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Monday, November 22, 1999

City joins opposition to N-dump site

Staff Writer
PECOS, Nov. 22, 1999 - Town of Pecos City Council approved a resolution opposing the dumping of low-level nuclear waste in Ward County this morning.

Clark Lindley was on hand to advise the council and according to City Attorney Scott Johnson helped with drafting the resolution.

"This resolution is a compilation of several drafts and I think we've taken the best language from each in creating this one," Johnson said.

Lindley advised the council that no official bodies had gone on record supporting the proposed site but that several had gone on record opposing the site including Reeves County, Barstow, Red Bluff Water Power Control District, the City Council of Grandfalls, and Ward County Water Improvement Districts 1 and 3.

The main points of the resolution were:

_ Radioactive waste has a very long hazardous life;

_ Low-level waste as defined can contain such items as control rods and other reactor waste;

_ Containers will not last as long as the waste they contain leading to "planned leakages;"

_ That the legislature in House Bill 1910 sought to authorize private companies to hold a license from the State that would allow private companies to contract with any organization to store waste and in effect allowing the license holder to accept waste from any source and not just the Texas, Maine and Vermont;

_ That the people of four counties (Reeves, Ward, Winkler and Loving) were dependent on water from the Cenozoic Pecos Alluvium Aquifer that could be harmed by radiation contamination; and,

_ That recent history reflects repeated incidents of mismanagement of hazardous radioactive wastes by government and private companies.

The resolution then states that, "Whereas, it appears that the primary risk to lives and economic effort from this proposed site will ultimately rest upon the people of this area…rather than Envirocare, the utility companies who create most of the radioactive waste, or the State Governments who made the decisions regarding the Compact:" _ that is resolved that the City Council of the Town of Pecos City strongly opposes development of the site in western Ward County.

The resolution passed unanimously with Councilman Gerald Tellez not present.

After the vote the council also asked City Manager Ken Neal to make sure the finished resolution was forwarded to the area's political representatives.

In other business the council authorized City Finance Manager Steve McCormick to send in the paperwork for the new method of computing the telephone company franchise fee.

McCormick said that the legislature passed House Bill 1777 in the past session, which consolidated telecommunication franchise fees under a state plan.

The Bill relieves the telecommunication companies from negotiating franchise rates with each individual city as was the practice in the past, McCormick said.

McCormick said that the new method of computation might mean a slight hike in local telephone bills as telephone companies usually pass the franchise costs own to the consumer.

"The new system should increase our revenue (the city's)," McCormick said.

The council also voted to close the East 100 block of Fourth Street on December 10, for the Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the Reeves County Courthouse, to be held after the Christmas parade. The street will be blocked off from 6:30 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.

Roy Pena was also approved for another two-year term as fire chief for the volunteer fire department.

The council also met in closed executive session to discuss the following agenda items:

_ discuss/consider exchange of and/or lease of real property- rifle range,

_ discuss/consider possible litigation _ Reeves County Water rate case,

_ discuss/consider evaluation of city employee: fire chief.

The council referenced sections 551.071, 551.072 and 551.074 of the Texas Government Code in justifying the executive session.

Section 551.071 authorizes closing the meeting when a governmental body seeks council with an attorney pending possible litigation.

Section 551.072 authorizes closing the meeting when the governmental body will be deliberating the purchase, exchange or lease or the value of real property if deliberation in open session would have a detrimental effect on the position of the governmental body in negotiations with a third person.

Section 551.074 authorizes closing a meeting for the discussion of personnel matter.

In the following open session the council tabled both the rifle range item and its evaluation of the fire chief.

In the matter of the possible litigation with Reeves County over water rates the council voted to hire a water consultant for no more than $10,000 to advise the city. The city and county are at odds over the rate charged for water delivered to the Reeves County Detention Center.

Commissioners OK RCDC performance review

Staff Writer
PECOS, Nov. 22, 1999 - Reeves County Commissioners approved an agreement with Mgt. of America to conduct a performance review of operations at the Reeves County Detention Center, during their regularly scheduled meeting this morning.

Commissioners also awarded bids of several contracts, while tabling action on two others, agreed to salary changes for personnel in county departments, and delayed action until Tuesday afternoon on the proposed construction of a racquetball court and batting cage addition to the old Pecos High School gym, part of the county's sports and recreation department.

County Judge Jimmy Galindo said the performance review would be similar to those conducted in the past by former State Comptroller John Sharp's office, and that Mgt. of America is led by a former Sharp deputy, Greg Hartman. The review would focus on three areas at the RCDC; food services, managing information systems and staff salaries.

Galindo and warden Rudy Franco said the review would be designed to show where improvements needed to be made at the facility, which will double in size to 2,000 inmates next year.

"Things are happening so fast if you don't periodically look at your systems you are going to be left behind," said Franco. "Our facility is doubling in size, and it's kind of sobering what is going on. Within a year we will have the second biggest facility associated with the (U.S.) Bureau of Prisons."

