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Archive 2003

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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Police receive autopsy report on shooting victim

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., March 20, 2003 -- The Pecos Police Department has received the autopsy report on the death of 21-year old Keith Leigh, who was shot and killed in an alleged burglary attempt early Tuesday morning on the North side of Pecos.

"Yes we have received the autopsy report yesterday," Lt. Kelly Davis said. "The body is also back."

Davis said that Leigh's cause of death was from the result of an artery in the lung being hit by the gunshot.

"He (Leigh) bled to death internally," Davis said.

The autopsy report was ordered to help police with their investigation after officers found his body in an alley in the 200 block of North Pecan Street, where they had been called following a report of a house burglary attempt.

Leigh was shot in the upper back during the alleged burglary at the home of 21-year old Reuben Mills, of 325 N. Pecan St.

According to the police report, a call came in at 2:14 a.m. in reference to the burglary, and when Sgt Armando Garcia and Officer Ricky Martinez arrived at the location, Mills informed them that he had been awakened by two individuals who might have gained entry into his residence.

He then went on to tell them that he had gotten a rifle from inside his own home and fired several shoots in the direction of the intruders.

The gun used in the incident was a 22-rifle, which was recovered by police.

After speaking with Mills, Garcia and Martinez began to search the immediate area for anyone who might have been hit by the gunfire.

After some time the officers located Leigh at the 200 block of North Pecan with an apparent gunshot wound to the upper back.

Police said that Leigh was already dead when they discovered him.

As the investigation continues, Davis said that they have only recovered one bullet but four casings from the home of Mills.

"We looked for the other bullets but it's hard when you are in an open area like that," Davis said.

He added that they also looked for possible bullet holes in the home but found none.

"We hope that we can conclude this case soon," Davis said.

One of three inmates caught after improper release

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., March 20, 2003 -- One of the three U.S. Marshal Service inmates who were mistakenly released late last week was arrested by the Pecos Police Department Wednesday in Midland.

Criminal Justice Center Jail Administrator, Tony Dawdy said that Juan Gabriel Leyva Valdez had been arrested and turned over to the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol after he cashed a check he received at the time of his release last Friday from the CJC.

Dawdy said that Valdez had cashed his check in Midland the same day he was released and then on Monday the bank received a red flag on the cashed check.

"The bank notified the Chief (Clay McKinney)," Dawdy said. "He then contacted me and I then contacted the Midland County Sheriff's Office."

He added that he also contacted the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, who in turn provided Dawdy with the name of Alex Rodriguez of the Midland County Sheriff's Office.

Once in Midland, Dawdy said that he and Rodriguez arrived at a mobile home, located at Space No. 1 at 1140 North County Road, where they found Valdez hiding in the bedroom.

Currently the other two inmates have not cashed their checks but once they do Dawdy hopes to make an arrest.

Dawdy said on Tuesday that the three inmates had already served their time, but were supposed to have been released to the custody of the 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.

"We are still looking for the other two inmates."

WIPP truck hit by vehicle in Andrews

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) - A Waste Isolation Pilot Plant truck carrying three empty containers was struck by a pickup Wednesday in Andrews, Texas.

The WIPP truck was returning the nuclear waste transportation containers to a South Carolina site, said Kerry Watson, assistant manager for the waste program at the Department of Energy's Carlsbad field office.

The pickup hit the driver's side of the WIPP trailer after pulling out from a stop sign. The WIPP truck sustained damage to the trailer fender and two tires.

The driver of the pickup was cited for an improper left turn.

The accident will not affect the driver's work with Tri-State Motor Transit, Watson said. It was the second traffic collision in the four years WIPP has been open. The first occurred in August, when a pickup truck struck a WIPP truck carrying waste from Idaho.

