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Top Stories

Monday, April 10, 2000

Appeals to give county time to fix jail

Staff Writer
PECOS, April 10, 2000 - Reeves County has a little longer than 15 days before the state closes the county jail, and it may not close at all, County Judge Jimmy Galindo said today.

Galindo said that Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez wasn't quite correct when he said last week that if the county did not win its appeal of the closing order issued by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, the jail would be shut down in 15 days.

That information was also stated by Gomez on Friday, when he contacted the Enterprise after press time to clarify the exact process set in motion by Thursday's ruling by the Commission.

"Actually, the county has 15 days to appeal after the Commission issues the order," Galindo said. "And it will take a week or two for the Commission to issue that order. After that, we have 15 days to appeal. Once we appeal, nothing will happen until the Commission hears the appeal, and that can be several more weeks, or even longer."

"I also believe that we can win on appeal. I do not believe we are going to have to close the jail," he said.

Galindo also said he had talked to Jack Crump, Executive Director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, last Monday  in Austin, where he was informed of the problems the commission had with the jail. Gomez appeared by himself on Thursday before the commission during a meeting in Collin County, north of Dallas.

In response to accusations that the commissioners court was to blame for the possible shutdown, Galindo saied that there were many factors that may have led to the Commission's decision, some that the court can control, and some that it cannot.

"We cannot control how the jail is run, or whether too many inmates are being held," he said.

"As to the issues of locks and plumbing, we actually received bids on the work last fall, and have a price of $160,000. That is $100,000 cheaper than the original estimate."

The reason for the $100,000 savings is that the commissioners piggybacked the bids with work being done at the Reeves County Detention Center, he said.

"We have been waiting for the subcontractors to come on site for the prison job. If we need to bring the subcontractors out early though, that is what we'll do," he said.

Last week, Sheriff Gomez said that the primary reasons the Commission decided to issue the order closing the jail were the county's failure to install up-to-date locks and to repair the plumbing.

According to Gomez, the triggering event for the Jail Commission's decision was a surprise inspection of the jail back on February 24.

In the following report, the Jail Commission cited the jail on 10 different counts of non-compliance with state standards.

The lack of power-operated locks, a majority of toilets that do not flush, and overcrowding account for three of the ten counts of non-compliance.

County offers Pecos FD help to get Rescue Cam

Staff Writer
PECOS, April 10, 2000 - Pecos Volunteer Firefighters are one step closer to purchasing a valuable piece of equipment, following their presentation made at the regular meeting of the Reeves County Commissioners Court this morning.

Fire Chief Roy Pena provided some information to the court and showed them a video to demonstrate the effectiveness of a fire department Rescue Cam, which can locate people within the smoke and fire of a burning building.

"The Odessa Fire Department partners with Channel 7 (KOSA-TV) to purchase these rescue cams," Pena said. "These cameras allow us to rescue individuals 90 percent better."

So far Odessa has purchased eight of these cameras for their department, one camera for each fire station. "The price for the camera is usually $20,000," said Pena. "However, Channel 7, is helping the 45 fire departments within the Permian Basin, to purchase the camera for $15,500."

He said the main concern of the department is to save lives, and with this camera it would make it easier to save lives and prevent further fire damage.

"Channel 7, or Odessa are not making any money on this," Pena said. "They just want other communities to have the opportunity to purchase these cameras at a more economical price."

Pena said KOSA has invited members from the Pecos Volunteer Fire Department to purchase the camera at a better price.

Pena said members of the department have gotten a chance to look at the equipment in person. "We actually got to go through the smoke house in Odessa and got to use the camera," he said, adding that everyone was very excited about this valuable price of equipment and felt that it would greatly enhance the fire department and other emergency response departments in the community.

Raising funds for the camera is the kind of project that gives everyone in the community a chance to participate, according to Pena.

"We're here to ask you to share your ideas for fundraisers with us or to help us raise the funds needed to purchase the camera," he said.

Pena told the group that the fire department would be having fundraisers such as car washes and other events, in an effort to raise the money to purchase the camera.

"Every bit of money that we raise will go towards this fund, to purchase this very much needed piece of equipment," he said.

If anybody would like to help or donate any funds they can make their checks payable to Rescue Cam, according to Pena.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo agreed that this camera was a valuable asset that the community could use.

Galindo suggested that the county appropriate half of the funds needed to buy the camera. "Lynn (Owens, county auditor) and I can get together and see if we can move some funds around to give you half of what the purchase of the camera is, so that you can get a good head start in purchasing it," said Galindo.

Pena told the group that Fort Stockton and Kermit already had half of their funds together for the purchase of the equipment.

"We want you to be even with those communities, in regard to the funds," said Galindo.

Midland and Big Spring already have a camera, according to Pena.

