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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, September 23, 2005

Local motels filling with guests retreating from Rita

Emergency housing in Pecos for refugees of Hurricane Katrina was not needed by federal officials two weeks ago. But the city’s motels expect to be booked up beginning tonight from Gulf Coast residents fleeing the arrival of Hurricane Rita, which is expected to hit land sometime early Saturday morning.

Residents have been leaving cities along the coast in both southeast Texas and western Louisiana for the past two days, with the main evacuations taking place in the Houston-Galveston area, where forecasters expect the hurricane to hit the shore.

Traffic came to a standstill and gas shortages were reported Thursday as hundreds of thousands of people in the nation's fourth-largest city rushed to get out of the path of Hurricane Rita, a monster storm with 170 mph winds.

More than 1.3 million residents in Texas and Louisiana were under orders to get out to avoid a deadly repeat of Hurricane Katrina. The Category 5 storm weakened slightly Thursday morning, and forecasters said it could be down to a Category 3 - meaning winds as high as 130 mph - by the time it comes ashore late Friday or early Saturday. Gov. Rick Perry early Thursday ordered southbound traffic on Interstate 45 shut down and all eight lanes redirected north out of the city for 125 miles. Local officials warned residents to get out, and told them they would not be rescued if they waited.

"Don't follow the example of Katrina and wait," Harris County Judge Robert Eckels said. "During the storm, we will not be able to get to you."

Many residents already had taken Eckels’ advice, leaving the area to stay with family, friends or in motels outside of the danger zone. That included motels in Pecos and even further to the north and west, with costal residents arriving or making reservations beginning on Wednesday.

“We have quite a few coming in,” said Wilma Brookshire with the Best Western Swiss Clock Inn on Interstate 20. “In fact, the hotel late today (Thursday) will probably be full.” “We’ve got a bunch. We’ve had calls to make reservations, and some came in last night,” added hotel manager Jean Winget. “We’ve had some big families come in. One guy came in with his ex-wife, son and father.”

Veroncia Natividad with the Quality Inn on U.S. 285 said that hotel was already booked up for Thursday night. “We have some for tonight, and tomorrow who are coming in from the same area, around Houston and Galveston.”

Motel 6 desk clerk Mary Ann Tarin said all of that chain’s motel rooms in the West Texas-Southeastern New Mexico area of the Permian Basin and Trans-Pecos regions are just about out of rooms.

“Aside from cancellations, we’re practically all booked,” she said. “They’re booking for 3-4 nights.”

Tarin said the reservations are coming from the Houston and Galveston areas as well as cities to the south, like Corpus Christi and Victoria, as well as from costal cities in western Louisiana.

“What we’ve been doing is calling all the Motel 6s, but they’re all booked,” she said. “Then we’re getting hold of the Chambers of Commerce in every town.”

At 7 a.m. CDT Thursday, Rita was centered about 490 miles east-southeast of Galveston and was moving west-northwest near 9 mph. Wind speed was 170 mph, down slightly from 175 earlier in the day. Forecasters predicted it would come ashore near Galveston. Storm-surge winds were expected to come Friday afternoon, but White said everyone but emergency responders should leave well ahead of that time.

"Now is not a time for warnings," he said. "Now is a time for action."

Texas Department of Transportation spokeswoman Janelle Gbur said Interstate 45, which is eight lanes and some points and four lanes elsewhere, was all going north to Buffalo. She said the measure had never been taken before.

Gbur said that once I-45 is transformed into a one-way, the same will be done with U.S. 290 going northwest and Interstate 10 going west.

Trazanna Moreno tried to leave Houston for the 225-mile trip to Dallas on U.S. 90 but turned back after being stuck in massive gridlock.

"We ended up going six miles in two hours and 45 minutes," said Moreno, those neighborhood isn't expected to flood. "It could be that if we ended up stranded in the middle of nowhere that we'd be in a worse position in a car dealing with hurricane-force winds than we would in our house.

Eckels said he recognized the frustration of evacuee traffic stacked bumper-to-bumper for up to 100 miles north of Houston. He reminded evacuees that the storm is still 48 hours out, leaving plenty of time for motorists stuck in traffic to complete their escapes.

"We still have time to clean out these roads," he said.

Pecos Emergency Management officials had been contacted in the days following the arrival of Hurricane Katrina in the Mississippi delta region of the Gulf Coast about finding available housing for evacuees. However, after officials worked out a plan to use 45 unoccupied Farm Labor Housing Apartments to house the evacuees, officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency said those apartments would not be needed, since many of the Katrina refugees were finding places to stay with friends and family. The group then redirected its efforts towards gathering supplies needed for the victims of the Aug. 29 hurricane. A truck in the La Tienda parking lot is collecting items through Friday to be turned over to the American Red Cross.

