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Top Stories

Friday, February 25, 2000

Roof foreman killed in apparent fall

Staff Writer
The construction supervisor for a Lubbock roofing company died this morning when he apparently fell off the top of the former White's Auto Center building that is being renovated to house Odessa College's new Pecos campus.

The body of Robert Baker, 30, was found this morning by a delivery truck driver as he passed through the alley between the new OC building and Beall's in the Airlawn Shopping Center, according to Pecos Police Investigator Kelly Davis.

"He was working for the roofing company, but I don't know if they called him the foreman," Davis said. Construction engineer Frank Spencer confirmed that Baker was the supervisor for the roofing project.

Police were called to the scene at 6:15 a.m. after the body was discovered. Officials could only speculate on what occurred, because it was still dark outside and no other workers were at the scene when Baker died.

"We can only summarize he lost his balance, but right now we're still investigating," Davis said.

Odessa College President Dr. Vance Gipson said, "What I've heard so far are only sketchy details, but I heard he may have suffered an apparent heart attack."

Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Amanario Ramon pronounced Baker dead at the scene and ordered an autopsy. Officials will have to wait until they receive the autopsy report from Lubbock before they can determine if a medical condition contributed to the death.

"We're very sorry to hear of this tragedy. We greatly regret this occurred," said Gipson.

Odessa College's physical plant manager Bob Chastain was already scheduled to meet with Spencer in Pecos today to discuss the project, and Gipson said officials had talked with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) about the accident.

Baker was supervising the project for A.G. McKinney Construction of Lubbock. An official with the company declined comment this morning, and Spencer said he had not yet talked to the company about their plans following the accident.

"I understand the roofing contractor will have to regroup and take care of the matter at hand," said Spencer. "I have not tried to contact them. I know he's (McKinney) trying to take care of his people. Next week I will give them a call."

"I was talking to some of the guys who were working for him, and they said this guy takes care of all of us," Spencer said. "He was always worrying about safety."

Spencer speculated that Baker was "trying to get things together for his crew," when the incident occurred, but added, "No one was there, so no one knows for sure what happened."

Work on the roof had just begun Wednesday, after funding for the $860,000 project was formally approved Tuesday by the Odessa College Foundation. The approval capped a long effort by the Town of Pecos City, the Pecos Economic Development Corporation and Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD to get a satellite campus built for students in the Pecos area.

Construction was scheduled to run through mid-May, and while Spencer said Baker's death would cause some delays, he added, "Anything else pertaining to the project will continue as scheduled," and interior work on the building was going on this morning.

"It's a great loss on a project that's a high impact on the community. It's very sad for this to happen," Spencer said. "It's hard to take, and hard to understand and comprehend, but it's nothing you can do anything about."

After Baker was pronounced dead, his body was taken to Pecos Funeral Home, before being sent to Lubbock for autopsy. Pecos volunteer firemen were also called to the scene after sunrise, to wash away blood from the spot in the alley where Baker fell.

Three incumbents file for May election

Staff Writer
Mayor Dot Stafford and city councilman Danny Rodriguez have decided they want to retain their seats on the Town of Pecos City Council, while Reeves County Hospital District board member Greg Luna has done the same in that election race.

Stafford and Rodriguez filed on Thursday with the city secretary for re-election, in the May 6 city election, while Luna filed at Reeves County Hospital to remain on that board.

City elections will also be held May 6 in Toyah, Barstow and Balmorhea, along with elections for local school and hospital board seats.

In the city elections, terms up are for mayor and two council positions, and all seats are for two-year periods. The hospital district seats also are two-year terms, while those up for election on the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah and Balmorhea school board are three-year terms.

All Reeves County voters are eligible to cast ballots for the at-large seat on the Reeves County Hospital District board, where Luna is seeking a third two-year term. Other seats on the RCH board up for election are the for Precinct 1 and Precinct 3 seats held by Chel Flores and Jesse Prieto.

Three candidates filed earlier this week for the P-B-T election. They include Steve Valenzuela, who recently joined Paul Deishler and incumbent Steve Armstrong in seeking one of the two available seats on the school board.

Two positions are currently open on the board, for a three-year period.

Armstrong is seeking his second consecutive three-year term on the board, after serving there during the 1980s. The other school board member whose term is up for election, Freddy Lujan, has not filed yet to run in the May election.

Warren offers Rotary rodeo review

Staff Writer
Rodeo Committee President Starkey Warren was the featured speaker at the Rotary Club meeting yesterday.

Warren said that while the West of the Pecos Rodeo had the fourth best purse in Texas, the event had lost money in recent years.

"People are just not going to the Rodeo like they used to," Warren said.

The rodeo committee is trying to reverse that trend this year.

"We're making some changes this year that we hope will make the rodeo profitable," he said.

Warren said that the primary change would be the program.

"We've always had a very nice, magazine-format program. We've also always lost from $3,000 to $4,000 on it each year. In the past we've made that up with ticket sales," he said.

This year, Warren said that the program would be printed on newsprint and that 35,000 copies would be printed.

"We're going to distribute the program all over West Texas," he said.

Warren said that the program would be inserted in area newspapers and also set out at area businesses.

"Hopeful it will give non-residents some information about our rodeo and will help draw people to it from all around the region," he said.

Warren said the program would also be available at the gate, along with the day sheet for that day's performance.

Warren also said that because the program would be printed on newsprint, instead of dedicating the program to someone as in previous years, the rodeo itself would be dedicated to a selected person this July.

Other changes for the rodeo include a single dance.

"For the last eight or ten years the Sheriff's Posse and the Rodeo Committee have sponsored dances. This year we will be cooperating with the Sheriff's Posse, and the Posse will sponsor the dance," Warren said.

"In exchange the Sheriff's Posse is going to do more to support the Rodeo," he said.

In another promotional effort, Warren told the group that Public Information Coordinator Mya Griffin of Texas-New Mexico Power had arranged for rodeo flyers to be added to the company's bills.

"That's 228,000 flyers going directly to TNMP customers in the region," he said.

Vendors will also be allowed on the rodeo grounds this year.

"We've always said no because we want to have a rodeo, not a carnival. This year we are going to be real picky about who we let in, but we do want to foster more of a festival type atmosphere," Warren said.

The last major change Warren spoke of was the scheduling of the rodeo.

"There will not be a rodeo performance on July 4th this year," he said. "Since the Fourth falls on a Tuesday and we felt we needed to work toward the final performance falling on Saturday night, the first performance of the rodeo will be on July 5."

Warren said that the change was made to help encourage attendance.

"To get people to come from out-of-town we need to start mid-week and work toward the weekend," he said.

Warren said that although he was hesitant to change long-standing traditions, he was most interested in keeping the West of the Pecos Rodeo alive and among the top rodeos in the country.


AUSTIN (AP) - Results of the Cash 5 drawing Thursday night: Winning numbers drawn: 4-13-35-36-37. Number matching five of five: 2. Prize per winner: $40,867. Winning tickets sold in: Dallas, Pampa. Matching four of five: 193. Prize: $635.


AUSTIN (AP) - The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Thursday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 7-9-9 (seven, nine, nine)


High Thursday 88. Low this morning 49. Forecast for tonight: Clear. Low 30 to 35. West wind 10 to 20 mph and gusty. Saturday: Mostly sunny and breezy. High in the upper 60s. West wind 15 to 25 mph. Saturday night: Dry. Low in the upper 30s to mid 40s. Sunday: Dry with above normal temperatures. Low in the upper 30s to mid 40s. High in the 70s to around 80.

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