"By going with this particular camera, they have assured us that the technology will remain the same for the next 5-6 years at least," said Pena.

"I think it's a very good investment, a vital piece of equipment for the community," said Galindo.

Volunteer firefighters were on hand for the meeting and told the group that they were excited about the equipment.

Gus Ybarra, who has been with the department for about five years stated, "I think it will be a good asset."

"I think it's going to work out great for the entire community and we're willing to work hard to purchase it," said Guillermo Gabaldon, who has been a firefighter for about six months.

"I think it speaks for itself," said Javier Contreras. "Hopefully, we can get it, because it is important," he said. Contreras has been a volunteer firefighter for two years.

Arturo Granado, who has been with the department about six years, told the court that the camera would be a good asset to the community and to the department.

"I hope the community will help us," he said.

Noe Ybarra, who has been a volunteer firefighter for eight months, had the opportunity to go through the smokehouse.

"It will be a good asset to every emergency response department," said Ybarra.

Ybarra told the group that the camera could also be used during accidents. "Sometimes its very dark and we can't see anything during an accident," said Ybarra. "We could locate people a lot faster and help them better."

Justice of the Peace Lamberto Herrera, who was attending this morning's meeting, asked Pena if the camera would help during a dust storm.

"Yes, definitely it will help us during those times as well," said Pena.

There are currently 42 members in the Pecos Volunteer Firefighters. "The maximum is 44 and we will elect two more this month," said Pena.

"Some of these firefighters are fairly new, but we do have some veterans," said Pena. "I know Lynn was a firefighter for us for a long time," he said.

"I was a firefighter here for 33 years," said Lynn Owens.

"There's a wealth of knowledge and true commitment in that department," said Galindo.

Commissioners approved donating half of the amount for the camera, $7,750.

Pena also told the group that an area competition for Volunteer Firefighters would take place this weekend at Maxey Park in Pecos. "We'll have races and other events for the volunteer firefighters in this area," he said.

The event was last held in Pecos in 1992 and is held twice a year, in the fall and the spring.

"We'll have about 250 people from other towns in Pecos this weekend," he said.

The event will start at the Reeves County Civic Center with signups and the races will be held at Maxey Park, according to Pena.

"It's a big thing for us, and we're happy to be hosting it this time," said Pena. "It takes a long time for us to get to host it, because of the other towns that are with the Permian Basin."

The women's auxiliary will also compete, according to Pena.

"We're also asking the merchants for donations to be used as door prizes," he said.

Van Horn man dies in Sunday train collision

Staff Writer
VN HORN, April 10 -- An 80-year-old Van Horn man was killed Sunday afternoon when his vehicle was struck by a Union Pacific railroad train off U.S. 90 south of Van Horn in Culberson County.

According to the Department of Public Safety office in Pecos, the accident occurred about 3 p.m. when a 1984 Ford pickup, driven by John H. Harper of Van Horn, was westbound on Chiapa Road, 12 miles south of Van Horn when it attempted to cross the railroad tracks near U.S. 90 and was struck by a northbound Union Pacific GE engine on the driver's side.

The pickup was carried an eighth of a mile down the track before the train could stop, according to the report by trooper Clint Bookout of the DPS office in Van Horn. Harper, who was retired and living in Van Horn, was pronounced dead at 4:25 p.m. by Culberson County Justice of the Peace Buck Nix, and his body was taken to Carrillo funeral home in Van Horn.

Bookout said the engineer of the train had sounded his horn before entering the intersection. No other passengers were in the pickup at the time of the collision.

Lubbock's new sludge plans raise stink

LUBBOCK (AP) - This West Texas city has a dirty fight on its hands.

More than 1,000 people have signed a petition in opposition to Lubbock's attempt to gain approval to apply sludge to land east of the city, an opponent said. Residents of the area told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal for Sunday's editions that they are fearful of water contamination and the prospects of living with the smell of sewage.

The city has used the site for wastewater treatment operations for many years but has never applied sludge. It is the same area where land applications of wastewater contaminated the groundwater in the 1980s. But Terry Ellerbrook, the managing director for water utilities, said the city is meeting regulatory requirements that would keep the operation from becoming a nuisance.

"Believe me, the city does not want to get into a situation where we have to remediate anything," Ellerbrook said. "We view the whole operation out there as environmentally sound."

But farmer Terry Trotter, who said a petition against the permit has been signed by more than 1,000 people, said he believes runoff and odor problems will be impossible to avoid. He also said material in the sludge considered safe today could be found to be dangerous later.

"We just don't feel like it needs to be out here," Trotter said. "This is going to be an environmental danger."

The Lubbock County Water Control and Improvement District, which oversees Buffalo Springs Lake, is leaning toward opposing the permit.

