Colored Rock Map of Texas at I-20 in Pecos, Click for Travel Guide

Pecos Enterprise

Site Map
Pecos Gab

Pecos Country History
Archive 62
Archive 74
Archive 87
1987 Tornado Photos
Rodeo Photos 88
Archive 95
Archive 96
Archive 97
News Photos 1997
Rodeo Photos 97
Archive 98
News Photos 1998
Rodeo Photos 98
Parade Photos 98
Archive 99
Photos 99
Archive 2000
Photos 2000
Photos 2001
Photos 2002

Archive 2002

Area Newspapers
Economic Development


Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Friday, June 28, 2002

Tank explosion trial jurors give $9 m to families

Staff Writer

PECOS, Friday, June 28, 2002 -- A 143rd District Court jury in Pecos found in favor of the families of  two men, who sued an  energy company and a roustabout service over  the deaths of the men in an oil tank explosion near Pyote last  year, awarding the families a $9 million settlement.

The families of Noman Pallanes and Gilberto U. Urias won the judgement against Chi Energy, Inc., Chi Operating Inc. and Garland Pumping and Roustabout Services Inc., following a trial that lasted nearly two weeks.

The suit was filed after Pallanes, 32 and Urias, 27, were killed when the tank they were working on off FM 2355, 10 miles northwest of Pyote, exploded on April 6, 2001.

A third man, Isais Baeza, had walked away from the tank to get a tool before the explosion occurred. The work was being done under severe high wind conditions that day outside the tank structure.

Wind gusts in the Pecos area reached as high as 62 mph the day the accident occurred, and blowing dust created zero visibility conditions in a number of areas around the Trans-Pecos, downing power lines and blowing several trucks off the road.

According to a press release from Ward County Sheriff's Department at the time of the accident, the explosion occurred at about 3:15 p.m., on April 9. "The investigation revealed that these two persons had been up on top of a storage tank using a cutting torch, the tank exploded knocking the two persons from atop the tank," the press release said.

The two men reportedly told others that they had planned to quit welding on the tank due to the high winds, but then opted to continue through the afternoon. A spark from one of the welding torches was believed to have set off gas inside the tank.

The men were changing out some fittings on the tank battery, located at a new well site, when the explosion occurred. Jurors found the companies liable, with Chi Energy, Inc. being assigned the largest responsibility for the accident.

"There are three parties involved," attornery for the families, Bill Weinacht said. "Because there is a Chi Energy and a Chi Operations the jury decided to view them as one. So Chi is responsible for 70%, Garland Pumping and Roustabout 15% and Petroplex Equipment 15% of the negligence. However, Petroplex is an agent of Chi."

Weinacht said that he was not surprised with the verdict of that the jury came back with.

"I think that it is fair considering the loss of the families," Weinacht said. "The jury listened to all the evidence given to them."

The total amount of $9 million was distributed among the families of Pallanes and Urias. Pallanes' wife and children received $5 million and Urias' wife and daughter received $3 million. Weinacht said another $1 million was divided between the parents of the deceased.

"I do not like to say what may happen but normally there is an appeal," Weinacht said. "Usually a company will appeal when there is an excessive amount of millions involved."

Chi Energy's operational office in Maryland today could not say as of press time whether or not an appeal to the case would be filed.

Carter named new PHS head football coach

Staff Writer

PECOS, Friday, June 28, 2002 -- A Pecos native who served as a junior high school coach here in  the 1980s was named the new head football coach for the Pecos  Eagles on Thursday.

School board members selected Fred Carter, who grew up in Pecos and coached for six years at Zavala Middle School before moving to the El Paso area, as the new head coach during a special meeting of the board at the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Technology Center.

In the same meeting, board members also voted to move Austin Elementary principal Victor Tarin to Crockett Middle School, where he will serve in the same capacity for the district's seventh and eighth grade students.

