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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Tuesday, July 9, 2002

Carlsbad area rains help Red Bluff, N.M. lakes

From Staff and Wire Reports
PECOS, Tues., July 9, 2002 -- Heavy rains that led to flooding in Carlsbad, N.M., over the Fourth of  July weekend have added 5,000 acre/feet to lakes in the area. But the increase  in water at Red Bluff Lake is still far below what is needed to get the lake  back up to normal levels.

Heavy rains last Wednesday through Saturday in Eddy County are helping New Mexico pay its water debt to Texas, as water from the rains helped raise the level of Red Bluff Lake by over 1,900 acre/feet during the past week.

"We did catch some water. The lake is up by about six or seven inches," said Randall Hartman, managing director of the Red Bluff Water Power Control Board, during the board's monthly meeting this morning in Pecos.

The lake, which normally provides farmers downstream on the Pecos River with water for irrigation during the summer months, had dropped below 40,000 acre/feet during June. The 1,935 acre/feet of new water, along with a release by New Mexico last month that added a little less than 1,000 acre/feet to the lake, brought its level to 42,360 acre/feet this morning, board members were told.

"It's still coming down a little bit, so we may get some more," said board member Lloyd Goodrich.

Red Bluff Lake has a capacity of 240,000 acre/feet, and was as high as 100,000 acre/feet three years ago. But the area's ongoing drought, which has spread into the Pecos River basin of northern New Mexico, has led to a shortage of water for farmers in the Carlsbad area, and a complete cutoff of irrigation water this year for farmers along the river in Texas.

Carlsbad Irrigation District manager Tom Davis said despite last week's showers, the area needs a lot more water.

Half the water that went down tributaries fulfilled the state's water delivery to Texas, while the other half automatically belongs to Texas under the Pecos River Compact, Davis said.

The irrigation district's two local storage reservoirs also received some additional water from the downpours. Avalon Reservoir got about 2,000 acre-feet while Brantley Reservoir got about 1,100 acre-feet, Davis said.

That additional water will go to Carlsbad Irrigation District farmers.

"I hope it still continues to rain because overall, we really haven't caught that much water," Davis said. "Now, if we had an additional 25,000 acre-feet, I would be happy and so would our farmers."

An acre-foot, about 326,000 gallons, can meet the annual water needs of one to two U.S. households.

Rains also fell along the Pecos River south of Red Bluff Dam last week, helping to raise the level of the river in some areas and merely put some water in it in other sections. The river had gone completely dry south of Barstow Dam by late May, and this morning a small stream of water was headed south in the Pecos area, following rains in the area that ranged between one-half and two inches on Saturday.

Some of that water may eventually reach the Imperial Reservoir, though board members said the heaviest rains of the weekend occurred south of there.

"I wish we could have had a dam to catch the water at Girvin," said board member Charlotte Wilcox. Residents in that area reported receiving 5½ inches of rain over the weekend, and Hartman said after the storms, "The river was right up to the bridge," on U.S. 67-385 between Girvin and McCamey.

While Red Bluff and the Carlsbad-area storage reservoirs had an increase in water, the Carlsbad Irrigation District's storage reservoirs outside the area at Fort Sumner and Santa Rosa did not fare as well.

"Sumner caught about 100 acre-feet, which is hardly nothing, and none came into Santa Rosa," Davis said.

Four persons killed in crash west of Pyote

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., July 9, 2002 -- Department of Public Safety Troopers are still investigating a  one-vehicle rollover that left four people dead this morning and three  others injured on Interstate 20 near Pyote.

The accident happened at approximately 9 a.m., this morning one mile west of Pyote in the eastbound lane of I-20 in central Ward County.

According to the DPS, at the time the call came in it was confirmed that the four people, whose names were not released pending notification of next of kin, had already died.

The three other people in the vehicle were seriously injured and transported to Ward Memorial Hospital in Monahans.

It is unknown at this time if those victims were then transported to other facilities.

DPS Trooper Eric White, out of Monahans, is conducting the investigation along with several other troopers.

Since White is still investigating, no other information was released about the accident.

Traffic in the eastbound lane of I-20 was diverted to the south service road at mile marker 58, where it stayed for six miles.

