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Archive 2002

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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Tuesday, April 9, 2002

Rollover, fire cause fatality outside Toyah

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., April 9, 2002 -- One man was killed and a woman seriously injured in a  one-vehicle rollover that occurred Sunday near Toyah.

The accident occurred at 6:30 p.m., Sunday, 4.6 miles south of Toyah on Farm Road 2903.

Nathan Pittman, 30, of Orlando, Florida was pronounced dead at the scene by Justice of the Peace Amonario Ramon following the accident, in which he was trapped in his car when it caught fire after the accident. His body was taken to Peaceful Garden Funeral Home.

Pittman was the driver of the vehicle, which was northbound on FM 2903 when it left the roadway and struck the east bar ditch. The driver then overcorrected and skidded across the road and into the west bar ditch, striking a concrete culvert, according to Department of Public Safety Trooper Terry Gilchrest, who investigated the accident.

The car then overturned and came to rest on its top where it burst into flames. "The driver was trapped inside the vehicles and the passenger, Brenda Bushman, 20, of Kingwood, exited through the passenger side window," said Gilchrest in his report.

Bushman was transported to Reeves County Hospital in critical condition with internal injuries and later airlifted to University Medical Hospital in Lubbock.

Students take over after commissioners pay bills

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., April 9, 2002 -- Balmorhea students had the opportunity to see real  government in action and to participate in a commissioners court meeting  on Monday.

A group of students were at the Reeves County Courthouse in Pecos Monday morning to observe the regular meeting of the commissioner's court as part of National County Government Week.

Commissioners met at 9 a.m. for their regular meeting and the students then had their own `mock commissioners court meeting, with several of the students taking on the roles of the county judge and the four commissioners.

During their regular meeting, the commissioners discussed and took action on several items, including approval of payments to several contractors currently working at the construction site of the Reeves County Detention Center III. Those included LMD Architects; Scott Thane Ditching Service; Abco Fire Protection; Tank Builders, Inc.; ISI Detention Contracting Group; R.W. Jones and Sons; Acme Electric Co.; Howard's Mechanical, Inc.; N.C. Sturgeon and Carothers Construction.

Also approved were reports from various departments; budget amendment and line-item transfers; personnel and salary changes; minutes from previous meetings and semi-monthly bills.

The commissioners tabled any action on enrolling Reeves County with Trans Pecos weather Modification Association.

Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 3 Herman Tarin thanked the students who were on hand to learn more about county government.

"There are currently 3,066 counties in the U.S. and we're here to celebrate County Government Week," said Tarin.

Tarin said that the Reeves County Commissioners have this celebration every year to keep the community updated on events and to allow the students an opportunity to learn more about local government.

"This is your future, someday one of you may be sitting up there as a commissioner or county judge," said Tarin. "It's very important you learn as much as you can," he said.

The community also had the opportunity to eat outside the courthouse and to enjoy Mariachi music as part of Monday's events, sponsored by the county elected officials and their staff.

Local teacher from 1950s school helps with reading

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., April 9, 2002 -- A nun and former Pecos teacher was a guest reader at  Pecos Kindergarten last week, and other volunteers are encouraged  to donate their valuable time and read to the little students.

Angela Pafacio taught in Pecos in 1957 at the Santa Rosa School, which was run by nuns at the Santa Rosa Church and was located behind the church on the east side of Pecos. On Friday, she a guest reader and listener for a couple of classes at the kindergarten.

"We always need volunteers to come and listen to the children read," said teacher Judy Fuentes, who is a lifetime friend of Pafacio. She added that the nun is her mother's best friend and the two have kept in touch over the years.

Pafacio was also her teacher when she was a child, Fuentes said. "She taught me to read and now I enjoy her coming and reading and listening to the children. She's a great teacher," she said.

Fuentes said that nun had inspired her to go into the teaching field. "She's also been a principal," she said.

Fuentes said that Pafacio has taught hundreds of students, many in Pecos, and even though she's retired now she continues to donate her time by volunteering to read to the children.

Pafacio volunteers once a week and Fuentes sends her a survey.

"The students also do journals and I read them for them," said Pafacio. "I really enjoy, it's a lot of fun."

Pafacio taught school for 52 years before retiring. "But I'd rather be teaching the children to read or listening to them," she said.

Rifle matches scheduled for Saturday

PECOS, Tues., April 9, 2002 -- Pecos Rifle and Pistol Club will hold the second John C. Garand and Service Rifle matches of the season this Saturday morning at 8 a.m. at the Club range. The Garand match resembles a Service Rifle match in form but is limited to "as-issued" M-1 Garands, M-1 Carbines, 1903 Springfields and 1917 Enfields. The Club will issue ammunition for the match. The Service Rifle match is scheduled to begin after the Garand match. The Club holds the matches every second Saturday from March through October. For more information contact Smokey Briggs at 445-5475.

El Paso Energy shifts ownership of Waha gas plant

HOUSTON (Dow Jones/AP) - El Paso Energy Partners L.P. confirmed it completed the acquisition of some of El Paso Corp.'s midstream assets for $750 million, including natural gas plants near Coyanosa and Carlsbad, N.M.

