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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, June 24, 2005

Top cowboys among entries at rodeo

The current top two ranked bull riders, along with the defending All-Around Cowboy champion and several other current or former World Champions are among those entered this year at the West of the Pecos Rodeo, which begins slack competition at 7:30 a.m. Monday at the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena.

Trevor Brazile, the defending All-Around Cowboy champion at last year’s National Finals Rodeo, and the current leader in this year’s standings, heads up the list of over 600 entries at this year’s Pecos event, which officially opens next Wednesday, June 29, for the first of four nightly performances. Slack competition opens two days earlier for the roping events Monday morning and continues both on that evening and on Tuesday.

Brazile, who has won multiple All-Around titles at the Pecos Rodeo, is also ranked No. 4 in team roping, while the perennial world champ in that event, Guy Allen, will also be back at the Pecos Rodeo next week.

While Pecos remains a top stop for steer ropers each year, the rise in payouts for rodeos across the nation has made attracting all of the top cowboys to the West of the Pecos Rodeo tougher than in the past.

Pecos fell out of the Top 25 rodeos during 2004 in terms of prize money, but the $204,665 handed out during the event was still the 30th highest total among regular season rodeos. Last July’s West of the Pecos Rodeo was the fourth-highest payout among rodeo events around the July 4 holiday, behind Greely Colo., Cody, Wyo., and St. Paul, Ore.

In bull riding, eight of the current Top 12 cowboys in the PRCA standings will be riding at this year’s rodeo, as will last year’s Pecos champion, Cory McFadden, and Matt Austin, last year’s NFR runner-up and this year’s current standings leader. He is scheduled to ride on Thursday night, while the current No. 2 in the standings, Bryan Richardson, will compete in Pecos on Wednesday night.

In bareback riding, four of the current Top 12 riders are entered this year. No. 3-ranked Eric Swanson and fourth-ranked Kyle Bowers are the leaders among that group, while in saddle bronc competition, the top-rated riders for 2005 going into next week’s shows are Ryan Mapston, currently fifth in the world standings, and Matt Marvel, who is ranked 11th.

Other top-ranked competitor who’ll be appearing in Pecos next week include tie down roper Fred Whitfield, who is scheduled to ride on Thursday and currently is the money leader in that event; No. 2 ranked steer wrestler Chris Bradley, and the current No. 2 team roping team of Clay Tryan and Patrick Smith. Last year’s NFR team roping champions, Rich Skelton and Speed Williams, also will be among the entries.

The West of the Pecos Rodeo is holding to its recent schedule of having its first performance on a Wednesday and the final show on Saturday. As a result, opening night will be on June 29 this year, while the final show will be on July 2. All other events surrounding the 122nd anniversary rodeo, which was first held in 1883, also have been moved up on the calendar, beginning with Friday’s Golden Girl of the Old West and Little Miss Cantaloupe pageants at the Pecos High School auditorium. Other events scheduled for this weekend include Night in Old Pecos, which runs from 6 p.m. to midnight on Second and Oak streets in Downtown Pecos; and the first two of four performances by the Windmill Square Players of “The Villain Wore a Dirty Shirt,” at 2 and 7 p.m. on Sunday. Two more shows will take place at 7 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, all at the Austin Elementary School auditorium. Along with the opening night of the rodeo, other events scheduled for June 29 include the West of the Pecos Rodeo Parade, the Old Timers Reunion and the Reeves County Sheriff’s Posse BBQ luncheon. The parade starts at 10 a.m., while the reunion begins an hour earlier at the West of the Pecos Museum and the luncheon starts at the conclusion of the parade.

This year’s post-rodeo dances will feature the band Gunslinger on June 29-30, and Trey Austin on July 1-2 at the Posse Barn, while on July 2, Fito Oliveras y Su Grupo will perform at the Reeves County Civic Center.

The final day of the rodeo will also feature the induction of six new members to the Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame.

Ceremonies are scheduled for 3 p.m. on July 2 in the courtyard of the West of the Pecos Museum.

Balloon found by Pecos men used in area telecom network

Wireless telecommunications systems aren’t just connecting locations via relays on poles or towers. Even some of those devices are now wireless.