DPS officials also reported that an aircraft is in route to the accident site in order to take aerial photographs.

White is continuing the investigation.

The deaths bring the total number of traffic fatalities in the Trans-Pecos area to 12 in the past five days.

Funerals were held in Pecos on Monday for 9-year-old Bianca Urias and 13-year-old Cristobal Martinez, who were killed when the vehicle they were in crashed on U.S. 67-385 east of Fort Stockton on the Fourth of July. Later that day two other people were burned beyond recognition when the vehicle they were in went off the road on Texas 118 in Jeff Davis County, striking a utility pole before catching fire.

On Friday, a 16-year-old Tennessee girl, Lisa Talent, was killed when the vehicle she was in rolled over near Mile Marker 4 on Interstate 20 in western Reeves County.

Alpine man gets probation  for Sul Ross anthrax hoax

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., July 9, 2002 -- A Sul Ross State University employee pled guilty in the  United States District Court in Pecos on Monday and will receive a  probated sentence, after a "joke" got out  of hand and an anthrax hoax proved to be nothing more than Ajax cleanser   poured into an envelope.

Richard Villalba Portillo was arrested in June in connection with a false report of anthrax at Sul Ross State University as a result of the Halloween day hoax.

The West Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Sul Ross University Police Department said that Portillo, 43, of Alpine had been arrested as the result of an arrest warrant based upon a complaint alleging that he violated Title 18, United States Code, Sections 35 and 1001.

These statutes relate to conveying false information about a crime and making false statements about a matter within the jurisdiction of the government. Each statute carries a maximum punishment of five years imprisonment.

According to a report released by the FBI, Portillo's arrest came following an investigation of an anthrax hoax at Sul Ross University on Oct. 31, 2001. Agents said an envelope containing a powdery substance was found in a mail slot at the university that day, resulting in the deployment of emergency response equipment and personnel.

The hoax came after anthrax incidents in Florida and the northeast, which resulted in the deaths of five people and the closing of several buildings, including a Senate office building and the main U.S. Postal Service facility in Washington D.C.

In the agreement, Portillo agrees to a sentence of the maximum amount of probation in lieu of any confinement. Sentencing for him has been set for a later date.

The anthrax attacks came following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on Sept. 11 of last year, and the FBI is still searching for the person or persons responsible for mailing anthrax to newspapers, television networks and government officials in Florida, New York and Washington in late September and early October.

The indictment said that at about 1:40 p.m., on Oct. 31, 2001, during the height of this tension filled period, the defendant entered the university's physical plant wearing a pair of work gloves. Art Leyva, the building maintenance superintendent, came in contact with the defendant and noticed that the defendant was wearing gloves, which struck Levya as odd.

Leyva commented to the defendant something to the effect, "Are you the Anthrax inspector?"

Portillo, in turn, swiped a counter top with his gloved finger and stated that he was the Anthrax inspector.

At about 1:50 p.m., Victor Romero, Supervisor of General Services, entered Leyva's office and mentioned that there was an envelope on the mailroom table with a white powdery substance seeping from it. Soon thereafter the Alpine Volunteer Fire Department was notificed.

The envelope was secured and sent to El Paso for testing. While the area in which the envelope was found was being secured and decontaminated an investigation was immediately conducted by Lieutenant Kelley Hendricks of the University Police Department, Larry Holbrooks, Public Safety Director, and Jim Clouse, Physical Plant Director.

Based on their investigation the gloves worn by the defendant were retrieved and also sent to the lab for testing. The FBI, an agency of the United States government, soon entered the investigation because of the possibility that the envelope contained Anthrax and the FBI was tasked to investigate these matters; it was a matter within their jurisdiction to investigate.

While the investigation was ongoing, employees who work within the SRSU physical plant were advised to speak up if they knew anything about the incident or had information about the incident. Portillo was privy to this information, but did not say anything.

The lab reports had been returned and which stated that the substance seized on Oct. 31, 2001, was not Anthrax or any other toxin. The results on the testing of the gloves worn by Portillo also indicated no signs of Anthrax.

On May 1, 2002, Special Agent Cory Richardson, of the FBI, Midland Office, set up interviews of three suspects, including Portillo. Prior to speaking with him, Richardson read him his rights. He said he understood those rights and waived them.

