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January 26th, 2017 under West Texas Talk » West Texas Talk Highlight

Editor:

For the past 21 years, the people of the Big Bend have spectacularly participated in the annual Relay For Life and made it an outstanding success.

Unfortunately, it has become apparent that the event cannot be held in 2017.

The event requires the dedicated action of everyday people who are willing to give of their time and talents by serving on the Relay Committee.

For various reasons, the supply of these volunteers has dwindled to the point that there are not enough to carry the weight of organizing the event and carrying it to completion. Added to this lack of volunteers is the dwindling interest in forming teams. In its heyday, the event hosted 41 teams, and last year there were only eight teams walking.

It is apparent that it is time to take a break.

We have raised over $1 million throughout the 21 great Relays.

All of this is the result of the generosity of our many businesses that sponsored the event. Area volunteers, serving as committee members, team captains, team members and community members have all played a part.

“Many thanks” cannot be said enough for your support throughout the years.

In anticipation of the 2017 Relay, a team from Big Bend Regional Medical Center, “The Life Savers,” started their fundraising efforts last June and they plan to continue that project. Another early starter is Morrison True Value Hardware, which will sell Relay buckets in April or May this year. Funds from both of these projects will be donated to the American Cancer Society under the heading of “Relay 2017, Big Bend Area.” The committee would like to thank them for their efforts.

Another dedicated supporter is the Desert Sky Quilters. As a service to the American Cancer Society, they have furnished lap “Hug Quilts” for anyone that might need a hug full of hope. They want to continue this service. If you know anyone who could benefit from this, please call Marvie Burton at 837-2594.

As a bit of background information – in 1913 the Cancer Society for the Control of Cancer was organized to raise funds to find a cure for cancer. Through the years with things evolving, the main function of the renamed organization to the American Cancer Society is still to raise money to “fund research to find a cure.” While none of these proceeds are available to help pay for treatment of individual patients, there are many benefits donated by interested individuals and corporations.

The American Cancer Society can help the patient to find benefits, but only as available. This help may be accessed 24/7 by use of phone number (1-800-ACS-2345/1-800-227-2345).

Great strides have been made to cure cancer but more strides are needed. One has to realize there are over 300 kinds of cancer.

The American Cancer Society’s Mission Statement is, “Our Mission is to Save Lives, Celebrate Lives, and Lead the Fight for a World Without Cancer.” Monies that are raised are used for education, prevention, advocacy and patient services.

This decision to cancel plans for the 2017 Relay For Life was made with great regret and many thoughts and prayers.

Sincerely,

The Relay for Life Committee

Alpine

 

Editor:

I take this brief moment to publicly recognize and thank Fred Hernandez and the employees of AEP who worked tirelessly to get our power back up Saturday night.

As you know, Saturday night around 8:40pm we experienced a small blackout. For me, personally, it meant my 9:30pm shows abruptly stopping and my auditoriums were jarringly bathed in the ethereal glow of emergency lights.

After walking around the block and discovering the blackout was limited, from my point of view, to my block and a few on either side of us, my father, Dr. Rangra, called Fred Hernandez, who handles day-to-day operations for AEP, to let him know about the power outage.

He hadn’t heard anything about it, but informed my dad he’d look into it. He called back and let him know that something happened outside of town in the direction of Fort Stockton and he had crews working on it and estimated it would take an hour or two to fix.

Sure enough, about 11:30pm, the power came back, and I want to publicly acknowledge the amazing work the AEP crews did in the middle of the night in cold weather to get our community back up and running and the dedication of Mr. Fred Hernandez.

Sincerely,

Amit Rangra

Rangra Theaters

Alpine

 

Editor:

For over 18 months now, the fine residents of Marfa, including native Marfans from Alpine, Fort Davis, El Paso, Midland, Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, Albuquerque, just to name a few, have eagerly awaited what the county will do regarding the proposal by Global Golf Management to rejuvenate the Marfa Golf Course.

In addition to building a state-of-the-art golf course in the great town of Marfa, they have also proposed to build affordable housing, rejuvenate Vizcaino Park and even volunteering once a week their time and resources to conduct landscaping and clean up around town where needed.

Global Golf Management has made its intentions pubic going back to at least May 7th of 2015, including numerous town hall meetings to present to the community their intentions and well as to solicit the communities feedback on the project.