Galindo said he hoped the review would provide more cost-efficient ways of buying food for the expanded prison. "Food service entails close to $2 million. That is going to be one of the major operations within the new prison," he said.

Franco cited the current problems with the commissary bookkeeping system. "Right now there are three distinct manual operations. We're going to double in size, and can you imagine three distinct transactions with 2,000 inmates?"

Galindo said the review would also look at future computer networking at the RCDC and tying the system into the BOP's computer network, which Franco said would allow them to keep better track of overall federal inmate activities.

On salaries, Galindo said the RCDC is having fewer problems today with guards leaving the prison for higher paying jobs at state or federal facilities in the region. However, Franco later added, "I believe in the future we're going to have to be competitive and in-line with the prevailing wage rate in the area with federal projects."

He restated that when asked by Commissioner Herman Tarin about where the financial resources would come from to match regional salaries. "I believe the eventual trend will be to pay the prevailing wage rate if we're dealing with federal projects. Hopefully, the resources will be there," said Franco.

The performance review took up the most time on this morning's agenda, which lasted just under two hours. The only other item that commissioners spent much time on was a side discussion between Galindo and Precinct 4 Commissioner Hivi Rayos about use of county road and bridge crews.

Rayos noted the work road and bridge supervisor Russ Salcido has been doing paving tracks both at elementary schools in Pecos and at the Balmorhea ISD, using recycled material from the Texas Department of Transportation.

"Since we were elected to help the county, we need to work on the roads first. If we have extra time we can work with the schools," Rayos said. "We need to do at least something on the north side. I've been here a year and haven't seen any improvement."

Galindo said Salcido's crews were working on roads on the northwest side of Pecos three weeks ago, and other commissioners pointed out that the recycled materials would not be good enough to use again on local roads.

"When we repave the roads we want to put good stuff on there. I don't know if recycled material would last for a long time," Tarin said.

The discussion came just before commissioners awarded a bid to Bridges Asphalt of Garland for asphalt and emulsions. County auditor Lynn Owens said the bid represented a 10-cent increase from a year ago, but was five cents lower than the bid commissioners accepted in 1997.

No bids were received for providing surface aggregates, and the only bid the county got for surplus food from the RCDC and Reeves County Jail was for zero dollars from Ismael Dutchover. Both items were tabled and will be re-advertised for bid.

Commissioners approved a contract with Desert Distributors for providing motor oil and fuel. Owens said their bid was lower across the board than the other bid the county received, from West Texas Gas.

Insurance contracts were awarded to Pecos Insurance, the lone bidder, for law enforcement on public officials liability. Owens said the contract needed to be approved before the current insurance policies expire on Nov. 30.

Pecos Insurance bid $96,572 for the law enforcement contract, up seven percent from a year ago, while the public official insurance bid was for $19,569, a 17 percent rise. In response to a question from Tarin, Owens said the Texas Association of Counties did not submit an offer for insurance this year.

Commissioners also approved bonding and oaths for Patricia Tarin, Connie Lozano and Yvonne Abila, and accepted department reports and agreed to line items transfers of $10,000 for the juvenile probation facility and $3,000 apiece for autopsies and meals and lodging for county employees.

Salary changes included the hiring of Henry Morgan and Paul Natividad for Correction Officer 1 positions at the RCDC, at salaries of $19,000 annually; hiring Rachel Orona to a part-time job at the Reeves County Sheriff's Department at a $6.50 hourly rate; hiring Tracy Machuca as a deputy clerk at the Reeves County Tax Assessor-Collectors office at a salary of $14,000, and hiring of Lee Michael Payan, Chriselda Florez, Monica M. Hinojos and Herby T. Hinojos as part-time juvenile detention officers at salaries of $6 an hour.

The salary of Dennis Rayos at the road and bridge department was raised to $20,384 a year by commissioners, and the salary for Ike Ward was increased to $14,061. At the Reeves County Community Sports and Recreation Department, Mike Hall was hired as a part time physical fitness trainer and Luis Rodriguez was hired as programs coordinator, both at $8 and hour salaries.

Galindo said the item on the gym expansion, part of the recreation department project, was tabled until he can meet with architect Lorraine Dailey Tuesday morning. Galindo said the cost for adding on the racquetball courts and batting cages has come in slightly over budget, and he wanted to talk with Dailey about ways to lower the cost before the items goes before the commissioner's court.

Commissioners voted to adjourn until taking the item up on Tuesday, starting at 1 p.m. in the third floor courtroom at the Reeves County Courthouse.

PHA given HUD approval for CIAP budget

News Writer
PECOS, Nov. 22, 1999 - The Pecos Housing Authority's $238,000 budget was approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the 1999 CIAP housing renovation program, board members were told during their regular monthly meeting Thursday.

The renovations, which will begin in January, will be on the PHA's Second Street apartments, said executive director Nellie Gomez.

The renovation, which includes wind turbine vents, ceiling fans, and light kits, will take three weeks per unit, said Gomez.

The HUD grant is not for the authority's regular account, but for the CIAP project. "It's a grant for improvements," said PHA chairman Frank Perea.

