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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Wednesday, February 2, 2000

USAF to release impact statement on bomber flights

Staff Writer
PECOS, Feb. 2, 2000 - A final environmental impact statement on the planned route for the Air Force's Realistic Bomber Training Initiative is scheduled for release on Friday, officials at Dyess AFB announced today.

The announcement confirms the Air Force's plans to use a route through West Texas for it's RTBI plan, one which has drawn local opposition but could add over $1.5 million annually to the local economy.

Reeves County was not mentioned in the press release by Dyess officials, which dealt mainly with the consolidated Military Operations Area north of Sweetwater and Big Spring on the edge of the South Plains. The MOA would include the cities of Snyder and Lamesa, and would have bombers flying at altitudes of 3,000 feet and higher over Dawson, Scurry, Kent, Stonewall, Fisher, Borden, Lynn and Garza counties.

But the jets would also continue over what the Air Force called "an existing military training route," that would bring the B-1 and B-52 bombers in at levels as low as 200 feet off the ground through sections of Reeves County while targeting electronic scoring sites in the area.

Lt. Wes Ticer with the public relations department at Dyess AFB in Abilene said under the plan there would be one manned electronic scoring site in Reeves County, and other "emitter sites" on the route, which would extend into an area running from south of Van Horn up through Reeves County and include parts of Ward, Winkler, Crane counties and Lea County, N.M.

Ticer said the emitter sites would be on 15 acre sections of land leased by the government, while the manned scoring site in Reeves County would likely be in the Toyah Lake area and would employ 31 people.

"It's a win-win situation. The Air Force gets more realistic training and Pecos gets economic impact from the Air Force," said Ticer, a former Pecos resident.

New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman announced last month that route had been rejected by the Air Force, leaving the South Plains-Reeves County route as the remaining alternative. Air Force officials last week told Congressman Henry Bonilla's office that the two electronic scoring sites planned for Reeves County would cost between $3.6 and $5 million to build, and would bring 31 jobs and an estimated $1.6 million annually into the area.

Although the Air Force has said it would avoid the cities of Balmorhea and Saragosa and would not increase the number of flights currently using the route, the RTBI proposal has met with strong opposition from ranchers in the area and further south in the Big Bend. The group two weeks ago joined ranchers and environmentalists in other western states in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. to stop the flights, on environmental grounds.

The environmental impact statement (EIS) for Alternative B is the second step in the proposed RBTI plan, which the Air Force is hoping to implement by December of 2001. "The identification of the preferred alternative in the final EIS does not constitute a final decision," the Air Force said. "The final Record of Decision on whether the recommendation is accepted or another alternative is chosen will be made by Lt. Gen. Marvin R. Esmond, deputy chief of staff Air and Space Operations, no earlier than 30 days after the release of the final EIS."

The Air Force said three possible plans were selected, with Alternative B chosen because of fewer conflicts with federal jet routes and civilian aviation. One of the other routes, though northern New Mexico, also had more severe weather in winter months that would hamper operations, according to the Air Force.

Police hunt failed gas station robber

Staff Writer
PECOS, Feb. 2, 2000 - An attempted robbery at a Pecos gas station proved futile for the suspect, but police are still searching for him today.

The incident happened at about 6:15 a.m., Monday, when a male subject entered the Amigo's Texaco located at 14th and Cedar streets.

"We got the call from the clerk at about that time," said Pecos Police Department Lieutenant Tony Dawdy, who said the female clerk told officers that an unknown male entered store.

"He was wearing a long black overcoat and a white T-shirt with holes cut out for the eyes," said Dawdy. "He asked her for the money and she said she didn't have any."

The suspect then proceeded to force the clerk into the store's cooler. "He told her not to come back out until he was gone, which is when she called us," said Dawdy.

The man took off immediately after that, but took nothing from the store. "Apparently there was nothing missing," said Dawdy. "Maybe he didn't know how to open the cash register."

The subject is described as a 5-foot-9 Hispanic male, wearing a long black overcoat.

"Since he was wearing the T-shirt, it's hard for her to describe his face," said Dawdy. "But we'll be looking for him," he said.

Anyone with information pertaining to this incident should contact the Pecos Police Department at 445-4911. Anybody with information can remain anonymous.

City, county get second shot at adding U.S. 285 to plan

Staff Writer
PECOS, Feb. 2, 2000 - After missing an opportunity 10 years ago due to a lack of local participation, the city of Pecos and Reeves County will get a second chance to have the area's main north-south highway included in the Texas Department of Transportation's Texas Trunk System project.

TxDOT's plan calls for the widening of key U.S. and State Highways in Texas from two lanes to four-lane divided highways. But when the last regional hearings were held in 1990, neither the city nor county bothered to send any representatives.

As a result, the only section of U.S. 285 in Texas that was included in TxDOTs plan was the 65-mile stretch between Sanderson and Fort Stockton.

Now, TxDOT is holding hearing across the state this month to discuss possible revisions to the plan, and local officials are planning to attend the one for the Permian Basin and Concho Valley, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 15 at the TxDOT office at 4502 Knickerbocker Road in San Angelo.

"I'm going to the meeting," said Pecos Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tom Rivera, "And I know that (Chamber president) Jeanette Alligood is going for sure."

"I delivered a letter to the county and city yesterday to see if they were interested in going with us," Rivera said. "I met with the mayor (Dot Stafford) and city manager (Kenneth Neal) yesterday in reference to that, and both said they're going," Rivera added. "The more people who show up the more they'll listen."

