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Wednesday, October 4, 2000

County wins long battle over goat farm loan

Staff Writer

PECOS, October 4, 2000 - Reeves County won the final round in the Pecos River Livestock goat farm lawsuit this week when the court of appeals ruled in their favor, nearly two years after receiving the case.

"We won it all," said John Stickels, the former 143rd District Attorney who represented Reeves County in a suit against shareholders in the defunct Pecos River Livestock goat dairy.

Stickels said that he expects the county to collect all the outstanding debt.

"The people involved in this deal are honorable men," Stickels said. "Now they have been told by the court of appeals that they have to pay, and I expect them to pay."

There were a total of 11 defendants in the 1997 civil suit trial in which Reeves County
sought to recover a $131,000 low-interest loan made by the Pecos Industrial Foundation to Pecos River Livestock in 1993 to establish a goat dairy.

Randy Reynolds is the only shareholder who has paid the full $19,000 guaranteed by individual shareholders, Stickels said.

"He ought to be commended for meeting his obligation on time," he said.

The trial was held following accusations by some of the shareholders that funds for the farm were misused between the time the loan was issued and when they went to check on the condition of the farm, located southeast of Pecos.

The charges led to counter suits between Corporation members Rosemary Wilkie, president, Roger Simmons, Debra Simmons, secretary, Wiley Kidd, David Kidd, Mark Wilkie, L.A. Lively, Stewart Lively and Denise Clements and Pecos businessman Dr. Elvia Reynolds and his son, Danny Reynolds, over claims made in a Sept. 9, 1995 letter to Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo on Sept. 9, 1995 about alleged abuses and the poor condition of the dairy.

All 11 were sued by Reeves County, while L.A. Lively filed a countersuit against the county, saying his obligation on the loan was unenforceable because the state constitution prohibits any county from extending credit to a private corporation.

Randy Reynolds was not part of the county's suit, having agreed by then to pay his share of the money owed in 1996.

Retired judge Paul McCollum of Odessa heard testimony in the case in August of 1996, but did not return a ruling for nearly two years. McCollum eventually rules against the nine, but by December of 1998 both the defendants and Reeves County had filed appeals of the decision.

Under McCollum's Sept. 21, 1998 judgment, eight of the nine defendants were to pay Reeves County $8,642.68 plus attorney fees of $864.27. Corporation president Wilke, of Carlsbad, N.M., was to pay twice that amount, for a total judgment of $101,351.87.

The nine argued there were errors in McCollum's decision, and questioned the legal fees being paid to Stickels, while Reeves County sought a new trial because Judge McCollum did not find each defendant liable for the full $19,650 guaranty. The case then went to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Since moving to Austin, former District Attorney Stickels has turned his talents to teaching law at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos while working on his dissertation toward a doctorate in the LBJ School of Law at Texas University.

Fair's events are changing for this year

Staff Writer

PECOS, October 4, 2000 - Cake walks, stick rodeo and vegetable drawings will all be a part of this year's Annual Reeves County Fall Fair, scheduled for this weekend in Pecos.

However, this year's Barbecue Beef Cook-off was canceled, due to lack of participation, after Fair committee members voted earlier this year not to hold the annual Fair concert, due to dwindling attendance.

"We hope we can get more interest in this event next year," said Chamber of Commerce Director Tom Rivera of the cookoff, which had been held for the past 27 years.

Chamber members were hoping for at least 25 entries by last Friday's deadline, but only eight people had paid the $75 entry fee at that time. "We wanted to have at least 25, but there is room for more, however, we didn't even get that many," said Rivera.

The concert was normally held on the final night of the fair, and will be replaced this year by a Ranch Rodeo competition at the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena.

Events for the fall fair will kick off with a flag-raising ceremony and welcome at 9 a.m., with booths set up inside the Reeves County Civic Center.

"All the booths are taken, so we'll have a full house," said Chamber of Commerce office manager Estella Ornelas. "We're really excited and are looking forward to it."

Ornelas stated that the entire community is encouraged to attend this year's event, at least on one of the days it is being held.

"There will be a lot of activities and booths set up for everyone in the family," she said.

Booths will include those set up by all the schools including Pecos Head Start.

A "Kiddie" Ferris wheel will also be set up just outside the civic center and one side of the center will be sectioned off for arts and crafts. A children's art show will also be set up in this area.

A bake goods auction will be held at 6 p.m., Friday and scarecrows and pumpkins will be plentiful.

"The theme for this year's children's art show, is Fall," said fair organizer Barbara Creager. "We're just having different events for the little ones," she said.

Creager stated that she hopes everyone comes out to see their children's artwork and participate in the different events.

"We'll also have a table where the little ones can decorate vegetables," said Creager.

A Pretty Baby Contest, sponsored by the Women's Division of the Pecos Chamber of Commerce is scheduled, along with gymnastics at 7 p.m., Friday, a talent show from 8-9 p.m., and the Annual Band Boosters Enchilada Plate Sale from 4-10 p.m.

