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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Senate run up in air for Bonilla

Staff Writer

WASHINGTON D. C. - U.S. Congressman Henry Bonilla said he has gotten a favorable response from Texas Republicans, in a possible bid for the U.S. Senate in 2006. But he still is waiting for a decision from the current U.S. Senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison, before he can take any formal step towards running for higher office.

Hutchison, who was first elected to the Senate in 1994, had been looking at challenging Gov. Rick Perry in the 2006 Republican primary. Last week, she called on Perry to call a special session to deal with the state’s school finance reform problems, but as of yet, has not made a formal declaration of her plans to challenge Perry for the GOP nomination. With her future plans up in the air, so are Bonilla’s, though the seven term congressman, who has represented Reeves County since 1992, has been shoring up support for a possible Senate run.

“I support Kay and her re-election and I’m not in any way trying to encourage her to do anything else,” Bonilla said last Tuesday, during a break in an Appropriations Committee hearing in Washington. “It’s going to be her decision one way or the other down the road with what she wants to do with her future.”

“Nonetheless, I’ve been making a lot of preparations in the event the seat becomes open, and as I travel around Texas, I’ve been very fortunate to report the feedback has been positive. We’re signing key supporters up in the Top 10 Republican counties that decide elections, because this is all about the Republican primary.”

Bonilla was talked about in 2002 as a possible Senate candidate when Republican Phil Gramm retired, but did not get into the race that was eventually won by Texas Attorney General John Cornyn. This time, Bonilla has been traveling outside the district seeking backers for a possible Senate run.

Following his May visit to Pecos, he made stops outside the 23rd Congressional District, in Fort Worth and Seminole, and has said he will run if Hutchison opts against seeking a third Senate term. But he added as of now, “Only the senator herself knows which way she’s going.”

Bonilla said he’s heard from people around the state in recent months about their main concerns looking towards both the current congressional session and the 2006 elections. “There’s been a variety of issues. We hear about stem cell research, we hear about agriculture issues, we hear about base closings. It’s just a wide variety. There’s nothing particular that stands out this year,” he said.

Bonilla heads up the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on agriculture. Last week, his bill went to the House floor.

“It’s a popular bill. It’s a bi-partisan bill because agriculture issues cut across party lines. However there are always battles involving specific issues of the bill because it covers a lot of territory besides agriculture,” Bonilla said. “It funds the Food and Drug Administration, the Women’s and Children’s (WIC) program, the food stamp program. “There is also a lot of money in there involving food purchases for foreign countries. So regardless of what the issue is there’s always someone from some part of the country that might have an issue with it, so we have to deal with a few amendments. But we’re prepared for that,” he added. The agriculture issues also cross over into energy issues, with increased prices for oil and natural gas boosting producers’ costs for operating irrigation systems, especially in the dryland farming areas of West Texas.

“We hear in general about agriculture producers carrying a heavier burden because of high prices for fuel,” he said. “Prices are settling down somewhat, and this is a big picture issue that even the president himself cannot address on the short term.

“In Texas, if we had to solve this problem we would do it in just a few days. But as a nation, we have a lot of people who lack vision for energy production,” he said. “We have a lot of people who lack the courage to make tough decisions about energy policy. “We in Texas support more domestic exploration so we can be dependant on ourselves, but we have a lot of people who are on the fringe around the country who keep us from moving forward on an energy policy like that that will bring prices down long-term and would stop us from having to go on bended knee to OPEC nations, begging for them to lower prices or to increase production,”

On a local level, Bonilla also said funding was being sought through a transportation bill for refurbishing the Smithers Tire Transportation Center, which is being reopened by the Texas Transportation Institute and Albuquerque-based Applied Research Associates. But he was not sure how much funding the project was slated to receive, or its chances of passage in the current bill.

ARA is investing $2 million to reopen the track, which closed in 2000, but additional federal funds are being sought to bring the facility up to modern standards. Earlier this year, Pecos Economic Development Corp. President Mike Burkholder said similar federal funds were given to reopening a track in Alabama, and that it would take about $15 million over the course of a number of years to fully modernize the Pecos facility.

