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Archive 2002

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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Task force gets vests in honor of slain officer

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., May 29, 2002 -- A local church has made a generous donation in support and  in honor of a slain Trans Pecos Drug Task Force Officer.

Abundant Life Church purchased and donated two bulletproof vests to the Trans Pecos Task Force in memory of Jaime Rodriguez, who died following a shootout with an Austin man on a Greyhound bus on May 16 in Pecos.

"We're very touched with this donation and really appreciate it," said Trans Pecos Drug Task Force Commander Gary Richards.

Richards said that the officers currently have some vests, but that they are heavy and bulky. "The vests we have are very heavy and really not comfortable for everyday use," said Richards. "We use them when we do raids and things like that, but to wear all the time, they're really tiring."

"We saw a need and wanted to do something," said Abundant Life Church member Sergio Zubeldia. "We want the community to know that the church is here for them, whatever the need arises."

Zubeldia, along with Abundant Life Church minister Wilson Soko presented the vests to Richards.

Zubeldia said that the church realized the officers were out there risking their lives everyday for the community and that they wanted to help in some way.

"Being a part of the community means helping out in any way we can," said Soko.

Bulletproof vests are somewhat expensive. "The ones we currently have are `tactical vests,'" said Richards. "The ones we're getting are for everyday wear."

The lighter-weight vests come at a price of over $4,000 apiece, but Richards said the company the task force purchased the vests from also gave them a discount.

"We purchased them from Galls out of Kentucky and they really helped us out," he said. Richards said the company is a police supplier.

"We're going to try to get some more of these vests for every officer we have," said Richards. "We're trying to find the money to do that," he said.

Rodriguez was shot while doing a drug interdiction on the westbound Greyhound bus while it was stopped in Pecos. He was taken first to Reeves County Hospital, then flown to Covenant Medical Center in Lubbock where he died due to a loss of blood from his gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Rodriguez was not wearing his vest at the time of the shootout, and was preparing to attend a meeting at the Task Force office located just behind the Greyhound bus station. The meeting had been delayed due to a standoff at Motel 6 in Pecos earlier on the morning of May 16, involving two persons wanted for murder out of Georgia.

Richards said that Officer Rodriguez was very good about wearing his vest at all times. "Even though it was hot and very bulky, he was very good about wearing it," said Richards.

"The day he was shot, he wasn't wearing it because we were going to a meeting and didn't really intend to do a bus interdiction," he said.

Richards said that the vests were in the budget, but were cut because the task force was not given any additional funds this year.

"Because of budget cuts due to the 9/11 (terrorist attack) situation, we were not allowed any additional money and the vests were cut out of the things we wanted and needed," he said.

"We're just very pleased that the church chose to do this in memory of Jaime," said Richards. "We really appreciate the outpouring of concern from the community and the caring they have shown since that incident happened."

Richards said that it has been spectacular and that all the law enforcement officers really appreciate how the community has been touching them in different ways.

Zubeldia said that the members of Abundant Life Church pull together when they see a need and wanted everyone to know that they are here for the community.

Police investigating teen's weekend stabbing

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., May 29, 2002 -- Pecos Police are investigating an incident that sent  a local teen to the hospital with stab wounds early  Sunday morning.

Fabian Orona, 17, of Pecos, was treated for "several stab wounds" at Reeves County Hospital, according to Police Investigator Kelly Davis.

Davis said that the police were called to the hospital in reference to Orona's wounds at approximately 3:37 a.m., on May 26.

"We received a call from Reeves County Hospital advising they had a stab wound victim," he said.

Davis did not release the exact number of wounds Orona received and where they were located due to the fact that the investigation is still ongoing.

However, Davis did say police believe Orona received the wounds after being involved in a gang-related argument.

"The argument started at a party," he said. "It was possibly gang-related."

Orona has not given a statement at this time, however, Davis said that the people who had taken Orona to the hospital said they found him walking through the south side of town.

"They found him walking in the 1000 block of Meadowbrook," he said.

