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Archive 2003

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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Tuesday, March 4, 2003

DPS sergeant, trooper dispute lawsuit claims

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., March 4, 2003 -- A Texas Department of Public Safety sergeant stationed in  Fort Stockton has sent out a press release in which he and a DPS trooper  deny all allegations regarding a traffic stop of a Virginia couple by the trooper  in February of 2002 that resulted in the filing of a federal lawsuit in  Pecos back in January.

According to DPS Sgt. Bryan Rippee, Trooper Ernesto Velasquez denies the allegations and says that his actions relating to the traffic stop of Rodger and RoJetta L Presgraves on February 13, 2002 were appropriate.

Rippee goes on to say that witnesses to the traffic stop and other evidence will completely exonerate Trooper Velasquez.

The allegations that Mrs. Presgraves was strip-searched is absolutely untrue, he said in the press release, which ends by stating that the DPS and Trooper Velasquez believe it is inappropriate to litigate this case in the media and that the facts will come out in the proper venue _ U.S. District Court. Therefore, they have no further comment on the case at this time.

The Presgraves, of Bentonville, Va., are suing Trooper Velasquez in U.S. District Court in Pecos. Their lawsuit was filed in January and alleges that the incident occurred as couple was traveling eastbound on Interstate 10 between Balmorhea and Fort Stockton while on their way to San Antonio.

The suit stated that Velasquez and an unidentified female trooper stopped the couple about 9:15 a.m. for a speeding violation. The Presgraves were given a citation for that and another one for no liability insurance because Mr. Presgraves could not find his insurance card. The no liability insurance ticket was later dismissed.

After issuing the citations, Velasquez said that he needed to search the automobile. The couple complied, but said Velasquez began reaching into their car taking pieces of the automobile apart and generally trashing the car.

As the car was being searched, Mr. Presgraves was told to sit on the front bumper of his eastbound car and keep his eyes to the east.

During this time the unknown female trooper told Mrs. Presgraves that she would have to strip search her.

In the suit, it states that in view of all the vehicles and trucks that passed by on I-10, Mrs. Presgraves was forced to remove all of her clothing and stand nude on the shoulder of the highway.

During the search no drugs or any type of illegal contraband were found and the couple was finally allowed to be on their way.

The suit states that after the couple received their two traffic tickets, any other detention was an illegal seizure under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.

Mr. Presgraves alleges that Velasquez inflicted $1,036 in damages to his vehicle during the futile search for drugs and contraband.

The lawsuit also states that Mrs. Presgraves suffered from extreme mental anguish and humiliation when forced to strip naked on the shoulder of I-10 in front of all the traffic traveling east and west and that they were entitled to $50,000 in damages.

The suit also states that the couple plans to add the unidentified female trooper as a defendant to the case as soon as they discover her name and current location.

The couple's attorney is H. Thomas Hirsch of Odessa.

Feds boosting small airports' security efforts

From Staff and Wire Reports
The federal government is urging private pilots to watch out  for suspicious behavior at small airports and giving them instructions on  what to look for.

The warnings apply to both private airports and small municipal airports around the United States, including the Pecos Municipal Airport, which has received information on the new security program.

The Airport Watch program is a joint effort by the Transportation Security Administration and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Plans for the program were announced last fall and details were being unveiled Tuesday.

"If you see someone loading unusual cargo into an aircraft, or if you see someone loading something into an aircraft that you haven't seen loaded before, that's a hint there might be something wrong," said Warren Morningstar, spokesman for the pilots' association.

There are 18,000 private landing facilities in the United States. They are seen as potentially vulnerable to terrorists because many have little or no security. 

Isabel Blanchard, manager of the Pecos Municipal Airport, said that they have already received some information on the program from the government.

 "We have received some of the pamphlets, though we have not received the video," Blanchard said.

An 18-minute video showing pilots, mechanics and airport technicians what kind of suspicious behavior to look for is being sent to 3,500 airport directors, all 50 state aeronautics directors, 158 federal security directors who oversee airports and 800 chapters of the Experimental Aircraft Association.

The video, developed by the pilots' association, also is available on the Internet. 

Blanchard added that in the pamphlets contain a 800 number people can call making the neighborhood watch more formal.

 "Pilots in general look out for each other," Blanchard said.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge appears at the start of the video and encourages pilots to help combat terrorism.

"We're asking you to become highly aware of your surroundings," Ridge said. "We all must watch out for one another."

Civic Center spaghetti supper set for tonight

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., March 4, 2003 -- "Fat Tuesday" will be celebrated this evening at the Reeves  County Civic Center with a spaghetti dinner, games and more.

The dinner and other events will be a part of the activities planned from 6-9 p.m., at the center, to mark the beginning of Lent.

The event is being sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, but Catholics and non-Catholics are invited to participate.

The dinner will consist of spaghetti with all the trimmings, including salad, tea, garlic French bread and dessert.

The event is held for everyone and not just one religion, according to organizers for the evening. "We want to include the whole community, not just one religion, but everyone," said Michael Benavides.

Dinner is $5 for adults and children can pay $2.50 at the door. Tickets can be purchased from any Knights member, or individuals can pay at the door.