He then advised Portillo that he and his agency were tasked to investigate the matter regarding the anthrax hoax on Oct. 31, 2002. Richardson asked Portillo if he and Leyva spoke about that afternoon about him being the Anthrax inspector. Portillo said that conversation never occurred. He was then asked by the agent if he had any involvement with the envelope with the white powdery substance. Portillo stated that he had no involvement, whatsoever.

Portillo intentionally made these statements, knowing they were false. He made these statements in order to mislead SA Richardson, of the FBI, as to his non-involvement in the hoax in an attempt to influence Richardson in believing that it was someone else, not him, that was responsible for the hoax.

On June 11, 2002, Portillo was re-interviewed by Richardson and re-advised of his rights which he waived. After being advised that he failed the polygraph test he admitted that he did have a conversation with Leyva prior to the hoax and that he did make a comment that he was the anthrax inspector.

Portillo said that after the conversation he grabbed an envelope from the mailroom and went to an adjacent dormitory and placed an unspecified amount of Ajax in the envelope and put it back down in the mail room in the physical plant.

Portillo said that after he had done so and saw the commotion and all the fire trucks, he realized his "joke" got out of hand and he became nervous and scared. He admitted he had lied to SA Richardson on May 1, 2002, because he was scared.

The FBI said the Alpine case reflects the previously stated position of law enforcement that hoaxes, threats and similar actions regarding weapons of mass destruction will not be tolerated, but will instead be fully investigated and prosecuted.

Moore reportedly improving following surgery

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., July 9, 2002 -- Two days after having transplant surgery, Texas Department of  Public Safety's Corporal Emmit Moore's body seems to be accepting his  new heart, his wife said this morning.

In a phone interview, Louise Moore said her husband was doing well.

"I'm really happy," Mrs. Moore said. "He is doing real good. He is alert and stable."

Since Cpl. Moore has been out of surgery, he has not had any complications with his new organ, his wife said.

"He got the news on Sunday about his new heart," she said. "The girls and I were in town for the 4th of July weekend, we left his room at about midnight. His nurse came in at 1:45 a.m. to tell him about his heart. He then called us and so we came back."

According to Mrs. Moore, her husband went into surgery at 7 a.m. on Sunday and was out by 2:30 that afternoon.

Cpl. Moore, who had suffered from heart problems for the past several years, first arrived at the Baylor University Medical Hospital on May 3 rd after being airlifted from Odessa. On May 10th he was placed on the list for his new heart. The list is a national database of people needing organ transplants.

Louise Moore said when her husband was first placed on the list for a heart as the number three recipient and as he improved he was moved back down. However, when his conditions began to worsen he was moved back up the list.

The Moore family did not know how long they would have to wait for a new heart but they continued to have faith.

"There are a wonderful group of volunteers here at the hospital," Louise Moore said. "A man here got his new heart in four days. You just never know because you must have the right blood type and body size. We got faith and we are just hanging in there."

She added that her husband weighed about 210 pounds before his recent problems, and now weighs about 179, but the doctors do say he will gain his weight back.

Louise Moore also said that Cpl Moore's heart was more damaged then they had originally thought.

Cpl. Moore will soon be in a regular room and after a few days will be moved to the Twice Blessed Apartments were he will be staying for about three months. At that point he will be able to return to Pecos but will have to travel back to Dallas once every two weeks for check-ups.

"For the first three weeks I will be staying with him," Mrs. Moore said. "Then other family members will be staying with him, like my mom and sister and his mom and sister."

When asked what she thought her husband would say to his partner, Trooper Terry Gilcrest, she said that he would just tell him to hang in there and that they all say hello.

Cpl Moore is expected to go back to work better then ever. And Louise Moore said that she might even have a hard time keeping up with her husband.

Ghost Writer

Religions help define funeral traditions

By The Ghost Writer
PECOS, Tues., July 9, 2002 -- Now that we are all in complete agreement about legend  and superstition, let's talk about tradition.  Funeral tradition goes back to the  time humans started burying their dead. (Please note that I didn't say  "human beings." Redundant?)  You can  find 282,000 funeral listings in Al Gore's marvelous invention, the Internet.