A carnival will be set up in front of the civic center for everyone to enjoy.

On Saturday, events will kick off with a Pancake Breakfast at the civic center and the Livestock Show, which will begin on Friday and continues on Saturday at 9 a.m.

Farmers given hot ideas during annual Field Day

Staff Writer

PECOS, October 4, 2000 - Mother Nature gave visitors to the Texas A&M Agriculture Experiment Station a sample of the hot, dry summer that has affected cotton growth in the Trans-Pecos this season, during the station's annual Field Day on Tuesday at its fields west of town.

Temperatures hovered in the mid-100s while area farmers were given a 90-minute tour of the projects at the Experiment Station. Most of the demonstration plots testing of different methods of cotton production, though the tour started with a discussion of growing the Guayule plant for rubber production in the Trans-Pecos region.

One test plot dealt with differing row spacings and water furrows, though Mike Murphy, Acting Director of the Experiment Station, said, "It's a real bad year to do something like this. I think everybody found this year all the cotton is a lot shorter, and it's hard to keep wet," due to the high temperatures and lack of clouds this summer.

The changes in the row widths and furrows were designed to determine the best spacing for water to be taken in by the plants without evaporation. "I can't tell much different between the 34 and 38 inch rows," he said, though they were able to find the point on alternating row irrigation where the water was not reaching all of the cotton.

Dr. John Gannaway of Texas A&M's Lubbock Experiment Station showed the group the results of cotton variety testing on one of the fields and said the Experiment Station plans to expand that research.

"One of the things going on in research we're really excited about is we're in the process of getting bids on 14 greenhouses," which Gannaway said would be used to grow and test "cottons from all over the world."

The research would be to determine which types show the greatest resistance to disease, wilt, blight, boll weevils and other pests, along with tolerance to such things as cold and salt content in the soil and water.

Gannaway cited the recent problem with genetically altered corn that was not approved for human consumption but ended up taco shells that had to be removed from stores. "There's a GMO (genetically modified organism) fear in some people out there," he said. "If we can find a naturally occurring gene resistance, it can be put into the cotton without raising fees."

He said hybrid cotton developed in Texas and based on the tests of the cotton from around the world could be offered to seed companies for sale, with the provision that growers in the state would receive a discount, "because you've already paid for it."

As far as the salt content in the area's water and soil, Dr. Brien Unruh discussed the results of a sulphur acid generator designed to lower the Ph of the soil. The generator heats up the sulphur, which then bubbles into water running though it, which is then mixed with other irrigation water for use on the fields.

"I don't see a lot of treatment difference (from the control field), but we won't know a lot until we harvest it," he said.

In response to a question from former Pecos Experiment Station Director Jaroy Moore, Unruh said they had planned to let the current test field lie fallow in 2001, but instead may try the same treatment again next year. "We were hoping to see more of a response than we did, but it may take a second year," he said.

Other items discusses included the Experiment Station's center pivot drip irrigation system and the effectiveness of various defoliants on another test patch.

The Guayule test plot was the first stop on the Field Day tour. Dr. Mike Foster, who is working with Dr. Jim Fowler of New Mexico State University, said the goal is to use the plant's rubber for specialized purposes.

"We can't compete with southeast Asia as far as rubber (production)," Foster said, but the development of hypoallergenic latex from natural rubber sources "is a big deal right now."

"There's a protein in rubber that causes a reaction, but there are not as many proteins in guayule as in rubber plants," he explained.

Testing is also being conducted in Arizona and California, and the Pecos station is currently seeking a special local needs permit for the use of the herbicide pendimethalin/Prowl 3.3 EC for use in weed control, Foster said.

Bunton hopes Pecos will get new magistrate

Staff Writer

PECOS, October 4, 2000 - Senior Judge Lucius Bunton said Friday that the judges of the Western District of Texas are considering appointing a full-time magistrate for the Pecos Division.

That would be the third full-time magistrate appointed since Judge Bunton took the district court bench in 1979. Prior to that, a part-time magistrate had served in Pecos, Midland and the Big Bend.

Louis Guirola was appointed in 1992 to serve both the Pecos and Midland-Odessa divisions. He was assigned to Pecos, but chose to live in Midland and rarely made a trip to Pecos.

Stuart Platt succeeded Judge Guirola after the opening of the new U.S. District Courthouse in 1994 and was given the option of living in Pecos or Midland. He chose Midland and has traveled to Pecos once or twice a week to hold court and accept grand jury indictments.

Katherine Baker is the part-time magistrate in Alpine. She handles most misdemeanor cases arising along the border and sets bail on felony cases filed in the Pecos Division. Since most of the large drug cases originate near the border, agents are saved the long trip to the magistrate in Pecos.

Once a full-time magistrate is appointed, they would handle cases in both Pecos and Alpine. It will be up to the district judges of the district to determine where the magistrate will be assigned and reside.