Carter was hired at a salary of $52,000 following an interview on Wednesday with school administrators and P-B-T athletic director Bubba Williams. He said Carter was interviewed along with two other candidates, current Pecos Eagle assistant football coach Brian Gibson, and Stan Caffee, offensive co-coordinator at El Paso Socorro High School.

Carter will be Pecos' fifth head football coach in 10 years, after the Eagles' program had only two coaches the previous 23 years, in Jerry Milsapps and Daylon Whitehurst. Carter replaces Gary Grubbs, who resigned two weeks ago to accept the head coach and athletic director's position at Eldorado High School. Felix Urias, Mike Belew and Dan Swaim are the other head football coaches the Eagles have had since Whitehurst resigned following the end of the 1992 football season.

"Coach Carter is on jury duty right now," Williams said following the special meeting. "As soon as they let him off jury duty he'll be here." He added that should be no later than July 10.

"I'm real pleased," Carter said from his El Paso home Thursday night. "This is the second time I had applied for the position, so I'm real pleased they gave me the nod."

Carter said he applied for the job in 1999, when Grubbs was moved up from assistant to head football coach after the resignation of Swaim. Carter ended up that season serving as defensive ends coach and head track coach at San Elizario High School, when that team won the District 2-4A football title.

Carter has spent most of the past 15 years in the El Paso area. After serving as Zavala Middle School coach from 1979-85, he spent two years at Fort Hancock High School, winning a six-man state football title in 1986. He then served two years on the staff of current Midland Lee head football coach John Parchman at Socorro High School, then moved over to the new El Paso Mountain View High School, where he served five seasons as varsity receivers coach.

Carter then went to another of Pecos' former district rivals, Fabens, where he served as offensive co-coordinator, and spent one season after that as head football coach and athletic director at Tornillo High School. His only time outside of the El Paso area was in the mid-1990s, when he worked for the Ector County ISD in Odessa.

"I got an opportunity to go to Hood Ninth Grade School there, where I was program co-coordinator for two years," he said. After failing to get the PHS football job in 1998, Carter then went to San Elizario, and for the past year has been at East Montana Middle School, in the Clint ISD.

Carter's mother, Daisy Roquemore, is a former Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school board member, and he said his daughter Lauren, already went to school this past year at Pecos High School. "She played tennis there for coach (Mike) Ortiz," he said.

As far as his new position, Carter said he plans to meet with the coaching staff when he arrives in Pecos. "There are a couple of coaches on the staff that I coached in junior high, so I think we'll get along pretty well," he said.

Carter added that with the beginning of pre-season workouts less than six weeks away, he doesn't plan to make changes to the system already set up by Grubbs.

"I think it's too late to change anything really. Plus coach Grubbs ran the type of offense that's what I like, so I'll keep things the same," he said, adding that he also likes to run the same type of defense the Eagles have been using in recent years.

Carter's appointment, and the move of Tarin to the Crockett Middle School job at a salary of $56,501 annually, were among several personnel moves made by the school board following a closed session on Thursday.

Resignations were accepted from Austin Elementary Assistant Principal Cynthia Armbruster; Pecos High School special education teacher/coach Charlie Bunch; Bessie Haynes Elementary teacher Eva Garcia; Crockett Middle School reading teacher/coach Jose Gonzales and Austin Elementary special ed teacher Rick Yeager.

The board also accepted the retirement of Crockett Middle School history teacher Ken Garlitz, reassigned PHS English teacher/coach Tammy Walls to the position of special ed teacher/coach at the high school, and hired Gaylon B. Doan as PHS history teacher/coach; Frances Glenn as PHS English teacher and Edwina Ybarra as language arts teacher at Zavala Middle School. Doan has 17 years teaching experience, Glenn 12 years and Ybarra is on her first teaching assignment.

Following the action on personnel, the board then held a video workshop with other schools in Region 18 on the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas, which is designed to identify school districts in financial trouble.

