Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Wednesday, September 26, 2001
Prison `break' leaves RCDC without water
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Wed., Sept. 26, 2001 -- A water leak at the Reeves County Detention
Center shut off water to the facility for several hours on Tuesday, but
was repaired by later that evening with no major problems reported at the
"We had noticed it over the weekend and yesterday the city crews had
to come out and repair it," said RCDC Warden Rudy Franco.
Franco said that the water inside the facility had to be turned off
for about 5-6 hours, while the crews worked on the broken water line, which
was located next to Locker Road on the south side of the prison. Locker
Road was closed to traffic while a backhoe dug out about a 7-foot deep
hole to get to the damaged pipe, and water was pumped out of the hole while
repairs were made.
"We had no problems with the inmates, because we went into our contingency
plan," said Franco, who added that the prison has a plan to be implemented
for these types of emergencies.
"The dayroom section still had water and we provided drinking water,"
Franco said that the repairs were done through a cooperative effort
of the Town of Pecos City utility workers, RCDC staff and some employees
of Banes General Construction who are still at the facility putting finishing
touches on the newly renovated RCDC II building.
"The city was very cooperative and they made the repairs as fast as
they could, so that we wouldn't encounter any major problems," said Franco.
Body of missing deputy found in northern N.M.
From Staff and Wire Reports
PECOS, Wed., Sept. 26, 2001 -- A body found at an ancient lava flow
is that of a former California policewoman who had moved to New Mexico
to take a job as a sheriff's deputy, authorities said Wednesday.
"We've confirmed that it's Deborah Valdez," said Tim Stepetic, spokesman
for the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator.
Medical investigators were trying to determine a cause of death, Stepetic
A Cibola County sheriff's deputy, acting on a tip provided by two people
arrested in Texas, found the body about 10 p.m. Monday in the area of El
Malpais in northwestern New Mexico, said Dan Patton, McKinley County Sheriff's
Department chief investigator, and McKinley County Sheriff Frank Gonzales.
The body was sent to the state Office of the Medical Investigator in
Albuquerque for positive identification and to determine a cause of death,
Valdez had quit her job as an officer for the China Lake, Calif., Police
Division, and moved to Coolidge, east of Gallup, authorities said. Grants
is located about 50 miles east of Gallup, N.M, on Interstate 40.
She was scheduled to start as a McKinley County sheriff's deputy Sept.
17, but never showed up, authorities said. An abandoned van belonging to
Valdez was found on Sept. 16 parked on Interstate 10 in Reeves County near
Her purse, with her driver's license and scraps of paper, was found
on Sept. 20 along U.S. 64-87, 16 miles east of Raton, state police said.
Raton is located near the New Mexico-Colorado border in the northeastern
part of the state, and is about 175 miles northwest of Gallup and about
500 miles north of Balmorhea.
After the van was discovered it was taken to Reeves County Sheriff's
Department where Reeves County officials helped State DPS Crime Lab personnel,
Texas Rangers and Arizona law enforcement officials in processing evidence
from the van.
Inside the van were guns belonging to a man who was killed in northern
Arizona, authorities have said.
Jimmy L. Odom, 36, of Newton, Texas, and Donna Rae Lankford, 33, of
Kirbyville, Texas, both wanted on murder charges in the Arizona slaying,
were arrested Monday in Southeast Texas.
Odom and Lankford were nabbed by Arizona detectives at a deer hunting
campsite in Hardin County, Texas, said Hardin County Sheriff Ed Cain.
"This was where they had been seen Saturday evening," Cain said. "They
had fallen asleep. The detectives happened to be checking the camp and
found them. They were arrested without incident and had no weapons on them."
Odom and Lankford, however, took authorities to another campsite about
a quarter-mile away where they found a rifle, Cain said.
Odom and Lankford were being held in the Hardin County Jail in Kountze,
about 100 miles northeast of Houston.
Cain said they probably would be extradited to Arizona within the next
Coconino County, Ariz., sheriff's officials issued warrants for the
arrest of Odom and Lankford on first-degree murder charges in the death
of Duard L. Stanphill, 63, of Yuma, Ariz., who was killed at a campsite
near Williams, Ariz. Police said they believe Stanphill met the couple
at a bar in Williams.
The couple was questioned in Valdez's disappearance, and the information
they provided was given to the McKinley County Sheriff's Department, Gonzales
Valdez was an officer at China Lake from 1993 until Sept. 7, said Steve
Boster, public affairs specialist at the Naval Air Warfare Center at China
Lake. She lived in nearby Ridgecrest, Calif., Boster said.
Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez said that the county would not be involved
in the case anymore unless they are needed.
"We're not going to work it anymore because they (the suspects) didn't
commit any crime in Texas," he said.
Texas Ranger David Duncan said that it is unknown at this time what
will happen to the van but he, along with officials from Reeves County
and Hardin County would assist Arizona and New Mexico law enforcement with
the case if needed.
Fitzpatrick finding different roles as church's new associate pastor
By PEGGY MCCRACKEN
PECOS, Wed., Sept. 26, 2001 -- Danny Fitzpatrick is the new associate
to pastor Greer Willis at First Baptist Church, but his ministry is not
limited to that congregation.
"My main responsibility is for youth, but I will be working with all
age groups," Fitzpatrick said. "I will be working to start a children's
program to reach out to elementary age and younger.
Already he is working with a group that has as a goal starting Bible
clubs on each elementary school campus.
Having spent the summer as First Baptist's youth minister, Fitzpatrick
has been involved in several events co-sponsored by other Baptist churches,
such as the concert performed Saturday night on the patio at West Park
"First Baptist has financial resources and West Park has the best location,"
he said. "We combine our gifts together, and it makes the event much better.