Time and time again a decision on the golf course has been put off with delay after delay, with the latest debacle being the attorney attained by the county being a no show at the meeting where a final disposition was to take place, much to the dismay of numerous residents in attendance.

It’s is safe to say no one expects anything different in the much-anticipated special meeting scheduled for the 31st of January, where yet again a final disposition is expected. Or will yet another delay take place?

With all of the delays, one cannot help but believe the county is attempting to sabotage this multi-million-dollar investment Global Golf is trying to inject into Presidio County.

What are the county residents to believe if the attorney hired by the county cannot be bothered to show up for a meeting as important as that. Every time there is a meeting to address the proposal by Global Golf Management there is a delay.

Things come up and the county has other issues besides the golf course to address. Everyone understands and is sensitive to the counties needs and priorities but the lack of urgency and attentiveness in addressing the golf course is both alarming and unacceptable.

Kudos to the county officials who are trying to do what’s best for the county but the manner the proposal by Global Golf Management has been handled has been appalling. The lack of communication by the elected county officials is what is fueling the frustration and disappointment of many to say the least.

The Marfa Golf Course has an advisory committee made up of local residents who are more than knowledgeable of the needs of the golf course. Has the attorney or the county officials representing the best interests of the county even bothered to solicit their feedback on the project or briefed them on what the future holds for the golf course?

As it stands right now and even 18 months ago when this project was first proposed, the land’s value remains the same, the golf course is still in the red, and the golf course continues to deteriorate in condition. The golf course doesn’t even have the appropriate equipment to keep up with the maintenance the golf course requires.

A major thank you and salute should go out to Earnest Villarreal and Mario Ontiveroz, two local county employees, whom have managed to keep the golf course up and running over the years despite having very limited resources to keep up with the maintenance it requires.

It was stated the two bids proposed for leasing the Marfa Golf Course did not meet the county’s expectations. What are the county’s expectations? Everyone is aware the land the Marfa Golf Course is on is a treasure to the community.   What better scenario does the county foresee happening that will outweigh what Global Golf Management is presenting?

It is time for the county to step up and make a decision. Alleviating debt for the county, increased revenue for local businesses, employment opportunities, and preserving an asset to the community for generations to come seems like an appropriate investment for the county. The land next to the golf course that belongs to the county has just been sitting there for longer than many of us have been alive. Now we have someone that is willing to come in and utilize that acreage that will only beautify and add to the existing golf course and our beautiful town of Marfa. An investment as such will only attract additional local golfers from Marfa and the surrounding communities, and also make it a destination for golfers throughout Texas and even the United States, especially with all of the tourism that comes through Marfa.

It’s a win-win situation for Marfa, the county, and the residents and visitors who play there.

For the past 18 months, Global Golf has vested financial resources and unlimited time in researching the project to ensure the rejuvenation of the Marfa Golf Course will be a huge success. Their motivation and communication to the county regarding the project has been essential.

Can the county say the same? Again, it’s time for the county to step up and make a decision. Another delay is unacceptable.

Ronnie Ontiveroz

Alpine and Marfa

 

Editor,

I find it troubling that the sitting Mayor of Marfa is working to create a city job for himself when he leaves office. His statement reported in the last Sentinel that “I will continue to work with the city, but we haven’t quite worked out what my position will be” implies the city is trying to find work in order to give him a job. If on the other hand, the mayor knows what he will be doing but is refusing to say demonstrates a complete lack of transparency and open government; either way I consider the move to be highly unethical. If the city needs to expand its administrative staff, our handsomely paid city administrator should conduct a task analysis, prepare a position description, seek city council approval, advertise the job and hire the most qualified candidate. No elected official while in office should use their influence to create a job that they will occupy upon leaving office. This is ethics 101 and if our current policies don’t already prevent it, they should be changed to do so.

If as rumored the mayor will be charged with managing the city’s budget, his refusal to disclose it suggests he thinks this is his city, not ours, and only compounds my concern about his controlling our city’s finances. Since the City Manager essentially reports to the Mayor, he is likely powerless to push back on this idea and why wouldn’t he want someone to take over some of his job duties. If the council members have been told outside of a council meeting that only the current mayor can do this work, they have been misled and quite possibly drawn into a violation of the Open Meetings Act, a criminal offense in Texas.

