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Wednesday, January 2, 2002

New Year's Day winter storm linked to one death

First snow of 2002 leaves between 1½-2½ inches in Trans-Pecos

From Staff and Wire Reports
PECOS, Wed., Jan. 2, 2002 -- Snow greeted Pecos residents as the New Year began on Tuesday,  but the light accumulations caused few problems in town on the first day  of 2002.

Ice was reported in the early morning hours on some roads outside of Pecos, and may have contributed to the death of Toyah councilman Paul Budlong on Interstate 20 Tuesday morning. But Public Information Officer for the Texas Department of Transportation's Odessa office, Glen Larum, said most area highways remained open throughout New Year's Day, unlike in late November, when up to nine inches of snow fell in the Midland-Odessa area, closing roads east of Pecos.

"The road conditions right now are really good, but there is snow in West Texas," Larum said, and road crews for the Texas Department of Transportation will still be on stand by in case of an emergency.

Larum said that there were no conditions that would delay traffic. "Hopefully, this weather won't turn into freezing rain, because that's when the trouble starts," he said.

"Our road crews are on stand by in case of emergencies, but the weather is great in the West Texas area," said Larum.

"We received some reports of ice on I-10 in Balmorhea and on I-20," said Larum. "There were also a few accidents because of the weather in Fort Stockton," he said.

Larum said that road crews are prepared for any bad weather. "Hopefully, we've seen the last of it," he said.

Temperatures in town hovered around the freezing mark all day, as KIUN radio reported .15 inch of precipitation fell downtown on Tuesday, while .25 inch fell to the west of town, at the Texas A&M Experiment Station. The totals translated into between 1½ and 2½ inches of snow for the area.

Snowfall along Interstates 10 and 20 from around Plateau in Culberson County to the Big Spring area was generally between one and two inches, while the heaviest snowfall was reported in the Concho Valley around San Angelo, where up to 4½ inches of snow fell New Year's Day.

The snow came from a fast-moving storm front that entered California over the weekend and brought snow and sleet to areas of the South Louisiana into Georgia on Wednesday.

About 2 inches of snow fell during the early morning at Montgomery, Ala., the most significant snowfall there since the blizzard of 1993, the National Weather Service said.

The light accumulation was a far cry from the nearly 7 feet that paralyzed Buffalo, N.Y., last week, but Southern drivers have less experience with slippery roads.

Because of accidents, Louisiana state police closed parts of Interstates 10 and 55 at Baton Rouge and Hammond.

"People here don't know how to drive when it's raining," Mike Mason said in Montgomery, Ala. "If citizens of Montgomery can't handle wet roads, how will they handle an icy one?"

Sleet and snow flurries also had moved into South Carolina by midmorning and motorists were warned to expect slippery highways.

"The number of accidents double and sometimes triple in snowy weather," said South Carolina Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Bryan McDougal.

Ex-Toyah mayor Budlong killed in I-20 rollover

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Jan. 2, 2002 -- A former Toyah mayor who was elected to the city council two  years ago was killed after being involved in a one-vehicle rollover on New  Year's Day west of Pecos.

Paul Anthony Budlong, 44, of Toyah, was traveling toward Toyah at approximately 9:27 a.m., yesterday morning on Interstate 20 when the accident occurred, according to a report by the Texas Department of Public Safety. Budlong was driving a 1986 Dodge pickup when he passed a tractor-trailer in the left-hand lane.

"After he completed the pass he attempted to return to the right hand lane," a DPS representative said. "The vehicle lost control and drove off the right side of roadway."

The representative said that because of the weather conditions yesterday, the roadway had ice and snow on it and ice could have contributed to the accident.

Once the vehicle began to lose control, the report said that Budlong overcorrected to the left and went into a broadside slide.

"The vehicle overturned one time ejecting the driver and then overturning a second time crushing the driver," according to the report, which was filed by DPS Sergeant Odie Hitt. "The vehicle came to rest upside down facing northwest."

The report stated that Budlong was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident.

Justice of the Peace for Precinct 2, J.T. Marsh, pronounced Budlong dead at the scene of the accident. He was transported to Pecos Funeral Home.

