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Thursday, June 22, 2000

Chief says city's crime down sharply

Staff Writer

PECOS, June 22, 2000 - Chief of Police Clay McKinney reported to the Pecos City Council today, the crime rate has gone down in the past two years, with some crimes falling by over 50 percent.

McKinney said the crime rate nationwide has gone down varying from city to city. In Texas, in 1998, major crime has decreased 5.2 percent.

McKinney said, in Pecos, the crimes against property have gone down 53 percent. Crimes against property include burglary, theft, and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, criminal mischief and arson.

Crimes against persons have gone down 22 percent, McKinney said. These crimes include murder, deadly conduct, sexual assault, assault (family violence), assault, terroristic threat, criminal trespass and robbery.

McKinney said Dr. Larry Hoover, Professor of Police Research at Sam Houston State University, made a list of five probable factors in the crime rate decline.

The first probable factor is the social demographic trend.

"This is a decrease in the population of 15-24 year age group-the crime prone age bracket," McKinney said.

The second is the economic conditions meaning the worse they get the higher the crime rate.

"I don't know if that factor really affects Pecos," McKinney said.

The third probable factor is the drug use and supply.

"We've always been real aggressive toward drug related crimes," McKinney said. "We have 40 to 50 drug warrants a year, about 45 felony drug cases a year and the use of the drug task force."

The fourth is the incarceration rates. Texas has tripled its prison capacity in the last 10 years.

"If the prison system houses the habitual prisoners longer, it affects the crime rate," McKinney said.

The last probable factor is the law enforcement. McKinney said the police department has been doing a good job.

"We're pretty aggressive on the curfew law," McKinney said. "The curfew works pretty well here."

McKinney said the police department receives approximately 822 calls for service per month.

"Calls for service is anything from a suspicious vehicle in an alleyway to a drug raid," he said.

McKinney said these statistics would help the officers in the future.

"These stats are a road map for the department and I to follow," McKinney said. "They indicated what's done right and what needs improvement."

Council approves closings of two railroad crossings

Staff Writer

PECOS, June 22, 2000 - The Pecos City Council approved the closing of the railroad crossings on Alberta and Willow Streets this morning in their regular meeting.

City Manager Kenneth Neal assured the board the Alberta Street crossing would not affect many people.

"I sat at that crossing for two and a half hours and only two cars went across," Neal said.

Neal said the Texas Department of Transportation would not put any lights and guards on that crossing making it a `blind crossing.'

"My reason for the closure is safety," Neal said.

The Council determined that these crossings were not a part of the city's emergency plans so the closures would not be a problem.

"I don't see a problem as long as the others stay open, especially Locust," Pecos Health and Sanitation Director Armando Gil said. Crossings that will remain open include those as Locust, Cedar, Elm and Alamo streets.

Union Pacific Railroad will compensate the city by paying approximately $12,500 per railroad crossing.

In other business, Chief of Police Clay McKinney reported to the Council that the crime rate in Pecos has declined in the past two years.

McKinney said crimes against property have declined by 53 percent and crimes against persons have declined 22 percent.

McKinney and his staff compiled the statistics for the past two years and will be able to use these statistics in the future.

"I kind of view these stats as a road map of what we have done well and what we need to improve on," McKinney said.

Scott Johnson, City Attorney, believes that the prosecution of drug offenses has contributed a lot to the decline of the crime rate.

"I'd like to give all the credit to the people of the police department," McKinney said.

The Council also heard a report from Fire Chief Roy Pena on the Rescue Cam.

Pena said that he and Mayor Ray Ortega attended the delivery of a Rescue Cam to the Fort Stockton Fire Department.

Pena said this is the first camera for Fort Stockton and they have raised enough money to order another camera.

Pena and Ortega had the opportunity to use the camera at the delivery and where very impressed.

"This is an amazing camera," Ortega said. "It's not just for fires, it's a multi-purpose camera."

Pena reported there is $15,754.20 in the Rescue Cam bank account. He withdrew $15,000 for the camera and will order the camera today.

There will be two accessories added to the camera that will be paid for seperately.

The first accessory is a video display system. This system is a digital wireless monitor with VCR that will allow the fire personnel to record and monitor what the camera sees in a rescue situation. This system will cost $3,250 extra.

The second accessory will be a video overlay that will cost $1,000 extra. This will be built into the camera and will help during salvage and clean up.

Pena said there is not enough money to pay for these accessories but the bank account will stay open and hopefully they can raise enough money to cover it.

"We have 90 days to raise the remaining money," Ortega said.

Pena also reported the Odessa Fire Department has saved three lives with the use of the camera.

Fire Marshall Jack Brookshire asked the Council to authorize his request to apply for grants and donations for a fire safety house.

The fire safety house is a portable classroom set up like a two-story house with a kitchen, bedrooms, a living room and a fireplace. The house also has smoke detectors and smoke machines.

The house teaches citizens what it is like trying to get out of a `burning' house.

"This is probably as realistic as it gets as far as trying to get out of a smoke filled house," Brookshire said.

The house is mounted on a trailer so it can be moved around for demonstrations.

Brookshire said the house costs $24,000 and that is why he is asking for the go ahead on applying for grants.

The Council approved Brookshire's request to begin applying for grants.

Gil asked the Council to consider the recommendation from the plumbing board on inspection fees.

The board reccommended raising inspection fees from $5 to $12.50 because there is not a plumbing inspector right now.

The raise would be temporary for six months, giving the city a chance to find a plumbing inspector.

Gil said there are two men training for a plumbing certification. The certification will allow the men to be licensed as plumbing inspectors.

