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Thursday, October 26, 2000

Rangers probe Loving County vote fraud

Staff Writer

PECOS, October 26, 2000 - Allegations of voter fraud have prompted a grand jury investigation in Loving County, and the case has been assigned to the Texas Rangers by 143rd District Attorney Randall W. Reynolds.

The investigation centers around the number of voters registered for the Nov. 7 general election within Loving County _ a number nearly twice as large as the U.S. Census Bureau's population estimate for the entire county.

"I can confirm that my office has received allegations that person or persons have registered to vote in Loving County in the November 2000 election who are not qualified voters because their county of residence is not Loving County and it was further requested that an investigation into these allegations be conducted," said 143rd District Attorney Randall W. Reynolds.

Loving County Clerk Beverly Hanson stated that last year there were about 146 registered voters in the county, while this year's number has risen to 212.

Loving is the least-populated county in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The most recent census figures put the county's population at only 113 people as of July 1, 1999, while September's job figures showed only 99 people within the Loving County labor force, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

"I can confirm that one of the requirements for voting in a specified county is that the county must be the voter's county of residence," said Reynolds.

As a result of the unusual registration numbers, Reynolds has requested the Texas Rangers to investigate the allegations in order to determine whether any crimes have been committed, such as perjury and tampering with government records.

Reynolds is currently waiting for the Rangers report back to him with the results of their investigation for consideration of possible presentation to a Loving County grand jury.

In addition, 143rd District Judge Bob Parks has appointed commissioners for the purpose of selecting citizens of Loving County to be summoned as grand jurors, to hear any evidence that may be presented to them during the interim.

Loving County Judge Don Creager stated that he is staying out of this year's elections. "I'm not running and I just plan to do my job and all that I have to," he said.

Contested positions up for election within the county this year are for Loving County Sheriff/Tax Assessor-Collector, in which incumbent Richard Putnam is being challenged by write-in candidate Tom Jones, Commissioner for Precinct 1, where Harlan Hopper is being challenged by write-in candidate J.W. "Buddy" Busby, and for the county's lone Justice of the Peace position, where Regena Derrick is the lone name of the ballot, with Beverly Creager running as a write in.

Beverly Creager and County Judge Don Creager are not directly related, according to the Loving County Clerk's office.

Two other local candidates, Vern Jones and Skeet Jones, are running unopposed for Loving County Constable and the Precinct 3 Commissioner post respectively.

"I don't want to influence anyone in this election, so I plan to just do my job and not having anything to do with what is going on," Don Creager said. "I think it's best I stay out of the process."

When asked about the number of voters in Loving County, Creager said, "I don't know exactly how many we have, but I know we have too many."

"I don't know what's going on and don't plan to get involved," he said.

Putnam, who serves the dual role of voter registrar for the county out of the tax assessor-collectors office as well as completing his first term as sheriff, confirmed that the number has risen from last year.

Reynolds stated that the investigation is continuing and more information may be forthcoming.

Council looks at insurance, backs Saturday Halloween

Staff Writer

PECOS, October 26, 2000 - The Town of Pecos City Council voted to move this year's Halloween trick-or-treat celebrations to Saturday, Oct. 28 at the regular meeting of the Council at 7:30 a.m., this morning.

The Council agreed that each year the night for children to go trick-or-treating is moved to the weekend before Halloween, when Oct. 31 doesn't fall on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

This year, Halloween falls on Tuesday.

The council also dicussed, but took no action, on the city's `cafeteria' insurance plan for its worker,s after hearing from representatives from American Family Life Assurance Company (AFLAC) and Colonial Life Insurance companies.

The representatives met with the Council to discuss the benefits of each company of their `cafeteria' plan, which allows workers more options in their insurance through the city. Colonial is the company Pecos currently uses to administer their cafeteria plan, but the council is considering AFLAC as well.

Janice Archer, representative for AFLAC, spoke to council members about the reputation of the company and their dedication to the customers.

"We do what it takes to serve our clients," she said.

Her associate, Victor Lopez, said the owner of AFLAC believed in taking care of the customers first.

"He said worry about the policy holders first then invest the rest," Lopez said.

The AFLAC representatives had a few current policyholders speak to the Council about their experience with the company.

Suzanne Dominguez told the council that she had purchased an AFLAC policy for her parents and recently had to file on the policy for her father.

"We filed on the policy and never had any problems receiving a payment," she said.

Archer continued to compare AFLAC and its' reputation to Colonial and said that company's rates have gone up 40 percent in the past ten years and also its ratings have gone down.

David McCloud, a representative for Colonial, disputed Archer's claim, saying his company has been handling the city's insurance since 1989 and rates have remained the same over the past 11 years.

"We have not gone up a dime," he said.

McCloud said the company has been working with the city that long and he feels that the policyholders are more like friends.

"We wouldn't have been here as long as we have if we were doing something wrong," he said. "I feel like they're friends and not just customers."

McCloud replied to Archer's accusation that Colonial did not respond to claims by stating that you could never have all the people happy at one time, but the company works to respond to as many claims as possible.

"We also do what we say we're going to do," he said.

Mayor Ray Ortega said he did not want to rush the decision of which company to go with and would have to let the insurance committee look at both companies.

"I don't like the Council to be rushed," he said. "We need to look at all the aspects."

The Council tabled this item until the insurance committee has a chance to meet with both companies and make a recommendation in a special meeting on at 4 p.m., on Monday.