Three local residents found what turned out to be a communications relay device sent up into the air by balloon and brought down via parachute by an Arizona company. The parachute and the white box it was attached to were found on Wednesday by Jose Jasso, who along with his son Chon Jasso and Aurelio Lopez, then reported their discovery to the box’s owner, Space Data Corp.

The men said they didn’t know what the device was when it was first found by Jose Jasso, at a site on the Lower Ranch, about 10 miles east of Pecos.

“When we first found it, I thought it was going to blow up in our faces. We ran in all directions,” Chon Jasso said.

Lopez said he finally grabbed the box the parachute was attached to, and after realizing it was safe, called the toll-free number listed on the box, which connected them with Space Data’s corporate headquarters in suburban Phoenix.

“They didn’t say a lot. They just said they would be here in a week or two to pick it up,” said Chon Jasso.

Mary Cervantes, human relations manager for the company, said the device was a repeater that had been floated into the air by balloon from a launch site in West Texas. “The payload comes back down to Earth after we release them,” she said. “We like to rebuild them to keep the costs down.”

Space Data’s website contains a new release from April of 2004 announcing the launch of its balloon-born wireless data network, called the SkySite Network. The idea is to connect up wireless data modems in remote locations to the rest of a company’s monitoring network.

“We’re a start-up company, and we’re trying to provide wireless coverage to areas that either don’t have coverage or where the costs to get it would be high,” Cervantes said. She said the equipment found by the Jassos and Lopez is part of a “constellation” of platforms that are sent into space by balloon and remain aloft for less than a day, despite reaching altitudes as high as 100,000 feet, according to the company’s website. “They stay anywhere from 10 to 16 hours. That’s why we’re constantly launching them,” Cervantes said.

Cervantes added that while the company is based in Chandler, Ariz., the balloon launches for the Permian Basin coverage area occur locally.

Area sign thefts plaguing TxDOT

Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) officials are asking local residents’ help in fighting a recent rash of Stop sign thefts in the Pecos area.

This week, six Stop signs were stolen from along roads in and around Pecos, along with a Do Not Enter sign, a chevron marker that signals a curve ahead, and a sign with a symbol for a fork in the roadway.

"When a sign is deliberately damaged or stolen, however, the cost can be more than a dollar amount," said Larry Levario, the supervisor for TxDOT's local maintenance crew. "All signs are there for a reason and when a stop sign or a do not enter sign is stolen, it creates a real safety problem.

"We are always concerned when road signs are vandalized, but more because of the hazard it can create for drivers than the amount it costs to replace them," said Levario. "If you see anyone removing or damaging a sign -call the TxDOT office or the Reeves County Sheriff's office."

According to state law, tampering with a roadway warning device, such as a highway sign, carries a penalty of not less than $25 or more than $1,000, or up to a two-year jail sentence, or both the fine and jail time. However, much stiffer penalties have been handed down in cases where sign vandalism has resulted in serious injury or death.

Vandalism of highway traffic signs costs Texas taxpayers about $2.5 million annually, according to TxDOT officials. The most commonly vandalized sign is the stop sign. Signs in remote locations and those near schools and recreation areas are the most frequently targeted. Repairs cost $75 to $100 excluding labor costs.

Gomez faces new lawsuit by bondsman

Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez had no comment on a lawsuit filed by an area bail bondsman who had been involved in a lawsuit against the sheriff four years ago, on charges of preferential treatment.

Gomez did say he hasn’t been served yet and had no comment about the federal lawsuit filed in El Paso by El Paso bondsman Pascual Olibas, who operates in Reeves County. “I haven’t seen anything yet, the only thing I know is what I read in the Odessa American today,” he said.

According to the story in Thursday’s Odessa American, the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in El Paso, claims Sheriff Gomez has held Freedom Bail Bonds, owned by Olibas, to stricter standards than other bail bond companies.

The suit claims this is a violation of the equal protection clause in the U.S. Constitution. The action also contends Olibas’ freedom of speech was violated. The previous suit also was filed in U.S. District Court in El Paso, in October of 2001. In that suit Olibas claimed that Gomez suspended his bond writing privileges in retaliation for Olibas' comments regarding former Pecos bondsmen Joey Herrera and Olibas' complaints that other area bondsmen were being held to lesser standards than his company.

Olibas contended that his comments were constitutionally protected speech and that Gomez' suspension is retaliation by Gomez.

