Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Tuesday, May 9, 2000
Commissioners move on senior, phone contracts
By SMOKEY BRIGGS
PECOS, May 9, 2000 - Reeves County Commissioners approved an addendum
to the contract for senior services in the county on Monday and heard a
presentation concerning a possible new telephone system during the regularly
scheduled meeting of the commissioner's court.
County Judge Jimmy Galindo explained that there had been two contracts
in the past for recreation and transportation services for senior citizens,
one for Pecos and one for Balmorhea.
Last fall the Balmorhea director of senior services retired and the
move was made to consolidate the operations under one director, he said.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Herman Tarin said that the addendum to the contract
was the last obstacle to overcome in consolidating senior services, and
that transportation services should again be available to Balmorhea seniors
in the near future.
Galindo said that the county is also looking for a temporary building
to use for recreation services for seniors in Balmorhea.
Commissioners also sat through a video presentation regarding one possible
solution to the county's phone problems that sparked discussion among commissioners
Galindo said that he had been impressed with the connectivity of the
demonstrated system that combines voice and electronic mail, fax and telephone
systems into one integrated package.
"With the definite need for a telecommunications system, when we look
at a solution it should be an integrated solution," Galindo said.
Precinct 2 Commissioner David Castillo said that whatever type system
the county decided on, it should be simple to use and that the county shouldn't
pay for a lot of bells and whistles that wouldn't be used.
"Everybody needs to be able to use it with a minimum of training," he
"The big questions we need to answer, other than cost, ought to be ease
of use, ease of implementation and time it takes to get it up," he said.
Dick Alligood, President of Oilfield Phone Service Co., advised the
commissioners that the integrated type of system demonstrated in the presentation
is generally known as Computer Telephony Integration or CTI, and is not
Alligood also told commissioners that the courthouse, and probably every
other county building except the Detention Center, would need new cabling
before any type of telephone system is installed.
County Auditor Lynn Owens told commissioners that he had met with several
department heads and that the department heads are pretty frustrated with
the current phone system.
"We need something. It doesn't make sense to buy new phones and tie
them together with the hodge-podge wiring we have right now," he said.
Alligood suggested that the county hire a consultant.
"I would encourage you to have a consultant look at what the county
needs overall before you buy anything," he said. "This technology will
only work with the proper cabling."
Alligood volunteered to provide the court with a list of state certified
Castillo moved that the court advertise to solicit a telecommunications
consultant to examine the communication needs of Reeves County.
The court passed the motion unanimously.
The court also heard from Mark Schumacher with Banes General Contractors,
Inc., concerning progress on the Reeves County Detention Center expansion.
Banes is the general contractor for the project.
"Construction is moving at a fast pace and all the buildings are up
structurally," he said. "As of today we believe the job is on schedule."
Commissioners authorized payment #13 to the company for the sum of $2,253,028.05
after the report.
County Extension Agent Terry Holder was also on hand to speak with the
court about future office space for his agency.
"Mr. Holder and I have come up with a potential property we would like
the community to consider," Judge Galindo said.
Galindo said that the property is the old Billy Sol Estes building on
Highway 17 between Veterans and Stafford boulevards.
Holder said that the agency is running out of room in its current facility
and that the new facility would provide more room for clubs and civic groups
to hold meetings.
Galindo and Holder encouraged commissioners to walk through the building
before the next scheduled meeting.
Galindo said that the county would need to talk with other taxing entities
to see about making the building a county building.
Currently the building is owned by the taxing entities because of unpaid
back taxes, Galindo said.
Red Bluff discusses less salt, more rain
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, May 9, 2000 - Red Bluff Water Power Control Board members got
an update Monday on the ongoing problems getting the Malaga Bend salt alleviation
project untracked, but will have to wait at least until next month to get
briefed on a proposed cloud seeding project by an official from the Texas
Natural Resource Conservation Commission.
Board members discussed both plans during their monthly meeting at the
Red Bluff office in Pecos on Monday, and also canvassed votes for the two
contested elections held Saturday involving Red Bluff board members.
Charlotte Wilcox won re-election to the board over Randy Bradenburg
by a 100-25 margin in voting for the seat representing Ward County Water
Improvement District No. 2, while Manuel Lujan defeated Benjamin Munoz
by a 150-38 margin in Saturday's election for the Ward County Water Improvement
District No. 1 seat. Lujan represents the Barstow area, while Wilcox represents
the Grandfalls area on the Red Bluff board.
