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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
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Top Stories

Thursday, July 11, 2002

Council says City Hall doors to stay up, stay open

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., July 11, 2002 -- Town of Pecos City Council members voted in a split  decision today to keep the doors to offices at City Hall open, but to keep them  in place as well for the foreseeable future.

The doors, which were installed about a year ago for security reasons, seemed to have caused more discomfort rather then a feeling of security for citizens of Pecos.

Several members of the community along with numerous city employees attended the meeting to voice their opinions about the "security" doors.

At that time, City Manager Carlos Yerena said that the doors, which were locked and deeply tinted, would provide security for the employees of City Hall by not allowing customers or concerned citizens to enter the office areas unannounced.

Smokey Briggs, Editor/Publisher of the Pecos Enterprise, Inc, started the heated discussion by saying that if the doors were being used for security; he saw that they were providing no security. He then went on to say that City Hall is a public building where citizens come down to see the people that work for them.

Other business owners who attended this morning's meeting to voice their opinions were, Alfredo Gomez, owner of Alfredo's Restaurant, Leo Elliott, owner of Elliott Printing, and citizens in attendance were former Town of Pecos City Mayor Bill Hubbs, James Saurage, Pastor Ron Garcia, and Prescilla Garcia who is also an employee at City Hall.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, Gomez stood up to say that he was offended by the doors when he one day realized that the tinting didn't allow him to see in, but did allow the employees to see out.

"That kind of gives me the belief that anybody can take a peek and say they don't feel like talking," he said.

Even though the tint on the windows has been removed and the doors unlocked for some time, the feeling that the doors project to the public has not changed according to several community members.

"I remember the days when the doors were opened," Gomez said. "I would like to see that again. I agree with Smokey Briggs."

Gomez went on to say that there was not a security problem and that he was all for public relations and public service, strongly recommending that as a businessman to bring the doors down.

Elliott followed Gomez by asking Chief of Police Clay McKinney, if any disturbance calls have ever been made by the city.

McKinney responded that to his knowledge no calls have ever been made.

With that said, Hubbs then began by saying that he had never in 69 years remembered any security doors in city hall and that the doors had never been locked.

Garcia, pastor for Calvary Baptist Church, told of going by City Hall this week and being asked to wait in the front lobby in order to speak with the person he needed too.

While waiting for that person, who was busy with another customer, Garcia said he felt uncomfortable sitting in the lobby. He said he felt isolated and unwelcome by having the doors closed.

"It doesn't feel good to sit there," he said. "I got an un-welcomed feeling."

In contrast, city employee Prescilla Garcia stood up on behalf of several city employees to say that the doors gave her a sense of security just by being up.

"I don't see anything wrong with the doors," she said. "I feel better working with the doors."

Garcia said that she understands the two different point of views and there are pros and cons for having the doors up, however, she as an employee would like to see the doors stay.

"Most of the employees like the doors," she said.

Councilwoman Angelica Valenzuela also spoke out on the issue of the doors.

"You have to go through 2-3 more doors when you come in," Valenzuela said.

However, Councilman Johnny Terrazas said that even though nothing has happened in the past that doesn't mean that nothing could happen in the future.

"Let's just hope that nothing happens that we have to come back and revisit these issues," he said.

During the meeting, Terrazas presented a list of the policies for city halls in the surrounding areas.

The list included Kermit, Monahans, Midland, Fort Stockton and Van Horn.

Terrazas explained that Kermit has an open door policy however there is bullet proof glass in the front and the public must go to the city secretary as they come in and are not allowed to go through without permission.

Monahans has glass doors that state "Employee's Only" which leads to all city offices except the city manager's office, where the public must go through the city secretary to see the city manager.

Monahans' police station, which was part of the City Hall building, was damaged in a June 3 firebombing incident. The police station was relocated after that to new offices in the Monahans City Annex building, where it will remain permanently. Pecos' police station was relocated out of the City Hall building to its new location on the southwest side of town in May.

In Midland, a receptionist greets the public in the front and everyone who is not an employee must sign in before being given a visitor's pass.

Fort Stockton also has an open door policy with a customer counter that gives the public guidance to go beyond that point in city hall.

The employees of Van Horn have two double-glass doors in the foyer and a second wooden double door in the hallway and an automatic security door entering into any city office in the building where customers are allowed in after talking through a glass window to the receptionist.