Empty WIPP trucks are allowed to follow routes outside the path those transporting waste to the site near Carlsbad are required to take. Trucks headed to WIPP from South Carolina with radioactive waste deliveries are required to travel through Texas along Interstate 20 to Pecos, and then through town along U.S. 285 to the plant site, 25 miles southeast of Carlsbad.

Pecos High School GED registration

PECOS, Thurs., March 20, 2003 -- GED testing will be held at 4:45 p.m., Monday, March 31 and Tuesday, April 1, at the Pecos High School.

Registration is scheduled from 1-5 p.m. this coming Monday and Tuesday at the Pecos High School Counselors' office.

Examinees must present a Texas driver's license or Texas Department of Public Safety ID Card.

For more information call Pecos High School counselors Pat Cobos or Eva Arriola at 447-7229.

Gomez seeks local support to save Task Force funding

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., March 20, 2003 -- Local law enforcement officials are asking the community's help in their fight to maintain the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force, which is being threatened with the loss of funding along with other task forces across Texas.

"We're asking for everyone to write to our legislator or sign out petition to keep the task force," said Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez.

State Rep. Terry Keel, R-Austin, the former Sheriff of Travis County, is trying to pass H.B. 801, which would cut funding to all Texas Narcotics Task Forces that receive funding from the Department of Justice Byrne Memorial Fund. State funding for drug task forces has to be renewed through the Texas governor's office each May.

"That would include ours, the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force," said Gomez.

Keel served as Travis County Sheriff for four years, covering an area that includes the city of Austin. He proposed the bill as a way of helping to cut the state's budget deficit, but also questioned the effectiveness of drug task forces across Texas.

"They've just not been effective and in some cases have been proven to be corrupt," Keel told the Associated Press in early March. "The idea is flawed. There is no accountability for these guys. There's no accounting for task force operations. I think the drug task force is just a failed experiment."

The Trans Pecos Drug Task Force includes: Midland County, Andrews County, Andrews Police Department, Culberson County, Loving County, Winkler County, Reeves County and the Pecos Police Department.

As sheriff of Reeves County and Project Director of the Task Force, Gomez said he is concerned that if the bill passes this area would lose a task force that has seized over $900,000 in assets and over $17 million in narcotics.

"I ask all our citizens to help in keeping our Task Force working for them. How? By writing a letter to your legislator or calling them, or by signing a petition that is being circulated in your communities," said Gomez.

Gomez, along with Chief Deputy Victor Prieto, will be traveling to Austin on Sunday for a school and also to meet with state legislature and the committee.

"We'll be going to a school, but at the same time, while we're there we want to talk to committee members, take our petitions and letters that are in favor of the task force," said Gomez. "I want to talk to them before the bill is presented to the legislature."

"As you are aware one of our officers Sgt. Jaime Rodriguez paid the ultimate price on the war against drugs with his life, leaving behind a wife and two children," said Gomez. "Losing the Task Force is a slap in the face for law enforcement, and a victory to all the dope dealers.

"Did our officer give his life in vain? I ask that you help us keep our task force," Gomez said.

He also mailed a copy of a letter to all the participating agencies with the task force. "We hope they will sign the petitions in those communities and we can take those up there as well," Gomez said.

Copies of the petition can be found at different businesses in Pecos, including the Pecos Enterprise, for those individuals that would like to sign it in favor of keeping the task force.

"Especially in a time like this where our federal government has acknowledged the link between narco-trafficking and terrorism, we need your full support and the support of the great state of Texas in the war on drugs more now, than ever," said Gomez.

"I would like to thank all citizens that have shown support in the past and ask that you continue to do so," he said.

Letters and petitions in favor of the task force can be dropped off at the Sheriff's Department office at Fifth and Oak streets or the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force, 317 Cypress St. "I think this is very important to the community," said Gomez.

The Reeves County Hospital District has also drafted a letter in support of the task force and will be sending it to Austin with the sheriff. "The local Lion's Club will be doing the same," said Gomez.