Area road conditions may delay speed limit hike

An increase in the speed limit to 80 miles per hour on Reeves County’s two interstate highways is still awaiting final review and approval by Texas officials. But some sections of Interstates 10 and 20 that saw their speed limits raised to 75 mph four years ago may not be included on the list of areas where the 80 mph speed limit will be allowed.

State Rep. Pete Gallego’s bill to allow the 5 mph increase was approved earlier this year by the Texas Legislature. Gallego was responsible for the original bill in 2000 to allow speed limits on highways in counties with populations of fewer than 10 people per square mile. That bill allowed speed limits to be increased to 75 mph on both two- and four-lane highways in those counties.

The new bill only allows the increased speed limit on Interstate highways, but does add the 42-mile section of I-20 in Ward County to be included in the higher speed limit area by changing the cutoff from 10 to 15 persons per square mile. Currently, the 75 mph speed limit on I-20 only includes the 49-mile stretch in Reeves County.

However, Glen Larum, public information officer for the Texas Department of Transportation’s Odessa District, said the sections that will qualify for the higher speed limit and the timetable for the increase still haven’t been determined.

“The last word we had is they wanted a full engineering analysis of the sections eligible for the 80 mph speed limit to determine when it was appropriate,” said Larum, who added final approval would have to come from the Texas Transportation Commission. “The earliest it could happen is in October, following the September meeting, which is the last Thursday of the month. More than likely, it won’t occur until October or November,” he added.

Larum said the engineering study involves both areas of the interstates that have curves and those in need of repaving.

“In Reeves County there are a couple of curves coming up out of the Pecos River, and in one of the areas around FM 869 (west of Pecos) where we would have to post 75 mph advisories,” he said.

The sections with road condition problems includes Ward County from Pyote to the Monahans Sandhills and sections of Reeves County in the Pecos area that just received a new road surface last year.

“We’re going to have to rehab some of the work we did east of Pecos and around 869. It wouldn’t be advisable to raise the speed limit in those areas right now,” Larum said. Rutting problems in the right lane of the highway in those areas will be fixed sometime this coming spring by TxDOT, which has patched sections of I-20 in Ward County this summer, in preparation for a full rebuild of that section of the interstate.

The sections of Interstate 10 that could receive the 80 mph speed limit include the 40 miles of highway through Southern Reeves County and continuing west to the Hudspeth-El Paso County line and east to the Kimble-Kerr County line, just past the U.S. 290 cutoff to Austin. It would take in 415 miles of Interstate 10 in West Texas, along with the 91 miles of I-20 from the I-10 junction in Reeves County to the Ward-Crane county line.

Fall Fair cook-off in search of more entries

Entries are now being accepted for the 32nd Annual Barbecue Beef Cook-off scheduled for Oct. 7-8 at the Reeves County Sheriff’s Posse Arena as part of the annual Reeves County Fall Fair.

There will be two categories to be judged, beef brisket and pork spare ribs and the Reeves County Sheriff’s Posse is sponsoring the event.

Entry fee is $50 per campsite, in advance, must be in form of cash, check or money order. Campsites are approximately 20 feet by 20 feet.

This year there will be no electricity at any of the campsites, according to one of the organizers of the event, Cody West.

“They can bring their own generators, though,” he said. “We just can’t accommodate that many camps with generators.”

Entries will be accepted until 5 p.m., Friday, Oct. 7.

“We have 10 entries so far and need at least 40 to break even,” said West. Last year’s championship team, The Three Amigos, is among the 10 who already have signed up for this year’s event.

The arena can hold up to 91 campsites, according to West.

“If we don’t get enough entries to break even, we’ll modify the case prize awards,” said West.

Cash prizes to be awarded will be $500 for first place in each division; $250 for second place in each division; $150 for third place and $50 for fourth.

“There will also be a grand champion award as in the past, however, it used to be a sterling silver platter that we used to get from Fonville’s Jewelry Store,” said West. The jewelry store has since closed its doors, so the group is looking for an alternate first place award.

“We’re searching for a new award and we’ll also hand out a Best Camp Trophy,” said West.

Sheriff’s posse members will also be selling beer at the arena for the first time this year. “This will work out great for the campers, they don’t have to leave the grounds to buy beer, they can buy it there,” said West.

All entrants will compete in one division. There are no pro, amateur, or club divisions. Cooks will meet at the Reeves County Sheriff’s Posse Barn at 7 p.m., Friday, Oct. 7. Plates for judging will be handed out at that time. Each head cook/team captain must attend.

All vehicles must be parked outside the arena. Each camp will be allowed one vehicle at the campsite. The arena gate will be closed and locked at 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 7. Vehicles that are in the cook-off area will not be allowed to leave until after the judging and awards.

Judging will begin in the spare ribs category at 11 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 8. Judging will begin at noon in the beef brisket category. All entrants must have their plates at the Reeves County Posse Barn on time.

