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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Friday, January 18, 2002

Garnto moving up at RCDC after delayed start

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., Jan. 18, 2002 -- Perseverance has paid off for a local Reeves County  Detention Center employee who was recently promoted to one of the top jobs  at the 2,000-bed facility.

LaVaughn Garnto, who has been a long-time RCDC employee, has been named Assistant Warden of Programs.

"This is really exciting, it's a great opportunity for me and I hope I can live up to the expectations," said Garnto.

Garnto was born in Sandersville, Ga., lived there until he was eight years old, when the family moved to Odessa. A year later they moved back to Dublin, Ga., but came back to Odessa when Garnto was 16. He attended Permian High School and moved to Fort Worth following graduation.

"I ended up broke and had to move back in with my parents in Odessa," said Garnto. "Actually it was my parents who suggested I move to Pecos."

Garnto said that his father came to Pecos as pastor of the Church of God in 1983.

"I came here and was service manager at White's for about a year and they were bought out and closed the doors, in 1985," said Garnto.

Garnto then went to work at Valley Motors and was there for almost three years until leaving in 1988. But it still took him some time to go to work at the county-run prison.

"I had tried to get a job at the prison when it opened for about 4-5 years," said Garnto. "They wouldn't hire me, I kept applying and nothing."

Garnto said that he kept on applying and finally in 1989 was hired and he began his new position as Correctional Officer in April of 1990.

"I was a correctional officer for about 17 months and in September of 1991, was promoted to corporal, a position that no longer exists," said Garnto.

He held that position for about nine months and in May of 1992 was promoted to sergeant or assistant shift supervisor. In April of 1993 he was promoted to shift lieutenant.

"And then suddenly a lot of things started to happen and at that time was lieutenant in charge of keys control, was briefly personnel director and acted as assistant warden," said Garnto. "Things started moving fast and I was really busy."

Garnto was promoted to Captain in 1995 and was in that position for 82 months. "Just short of eight years, and now I've been promoted to Assistant Warden of Programs," he said.

"I've been doing this since September of last year, but it's been made official and approved by the Bureau of Prisons," he added.

Garnto said that he never thought he would get into the law enforcement field. "But I've enjoyed and I found that it's something I really want to do," he said.

In the past, he always worked in the auto mechanic field. "But that's an up and down field and not very stable," said Garnto. "I decided to make a change and pursue something else and I'm glad I did."

"He's proven himself to be an outstanding administration and we're glad we were able to get BOP to approve the selection," said RCDC Warden Rudy Franco.

Every department head manager and above at the facility has to be approved by BOP (U.S. Bureau of Prisons) before the individual can be assigned to the position, according to Franco.

"Because of his excellent performance we were able to request to BOP for the selection to the position," said Franco. "We're very proud of him and have confidence in him."

"I'm excited, it's great and I appreciate the BOP, the warden and the commissioner's court approving this position and having the confidence in me to do this job," said Garnto. "I'm going to do the best job I can for them and I hope I always live up to their expectations."

He said that his goal is to someday be warden at a facility. "That's my goal, my dream, that before I retire I get to be a warden," he said.

Garnto said that all new positions require a lot of time. "I'm always learning and I still don't know everything about being a captain, so I know it will take time to learn more about being a warden," he said.

"This is a people-person job. My job duties include supervising case managers, unit managers, accounting personnel and captain and custody personnel," he said.

Garnto also has to deal with the inmates as well as staff personnel. "You have to know how to talk to people and how to manager them," he said.

When he's not busy at work, Garnto enjoys being a Little League coach, fishing, dancing and reading.

His family consists of his wife, Norma, an employee at Wal-Mart and two sons, Christopher a seventh grader at Crockett Middle School and Brandon, seven-years old and a student at Austin Elementary School.

"There are excellent job opportunities at the Reeves County Detention Center," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo. "And with time, individuals can advance at the facility."

Galindo said that the center is full of opportunities for area individuals and that it has room for growth. "There's also learning opportunities that the employees can take advantage of," he said.