School board can’t get it together

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board members will meet at 6 p.m., Tuesday, at the Technology Center.

The regular monthly meeting had been set up for 6 p.m., Thursday, June 9, but the group was unable to meet for lack of a quorum.

Board members present for the meeting included; Paul Deishler, Lila Cerna and Bubba Williams.

Absent were: Crissy Martinez, Amy Miller, Billie Sadler, and Steve Valenzuela. The group will try to meet again on Tuesday and deal with several items.

Rains bring skeeters, threat of West Nile

Staff Writer

Recent rains have brought an over-abundance of mosquitoes and the fear of contracting the West Nile virus.

“We got a report from Toyah that there had been a number of birds found dead,” said Reeves County Health Officer and Emergency Management Coordinator Ricky Herrera.

Herrera said that they had picked up two specimens and delivered them to the Texas Department of Health.

“They tested them for the West Nile virus, which is carried by birds and contracted by mosquitoes,” said Herrera.

Herrera said that the birds had turned out to be negative. “But we do have West Nile virus in Reeves County,” said Herrera. “We had one case of human West Nile virus last year,” he said.

Herrera said that individual had tested positive last year for West Nile virus and cautioned that people should take certain precautions during this season.

“If you don’t have to be outside in the early morning hours and late evening stay inside,” said Herrera.

Herrera said that individuals are urged to use an insect repellent, which contains DEET. “I know that the city has been spraying for the mosquitoes, but I don’t know exactly how often or where,” said Herrera.

Town of Pecos City Manager Joseph Torres said that the city has been actively pursuing the problem.

“The truck has been running in the evenings,” said Torres.

Torres said that the code enforcement officer Oscar Ornelas, a licensed insecticide applicator, is driving the truck that sprays for the insects.

“It takes him three days to cover the entire city,” said Torres. “He has been concentrating on the north side and then going through the residential areas,” he said.

Torres said that the group has also been targeting the parks, baseball fields, golf course, and areas that predominantly have a lot of participation.

“He’ll start at one end and continue until he covers the entire city and then he goes back in a cycle,” said Torres.

Torres said that they will be going on Pecos Talking and asking for the community’s assistance in targeting the areas where mosquitoes breed.

Health inspector Alfred Gomez is going through the low-lying areas, lakes, and culverts where mosquitoes breed.

“He’s going through these areas and throwing out insect pellets in areas where water collects,” said Torres.

“We have all these individuals working on this problem, the fire marshal Jack Brookshire, Ornelas and Gomez,” said Torres.

“They started spraying last Monday and will continue to do so throughout the summer, based on the availability of the medicine and the equipment,” he said.

“West Nile virus first appeared in Texas in June 2002 and has since moved across the state,” said Joe Garrett, a veterinarian with the zoonosis control division at the Texas Department of Health (TDH). “We probably should consider West Nile virus endemic to the state now, much like St. Louis encephalitis is permanently established in Texas,” he said. “But West Nile virus is new to us, and we still are trying to understand it. We cannot predict what kind of a season we will have this year,” said Garrett.

In 2002, West Nile virus was reported in 213 Texas counties. A total of 202 serious West Nile cases, including 13 deaths, were reported in humans. The virus also was identified in 1,697 horses and 518 birds.

The TDH Laboratory tested more than 160,000 mosquitoes in 7,350 groups or pools last year for a variety of mosquito-borne infections including West Nile virus; St. Louis encephalitis; and Western, Eastern and Venezuelan equine encephalitis. Of these mosquito pools, 466 of them were positive for a variety of mosquito-borne viruses and 189 pools were positive for West Nile virus.

Mosquitoes generally are collected and tested from May through November, but several areas in the state have year-round surveillance.

“Testing mosquitoes and dead birds - generally jays, crows and hawks - gives us a way to actively tracking the virus to alert affected communities that they may need to take precautions to protect themselves,” said Garrett. “Tracking illnesses in humans and horses also gives us a more complete picture of the spread of the virus,” he said.

