Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Thursday, May 4, 2000
Increase sought in federal judges for West Texas
From Staff and Wire Reports
PECOS, May 4, 2000 - Lawmakers in South and West Texas are pushing
to have more judges assigned to the region to keep with a boom in arrests
for drug violations, illegal aliens and smuggling.
U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, who represents an area of West Texas between
San Antonio and Midland, introduced legislation Wednesday to add two federal
judges for the Western District of Texas that serves much of the area.
"Unprecedented border enforcement has swamped the Western District,"
said Smith, R-San Antonio and a member of the House Judiciary Committee
and chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration. "We need more judges to
keep up with the rapidly rising number of cases."
A sharp increase in Border Patrol presence throughout the region has
led to the explosion of arrests, according to The Midland Reporter-Telegram.
Felony cases have tripled since 1995, according to Smith's office, and
in the past year alone, they have gone up 20 percent.
Criminal court cases in Pecos federal court are on their way to far
surpassing 1999's numbers. As of today, a total of 187 cases involving
242 defendants had been filed since Jan. 1, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Stewart
Platt was in town this morning to hear 40 new cases. Another 19 civil cases
have been filed in Pecos federal court this year.
For all of 1999, a total of 387 cases involving 523 defendants were
filed in Pecos. That's a sharp contrast to 1994, when the appointment of
two new judges for the Western District had just been made, and before
the construction of the Lucius D. Bunton III Federal Courthouse. Fewer
than 100 cases were filed in Pecos that year, with no cases at all filed
in April, 1994.
Total federal cases, both criminal and civil, have doubled since 1990
- the last year Congress authorized new judges for the Western District
of Texas, that includes San Antonio, Austin, El Paso, Waco, Del Rio and
And according to the 1999 Federal Court Management Statistics report
released Tuesday, the state's Western District judges handled about five
times the national average case load for criminal cases, the Reporter-Telegram
The argument for more support finds a welcome ear in U.S. District Judge
W. Royal Furgeson of Midland.
Furgeson said Smith has been a leader in immigration and border issues
"and he understands how those cases have affected the dockets. The dockets
are just exploding."
Furgeson was one of the two judges appointed to the Western District
in 1993 and 1994. He took the place of Bunton, who retired to senior judge
status in 1994, but still handles cases in both Midland and Pecos due to
the heavy criminal docket in the region.
The Western District includes 500 miles of border and runs from Waco
to El Paso: a territory of 92,000 square miles. It also includes the cities
of El Paso, Midland-Odessa, Del Rio, San Antonio, Austin and Waco.
The chief judge of the U.S. District Court that serves much of South
and West Texas, James R. Nowlin, supports a congressional authorization
for more judges. And backers of the bill say they've found allies on the
Judicial Conference, a group of senior federal judges who oversees administration
in the federal court system.
Smith said he doesn't know how long it will take to get the measure
passed and new judges appointed, although officials estimate the new confirmations
could take up to two years.
Largest blimp stops in town on flight east
By MARI MALDONADO
PECOS, May 4, 2000 - "The biggest certified airship in the world,"
made a brief stop at the Pecos Municipal Airport yesterday. On its way
to New England, crewman Taylor Sierstorpff said that along with it, a crew
of about "22 to 24 people" are making the nation wide trek that started,
last month in California.
Sierstorpff was watching over the Colleges.com airship as it was anchored
to an Airship Operations truck. The company responsible for blimps manufacturer
is based out of Kissimmee, Florida.
The airship "was actually built by hand in Elizabeth North Carolina,"
Sierstorpff explained. The Colleges.Com logo was painted by hand in San
Diego by renowned artist Burt Dodge, he added.
The owner of the Colleges.Com owns several websites, but was promoting
this particular Internet feature across the country, Sierstorpff explained.
"We're visiting colleges all over the country," he said, adding that the
website advertised is accessible not only to college students, but to "almost
anybody," across the country. It also allows high school students to visit,
"virtual campuses, which is a neat feature this time of year."
"Students can check out what's going on at their campus…for example,
this weekend," he said.
The Airship Operations employee explained that the website owner contracted
AO for the promotional tour, which is heading east to Atlanta, Washington,
D.C. and New York before going to Boston for Harvard University's commencement
exercises in early June.
The two-year-old airship is, "200 feet long by 67 feet high and 63 feet
wide and is carrying six passengers and two pilots," said Sierstorpff.
It has 8,200 lights for nighttime viewing, he added.
He said that during his watch he is responsible for taking volume readings,
"every hour on the hour."
"The thing is really sensitive to weather," he explained as he watched
the unit sway north and southward.
Couple seek Mystical success for new business
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, May 4, 2000 - Soothing scents waft through the air at the new,
unique gift shop that will be opening its doors to the public on Friday.
Laura and Arthur Nicklesen will be welcoming customers to their new
shop, Mystical Spirit, located at 1221 S. Eddy at their grand opening scheduled
The shop will be open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday.
"We're just really excited about being here," said Laura Nicklesen,
who moved here from New Jersey.
Nicklesen stated that they had moved to Pecos about six weeks ago, because
her mother is living here and they wanted to get away from the "rat race."
"We wanted to move somewhere calmer, a little bit slower," said Arthur
The couple had a shop similar to the one here in New Jersey. " I wanted
to open a unique shop and offer customers something a little bit different,"
The shop will feature such items as silver jewelry, scented and unscented
candles, oils, and incense and celestial decorations. Also on their shelves
are the ever-popular Pokemon trading cards.
"We'll be offering a little bag of incense or a Pokemon book cover to
any purchases over $10 on Friday," said Laura. "We also have the new Team
Rocket Trading Cards," she said.
The Nicklesen's who are still moving in, will be receiving more items
as they get settled in their new location.