"We are really concerned about it," said board President Tommy Fisher. "We recognize the fact that Lubbock has got to do something with that stuff, but we don't want it to be like the old days where that runoff gets out here or gets in our water table. That's what ruined our water last time," he said. "We're probably going to be opposed to it."

The city currently sends all its sludge to a landfill. Sludge, clinically called "biosolids," is the solid material from municipal sewage. After being separated from liquid waste at a treatment plant, sludge is spread in large outdoor pits to stabilize and dry.

The city wants to amend its permit with the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission to spread the sludge on pastureland and reduce the amount of sludge it takes to the landfill. The TNRCC has already issued a draft permit, and a final decision is expected several weeks after a formal hearing in September.

Early voting tops 1,050 for runoff elections

Staff Writer
PECOS, April 10, 2000 - Early voting for Tuesday's Democratic primary runoff election ended on Friday, with 807 persons having cast ballots at the Reeves County Courthouse and another 261 by mail, according to the Reeves County Clerk's office.

Another 257 mail ballots sent out had not been returned as of Friday, according to the county clerk's office. The early voting in the runoff election is about half the number that voted early last month, prior to the March 14 elections.

All county Democratic voters are eligible to cast ballots in the runoff for U.S. Senate, where Gene Kelly and Charles Gandy, but the main focus is on the two commissioner's runoff elections. Incumbent Felipe Arredondo is being challenged by Jesse Baeza in the Precinct 1 race, while incumbent Herman Tarin will face challenger David Pattillo in Tuesday's Precinct 3 runoff election.

Arredondo, who won as a write-in candidate four years ago, collected 385 votes in the March 14 election, while Baeza won a close race for second place and a spot in next month's runoff. He collected 226 votes; three more than Anita Baeza, while the fourth candidate, Roy Pena, received 202 votes.

In Precinct 3, challenger Pattillo used a big advantage in early voting to edge out Tarin for the top spot. He collected 387 votes, while Tarin earned a spot in the runoff with 376 votes. The other two candidates, Jimmy Gallego and James H. Thomas, picked up 204 and 45 votes respectively.

Both Arredondo and Tarin are seeking their third four-year terms on the commissioner's court, though Arredondo's first term was from 1985-89. Tarin was first elected as commissioner in 1992.

The winners in Tuesday's runoff will be unopposed in the November general election, unless a write-in candidate files following the April 11 primary. Arredondo defeated Lupe Garcia as a write-in candidate in 1996 and is looking to become the first candidate since Marcos Martinez Jr. in 1980 to win consecutive terms as Precinct 1 commissioner.

County Clerk Diane Florez said all 12 precinct boxes in Reeves County would be open Tuesday from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. for the runoff election. Voters in Boxes 2 and 11 will cast ballots in the Precinct 1 commissioner's race, while voters in Boxes 5, 6 and 10 will be voting for commissioner in Precinct 3.

The boxes are:

Box 1 _ Pecos Community Center; Box 2 _ Pecos Elementary; Box 3 _ Pecos High School new gym; Box 4 _ Toyah; Box 5 _ Balmorhea; Box 6 _ Saragosa; Box 7 _ Reeves County Library; Box 8 _ Lamar Middle School; Box 9 _ Orla; Box 10 _ Reeves County Annex; Box 11 _ Bessie Haynes Elementary; Box 12 _ Texas New Mexico Power Co. Reddy Room.


AUSTIN (AP) - Results of the Lotto Texas drawing Saturday night: Winning numbers drawn: 9-33-38-39-41-48. Estimated jackpot: $17 million. Number matching six of six: 0 Matching five of six: 98. Prize: $1,875. Matching four of six: 5,826. Prize: $114.


AUSTIN (AP) - Results of the Texas Million drawing Friday night: Winning numbers drawn: 88-48-53-14. Number matching four of four in Group One: Zero. Number matching four of four in Group Two: Zero. Prize: $25,000. Number matching four of four in Group Three: 1. Prize: $10,000. Number matching three of four in any group: 315. Prize: $300.


AUSTIN (AP) - Results of the Cash 5 drawing Friday night: Winning numbers drawn: 33-32-12-11-04. Number matching five of five: 4. Prize per winner: $20,952. Winning tickets sold in: League City, Bellmead, Jasper, Corpus Cristi. Matching four of five: 200. Prize: $628.


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


AUSTIN (AP) - The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Saturday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 3-4-2 (three, four, two)


PECOS, April 10, 2000 - High Sunday 84. Low this morning 56. Increasing cloudiness. Low in the lower 50s. Southwest wind 10-20 mph. Tuesday: Cloudy and cooler with a 20 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. High in the lower 70s. Northeast wind increasing to 15-25 mph and gusty. Tuesday night: Mostly cloudy with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Low in the mid 40s. Wednesday: Decreasing cloudiness. High in the mid 70s.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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