera told the group that the cookoff had generated some funds. "It was up in the air there for awhile, but at the end it made some money," said Rivera.

Total expenditures for the cookoff totaled, $1,714 and the income was $1,950.

The Annual Stock Show held in conjunction with fall fair events, was a huge success, the largest it's been. New Reeves County Extension Agent Terry Holder told the group that this was in part because of the TCLA lamb show. There were 170 lambs in the show, 14 steers and seven heifers.

"We had a lot more entries because of the lamb show, which brought a lot of people into Pecos," said Holder.

The steer and heifer number was down a bit, but Holder said he had heard nothing but good comments about the stock show in general. "Hopefully next year we'll do this well," he said.

Although turnout for the Fall Fair concert was lower than previous years, chamber members also made money there, where the group was in charge of booth sales and beverage sales.

"The women's division also held a barbecue dinner for the firemen at the museum, which was a huge success," said Gholson.

The Fall Fair Committee will meet next Tuesday, at noon, at Cattleman's Restaurant. "If anyone has any ideas or just want to provide some input for next year's event, please attend this meeting," she said.

Debbie Thomas told the group that the route for the Mother Goose Halloween Parade had been changed again. "The parade will now start at the First National Bank, as originally planned and will end at the West of the Pecos Museum, where a little carnival will be set up," she said.

The date of the annual event had also been changed earlier, from late September to Oct. 21. In past years, the event was held in conjunction with the fall fair, but this year the event was scheduled towards the end of the month and the name changed to Mother Goose Halloween Parade.

The Women's Division of the chamber reported that this year there will not be a gift show and Tour of Homes. "We've held the Tour of Homes for the past two years and it's kind of hard to find people for the tour," said Thomas. "We decided not to have it this year, and think about maybe having it next year, along with the gift show."

Jesse Stephens talked about the home project. A meeting has been scheduled for Nov. 18 with members of HUD scheduled to be present.

Stephens said this was a project he felt they needed to pursue. "There's a lot of money in the form of grants that can be used to renovate older homes, get rid of vacant lots and houses," he said.

PHS band heads to El Paso

PECOS, Oct. 14, 1999 - The Pecos Eagle Band will be in El Paso this weekend competing against several other Class 4A bands in the University Interscholastic League area marching contest, at the Socorro Athletic Center Complex.

Eagle band members will be performing at 2:15 p.m., El Paso time at Socorro Stadium, located a mile north of Interstate 10 on Loop 375 (Exit 34), on the east side of El Paso.

"Putting it Together," "Be Bop A Lula" and "Jericho" are some of the selections the band will perform in competition.

"We're hoping for the best," said Eagle Band Director Bill Goff. "If we win at that competition, we can go on to area competition," he said.

Goff said the band has been practicing diligently and "are doing a lot better."

"We have a more powerful band this year than we did last year," said Goff.

The Eagle Band earned a Division I at last year's competition in El Paso, but Class 4A schools did not advance to area competition in 1998. High School bands can advance to regional and state competition ever other year, under rules set down by the UIL in 1992.

City seeks to move up Halloween to Saturday

Staff Writer
PECOS, Oct. 14, 1999 - Halloween trick or treat will be on Saturday, Oct. 30, the Pecos City Council decided this morning.

Mayor Dot Stafford made the recommendation because October 31 falls on Sunday, when many people attend church in the evening.

"I didn't know we had that kind of power," quipped Councilman Johnny Terrazas.

"You could move Thanksgiving to Friday," suggested City Attorney Scott Johnson.

Pecos Elementary School will have a Halloween carnival on Friday night, Oct. 29, Stafford said.

Council members also approved a lease agreement with Larry Kingston for use of the big airport hangar where he parks his crop duster.

The contract prohibits Kingston from washing the airplane at the airport and from storing chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides.

Health Inspector Armando Gil said that he regularly inspects the hangar, and there has been a problem in the past with Kingston washing his plane and storing chemicals.

"This is a little tougher than the old agreement," said Johnson.

Kingston is to pay $1,320 per year for hangar lease.

No action was taken following executive sessions regarding the duties of the animal control officer and possible litigation with Reeves County over water rates for the detention center.

City Manager Kenneth Neal said the council was updated on the new animal control officer, Jaime Renteria.

School board to discuss request  for drug dog

PECOS, Oct. 14, 1999 - A proposal by Pecos Police Department for a Drug Detection Dog Project and a maintenance agreement for synthetic track surfacing with Wilkins Associates will topics of discussion at today's regular Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board meeting.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m., in the P-B-T board room at 1304 S. Park St..

Board members will recognize Region 18 Teacher of the Year nominees for state, discuss interlocal agreement with Reeves County for racquetball courts and batting cages on the west side of the old Pecos High School gym, and reasons and times for staff to leave campus early.

In other business, the board will discuss the facility value assessment K-8 proposal report by Monte Hunter; an agreement with Pecos Nursing Home for relocation of nursing facility residents in case of emergency; request by Town of Pecos City to accept donation of property located at Lot 1-6, Block 8, Central Section for a future sports complex.

Board members will also discuss and approve:

· A resolution to recognize the Reeves County, Texas 4-H organizations as an extracurricular activity.

