Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Wednesday, May 29, 2002
Task force gets vests in honor of slain officer
By ROSIE FLORES
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
"Being a part of the community means helping out in any way we can," said
Bulletproof vests are somewhat expensive. "The ones we currently have
are `tactical vests,'" said Richards. "The ones we're getting are for everyday
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
"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
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
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
By LEIA HOLLAND
PECOS, Wed., May 29, 2002 -- Pecos Police are investigating an incident that
sent a local teen to the hospital with stab wounds early Sunday
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
"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
By ROSIE FLORES
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
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,"
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
By LEIA HOLLAND
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
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
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
"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
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,"
The board took no action on that agenda item.
The board approved the purchase of a new birthing bed for Labor &
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
Balmorhea set to begin work on gymnasium
By JON FULBRIGHT
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,"
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
"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
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
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 2002 by Pecos Enterprise