A new mayor and two city council persons will soon be elected. I strongly encourage the current council to show the independence, good judgment and resolve to oppose this move and reject any item in the city budget that supports it until after the election. If the City of Marfa has an extra $42,000 (before taxes and benefits) sitting around on top of the $85,000 or so it already pays the city manager, I suggest the council consider extending the homestead exemption to homeowners so more are not taxed out of our city, or better yet, give a well deserved and much needed pay raise to our EMTs.

I was raised with the ideal that you should always attribute good will to the actions of others until proven otherwise. I will assume that Mayor Dunlap thought he was just trying to help the City out and not just trying control one more public treasury. In that case I suggest we show gratitude for his efforts but say thanks but no thanks. I am counting on our City Council to do the right and ethical thing.

Bob Schwab

Marfa

 

Editor:

It was interesting to read that Mayor Dunlap wants a city job when his mayoral term ends. There are rumors in town that 1) he wants a new position at the city created for him, a new city treasurer gig with a “professional” salary, plus benefits, 2) he wants to be paid to do the city budget for an amount as yet undisclosed, and 3) he wants the job of municipal airport manager which is, of course, a paying gig.

This is interesting but not surprising. Mayor Dunlap is just following his career path of our corporate military and bureaucratic classes. First you do public service, retire and then get paid for what you know. First you work at the Pentagon, retire and then a defense contractor gig. It’s the corporate military and bureaucratic mantra: learn the gig, retire, cash out.

Marfa faces problems that are faced by countless small towns: infrastructure maintenance, utility management, government administration. But Marfa is very fortunate, Marfa is a growing small town and our resources are growing. Marfa needs professional help with the management of our future and not some ex military guy who wants to turn what he knows into a paying gig. I know, all his friends do it.

Love and Light

Lineaus Hooper Lorette

Marfa and Fort Davis

 

Editor:

Regarding the proposal toward the end of article, “Marfa airport may get boost from hotel tax funds,” BB Sentinel 01/12/17 a few weeks ago, which mentioned our City of Marfa considering “a city-run car rental service:”

This sounds expensive and perhaps a bit “off-task” for a town that appears to have a difficult time sustaining even the most basic obligations to its community.

Would the city lease or purchase vehicles (to be battered to pieces on our bad roads?) Who will be liable in the event of injury or accident? Is it a lucrative opportunity and if so, why hasn’t a private party stepped up to fill this niche? Has a marketing study been completed and, assuming so, does it show strong, sustained demand – enough to warrant our city venturing into uncharted territory?

Speaking of private parties: what about any Uber/Lyft drivers and/or tour guides who may already be scratching out a living providing ride services?

The privilege of a governmental entity to tax citizens bears an obligation to provide basic services such as water, sewer, sanitation (garbage), road maintenance, public safety, etc. and as anyone who has spent more than a few minutes here knows, the City of Marfa has struggled to do so. Property owners pay additional water, sewer and garbage bills, in addition to our taxes, with additional fees for services continuing to show up on our monthly bills – which raises yet another question: will this be another “add-on” to our ever-growing city utility bills?

Most of us appreciate tourism dollars that help to keep Marfa afloat and the city’s willingness to consider imaginative solutions to the persistent budgetary challenges. However, as a taxpayer and a full-time resident of Marfa, I would prefer my tax dollars be devoted to proper management of the assets for which the city is responsible: 1) Maintain our roads. 2) Provide safe drinking water. 3) Ensure safe, sanitary conditions for the good of our community.

Only after these very basic issues are successfully dealt with should anyone within City management begin to entertain additional scope of work.

Respectfully,

Walter Hopper

Marfa

 

Editor:

While I don’t dispute the election results, the claim that Donald Trump won by “landslide” bears no evidence.

Trump won the electoral votes, but historically, it ranks near the bottom, belonging somewhere between the lowest one-fourth and the lowest one-fifth of all Electoral College victories in history. This means number 32 on the list of presidential elections.

This is the fourth time in history a candidate who lost the popular vote, but was awarded the electoral votes. Clinton outpaced Donald Trump by almost 2.9 million votes, with 65,844,954 (48.2%) to his 62,979,879 (46.1%), according to certified final election results from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This is the largest margin a candidate has ever lost the popular vote but won the election. Fun facts not alternative facts.