The mention of a petition to keep the doors at City Hall created more of a ruckus due to the fact that some of the members of the City Council were unaware of such a petition.

"This is the first time I have heard of this petition," Valenzuela said.

"I heard about the petition last night after I got home from another meeting," Councilman Michael Benavides said.

When asked who started the petition for keeping the doors, Mayor Pro-tem Gerald Tellez said that he had started it and that it had been in his place of business.

According to Tellez the petition was started just as a survey, while adding that the first 80 signatures were from city employees who believed that the doors needed to remain.

Tellez said that it is unfortunate that the council and the public have spent so much time dwelling on the topic of the doors.

He said that when he was passing around the petition, which he typed up, he received many comments from people worrying about why this is such a big deal, which he agreed with.

"Whatever we do, don't we have better things to discuss in Council," he said.

Main Street Program Manager Tom Rivera agreed with Tellez and asked the audience how many individuals have asked about the Main Street Project, which he believes to be a much more important topic.

However, Briggs disagreed with him and stated the doors were more important than the Main Street Project, because the doors were a sign to the public.

"That's what those doors are, a sign," he said.

Briggs explained that not having any doors would be a sign of welcoming to the community and having the doors shut tells them "to go away."

In response to Briggs' comments, Tellez said the doors were needed because a lot of money is also handled at City Hall. However, Valenzuela pointed out that West Texas National Bank is across the street from the Sixth Street building.

After various heated discussions about what needs to be done with the doors, the council voted three to two to leave the doors in place but prop them open between business hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and stagger lunch hours so employees would not be left alone in the building.

The council also voted on placing a receptionist in the front lobby to help direct customers and local citizens.

Councilman Frank Sanchez said that the council would guarantee that the doors would stay opened.

Briggs told the council that he as a citizen was still not happy with their decision.

The motion to pass the proposal was made by Sanchez and seconded by Benavides. The motion passed, 3-2, with Tellez and Terrazas voting against it.

After the meeting Yerena said that the administration would adhere to the council's wishes and implement the decision.

"We're moving forward," he said.

In fact within an hour of the meeting's conclusion, Yerena had the employees open both doors leading to the offices.

However, Mayor Dot Stafford isn't completely satisfied with the decision to just open the doors. Stafford said she chose not to express her opinions during the meeting because she feels she has given her opinion enough that the council understood.

"I still want them out," she said. "We compromised, I guess that's an accomplishment."

Although it wasn't exactly what she wanted, Stafford said that this is a start.

"It beats having them closed," she said.

Yerena said that as far as the receptionist, the city would look into hiring another employee to fill that position.

As the meeting began with public comments, Linda Gholson, Executive Director of the Pecos Area of Chamber of Commerce, thanked everyone for their support during the rodeo. Gholson also added that if the city was planning on putting up flags next year they may what to invest in buying some more flags. She also added that they must also find a better way of displaying them rather then having them flap in the air.

Following the vote on opening the doors, the council approved the final plans and specifications for the EDAP program pending approval from the Texas Water Development Board.

Yerena said that the next step for the EDAP program, which would provide sewer services to several homes in Pecos, would to advertise for bids.

The council also approved the preliminary plans and specifications for the construction of the Type I and IV landfill trenches and the preliminary plans for the infrastructure improvement project for the new housing subdivision.

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

New Jersey man identified as Jeff Davis crash victim

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., July 11, 2002 -- A New Jersey man has been identified as the victim of a  one-vehicle accident on Highway 118 near the McDonald Observatory in Jeff  Davis County early last Friday morning.

The man was identified as Lukasz Braszak, 22, an architect who lives in Passaic, N.J., a suburb of New York City. His body was burned beyond recognition following the crash and subsequent fire, which was reported at 3:24 a.m. last Friday.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety office in Alpine, Braszak's vehicle, a 1999, four door Civic Sedan was traveling on Texas Highway 118 when he approached a right curve but veered left.

This caused the vehicle to exit the roadway and travel down a steep ravine. At that point the vehicle rolled left and struck an arroyo, which sent it rolling end over end, striking a utility pole.

The vehicle then came to a stop resting on its top facing northwest.

The downed power lines started a range fire that burned both the driver and the vehicle beyond recognition.

It was first believed that there were two people in the car but according to the Texas Department of Public Safety's report Braszak was the only one in the car.