"We're expecting a large crowd and we still have tickets for sale," said Benavides. "Thanks to the great advertising we've received."

Tickets are on sale at West Texas National Bank and the price will be the same at the door.

"We'll be ready for a big crowd and we hope everyone comes out and supports it," said Benavides. "The chamber is behind us as well and will be there to help out."

Games for the children are planned for the evening. Knights' club members will man duck pond, dart throwing and other games. Mardi Gras beads will be given out during the evening to everyone who attends.

Cat the D.J. will be on hand to provide the musical entertainment for the evening.

The event is family-oriented and no alcohol will be served or allowed during the event.

Benavides also said that the group is short-handed at this time and in need of volunteers. "If anybody would like to help us out, we'd really appreciate it."

Ash Wednesday service times set by area church

PECOS, Tues., March 4, 2003 -- The Catholic churches in the Pecos area have scheduled services for Ash Wednesday as follows:

Our Lady of Refuge Parish in Barstow at 6:30 a.m., St. Catherine in Pecos at 7:30 a.m., Santa Rosa de Lima in Pecos at noon, Christ the King in Balmorhea at 5:30 p.m., St. Catherine in Pecos at 6 p.m., Our Lady of Guadalupe in Saragosa at 7 p.m. and Santa Rosa de Lima in Pecos also at 7 p.m.

A service will also be held at the Pecos Nursing Home at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday for residents there.


PECOS, Tues., March 4, 2003 -- High Monday 68. Low this morning 44. Forecast for  tonight: Mostly clear. Lows near 40. West winds 15 to 25 mph. Decreasing  to 5 to 15 mph after midnight. Wednesday: Mostly sunny.  Highs in the mid 70s. West winds 15 to 25 mph. Wednesday night:  Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 40s. Thursday: Partly cloudy. Highs  in the lower 70s. Friday: Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 40s. Highs  near 70.

Police Report

EDITOR'S NOTE: Information contained in the Police Report  is obtained from reports filed by the Pecos Police Department,  Reeves County Sheriff's Office, or other officers of those agencies.

The serving of warrants by an officer for outstanding fines of either traffic citations, animal control violations or other court costs are considered arrests and will be printed as such unless indicated that the fines were paid. In such instances we will indicate payment and release.


Raymundo Bravo Jr., 20 and Melody Gulfan Ivy, 21, were arrested at 12:24 p.m., on March 1, at the 1300 block of South Cypress Street for family violence.


Ernesto Chavez Baca was arrested at 3:38 a.m., on March 2, at Third and Cedar streets for failure to identify.


Fred Lara was arrested at 1:02 a.m., on March 2, at La Nortena on a warrant for theft over $50 and on a warrant for violatng written promise to appear.


Kenneth Stephen Taylor, 51, was arrested at 8: 30 p.m., on March 2, in the 100 block of Raul Flores Boulevard on a warrant motion to revoke.


Adan Matta, 21, was arrested at 8:27 p.m., on February 26, at the 700 block of South Oak Street on a warrant - capias minor in possession of alcohol.


Frances Martinez, 21, was arrested at 9:31 p.m., on February 26, at the Reeves County Sheriff's Office on a warrant - capias public intoxication.


Jerardo Juarez, 17, was arrested at 4:06 a.m., on February 26, at the 200 block of S. Plum for driving under the influence in standard and on two warrants for no drivers license and a warrant for minor in possession of alcohol.


Billy Barnett, 37, was arrested at 7:05 p.m., on February 23, at the 1700 block of Washington Street for driving while intoxicated.


Alberto Rodriguez, 24, was arrested at 1:58 a.m., on February 23, at Saragosa Hall on a warrant - capias no insurance.


Rosa Munoz, 49, was arrested at 8:40 p.m., on February 22, at the 100 block of North Cedar Street on a warrant for animal at large and on a warrant for violation on a promise to appear.


Gilbert Plasencia, 22, was arrested at 11:11 p.m., on February 21, on Fourth and Cypress on a warrant - capias minor in possession of alcohol.


Edgar Alarcon, 21, David Ortiz, 21 and Louie Rico, 23 were arrested at 11:54 p.m., on February 21, for possession of a controlled substance _ methamphedamines 3rd degree felony.


Ciro B. Ortiz, 53, was arrested at 5:15 p.m., on February 21, at the Criminal Justice Center on a warrant for violation promise to appear and a warrant for running a stop sign.


Andrew McGrew, 31, was arrested at 2:45 p.m., on February 20, at Second and Pecan streets on warrants for possession of an alcoholic beverage open container, two warrants for violation promise to appear and a warrant for speeding.


Tommy Marquez, 36, was arrested at 1:41 p.m., on February 20, at Bob's Thriftway for theft under $50.


Emilio Acosta Jr., 22, was arrested at 12:13 a.m., on February 19, on Walthall and Eddy on a warrant for no seat belt driver and a warrant for violation promise to appear.


Rodolfo Orona, 27, was arrested at 4:15 a.m., on February 19, at Fifth and Palm streets on a warrant for motion to adjudicate possession of a controlled substance Reeves County Sheriff warrant.


Larry Garcia, 39, was arrested at 8:46 p.m., on February 17, at the 300 block of South Willow Street for leaving the scene of an accident _ two counts class B.

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