West Nile virus infections usually are mild with flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, sore throat, body aches and fatigue, occasionally with skin rash and swollen lymph glands. Symptoms of more severe West Nile infections - encephalitis and meningitis - include headache, high fever, stiff neck, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, coma and paralysis. If you have these symptoms, contact your health care provider right away.

The incubation period for West Nile virus is three to 14 days. Mild symptoms may last a few days while symptoms of the more severe illness may last several weeks.

Neurological effects may be permanent, and West Nile can be fatal. Less than one percent of those bitten by infected mosquitoes become severely ill.

Currently no vaccine is available to combat West Nile virus in people, and no specific treatment is given for the infection other than supportive therapies for fever or pain. “People can, however, do a great deal to protect themselves, their families and their communities,” said Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, Texas Commissioner of Health. “Reducing exposure to mosquitoes is one of the most important things,” he said.

Dr. Sanchez urged people to remember the four D’s:

Dusk to Dawn: Stay indoors from dusk to dawn, times when those mosquitoes likely to carry the infection are most active.

Dress: Dress in pants and long sleeves when you are outside, especially in mosquito-infested areas.

DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide): Apply insect repellent that contains DEET. Read and follow label instructions. Spray both exposed skin and clothing with repellent.

Drain: Get rid of standing water in your yard and neighborhood. Old tires, flower-pots, clogged rain gutters, leaky pipes and faucets, birdbaths and wading pools can be breeding sites for mosquitoes.

Catholic War Vet golf tourney this weekend

Staff Writer

The Catholic War Veterans of Post 1859 are looking for a few good men and a donation or two as well.

“We will be sponsoring our annual golf tournament Saturday June, 18th,” veteran Felipe Arredondo said, “and any donations will be used to help provide prizes for the tournament,” he said.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will be used to procure equipment for the group, which provides honor guards at military funerals and parades, and also helps provide transportation to local Veteran’s Hospitals for local veterans.

“The government does not provide full military honors for all veterans’ funeral’s,” Arredondo said. “We provide full military honors for local veterans when the government will not,” he said.

Arredondo said that currently the group needs to buy some equipment, such as ceremonial white pistol belts and helmets. “We don’t receive any support from the church or anything like that so every little bit helps,” he said.

To be a member of the group, which was formed in Pecos in 1965, a person must be a veteran and be in good standing with the Catholic Church. Currently the group has 29 members.

Arredondo said that any former member of the armed services with an honorable discharge was eligible.

At press time there were still slots open in the golf tournament with the top team slated to win $300. Second place will win $225 and the third place team gets $150.

For more information contact Felipe Arredondo at 445-3945 or Bo Natividad at 447-2661.

Biopsy shows lump is malignant

By Peggy McCracken
Staff Writer

Preliminary biopsy results are in, and I go back to Dr. Bang’s office.

“The news is not good,” said the graying doctor in his soft Korean accent.

Bottom line, the lump is malignant and so big it has most certainly spread to a couple of lymph nodes. The good news is that it is not attached to the chest wall, and can be removed in its entirety. He recommends surgery.

“OK, schedule it,” I said. I have already waited around for over two months, and am ready to be rid of the lump that has continued to grow and is now bothering me. He had to wait for the complete pathology report, which he expected “late next week or the next.”

By this time, I have most of my affairs in order and have trained Laura Briggs to handle bookkeeping chores for The Monahans News. I scramble to get the Pecos Enterprise books in order and all chores with a deadline done before I take time off.

My son David and his wife Helen have long planned to ride their motorcycles to Pecos on his birthday, April 14. I waffle between wanting the surgery to wait until after their visit and wanting them to be here to see me through it.

Sister Mary Walling offers to come up from San Angelo to nurse me, so I accept her offer and hope for the best.

Dr. Bang calls late Wednesday, April 13, to say the pathology report is in. He can’t schedule surgery for Thursday or Friday (thank God), but will have his receptionist call me Thursday for a date.

