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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, March 18, 2005

Commissioners OK changes for expansion job

Staff Writer

Reeves County Commissioners approved use of the Reeves County Golf Course for a special event on Friday, and approved changes in the allocation of payroll funds at the golf course this year, in preparation for opening two new holes on the north side of the facility.

Commissioners approved a request by the Reeves County Detention Center’s Special Olympics Committee for use of the course for a fundraising event on Friday, while a retired county employee was approved as a part-time worker to help with the final work on the two new holes, which are located on the site of the former Airbase Apartments. Golf course manager Peter Mora asked commissioners to hire Nesario Lara as a part-time worker to operate heavy equipment at the course for the final work, in place of a worker at the course who recently retired. “We’re getting ready to plant (grass) for the new holes. We want to use part of the money from the retired employee for the heavy equipment employee and for the cart paths.”

Mora said the vacant position had $9,318 left in its budget, and the part-time job would be at a rate of $14 per hour and would be for no more than 17 1/2 hours per week. He said Lara retired from the county’s Road and Bridge Department and is already familiar with the equipment. “There would be no training on our part,” Mora said.

Commissioners approved the hiring, though county auditor Lynn Owens said the golf course’s budget was about $4,400 short of the funds needs to buy the grass seed Mora said he needs for the course. The two new holes are part of a project to increase the facility from its current 11-hole set-up to a full 18-hole course.

“Let us work it out, or we can phase it in,” said Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo about the seeding budget.

In other action, Owens told commissioners they were having problems with the transition between utility providers for Reeves County. Owens said new power provider Axiom and First Choice, the county’s former provider, were at odds over certain charges, including one that involved a listed $800 a month bill for lighting at the Chano Preito Little League Field on Walthall Street.

“That field is only used three months out of the year,” Galindo said.

“I don’t think we’re going to save what Axiom said we would do,” Owens said. “First Choice is imposing a charge for delivering power to the system.”

He added that the high bill listed for the Little League field, may include charges for other county-run facilities. “It may be for the sheriff’s department and the detention center, but this needs to be on their bills,” Owens said.

Galindo told Owens to talk with both Axiom and First Choice to get the companies together to discuss unification of the utility bills.

Commissioners were also briefed by RCDC I and II Warden Tony Garcia and RCDC III Warden Martin McDaniel. Garcia told the group that federal monitors would be in Pecos next week for an inspection, and that the facility is finishing up its audit through management firm GEO Group.

McDaniel was asked about the clean-up efforts in the area using State of Arizona inmates from RCDC III. He said the work was being done weekdays, “If we have police officers available,” and said under the Arizona rules, the inmates could be used within a 30-mile area that would allow for quick response from prison staff if there was a problem with the work crews.

In response to a question from Precinct 2 Commissioner Norman Hill, he said the inmates could be used for clean-up work in Toyah, 17 miles from the prison, but told Precinct 3 Commissioner Saul Herrera he didn’t think they could be used in the Balmorhea area. McDaniel said he would check to see if Saragosa was within the allowable 30-mile area for inmate use.

On a related issue, Precinct 1 Commissioner Roy Alvarado asked Galindo if the county could look at using Texas MHMR clients to help with clean-up work around the Reeves County Courthouse, County Annex and County Library.

On other budget changes, the commissioners approved a suggestion by Galindo to transfer $750 from his travel budget to fund a trip by county librarian Sally Perry to travel to a state librarian conference in Austin the first week of April, and they added $1,000 to the courthouse repair budget, after being told by Owens repairs already had exceeded the total amount budgeted for 2005.

That included repair work on the courthouse elevator, which Precinct 4 Commissioner Hivi Rayos said had closed on his hand last week. “I did talk to the repairman on Friday and rode with him. It sounded better than it has in a long time,” Owens said.

Student advances to national competition

A Balmorhea High School student took away a first place award from the Business Professionals of America’s State Leadership Conference in Arlington earlier this month, and will be representing Texas at the National Leadership Conference next month in California.