The Council also met with Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Tax Assessor Collector Lydia Prieto to discuss the 2000 tax rolls and the errors and corrections for 1999 and prior tax rolls.

Prieto said the total amount of taxes to collect this year is over $800,000, which is up from last year's total because "every year is different."

Prieto also informed the Council that there were over $36,000 in delinquent tax rolls for 1999.

The council approved both items separately.

Members also approved the guidelines for foreclosed property bid deadlines, which state that the deadline for a bid to be considered is the first of each month. If a bid is received after the first of the month it is pushed back to the next month.

Also all bids must be sealed and once one taxing entity approves a bid there may not be any more bids on the same property.

Korean cyclist on trip to raise funds for kids

Special Correspondent

PECOS, October 26, 2000 - Almost halfway into his journey, Daesung Noh continues steadfastly towards New York City on his 10-speed bicycle in efforts to raise money for North Korean children.

A South Korean native, Noh, said he wishes to share some of the peace the people of his country enjoy with the children of their communist-ruled neighbor, "because it is so poor, the children suffer most."

His trek landed him at the Town and County on Palmer St. in Pecos Tuesday afternoon where he stopped by for rest and refreshments in anticipation of sundown. He began his journey early September.

He expressed his thanks to the friendly personnel of the convenience store for their support and their notifying the local newspaper to spread word of the cause he is paddling so fervently for.

Equipped with camping gear, 26-year-old Noh said he sets up camp during the dark hours and waits for sun-up to resume he journey.

The bicyclist spent last weekend peddling along Interstates 10 and 20 from the El Paso area to Pecos, and said he plans to complete the ride Nov. 25 in New York City, stopping in Dallas, Atlanta and Washington D.C. along the way.

His trip is being sponsored by the Korean Children Center of Los Angeles. Donations can be made care of the KCC, account number 03476-09237, Bank of America _ Los Angeles.

Noh is a third-year student of architecture at the University of Information of Dong Myoung. He enrolled at the institute after having served five years as captain in the South Korean Army.

North and South Korea were divided into two countries following the end of World War II. Five years later, the North invaded the South, resulting in intervention by the United Nations forces to aid South Korea and Chinese troops on the side of the North.

Over 50,000 Americans were killed during the war, which ended when a truce was signed in 1953. That truce remains in effect today, though talks between the two countries and the United States have grown in recent months, as North Korea's economic problems have increased.

Noh said he applauds the efforts of South Korean President Kim Daejoong who continues talks with North Korean officials to reunify the two countries, the same way Germany was reunified a decade ago.

Kim has held talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, who also talked this week with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the first time a U.S. Secretary of State has visited North Korea.

Halloween Carnival scheduled Saturday

PECOS, October 26, 2000 - Pecos Elementary Annual Halloween Carnival and Enchilada Plate Sale will be held Saturday afternoon and evening at the Reeves County Civic Center.

The Carnival will be held from 5-8 p.m., and the Enchilada Plate Sale is scheduled from 2-6 p.m.

Free Admission and everyone is encouraged to attend and support the annual event.


PECOS, October 26, 2000 - Three pieces of information in an obituary notice on Margarito Benavidez given to the Enterprise Wednesday were incorrect. Benavidez was born in Van Horn, not Pecos; a suvivor Pedro Benavidez is his son, not stepson; and a stepdaughter Glora Luna lives in Hamet, Calif., not in Odessa.


Mary Lea Nichols

Mary Lea Nichols, 78, of Sweetwater, formerly of Pecos, died Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2000 in Ennis.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m., Friday, Oct. 27, at Cate-Spencer and Trent Funeral Home Chapel with Minister Joe Bagby officiating. Burial will be in Roscoe Cemetery.

She was born Dec. 27, 1921, in Roscoe, was a homemaker, a member of Fourth and Elm Church of Christ, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and lived in Pecos from 1955 until 1976.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Coy L. Nichols on Dec. 20, 1993 and one brother, Hollis Smith on Oct. 6, 1982.

Survivors include two daughters, Shirley Blake of Ennis, Doris Stubblefield of San Antonio; one brother, Max Smith of Houston; four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to the Arthritis Foundation, Northwest Chapter, 3001 W. Fifth St., Fort Worth, Tx. 76107.

Frederick Stroade

Frederick Earl Stroade, 85, of San Angelo, died Friday, Oct. 20, 2000, at his residence.

Services were held at 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 22, at First Baptist Church in Balmorhea with Rev. Claude Porter and Steve Dean officiating. Burial was in Mt. Evergreen Cemetery.

He was born Feb. 8, 1915, in Roswell, N.M., was a retired owner of Farm and Ranch Supply Store, had lived in San Angelo since 1987 and was a Baptist.

Survivors include his wife, Mildred Stroade of San Angelo; one daughter, Carolyn Stroade of Balmorhea; one brother, Kenneth Stroade of Buffalo, Tx.; three sisters, Lucille Ross of Scottsdale, Ariz., Anna Mae Reynolds and Jane Dean of Lubbock; two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


PECOS, October 26, 2000 - High Wednesday 82. Low this morning 57. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms. Low in the upper 50s. South wind 5-15 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms. High in the upper 70s. South wind 10-20 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms. Low in the mid 50s. Saturday: Partly cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms. Turning breezy. High in the 70s. Sunday: Partly cloudy. Low 45-50. High 70-75.

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