Budlong was elected mayor of Toyah in 1998 and served one two-year term, then ran for and was elected to a council seat on the Toyah City Council in May of 2000.

Funeral services are incomplete at this time.

Hitt is still conducting and investigation on the accident.

Five races contested as filing deadline nears

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Jan. 2, 2002 -- With a filing deadline of 6 p.m. tonight, about half of the local  races in the March Democratic primary election for Reeves County  remain uncontested, according to county Democratic Party Chairman  Bob Dean.

No new candidates had filed this morning, Dean said, while adding, "Some are still supposed to come in."

Filings on Monday brought the number of contested races in the March 5 primary election to five, while others have filed their treasurer's designations with Reeves County Clerk Diane O. Florez, but have not submitted either their filing petitions or filing fees to Dean.

Florez is one of the current incumbents who will face a challenge on March 5, after Sofia Abila filed her application with Dean on Monday. Also filing on Monday was former Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school board president Louis Matta, who will challenge two-term incumbent Jimmy B. Galindo for the position of Reeves County Judge.

The other three contested races as of noontime today all are in Precinct 2. Incumbent David Castillo is being challenged by Norman Hill for the county commissioner's post; Incumbent J.T. Marsh is being challenged by Jim Riley and Jaime Salgado for the Justice of the Peace position and Clinton Glenn and Jerry Matta have filed to run for the unexpired term of constable for Precinct 2, which Salgado resigned last month in order to seek the Justice of the Peace position.

The others who have filed with Dean and with the County Clerk's office include, county court-at-law judge, Walter M. Holcombe; district clerk, Pat Tarin; county treasurer, Linda Clark; Precinct 4 commissioner Gilberto "Hivi" M. Rayos; Precinct #1 Justice of the Peace Amonario P. Ramon; Precinct #3 JP Rosendo L. Carrasco; and Precinct #4 JP Lamberto T. Herrera. All are the current office holders of those positions, with Holcombe the newest, having been appointed to fill out an unexpired term last month.

New candidates selected to areas posts during May

PECOS, Wed., Jan. 2, 2002 --
This is the fifth in a series of stories on events in Pecos during 2001. Today's story covers the month of May.

May 1, 2001—Last-day arrivals boosted the low total of voters voting in the early elections for Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD and Balmorhea ISD school board members, Pecos, Barstow, Toyah and Balmorhea city council members and Reeves County Hospital Board Directors. However, number of voters to turn out for early voting in the May elections are lower than 2000.

New Pecos Band Director Merle Lenfest met with students and community members on April 30 at the Pecos High School cafeteria. Lenfest was hired to replace William Goff, who is continuing to teach music in Pecos

Two men flying to Austin in a Cessna 172 survived a plane crash with only minor injuries in the Davis Mountains on April 29. The crash occurred after the plane, piloted by Michael Bryan Sawyer of Austin, ran out of fuel.


May 2, 2001—Reeves County Hospital employees welcomed another member and fellow "West Texan" to their team the day before during a reception for new hospital administrator Robert Vernor. Vernor replaced interim administrator Richard Murphy. However, Murphy continues to stay in touch with the hospital staff and Board of Directors. Vernor is part of the company Murphy co-owns, CRM Management Group, Inc., and has been a personal friend and colleague to Murphy for many years.


May 3, 2001—Balmorhea Independent School District was hoping that voters would pass a $1.6 million bond issue in Saturday's local election that would allow the school district to receive funds from the state for use in renovation of the school's gym. Balmorhea Superintendent Elizabeth Saenz said that the State's Office of Civil Rights cited the school district in September of 2000 for the second time for not being in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.


May 4, 2001—Two female employees at the Reeves County Detention Center (RCDC) were arrested recently on charges of having sex with inmates at the prison. Complaints were filed in federal court against to Pecos women, who were charged with violating Title 18, United States Code, Section 2246(2)(A)(B), which makes having sex with an inmate an offense. Both women were terminated from their positions at the RCDC.


May 7, 2001 - Pecos-Barstow-Toyah voters elected three new members to three-year terms on the district's school board and elected a fourth to an unexpired one-year term on Saturday. Lila Cerna, Crissy Martinez and Saul "Chip" Flores received the most votes in the seven-candidate race for the three-year seats, while Michelle Galindo was elected to the unexpired term in a three-person race.

