From the January 11, 2018 Jal Record
BY John Earp
According to official reports from the City of Jal, at least one of the City’s wells has in recent months been experiencing significant “aeration,” meaning the well is drawing a lot of air instead of water. The official reports from Resource Wise (an engineering firm hired to provide water conservation methods for the City) indicated that Well #3 has extremely high aeration caused by cavitation. Pump cavitation is the formation of vapor cavities or bubbles in a liquid that are consequences of rapid changes of pressure in the pump that is meant to draw liquid but instead catches air. The December 11th report from Resource Wise goes on to say that “Well #3 is periodically used by the City but due to the high level of aeration, the existing meter is not recording all of the water being produced.” The December 12th report from Resource Wise noted a plan to work with Jal Elementary Principal Robinson on conservation education curriculum and training for elementary school staff. The November report mentioned writing Standard Operating Procedures for the City’s water meter testing program which will be implemented the beginning of 2018. In a letter dated December 2, 2014, City Manager Bob Gallagher appealed to the Office of the State Engineer to grant a permit to the Beckham Ranch, Inc., to appropriate underground waters of the Jal Basin. The Beckham Ranch, Inc., was eventually granted rights to 500 acre-feet of water in the Jal Basin. In July of last year, The Jal Record reported on an interview we had with John Romero, an engineer with the Office of the State Engineer in Roswell. In that interview, Romero said, “We always need to be conservative as to how we use water and try not to waste. That’s why we closed the basin. We closed the Jal Basin, and then we allowed it to be opened because you know the aquifer is being pumped, and the way the aquifer expands south into Texas, so we’re at the fringe of it, and we understand that, so why not let our people in New Mexico pump water? That’s the thinking? Do we want it to be a race to the bottom? No. But the locals there need to try to be conservative and use water wisely, and hopefully the aquifer lasts longer than we think.” Last April, The Jal Record reported a discussion about the Jal Basin (Jal’s sole source of drinking water) that was had during the March 2017 meeting of the Jal City Council, in which Mayor Chance expressed concern that a top engineer in the Office of the State Engineer had told her that Jal was soon not going to have any drinking water because of Midland [tapping into the Jal Basin]. In that meeting, City Manager Bob Gallagher called that “an asinine statement,” and insisted that Jal’s drinking water situation was good for 20 to 30 years. In that same meeting, City Councilor Dewayne Jennings said, “From what I’ve seen, there’s more water being pulled from the Jal Basin right out here, close to our wells, more water, than in the history of the Jal Basin. So, I don’t sleep good at night. When that’s gone, what are we going to do?” Gallagher responded, “The Souder Miller study from last year shows that, and says even with that fact, that they believe, properly managed, that for the next 20 to 30 years we will be fine. But I’m not sure how we got into a discussion of drinking water right now, because I think our drinking water is in great shape and protected. What we were doing is looking out into the future.” If in fact our Jal drinking water is “in great shape and protected,” as Gallagher said last year, why is one of our city wells now sucking air?
by John Earp
On Thursday November 28, 2017, at 8:41 p.m., the assistant manager of the Cattle Baron Restaurant in Hobbs called 911 to report that a white male subject had walked out on his ticket, cursing and failing to pay before leaving the restaurant. Records obtained by Inspection of Public Records (IPRA) request from the Hobbs Police Department indicate that the assistant manager of Cattle Baron called 911 to report that Mr. Gallagher, after running up a bill of $41.07, which included three 22-ounce Michelob beers, a glass of Pinot Grigio wine, a burger, ice cream and a Grand Marnier, approached the desk near the front of the restaurant saying, “I’m tired of F-ing waiting” for [my] bill.” According to the 911 call, Gallagher then told the manager to send him a bill.
The police report does not state the duration of Mr. Gallagher’s stay at the Cattle Baron, in which he ordered three 22-ounce beers, a glass of white wine, and Grand Marnier. The police report does state that Mr. Gallagher said he was “tired of waiting around to pay” his bill. The assistant manager said she told Mr. Gallagher she could take care of his bill for him, but he said, “Just bill me,” throwing his “RMG Consulting, LLC” business card in her direction onto the floor. On the 911 recording, the assistant manager states that Gallagher “continued to cuss at me, and walked out the door.” On the 911 recording, she went on to say of Gallagher, “He’s been here plenty of times. He’s one of our regulars. I know he’s gotten into it before with my GM, and then now this incident.” On the recording, the 911 operator asked the assistant manager if anybody knows what Gallagher left in, to which the assistant manager replied, “I was hesitant on following him out, just because I am a female, and because he was cussing out me when he walked out the door. So that’s why I kind of just stopped right there, came in the office and called my GM and asked him what to do, and he said call the cops on him. He walked on a ticket.”