Woman awarded $12,500 in Wal-Mart suit

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., July 11, 2002 -- A woman was awarded  $12,500 in a judgment handed down  by Judge Bob Parks in 143rd District Court today, following a jury trial  in a lawsuit filed against the Pecos Wal-Mart store.

Debbie Ramirez was awarded $12,500 from Wal-Mart after suing the company in connection with a fall she suffered in the Pecos store. Attorney Bill Weinacht represented her, while Hugh N. Lylve represented Wal-Mart in the district court trial.

The jury found that both Ramirez and Wal-Mart were 50 percent negligent, and awarded Ramirez 50 percent of a total of $25,000 in damages.

This morning, Parks signed a notice along with both attorneys stating that the payment would be made, and that Wal-Mart would be assessed all cost of court, in the amount of $639.

Grand jury returns theft, fraud indictments

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., July 11, 2002 -- Two women charged with theft were among the indictments  returned this week by the 143rd grand  jury meeting at the Reeves County Courthouse.

Ana Marie Rodriguez, 40, and Diana Lara Armendariz, 44, were both indicted for theft. Grand jurors charged that between Sept. 1, 2000 and May 24, 2002, the two women unlawfully took cash from a store operator, identified as Janice McWhorter, in an amount over $1,500 but less than $20,000.

District Attorney Randy Reynolds said the case is still under investigation, and added he could not discuss the details of the case pending trial.

Bond was set at $5,000 for each individual.

Other indictments included tampering with government records:

Jose Olive Hernandez, 55, was indicted for the intent to defraud the Texas Department of Human Services, an agency of the State of Texas. According to the indictment, Hernandez, on May 5, 2000, made a false entry in the block labeled "no" in answer to the question which asks, "Do you or does anyone living with you receive money from job training or work?" Bond was set at $5,000.

Jean Marie Kinikin, 23 and Terry Kody Kinikin, 29, were indicted on the same charge, stemming from a false statement allegedly made on Sept. 22, 1999. Bond was set at $5,000 for each individual. Also indicted on that charge were Agapito Romero Rodriguez, 34, and Neyma Rochelle Rodriguez, 27, in separate incidents. Bond for both was set at $5,000.

Sonia Rodriguez, 28, was indicted attempting to defraud the TDHS on July 23, 2000. The indictment said Rodriguez falsely answered "no" to the question, "Does anyone get any other money, cash, or checks? (Include school grants, scholarships, loans, child support, unemployment, government checks, etc.)" Bond was set at $5,000.

David Lara Ortega, 53, was indicted for intent to defraud the TDHS. Ortega made a false entry on Dec. 10, 2001by answering "N/A" on item #8, designated for the entry of earned and unearned income. Bond was set at $5,000.

One individual was indicted for DWI. Eddieberto Leos Patino, 43, was indicted for operating a motor vehicle, on March 16, 2002, in a public place while he was intoxicated by not having the normal use of mental and physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol into the body. Prior to this, on June 26, 1996, in the Reeves County Court-At-Law, he was convicted of an offense relating to the operating of a motor vehicle while intoxicated and on Nov. 15, 1999, in the County Court-At-Law, he was convicted of an offense relating to the operating of a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Bond was set at $10,000.

Armando Burrola, 39, was indicted for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. On May 11, 2002, the indictment alleges, that while using a vehicle, intentionally or knowingly flee from Cesario Urias, Jr., an officer who was attempting to arrest or detain him. Bond was set at $7,500.

Programs available from pageant

PECOS, Thurs., July 11, 2002 -- Programs from the 2002 Golden Girl/Little Miss Cantaloupe Pageant are available at the Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce Office, 111 S. Cedar St.

There are 10 programs, which are being sold for $3 apiece available at the chamber office, according to Women's Division President Laura Briggs.

Both tickets and the programs had been sold out on the night of the event, but now 10 more are being offered to the community.

For more information contact the chamber office at 445-2406.


PECOS, Thurs., July 11, 2002 -- High Wednesday 93. Low this morning 70. Forecast for  tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows near 70. Southeast winds 5 to 10 mph.  Friday: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms. Highs in  the lower 90s. East winds 5 to 15 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy with a  20 percent chance of thunderstorms. Lows in the upper 60s.  Saturday: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms. Highs in  the lower 90s. Sunday: Partly cloudy with isolated thunderstorms. Lows in  the upper 60s. Highs in the lower 90s.


Janice Lee

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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