A $1.6 million bond issue for improvements to the Balmorhea school district's auditorium, gym and two new computer labs was approved by voters by a 3-1 margin Saturday night, while the school board's two incumbents were elected to new three-year terms in a four-person election. Voters in Balmorhea also returned two of their three incumbents on the city council to office, in a five-person race for the three available two-year terms.

Two of the three incumbents on the Town of Pecos City Council were re-elected to new two-year terms on the council Saturday, while a former Pecos mayor was elected to the third contested seat as a result of the Saturday's polling. Gerald Tellez, Jr., and Johnny Terrazas will remain on the council and will be joined by former mayor Frank Sanchez defeated incumbent Larry Levario and challenger Mary Patino for the third and final council spot.

Reeves County voters in Precinct 2 elected Linda Gholson to a two-year term on Reeves County Hospital Board on Saturday, while Hugh Box won the other seat on the RCH board while running unopposed in the Precinct 4 race.


May 10, 2001 - The first shipment of low-level radioactive waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, N.M. to pass through Pecos did so without either fanfare or incident late Wednesday night. The shipment, which consisted of 42 drums of transuranic waste, left the U.S. Department of Energy's Savannah River Site, near Aiken, S.C. at noon on Tuesday, and passed through Pecos along U.S. 285 at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday. The truck arrived at WIPP, a 90-mile trip north of Pecos by highway, at 1:40 a.m. this morning.


May 14, 2001 — Residents of Pecos and the surrounding areas experienced violent weather this weekend when a thunderstorm blew through this area causing some minor damage, with a possible tornado sending residents in Saragosa and Balmorhea to area shelters.

A 35-year-old Pecos man was stabbed at his home on the east side of town on Saturday, according to the Pecos Police Department. Edward Villalobos reported to the police that he was stabbed at his home in the 300 block of South Sycamore Street at 7:56 p.m., on Saturday. Pecos Police Investigator Kelly Davis said that Villalobos knew the person who stabbed him but Davis could not release that name until police get more information from their investigation.

Four people were transported to Reeves County Hospital after the vehicle they were in was hit by a train early Friday afternoon in Barstow, and one remains in a Lubbock hospital with internal injuries. The Eastbound Union Pacific Railroad train struck a 1998 Pontiac Sunfire as it was crossing the railroad tracks going into Barstow. There were six other people in the vehicle at the time of the accident.


Wednesday, May 16, 2001—Jury selection and a jury trial have been scheduled for two Pecos men who have been charged with drug offenses in federal court. Local law enforcement agencies helped with the arrests of those involved in what prosecutors called a major drug smuggling operation in West Texas. Most of the arrests took place in early March, as part of a roundup that included cities in Texas and New Mexico.


Thursday, May 17, 2001 — Several representatives from Reeves County and the City of Balmorhea traveled to Austin to meet with the Texas State Legislature at the State Capital in Austin. Representative Gary Walker is scheduled to read a resolution during a ceremony tomorrow morning stating that Balmorhea would be designated the "Oasis of West Texas," according to Balmorhea City Secretary Mary Garcia.


Friday, May 18, 2001 — The annual American Cancer Society "Relay for Life," will be held tonight, beginning at 6 p.m. at Eagle Stadium. The event celebrates the courage of cancer survivors and honors those who lost their battle with cancer. It starts this evening with Opening Ceremonies, including the first lap by local cancer survivors.


Monday, May 21, 2001—A Texas House committee has voted to block a bill that would establish a low-level radioactive waste dump in West Texas. The Senate bill also would have allowed the U.S. Department of Energy to ship waste to a separate proposed dump in Texas.


Tuesday, May 22, 2001—The continued rise in oil and gas prices over the past year has translated into major increases in mineral valuations for several local taxing entities, according to Reeves County Chief Appraiser Carol King Markham. However, the resumption of a tax abatement for Anchor West means the overall taxable valuations for the Town of Pecos City are down for 2001.


Friday, May 25, 2001—Town of Pecos City Council approved the interlocal agreement with the U.S. Marshal's Service that would allow the Service to house federal prisoners in the Pecos Municipal Criminal Justice Center, during their regular meeting Thursday evening at City Hall.

