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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
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Monday, May 15, 2000

Airfield reunion brings back memories

Staff Writer
PECOS, May 15, 2000 - Misty-eyed veterans saluted a flag which had flown over the U.S. Capitol and was donated to Pecos in honor of those were stationed here in 1942-1945, as part of the fourth annual Pecos Army Airfield Reunion, held over the weekend at sites around town.

A dedication ceremony was held at the Pecos Municipal Airport with a group of boy scouts and Brownie Troop #188 helping out in the special event. The scouts presented the colors and the flag was raised on the newly constructed flagpole at the airport.

The Catholic War Veterans staged a 21-gun salute during the ceremony and the little Brownie girls served lemonade and cookies to the guests.

"This flag is in honor of the men and women who served here," said West of the Pecos Museum Director Debbie Thomas, who helped coordinate this weekend's events.

Jim and Ruth Turner, of Lubbock, were one the couples who traveled the shortest distance to get to Pecos.

"We're probably the ones who live the closest to Pecos," said Jim Turner, who was stationed in Pecos from January of 1943 until May of 1945. He was a flying instructor who flew many different planes including a B13 and did a tour of Korea for one year and was in the Philippines for two. He was later a squadron commander and was in the Air Force for a total of 25 years.

"It all started here in Pecos," said Turner.

The couple's oldest daughter was born here and her first word was "airplane." She is now an artist who lives in Jackson, Wyo., after graduating from Texas Tech. Her husband is a sculptor, Turner said

Jim Mills, an instructor pilot, came to Pecos in 1944 and was here until the base closed in 1945. Mills is from Hot Springs Village, Ark, but is a native Texan. "I've come through Pecos before and enjoy stopping in," said Mills.

He retired from the Air Force in 1961 and said, "I enjoy coming to these reunions, it brings back a lot of good memories."

"I must say the people of Pecos have been very nice," said Stan and Nelda Brown, who haven't missed a reunion, since the group started meeting here once every two years.

The Browns are from San Lorenzo, Calif. and Stan was stationed in Pecos from 1942-1944.

"I worked in service records back then, I was one of the ones enlisted," said Brown. "We really enjoy these reunions."

Casey Cameron, who is from Southern California, was in the last class that came to Pecos in 1945. Cameron later became an instructor and Lincoln Air Corp Base. "I came in too late to get into combat," he said. "I have many fond memories of Pecos."

Pete Bullock was in charge of the second reunion the group had in Pecos, He was a cadet and came back as an instructor back in the 1940's. "It's definitely been great," said Jean Bullock, Pete's wife.

"We've enjoyed it immensely and the weather has certainly cooperated," she added.

"The town has changed a lot since then," said Pete.

A banquet was held in honor of the veterans and their families at the Pecos Valley Country Club, Saturday evening and a Pecos Air Field display can be viewed at the West of the Pecos Museum.

Groups compete to help State remove old seats

Staff Writer
PECOS, May 15, 2000 - The State is cleaner and closer to rising again.

The Reeves County Juvenile Probation Department and members of the community got together Saturday to clear out the seats in the theater that have not been used in over a decade.

The Juvenile Probation Department challenged the city and county governments to see who could unbolt the most seats, State Theater owner Richard Creasy said.

The challenge resulted in the removal of 250 seats in the theater. and also hauled the seats to storage.

The Juvenile Probation Department won the challenge, which earned them combo meals donated by Dairy Queen.

Creasy said the department has asked him if they could help in the renovating process. They've also received help from Pecos High School students during the week with their clean-up project.

Midland Park Mall has donated new seats to the State Theater as well as concession stands. The Midland mall is currently rebuilding their theaters, and had surplus seats from the old building, which has been torn out.

The State has been closed since Dec. 31, 1989. The Creasys have been working for over a year to restore the building, and co-owner Lillian Creasy said the State will have an open house on June 30.

On July 1-3, the Windmill Square players will play at the theater on the newly expanded stage, Mr. Creasy said.