That suit was settled in 2002, but Olibas’ new suit, filed two weeks ago, claims that from May 3, 2002, to October 2003, B&M Bonding was able to write bonds in Reeves County, even though Gomez allegedly knew the company was in default on about $50,000 in bail bonds.

“All the while, B&M was permitted to write bail bonds illegally, (Freedom Bail Bonds) was required to comply with the letter of the law as well as Reeves County bail bond policies in order to remain in business and thus the equal treatment provisions of the settlement agreement were breached,” the suit said.

Olibas also alleged a conflict of interest between the sheriff and former Reeves County Attorney Bill Weinacht, who has been in private practice since 1997, but does represent Reeves County in certain cases.

Olibas claims Weinacht started his own bail bond business called A Quick Out Bail Bonds around the time the 2001 suit was settled. He added that Weinacht also represents Gomez and Reeves County in legal matters while conducting business at the jail as owner of his company.

“This is a breach of the settlement agreement and a denial of equal protection of law and constitutes a continuing course of retaliation against (Freedom Bail Bonds) for the exercise of protected First Amendment Rights,” the suit said.

The suit claimed that Weinacht was able to access inmates due to his being a lawyer, something other bondsmen were unable to do. It also alleges that Gomez and some deputies steered clients to Weinacht’s bail bond company.

Appraisal Review Board holding tax protest hearings

Property owners in the Reeves County Appraisal District will have an opportunity next week to protest proposed appraisals of their property for local taxes. The district’s appraisal review board (ARB) will begin hearing taxpayer protests next Tuesday, June 28.

After the ARB completes its hearings and approves final property appraisals, local governments will use these appraisals to set 2005 tax rates.

The ARB is a group of citizens who live in the appraisal district and are appointed by the district’s board of directors. Their responsibilities and qualifications are outlined in the Texas Property Tax Code.

Property owners may protest to the ARB any of the following appraisal office actions:

The appraised or agriculture value of the property; Unequal appraisal of the taxpayer’s property compared to other property in the district;

Inclusion of the property on the appraisal records; Denial of a partial exemption, such as a homestead exemption;

Determination that agricultural or timber land has had a change of use and is subject to a rollback tax; Identification of the taxing unit or units in which the property is located;

Determination that the taxpayer is the owner of the property; or

Any other action of the appraisal office that adversely affects the owner.

Carol King Markham, chief appraiser for the district, outlined the steps a property owner must take to file a protest. First, the property owner must file a written notice of protest that shows why the owner is protesting to the ARB. The taxpayer must file this notice by May 31 or within 30 days after the appraisal district mails the taxpayer a notice of appraised value, whichever is later. If a person leases property and, by contract, must pay the owner’s property taxes, then the person leasing may protest the property’s value too the ARB, if the property owner doesn’t protest.

If the ARB sends a property owners a notice of any other kind of change in the appraisal records, or if the chief appraiser issues a notice for a property omitted in the prior year, the property owner has 30 days from the mailing date to file a protest.

Official forms for a notice of protest were included with appraisal letters to property owners and also are available at the appraisal district office. “A protest letter from the taxpayer is also acceptable,” King Markham said, “as long as it identifies the property owner and the property protested and indicates dissatisfaction with some decision or action of the appraisal office.”

Each protesting property owner may offer evidence or argument, either in person or by filing a sworn affidavit with the ARB. A property owner may appoint another person to present the protest by filing an Appointment of Agent form with the appraisal district. Property owners should know that the ARB has no authority over tax rates or spending and will not hear protests on these topics. The ARB will schedule hearings as property owners file protests and mail them a notice of the time, date and place of their individual hearings at least 15 days before the hearing date. The 15 days start with the date postmarked on the notice. Property owners also will receive a copy of the Texas Comptroller of Public Account’s pamphlet called Texas Property Taxes: Taxpayers’ Rights, Remedies and Responsibilities, a copy of the ARB’s hearing procedures and notice that any evidence that the appraisal district will present at the hearing is available at the appraisal office.

Carol King Markham said that hearings will be held for three days and that the ARB expects to approve the final appraisal roll by July 20. State law requires the ARB to review and approve the appraisal records by July 20, or when not more than five percent of the total property value in the district remains under protest.

Those protesting their appraisals should not contact ARB members outside the hearing, the chief appraiser stressed. Each ARB member must sign an affidavit that he or she has had not contact about the protest with a property owner or the appraisal office staff before the hearing.