James Tarin, BPA State Sergeant at Arms for 2004-2005 was presented with a first place plaque in Extemporaneous Speech during an awards ceremony at the state conference, on March 5 in Arlington, Texas. He was one of eight Balmorhea High School students who made the trip to the Arlington event, and among 2,000 overall who participate in the conference, which ran from March 2-5.

Tarin will represent Texas at the National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, Calif., on April 22-26. There were a total of 30 contestants at the State Conference from all the Regions in Texas. Each Region qualifies two contestants that advance to State. The top nine contestants from the preliminary round are selected for the final presentation and the top four students from the finals advance to Nationals.

Extemporaneous Speech-entails that the contestant demonstrate communication skills in arranging, organizing, and effectively presenting information orally without prior knowledge of the topic. This event is judged by three business representatives with Judge’s Scoring Rubric/Rating Sheet. Items evaluated are Introduction, Voice-pitch, tempo, volume, enthusiasm; Platform Deportment-Gestures, poise, eye contact, mannerisms, appearance; Organization-logical, clearly understood, suitable to topic, coherent; Mechanics-diction, grammar, word pictures, pronunciation; Closing-Summary and Conclusion; Effectiveness-Was purpose achieved? (to decide, impress, inform, and to persuade).

Tarin earlier had placed first in Extemporaneous Speech and first in Management, Marketing and Human Resources Concepts, and third in Parliamentary Procedures test at the Area 4, Region 2 conference in San Angelo, Texas on January 29. Along with Tarin, Jamie Gallego, Jo Gina Gallego, Ismael Rodriguez, Stephanie Iniguez, Lorissa Rodriguez, Jose Rodriguez, and Daniel Tarin were the other BHS students to participate in state level business skill competitions, general sessions, and the state officer candidate campaigns and elections.

“Students from the Texas Association’s Regional Leadership Conference qualified to participate at the state level conference. The conference emphasizes business workforce education and training which members of the local chapter of Business Professionals of America and Balmorhea High School have received,” said chapter advisor, Yolanda Hernandez, who teaches business/technology courses.

Jamie Gallego was named the new Area 4, Region 2 president at the regional conference in San Angelo, Texas on January 29, 2005. She also received third place in Fundamentals of HTML at regionals.

The other state qualifiers included: Jo Gina Gallego placed second in Management, Marketing, and Human Resources Concepts and second in Parliamentary Procedures Test; Ismael Rodriguez placed first in the event of Microsoft Network Administrator and fifth in Parliamentary Procedure Test; Stephanie Iniguez placed third in Cisco Systems Administration; Lorissa Rodriguez placed sixth in the Parliamentary Procedure Test. The Parliamentary Procedure Team-James Tarin, Jo Gina Gallego, Lorissa Rodriguez, Jamie Gallego, Ismael Rodriguez, and Jose Rodriguez-placed second in competition.

State alternates were Daniel Tarin in Desktop Publishing; Lorissa Rodriguez in Fundamentals of Accounting; and Jo Gina Gallego in Banking and Finance.

Midland fatality suits to be tried in Pecos

A trial date of May 23 has been set in Pecos for three consolidated lawsuits filed in connection to a double fatality intoxication manslaughter incident in Midland last summer in which a Pecos resident was one of the victims.

Pre-trial motions will be heard May 13, by 143rd District Court Judge Bob Parks and a jury is scheduled to be seated 10 days later in the lawsuit, which involves the families of both men who were killed, along with Brinker International Corp., the Dallas-based restaurant operator. Three of Brinker’s companies also are named in the suit.

According to the Midland Reporter-Telegram, lawyers for the families claim Midland’s On the Border Mexican Grill and Cantina served Midland school secretary Diane Zamora too many mixed drinks on Jan. 9, 2004.

After leaving the restaurant, Zamora’s Mitsubishi Montero Sport then ran a red light while westbound near downtown Midland, and hit a southbound Ford Thunderbird broadside at Front Street and Lamesa Road, killing 20-year-old Felipe Ornelas Jr. of Pecos, and 28-year-old Ruben Pando Jr. of Monahans.

In a criminal trial last June, Zamora was sentenced to 27 months in state prison. Attorneys told the Reporter-Telegram she either would have to give a written deposition or be returned from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Hobby Unit at Marlin to testify in the civil trial.