The grand opening will be the weekend after the Fourth of July.

Fires diminish in Marathon, Ruidoso areas

By The Associated Press
May 15, 2000 - Wildfires in Southern New Mexico and West Texas were closer to being contained today, but evacuations continued in the Los Alamos area of northern New Mexico, were high winds today threatened to cause more damage to an area that has already seen over 250 homes destroyed.

Residents in White Rock area were allowed back in to their homes on Sunday, while those in Los Alamos were taken on a tour of the remains of the houses that had been destroyed by the Cerro Grande fire.

In southern New Mexico, an 8,650-acre blaze caused by a campfire near the village of Ruidoso was contained Sunday evening. A 20,717-acre fire in the Sacramento Mountains that was started by a downed power line was 50 percent contained.

Residents of the mountain hamlets of Weed and Sacramento were allowed to return this morning but were warned they might have to leave again if the wind whips up the flames, said fire information officer Paula Martinez. The fire has burned 64 homes in the area.

Near Marathon in West Texas, Officials say the progress made by firefighters over the weekend in containing a week-old wildfire in the parched Glass Mountains should help them get through the next two days of expected high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds.

"That can always be a dangerous combination, especially with the dry vegetation," Texas Forest Service spokeswoman Shelley Huguley said Monday.

The Glass Mountains are in northern Brewster County, about 20 miles east of Alpine, 10 miles north of Marathon and 30 miles south of Fort Stockton. The fire has blackened land in both Brewster and Pecos counties.

More than 380 people worked to get the blaze 85 percent under control and build 46 miles of fire lines over the weekend. So far. the blaze has destroyed about 47,000 acres since it was ignited May 4 by three lightning strikes.

Now that firefighters feel they have gotten the upper hand, about 150 of them have left to go help battle blazes raging in New Mexico and Florida.

In northern New Mexico, residents of White Rock were allowed back to their homes Sunday, three days after being forced to evacuate due to the wildfire threat.

"Our town just looked like something very special," said Martha George, arriving at her home of 16 years. Firefighters were able to save George's home, along with those of 7,000 other White Rock residents.

Just up the mountainside in Los Alamos it was a different story. There, buses traveled winding roads, carrying 389 people who had lost their homes to the scene of the devastation.

Some cried and others sat in stony silence, seemingly stunned by the extent of the destruction, said Jack Downing, a Red Cross psychologist who accompanied the residents.

A charred brick staircase still stood on one lot, reaching a full story into the air. Nearby were a pair of wooden bird feeders, apparently untouched by the fire, one still filled with seed. Burned-out cars sat near scorched trees in neighborhoods now painted in shades of gray.

Only people whose homes were among the 260 destroyed by the Cerro Grande fire were allowed back Sunday. Even then, most could get only a glimpse of the destruction - authorities maintained it was too dangerous, even for people whose homes had been spared, to return.

The fire, which had consumed 44,323 acres, was 28 percent contained today, and U.S. Forest Service spokesman Jim Paxon refused to predict when full containment might be achieved. The weather was too unpredictable to allow for an estimate, he said.

Lower temperatures and calm wind today were helping firefighters gain ground along the wildfire's 89-mile perimeter, fire information officer Jon Schendel said. They're trying to move quickly, he said, because the wind is expected to kick up again Tuesday.

"There's a prediction of wind as high as 50 miles an hour. That's similar to what happened last Wednesday when (the fire) really blew up," Schendel said.

The fire was set by the National Park Service on May 4, intending a so-called controlled burn to reduce brush and grass that could fuel future fires. The high wind quickly pushed it out of control. Park Superintendent Roy Weaver has since been placed on paid leave, and prescribed fires in the West have been put on hold for a month.

Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt promised residents over the weekend that investigators would have answers for them by Thursday about why the blaze got out of control and who should be held accountable.

"Federal statutes that are in existence now say if we were negligent, we pay, and that will depend on the outcome of the investigation," Babbitt said Sunday on CNN's "Late Edition."