The police department does have a suspect in this case but Davis said he would not release that person's name until the investigation is completed.

He said that the police are looking for witnesses to the stabbing and ask if anyone has any information pertaining to this incident to call the police department.

"If anyone has any information about the stabbing please call the PD or Crimestoppers," he said.

Pecos Valley Crimestoppers is offering an award to anyone with information that would lead to the arrest of the individual or individuals responsible for the incident.

To contact Crimestoppers call 445-9898.

Gang Officer Armando Granado is continuing the investigation.

Commissioners OK task force agreements

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., May 29, 2002 -- Intergovernmental agreements between Midland and Jeff  Davis County and the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force were approved during  the regular meeting of the Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting  held Monday morning.

"Midland County has decided to participate with the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo. Midland County has been part of the task force group in the past and has provided officers to serve with the task force, but annual appropriations to fund drug task forces around the state are renewed every year, effective June 1, and participating counties can opt out at that time.

Galindo said that Midland County had made their decision after the submittal of the grant application. "However, we have decided to include them if they are approved," said Galindo.

With Midland County joining the amount each county would have to "pitch in" to participate would be lowered. "It will be less money the different counties and agencies that participate will have to come up with," Galindo said.

The amount the counties currently are having to contribute is $29,539. "That amount would change to $23,960 if Midland County joins," said Galindo.

Galindo said that the more agencies and counties that participate the lower the amount.

Commissioners also approved the interagency agreement between Jeff Davis County and the task force. "Jeff Davis County is already a participant," said Galindo.

The group also approved a termite control system for the Reeves County Library. Jim McMinn with AAA Exterminators out of Midland will be doing the termite extermination for the library.

RCH board approves next step on renovations

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., May 29, 2002 -- The Reeves County Hospital District Board of Directors  approved the next step for the new facility master plan during the regular  meeting last night in the hospital classroom.

Hospital officials recently had plans and designs drawn up for a new addition and renovation project for the hospital that would allow the hospital to serve more people.

The next step that the board approved involves the construction of the new addition, which would be a bigger emergency room.

Board member Leo Hung was concerned about the design fees for Hammel-Green-Abrahamson, Inc. (HGA), the firm in charge of the projects.

Hung explained that he was concerned whether or not that fee would go up over the next few months or if it would stay the same at approximately $733,000 combined.

Hospital Administrator Robert Vernor explained to Hung that the fee is broken up into the different phases of the project and would not change.

"The design fee is a firm fee," he said.

The hospital would only have to pay the design fee for each phase allowing the hospital the opportunity to stop between phases.

Vernor said for phase one, which would be the expansion, the design fee would be $286,750.

Board President Linda Gholsen said that all the board would be approving at this time would be the expansion and the board would have the opportunity to continue with the project in the future.

"All we're thinking about is the new expansion," she said. "We could stop there or we could keep going."

Hung said that he spoke with Rob Meese, the project manager for HGA, about possibly lowering the price of the fees.

However, Gholsen stated that she was more concerned about holding off on the project, which would allow other prices go up while waiting to try and lower the fees.

"Would the cost go up in other areas while we are discussing this," she said.

Newly elected Board member Bill Wendt, who was sworn in along with Hung and Board member Chel Flores last night, said that he supports the project and believes if the hospital can afford it they should move ahead with the project.

"I think this is a good thing to go ahead and do the first phase," he said. "If we have the revenues to do it I say we go ahead."

Bill Parrish, a CPA with Parrish, Moody & Fikes, p.c. out of Waco, presented the board with an update on the audit report for the fiscal year of 2001.

Parrish explained to the board that the audit was not finalized due to some numbers missing from the government.

However, he did report that the hospital is in good shape.

"You are showing a profit," he said.

Parrish discussed the report at length stating that he and his firm believes that hospital management is doing wonderfully because there is a declining profitability and significant cash reserves.

"I want to commend this Board and your management for doing a good job," he said.

The board took no action on that agenda item.

The board approved the purchase of a new birthing bed for Labor & Delivery.