David Cavett of the Region 18 Service Center in Midland, said the new system is for all school districts in Texas and requires districts to be graded based on a series of subjects, six of which a district much pass in order to avoid a substandard rating.

Cavett said a test of the new system done in 2000 showed 874 school district would have received "superior" ratings, 90 "above standard," 5 "standard" and 71 "substandard." The Texas Education Agency will keep records on paper for the new system in the upcoming school year, and will begin publishing districts' financial standing on the Internet beginning with the 2003-2004 school year.

"Open door" policy debated during meeting

Staff Writer

PECOS, Friday, June 28, 2002 -- A debate occurred over who authorized the installation of  the locked doors at City Hall during the public comments portion of  regular Town of Pecos City Council meeting Thursday night.

Meeting in the council chambers, Mayor Dot Stafford voiced her opinion of the doors, which originally were locked and had dark tinted glass when they were put in to separate the front area of City Hall from city offices and the chambers area.

She said that even though the doors are no longer tinted or locked she still felt like they were not at all inviting and asked if they could be removed.

"I think there is a very cold atmosphere when you walk in," she said.

The doors were installed in June of last year and have been a cause for controversy ever since.

Stafford inquired as to whom made the original decision to install the doors.

City Manager Carlos Yerena said the action decided by the council. However, Council member Johnny Terrazas disputed that statement.

"It was an administrative decision," he said.

Terrazas said that the administration decided that it would be safer for the city employees to have the doors installed as well as helping traffic control.

"At the time it was a building maintenance decision," he said.

Yerena also stated that the doors served as a safety precaution for the staff.

"The purpose of the doors was to instill a sense of security to the staff," he said.

Terrazas further explained that Yerena and Finance Director George Bejarano had noticed a problem with citizens just walking into individual offices.

When the doors were first installed it became policy to have every person announced and buzzed into the staff offices.

Stafford informed Yerena that she understood the reasons but believed that a sense of security could be felt in other ways, not by the doors.

"That's what office doors are for," she said.

Stafford said that City Hall is a public building and should be open to the public.

"I feel like it's a city building and it's owned by the taxpayers," she said.

This topic will be further discussed and voted on as to whether or not the doors should come down at the next Council meeting.

In actions taken on Thursday, the council appointed Terrazas and West Texas National Bank President John Grant to the Pecos Economic Development Corporation during last night's meeting.

The council heard recommendations for appointments to the PEDC since two positions were open.

Stafford said that the council voted on the recommendations and decided on Terrazas and Grant, both of whom expressed an interest in serving on the board.

The council also approved a two- percent increase in rates for Duncan Disposal contract with the stipulation that the increase would not go into effect until October, which is the beginning of the next fiscal year.

Jack Burns, general manager for Duncan Disposal, was present at the meeting and gave the council an update on what his company is doing to better serve the community.

He said that they are starting to institute a program to educate local residents as to what items Duncan can pick up and what they can't.

In order to do that, Duncan is publishing advertisements in the Pecos Enterprise in both English and Spanish as well as provided flyers to the city, who will attach them to the next water bills.

He also informed the council that they have already moved an answering machine to the transfer station, located south of Pecos on Hwy 17, so people would be able to reach someone at all times.

"We'll do whatever it takes to increase awareness of what can and can't be picked up," he said.

The council informed Burns that the increase would go into effect in October, but they would like to see a better consistency in the alley pick-ups.

They also brought to Burns' attention that many trash containers in the city have deteriorated and do not have lids.

They asked Burns if Duncan would either fix or replace those containers.

"We'll come out here and work on the containers," Burns said. "We'll get to work on it as fast as we can."

The council approved Accountant Dan Painter to perform the 2001-02 city audit as well as the offers to purchase land on Third and Oak Streets.

The council approved Arturo Hinojos' bid of $530 for property on 910 E. Third Street and Moses A. Quiroz' bid of $2,500 for property at 1019 S. Oak St.

