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February 23, 2001

Morning drug raids result in 15 arrests

Staff Writer

PECOS, February 23, 2001 - Fifteen individuals, including one juvenile, were arrested early today on separate drug charges during a series of search warrant raids throughout Pecos by local law enforcement officials.
The raids involved a series of teams who fanned out around Pecos beginning just before sunrise. The teams included Pecos Police officers and Reeves County Sheriff's Department deputies, as well as officers from other area agencies.
"Having this type of cooperation between the agencies, is one of the redeeming factors," said Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney. "It's great when everyone can cooperate and the agencies can work so well together like this."
Assisting the police and sheriff's departments were the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force, 143rd District Attorney's office, U.S. Border Patrol, West Texas Narcotics Task Force and the Lee County, N.M. Drug Task Force.
"We really appreciate each and everyone of you," McKinney told the officers assembled at the Pecos Police Department, following the arrests. "Everyone did a great job and things turned out well."
"Seventeen out of 22 search warrants were served today," said McKinney.
This was an ongoing investigation that McKinney said had been in progress for five to six months. "The hard work and dedication of all the officers has paid off," he added.
"We're very pleased with the turnout in the apprehension of these individuals," said McKinney.
Most of the arrests were separate incidents, where officers were able to get in contact with the known drug dealers and smugglers within the Pecos area and made drug purchases from these dealers, according to McKinney.
"This arrests will make a huge impact, because we're sending a message to the drug dealers," said McKinney. "It tells them that we're always out there, that there are dedicate individuals on the job," he said.
McKinney said that there were also some weapons seized when search warrants were served and that the individuals arrested would be facing state charges at this time.
Sheriff's Department officials identified those arrested in the separate narcotics search warrants as Diane Salas, 32; Bobby Olivas, 25; Jesse Ephriam, 50; Dewayne Walker, 38; Joel Mendoza, 50; Tressa Jenkins, 21; Josie Varela, 43; Amelia Montes, 23; Enrique Sais, 49; Dorothy Smith Walker, 47; Roberto Garcia Mendoza, 42; Fernando Orona, 42; Gabriel Martinez Ramirez, 30 and Grace Gurule, 29. Most were arrested at their homes and then transported to Reeves County Jail, while the juvenile was arrested at the Lamar campus on the north side of Pecos and taken to the Reeves County Juvenile Detention Center.
Some of these individuals will also be facing weapons charges or motion to revoke charges, resulting from earlier incidents. The individuals were still being booked as of press time and additional information on the particular charges was not available.
"There are more arrests coming, stemming from our investigation," said McKinney.
"This investigation was an ongoing undercover narcotics investigation that we've been working on diligently," said Trans Pecos Drug Task Force Commander Gary Richards. "Most of these drugs are coming into the community through Mexico, since we're so close to the border."
Richards said that their main goal is to stop the flow of drugs into the community. "This will also impact the Midland-Odessa area, where there's also a steady flow of narcotics," he said. A major round up of suspects on drug charges was conducted on Thursday in Odessa.
Richards said they want to stop this flow and send a message to the major drug dealers in the West Texas area.
"We've certainly put a dent in the narcotics operations in this area," said Richards. "I really appreciate the way all the agencies came together and how well it turned out," he said.

