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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 18, 2003

Homeowner kills burglary suspect

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., March 18, 2003 -- Pecos police are investigating the death of a man who reportedly was shot by a homeowner while trying to break into a north side house early this morning.

Police officers were dispatched to a 325 N. Pecan St. in reference to a burglary of a residence at 2:14 a.m. today, and found the body of the suspect about two blocks away from the home.

Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney said that the complainant stated that he had been awakened by two individuals who had gained entry into his residence.

"The complainant acquired a rifle from his own home and fired several shots at the intruders," McKinney said.

After talking to the homeowner, Sgt. Armando Garcia and Officer Ricky Martinez began to search the immediate area in an attempt to locate anyone who might have possibly been hit by the gunfire, McKinney said.

"The officers located an individual in the alleyway of the 100 block of North Pecan," McKinney said.

The individual appeared to have an apparent gunshot wound to the upper back. The officers said the individual was dead at the scene, and a Justice of the Peace was notified, McKinney said.

He added that an autopsy has also been ordered.

"No names can be released at this time because the next of kin has not been notified," McKinney said.

The investigation continues today with statements being taken from several witnesses, McKinney said. No charges have been filed in the case, and the name of the homeowner has not been released.

He added that at this point they could not determine whether anything had been stolen from the residence before the owner was awakened by the intruders.

Inadvertent inmate release not major concern


Staff Writer
PECOS, Tues., March 18, 2003 -- Three U.S. Marshal's Service inmates who were "mistakenly" released from the Criminal Justice Center last Friday are probably back home in Mexico by now, and while federal officials are continuing their search for the trio, the incident is not considered a major problem.

"We talked to the marshals and they are just considering it as a release from here and not an escape," said Criminal Justice Center Jail Administrator Tony Dawdy.

Dawdy said that the three inmates had already served their time, but were supposed to have been released to the custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), rather than just let go from the CJC, which houses U.S. Marshal's Service inmates under a contract between the federal government and the Town of Pecos City.

"That day we had people coming in and had a lot of releases at the same time," said Dawdy.

Dawdy said that the CJC had received a fax from INS advising them to release several individuals. "These three were supposed to have been released to the INS and not the street," he said.

The INS is still looking for three inmates, who are considered non-violent. "They were not in here because of violence, but were pickup up for illegal entry," Dawdy said. "The three were released at 9:30 a.m., Friday."

The three are Hispanics, had already served their time and are considered non-violent. "They are probably already home by now," said Dawdy.

He added that the CJC has taken steps to ensure that this scenario isn't repeated in any future releases.

"We have taken several measures to make sure this never happens again and have adopted a new system," said Dawdy. "It was just a human mistake that happened."

Balmorhea eyes groundbreaking date for gym

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., March 18, 2003 -- Balmorhea Bears basketball teams will face opponents in a new facility during the school year in 2004, following the completion of a new gym, the second of several major renovations to the Balmorhea ISD facilities.

"They've already begun breaking ground for our new gym," said Balmorhea ISD Superintendent Elizabeth Saenz, though the official ground-breaking event probably won't take place until next week.

Saenz said that plans have already begun for extensive renovations at the old high school building, including a new technology center. "The extensive renovations, which will include a new technology center at our old high school, will be completed by May or June of this year," said Saenz.

Renovations at the high school began last November and the community is excited about all the new and renovated buildings. A new agriculture facility, classroom and working area, has been completed, according to Saenz. "The new gymnasium will be completed in January of 2004," she said.

"We're just very happy that all this is happening," said Saenz. "It's something everybody has worked very hard for."

The old gym was last renovated in 1985, after a fire destroyed the east side of both the gym and the Balmorhea ISD building. The old gym will still be used for physical education once the new facility is completed, but will also serve as a multi-purpose center for meetings or other gatherings.

"This old gym was not handicap accessible, which is the main reason we are getting a new one," said Saenz.

She said that she would be speaking to the Balmorhea School Board this evening about when to have a groundbreaking ceremony for the new facility.

"It will be one day next week, we're looking at either Tuesday, March 25, or Wednesday, March 26, in the morning," Saenz said.

She added that the community has responded well to all the new ideas happening at the high school. "The staff is really excited and we're just glad that this is finally going to become a reality," she said.

RCH board Precinct 4 race gets first candidate

PECOS, Tues., March 18, 2003 -- With one day remaining before the filing deadline, the first candidate in the Precinct 4 race for the Reeves County Hospital District has filed, Human Resource Director Nadine Smith said this morning.

Pablo T. Carrasco filed to run for the Pct. 4 seat currently held by Hugh Box. Officials said last month that due to redistricting last year, Box's home is no long part of Precinct 4, making him ineligible to seek re-election.

The Precinct 4 seat is one of two up for election on May 3. The other seat is in Precinct 2, where incumbent Linda Gholson is the only person so far to file for that two-year term.

The deadline to file in the hospital district election, all with all local city and school elections, is 5 p.m. on Wednesday. As of this morning, the only contested local race is for the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school board, where four candidates will be seeking the two available three-year terms.

Incumbents David Flores and Steve Valenzuela filed for new three-year terms on the board, and will be challenged by Randy Baeza and Amy Montgomery Miller. In the other area school election, for the Balmorhea ISD board, Incumbent Tommy Rey Dominguez has joined challenger Sharon Oates in seeking the two available seats, which are currently held by Dominguez and Paul Matta.

