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Monday, March 20, 2000

Rangers studying vote tampering charge

Staff Writer
Texas Ranger Jerry Villalobos is investigating allegations of tampering with mail-in ballots during last week's Democratic Party primary election.

Villalobos said the incident involved a ballot mailed to a resident of the Pecos Nursing Home, and that the probe was begun before the election, after he was contacted by 143rd District Attorney Randy Reynolds.

"The DA asked me to look into some allegations on the early voting, with the mail-in voting ballots," Villalobos said. "There was a question about a sealed ballot, but we decided to wait until after the election, so it wouldn't affect the outcome."

Villalobos said the election in question involved one of the Reeves County Commissioner's races that were on the March 14 ballot. Pecos Nursing Home in part of Precinct 3 in Reeves County, where four candidates were seeking the Democratic nomination for this November's general election.

Incumbent Herman Tarin finished second in the March 14 primary and will face challenger David Pattillo in the April 11 runoff election.

Jimmy Gallego and James H. Thomas, Jr. were the other candidiates on last week's election ballot. The other commissioner's race in Reeves County was for the seat in Precinct 1.

Villalobos was in Austin attending a Department of Public Safety class while the election was being held last week, but said he plans to talk to Reynolds tomorrow about the investigation.

"I called the DA this morning, but they're in a trial today," he said from his Fort Stockton office. "I'll probably come up here and talk to him about it on Tuesday."

Villalobos said as of right now, "I don't even know if there was a violation," and said along with talking to Reynolds, he would also be talking with the Secretary of State's office in Austin, about certification of last week's election. All elections in Texas have to be certified by the Secretary of State' office before they become final.

"After it's counted, I'll see if we have to wait," Villalobos said. "I wouldn't imagine that we would have to now that the ballots have been counted."

Recount planned for Precinct 1 commissioner's race

Staff Writer
A recount of ballots in the Precinct 1 Reeves County Commissioner's election has tentatively been scheduled for later this week, county Democratic Party chairman Bobby Dean said today.

"I've gotten official notice of a recount request from Anita (Baeza)," Dean said. Baeza was one of four candidates in the March 15 Democratic primary election for county commissioner, and finished four voted behind Jesse Baeza for second place behind incumbent Felipe Arredondo.

Jesse Baeza received 226 votes to 222 for Anita Baeza. Arredondo won the election with 385 votes, while the fourth place candidate, Roy Pena, received 202 votes.

Because he failed to receive 50 percent of the vote in last Tuesday's election, Arredondo will face the second place finisher in a runoff election on April 11. As of now, Jesse Baeza will be in the runoff, but that won't be known for sure until after the recount is held.

"We've tentatively have it set for 10 a.m. on Thursday," Dean said. "The only thing is I've got to line up all the people (election officials) to make sure they can work on Thursday."

The election boxes to be recounted are those for Box 3 (Pecos Elementary) and Box 11 (Bessie Haynes Elementary). Dean said there would be four boxes total involved in the recount, two for early voting and two for the Election Day ballots.

Air Force tour targets more support for bombers

Pecos, Snyder residents visit B-1 operations at Dyess, hear plans for RTBI flights over area

Staff Writer
Flying over fields at 3,000 feet, proved to be an exciting experience and a challenge to some Pecos residents on Friday at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, although no one actually ever got off the ground.

About 13 people from Pecos, along with one each from Odessa, and Mentone, had the opportunity to tour the base and learn more about their mission, goals and future plans.

The group from Reeves County joined about 60 other selected residents and city officials from nine West Texas counties, including the Snyder area in a tour of the base, which the U.S. Air Force hopes will soon be flying bombers over both areas as part of its Realistic Bomber Training Initiative.

The groups toured the facility and had the experience of getting on board the B-1 simulator at Dyess. It allows the aircraft to be guided electronically, and let those on the tour actually get to "fly".

Brig. General Joseph Stein, commander of Dyess' 7th Bomb Wing, said the invitation was not a move to ingratiate the base with area residents, but to educate them about B-1 operations.

"We wanted to give people a chance to see first-hand what our mission is all about," said Stein. "This is just to give you a little glimpse of what we do here."

