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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, August 5, 2005

Gomez takes step towards county judge bid

Staff Writer

Primary elections for local offices in Reeves County are still over seven months away, but one person has taken the first step towards running for Reeves County Judge next March.

Alfredo Gomez has filed his treasurer’s designation and appointed Gail Box as his treasurer in his quest to run for county judge in the March 9, 2006 primary election.

The month-long filing period for the 2006 primary elections won’t begin until December, but individuals who want to run for office can appoint a treasurer’s designation anytime, according to Reeves County Clerk Dianne Florez.

“Individuals can apply and appoint a treasurer at any time, December 3 is the deadline to apply for the primary elections and Jan. 2, is the deadline to file for a place on the ballot,” said Florez.

Gomez said that an announcement would be coming shortly on whether or not he plans to take all the required steps in running for office.

“If I do decide to run or not, we’ll be announcing it soon,” said Gomez. “But we have registered a designated treasurer for the campaign.

“We want to explore the possibilities,” he added.

Reeves County is among a handful of counties in Texas in which almost all local positions are decided during the March Democratic Party primary, as opposed to the November general election. Primary winners will then have to run in the general election in November of 2005. Florez said the general election this November will only be for constitutional amendments as approved earlier this year by the Texas Legislature.

The March 9, 2006, Primary elections will feature places on the ballot for Reeves County Judge, Reeves County Clerk, District Clerk, Reeves County Treasurer, Reeves County Commissioners Precinct 1 and 4 and the four Justice of the Peace positions.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo currently is in his third term as county judge, having first been elected in 1994. Galindo has not officially announced yet whether or not he will see a fourth term in office.

Gomez is the owner of Alfredo’s Restaurant in Pecos, and a former president of the Pecos Chamber of Commerce. He said that he was considering running for the job because he feels that the county needs more commerce.

“We need more jobs and proper representations in Reeves County out in the market place,” said Gomez. “We need to go out and let everyone know, this is what we propose and what we can do for you.”

Gomez said that jobs is what is needed here. “Jobs, jobs, that’s what we need, and the jobs that we do have we need to keep and offer long-term security,” said Gomez, adding that he was talking mostly about the jobs at the prison. “We need to keep those jobs and offer long-term security for them,” he said.

Gomez said that the county also needs to cut costs and spending.

“That money that we cut we can use in other basic needs that are needed here in Reeves County,” said Gomez. “There are other basic needs that we have here,” he said. Gomez said that all these ideas are geared towards good business here in Reeves County.

Hospital OKs insurance bid, sets tax rate, budget calendar

Staff Writer

Reeves County Hospital Board members awarded a contract for hospital malpractice insurance, delayed action on awarding a contract for pharmacy services and held a 50-minute hearing in executive session on a grievance filed by a nurse at the new dialysis center, during their delayed July monthly meeting, held at noontime Wednesday in the hospital’s classroom.

The board voted to retain Gallagher Healthcare as the provider of liability insurance for the hospital, but at the recommendation of Reeves County Hospital CEO Bill Conder, approved getting it from a different provider, Mid-Continent Casualty Company. Conder said the new company would cut the hospital’s cost by about one-third from the original bid the hospital received.

“The re-bid came in at $55,000, which was down from $81,000,” he said.

The board voted to advertise for bids on the hospital pharmacy contract, which currently is held y Hunter Hospital Supply Co. at a cost of $4,500 a month.

Board members approved hiring Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD tax collector Lydia Prieto to calculate the district’s tax rate for 2005, along with the planning calendar outlined by Prieto for setting the district’s new tax rate. Two schedules were provided, one involving no tax increase and a second, which would include a tax rate hike.

Prieto said under new state law, the district would have to hold two public hearings before any tax increase could be approved. A new tax rate and budget for the hospital district has to be approved by the board before Oct. 1. The board also approved the sale of properties at nine different sites inside the Pecos city limits and one outside. The property sale was approved as a group, and no individual names of the buyers or the prices were announced, but most of the properties already had been approved for tax sale by the Town of Pecos City and Reeves County Commissioners.

The grievance hearing was on a complaint filed by Leticia Gutierrez, a staff nurse at the kidney dialysis center, who in a written statement to the board said that she had been harassed by two other workers at the center and that her complaints were not followed through by supervisors under guidelines set down in the hospital’s employee manual.

The compliant was discussed by the board, along with hospital officials and supervisors at the dialysis center, but no action was taken following the executive session. Conder said under rules involving executive sessions, he could not discuss details of the matter.

The board tabled action until their Aug. 27 meeting on the evaluation of Conder, along with contracts with Dr. Alexander Kovac and with Jerry Giardina, which were also scheduled for executive session. They did remove the names of several doctors from the medical staff at the request of RCH Chief of Staff Dr. W.J. Bang, who presented the medical staff report at the meeting.

The doctors all were visiting staff, and Bang said one had moved out of the area, another was not coming to the hospital any more, and two others were no longer working with the company contracted with by Reeves County Hospital to provide medical services.

During his report to the board, Conder said a scope and an OB bed would have to be replaced by the hospital with emergency fund appropriations. The bed’s replacement cost would normally be $11,000, but Conder said the hospital might be able to get a demonstration model at a cost of $8,000.

“We seem to have a lot of emergencies, but some things are unseen and unexpected,” board president Linda Gholson said.

Jury convicts 19th person in area cocaine ring

A federal jury in Midland on Wednesday convicted another defendant on during smuggling charges connected to a ring formed while members were in the Big Spring Federal Correctional Institute.