Councilman Ricky Herrera asked Gil the usual fees for other towns. He said he did not know at the moment but would check into it.

The Council tabled this matter until Gil can check on other town's fees.

Gil also reported to the Council the progress of the type IV landfill. He said the city is trying to permit about 160 acres of land for a landfill that will accept construction and demolition debris.

Gil said by all indication they will receive a permit soon.

"Hopefully within the next four to six months we will be holding a type IV permit," Gill said.

Charlene Wurtz, Community Partnership Specialist, also updated the Council on the Census 2000.

Wurtz thanked several community members and businesses for their help and support. She said Census 2000 was successful.

"Because of your dedication I can report to you that the count conducted in your city is a complete success," Wurtz said. "Now, contrary to some beliefs census in not over yet."

Wurtz said they reached the 100 percent mark in April as far as recruitment and were able to use the individuals to work on the Non Response Follow-up phase. This phase should go on until the end of July or mid August.

She said the response rate for the nation was 65 percent, which was good because estimated were that only 55 percent would responded. However, Reeves County and the city of Pecos had a response rate of 55 percent when the goal for both was 70 percent.

Wurtz said this is not a problem because most people in Reeves County have their mail delivered at a post office box and the Census is not mailed to Post Office boxes.

Follow-ups will now occur to make sure the census was accurate. Wurtz said anyone who was not able to participate in the census may call an 800 number to receive a shorter form.

These numbers are 1-800-471-9424 in English and 1-800-471-8642 in Spanish.

A request was made to the Council for funding for the new Pop-Warner Football.

Randy Baeza reported to the Council that $20,000 was needed to get the Pee-Wee Football started in Pecos.

Baeza said they have received donation and need $16,000 to have enough money. He said this football program will hopefully bring pride back to Pecos football.

"Our goal is to instill the `I want to be a Pecos Eagle' in these kids," he said, adding this program will side by side with high school football and will teach the kids the basics of football.

Baeza said registration deadline will be August 14 and the kids will have three weeks of practice and start games September 9.

Clay Taylor requested approval for a private water line to be tied with the city line and extended about a mile out of town.

Taylor lives in a community of five or six houses close to the Battery Recycling Plant and said he would be willing to lay the line and be responsible for the line.

The Council agreed to look into it.

Second Pecos Trash off set set for Saturday near arena

Staff Writer

PECOS, June 22, 2000 - More volunteers are needed for Pecos Trash-Off II, scheduled for Saturday at sites on the south side of town.

"The first one was a success and we're hoping this one will be a great one, too," said Michael Benavides, who is helping to co-ordinate the effort.

Volunteers will meet at 7 a.m., Saturday, at Maxey Park, between the old swimming pool and miniature golf course.

The event is sponsored by the Pecos Beautification Committee, which is comprised of two local organizations, the Pecos Lions Club and the Rotary Club.

"We plan to target Cedar Street, (U.S.) 285 around the rodeo arena and right off the Interstate by the overpass," said Benavides.

The group plans to clean up the areas leading into town before the Fourth of July festivities.

"We want to do it before we get all the visitors for Golden Girl, Night In Old Pecos and the rodeo," said Benavides.

More volunteers are needed and refreshments and trash bags will be provided.

Volunteers are encouraged to wear some type of gloves.

For more information call Benavides at 445-4757 after 5 p.m.

Rodriguez named to RCH interim comptroller's job

PECOS, June 22, 2000 - A long-time Pecos resident and employee of Reeves County Hospital has been named interim comptroller at the facility.

Richard Mathis, resigned his position this month, and his last day at the hospital was June 13. Ymelda Rodriguez will be acting as RCH Interim Comptroller, according to RCH Human Resources Director Nadine Smith.

"Mr. Mathis has moved back to Lubbock to be closer to his family and Ymelda will be taking over those duties for now," she said.

Rodriguez has been working at the facility for about 20 years.


Albino Casias

Albino Casias, 86, died Tuesday, June 20, 2000, at his residence in Odessa.

A rosary will be held at 7:30 p.m., today at 204 Matta Street in Saragosa.

Mass is scheduled for 2 p.m., Friday, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church with burial in the Saragosa Cemetery.

He was born May 1, 1915, in Candelaria, was a retired farmer and a Catholic.

Survivors include his wife, Gertrudis L. Casias; two sons, Isidro Casias of Odessa, Arnulfo Casias of Ojinaga, Chih., Mexico; one daughter, Susan Casias Falcon of McCamey; one brother, Nestor Casias of Mexico; one sister, Victoria Juarez of Mexico; 11 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Martinez Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Julian Rodriguez

Julian Paul Rodriguez, 24, of Balmorhea, died Wednesday, June 21, 2000, at Odessa Medical Center.

A rosary will be held at 7:30 p.m., today at Martinez Funeral Home Chapel.

Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m., June 23, at Christ the King Catholic Church with burial in Balmorhea Cemetery.

He was born July 1, 1975, in Austin, was a welder and a Catholic.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Elisa Nunez Rodriguez.

Survivors include his wife, Isabel Rodriguez of Odessa; his father, Abel Rodriguez of Ft. Stockton; one daughter, Cruz Elisa Rodriguez of Odessa; one brother, Joe Abel Rodriguez of Balmorhea and one sister, Diana Ramos of Kermit.

Martinez Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


PECOS, June 22, 2000 - High Wednesday 101. Low this morning 71. Forcast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Low in the upper 60s. South wind 5-15 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. High in the upper 90s. South wind 10-20 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of thunderstorms. Lows in the upper 60s. Saturday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms. Low 65-70. High in the 90s.

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