Grant Wade Owen Holland will be giving the valedictorian's speech at this year's Pecos High School graduation, while a re-check of final grade point averages ranked Randall Reynolds at the salutatorian for the Class of 2001, which will graduate tonight at Eagle Stadium. Reynolds' GPA ended up one one-thousandth of a point ahead of fellow senior JoAnn Wein, who originally was announced as salutatorian on Thursday before the re-check resulted in the change this morning. Reynolds' final local GPA was 4.02333, while Win's GPA was 4.02203.

After listening for an extended period on Thursday to former Republic of Texas leader Richard McLaren and several of his associates declare themselves prisoners of war, U.S. Magistrate Derwood Edwards ordered McLaren and four others detained pending their August trial on federal weapons charges, stemming from the 1997 standoff with Texas Rangers and other state law enforcement officials near Fort Davis.


Tuesday, May 29, 2001—People living at the Tar-Park, going to the Pecos Valley Country Club or playing golf at the Reeves County Golf Course will only have to put up with the odorous smells in that area for only a while longer. The Tra-Park area, Golf Course and Country Club have been experiencing the smell of the onion-tinted water discharge when the winds have come out of the south, while Pecos Eagle softball team members and their fans had the same experience back in April, when winds out of the west blew the smell towards Martinez Field.

Reeves County Sheriff's Deputies are still investigating a stabbing which occurred early Saturday morning in a home at the Lindsey Addition and sent one person to the hospital.

Local law enforcement officials were called out to a number of area highway accidents over the Memorial Day weekend, the most serious of which left one person dead at a site between Fort Davis and Balmorhea.


Wednesday, May 30, 2001—Reeves County Commissioners took the next step towards construction of another major addition to the Reeves County Detention Center on Tuesday, approving financing, architects and a construction company for the project during their regular Commissioners Court meeting.


Thursday, May 31, 2001—Wildfires that broke out on Memorial Day in the Davis Mountains have burned around 2,000 acres so far and are threatening homes in the Davis Mountain Resort southwest of Fort Davis. Area firefighters have been battling the two separate wildfires for the past three days, with the other fire located between Fort Davis and Balmorhea. Volunteer firemen from Pecos were called out Wednesday night to help join the effort against the wildfires, which are located about 50 and 75 miles south of town.

Reeves County's population declined by 17 percent between 1990 and 2000, according to figures released earlier this year by the U.S. Census Bureau. According to census figures, Reeves County's population as of April 1, 2000 was 13,137 people, which was down 17 percent from the 15,370 reported in the 1990 census. But since last April, the county has opened its 1,000-bed addition to the Reeves County Detention Center, and on Tuesday county commissioner approved another expansion of the facility, which is designed to add an addition 960 beds to the 2,000-bed prison.

Sandhills Rodeo sets Christian Youth Night

PECOS, Wed., Jan. 2, 2002 -- The 9th Annual Sandhills Rodeo Christian Youth Night will take place on Wednesday, January 9th at Building G at the Ector County Coliseum in Odessa. The times for the service will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

This special night at the rodeo is an Interdenominational Outreach program where the youth in attendance are provided with free Bibles, testimonials by rodeo athletes and music by Christian musicians. This year the first 2,000 youth that call in their reservations for Christian Youth Night will receive tickets to the rodeo free. Also, the Christian Youth Night 2002 Scholarship winners will be announce and will be presented during the rodeo. Those eligible for these scholarships are seniors in high school and freshmen in college.

To reserve your tickets or for more information, contact Jay Lindsey at 366-8942 or Berry Johnson at 523-7350.


PECOS, Wed., Jan. 2, 2002 -- High New Year's Day 32. Low this morning 29. Precipitation last 24  hours at Texas A&M Experiment Station .25 inch. Forecast for tonight:  Partly cloudy. Lows 15 to 20. Light south winds. Thurs.: Sunny. Highs  around 55. South winds 5 to 15 mph. Thurs. night: Increasing clouds. Lows 25  to 30. 


Kendall Belles, Paul Budlong, Cristi Cox and Paul Morrison

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