"The reason the letters are important is because they count how many are in favor and opposed and the more correspondence we put together in opposition of this bill, the better it will help us to keep the task force," said Gomez.

The letter from the hospital states in part: The drug task force is a tremendous asset to our county and all surrounding counties. The Trans Pecos Drug Task Force has played a significant role in keeping drugs off the streets. Reeves County is located on a major drug trafficking corridor. By intercepting drugs on the interstates, these officers are keeping our communities safer. It is an undisputed face, that the resources and expertise of the drug task forces play a leading role in putting thousands of drug dealers behind bars and removing millions of dollars worth of narcotics from our streets.

Reeves County Hospital is in the process of recruiting physicians to our area. One of the primary questions asked by those interested in relocating in our community is how safe is your community and are there a lot of drugs in your area? At this point we can answer that we have a safe community with little crime and good law enforcement agencies that make a concerted effort to remove crime from our county. If the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force ceases to exist, crime in our area will increase in direct correlation to a rise in drug distribution in our area, thereby affecting businesses and impacting communities. Please send a strong message to drug traffickers and keep our society safe and free of corruption.

"We appreciate and thank everyone who signs our petition or writes a letter in our favor," said Gomez.

"Mystery candidate" beats deadline to file for council

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., March 20, 2003 -- A fourth candidate filed at the last minute to run in the May 3 Town of Pecos City Council elections. However, the name has not been released by city officials, who are checking to see if the person meets eligibility requirements.

City officials would not give out the name of the candidate this morning, until he/she has been cleared and certified as eligible to run. If that person is ruled ineligible, the election for the three seats on the city council in the May 3 election will be uncontested, and under state law the council; can then order the election canceled in order to save money.

Mayor Pro-tem Gerald Tellez and councilman Frank Sanchez are seeking to retain their seats on the Pecos City Council, while Danny Rodriguez filed to return to the council after being defeated for re-election a year ago. The other council member whose term is up in May is Johnny Terrazas, who did not file for a new two-year term.

Wednesday was the last day to file for a position in the May 3 elections. Potential candidates had until 5 p.m., to decide if they would like to run for an office in the May 3 elections in the Balmorhea and Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISDs, Town of Pecos City Council, Reeves County Hospital Board, Balmorhea City Council, Barstow City Council and Toyah City Council.

As of the deadline Wednesday, only the two area school elections were assured of contested races, and the race for the Balmorhea City Council had more seats up for election than candidates.

Four candidates will be seeking the two three-year terms up for election in the P-B-T ISD race. Incumbents David Flores and Steve Valenzuela are challenged by Randy Baeza and Amy Montgomery Miller.

In the Balmorhea ISD race, incumbents Tommy Rey Dominguez and Paul Matta have three challengers in their bids for re-election, in Sharon Oates, Abel Baeza and Courtney Ballard.

Uncontested races include those for the Precinct 2 and Precinct 4 seats for the Reeves County Hospital District board. Pablo T. Carrasco filed to run for the Precinct 4 seat on Monday, and will replace Hugh Box, whose home in no longer within the Precinct 4 boundaries. In Precinct 2, incumbent Linda Gholson is unopposed for that seat.

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.

Ike Ward filed to retain his seat on the Balmorhea City Council, one of three seats up for election this year. Sammy Baeza currently holds the other seat and there is one other seat vacant. Balmorhea officials did not report any new filings prior to the deadline.


PECOS, Thurs., March 20, 2003 -- High Wednesday 69. Low this morning 49 Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 40s. South winds 5 to 15 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. Isolated thunderstorms. Highs in the lower 70s. Southwest winds 5 to 15 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy. Slight chance of thunderstorms. Lows in the lower 40s. The chance of rain is 20 percent. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 60s. Sunday: Partly cloudy. Lows near 40. Highs near 80.


Alma Heard, Ronald Keith Leigh, Jr., Socorro Rodriguez and Manuel Villanueva

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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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