One church brought hamburgers, another a barbecue pit, another buns and
North Temple Baptist Church provided a flatbed truck for the guest speaker
and band, Gen Next of Temple Baptist Church in Odessa.
"People pulled up and parked to hear the band," he said. "They may not
even be members of a church anywhere."
Joint events bring together youth of varied backgrounds who know each
other in school, Fitzpatrick said. "I think it will help the different
This summer, several youth groups joined for a mission trip to Marfa
and Fort Davis. Fitzpatrick hopes to expand on that and take a group into
Mexico to do construction work, hold vacation Bible schools and share Jesus
"I have a friend in East Texas that puts mission trips together and
makes sure they get completed," he said.
His calendar is already dotted with joint events for the entire year,
starting with a video scavenger hunt in October, a "Turkey Bowl" in November,
a Christmas party in December, student conference in January, "Disciple
Now" in February, a ski trip in March, fund raisers in April and May, camp
in June, evangelism conference in July and a mission trip in August.
Fitzpatrick began his career as a music director 15 years ago in his
hometown of Odessa, but has always worked with young people. The past two
years, he was minister of music and youth at Calvary Baptist Church in
" A few years ago I changed my course of study to religious education.
Now I feel like God is going to call me to pastor, so I changed to Biblical
studies," he said.
Although he lacks about 1½ years completing his bachelor's degree,
Fitzpatrick has taken some seminary courses and would like to go back to
work on a master's degree in Biblical languages or pastoral ministry.
"I love to go to school because it gives me the opportunity to rub shoulders
with students," he said. "I love college ministry too."
He lacks some basic math courses, which he may be able to take at the
Pecos campus of Odessa College.
Janis, his wife of 11 years, plans to operate a life and health insurance
agency out of their home while caring for their 4-year-old daughter.
When he's not working, Fitzpatrick likes to spend time with his family
and watch sports. He loves music and remote-controlled car racing and is
"real big time" into science fiction, noting that he's looking forward
to the new Star Trek series starting this week.
"This summer has been a time of focusing on the community of Christ
here," he said. And that will continue to be the focus of the new "minister
of everything else" at First Baptist Church.
Hospital board approves funds for defibrillators
By LEIA HOLLAND
PECOS, Wed., Sept. 26, 2001 -- The Reeves County Hospital Board of
Directors approved a purchase that would help Pecos EMS and hospital emergency
room personnel better care for people suffering from heart attacks or other
severe coronary problems, during the board's monthly meeting Tuesday night
in the classroom at RCH.
The Board approved purchasing an auto external defibrillator for an
ambulance as well as a LifePak 12 monitor/defibrillator for the emergency
room at RCH.
Hospital Administrator Robert Vernor said that the hospital has an old
defibrillator unit that is sent with ambulance personnel when they have
need for it, but new rules require full-time ambulance coverage.
"We've got an old one that we send with the ambulance when we need it,"
he said. "Now it is a requirement to have one on board all the time."
Vernor said that the new unit would cost over $10,000 and the hospital
would use the old one as a trade-in.
The Board also approved buying the LifePak 12, which would take the
place of numerous pieces of equipment in the ER.
Vernor said that the defibrillator unit for the ER is basically the
same unit as the one for the ambulance with some extra functions.
"It's just got more bells and whistles," he said.
Vernor said that the new ER unit, that would cost a little over $22,000,
would save time because it is capable of being used for a number of functions
that use various machines, and that would also free up ER space.
"It will save a lot of room and save a lot of time," he said.
Vernor told the board that the hospital has enough money in the budget
to cover the cost of the two machines.
"We had put enough in the budget to cover this kind of things," he said.
The hospital will purchase both machines from a company called Medtronic
and should receive them within 30 days.
The Board also officially set the hospital district's tax rate at 33
cents, which is slightly lower than last year's rate, according to Vernor.
"It was 34 cents last year," he said. "We lowered it a penny."
Vernor said that the Board decided to lower the rate to help property
owners to pay their taxes.
He said that the hospital district would make up the money with the
oil and gas companies that are paying on mineral valuations.
He explained that the taxes for the mineral rights owners have gone
down as well on each $100 in valuations, but since the valuations were
so high this year the companies would pay more overall.
Valuations for the hospital district increase by about $130 million
this year. Based on the 33 cent tax rate, the hospital will take in about
$475,000 in additional property and mineral rights taxes this year.
The Board also approved adopting the 2002 capital and operating budget,
the monthly tax report, the financial statements and the payment of bills.
District governor speaks Thursday to Rotary Club
PECOS, Wed., Sept. 26, 2001 -- Rotary District Governor Jerry Worthy of
Big Spring and his wife, Louise, will make their annual visit to the Pecos
Rotary Club, at noon, Thursday, Sept. 27, at the Pecos Valley Country Club.
Rotary District 5730 includes 53 Rotary Clubs in an area from Pecos
to Sweetwater and north including the entire Texas Panhandle.
All Rotarians and spouses are urged to attend this important meeting.
PECOS, Wed., Sept. 26, 2001 -- High Tues. 79. Low this morning 47. Forecast
for tonight: Clear. Lows in the upper 50s. East winds 5 to 10 mph. Thurs.:
Partly cloudy. Highs around 90. Light and variable winds. Thurs.night:
Mostly clear. Lows in the mid 50s. Fri.: Partly cloudy. Highs around 90.
Sat.: Partly cloudy. Lows 55 to 60. Highs 75 to 85.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 2001 by Pecos Enterprise