"We're still really new here, but we want to get to know the people
and as they come in they can tell give me their requests for different
items," said Laura.
The store will also be "kid friendly," and little ones are also invited
to come in and browse.
"I just saw a need for gifts and decorations and decided to open a shop
like that here," said Laura. "The other store in New Jersey was also called
Gift items will also include charm bracelets, with different charms
that can be added. "We have all kinds of eagles, all the instruments, and
different items that can be added to the bracelet," said Nicklesen.
The store will also feature items from the Fat Mouse and Fox Store located
near Mentone. "She has a lot of Native American items and we'll be having
some of those items here later on," Nickelsen said.
When they're not busy fixing up their store, the couple enjoys attending
their son's little league games and meeting new people. "I also speak Spanish
fluently, so if anyone comes in that doesn't speak English I can communicate
with them," Laura said.
The Nicklesen's have two sons, Arthur, age 8, and Thomas, two years
Inmate alleges jail assault by guards
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, May 4, 2000 - Allegations of abuse at the Reeves County Jail
will be looked into, according to Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez, after
an inmate brought to the jail following a family incident on Saturday claimed
he was assaulted by a jailer.
Raymond Vega, Jr., said he was seeking to contact the Texas Rangers
and the Midland office of the FBI on Wednesday, after being diagnosed at
Reeves County Hospital with injuries to his face, kidney and liver. Vega
said were caused by a beating he received at Reeves County Jail, while
an incident report filed by jail officials said Vega's injuries occurred
when he was struggling with the jailers while refusing to leave the detoxification
Vega admitted Wednesday he had been intoxicated at the time of his arrest,
and said the incident occurred, "all because I didn't want to let them
"I tried to file charges (against the deputies), but they said I had
fallen down," said Vega, while showing his deep red bruise near his left
hip and a swollen left cheekbone. "I would have had to have fallen off
a building to get this."
According to a report by Pecos police, Vega was taken to Reeves County
Jail on Saturday, April 29, at 7:40 p.m. by officer Ernest Lazcano, for
The incident report indicates that Vega was rude and uncooperative with
officers Jesse Solis and Gabriel Gonzales at the time.
After the inmate had changed into jail clothes he called through the
intercom advising he wanted his mattress and blanket, "Now."
The officers went to the detox tank to speak to the inmate. Vega then
insisted that the officers give him his mattress and all his belongings.
Vega was advised that he will get his blanket in a moment, but would not
get his mattress until he was booked in and upstairs. At this time Vega
became very furious and verbally abusive.
According to the incident report, Vega was advised to step back so that
they could get another inmate out the detox tank, since the second inmate
was not causing problems. Vega refused. He stepped toward one of the officers
and raised his hand to what appeared to be a striking pose. One of the
officers reached for the Vega's chest and pushed him against the wall and
held him there. As he was held there, Vega appeared to reach for the arms
of the officer to break the hold.
While the first officer scuffled with the inmate, the other officer
got the other inmate out of the tank and then assisted with the taking
Vega down. When Vega was taken down, he hit his left eye on the floor and
caused a laceration.
He was then transported to the Reeves County hospital emergency room,
at 8:06 p.m. He was treated and released.
Vega said he remembered being assaulted by one of the guards, Gonzales,
while the others waited outside.
"They left me there for 90 minutes until they saw I was really bleeding,"
he said. "I was taken to the hospital and stitched up, but I was still
urinating blood and they didn't do anything about it."
Additional information on the incident report indicates that Vega threatened
the lives of one of the officers and his family.
"The officers followed procedure," said Gomez. "We're not going to be
abusing anyone in our jail," he said.
"I don't like people being abused," said Gomez.
However, Gomez stated that they are going to investigate the incident.
"And if he wants someone from the outside to investigate it, we'll bring
someone in," he said.
"If it makes him feel better, I'll call someone to come in and make
a full investigation," said Gomez.
Vega said he had tried to talk to Gomez earlier this week, but the sheriff
was out of town.
"They (the jail staff) didn't want to give me any information. They
said I was drunk," Vega alleged. "I went to the police department to press
charges, and they wouldn't let me file charges."
Gomez stated that officers and staff are asked to be courteous at all
times. "We treat our people right," he said.
Vega said he had been referred by doctors in Pecos to Medical Center
Hospital in Odessa, but was turned away initially because he didn't have
his Medicaid card. "Right now (Wednesday) I just went to the doctor and
he's sending me back up there."
Health Insurance info to be offered at CCRC Friday
PECOS, May 4, 2000 - Jan Mann, a representative for the Children's Health
Insurance Program will be at the Community Council of Reeves County
office, 700 W. Daggett St., at 10:30 a.m., Friday.
Mann will be providing information regarding CHIP.
The TexCare Partnership is a new children's health insurance campaign
developed especially for Texas families. Its purpose is to provide health
insurance for children at a price that fits the budgets of Texas families.
Steer roping event set for weekend at Rodeo Arena
PECOS, May 4, 2000 - The West of the Pecos Rodeo Committee will be hosting
a Steer Roping this weekend at the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena. The roping
sanctioned by the American Steer Roping Championships will be held Saturday,
May 6 at 1 p.m. and Sunday, May 7 at 10 a.m.
The committee would like to invite the community out to watch this event.
Admission is free and concessions will be available on the grounds.
PECOS, May 4, 2000 - High Wednesday 99. Low this morning 60. Forecast for
tonight: Partly cloudy. Low 55-60. Southeast wind 5-15 mph. Friday: Mostly
sunny. High around 95. Southwest wind 10-20 mph. Friday night: Mostly clear.
Low 55-60. Saturday and Sunday: Dry. Low 55-60. Highs in the 90s.
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