Texas Property Taxes: Taxpayer’s Rights, Remedies and Responsibilities is available at the Reeves County Appraisal District office.

For a copy, contact the appraisal district staff at 403 S. Cypress, 445-5122 or, call the Texas Comptroller’s office at 1-800-252-9121 or see on the Web at >.

Bee attack near Balmorhea hospitalizes man

An out-of-town man was transported to Reeves County Hospital Wednesday evening suffering from bee stings he received while stopping to ask for information in Balmorhea.

The man, who was not identified, was stung several hundred times by the bees, though officials do not know if the bees were aggressive Africanized variety. The specimens will be sent off to be analyzed.

“I received a call about 9 p.m., last evening from the Pecos Police Department about a man being attacked by bees in Balmorhea on County Road 315,” said Reeves County Emergency Management Coordinator Ricky Herrera.

Herrera said that he drove out to the location and was met there by Reeves County Deputy Lionel Garza.

“We went to the house where the beehive was and I sprayed it, but I didn’t get a chance to get a specimen because it was so dark,” said Herrera.

Herrera said that he had sprayed the beehive and would be returning to the site today to check and make sure there weren’t any more bees around.

Herrera said that the man had to be hospitalized following the incident, which is the most severe bee attack within Reeves County in recent years.

“We do have Africanized bees here in Reeves County,” said Herrera. “You can’t tell just by looking at them, so we have to get some specimens to sent them off.”

There was just one beehive under the eaves of the home, according to Herrera.

“That’s where they usually like to make their beehives, under the eaves,” said Herrera.

Herrera said that he had called Garza and asked him to check the beehive early today. “There were still some bees there, so I’m going out there to give them another treatment and get a specimen,” he said.

Garza said that the individual who was stung by the bees, was not from the area.

“He stopped at a house last night, because he was looking for somewhere to stay overnight,” said Garza.

He that he was called out to the location and that when he got there, the bees had already stung the individual repeatedly.

“He got stung about 300 times,” said Garza, who added that he tried to get the bees away from the man, but that they kept pursuing him. “I tried to get them away from him and put him in my patrol car,” said Garza.

Garza then called for an ambulance, who met them on Highway 17 about a mile from where the house with the beehive. “There were still some bees chasing him, even as we got into the car and they got into the car with us,” said Garza.

The Balmorhea Ambulance met Garza and transported the man to Reeves County Hospital.

“Everything happened so fast, I didn’t get a chance to get his name or where he was from,” said Garza.

Garza said that there are still some bees at the location and that he was going to meet with Herrera to give them another treatment.

“They stung another individual at that house, but he was only stung couple of times, so it wasn’t that bad,” said Garza. “But the more man from out-of-town was stung a lot of times.”

Garza said that he was going to try to find out how the individual was doing at the hospital.

“I’m sure he’s still there, because it was really bad,” he said.

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, and officers of these agencies.

The serving of a warrant by an officer for outstanding fines for either traffic citations or other court costs are considered arrests and will be printed as such unless indicated that the fine was paid.

In such instances we will indicate payment and release.

*** Thomas Marquez, 37, was arrested by Pecos police on May 23 on a warrant charging him with State Jail Felony Theft. Marquez was already in the Reeves County Jail at the time. Juan Prieto, Jr. was the arresting officer.

*** James Marshall III, 49, was arrested by Pecos police at 511 S. Hickory on June 2 on a warrant charging Assault/Family Violence which is a Class A Misdemeanor. The arresting officer was Cesario Urias.

*** Brian Santiago Garcia, 17, was arrested at his residence at 1611 S. Park Street on June 2 on a warrant charging him with Criminal Trespass, a Class B Misdemeanor. The arresting officer was Sgt. Armando Garcia.

*** Michael Lee Juarez, 19, of 101 Putnam, Barstow was arrested by Officer J. Quinones at the intersection of Meadowbrook and Cactus for Driving Under the Influence on June 3.

According to the report the arrest took place after Pecos police received a complaint of three intoxicated males at Allsups on Eddy St.

*** Hector Jose Perez, 27, of 1618 Washington St, was arrested by Officer J. Quinones on June 2 on a warrant for No Insurance.

Perez was a passenger in the car that had been stopped on a routine traffic stop.