In addition to the suit against Brinker and its subsidiaries, the family of Pando is also suing the estate of Ornelas, arguing that he also could be held liable because he was driving with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit when the fatal accident occurred. Lawyers Bill Weinacht of Pecos, Amos Barton of Kerrville and Jon Bailey of San Angelo represent the Ornelas estate, the mother of the victim’s young son, Isaac and Marlene Muniz of Verhalen and Adam Hernandez of Midland as administrators of Ornelas’ estate. Unspecified damages are sought.

Representing Pando’s mother, Lilia Alvarez of Monahans, and ex-wife, Tanya Valdez of Kermit, in her capacity as the mother of his one-year-old son, Alejandro is Odessa attorney Jose Luis Garriga, who expect the trial to go off as scheduled. “Judge Parks is very good about keeping his trial dates,” Garriga told the Reporter-Telegram.

He said the suit against Brinker, which also operates Chili’s restaurants across the United States, was based on Zamora being served alcohol at the On The Border restaurant in Midland after she was obviously intoxicated.

Garriga’s suit is against On the Border and its three Dallas-based parent companies, Chili’s Beverage Co., Brinker Chili’s Texas and Brinker International.

The suit against Ornelas’ estate is based on autopsy reports that shows Ornelas’ blood alcohol content was .10, which is over the state legal limit of .08.

In addition to those suits, the Reporter-Telegram said attorney Brian Burris of Eagle Pass sued Chili’s Beverage, which has On the Border’s TABC liquor license, and Ornelas’ estate in behalf of Ruben Pando Sr. of Ojinaga, Chihuahua, Mexico.

Fire destroys family home in Saragosa

A Tuesday afternoon fire in Saragosa has left one family homeless and is now in need of the community’s help.

Pecos Volunteer Firefighters responded to the fire at 2:06 p.m., Tuesday at 203 W. Iglesias in Saragosa, the home of Reeves County Sheriff’s Deputy Lionel Garza.

The cause of the fire was determined as accidental, after a four-year-old girl was playing with matches, according to Reeves County Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire.

There were no injuries reported, but the home was totally destroyed.

“Apparently, the four-year-old little girl was playing with matches and the mother was in the shower,” said Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez. “She lit something, got scared and ran out of the trailer.”

By the time they discovered the fire, the trailer was engulfed in flames, according to Gomez. “The trailer burned to the ground,” he said.

The sheriff’s department is taking donations for the family, who lost everything in the fire. The family consists of the parents and five children, including three girls and two boys.

The department is taking clothing donations in sizes for girls in 4T, 7-8 and 10-12. Shoe sizes for girls in sizes from size 9, 10 or 11.

Boys’ clothes donations should be in sizes boys 12-14 and 16 Husky. Shoe size 8.

Clothes can be scheduled for pick up by calling the Reeves County Sheriff’s Department, at 445-4901.

Band Boosters annual auction

The Pecos 26th Annual Band Booster Auction will be held on Saturday, March 19. The event will be televised on Channel 11 and the auction will start at 10 a.m. and continue until all items are auctioned off.

Special phone numbers will be listed on Cebridge Cable’s Channel 11.

Barbecue plates with all the trimmings will be available on Saturday, for $3.50 a plate. All band students and parents are also asked to bring a baked good item for the bake sale. The auction will be held inside the Bill Carrico Band Hall and the bake sale and barbecue plate sale will be held in the high school cafeteria.

The auction is held annually to raise funds for the Pecos Eagle Band, either for equipment or to pay for out-of-town trips to competitions or events.

Along with their performances at Pecos’ home and away football games, some band members took trips at the end of 2004 and earlier this year to Lubbock and Crane, for area level band competitions, and the All-Region Clinic and Concert.

Band members that earned a spot on the all-region band in December in Lubbock were R. J. Guerra, Hippolito Lira, Stephanie J. Ornelas, Roger L. Quintana and Carlos F. Salgado. They also placed high enough in their sections to advance to the area level competition in Lubbock January 8, band director Merle Lenfest said. Roger Quintana missed making the All State Band by one point.