Council OKs `Main Street' director funds

Staff Writer

PECOS, February 23, 2001 - Town of Pecos City Council members voted to adjust their hotel-motel tax revenue allocations to help fund a director's position for the city's hoped-for Main Street program, and agreed to sell a surplus fire truck to the Barstow Fire Department during their regular meeting Thursday night at City Hall.
At the recommendation of City Manager Carlos Yerena, the council voted to put $34,800 of the city's $160,000 in hotel-motel tax revenue into the Main Street program, with the city picking up the remaining $15,600. The hotel-motel monies would come from lowering the allocations to the advertising an promotions fund by about $15,000, to just over $50,000 and cutting about $5,000 from the Pecos Chamber of Commerce's allocation, leaving it with just under $41,000 annually.
Pecos was turned down for admission to the Main Street Program last year, but was told to reapply in 2001. The city was also advised of several things it could to improve the chances of being accepted in the program, including a clean up of the downtown area.
Yerena said the project is a long-term effort. "We want to help existing businesses grow and expand and we hope to grow and revitalize the downtown area and get more sales taxes," he said.
"Not only do we want them to visit the museum, we want people to walk the area and visit businesses," he added, saying the cuts made now to funding such as the Chamber's would be made up in the future by higher tax revenues.
"The merchants are willing to take on the responsibility. They're willing to do their part if we do our part," said Yerena, who told council members the downtown clean-up effort that began this week would continue next Tuesday.
The effort would including competing clean-up around the Oak Street flagpole and installation of a spotlight for the U.S. and Texas flags, so they could be flown 24 hours a day. Town of Pecos City Utilities Director Octavio Garcia said new parking stripes would also be painted in the downtown area, and the exterior windows of the downtown buildings, most of which are currently vacant, would also be washed to make the area look better.
Yerena briefly touched on a possible Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, which was discussed during a council workshop on Monday. The zone that would allow the city to use tax money on the buildings and reinvest it into the maintenance and beautification of those buildings.
Council member Larry Levario asked about how much it would cost to get a director for the program, and was told by Yerena that "We're looking at recruiting somebody from inside the community," to take the job. "If we have to go outside to find somebody, it will cost more."
Yerena stressed that the project was a continuous effort, and was supported by Richard Creasey, who re-opened the State Theater downtown last July.
"Once we get designation as a Main Street program grants are available to us to fix a lot of things," he said. "I've got a big investment in Pecos because I believe in Pecos."
Mayor Ray Ortega said the city hoped that the Reeves County Hospital District could help with some of the funding by subsidizing a little more of the ambulance costs, though Yerena said he had been told by Reeves County officials they would not participate in the program.
"We're not going to force them to come up with an amount, but if they want to participate, great," he said.
Earlier in the meeting, the council voted to sell fire truck 306 to Barstow for $1 when the city's new fire truck arrives. The council also discussed the item on Monday, when Barstow officials said they wanted the truck, even though Pecos Fire Chief Roy Pena said it had been plagued by mechanical problems.
County commissioners also have to sign off on the sale, and Ortega said he had talked to Precinct 2 Commissioner David Castillo. "He raised concerns about giving the fire truck to them," because Barstow is in Ward County.
"The county puts its share into the fire department, so they need to have input," council member Johnny Terrazas said.
Ortega said Castillo told him Balmorhea officials should have been contacted about the fire truck's availability. The council said Balmorhea Fire Department officials were invited to attend the workshop on Monday, but did not show up.
In other action, the council approved second reading on two ordinances, one involving a contract with F.I.R.E. Inc., to collect money for the Pecos Volunteer Fire Department's services from non-county residents.
F.I.R.E. Inc., is a private company that acts as a collection agency for numerous fire departments. Yerena said the money would be collected for fire department services such as those involving highway accidents by non-local residents, where fire personnel are dispatched.
The second ordinance would extend Pecos' fire, building and electrical codes to the construction of new structures within one mile of the city limits. "Everything already built would be grandfathered in. This is just for new construction," Yerena said.
In connection with that discussion, city fire marshal Jack Brookshire said he had talked with the foreman at the new motel being constructed outside the city limits on Interstate 20, and was told the motel would be using conduit for its electrical work.
The item came up because Roy Riggs of Lodging Enterprises, Inc. faxed the council on Wednesday asking for a variance from city codes in construction of the new Oak Tree Inn, which will house mostly Union Pacific Railroad workers.
Council members also approved the sale of four parcels of foreclosed property. Accepted were Johnny Jordan's bid of $1,000 for a vacant lot at 605 S. Palm St., Heriberto Rivera's bid of $1,500 on two vacant lots at 1101 S. Locust St., and two houses, at 2025 S. Eddy St. and 616 Ross Blvd., on which bids for $3,000 were submitted for Isabel Flores.
Reports from the Municipal Court and the Juvenile Detention Center were approved, as were monthly tax collection and accounts payable reports.
Council members also discussed the problem of disposal of tree limbs by local residents. Yerena and city health and sanitation director Armando Gil said warnings were being given out to residents who fail to comply with the law. Councilman Ricky Herrera complained that the city's contract with Duncan Disposal makes it difficult to transport limbs out to the city landfill.
"The way they worded it, it's only a one-time trip," he said. Residents may bring up to 2000 pounds per month to the landfill, but they can only make one trip a month under Duncan's contract.
"They don't want people bringing branches out there, but they don't want them laying in the alley. That's kind of counterproductive," Terrazas said, and Yerena told the council the city is in the process of renegotiating their contract with Duncan Disposal.