*** Pedro Ybarra Orona, 21, of 1618 Washington St. was arrested by Officer J. Quinones June 2 on a warrant stemming from a charge of Criminal Mischief which is a Class B Misdemeanor. The arrest began with a routine traffic stop according to Quinones’ report.

*** Miguel A. Jurado of 1419 N. Elm St. was arrested by Sgt. Ishmael Gamboa June 5 on a warrant stemming from a charge of Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon - Club which is a class A misdemeanor.

The arrest was made at Uncles Convenience Store at 201 E. Third St. after Gamboa saw Jurado, who he knew had an active warrant for his arrest.

*** Ivan Torres, 19, of 1205 S. Walnut St., was arrested by Officer Juan Prieto, Jr., on June 5, for Possession of Marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school zone. The charge is a 3rd degree felony.

Prieto related in his report that the police department was notified that a male subject at Skateboard Park was trying to give marijuana to juveniles at the park and that Torres matched the description.

*** Norma Barrera Avila, 39, of 112 N. Cedar St., was arrested on multiple charges by Officer Juan Prieto, Jr., on June 9.

According to Prieto’s report, the incident began when he attempted to stop a black 1993 Chevrolet Lumina in the east alley of the 300 block of S. Sycamore St. for a traffic violation.

Avila was the operator of the vehicle and attempted to flee. Avila stopped her car at the 300 block of Peach St.

Avila was arrested and charged with: Evading Arrest in a Motor Vehicle, a State Jail Felony; Child Endangerment, a State Jail Felony; Possession of Cocaine over one gram but less than 4 grams, a 3rd Degree Felony; Possession of Dangerous Drugs, a Class A Misdemeanor; and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, a Class C Misdemeanor.

*** Aaron Scott Thompson, 35, of 1744 Washington, St., was arrested at Walmart on June 9, on a warrant stemming from a charge of Sexual Assault on a Child our of Montgomery County. Juan Prieto, Jr. was the arresting officer.

*** Mike Garcia, 20, of 311 S. Willow St., was arrested at his residence by Officer C. Urias June 11 on a charge of Assault under the Family Violence Act. The charge is a Class C Misdemeanor and came after police received a call of a disturbance at the residence. Both parties were arrested.

*** Lilah Rodriguez, 19, of 311 S. Willow St., was arrested at her residence by Officer C. Urias June 11 on a charge of Assault under the Family Violence Act. The charge is s Class C Misdemeanor and came after police received a call of a disturbance at the residence. Both parties were arrested.

*** Rocky E. Mata, 21, of 1520 Cowan St., was arrested by Officer Armando Garcia June 16 on a warrant stemming from a charge of Perjury. The charge is s Class A Misdemeanor. The arrest came after Officer Garcia entered the Kwik Stop Store on West Third Street and identified Mata as having an active warrant for his arrest.

*** Santiago Morales Ortega, 21, of 2320 Sage St., Apartment A, was arrested June 16 on a warrant stemming from a charge of Perjury. The charge is a Class A Misdemeanor. Officer Cesario Urias was the arresting officer.

*** Roger Daniel Mata, Jr., 22, of 502 N. Hickory St. was arrested for failure to provide proof of insurance after a June 16 traffic stop in the 100 block of N. Elm Street by Officer J. Quinones.

*** Roberto Valles Romo, 40, of 2029 Ivey St., was arrested June 17 three charges and warrants. Officer J. Quinones stated in his report that he stopped Romo’s vehicle after receiving a Crimestopper tip.

Romo then provided a driver’s license with a picture that did not match Romo.

The charge was Failure to Identify, a Class A Misdemeanor. Also room was wanted on a warrant out of Winkler County on a motion to revoke probation and a warrant out of Hobbs stemming from a charge of Aggravated Assault.

*** Jamie Pual Marquez, 40, of 723 Ash St., was arrested June 17 on a warrant stemming from a charge of violating parole. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Austin Parole Division issued the warrant. Officer Ricardo Martinez was the arresting officer.

*** Miguel A. Jurado, 20, of 419 N. Elm St., was arrested by Officer Ricardo Martinez June 19 on a warrant stemming from a charge of Assault Causing Bodily Injury, which is a Class A Misdemeanor.

According to the report Officer Martinez made the arrest after seeing Jurado in a van and recognizing him as having an active warrant for his arrest.

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York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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