Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Wednesday, March 8, 2000
Windstorm causes damage, 15 accidents
By ROSIE FLORES
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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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Copyright 2000 by Pecos Enterprise