A dance will be held that Friday evening at the Reeves County Sheriff’s Posse Barn featuring the group, “Maravilla.”

Ryan selected new area engineer for counties

Patrick Ryan, a 35-year-old engineer who spent five years with the Texas Department of Transportation in Junction during the late 1990s, has come back to West Texas as the highway engineer in charge of one of TxDOT's largest geographic areas of Pecos, Reeves and Terrell counties.

Ryan took over the Fort Stockton-Pecos Area on Sept. 1 after a statewide search was conducted to find a replacement for Mohammad Moabed, who transferred to TxDOT's Dallas District in June to become that district's top traffic official.

"Just as Mo (Moabed) was, I predict that Patrick is going to be a great asset to this region," said District Engineer Lauren Garduńo, as he announced Ryan's hiring. "He is not only a quality engineer who can do the job; he and his family are going to fit right in."

The family will live in Fort Stockton.

In his new position, Ryan will be responsible for overseeing all maintenance and construction activities for the 9,758-square mile area -more than half of the entire Odessa District's 18,000 square mile area.

He also has oversight of five maintenance sections in those three counties, in Balmorhea, Fort Stockton, Iraan, Pecos and Sanderson.

Ryan began his career with TxDOT as a summer-hire in the Kountze Maintenance Section, just northwest of Beaumont in far east Texas. He also spent three summers working in the Silsbee Area office, and another at the Beaumont District Lab.

He earned his civil engineering degree in 1994 at Lamar University in Beaumont and got his professional engineering license in 2002. He worked as an engineer's assistant in the Junction office in the San Angelo District from March 1, 1995 until April 30, 2000, when he transferred to the Livingston office near Lufkin.

He and his wife, Nicole, have one daughter, Abigail, age 5.

Bhakta receives degree at Texas A&M

In four graduation ceremonies held Aug. 13 at Texas A&M University-Commerce, a total of 447 students graduated consisting of 196 with bachelor’s degrees, 239 with master’s degrees, and 12 with doctoral degrees.

The graduates included Bhavesh B. Bhakta, of Pecos, who received a Bachelor of Science.

Ornelas completes Air Force course

Lindsay Ornelas, of Pecos, who is currently serving in the United States Air Force graduated from the Air Force’s First Term Airmen Center at Maxwell AFB, Ala.

The course is vital in ensuring that Airmen get the proper tools to begin a successful Air Force Career.

The course is 10 days long and contains topics as Airmen responsibilities, financial management, military events and education along with enlisted discussion panels.

Ornelas is the daughter of Yogi Ornelas of Pecos and the granddaughter of Elisa Ornelas and the late Jesse Ornelas.

Guerra selected to NSHSS

The National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) announced that Pecos High School student Ramiro Madrid Guerra Jr., of Pecos, has been selected for membership.

The Society recognizes the top scholars in the nation and invites only those students who have achieved superior academic excellence. The announcement was made by NSHSS Founder and Chairman Claes Nobel, senior member of the Nobel Prize family. “On behalf of NSHSS, I am honored to recognize the hard work, sacrifice, and commitment that Ramiro has demonstrated to achieve this exceptional level of academic excellence,” said Mr. Nobel. “Ramiro is now a member of a unique community of scholars - a community that represents our very best hope for the future,” he said.

“Our vision is to build a dynamic international organization that connects members with meaningful content, resources, and opportunities,” stated NSHSS President James Lewis. “We aim to help students like Ramiro to build on their academic successes and enhance the skills and desires to have a positive impact on the global community,” he said.

Membership in NSHSS entitles qualified students to enjoy a wide variety of benefits, including scholarship opportunities, academic competitions, free events, member-only resources, publications, participation in programs offered by educational partners, online forums, personalized recognition items, and publicity honors.

Formed in 2002, The National Society of High School Scholars recognizes academic excellence at the high school level and encourages members of the organization to apply their unique talents, vision, and potential for the betterment of themselves and the world.

Currently, there are more than 150,000 Society members, representing 15,000 high schools in nearly 20 countries. NSHSS advocates for scholarship opportunities for deserving young people and has awarded more than $100,000 in scholarships since its inception just two years ago.