On Monday, El Paso Corp. said it sold $750 million worth of midstream assets to its master limited partnership.

In a press release Tuesday, El Paso Energy Partners said it acquired 10,677 miles of Texas and New Mexico natural gas transportation and gathering pipelines.

The partnership also acquired the Waha natural gas gathering systems located west of Coyonosa and the Carlsbad plant in southeast New Mexico, as well as a 42.3 percent non-operating interest in the Indian Basin gas processing and treating plant and associated gathering lines.

Visitor's Center at Observatory officially opens

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., April 9, 2002 -- State Representative Pete Gallego was on hand to help in the  ribbon cutting ceremony for the new McDonald Observatory  Visitors' Center Saturday afternoon.

Gallego along with numerous guests and staff of the McDonald Observatory gathered to celebrate the official opening of the new visitors' center.

The new center opened to the public in March and is 12,000-square-foot in size, which is five times larger than the old visitors' center at the site, 90 miles southwest of Pecos.

McDonald Observatory Director Frank Bash discussed numerous topics relating to the Observatory including the new visitors' center, current research being performed at the observatory and new opportunities the new center brings the public.

"We now have new abilities we've never had before," Bash said.

The new visitors' center houses a bilingual interactive exhibit, a 90-seat theater, the StarDate Cafe and an astronomy gift shop.

There are also expanded outdoor venues that would be able to accommodate more visitors during the Observatory's famous star parties, constellation tours and solar viewing

The outdoor venues include an Astronomy Park, which is still under construction.

Once completed the Astronomy Park will have two large-aperture telescopes and a large outdoor amphitheater.

The new center employs 19 people, according to Bash.

Tours of the center and the three telescopes (Hobby-Eberly Telescope, Harlan J. Smith Telescope, Otto Struve Telescope) are available to the public. Bash also added that the Observatory staff would also be able to give Spanish-speaking tours, if needed.

Bash explained during a press conference that the Observatory would now be taking a larger role in the education of students between Kindergarten and 12th grade.

With the addition of astronomy into grade school curriculums, Bash said that the Observatory hopes more area schools would take advantage of having one of the top observatories in the world right in their own "backyard."

He also said that the world is becoming a more technological world and believes that all children should have the opportunity to prepare themselves for the future by learning about science and technology now.

"We use astronomy to excite those kids to a future career in science and technology," he said.

As part of the education program, McDonald Observatory would be hosting a number of teacher workshops that would allow teachers to learn more about astronomy before they teach it in the classroom.

The workshops would be held in the Observatory's classroom, which is also located in the visitors' center, and are certifies by the State Board of Education to provide continuing education credit.

Teachers from the surrounding areas would also be eligible to receive scholarships that were funded by a $35,000 gift from Midland oilman and investor Joe Parsley.

The scholarships would cover all expenses including room and board for the three to four day workshops.

"All they have to do is pay for transportation," Bash said.

Along with the teacher workshops, the Observatory staff is glad to host numerous school students during student-field trips.

In fact, a Pecos High School group from science classes taught by Cary Hannsz and Barbara Scown has already visited the observatory this year.

On Saturday, media representatives were able to take a tour of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET), which is one of the largest telescopes in the world.

The 9.2-meter telescope has 91 mirrors and is used everyday, weather permitting, according to Bash.

The HET was dedicated in 1997 and is a joint project of the University of Texas at Austin, Stanford University, Penn State University and two German Universities.

Bash said that the HET along with the two other telescopes are used every day possible for several projects that help scientists better understand the universe.

"One project is to look for planets orbiting around stars," he said.

During the dedication ceremony, Bash thanked numerous donators and Observatory "friends," including Gallego, whose district will include Reeves County beginning next year.

Bash explained that during the last two legislative sessions the Observatory's budget has grown as a result of Gallego's help.

During the ceremony, Gallego expressed his support for the Observatory saying that it allows children, young and old, to educate themselves, which provides hope for the future.

"This place will sow the seeds of curiosity," he said. "Curiosity leads to education. Education leads to hope."

The McDonald Observatory is expected to attract as many as 130,000 visitors within the next year, according to a press release sent out by the Observatory.

Anyone who wishes to support the Observatory could become "friends" of the Observatory by making contributions that would go toward the education programs, according to Press Officer Rebecca Johnson.

By being a "friend," supporters may receive numerous gifts such as a membership card that allows them to get into the Observatory for free.

For more information on becoming a "friend" of the Observatory or for more information on the facility itself log onto


PECOS, Tues., April 9, 2002 -- High Mon. 84. Low this morning 51. Forecast for tonight: Partly  cloudy. Lows 45 to 50. SE winds 5 to 15 mph. Wed.: Partly cloudy. Highs 80 to 85.  SE winds 5 to 15 mph. Wed. night: Partly cloudy. Lows 50 to 55. Thurs.:  Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms. Highs near 85.  Thurs. night: Partly cloudy. Lows 50 to 55. Fri.: Partly cloudy with a slight chance  of thunderstorms. Highs 75 to 80.


Juliana Galindo

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