Shaffer targets job supervising Air Force radar

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri. Jan. 18, 2002 -- Robert "Bob" Shaffer worked on airborne equipment that  receives radar signals while traveling the world with the United States Air  Force nearly a quarter century. In the Pecos desert he will work with  equipment that sends radar signals to aircraft from the ground.

Shaffer and his staff of 18 people will install, maintain and operate the "enemy threat radar" simulator southwest of Pecos that will communicate with U.S. Air Force bombers flying low-level training missions over West Texas as part of its Realistic Bomber Training Initiative.

"We have the capability to evaluate how well the air crews would have done if they had successfully completed their mission," Shaffer said.

The equipment will tell if the simulated bombs hit their target, if the plane was shot down, or any other possible scenario.

Shaffer said the equipment is being moved from LaJunta, Colo., where the bomb site was closed down when the Air Force moved its B-1 and B-52 bombing flight path to West Texas. It will be installed in a building, and the crew will be responsible for operations and maintenance of the equipment.

He is second in command at the site as operations and maintenance supervisor for Ahntech Inc., the company who contracts with the Air Force to aid in training pilots.

Sam Ahn founded the company 18 years ago in his garage, Shaffer said. "Now we are doing defense contracts, among other things."

Shaffer and his wife of 10 years, Shirley, moved to Pecos from Colorado, where they had lived in their fifth-wheel trailer for four months with three dogs and three cats. Before that, they lived in Clovis, N.M. and in Utah.

"We bought a house in Pecos and are glad to be out of the trailer," he said.

His son from a previous marriage, Robert M., 29, has moved back in with them and has enrolled in Odessa College's Pecos Technical Training Center to complete his law enforcement education.

"He was a security guard, and now he wants to be a police officer," Shaffer said.

Shaffer also changed careers six years ago when he retired from the air force and returned to Utah, his birthplace 54 years ago. He attended Weber State University, where he met and married Shirley.

"I was hired by Lockheed-Martin and got into this business," he said. "They lost the contract. Ahntech picked it up, and I stayed with them."

He also has a stepson who is a lieutenant in the Air Force, stationed at Hickham Air Force Base in Hawaii. Shirley has two daughters living in Ohio, and between them they have six grandchildren.

His 89-year-old mother has moved from Utah to live with a daughter in Texas, and he has a brother in Tampa, Fla.

"My great-great grandfather was a hand-cart pioneer who came across Utah when Brigham Young settled the state," Shaffer said, noting that polygamy is a part of his heritage.

"One wife is enough for me, though," he said.

His hobbies are reading, working with computers and raising an Akita puppy to be a therapy dog in a hospital.

Shirley, who has a bachelor of science degree from Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio, in employee assistance counseling and drug and alcohol counseling, helps with the dog's training, he said.

Both are active in lodge work, he a Mason and she in Eastern Star.

Arson suspected in overnight trailer fire

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri. Jan. 18, 2002 -- Pecos Volunteer Fire Department were awakened to a structure  fire early this morning in the Lindsey Addition which  completely destroyed a vacant trailer.

No injuries resulted in the mobile home fire on Sandia Street in which all fire units were called to at approximately 12:30 a.m., this morning.

Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire said that the mobile home was not occupied at the time of the fire.

"I think the house was vacant at the time," he said. "There was no electricity or gas going to the house."

Arson is suspected to have been the cause of the fire but has not yet been confirmed.

Brookshire said that he would not be able to make that determination until he has investigated the scene further.

Firemen were on the scene until approximately 2:30 a.m., fighting the fire and were called back to the site around 11 a.m. today when the fire restarted.

Brookshire said that the firemen were unable to save the home from being destroyed by the fire. "It was a total loss," he said. "The house was fully engulfed when (the firemen) got the call."

Since the mobile home was an older model, Brookshire said that it caught fire quickly.

"The older mobile homes didn't have the same regulations as the newer models have now," he said. "So once they catch on fire it doesn't take long for them to be lost."

The owners of the mobile home are unknown at this time.

Brookshire is still investigating the cause of the fire.