The Romans and the Jews had interesting traditions. The Bible tells that the women wrapped Jesus, after he was crucified, in clean linen and wanted to anoint him with sweet spices. Jewish tradition.

Today Jews carry on some of the traditions of Bible times. They fear black ribbons or garments prior to the funeral; pallbearers carry the casket to the grave and make seven stops while Psalm 91 is recited. The shoveling of earth into the grave is done by loved ones often with the back of the shovel to indicate a reluctance to perform this act.

A bowl of water with a cup is placed at the entrance of the home so that they can pour water over their hands, three times to dispel evil spirits of uncleanness. The Shiva (seven) candle is lit immediately upon returning home from the cemetery and starts the beginning of a week of mourning. The first meal is prepared by neighbors and friends and the mourners eat before anyone else. This is a meal of condolence. Mourners are to sit low, a symbol of "being brought low", no luxurious bathing or cutting hair, removing leather shoes, covered mirrors, no sexual relations, and one should not transact business. This is just some of the ritual. There is the Sheloshim, Avelut and Matzevah, Yahrezeit and Yizkor. One is a 30-day period, one a year period, each with different degrees of mourning.

We non-Jews think that their religious traditions a bit much and think that our traditions are just right. We do have traditions when it comes to death of a loved one.

In this country, women make 70 percent of funerals arrangements each year. Women under 25 years of age make 25 percent of the arrangements. There are four-hour training classes available for grief counselors (not professional therapists) to learn the correct words to play on emotionally crippled customers. Phrases as: "You want the best for your loved ones, a cheap casket won't last a week, don't you want to honor your mother." The Jewish Law requires that a cheap casket be used and if the mourner request to see a wooden casket, the funeral director tries to talk him out using a wooden casket.

Formerly the Jews would bring food to the mourner's house, the rich in gold baskets and the poor in twig baskets. The rich would bring out the decreased on a tall state bed covered with rich covers, the poor in a plain bier (or box). They now follow the principle of burial in a simple manner.

This principle of modesty is carried out in the Christian portion of the Bible when it tells the women to not adorn themselves in costly array. (1 Tim. 2-9 and1 Pet. 3-3)

Social Security allows $255 for a funeral if you qualify; yet we follow tradition and have expensive funerals. Tradition, is it worth it?


The young man who drinks coffee with my "Mature Advisors" waits on them as they told him that if he didn't they would remove their shirts, put on shirts and business shoes and be seen by all the young women in town. The young man is not afraid of the competition but is afraid the at the sight of these old men in shorts and no shirt would sicken the young girls so that they would not look at a man for months.

City Directory to begin work on 2002 book

PECOS, Tues., July 9, 2002 -- Representatives for City Directory, Inc., are gathering information for a new detailed city directory for the City of Pecos this week.

Joe Walker and Tony Curtis, both of CDI, are talking with local businesses and members of the professional community of Pecos and the surrounding areas in efforts of gathering information for the directory.

The new directory will contain four sections including a classified business directory, and alphabetical directory listing all businesses and residents of the community, a street directory which alphabetically lists all addresses and the people who live there and their telephone numbers and finally a numerical telephone directory covering prefixes in numerical order.

Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce Director Linda Gholson has given Walker and Curtis a letter in which she signed informing business owners that the duo are legitimate.

CDI has been producing the Pecos directory for many years as well as other communities since 1947.

The directory is sold exclusively to businesses and is marketed as an information tool for merchants, businesses, city, county and state governments.

Residential copies will also be available when the directory is published.

CDI said the directory is also helpful to schools, the fire department, law enforcement and ambulance personnel who might need to know who and how many people live at residences in the event of emergencies.

When emergency response personnel respond to an address, it helps to know how many people live in that particular location and helps so they don't have to guess when everyone there has been rescued and evacuated.


PECOS, Tues., July 9, 2002 -- High Monday 92. Low this morning 70. Forecast for tonight:  Partly cloudy. Lows 65 to 70. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Wednesday:  Partly cloudy. Highs 95 to 100. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Wednesday  night: Partly cloudy. Lows near 70. Thursday: Partly cloudy. Highs 95  to 100. Friday: Partly cloudy and warmer. Lows near 70. Highs near 100.


Robert Blake

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