In other business the council approved the monthly tax reports, the accounts payable and the minutes of the previous meeting.

Pageant, "Night" kick off Rodeo Week events

PECOS, Friday, June 28, 2002 -- West of the Pecos Rodeo Week events get underway tonight, with the annual Golden Girl of the Old West and Little Miss Cantaloupe Pageants, at the Pecos High School auditorium, to be followed by the Night in Old Pecos celebration, Saturday night downtown on Oak Street.

Tonight's show at the Pecos High School auditorium will feature nine Golden Girl candidates and 13 girls seeking the title of Little Miss Cantaloupe. Other information on the pageant is in Section B of today's Enterprise.

Festival Committee Chairperson Debbie Thomas said that there are still a few available booth spaces downtown, but the committee is also hoping for some more kid-related activities in the park area next to the Judge Roy Bean Saloon, in order to draw more families to the festival.

"We could probably take four more (booths)," she said, "But we could definitely take some kids' activities in the park if someone worked to do it."

Currently, face painting, `cantaloupe bowling' and tattoos are among the activities planned for children on Saturday. "They may also have a little fishing game and the Class of 2003 will be doing several activities for the kids," Thomas said.

The festival is set to begin at 6 p.m., on Saturday in the 100 block of Oak Street. Other activities scheduled include the Cake Walk, sponsored by the Catholic Daughters, and the Dunking Booth, hosted by the Rodeo Committee. The Lion's Club will also be running their train through the downtown area for kids and parents to ride on, and a miniature Ferris wheel will also be set up during the festival.

For those who have dreams of stardom in their eyes a karaoke machine will be available from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., provided by P & M.

DJ Bully Matta will provide musical entertainment on Oak Street throughout the night.

A local band, Rim Fire, will provide a variety of country music in Windmill Square from 9 p.m., to midnight, when the festival ends.

Thomas also said that the Pecos Prancers would be performing a short dance for the audience sometime during the night in the square. The nominees for Golden Girl and Little Miss Cantaloupe will also perform their production numbers from tonight's pageant.

"The Windmill Square Players will make an appearance as well," she said.

A total of 33 food, novelty and retail booths are scheduled to be set up along Oak Street. Booth prices vary on the number of booths needed and if electricity is required.

Single booths (12' x 12') are available with electricity for $100 and without electricity for $85.

Double booths (24' x 12') are available with electricity for $140 and without electricity for $125.

"Anyone wishing to sponsor a booth needs to contact the Chamber of Commerce," Thomas said.

Events will continue through next Saturday, the final night of the West of the Pecos Rodeo. Slack competition for this year's rodeo gets underway at 7:30 a.m. on Monday at the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena.

Chaparral Village offered as holiday site for fireworks

PECOS, Friday, June 28, 2002 -- Bob Crouch has invited Pecos citizens to use a clearing across the road from the Chaparral Village to shoot fireworks over the July 4th holidays.

Crouch, whose property lies in Ward County, just east of the Pecos River on Busines I-20, said that he does not know of any fireworks ban in Ward County.

In the past, local citizens have used the county-owned Martinez Field as a safe place to shoot fireworks, but Reeves County Commissioners on Monday banned fireworks on county property.

City ordinances ban fireworks inside the city limits.


PECOS, Friday, June 28, 2002 -- High Thursday 95. Low this morning 70. Forecast for  tonight: Partly cloudy with isolated thunderstorms. Lows near  70. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy with  isolated thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 90s. Southeast winds 10 to 15  mph. Saturday night: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of  thunderstorms. Lows near 70. Sunday: Partly cloudy with isolated thunderstorms.  Highs in the upper 90s. Monday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance  of thunderstorms. Lows near 70. Highs in the upper 90s.



Search Entire Site:

Pecos Enterprise
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

Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.

Copyright 2002 by Pecos Enterprise