In the area's council elections, Mayor Pro-tem Gerald Tellez And councilman Frank Sanchez have filed to retain their seats on the Pecos City Council, while Danny Rodriguez is seeking to return to the council after a one-year absence. The other council member whose term is up in May is Johnny Terrazas.

In Balmorhea, Ike Ward has filed to retain his seat on the council, one of three seats up for election this year. Sammy Baeza is currently holds another seat up for election, and the third seat is vacant.

In Barstow, incumbents Olga Abila, Dora Villanueva and Ted Porras have filed for new two-year terms on the city council and Angel Abila has filed for the one-year unexpired term.

Police seeking further arrests in probe of credit card abuse

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., March 18, 2003 -- A credit card that was stolen nearly a year ago is the focus of an investigation that resulted in the arrest of six local residents last week, and could result in the arrest of at least two other individuals in the near future.

The six were arrested last Friday by Pecos Police on charges of abuse of a credit card. Gang Officer/Criminal Investigator Armando Granado, Jr., said that the credit card belonged to Rio Pecos Sales - Budweiser, which was bought out by Standard Sales of Odessa last year.

"The card was stolen back in May of 2002," Granado said.

Granado said that the card was being used at Dessert Distributors where the suspects would use it for fueling up their vehicles.

"They even had the pin number of the credit card," Granado added.

Granado said that Martha Leonard Rubio, 35, had received the credit card from a male subject who had originally stolen it.

"Different people then began to use it," Granado said.

The credit card was used on a regular basis and a total of $5,450 in fuel reportedly was charged on the card, Granado said.

"The card was being used from the time it was stolen till the first week of March 2003," Granado said. "They would use it two to three times a day."

Currently those arrested have been identified as Rubio, Jack Benjamin Stickles, 17, Jason Rodriguez, 17, Justin Evans, 19, Jae Ewing, 19 and Jeffery Martinez, 22.

"We hope to find two other subjects we have warrants on," Granado said.

There are also four juveniles, three male and one female who have charges pending, Granado said.

During the time the credit card was being used, Granado added that one of the persons arrested gave police a statement that at times they would pay to use the credit card.

"It is an ongoing investigation," Granado said. "We believe there to be more people involved. We are looking at 20 more people."

He added that they hope to get more names and make more arrests as the investigation continues.

Of the six who have been arrested, Stickles and Rodriguez are currently students at Pecos High School students while Evans, Ewing and Martinez are recent PHS graduates.

The six individuals have been charged with credit card abuse, which is considered a state jail felony.

The individual have posted bond and are out of jail.

"Once the case is complete it will go to the District Attorney and then to the Grand Jury," Granado said.

Radar set up for area's new cloud seeding project

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., March 18, 2003 -- There's a new egg-shaped object that's nesting on a tower at the east end of the Pecos Municipal Airport, which if it works as planned will hatch a few more thunderstorms for the Trans Pecos area beginning this year.

A Doppler weather radar tower has been set up at the airport, as part of the new cloud seeding program that was set up last year for Reeves, Ward, Culberson and Loving counties. It's a smaller version of the Doppler radar used by the National Weather Service at the Midland International Airport, though it's not functional yet.

"It's connected, but it's not calibrated. We haven't turned it on right now," said Tom Nance of Ward County Irrigation District No. 1 in Barstow, who has been spearheading the Trans-Pecos Weather Modification Program. The radar will be tied into a trailer located at the base of its tower, and behind the hangar where the program's two airplanes are being housed.

"We're still waiting for the phone lines to be put in so we can have Internet access to the most up-to-the-minute weather forecasts," Nance said.

"The accuracy on this radar because of the curvature of the Earth is 80 miles, but it will reach out over 200 miles," he added.

The radar, along with the two Cessna 340 airplanes, their pilot and a meteorologist, are all expected to begin working on seeding clouds in the four-county target area beginning next month. The total cost of the project, along with the test equipment and spare parts, is $475,000, Nance said. The funds are coming from Nance's WCID No. 1, as well as the Reeves County Water Improvement District No. 2.

George Bomar, a meteorologist with of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, spoke about the costs during a meeting in January of 2002 on the proposed program. Bomar, the longtime supervisor for the State of Texas' cloud seeding programs, put the cost at between 8 and 9 cents an acre for the first year, which would put the total cost at between $250,000 and $300,000 per year for the four-county area. Half of that would come through state funding.

Nance said the cloud seeding program would probably run for about six months, from April through October.

Family Health Day events at Maxey Park

PECOS, Tues., March 18, 2003 -- Family Health Fitness Day will begin at 7 a.m. this Saturday at Maxey Park.

Bicycle riding, jogging and other events are planned throughout the day.

Breakfast and lunch will be served and several spots will be designated as "water stops," for those jogging, walking and biking.

The event is co-sponsored by the Pecos Rotary and Lions Clubs.


PECOS, Tues., March 18, 2003 -- High Monday 69. Low this morning 47. Forecast for tonight: Mostly cloudy. Slight chance of showers. Lows in the mid 40s. West winds decreasing to 15 to 25 mph. The chance of rain is 20 percent. Wednesday: Mostly cloudy. Windy. Slight chance of showers. Highs in the lower 70s. West winds 20 to 30 mph. The chance of rain is 20 percent. Wednesday night: Mostly cloudy. Slight chance of showers. Lows near 40. The chance of rain is 20 percent. Thursday: Mostly cloudy. Highs in the mid 60s. Friday: Partly cloudy. Lows near 40. Highs in the mid 70s.


Eliborio Pena

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