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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 30, 2002

Balmorhea park, frontage roads to get resurfacing

PECOS, Tues., April 30, 2002 -- Visitors to Balmorhea State Park southwest of Balmorhea will find  park roads a bit sticky this week as construction crews put down  fresh asphalt `seal coat' to refresh and extend the life of the road surfaces.

The park roads are being resurfaced by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), which also plans to resurface the frontage roads along Interstate 10 in the Balmorhea area.

Work on the project should be wrapped up by the middle of the week, barring cold weather or rain, according to Jerry McGuairt, the Texas Department of Transportation's project manager.

The contractor, Ronald R. Wagner, Inc., of Spring Branch, is putting down the new asphalt surfacing. Park visitors will encounter workers who will direct them through the work zone, and brief lane closures in those areas where seal coat work is being done.

When the park road resurfacing is complete, the Wagner crew will move to the frontage roads of Interstate 10 from Balmorhea to the Pecos County line.

"Drivers should always use caution and drive carefully to avoid inflicting windshield and paint damage on other vehicles," said McGuairt.

The seal coat work in the Park and along Interstate 10 is part of an annual $8.4 million preventive maintenance program involving nearly 400 miles of highways throughout the 12-county TxDOT district.

`Seal coat' is a rock and asphalt layer put down on the highway surface as a preventive maintenance measure to seal the surface and keep moisture from damaging the road base. The seal coat extends the life of the highway.

Teen runaway hospitalized, three remain jailed

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., April 30, 2002 -- One teenage boy is in an Odessa hospital, a second is in a  Midland juvenile center and two teen girls are in custody of Presidio  County officials in Marfa after they ran away from the High Frontier  Children's Ranch in Fort Davis on Sunday and later stole prescription drugs and  a rifle from a rural Jeff Davis County home.

The teen was hospitalized after taking the prescription drugs mixed with alcohol that they found inside the home, according to Joe Balderrama, Jeff Davis County Chief Deputy who assisted in his capture Sunday night.

Balderrama said he received a report at 4 a.m. Sunday that the four teens had runaway from the High Frontier Ranch, and then conducted a search of the area, assisted by Department of Public Safety trooper Rhyan Drodch. The deputy said they were unable to locate the teens during the day, but at 9:30 p.m. he said the sheriff's department received a call that the four had been spotted hiding out at the Point of Rocks rest area on State Highway 166, 11 miles southwest of Fort Davis.

"I contacted Drodch and told him the four runaways were reported at that location," Balderrama said. The two then drove out to the site and entered the rest area from opposite ends.

"The plan was to start walking towards each other, but about 30 seconds later I heard the trooper yelling to `put your hands up where I can see them,'" the deputy said. Two of the four teens were able to run off, while one, who was standing next to a .22 caliber rifle, was pepper sprayed by Drodch when he failed to comply.

"We found the rifle had live ammunition in it," Balderrama said, and when the male teen, later identified as Carlos Anthony Soto, 18, became aggressive and combative, he was again hit with pepper spray.

Along with Soto, a female was also apprehended at the rest area. Balderrama said the girl, identified as Aliza Hirsh, 17, had a driver's license that failed to match up either with her or Soto. A check later revealed it belonged to the owner of the house from where the rifle had been stolen.

After contacting the owner of the home, which was located about a quarter mile behind the rest area, Balderrama said it was reported that a .22 caliber automatic pistol and a camera were also stolen. As a result, three other DPS troopers from Alpine and four U.S. Border Patrol agents from Marfa with night vision equipment were also called out to assist in the search for the two remaining teenagers.

A DPS helicopter with night vision equipment was also flown down from Midland. "It flew around the Point of Rocks area for about 30 to 45 minutes when it picked up movement with its infrared equipment," Balderrama said. Using the information, officers on the ground were able to locate the other two teens and take them into custody.

The deputy said that the second girl apprehended, identified as Natalie Matts, 18, told them the other teen, a 16-year-old boy whose name was not released, had thought about taking the pistol from the home, but did not do so. A later check of the home by the owner turned up the pistol, Balderrama said.

Matts, Hirsh and the 16-year-old were taken into custody, while Soto was transported to Big Bend Regional Medical Center in Alpine after it was determined he had stolen prescription drugs from the home, and taken them with alcohol. "He took all three medications and ground them up and took them with the alcohol, so he almost overdosed," Balderrama said. "He continued to get worse, so he was taken to Odessa Medical Center."

Soto was in stable condition at the Odessa hospital.

The two girls and the juvenile have been charged with Burglary of a habitation, and Soto will face the same charge when he is released from the hospital, Balderrama said. He'll be returned to the Presidio County Jail in Marfa, while the 16-year-old is being kept at the Midland County Juvenile Detention Center.

Early voting in local races passes 1,100

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., April 30, 2002 -- Early voting for city, hospital and school elections is scheduled  to come to an end at 5 p.m., today, with over 1,100 people having already  cast ballots for Saturday's city, school and hospital district elections.

Approximately 1,107 voters have stopped by the Pecos Community Center as of last night to vote in this year's elections by personal appearance, according to elections coordinator Debbie Thomas.

Not included in that total is the 116 ballots that Thomas and her staff have received by mail.

Thomas said that as of noon today 72 voters have come by to cast their ballots on the last day of early voting.

Voters would not be able to vote again until Election Day, set for this Saturday, May 4.

Even though the voting stream seems a little slow this morning, Thomas said that she is expecting quite a few people stopping by before the polls close at 5 p.m.

"We expect a big turnout today," she said.

On Saturday the polls are scheduled to be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Election officials must receive the ballots by mail by 7 p.m., on Saturday as well.

Approximately 368 ballots were sent out through the mail, according to Thomas.

Several voting sites will be open on Saturday in Pecos and the surrounding area including the Community Center, Toyah City Hall, Saragosa Multi-purpose Center, Balmorhea Fire Hall and the Barstow Community Center.

Thomas said that this year's election has run smoothly and they have not seen any problems with the candidates and their campaigners so far.

"All the candidates have been very well behaved this year," she said.

Kindergarten, Pre-K registration planned next week

PECOS, Tues., April 30, 2002 -- Kindergarten and Pre-Kindergarten registration has been scheduled for next week at the Pecos Kindergarten, 300 W. 10 th Street.

A child five years old on or before Sept. 1, 2002, is eligible for kindergarten.

A child four years old on or before Sept. 1, 2002, and one of the following: unable to speak or comprehend the English language, educationally disadvantaged or is homeless, as defined by federal law is eligible for Pre-Kindergarten.

Registration will be held from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., Monday, May 6; 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., on Tuesday, May 7; 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., on Wednesday, May 8 and from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., on Thursday, May 9.

Individuals who would like to register their child need to bring the child's birth certificates, immunization record, social security card, the legal guardian needs to attend and the enrolling child.


PECOS, Tues., April 30, 2002 -- High Monday 101. Low this morning 63. Forecast for  tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows near 65. Southwest winds 10 to 15  mph. Wednesday: Partly cloudy and breezy. Highs near 90. West winds 15 to  25 mph. Wednesday night: Mostly clear. Lows near 55. Thursday:  Partly cloudy. Highs near 80. Friday: Partly cloudy. Lows 45 to 50. Highs near 85.


Marcos Martinez, Sr.

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