Reeves-Loving stock show to feature over 170 entries

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri. Jan. 18, 2002 -- Excitement is building for the 2002 Reeves-Loving County  Junior Livestock Show, which starts tonight at the Reeves County Civic Center.

All animals entered in the show were weighed in yesterday at both the Civic Center and the Reeves County 4-H barn.

Livestock show committee member Cookie Canon said that approximately 90 kids have entered the livestock show with over 170 animals entered.

Canon said that the weigh-in went well despite a small delay in starting.

"Everybody was very patient," she said.

A few of the animals were "sifted" because those animals did not weigh enough, according to Canon however that "was expected."

Lynn Wallins, of Big Spring, will be judging the goat, steer and lamb shows tonight, which starts at approximately at 5:15 p.m., with the goat show. The steers and lambs will follow.

This year, there are 40 goats, two steers and 36 lambs entered in the livestock show, according to Canon.

Almost 100 pigs will be shown when the livestock show picks back up at 8:30 a.m., on Saturday with Josh Krohn of Indiana judging.

Tickets are currently on sale for the barbecue dinner that is scheduled for 5 p.m., on Saturday.

Canon explained that tickets purchased ahead of time would be placed in a raffle drawing for a pig that will be butchered to the winner's request.

Approximately 80 animals will be auctioned off during the livestock sale at 7 p.m., on Saturday.

Community members are welcome to bid on the animals.

Canon said that the public has always supported the livestock show, which is appreciated by the committee and the participants.

"Over the years the community has been real supportive of the kids," she said.

And the kids are what it is all about, Canon said.

"Everybody that works on this deal is purely a labor of love," she said. "It's purely for the kids."

Schools, businesses closing on Monday

PECOS, Fri. Jan. 18, 2002 -- Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school children already are enjoying a long weekend, but other businesses and offices around town will also be getting a day off on Monday to observe Martin Luther King's birthday.

P-B-T schools took a weather day off from classes today and will be closed again on Monday, while Town of Pecos City, Reeves County Courthouse, Lucius Bunton Courthouse will also be closed to observe King's birthday.

Both Security State Bank and West Texas National Bank will be closed on Monday, along with the Pecos Post Office.

The Pecos Enterprise will be open and publish on Monday.

Louisiana teens arrested after chase

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri. Jan. 18, 2002 -- Ward County Sheriff's Deputies arrested two Louisiana men and  took two female juveniles into custody after a 30-mile high speed car  chase ended in Barstow this morning.

Dennis Lowrey, 19, and Billy Davis, 18, both of Louisiana were arrested and charged with theft of service and reckless driving after leading deputies on a chase from Monahans to Barstow.

The Ward County Sheriff's Department received a call from a Monahans gas station about a gas drive-off at approximately 9:42 a.m., this morning.

The two men had tried to purchase $22.83 worth of gasoline with an out-of-town check, which was not accepted.

The sheriff's department official said that the two left to try to get the check cashed.

"That didn't succeed so they just left," she said.

The deputies began pursuit of the silver 1992 Mitsubishi four-door vehicle that the two men were driving. The Texas Department of Public Safety joined the chase, which continued at a high rate of speed westbound along the north Interstate 20 service road and then onto Business I-20 from mile marker 52 into Barstow.

The pursuit ended peacefully with the four people captured "without any further incident," according to the Ward County Sheriff's Department official.

It is uncertain where the two were traveling to however they were traveling with two female runaways.

The two juveniles are now in the custody of the juvenile probation office in Monahans.


PECOS, Fri. Jan. 18, 2002 -- High Thurs. 65. Low this morning 41. Forecast for tonight: Partly  cloudy and becoming breezy. Lows in the mid 30s. SW winds 10 to 20  mph: Becoming north and increasing to 15 to 25 mph. Sat.: Mostly sunny.  Highs 50 to 55. North winds 10 to 20 mph: Becoming light south.  Sat.night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the upper 20s. Sun.: Mostly sunny. Highs 60 to  65. Martin Luther King Day: Mostly clear. Lows in the 30s. Highs in the 60s.


Adela Sertuche

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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