Tellez files for new two-year term on council

Staff Writer

PECOS, February 23, 2001 - A second incumbent on the Town of Pecos City Council has filed for a new two-year term, joining a former mayor in seeking one of the three available seats on the council.
Gerald Tellez filed to retain his seat on the council Thursday, joining former Pecos Mayor Frank Sanchez and incumbent Larry Levario.
Sanchez became Pecos' first Hispanic mayor in 1984, and served two terms. Levario is one of the three city council members whose terms expire this year. He is currently finishing his first term on the city council while Tellez will be seeking a fourth term on the city council.
Johnny Terrazas holds the other council seat whose two-year terms expire in May.
Monday was the first day to file applications for a place on the ballot in school, city and hospital district elections, and filing will continue through March 21.
Two candidates filed on the opening day in the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school board election, where four of the seven seats will be voted on this year. But no new filings have been reported since Monday.
Paul Deishler, who was appointed last year to replace Frank Apolinar, Jr., on the board, has filed for one of the full three-year terms along with incumbent Brent Shaw.
Three-year positions on the board up for election on May 5 are those currently being held by Shaw, Earl Bates and Louis Matta, who is president of the board. Deishler's unexpired term will also be up for election.
In the Reeves County Hospital Board election, only voters in Precincts 2 and 4 will be casting ballots this year. No one has filed for either of those seats, which are held by Marcella Lovett and Holly Key.
Council seats also will be open on May 5 in the Balmorhea, Barstow and Toyah city elections, along with the Balmorhea ISD election.
If there are no opposed candidates, along with no propositions and no vacancies to be filled by special election in the various city, school and hospital board races, the election may be canceled anytime after this date.
The last day a person may register to vote in the local elections is April 5. Early voting by personal appearance will be April 27 through May 1. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., on Election Day, May 5.

Girl Scouts selling cookies Saturday outside Wal-Mart

PECOS, February 23, 2001 - Girl Scout cookies will be for sale on Saturday in front of the Wal-Mart.
Two separate Brownie Troops associated with Girl Scouts will have a "Cookie Booth," from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., Saturday at Wal-Mart on South Cedar Street.
Boxes of cookies are $3 each and funds go towards special events set out for the young girls.
Everyone is invited to go by the booth and support the local scouts.


PECOS, February 23, 2001 - High Thursday 62. Low this morning 49. Rainfall last 24 hours at Texas A&M Experiment Station .01 inch. Forecast for tonight: Mostly cloudy with a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms: Some possibly severe. Low in the mid 40s. South to southwest wind 10 to 20 mph. Saturday: Decreasing cloudiness and windy. High in the mid 60s. West wind increasing to 20 to 30 mph and gusty. Saturday night: Mostly clear. Breezy in the evening. Low in the lower 30s. Sunday and Monday: Partly cloudy. Lows in the 30s. Highs in the 60s.

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