Judge Bunton said he favors Pecos as the duty station, as he always has. Although as senior judge he is not trying cases, he still is active in judicial affairs and has a vote in the judicial conference.

"The judicial conference recommended the duty station of the new magistrate be in Pecos or Alpine," said Judge Bunton. "When the administrative office was doing an investigation, some people wanted it in Alpine. So they passed it to the district judges to determine."

Chief Judge James R. Nowlin of Austin has not yet called for a vote, Judge Bunton said.

"I think it will be in Pecos without any problem at all. If the judges opt to put it in Pecos, one of the requirements for the new magistrate will be that he live in Pecos."

Two magistrates already serving the Western District have indicated an interest in the position, and if one of them is appointed, it will not be necessary to advertise the position, Judge Bunton said.

Judge Dennis Green of Waco and Durwood Edwards of Del Rio have said they would like to make the lateral move to the new position, Judge Bunton said.

Both judges have recently filled the bench during Judge Platt's absence and are familiar with the caseload in the Pecos Division.

Deputy District Clerk Michael Benavides said that the magistrate has accepted 366 felony indictments this year, and he expects that number to reach 600 by the end of the year. The number has increased each year since Judge Platt took the bench, reaching 387 in 1999.

Only Del Rio and El Paso divisions have more indictments than the Pecos Division, he said.

Furgeson says position likely going to Alpine

Staff Writer

PECOS, October 4, 2000 - The Luscious D. Bunton Federal Courthouse staff will have to wait a little longer to receive a new federal judge, and may not see the arrival of a full-time magistrate at all, according to the District Court judge who handles most of the Pecos Division's criminal cases.

District Judge Royal Furgeson said officials with the Western District of Texas requested two new federal judges for this area.

Furgeson said the reason two federal judges were requested is because the caseloads are so big in El Paso and Del Rio that the two judges are needed.

El Paso has the heaviest docket in the United States, according to Furgeson.

"The thought was that the El Paso judge would be able to help in Pecos," he said.

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a number of new judicial appointments, but none for the Western District of Texas. Confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday were U.S. District Judge Mary Murguia, the first Latina on the federal bench in Arizona; U.S. District Judges Susan Bolton and James A. Teilborg, also from Arizona; and U.S. District Judge Michael J. Reagan of Illinois.

But the confirmations were almost an afterthought to the hours of debate about how the Republican-controlled Senate treated President Clinton's nominees during his last days in office.

Democrats complained about several of their nominees who didn't get through the Senate Judiciary Committee, including Enrique Moreno, a lawyer from El Paso, whose nomination to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans was blocked earlier this year by Texas Sen. Phil Gramm and Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Along with the new district court judges, Furgeson said that they are in the process of looking for a full-time magistrate judge for the area. However, unlike U.S. District Judge Lucius D. Bunton, who indicated his prefrence for a full-time magistrate in Pecos, Furgeson indicated the magistrate would be based in Alpine.

As of now, Magistrate Judge Stuart Platt visits Pecos from Midland while Magistrate Judge Katherine Baker handles cased on a part-time basis in Alpine, although Baker will be retiring soon.

"She ends her tour in November," said, who was among President Clinton's first judicial appointments in 1993.

Furgeson said the federal courthouse in Alpine is adding a full-time magistrate therefore would not need Baker, who is a part-time magistrate.

"She did not want to be full-time," he said. "She is eligible for retirement."

Furgeson said they are currently looking for a new magistrate, adding, "We hope to choose somebody within the next few months."

Whoever is chosen for the full-time position would begin working in April 2001.

"It won't be funded until April 1st," Furgeson said.

Furgeson said he comes to Pecos at least one week a month with other visiting judges other weeks.

"Normally a district judge is in Pecos at least one week, most of the time, two each month," he said.

Pee Wee gridders get chance to play at HS

PECOS, October 4, 2000 - With the Pecos Eagles' varsity football team off this week and the freshman football team traveling with the junior varsity to Fort Stockton, Eagle Stadium will be open to the Pecos Eagle Pee Wee Football League games this coming Saturday.

Four games, two each in the 3rd-4th grade and 5th-6th grade divisions, will be played at the stadium, starting at 10 a.m. The games are normally held at the Crockett Middle School Field, and Saturday will be the only chance for the players to perform at the high school facility this season.


PECOS, October 4, 2000 - High Tuesday 106. Low this morning 48. Forecast for tonight: Mostly clear. Low 60-65. South wind 5-10 mph. Thursday: Partly cloudy: Turning windy and cooler in the afternoon with areas of blowing dust and sand. High near 90. Southwest wind 10-20 mph: Becoming northeast 20-30 mph and gusty. Thursday night: Partly cloudy and windy. Low near 50. Friday: Mostly cloudy and much cooler. High 70-75.

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Pecos Enterprise
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