The district's plans to pump brine water from Malaga Bend to man-made
ponds owned by Loving Salt Co. remains on hold, but the board was told
that lawyers for Loving Salt will meet with New Mexico officials to try
and resolve the problem of getting final permits for the project.
The district and Loving Salt Co. have been working for several years
to begin diverting the Malaga Bend water away from the Pecos River, since
salt content readings in the river in Texas are double those above the
site where the spring feeds into the river.
Board members delayed any action on the cloud seeding project until
they could hear from officials involved with a similar project in the Big
Board member Lloyd Goodrich said the cost of the seeding would come
to about nine cents an acre, with the state paying seven cents of that
total. However, Goodrich said the district has tried cloud seeding in the
past, but had run into problems, in part because much of the basin that
feeds into Red Bluff Lake is located in New Mexico.
"We couldn't get a permit to seed in New Mexico. New Mexico State University
was the only ones allowed to permit," Goodrich said. "We also couldn't
get a permit for the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, because the Ranger
didn't want the ecology changed."
Goodrich said ground smoke generators used in cloud seeding helped produce
an eight-inch snowfall one time in the Red Bluff area, but added there
weren't enough of stations collecting information in the area to produce
completely accurate baseline data on the project.
On a motion by Teresa Walker, the board voted to table the item until
an expert on the plan could attend a board meeting.
The monthly water report showed the water level of Red Bluff Lake had
dropped 10,000 acre/feet during April as irrigation season in the Pecos
Valley began. The board was also asked to allow Pecos County WID No. 2
to get back some of the 2,355 acre/feet of water they had transferred in
The transfer represented about 40 percent of the district's allotment
of 5,355 acre/feet for 2000, and board member Jay Lee said, "Without that
water, they're not going to make it."
Lee said the Pecos County WID No. 2 board has been changed since the
move to transfer the water was made, and the new members were requesting
Red Bluff allow them to get the allotment back. Goodrich said the board
couldn't take action at this time, but could put the item on a later board
Board members also approved accounts payable, cash disbursements and
the quarterly investment report during the meeting, and all seven members
of the board were sworn in to new terms, following the past Saturday's
Phoenix woman identified as victim of I-20 accident
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, May 9, 2000 - A Phoenix, Ariz., woman has been identified as
the victim of a one-vehicle accident which happened early Monday morning
on Interstate 20, just east of the Interstate 10 junction.
According to a report by the Texas Department of Public Safety, the
accident occurred at 6:59 a.m., and involved a 1989 Jeep driven by Hector
Daniel Sotelo of Phoenix.
Killed in the accident was the passenger, Julieta Mendoza, 49, of Phoenix,
who was pronounced dead at 7:50 a.m., by Justice of the Peace J.T. Marsh.
Her body was taken to Pecos Funeral Home.
Sotelo, 33, was severely injured in the accident, with head injuries,
arms and leg injuries and was airlifted to Covenant (Methodist) Hospital
in Lubbock. His condition was listed as critical early this afternoon.
According to the DPS report, the couple was traveling eastbound on I-20.
Sotelo was eating a candy bar when he choked and lost control of the vehicle.
The vehicle ran off the road to right, the driver overcorrected to the
left, causing the vehicle to skid sideways and it rolled three times.
Mendoza was ejected from the vehicle.
Trooper R.D. Woods of the DPS Highway Patrol office in Pecos investigated
Summer swim class sign-ups start next week
PECOS, May 9, 2000 - Registration for summer swimming lesson at the Pecos
High School pool will be held three times, starting next Monday from 4:30
to 6 p.m. in the PHS pool lobby.
Sessions will be from June 5-16 and from June 19-30 and are open to
boys and girls at the preschool (ages 3-4) and school age (5 and up) levels.
The cost for the two-week class is $25 per student.
The other registration days will be Wednesday, May 17 and Monday May
22, at the PHS pool. For further information, call coach Terri Morse at
Suspect pleads guilty in Caverns slaying
By MICHELLE KOIDIN
Associated Press Writer
CARLSBAD, N.M. - The prosecution rested its case this morning in the
sentencing hearing of a man who claims he stabbed his best friend in a
"mercy killing" after the two got lost and ran out of water in the New
Prosecutor Les Williams called two experts in dehydration who reviewed
the case of Raffi Kodikian, who killed David Coughlin last August during
a camping trip in the backcountry of Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
Robert Moon, a biologist at the National Parks Service, testified that
Kodikian's dehydration level was at 13 percent when he was found. Couhglin's
level was at 12 percent. Moon said that someone with a dehydration level
under 15 percent would be in agony, and would have problems walking or
standing, and could die.