Vernor explained to the board that they had requested bids on the beds and received two bids back.

He continued by stating that Dr. Joseph Darpolar, the resident obstetrician, chose the bid that Vernor recommended to the board.

"This is the bed that he wanted," Vernor said.

In other business, the board approved the bids for the sale of property at Fourth and Pecans streets to Elpidia Fuentes. The board also approved the sale of land in Pecos County but did not identify the name of the bidder.

They also approved the monthly tax report, financial statements and payment of bills.

Balmorhea set to begin work on gymnasium

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., May 29, 2002 -- Preliminary work is scheduled to begin in early June on the  new Balmorhea ISD gymnasium and agriculture facilities,  Superintendent Elizabeth Saenz said Saturday.

"We're going to start the preliminary ground work in June," Saenz said. "It will be by the west side of the football field," which will be on the southwest side of the main campus building.

In addition to the gym and agriculture buildings, Saenz said the district also plans to do some repairs and renovations to existing facilities in the main building in the upcoming months, though the final cost of the project is still to be decided.

"We haven't set it out for bids, but we expect it to be about $2.4 million," she said.

Two-thirds of that amount will come from a $1.6 million bond issue Balmorhea ISD voters approved by a 3-1 margin in May of 2001. At the time it was passed, officials with the district said the bond issue was designed to bring the Balmorhea ISD facilities into compliance with a 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act. Saenz said 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 federal ADA laws.

The decision to construct the new facility instead of renovating the existing gym was made after meeting with consultants following last year's bond issue vote, and Saenz said on Saturday that the district has hired Fluger & Associates out of San Antonio to handle the overall construction and ABD Group out of El Paso to serve as construction manager. The Balmorhea ISD board will decide on the project's remaining subcontractors in the upcoming months.

"We will probably complete the gym at least by December 2003," Saenz said. "Hopefully, that will be just in time for basketball season."

The 2001 bond issue drew opposition from local residents, who complained it would cause taxes to rise from seven to eight cents per $100 in valuations. In arguing for its approval, Saenz said the bond issue would allow the school district to receive state funding for 86 percent of the total amount, requiring the district to raise only $14,000 out of the $100,000 per year for the length of the bond.

"Basically they give you money to make these renovations to your school," Balmorhea School Board Trustee Paul Matta said at the time.

The gym failed the state inspection because it is not handicapped accessible. The gym is part of the school district's main building, and was last renovated in 1985, after a fire destroyed the eastern portion of the main building. A new floor and a new auditorium stage was build following the fire, but the stage, along with gym's stands and locker rooms, remain non-ADA compliant.

P-B-T announces dates to take physicals

PECOS, Wed., May 29, 2002 -- Dr. Orville Cerna, M.D., will be holding Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD athletic physicals at his office, located at 925 W. Daggett St. on Thursdays during the month of June.

Summer physicals will be held from 2-5 p.m., on Thursday, June 6; Thursday, June 13; Thursday, June 20 and Thursday, June 27.

These physicals will be conducted at these pre-arranged times only. No other times will be set. UIL forms will be used only and they can be obtained from any coach.

Cost will be $15 and anyone who wears contacts will need to bring their glasses with them. Also, the medical history section of the new physical form must be properly and completely filled out with the parent and/or guardian signature.

For more information contact the student's coach or call the Pecos High School Athletic Field House at 447-7220.


PECOS, Wed., May 29, 2002 -- High Tuesday 96. Low this morning 62. Forecast for  tonight: Partly cloudy with a chance of evening thunderstorms. Lows 60  to 65. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. The chance of rain is 30  percent. Thursday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of afternoon  thunderstorms. Highs 95 to 100. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. The chance of rain is  20 percent. Thursday night: Partly cloudy with a slight chance  of thunderstorms. Lows 60 to 65. The chance of rain is 20 percent.  Friday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 100. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Lows  near 65. Highs near 100.


Juanita Gutierrez and Yvette Sims

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Pecos Enterprise
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