Upon entering office, Trump had the lowest favorable rating of any president-elect in two decades. Inauguration crowd counts don’t lie. Trump’s anemic 250,000 inauguration attendees pales in comparison to the over one million at the Women’s March on Washington.

If Trump’s election was a landslide, then the word ‘landslide’ has no meaning. But call it what you will, Mr. Beckett.

Camp Bosworth

Marfa

Camp’s letter is in response to Todd Beckett’s letter of last week. – the editor.

 

Editor:

Mr. Redden’s letter to the editor criticizing the Big Bend Conservation Alliance (BBCA) was regrettably misinformed.

The story in question (“No safety testing evident for Trans-Pecos pipeline”) was thoroughly vetted by experts and reviewed by our attorney. The intention was to raise awareness of the situation and encourage our neighbors to report any signs of hydrostatic testing.

Even a cursory review of the BBCA’s website and informational materials would reveal that we do not, have never, and will never advocate breaking the law.

The BBCA does not participate in direct action. Many members have left our organization as a result.

The Glovers left the BBCA over two years ago.

The controversy here is not about tricky wording or questionable actions. It’s about Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) and their use of eminent domain to force a pipeline easement across private property for an enormous natural gas pipeline that was not designed to serve a single U.S customer.

As the Sentinel reported in last week’s issue, the pipeline is intended to export our natural gas to Mexico and on to markets in Asia, where it will fetch far higher prices. We also shouldn’t be surprised when our natural gas prices start to rise here as a result.

The BBCA actively supports open dialog and airing of the facts. Mr. Redden insists that others should keep their mouths shut. Perhaps he would be wise to take his own advice.

Trey Gerfers

Big Bend Conservation Alliance

Marfa

 

Editor,
We’ve been hearing for years from Republican politicians, from Trump to Speaker
Ryan and Congressman Will Hurd, about how they were going to repeal the
Affordable Care Act they named ‘Obamacare.’ Now they’re set to proceed
without ever even considering, much less answering, this simple question:
Why?
Why would ANYONE want to:
– Deny anyone, much less tens of millions of people, the ability to go to
the doctor when sick or to get preventive treatment to live happier,
healthier lives
-Make it harder to start up small businesses by removing access to
affordable health insurance
-Eliminate thousands of good jobs as doctors, nurses, or other providers
-Close hospitals, nursing homes and clinics, especially in rural areas
-Harm a significant segment of the US economy, including health care, one
of the fastest growing segments
-Increase costs for hospital district taxpayers who pay for uncompensated
care
-Force those with serious illness into bankruptcy
-Increase costs of prescriptions for seniors on Medicare
-Remove tax credits for businesses that pay for employee health insurance
-Increase our already extreme income inequality by tax cuts for the rich
at the expense of the middle class and poor
-Increase unplanned pregnancies and increase the number of abortions
(especially while claiming to be ‘pro-life’)
-Saddle businesses with increased employees sickness
-Reduce the government¹s ability to combat Medicare/Medicaid fraud
-Reduce the federal and state governments¹ ability to control insurance
premiums, growth now slowed under ACA
-Reduce the quality of care or the coverages of insurance?
These are just some of the questions they haven¹t addressed. They talk of
replacement but have nothing comparable. If they persist in this insanity,
we will have to give them a BIG answer at the ballot box in 2018 and 2020,
‘You’re fired!’

Mary Bell Lockhart, Brewster County Democratic Party chairperson

Alpine

 

Editor:

For comedy or cartoons to be funny, they should have at least a little basis in reality. Basing a cartoon on “fake news” is as bigoted and unfunny as the old jokes that featured “fried chicken” and/or “watermelon”.

What is darkly humorous is black clad, jackbooted thugs and their enablers rioting against the peaceful transfer of power, calling the half of the country that delivered the 305 electoral landslide victory, “fascist” and Nazis”.

Another darkly humorous observation is why the Women’s March left behind a mountain of garbage that looks like the aftermath of a windstorm in the local dump, aren’t they supposed to be the environmentally friendly ones?

One more thing: Over 50 of the groups that participated in that tantrum are Soros linked or affiliated, isn’t that ironic, again calling half the country fascist and Nazis when financed by an actual Nazi collaborator.

Todd Beckett

Presidio County Republican Chair

Presidio

 

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