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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Wednesday, March 8, 2000

Windstorm causes damage, 15 accidents

Staff Writer
PECOS, Mar. 8, 2000 - At least a dozen people were injured, three of them seriously, as a result of Tuesday's violent dust storm that swept through the area and forced the closing of three area highways due to accidents and zero visibility.

The winds, which reached as much as 71 miles per hour at Pecos Municipal Airport, brought down two large signs in town, downed power lines and electric and cable service briefly to parts of the city, and uprooted several large trees during the worst part of the storm, between 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Department of Public Safety officers were called out to 15 accidents, with two major ones reported on Interstate 20 west of Pecos, and on U.S. 285 north of town.

Four tractor trailer rigs, a minivan and a pickup towing a camper were involved in a chain-reaction wreck on I-20 at 12:40 p.m., while four other vehicles were involved in the crash on U.S. 285, which occurred 15 minutes later, seven miles north of Pecos.

Reeves County Sheriff's officers were on the scene to help out the DPS in directing traffic and escorting drivers through.

"The wind and dirt was awful, we responded to the accident sites to help out with the traffic and try to prevent any more accidents from happening," said Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez.

Gomez and his crew were also out on Highway 17, where visibility was zero. The highway was the scene of three accidents, one of them involving a Balmorhea school bus, back on Feb. 22 when blowing dust from fields west of the road obscured vision. Because of that, Texas Department of Transportation officials closed the road between Pecos and Verhalen between 11:45 a.m. and 3:45 p.m.

Even with the road closed, Gomez said one accident was still reported on Highway 17, while blowing dust from plowed fields to the west and north of Pecos also contributed to the I-20 and U.S. 285 wrecks.

The worst damage occurred on Interstate 20, where the motor of one truck rig was forced back into the cab area when it rear-ended another truck, and the pickup was bent upward by the force of it's impact with a truck trailer.

Over a dozen people were involved in the accidents, and at least five were transported to Reeves County Hospital from the different accidents, according to Ambulance Chief Bill Randall Cole.

"We brought two in from accident, one in from the other and the hospital ambulance transported two, also," said Cole.

Aerocare from Lubbock flew in and transported one victim to Lubbock Methodist Hospital, while at least two others were transferred to Odessa and Midland, according to Cole.

Accident reports are not complete and DPS officers were in an area meeting this morning.

Tuesday's storm also caused damage inside Pecos, which did not occur during the Feb. 22 storm, and

Lubbock concerns delay Air Force flight decision

From Staff and Wire Reports
PECOS, Mar. 8, 2000 - Questions about the effects that planned low-level bomber training flights will have on commercial aircraft in the Lubbock area has forced the U.S. Air Force to postpone a decision on whether it will conduct low-level bomber training in West Texas.

The Air Force has delayed action on the flights _ which would run at their lowest levels passing through southern Reeves County - while it meets with Lubbock city and airport officials worried about the impact such missions could have on commercial air traffic.

Rep. Larry Combest, R-Lubbock, was to meet with Air Force, city and airport officials today to discuss the matter.

"We've been put on hold," Lt. Col. Dale Garrett, an Air Force spokesman in Virginia, told the Abilene Reporter-News.

Lt. Wes Ticer, public information officer at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, said the questions about the flights south of Lubbock came as a surprise to Air Force officials.

"According to the environmental impact statement, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) said it wouldn't be a problem," Ticer said. "So, no, we weren't aware of it."

Ticer said the Air Force is not part of the FAA negotiations over the flight paths, but said "The record of decision is on hold until this is resolved."

A spokesman at the FAA's regional office in Fort Worth was unavailable today to explain the reason for the decision.

The Air Force has proposed connecting existing military airspace pockets in West Texas and northern New Mexico to create a larger area for training runs by crews of B-1 and B-52 bombers.

The planned training site, called the Lancer, is located southeast of Lubbock and covers parts of eight West Texas counties, including Scurry, Kent, Fisher, Stonewall, Garza, Borden, Dawson and Lynn.

Bombers currently conduct low-altitude training in South Dakota, Utah and Nevada. But Air Force officials want the missions closer to Dyess Air Force Base near Abilene, where B-1s are based, and Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, home of B-52s.

Low-level training flights help pilots learn to avoid radar-guided and heat-seeking air defense systems, military officials said, with some runs below 5,000 feet. Air Force officials said nothing would be dropped from the bombers.

However, military airspace restrictions would force civilian air traffic to be rerouted around the training site. Officials from the Lubbock International Airport said the resulting extra flight time could cost commercial airlines more money in fuel and raise passengers' ticket prices.

Once leaving the Lancer zone, the B-1 and B-52 jets will continue west on a path that will take them over the Big Bend and Trans-Pecos areas, with the main low-level bombing runs to be carried out over Reeves County.

Under the proposed Realistic Bomber Training Initiative, the bombers will target an electronic scoring site to be located near the Alamo area of south-central Reeves County, and would fly in a loop around Pecos, beginning their runs near Coyonosa and continuing through the southern and western portions of the county, ending in the area west of Orla.