Carina Cerna, Daniel Bitolas and Arturo Reyes earned a spot in the junior high all region band, Lenfest said. They represented Pecos and the Mighty Eagle Band on Jan. 22, 2005 in Crane at the All-Region Clinic/Concert.

The all region tryouts were for Class A through 3A schools from our area. These students demonstrated a desire to improve themselves and it is this attitude that will help the Mighty Eagle Band continue to improve in the future, said Lenfest, who thanked those students for the time and effort they put into preparing for these competitions.

Jury gives probation to failed Wal-Mart robber

A Reeves County jury went easy on a Midland man who was charged with aggravated assault with weapon, following his arrest in October of last year after an elaborate, but failed overnight robbery.

Casey Daniel Martin of Midland was arrested on Oct. 22, 2004, after his planned effort to break into the Pecos Wal-Mart succeeded around 4:30 a.m., but the ensuing robbery failed and Pecos police arrested him a few hours later, after leaving his motel room key card on the roof of the building.

Martin, who was supposed to be in town to work on X-ray equipment at Reeves County Hospital as a representative of Triple X-Ray of Stanton, was arrested by police after he was found asleep in a van outside the room he had checked into the previous night at the Quality Inn on South Cedar Street, just a few blocks from the Wal-Mart store.

Martin had already pled guilty to the charges, and Monday’s trial in 143rd District Court was to have a jury assess his punishment.

“This is not a guilty or not-guilty trial,” said Martin’s attorney, Hal Brockett of Midland. “What we are asking the jury for is to assess his punishment.”

Randy Reynolds, 143rd District Attorney, said that the punishment for this crime ranged from 2-20 years in prison.

“We’re here to ask that you assess probation for this young man,” said Brockett. “He has already pled guilty, realizes what he has done, but is asking for some leniency.”

Following the selection of jurors Monday morning, the group deliberated throughout the afternoon and part of the evening and finally decided on 10-years probation for Martin Following his arrest in October, Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney said Martin had apparently climbed to the roof of the building and got inside through one of the air-conditioning ducts. Officers discovered the roof entry, and found the motel room key card, after going to the store as the result of the alarm activation and a call from one of the Wal-Mart workers who was inside when the incident occurred.

The alarm was activated as Martin was fleeing the story, McKinney said. At the time of the incident, the store’s front doors were closed overnight, but as since gone to 24-hour operation.

Officers set up a perimeter around the store and called in the department’s SWAT team members to check inside the building. They discovered the rear door was open, but by then the suspect had fled the scene.

Employees who were busy doing stocking and inventory at the time the break-in occurred said they were confronted in the back area of the building by a man dressed in black and wearing a ski mask and brandishing a handgun.

Martin approached one of them and tried to take the Wal-Mart employee with him, but the employee refused to go with the armed gunman, and at one point tried to escape. “When the Wal-Mart employee ran, that’s when the individual ran and activated the alarm to the outside door,” said McKinney.

Once they were sure the suspect was not inside the store, police began to search the area, and found a spot behind the building where they say Martin was able to climb up to the roof.

However, in his effort to get into the building, police said Martin left them the clue that enabled them to track him down before 8 a.m.

“We continued to search and found a backpack on the roof with a scanner with our police department frequency on it. There was also a rope in the backpack, and we found a hotel card key,” McKinney said. “The officers tracked the hotel card key to an individual out of Midland.”

Police said the man apparently had checked into the Quality Inn the night before. He was given a room on the southeast side of the motel.

“We approached the room and knocked on the door and got no answer. Then we approached the vehicle and found the suspect sleeping inside in a sheet,” McKinney said. Officers found Martin dressed in black when they removed the sheet, and also found a ski mask, a loaded pistol and a loaded rifle inside the vehicle.

Granado celebrates third birthday

Mia Granado celebrated her third birthday with a party held in her honor at her home on Saturday, March 12.

Theme for the special event was “Dora the Explorer.”

Guests were served chili dogs, hamburgers, drinks and a Dora the Explorer cake. She received many gifts and her brother, Josiah Bechtel helped with the special celebration.