· A resolution to appoint three representatives to the Reeves County Tax Appraisal District Board of Directors.

· Policies and procedures for transportation department.

· 1999-2000 textbook committees.

· 1999-2000 budget amendments.

* Enrollment report.

* Tax Report.

* Depository securities report.

* Current bills and financial report.

* Investment transaction report.

* Reconciled bank balance report.

* Date and time for next regular meeting.

* Calendar of events.

* Request for items for next agenda.

The board will meet in closed session to discuss personnel or hear complaints against personnel and for a private consultation with the board's attorney.

In open session the group will take action, if any, on items discussed in closed session.

Environmental groups threaten suit

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will face a lawsuit in 60 days unless it designates additional areas of critical habitat for the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow, two environmentalist groups announced Wednesday.

The government's present plan for recovery of the fish fails to protect its current habitat, let alone areas of historic range along the Rio Grande in Texas and New Mexico, according to Forest Guardians of Santa Fe and the Southwest Environmental Center in Las Cruces.

The failure violates the Endangered Species Act, said Matt Kenna, attorney for the plaintiffs.

"If you do not remedy these violations within the next 60 days, I will file suit on behalf of Forest Guardians and the Southwest Environmental Center in order to compel you to do so," Kenna said in his formal notice of intent to sue, filed Wednesday with Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt's office in Washington, D.C.

The warning also applies to areas of the Pecos River, and to the Rio Grande in Texas and New Mexico. The Pecos is habitat for another protected fish, the Pecos bluntnose shiner, but the environmentalists also would like the silvery minnow reintroduced in that river, from Fort Sumner to above Brantley Reservoir.

The government's final designation of critical habitat for the minnow only includes a portion of current habitat, which is only 5 percent of its historic range, the notice warns.

Since the fact that the minnow occupied only 5 percent of its historic range led to its endangered status, Kenna said, "preservation and restoration of that habitat alone could never lead to its delisting."

The final designation excludes six miles of Rio Grande where 99 percent of the minnow population currently exists, the groups noted. Those six miles extend from the San Marcial railroad bridge across the Rio Grande, about 30 miles south of Socorro, to Elephant Butte.

The Fish and Wildlife Service office was closed by the time the groups' announcement was released late Wednesday, so federal officials were unavailable for comment.

The agency's minnow recovery plan recognized in July that the species could recover only if it were re-established in three or four areas of historic range.

"The current critical habitat doesn't even protect the existing population," said Kevin Bixby of Southwestern Environmental Center.

Biologists have been concerned because the minnows have become concentrated in the same short stretch of river between the San Acacia Diversion Dam and Socorro, where thousands of fish perished in 1996. Biologists are studying whether and when to undertake an emergency rescue in which minnows would be captured and released upstream before next spring's spawning season.

John Horning, spokesman for Forest Guardians, said the groups would like to see the silvery minnow reintroduced in Texas along the Rio Grande between Presidio and Amistad Reservoir and from Falcon Dam to the Gulf of Mexico.

But he said potential Pecos River habitats for the minnow in Texas are less desirable and of a lower priority.

Last year, the minnow population was estimated around 10,000, he said, and "this year they (federal biologists) think it's 2,000 or less."


AUSTIN (AP) Results of the Lotto Texas drawing Wednesday night: Winning numbers drawn: 16-24-25-40-46-50. Estimated jackpot: $18 million. Number matching six of six: 0. Matching five of six: 74. Prize: $2,191. Matching four of six: 4,695. Prize: $125.


AUSTIN (AP) The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Wednesday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 9-2-3 (nine, two, three)


Michela Hernandez

Michela Hernandez, 73, of Balmorhea, died Tuesday, Oct. 12, 1999, at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa.

A rosary will be held at 7 p.m., today at Christ the King Catholic Church in Balmorhea.

Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m., Friday, Oct. 15, at Christ the King Catholic Church in Balmorhea with Father Rodriguez officiating. Burial will be in Balmorhea Cemetery.

She was born March 5, 1926, in Balmrohea.

Survivors include six sons, Ed Hernandez of Fort Stockton, Carmen and Art Hernandez of Balmorhea and Raul, Lee Roy and Joe Hernandez of Odessa; two daughters, Minga Lopez of Odessa and Shelia Rodriguez of Lubbock; two brothers, Trini Flores of Balmorhea, Jose Flores of Odessa; 30 grandchildren and 35 great-grandchildren.

Tarango newborn

Services are incomplete for baby Tarango of New Hampshire.

Survivors include parents, Felix and Terra Tarango, of Concord, N.H.; maternal grandparents, Mike and Betty Spencer of San Marcos; paternal grandparents, Seferina T. Polanco of Pecos and Mike Polanco; three aunts; and numerous cousins and relatives.


PECOS, Oct. 14, 1999 - High Wednesday 93; low last night 52. Tonight, clear. Low 50-55. South wind 5-15 mph. Friday, sunny. High around 90. South to southwest wind 5-15 mph. extended forecast, Friday night, fair. Lows 50-55. Saturday, becoming windy and cooler. Highs 65-75. Sunday, mostly cloudy, windy, and colder. Lows 40 45. Highs in the 50s.

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