RTBI involves bombers flying over an area between Big Spring and Lubbock at 3,000 feet, and then at lower altitudes in a loop over Reeves County, where an electronic scoring site would be built. The plans have drawn opposition from area ranchers and farmers, and currently is awaiting resolution about questions on the flight pattern over the South Plains and if it might affect commercial jets flying into Lubbock.

If West Texas is chosen as the location for the bomber training, Dyess B-1s and B-52s from Barksdale AFB near Shreveport, La., would train closer to their home bases. The aircraft now train in Utah, Nevada and North and South Dakota.

The proposed training area south of Lubbock is called Lancer Military Operation Area. Residents there are concerned the aircraft will negatively affect the environment, create noise and disturb livestock. The Lancer MOA will cover eight West Texas counties, including Scurry, Stonewall, Fisher and Dawson.

The other section, which includes Reeves County, is designated IR-178. It also includes sections of Ward, Loving, Pecos and Culberson counties, with B-1 and B-52 bombers looping around the Pecos area. The Air Force has said construction would cost between $3.6 and $5 million, and would bring an addition 31 jobs and $1.6 million annually into the local economy.

Air Force officials have organized more than 30 meetings to answers questions.

During the Dyess tour, individuals climbed inside a B-1, watched the loading of bombs, sat in a B-1 simulator, viewed B-1s and C-130 aircraft fly by, met air crew members, posed for pictures and asked questions.

Air Force officials had paid a visit to Snyder recently. During that visit, a B-1 and B-52 bomber flew over the Snyder airport so residents could hear the noise made by the aircraft at 3,000 feet _ the lowest the planes could fly at the proposed site. Military aircraft are now flying in the area, but at higher altitudes.

Town of Pecos City Mayor Dot Stafford asked about a visit to Pecos to show the residents of Pecos and Reeves County, how the B-1s actually sound and to explain their mission. "This would help the community learn more about your mission and give them insight," said Stafford. "The more educated we are, the better we will understand it," she said.

Safford was one of several local officials who made the trip to Abilene. Former Reeves County Judge Mike Harrison and his family joined the tour as well.

One person on the tour expressed concern about the recent grassfires caused by a B-1 engine fire last week.

The engine fire caused drops of molten metal to fall and ignite fires in grasslands near Dyess.

Stein said that was the first time in 25 years of service he has seen something fall from a bomber that ignited fire.

"We did look into it, we restricted the flights to find out the exact cause and resolve the issue," said Stein.

However, this is a very rare incident, which usually doesn't occur and was handled in a very professional and efficient manner, according to Stein.

Another concern expressed was that of emergency personnel and if the Air Force was going to provide training to the local community and possibly correlate some emergency plans.

"We have sent some people from base to help train, we do that now, we have sent them to the communities and the school," said Stein.

"If there was an accident, we certainly would send some personnel to help with the situation and control it," said Stein. "If the counties are interested in getting together with us, we would certainly set something up."

Stein stated that the Realistic Bomber Training Initiative will allow B-52 and B-1 aircrews from Barksdale and Dyess AFBs to receive needed combat training while maximizing their training time.

RBTI proposes to establish an Electronic Scoring Site System consisting of linked military airspace and ground-based assets to support integrated, realistic bomber training within approximately 600 nautical miles of Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana and Dyess AFB in Texas.

Currently, B-52 aircrews from Barksdale AFB and B-1 crews from Dyess AFB cannot conduct the needed link integrated combat training without flying long distances _ wasting valuable combat training time.

Existing airspace and other training components close to these bases lack realism and do not allow for the integrated combat training. The RBTI proposal would create training airspace and ground-based assets arranged in a sequenced manner that mirrors combat missions.

To fulfill this proposal, the Air Force would use existing as well as establish new military airspace and ground-based assets in either West Texas or northeastern New Mexico. Based upon the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the Air Force has recommended the military training route (MTR) IR-178 and the Lancer military operations area (MOA) as the preferred operations area.

One of the "myths" put to rest during the tour, was that these aircraft would be flying over at tree top level. Aircraft will not be allowed to fly lower than 3,000 feet above the ground in the Lancer MOA. In the MTR, aircraft are not allowed to fly lower than 500 feet. They also must avoid populated areas, towns and developments.