Ticer said the flights would only travel as low as 500 feet off the ground, not 300 feet as earlier reported.

Residents in the Alamo, Verhalen and Saragosa areas have protested the Air Force plan, and one group of West Texas ranchers have joined ranchers and environmentalists in eight other western states in filing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. in an attempt to halt the flights. The groups say the flights damage buildings and other structures, frighten livestock and other animals, and post a danger to small private planes in the area.

A decision had been expected on Monday. Garrett said the Air Force has not decided when it will make a final announcement.

Fire from B-1 forces school to be evacuated

ABILENE (AP) - Several grass fires broke out today and an elementary school was evacuated after a B-1 Bomber was forced to return to base when one of the plane's engines caught fire, Dyess Air Force Base officials said.

No injuries were reported.

The fires were under control by noon, a Taylor County Sheriff's Department dispatcher said.

Fire broke out in one of the plane's engines shortly after it took off about 10 a.m. It was in the air about 37 minutes. The plane was forced to return after the engine that flamed out was shut down, said Lt. Wes Ticer, a Dyess spokesman.

About 600 students from nearby Dyess Elementary School were evacuated, and parents were picking them up about noon. Classes were canceled for the rest of the day, said Deputy Superintendent Robert Glover.

The school was evacuated at the Air Force's recommendation because grass fires broke out near the base and windy conditions. The school is several miles south of the base. No school property was damaged, Glover said.

The fires were under control by noon, Stephanie Fudge, a Taylor County Sheriff's Office dispatcher. It has not been determined how the fires started.

The B-1 is a long-range strategic bomber, capable of flying

School board faces long Thursday agenda

PECOS, Mar. 8, 2000 - Two groups of Pecos High School students will be recognized for their recent efforts, during the regular Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m., Thursday.

Members will meet in the boardroom, 1304 S. Park and the public is invited to attend.

The Pecos High School Swim Team, Business Professionals of America and DECA students will be recognized and the board will discuss several other items on Thursday's long agenda.

Board members will receive a report on Crockett Middle School Eighth Grade lab addition building project; discuss and approve advertising for bids to re-roof sections of Austin Elementary School and Pecos High School and a request by West of the Pecos Museum to waive taxes on donated property.

The group will also discuss and approve bids for full size utility program vehicle; advertising for bids for HVAC project for Bessie Haynes Elementary and a request by Golden Girl Committee of the Women's Division of the Chamber of Commerce for use of the Pecos High School auditorium for rehearsals and Golden Girl Revue in June, along with the waiving of fees.

A special condition clause on Item 7 of teacher's contracts will be discussed; a resolution for Cooperative Purchasing Agreement coordinated and administered by Region 18 Education Service Center and the 1999-2004 Technology Plan.

Board members will discuss and approve offer to purchase foreclosed properties; tax refunds for overpayment or erroneous payments by taxpayers; text committee recommendations; amending Pecos High School handbook Scheduling and will receive a review of school board training received for all members.

Other items for discussion and approval:

· Consideration of proposed non-renewal of term contract employees

· Professional personnel contract renewals.

· Professional personnel: resignations, assignments, reassignments, and change of contract, transfers.

· Tax report.

· Depository securities report.

· Attendance/enrollment report.

· Cafeteria report.

· Commodities received report.

· Current bills and financial report.

· Investment transaction report.

· Reconciled bank balance report.

· Alternate election judge for Orla (Box 3).

· Reeves County Community Recreation Department report.

· Date and time for next board meeting.

· Calendar of events.

· Request for items for next agenda.

Assistant marshal, water line, rates on council agenda

PECOS, Mar. 8, 2000 - Pecos City Council members will discuss the creation of an assistant fire marshal's position and discuss an application for improvements to the city's Ward County Water Field well during their regular meeting Thursday morning.

The council will meet at 7:30 a.m. in City Hall and will discuss submission of plans to the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission and advertising of bids on replacing the transmission line to the water field.

In executive session, the board will discuss two related items, a water quality permit, and setting water and sewer rates for Reeves County. The city and county recently reached a tentative agreement on rates, following a long dispute over cost for water and sewer services at the Reeves County Detention Center.

Other items in open session including a grant application with the Permian Basin Regional Planning Commission, considering a cost analysis for city property on a one-acre tract known as the old service station, along with improvements therein, and consider recognition of the Pecos High School swim team.


AUSTIN (AP) - Results of the Cash 5 drawing Tuesday night: Winning numbers drawn: 12-17-18-24-33. Number matching five of five: 1. Prize per winner: $78,708. Winning ticket sold in: Hereford. Matching four of five: 226. Prize: $522.


AUSTIN (AP) - The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Tuesday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 1-1-4 (one, one, four)


PECOS, Mar. 8, 2000 - High Tuesday 78. Low this morning 43. Forecast for tonight: Clear. Low near 40. Southwest wind 5-15 mph. Thursday: Mostly sunny. High 75-80. Southwest wind 10-20 mph. Thursday night: Fair. Low near 40.

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Pecos Enterprise
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