United States Attorney Johnny Sutton said jurors convicted Gregory Leon Palmer, a member of a major drug trafficking gang sometimes known as the “FCIBig Spring Alumni Club,” of drug conspiracy charges. As a result, Palmer faces a minimum of twenty years up to life in federal prison.

“Today, Mr. Palmer got a taste of West Texas justice. He will soon be on his way to federal prison and the Permian Basin will be safer for it,” said Sutton.

Palmer becomes the 19th person convicted in connection with the case, including one former Pecos resident, Philonicus Fobbs.

Other members and associates of the gang who have also been convicted include Adrian Crook a/k/a Big Boo, the leader of the gang, Jose “Juni” Padilla; Elias Carrillo a/k/a Lie; Caishan Brooks a/k/a New York; Ricardo Armendariz a/k/a Trainer; Joseph Green; Tammy Bradley; Fatima Green; Aaron Loika; Angie Luna; Rene Rubio; Raymond Duarte; Israel Hernandez; Latisha Cummings; D’Marria Monday; Clyde Young a/k/a Sky; and Donald Eugene Jeffery.

Crook, Padilla, and Palmer face a minimum 20 years up to life in federal prison, while the remaining member face a minimum of 10 years up to life in federal prison. According to the indictment, Crook, Padilla, and Carrillo met while they were serving time at the federal prison in Big Spring, for drug trafficking offenses. When released, they worked together to establish themselves as major drug traffickers.

According to court testimony, by November 2003, the gang was manufacturing and distributing three to five kilos of crack cocaine a week in Midland, Odessa, Dallas, Lubbock, and San Angelo.

Palmer assisted the gang in its drug trafficking activities after he was released from FCI-Big Spring in March of 2004. A federal grand jury indicted members and associates of the gang in May for conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of crack cocaine. The indictment and convictions are the result of a two-year Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Texas Department of Public Safety.

The Midland Police Department, Odessa Police Department, Monahans Police Department, Ector County Sheriff’s Office, Midland County Sheriff’s Office, San Angelo Drug Task Force, and West Texas Narcotics Enforcement Task Force also participated in the investigation.

Rules cloud up hive removal responsibilities

Staff Writer

A local businessman was at odds with Reeves County officials today over helping remove a bee hive from near his building, four days after county officials reported a California man died from bee stings he received in a late June incident.

Jim Leonard, owner of Jim and I’s Exxon located near the intersection of I-20 and U.S. 285, looked up from washing a car Thursday morning to find a swarm of bees hanging from the roof of his shed. Leonard said that he called police, who referred him to County Emergency Coordinator Ricky Herrera. Leonard said he also called the Sheriff’s Department but that he had not heard back from anyone regarding the bees by 1 p.m..

“What’s the use in calling? Nobody seems concerned. We’re tax paying citizens and they could care less even though we had a guy killed in Balmorhea last month from Africanized bees. It seems like they would at least want to check them and see if they are the Africanized bees,” Leonard said. Joe Edward De Leon, 49, of California, died on July 8 at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa. De Leon, who was traveling through Reeves County on June 22, stopped at a home in Balmorhea to ask for directions when he was attacked by the swarm of bees and stung about 400 times. A test done on bees taken from the swarm later revealed them to be the more aggressive Africanized variety.

Herrera said in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon that he was on his way to see the bees and had been looking at another swarm of bees at a residence when he received Leonard’s call from the police department. But he added he’s limited in what he can do about removing any hives that are found.

“I’m caught in the middle of this right now,” he said. “The county does not have a policy regarding when I should or should not exterminate swarms or hives and there are questions of liability on the part of the county as well as the complaint that we are stepping on professional exterminator’s business when we exterminate swarms of bees.”

Herrera said that he hoped the county would formulate a policy to guide him in the matter in the near future and that he was on his way to look at Leonard’s bees to see if they posed an immediate threat to public safety.

Businesses preparing for annual tax free holiday

Local businesses are getting ready for the state’s annual tax-free holiday scheduled for this weekend. Consumers can save money on school clothes and an assortment of other items during the three-day event, which begins on Friday.

State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn predicted Texans will save $47.4 million in sales tax during the tax-exempt period from Friday through Sunday.

The sales cover clothing items for both children and adults, but does not include school items such as notebooks, pencils or backpacks. Efforts to extend the state law to cover those items have not been approved by the Texas Legislature.

Beall’s Department Store, 910 S. Eddy, will be extending their hours on Friday and Saturday to better accommodate shoppers that want to take advantage of the tax-free weekend.

The store will be open from 7-10 p.m., on Friday and Saturday and from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m., on Sunday.

“We’ll also be featuring other sales during the tax-free weekend,” said assistant manager Irma Valenzuela.

“Yes, we’re going to participate again this year,” said Peggy Walker, owner of Needlework’s, located at 120 S. Cedar.

Walker said that this would be a good time to purchase the little girl’s cheerleader outfits.

Family Dollar Store, 1002 S. Eddy, is looking forward to customers visiting their store this weekend.

The store will be open from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday and from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., on Sunday. “We welcome everyone to come in and browse,” said store manager Johnny Olivas.

Wranglers, shirts, jeans, Ariat boots and caps will be available tax-free during the tax-free holiday, at Reeves County Feed and Supply, 1820 Balmorhea Highway.

The store will be open from 7:30 a.m. until 6 p.m., Friday and from 7:30 a.m. until 1 p.m., Saturday.

Rodriguez graduates from Tech school

Hugo Rodriguez, Jr., a Pecos High School graduate, has graduated from Universal Technical Institute of Phoenix, Arizona on July 15.

Rodriguez received a degree in automotive, diesel and industrial technology.

He is the son of Hugo and Michelle Rodriguez of Pecos.

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Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321

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