"We do our best to avoid remote residences," said Lt. Col. Cade Smith. "We do see the farmhouses and other facilities and go around them," he said.

Another myth discussed, was that the noise caused by these aircraft is above the threshold of pain and can cause permanent hearing loss.

"We have performed demonstrations and this is just not true," said Smith. "There is noise, but it is certainly not intolerable and is short-lived," he said.

The jets will be flying six to 10 flights each weekday throughout the entire MOA. It is very unlikely anyone will experience constant overflights.

"We are very concerned about the issues addressed by citizens," said Stein. "The RBTI program is being done in strict accordance with Environmental Protection Agency's guidelines in accordance with the National Environmental Policy."

The people of New Mexico and Texas were informed about the proposal more than two years ago when the Air Force conducted the initial (non-required) informational meetings and paid for public notices in area newspapers. After that, in accordance with NEPA process, the Air Force has conducted 32 "scoping" meetings and public hearings where comments were actively solicited.

With an average of six over flights in the MTR and nine in the MOA per weekday, the EIS finds no likely effect on recreational or agricultural land use, or biological resources, according to the Air Force. Economic effects on land values were studied and no adverse reaction is likely.

Fuel dumping is practically unheard of, according to Air Force officials. The B-52 is incapable of dumping fuel, and the B-1 only dumps fuel under extreme emergency conditions where the aircraft must reduce weight for an immediate landing.

The gross weight of the plane is about 407,000 pounds and has four engines, which can produce about 14,000 pounds of thrust. The plane can travel about 600 miles an hour, which is about 9 miles a minute, according to Smith.

A crew of four is usually in a B-1 bomber, according to Smith.

Each engine in the B-1s is worth about $6.8 million.

Visitors toured the engine repair room, the bomb loading area and had the experience of participating in helping "load" the bombs.

"These are not real bombs," said Smith.

Each airplane is worth about $1.2 billion, which includes the research, engines development and everything that goes into one, according to Smith.

There are about 10-15 female pilots and more females that work in repairing the engines and in different facets of the facility, according to Smith.

"The American taxpayer will win because we'll be able to do our job more cost effectively with more aircrews trained for the dollar, plus 85 percent of this airspace is already in use today," said Stein. "Finally, by locating the electronic scoring systems and radar unit in the area, West Texas will win with about 64 more jobs and subsequent economic benefit of $3.2 million annually."

Aside from Pecos, the other jobs would be located in he Lancer MOA near Snyder.

"Only by working together can we ensure the next generation of patriots will be ready when our country asks them to fly into harm's way," said Stein.

Stein stated that they want to work with the communities and establish a better relationship.

Most of the citizens on the tour supported the bomber training missions coming to West Texas.

Stafford said a few residents in the area had complained about the aircraft flying over their land. "But many people have the misconceptions about how low the planes can fly and if debris falls from them," she said.

"The debris itself, is not coming from the aircraft, but could be the vortex, what the engine turns up, such as dust that it picks up, said Smith.

Navarrette joins Barstow city council race

Staff Writer
A third person has joined the race for office in the May 6 elections in Barstow, with only two days left for candidates to file to enter that or other area races.

Pablo Navarrette has filed for the position of alderman and will be joining incumbents Robert Ortega and Benny Avila, who have filed for new two-year terms.

Benny Hernandez, PHS assistant principal, has filed to run for the position of Mayor of Barstow, a position currently held by Salvador Villalobos. Hernandez currently is unopposed in his race.

All are cities will have the positions of mayor and two councilmen up for election, while two school board seats in Balmorhea and Pecos, along with three seats on the Reeves County Hospital District board, will also be decided on May 6.

Candidates have until Wednesday to file to run in any of the local elections.

Incumbent Danny Rodriguez and Ricky Herrera have filed to retain their seats on the Town of Pecos City Council and are currently unopposed, while local businessman Ray Ortega filed to run against incumbent Dot Stafford in the race for Pecos mayor. Stafford is seeking her fourth two-year term as Town of Pecos City Mayor.

In the Reeves County Hospital District election, another local businessman, Leo Hung, filed to seek the at-large seat on the board against two-term incumbent Greg Luna.

All Reeves County voters will be eligible to cast ballots in the election between Luna and Hung, while the board seats for Precincts 1 and 3 also will be decided in May.