In other action, board members plan to hold a called meeting on Dec. 2 to clarify their CIAP and operating budgets and decide which resident to recommend for resident commissioner to the mayor.

Board members also approved all monthly reports.

Area unemployment declined in October

PECOS, Nov. 22, 1999 - Harvest season continued to wind down in October in Reeves County, cutting both the number of jobs and the number of people seeking work according to statistics released Thursday by the Texas Workforce Commission.

Reeves County's jobless rate fell from 11.2 percent in September to 10.5 percent last month, despite the loss of over 570 jobs. The TWC showed the number of jobs within the county fell to 5,664, but that was offset by a decline in the local labor force, from 7,016 to 6,328 workers.

The 10.5 percent rate is the lowest of the year in Reeves County, and unemployment across the Permian Basin was also down, as the oil industry continued to recover from prices that hit 12-year lows last winter.

Unemployment in Pecos remained higher than that of the county as a whole, but was also at its lowest level of 1999. The TWC put the city's October unemployment rate at 12 percent, with 4,370 people employed out of 4,964 in the labor force. September's jobless rate was 12.8 percent, with the decline also due to a cut in the city's workforce that offense a decline in seasonal jobs.

Big Spring was the only area city to report an increase in unemployment during October. It's rate climbed from 5.3 to 5.7 percent. Midland and Odessa saw their rates fall to 6.1 and 7.8 percent respectively, while Andrews and Monahans had rated of 8.3 percent, Fort Stockton reported a nine percent jobless rate and Kermit fell to 9.3 percent.

Presidio continued to report the state's highest unemployment rate, though it also was down from 30.3 to 27.1 percent last month, and overall the TWC said Texas' jobless rate dropped .1 percent in October, from 4.5 to 4.4 percent.

Third  jury gives death penalty in deputy's slaying

FORT STOCKTON (AP) - A West Texas jury decided last week that a thrice-convicted cop killer should die for his crimes - the suspect's third death sentence in 10 years.

The 12-member panel deliberated for less than three hours before deciding Charles Edward Smith should die by lethal injection for the 1988 shooting death of a Pecos County lawman.

Smith, from Kansas, showed no reaction Thursday as District Judge Brock Jones read his order to place Smith on death row.

Defense attorney Martin Underwood said he planned to appeal the sentence.

"We're in the appellate mode once again, which is nothing new to us," Underwood told the Odessa American.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has already overturned Smith's two previous death sentences. After Thursday's punishment was handed down, Underwood said he would file another appeal with the higher court in "a couple months."

The family of slain officer Tim Hudson shouted with joy and clapped when Jones read the verdict.

Hudson's daughter, Gwen Hudson-Simmons, said she was eager to see Smith die for the murder.

"This has gone on long enough. I hope for a speedy execution," she told the newspaper.

According to testimony and court records, Smith and his cousin escaped from a minimum-security prison in Kansas in August 1988. Then they stole a car and drove to South Texas.

Once in Houston, they stole a handgun, license plates, credit cards and a van.

Monahans holds `Toys for Tots'  tourney

A volleyball tournament to benefit the Monahans Toys for Tots program will be held on Dec. 11 at Walker Junior High School in Monahans.

Entry fee for the one-day tournament will be $90 per team, with a deadline of Dec. 3 to register.

For further information, call 943-4781.


 PECOS, Nov. 22, 1999 - Workers are clearing out the dirt area in front of the Pecos Chamber of Commerce on South Cedar Street, where a new curb will be put in place. The work began last week with the removal of the old concrete and curbs along Cedar Street in the central part of town are scheduled to be redone over the next several months, as part of a Texas Department of Transportation project. Curbs were redone and sidewalks installed on Cedar Street on the south side of Pecos last year as part of a TxDOT beautification project.


AUSTIN (AP) - Results of the Lotto Texas drawing Saturday night: Winning numbers drawn: 18-23-29-32-37-43. Estimated jackpot: $4 million. Number matching six of six: none. Matching five of six: 74. Prize: $1,503. Matching four of six: 3,806. Prize: $105.


AUSTIN (AP) - Results of the Texas Million drawing Friday night: Winning numbers drawn: 28-29-32-48. Number matching four of four in Group One: none. Number matching four of four in Group Two: none. Number matching four of four in Group Three: 1. Prize: $10,000. Number matching three of four in any group: 347. Prize: $300.


AUSTIN (AP) - Results of the Cash 5 drawing Friday night: Winning numbers drawn: 02-08-16-22-39. Number matching five of five: 1. Prize per winner: $84,734. Winning ticket(s) sold in: Dayton. Matching four of five: 309. Prize: $412.


AUSTIN (AP) - The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Friday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 0-5-9 (zero, five, nine)


AUSTIN (AP) - The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Saturday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 1-8-3 (one, eight, three)


High Sunday 83. Low this morning 45. Forecast for tonight: Clear, with lows in the low 40s. Tuesday: Turning cooler, with highs in the mid 60s. Winds turning northerly from 15-25 mph.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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