Thursday, April 14, dawns cool and clear. I pray for a safe trip for my kids and go on to work. About mid morning, Dr. Bang’s receptionist calls to tell me to report at 8:30 a.m. Monday for surgery. Perfect.

Sister Gail Trent has also offered to help out, so I email both siblings to come on for a visit before the surgery and to stay as long as they like. They decide to come Saturday. Perfect again, as David and Helen plan to go to Midland on Saturday to continue the birthday celebration with daughter Amanda and granddaughter Cieara.

David and Helen arrive after lunch, just as I am leaving the office. I let him repair my back fence as a birthday present, then take them to the Flying J for dinner.

On Friday I go work while David and Helen cook their own breakfast and do some light house cleaning, then go to RCH to register and meet with anesthetist Jerry Giardina and nurse Gloria Gonzales.

“I wouldn’t be having this surgery if it were not for you and Dr. Bang,” I tell Jerry. They took good care of me 20 years ago when I had a hysterectomy.

I worked some more in the afternoon, then took the kids out for dinner again. We had a nice visit, and just as they left about noon Saturday, Kim Ewing called me to come to the God’s Army house to take pictures of the 17 youth and 11 adults cleaning the yard and holding a prayer fast.

Since my sisters weren’t due for awhile, I tried to take the photos, but found my digital camera’s batteries were down. Marveling at the mountain of trash they had moved and the pasture they had trimmed, I barked a few orders, then returned home for a nap.

Gail arrived first, then Mary. We enjoyed playing Scrabble, attending church on Sunday, and just visiting.

Monday morning, they took me to the hospital and chatted while I lay in bed with an IV drip in my right arm. David and Helen returned from Midland to be present for the surgery and recovery. Gerry Whitener was my nurse for the day. He had been with Leon in the emergency room when he died two years earlier.

After a shot of Demerol, I was taken by wheelchair to the operating room, where Jerry Giardina prayed for me before I mounted the operating table. Nurse Alicia Juarez put a warm blanket over me, and that’s the last I remember.

One of the Jerrys told me later that they give you something in the anesthesia that causes you to forget everything that happened before and after surgery. I woke up in the recovery room four hours later, alert and feeling good.

While I was hooked up to oxygen that dried out my mouth, David stayed by my bedside with a cup of water and a straw to keep me hydrated.

“Wine,” I would whisper, when I wanted a sip. I told them about the time I had left Daddy in the Pecos Nursing Home to spend some time with a friend when her daughter died.

Daddy had given up wine and whiskey when he became an elder in the Church of Christ. But on doctor’s orders, he had begun “taking a little wine for his stomach,” quoting the Apostle Paul.

My brother Walter Gunn kept the nursing home supplied with wine, and they doled it out to Daddy when he asked for it - if he didn’t ask too often.

While I got back from the funeral, Daddy was in bed. Looking up at me with those wistful hazel eyes, he croaked out, “Wine.” No greeting, no nothing. Just “Wine.” Knowing Daddy well, David, Mary and Gail appreciated that little tale. And my feeble effort to mimic him.

Business Loan Fair to be held

A Business Loan Fair will be held from 4-7:30 p.m., Thursday, June 16, at the Hotel Paisano on Main Street in Marfa.

The loan fair is for individuals who need working capital for small businesses, start-up or home based businesses.

Individuals can learn and apply for unsecured business loans from $5,000 to $25,000. The SBA’s Community Express Loan Program was designed to provide financial assistance, as well as critical technical assistance, to this small business market to make growth capital more available. Community Express Loans have a seven year fully amortized maturity with an interest rate of WSJ Prime plus 4.k75 percent. These loans are un-secured, therefore, good personal credit is essential. Approvals on completed applications come within three business days.

Interested individuals can meet with Business Loan Express representatives to apply for a loan and or to learn more about this important working capital loan program on a one-on-one, come and go basis.

For more information call 1-877-722-9876.

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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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