Area officials often failed to show up for public hearings or to argue for state projects a decade ago. At the same time Pecos failed to get U.S. 285 included in the Texas Trunk System plan, the city also allowed Fort Stockton officials to argue the case in Austin for a proposed state prison site in Coyanosa.

Fort Stockton officials also made the case for their own site located west of town, which was selected for a 1,500-bed prison. Reeves County has only recently made up for that mistake, and the resulting loss of jobs, with the expansion of the county's own detention center from 500 to 2000 inmates over the past five years.

The trunk system wouldn't directly lead to jobs in the area, but Rivera said it would help make the U.S. 285 route a better connector for traffic from South Texas to the Albuquerque, N.M. and Denver, Colo. areas.

"One of the leading criteria for the trunk system is to tie into the interstate systems. You would have Interstate 10, Interstate 20 and Interstate 40," Rivera said.

U.S. 285 from I-40 south to Loving, N.M. is already scheduled for expansion from two to four lanes under a combined $120 million project by New Mexico and the U.S. Department of Energy. The road is being widened and loops have been built around Roswell and Santa Fe, N.M. to improve safety for radioactive waste trucks headed for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant southeast of Carlsbad, N.M.

Trucks from five sites in the eastern United States also are scheduled to transport radioactive waste to WIPP along a route that travels on I-20 to Pecos, and then north on U.S. 285 to Loving, N.M., and other trucks could travel along I-10 and then U.S. 285 from Fort Stockton up to Loving.

No federal funds have been earmarked for widening the Texas section of U.S. 285, though a proposed loop around Pecos is part of TxDOT's proposed FY 2006 budget.

Firemen quickly deal with Tuesday incidents

Staff Writer
PECOS, Feb. 2, 2000 - Pecos Volunteer Firemen were busy Tuesday, handing two minor incidents in which no major damage or injuries were reported.

Firefighters received a call at about 4:30 p.m., of a fire in the back of the 600 block of South Oak Street. "It was just a dumpster fire," said Town of Pecos City Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire.

Brookshire stated that the fire was caused by a lot of clothes in the dumpster and the flames were quickly extinguished.

Firemen also were sent out later that evening to a reported structure fire on West Fifth Street.

"This was also a small fire, underneath the house," said Brookshire. "All the fire units were dispatched to the location, but we ended up just needing one."

In all fire calls, all units are dispatched to the site of the incident until it is determined the extent of the fire and the problem is assessed, according to Brookshire.

That fire was quickly extinguished and the house sustained minor damage. No injuries were reported in either incident.

"The cause of that house fire was electrical," said Brookshire.

No shadows seen, but city gets rain on Groundhog Day

PECOS, Feb. 2, 2000 - If you go by the prairie dogs around Reeves County, winter should be over now, since there were no shadows to be seen anywhere at sunrise, when clouds continued to cover the Trans-Pecos region.

Area farmers and ranchers also are hoping the clouds are a sign of the end of the long drought, as they brought the first measurable rain to Pecos for the year 2000 on Tuesday.

A total of .2 inch of rain fell between Tuesday afternoon and this morning, according to the Texas A&M Agricultural Experiment Station west of town. The rain was part of a cold front that passed through the area, dropping Tuesday afternoon's high temperature to 48 degrees.

The front wasn't long-lasting, as temperatures warmed to 49 degrees by sunrise this morning.

Up in Punxsutawney, Pa. part-time weatherman and full-time groundhog Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning and predicted six more weeks of winter.


AUSTIN (AP) - Results of the Cash 5 drawing Tuesday night: Winning numbers drawn: 14-22-28-32-38. Number matching five of five: 1. Prize per winner: $82,277. Winning ticket sold in: Dallas. Matching four of five: 257. Prize: $480.


AUSTIN (AP) - The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Tuesday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 8-7-1 (eight, seven, one)


Zelpha Drake

Zelpha Mae Drake, 84, died Monday, Jan. 24, 2000, at Reeves County Hospital.

Services were held Friday, Jan. 28, at First Assembly of God Church in Sunray, with Rev. H.L. Stevens, retired Assembly of God Pastor of Dumas, officiating. He was assisted by Pastor Holly Ensey, pastor of First Assembly of God in Sunray. Burial was in lane Memorial Cemetery in Sunray.

She was born March 31, 1915, in Red Star, Ark., was a Pecos resident since 1993, a Sunray resident from 1967 until 1993, a homemaker and a member of the First Assembly of God Church, in Sunray. She was a Sunday school teacher for the First Assembly of God Church in Sunray for many years.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Dan Drake on March 28, 1993, along with four brothers and four sisters.

Survivors include three daughters, Vera Mae Sellers of Pecos, Jearldean Kealy of Clinton, Okla. and Wanda Sue Bolt of Cleburne; one sister, Eva Norris of Talequah, Okla; 10 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren.

The family requests that memorials be made to First Assembly of God, Box 247, Sunray, Tx., 79084.


PECOS, Feb. 2, 2000 - High Tuesday 48. Low this morning 49. Rainfall past 24 hours .2 inch. Total for month .2 inch. Total for year .2 inch. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Low 25 to 30. Southeast wind 5 to 10 mph. Thursday: Partly cloudy. High in the upper 60s. Southwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Thursday night: Partly cloudy. Low 30 to 35. Friday: Partly cloudy. Low 25 to 35. High 60 to 70.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.

324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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