Police Report

EDITOR’S NOTE: Information contained in the Police Report is obtained from reports filed by the Pecos Police Department, Reeves County Sheriff’s Office, or other officers of those agencies. The serving of warrants by an officer for outstanding fines of either traffic citations, animal control violations or other court costs are considered arrests and will be printed as such unless indicated that the fines were paid. In such instances we will indicate payment and release. ***

Genoveva Mendoza Wright, 37, 108 S. Pecan St., was arrested on Sept. 22 on a charge of public intoxication. Police said the arrest took place at the Club Suavacito, 900 South Cedar St. Wright was taken by police from the club to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center. ***

Mary Margaret Michaelis, 52, of Odessa,, was arrested by police on Sept. 21 and charged with public intoxication. Police said the arrest took place in the 1500 block of South Cedar Street, and Michaelis was then transported to the Pecos Criminial Justice Center. ***

Brian Garcia, 17, 317 S. Willow St., was arrested on Sept. 17 at 11:40 p.m. on a warrant charging him with engaging in organized criminal activity, a First Degree Felony. Police said Garcia was arrested in the 300 block of South Peach Street and was transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center. ***

Joe Arthur Salas, 27, 904 S. Oleander St., was arrested on Sept. 16 at 2:22 p.m. in the parking lot of Santa Rosa Church in the 600 block of East Fourth Street on warrants charging him with no valid driver’s license, no proof of liability insurance and failure to appear on both charges. Salas was transported to the Criminal Justice Center following his arrest. ***

Ismael Juarez, Jr., 22, 2203 Country Club Dr., was arrested by police on Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m. on a warrant charging him with aggravated assault, a Third Degree Felony. Police said the arrest took place in the 700 block of East Fifth Street, and Juarez was then taken by officer to Reeves County Jail. ***

A male juvenile was arrested by police on Sept. 12 at his home in the 900 block of South Cherry Street. Police said the juvenile was wanted on a probation violation, and after going to his house, was located in the back yard, hiding between two buildings and under some vines. He was then transported to the Reeves County Juvenile Detention Center. ***

A female juvenile was arrested by police on Sept. 12 and charged with evading arrest of detention. Police said they were called to a home in the 900 block of South Cherry Street after the girl reportedly left the residence without permission. She was spotted in the 900 block of East Eighth Street and tried to run from officers, before being apprehended at 807 E. Fourth St. She was then transported to the Reeves County Juvenile Detention Center. ***

Pilar Chavez, Jr., 28, 1829 Missouri St., was arrested by police on Sept. 14 and charged with public intoxication. Police said the arrest took place at 1400 Johnson Street and Chavez was then transported to the Criminal Justice Center. ***

Police arrested William Keith Payne, 44, of Waco, on Sept. 12 on charges of evading arrest or detention in a motor vehicle, and a warrant for parole violation. Police said the arrest took place after they received a call of an intoxicated driver, who was located in the 2200 block of South Eddy Street. The driver refused to stop for several blocks, before police were able to get the car to stop in the 2300 block of Cothrun Street. Payne was then arrested and taken to the Criminal Justice Center.

New oncologist forecasting brighter future

EDITOR’S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is Enterprise business manager. She discovered a malignant tumor in her breast in February. After a mastectomy, she learned that cancer cells had already spread to the bone. This is the eighth part of her story on her diagnosis of cancer, surgery and subsequent progress. By PEGGY MCCRACKEN
Staff Writer

Cancer is a degenerative disease, my Internet research reveals. Sort of like arthritis that we some of us have learned to live with.

In my research, which included attending a class on chemotherapy and its side effects, I learned that the cure can be worse than the disease. So I bravely trudged on, eating right, exercising, and praying for God’s will to be done.

That is, until the pain started. Now it is a different story. I can ignore pain for awhile, but when it keeps me awake at night, I start to worry.

Another worry is: “How does cancer in the bone kill a person?”

Think about it. You don’t die from a broken leg. Would a rib have to break and stab you in the heart?

My brainy daughter, who does more research than I do, told me that the cancer usually moves to a vital organ, like the liver, and that can be fatal. I don’t care much for that prognosis, either.

So when Neta Rhyne recommended the oncologist who reversed her “one month to live” prognosis 13 years ago, I called up and made an appointment for Wednesday. On the way to the Allison Cancer Center in Midland, I almost backed out, because I had been reading my notes from the chemo class and getting scared all over again.

I’m glad I didn’t back out, though, because Dr. Watkins chased away the fear and gave me a positive outlook.

Referring to blood tests from previous visits to the West Texas Cancer Center in Odessa, Dr. Watkins said I am in good health and could live for years. He recommended Arimidex, a breast cancer inhibitor that replaces the older, more toxic Tamoxifen. To ease the pain and strengthen the bones, he recommended iridium infusions once a month, and possibly spot radiation to the most painful and fragile areas.

I liked his approach so much that I called my optometrist for an eye exam to replace the glasses I lost Saturday.

So Nancy McAnally will drive me to Odessa Friday for the eye exam, iridium infusion and bone scan to assess damage since the last one in May.

Then my son David and grandson Jason are coming for a weekend scuba diving class at the Balmorhea State Park.. I don’t know if I will be able to complete my certification, but I am going to give it a whirl. Peggy McCracken is Enterprise business manager. She discovered a malignant tumor in her breast in February. After a mastectomy, she learned that cancer cells had already spread to the bone.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321

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