The police report further states that the assistant manager informed the police that “Bob is a regular at the restaurant and sometimes acts rude towards the staff.” According to the police report, the assistant manager believed Gallagher to be a Jal City Councilman. The police report went on to say that the matter was forwarded to the Hobbs City Attorney. We reached out to the Cattle Baron Restaurant for comment, but were told by the assistant manager and the general manager that they could not comment on the incident. The recording of the 911 call and the police report, both of which have been obtained by The Jal Record via IPRA request, will be posted on The Jal Record Facebook page.
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Councilors Plead Ignorance by John Earp
Over the past several months, there have been three Jal City Council meetings in which the issue has been raised concerning the longstanding arrangement that the City has had with the Jal Country Club over the sale of city’s treated sewage (graywater) for irrigation of the golf course. The Jal Country Club golf course, quite obviously, cannot exist without irrigation in our semiarid climate. In recent meetings of the City Council, the public has asked city councilors about the status of the graywater the City has been giving to the country club. As these councilors have not been able to provide answers, The Jal Record has taken on a fact-finding mission to bring you some answers. The Jal Record sent a request to the City for public records in accordance with the Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA). The limited amount of public records that we received from the City has shed light on several things. All of these documents we have received from the City are public records, and will be made available for your perusal online by The Jal Record. Citizens have an inherent right to know what its government is doing.
According to documents obtained by IPRA request, City Manager Bob Gallagher responded to a question from a concerned citizen in an email dated August 2, 2017, saying that “The project is not a city project and the city did not pay a penny for this project.” However, according to documents obtained by The Jal Record from the City by IPRA request, including invoices and photocopies of checks and check stubs written by the city, the City of Jal has in fact hired and paid contractors JDLR & Associates and Marron & Associates a total so far of $10,987 for project coordination, information gathering, coordination of insurance policy, preparation and submittal of permit applications, as well as coordination with Marron and Associates on environmental and archaeological clearances, and coordination with the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT). So the claim by Mr. Gallagher that the city has not paid a penny for this project is shown to be false in his reply to the concerned citizen.
Records obtained from the City by means of IPRA request have further confirmed is that the City has applied for and obtained an NMDOT right-of-way agreement for a pipeline extending several miles northwest of town along the Carlsbad Highway. The pipeline itself appears to have already been laid along Highway 128 for several miles west of town, and originates at the retention ponds across from the Jal Country Club. The NMDOT permit also shows the city had to provide liability insurance at a cost to the city and also shows that the city is liable for the private company’s line and for any property contamination or damage that may occur along the pipeline.
In an email dated July 29th from Mayor Chance to the city manager, the mayor asked Mr. Gallagher, if this shouldn’t come before the council? Gallagher replied, “We have not entered into any agreements,” stating that there is “nothing to bring to the council.” However, documents obtained from the City of Jal by The Jal Record via IPRA request reveal that there have in fact been two agreements between the city and JDLR directly related to the project, hiring that firm to get NMDOT and an amendment for them to hire subcontractors and to facilitate the liability insurance on the project. This contract was approved for a budget adjustment by the city council to the tune of $50,000. So, the council members saying they have no knowledge of it seems at the very least to be rather misleading to the public. If they had no knowledge of it, why did they approve it? If they approved it, why do they have no knowledge of it?
Further, the Secretary of State website shows the Jal Water Alliance, LLC has been formed on June 4, 2017 by Dale Johnson. An email from consultant Wayne Price to Bob Gallagher, Van Myrick and Dale Johnson, dated July 13, 2017, in reference to Lea County saying the City did not need a right-of-way to place the pipeline under North Third Street south of the country club, said, “Hey take a look at this, it looks like we are free to go.” In another email dated June 26, 2017, Wayne Price, consultant, states, “I am a consultant working for a public-private partnership venture that involves the City of Jal, NM. We have been working with the city manager Mr. Bob Gallagher and their utility director, Van Myrick.” In another email dated July 21, 2017 from Dale Johnson of Mobile H2O Services to Van Myrick, Johnson asked the city public works director Van Myrick if it was okay to not bury the line across the city property. In response, Myrick stated, “That is correct.”
In an email from Wayne Price dated June 15, 2017, to Bob Gallagher, Van Myrick, Jared Davis, and Dale Johnson, states, “I understand we are in the closing moments of pumping water.” An email dated March 29, 2017, from Wayne Price to Van Myrick, Dale Johnson, Jared Davis, and Bob Gallagher, states, “I like that, excellent. The first phase will be above ground.” On March 29, 2017, an email from Van Myrick states, “I agree with Bob. Lay down at first and bury later.” If no agreement existed, it certainly is implied, and taxpayer money is definitely being spent.