Mia is the daughter of Dori and Aaron Granado of Pecos.

Zuniga assigned to European Task Force

Army Staff Sgt. David A. Parra Zuniga is one of approximately 200 soldiers assigned to the Southern European Task Force (Airborne) based at Caserma Ederle, Vicenza, Italy, who will deploy to Afghanistan to serve as a member of Combined Joint Task Force-76 (CJTF-76).

CJTF-76 is a combined and joint rotation unit supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The soldier will join other units that comprise CJTF-76 to help the Afghan people continue on their progress to a free society.

Mission objectives of the combined joint task force include establishing security, defeating Al-Qaida and Taliban forces, and deterring the re-emergence of terrorism. The soldiers are committed to staying the course in Afghanistan and standing firm with the Afghan people against forces actively working to prevent the establishment of a secure environment.

Parra Zuniga, a morale, welfare and recreation supervisor, is the son of Maria E. Zuniga of Pecos.

He is a 1996 graduate of Presidio High School.

Modern Study Club members attend meeting

Members of The Modern Study Club met at the entrance to the new Reeves County Hospital Dialysis Center where were met by Venetta Seals, Director of Public Relations and Marketing for Reeves County Hospital.

She also serves as Director of Specialty Clinics and is the Patient Representative. As our guide she welcomes us and explained that we would be meeting in the Doctor’s Lounge since the conference room and other portions of the hospital were being remodeled and not opened to visitors. She also told us to be mindful of the patients that were being treated and respect their privacy; that we would not be allowed to view the dialysis procedure.

Mrs. Seals arranged for Dr. K.M.L.S.T. Moorthi, Nethrologist, to speak to us prior to our tour. Dr. Moorthi explained the reasons for a dialysis center in Pecos and how fortunate we are to have the facility. He said the Centers serves a wide area surrounding Pecos, and at the present time there are 20 patients using the facility. Dr. Moorthi also explained the reasons that a patient would have need of such a facility such as a patient suffering from diabetes or kidney failure. He covered the causes of diabetes and kidney failure and the importance of keeping your blood sugar levels at a safe count and monitoring your blood pressure regularly so as to stay healthy. Dr. Moorthi answered many questions concerning the center and staying healthy.

Mrs. Seals led the group to the dialysis area where patients receive the life-saving services of cleansing the blood of impurities and monitoring the potassium levels.

Armando Bravo, Technical Supervisor, was introduced and he explained the workings of the dialysis machines. He said it requires four hours of the patient’s time three times a week, and that the area patients no longer have to travel back and forth to Odessa for this treatment. He pointed out the small TV screens a patient can watch while taking a treatment. The members were also allowed to go into the water treatment room where Mr. Bravo explained how the water is filtered for purification, when the chemicals are added and the many tests that are taken to guarantee the safety of the patients.

Afterwards, Mr. Bravo patiently answered various questions.

After the tour members met for a short meeting in the Doctor’s Lounge with President Lena Harpham conducting the meeting. Nan Cate led the Collect. Paula fuller led the group in the Pledges to the American Flag and the Texas Flag.

Joyce Morton, secretary, read minutes of the previous meetings and they were approved as read. Betty Lee, treasurer, gave the treasurer’s report.

A thank you note was read from Debbie Thomas, on behalf of the West of the Pecos Museum, for helping sponsor the Orphan Train Program. A notice was read from TFWC Western District President, Mary Vongsavath, regarding the TFWC Legislative Day in Austin, March 2, and encouraging attendance.

It was noted that Heart of Texas District is dissolving. Member clubs will be joining adjacent districts.

Margie Williamson reported on progress of Alama Van Sickle Scholarship. Mrs. Harpham said that she and Pearl Gustafson delivered the valentines to residents of the Pecos Nursing Home.

The May 114 meeting was changed to May 7. Members were reminded to bring stuffed bears to the next meeting to fulfill our obligation for “Bears on Patrol.”

Roll call was answered with “What are some of the risks of having diabetes?” Juracy Ray was hostess for the meeting.

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