The thousands still unable to return to Los Alamos who were told their homes were not destroyed still don't know if they were partially burned or perhaps damaged by smoke. And they are unable to retrieve anything they left behind.

"I would like to see my house. It worries me that I can't be there," said Mark Schmitt, a physicist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory who also lives in the town of 11,000 residents.

The lab's major facilities emerged unscathed, but the fire destroyed several trailers, a temporary building, and workshops and offices that were part of the complex where the atomic bomb was built in a World War II program known as the Manhattan Project.

Officials postponed plans to reopen the high-security nuclear weapons research lab today, saying they wanted to make more safety checks first. Down the mountain, people began pouring into White Rock as soon as word spread that the evacuation was over. They carried food and drink, and immediately got busy with day-to-day chores like watering plants and washing clothes. "We're going to settle down and get back into our routine, try to get our lives back in order," said Mike Wismer, busy unloading groceries Sunday afternoon. He and his family had fled Thursday morning with their horse and two dogs.

Summer swim sign-ups begin at pool tonight

PECOS, May 15, 2000 - The first of three registration times for summer swimming lessons at the Pecos High School pool will be tonight, 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 on Wednesday and next Monday May 22, also from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the PHS pool. For further information, call coach Terri Morse at 447-7242.


Clare Ellis

Clare Marie Tompson Ellis, 39, died Saturday, May 13, 2000, in an accident in Coleman County.

Memorial services will be held at 2 p.m., Tuesday, May 16, at the First Presbyterian Church in Midland.

She was born July 11, 1960, in Midland, graduated from Midland High School in 1978, then graduated from Trinity University in 1982 with a degree in geology. She was active in the First Presbyterian Church having been installed as the President of the Presbyterian Women. She was a Deacon and active in the prayer group, Soup Kitchen, Ministry and Culver Youth Center Ministry. She taught the Senior High Sunday School, was on the board of Trustees of Trinity School and had served as treasurer of the Trinity Parents Association, and also served on the Downtown YMCA board, where she was an aerobic and spinning instructor. She was active on the Haley Library and Museum of the Southwest Midland City Limits Committee.

Survivors include her husband, Glen James Ellis, Jr. of Midland; one son, Glen James "Guy" Ellis III of Midland; one daughter, Allison Clare Ellis of Midland; her mother, Marjorie Tompson; three sisters, Pat Hunter and Barbara Koch of Midland and Amy Haughton of Billings, Mo. and one brother, Gilbert Tompson of Enid, Okla.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers memorials be made to the Clare Tompson Ellis Memorial Fund, c/o The Permian Basin Area Foundation, P.O. Box 10424, Midland, Tx. 79702.

James Witt

James S. Witt, 85, of Loving, N.M., died Thursday, May 11, at Covenant Hospital in Lubbock.

Graveside services will be held at 2 p.m., Wednesday, May 17, at the Sunset Gardens Cemetery in Carlsbad, N.M.

He was born Nov. 3, 1914, in Sulphur Springs, moved to Barstow at age six, had served as Eddy County Assessor, a member of the New Mexico Racing Commission and was a delegate to the National Democratic Convention. He was one of the founders of the All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs, a member of Carlsbad Elks lodge, Eddy County Sheriff's Posse and the Carlsbad Moose Lodge.

Survivors include two sons, James S. Witt III and Frank O. Witt, of Carlsbad, N.M.; five grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Sunset Gardens Direct Burial Service is in charge of arrangements.


PECOS, May 15, 2000 - High Sunday 92. Low this morning 64. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Low in the upper 60s. South wind 10-20 mph. Tuesday: Mostly sunny and windy. High near 105. Southwest wind 20-30 mph and gusty. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy. Low in the upper 60s. Wednesday: Mostly sunny and fair at night. Low in the mid to upper 60s. High in the upper 90s to near 100.

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Pecos Enterprise
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