Moon said that one thing that surprised him was that there was unopened
can of baked beans found at the campsite. Moon said that a person who is
severely dehydrated would consume anything liquid, even such items as lotion
The defense then began its case. Attorney Gary Mitchell started questioning
Spencer Hall, an emergency room doctor who handles search and rescue cases.
Kodikian says the 26-year-old Coughlin begged him to end his pain after
they got lost and ran out of water. He pleaded no contest to second-degree
murder during a sentencing hearing that started Monday.
Kodikian, 26, of Boston, could get up to 20 years in prison. His sentencing
hearing is expected to last until Wednesday.
Under the plea bargain, Kodikian preserves the right to appeal a judge's
ruling barring him from mounting a defense of temporary insanity based
on dehydration-induced dementia.
Mitchell said Monday that neither Kodikian nor Coughlin, of Millis,
Mass., took enough water into Rattlesnake Canyon. He said they were unprepared
for the possibility that their one-day trip could turn into four.
The two were in "absolute desperate straits" after getting lost and
running out of water, Mitchell said.
"The boys earlier had both attempted to slice their wrists and weren't
able to do so," he said. "David begged him to put him out of his misery."
Williams said Kodikian apparently had made an agreement that he was
going to kill himself after killing Coughlin.
Williams said Kodikian "did have marks on his wrist, across his wrist,
but they were not deep," and he said his knife was too dull. Kodikian was
dehydrated, "but not to the point that he didn't know what he was doing,"
Park workers rescued Kodikian about six hours after his friend died.
Dr. Dennis Klein, who performed an autopsy on Coughlin, said Coughlin
had three cuts on his right wrist that could have been the result of a
suicide attempt. Coughlin was dehydrated, but the cause of death was two
stab wounds to the chest, Klein said.
Dr. Mark Hopkins, who treated Kodikian at Carlsbad Medical Center the
day he was found, testified that Kodikian also was dehydrated, had a fever
of 102 and had an extremely elevated sodium level and pulse rate. Kodikian
was treated and released in three hours, the doctor said.
Lance Mattson, a park ranger who along with a volunteer found Kodikian,
testified that as he approached, he saw Kodikian roll out from under a
tent. Since two names had been on the camping permit, Mattson asked Kodikian
where his friend was. Kodikian gestured toward some stones and said, "Right
over there. I killed him," Mattson testified.
Kodikian told the ranger that Coughlin had been in an incredible amount
Mattson noticed cuts on Kodikian's wrist. "These are attempts of me
killing myself," was Kodikian's response, he testified. Kodikian said his
knife was too dull, Mattson said.
Mitchell told the judge that Kodikian and Coughlin were very close and
that there were no problems between them.
Outside the courtroom, Mitchell said speculation that Kodikian was motivated
by a love triangle was "absolute pure nonsense."
"There is not a single shred of evidence to that effect, and there's
not going to be," he said.
Carl Ray Payne
Carl Ray Payne, 66, of Katy, died Sunday, May 7, 2000, in a plane crash
south of Fort Stockton, while fighting a grass fire in the Glass Mountains.
A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, May 10, at
the Pecos Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. J.E. McCormick officiating. Burial
services will be held Saturday, May 13, in Katy.
He was born March 3, 1934, in Mertzon, Tx., was an Air Force Veteran,
moved to Pecos in 1946. His school attendance was cut short when he left
school and joined the Air Force. Flying all kinds of planes was his joy.
He was a Colonel in the Confederate Air Force.
Survivors include his wife, Carla Payne of Katy; one daughter, Patti
Neeley of Brookshier; two sons, Jimmy Payne of Somerset and Mike Payne;
one brother, Johnny Payne of San Antonio; one sister, Sue Toone of Saragosa
and seven grandchildren.
Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
PECOS, May 9, 2000 - High Monday 102. Low this morning 69. Forecast for
tonight: Mostly clear. Low around 60. East wind 5-10 mph. Wednesday: Mostly
sunny: Breezy: And hot. High near 100. South wind 15-25 mph. Wednesday
night: Mostly clear. Low in the upper 60s. Thursday: Mostly sunny and warm
Highs in the upper 90s to near 105.
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