Incumbents Chel Flores for Precinct 1 and Jesse Prieto in Precinct 3 are the only candidates so far to enter those races.

In Balmorhea, only incumbent councilman Danny Reynolds has filed to for the mayoral position currently held by Ismael Rodriguez.

The terms of Reynolds, a Reeves County sheriff's deputy, and Rosendo Galindo also are up for election on May 6, but so far no one has filed for either of the council seats.

The Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD election has four candidates seeking the two three-year terms up for election. Incumbent Steve Armstrong is joined in the May 6 race by challengers Paul Deishler, Steve Valenzuela and David Flores.

In the Balmorhea school board race, only one person, Raymond Carrasco, has filed for one of the two two-year terms up for election. Paul Matta and Reyes Castillo hold the seats that are up for election.

In Toyah, terms expiring are also mayor and two council posts. Paul Budlong won the mayor's race in 1998, while the council seats up for election are those won by Clara McConnell and Howard Dennett two years ago.

CCRC schedules Tuesday meeting at Pyote center

Community Council of Reeves County will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Pyote Community Center to consider and take action on PHA request (carpet and storage trailer) and the repair expense of the gas line leak at SMPC.

The group will also listen to an update on the Weatherization Assistance Program monitoring review on March 27 and consider and take action on amending Corporate By-Laws.

On the board of director's attendance report: Mary Garcia _ Ward County _ Participant Sector and Katherine Putnam _ Loving County _ Public Sector, are on the agenda.

Also on the agenda are program updates: CSBG, CEAP and Weatherization along with Meals on Wheels Program update.


Margie Dieshler

Services are incomplete for Margie Deishler, 67, who died today, March 20, 2000, at Reeves County Hospital.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

E.W. Estep

E.W. "Blue" Estep, 89, died Thursday, March 16, 2000, at Covenant Medical Center in Lubbock.

Services were held at 2 p.m., Sunday, March 19, 2000 at the Lamesa Church of Christ with Joe Woodrum officiating. Burial was in Resthaven Cemetery in Menard at 2 p.m. today.

He was born Sept. 21, 1910, in San Saba County, moved to Lamesa in 1955, worked in the oil fields, was a member of the Church of Christ.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Clemmie Hinsley Estep, in 1997.

Survivors include one son, Maurice Estep of Menard; three daughters, Willie Hamilton of Pecos, Lillie Sharp of Lamesa, Sherlyn Scott of San Angelo; two sisters, Dollie Murphree of Big Spring, Juanita Slay of Menard; seven grandchildren; 18 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

Branon Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Eddy Fellabaum

Services are incomplete for Eddy Fellabaum, 81, of Balmorhea, who died today, March 20, 2000 at Alpine Valley Care Center in Alpine.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


High Sunday 75. Low this morning 36. Forecast for tonight: Windy with areas of blowing dust. Increasing cloudiness. Low 45-50. Southeast wind 25-35 mph this evening: Decreasing to 20-30 mph and gusty after midnight. Tuesday: Mostly cloudy and windy with a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. High 70-75. Southeast wind 20-30 mph. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Lows 45-50. Wednesday: Partly cloudy with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the 70s.

Lotto Results

AUSTIN (AP) - Results of the Lotto Texas drawing Saturday night: Winning numbers drawn: 05-21-28-36-40-43. Estimated jackpot: $22 million. Number matching six of six: zero. Matching five of six: 130. Prize: $1,638. Matching four of six: 7,017. Prize: $110.
AUSTIN (AP) - Results of the Texas Million drawing Friday night: Winning numbers drawn: 25-26-62-68. Number matching four of four in Group One: none. Number matching four of four in Group Two: none. Number matching four of four in Group Three: 1. Prize: $10,000. Number matching three of four in any group: 320. Prize: $300.
AUSTIN (AP) - Results of the Cash 5 drawing Friday night: Winning numbers drawn: 12-15-18-28-34. Number matching five of five: 1. Prize per winner: $83,732. Winning ticket sold in: Angleton. Matching four of five: 234. Prize: $537.
AUSTIN (AP) - The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Friday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 6-6-9 (six, six, nine)
AUSTIN (AP) - The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Saturday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 5-2-7 (five, two, seven)

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