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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Reopening set for Pecos Inn after 15 years

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., March 25, 2003 -- A local motel that has been closed since the late 1980s will re-open its doors beginning tomorrow.

The Pecos Inn, which was last open for regular business in 1987, will open its doors early Wednesday to accept it's first customers.

"Right now, I just have 15 rooms available," said Richard Hayes, general supervisor for the motel, located at 2207 W. Third Street.

The motel was first opened over 40 years ago as part of the Ramada Inn chain of motels on what then was U.S. 80 through Pecos. But following the completion of Interstate 20 around the south side of town in the mid-1960s, traffic along the old highway declined, and Ramada sold off the motel in the late 1970s.

The motel's name was later changed to the Pecos Inn under independent ownership, before closing. Hayes said it will keep the Pecos Inn name.

The two-story building has a total of 60 rooms, but only 15 will be available to rent beginning tomorrow, as Hayes continues to work on the remodeling and "touch-ups."

"I'll open up those for now and continue to work on the many improvements that need to be made," said Hayes.

"There's still a lot to do, but I want to start generating some income," he added.

The motel has been completely re-carpeted, new solid oak furniture brought in, acoustics, textured walls, cable lines plugged into all the rooms, among numerous other things, according to Hayes.

"We've done a lot to the inside and will now begin on the outside," said Hayes. "The inside also has other things that will need to be taken care of," he said.

"It took five months to put all the AC units in and take the other ones out," said Hayes. "When I came here there were holes in the walls, no carpet whatsoever and some vandalism," he said.

Hayes said that he now has everything in motion. "I'll continue to operate it, I'll be running the office, while I finish the remodeling."

The motel was purchased by Jack Patel of Hartford, Calif. Hartford is located between Fresno and Bakersfield.

When the Patel family came to the United States from India, they had nothing and slowly Patel began acquiring different businesses and through dedication and hard work has made them a success. "He and his wife came to the United States and they had nothing, but they are very hardworking individuals," said Hayes.

Hayes is a family friend, who helps Patel, not only in his finances and runs one of his motels in California, but is also a friend to the children. "I play with them and talk to them about their culture and ours, they teach me about theirs and I teach them about ours," said Hayes. "In doing all this, I mentioned to Jack that he needed to buy the children a computer, so they could learn more and reach out."

Hayes said that he also mentioned that the elder Patel could use a computer. "You can find anything on the internet and I told him this," said Hayes. "So he started messing around with it and found a truck he bought."

Hayes said that Patel also found this motel through the internet and decided he wanted to purchase it. "He came down here, saw it and said he wanted to buy it," said Hayes.

Patel has four other motels in California, along with franchise stores with Texaco, Taco Bell, Del Taco, and a convenience store.

Hayes said that while he is in Pecos, Patel is having to do his job. "He told me, you need to come back I need you here, but then he said he also needed me to be here in Pecos," said Hayes. "There's a lot to do to get this motel up and running," said Hayes.

Hayes said that Patel plans to visit Pecos again in the near future. "We're both very busy at this time, but he does want to come down here," said Hayes. "While I'm here, he's doing what I used to do up there, I do whatever they want me to do. I'm just their employee."

Hayes said he doesn't know when he'll be able to hire more employees. "I'm waiting until the last minute, before hiring more people," he said.

Hayes said that Patel had already spent more than $200,000 in renovations to the motel.

Patel is married to Hansa and the couple has three children, Oni, 13; Rena 12 and Jay 10 years old.

"We're very excited and hope to get some business in here soon," said Hayes.

Families in Texas worry about captured children

MISSION (AP) - The footage from Iraq was grainy from blowing sand, but in an instant 19-year-old Joel Hernandez recognized his brother driving the military truck the Mexican television station reported as ambushed.

Within hours Sunday, military and police officers came to the door of his family's small house to confirm the news. Supply Specialist Edgar Hernandez, 21, who is with the 507th Maintenance Company at Fort Bliss, had been taken prisoner of war.

"What are the odds? It's crazy," Joel Hernandez said as he sat in the family living room. "A guy from the (Rio Grande) Valley, has never been out of Texas, goes to war and gets captured."

No one had slept Sunday, he said. He hadn't been able to focus at his supermarket job Monday, he said, and his boss let him go home.

The room was full of pictures of his brother - looking proud in his uniform, posing with his Fort Bliss division, holding his arm around his sweetheart.

Their mother, 53-year-old Maria De La Luz Hernandez, who immigrated to this Mexican border town from Reynosa, Mexico, held her son's picture in front of her as she stood out by the road to talk to television reporters.

"It is very hard," she said in Spanish. "He is strong, because he has a lot of faith."

Hardest was seeing the video released by Iraqi television by the Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera, in which captors drag a wounded Hernandez to his feet and order him to say his name and where he is from. "Edgar," he answers, and "the United States."

"He was all beat up from his face," Joel Hernandez said. "He was hurt. I could tell he was really scared."

Hundreds of miles west in El Paso, another Texas family watched, also with shock and horror.

Relatives of Army Spc. Shoshana Johnson said she was the woman POW shown on Iraqi television.

Johnson, who is also with the 507th Maintenance Company at Fort Bliss, is a 30-year-old single mother.

"Shoshana is a strong individual," said her sister, Nikki Johnson, 28, of Ft. Lee, Va., while sitting in the family's living room in El Paso.

Nikki Johnson told the El Paso Times for Tuesday's editions that she last spoke to her older sister three weeks ago. "I don't necessarily think she thought too much was going to happen," said Nikki Johnson, who also is in the Army, but does not expect to be deployed. "I didn't feel like we (soldiers) were in real danger."

Shoshana Johnson's father, Claude Johnson, said he learned of his daughter's capture Sunday morning while watching the Spanish-language network Telemundo.

"I was searching for cartoons to watch with my grandchild (Shoshana's 2-year-old daughter Janelle)," Claude Johnson said.

Officials at Fort Bliss said about 10 members of the post's 507th Maintenance Company were missing. In the video, some of the captured soldiers said they were with the 507th. The 507th is a support unit that is not considered a combat unit, officials said.

U.S. military officials did not immediately release identities of any of the soldiers whom Iraqi television reported were captured or killed in an ambush near Nasiriyah, a major crossing point over the Euphrates northwest of Basra.

U.S. officials have confirmed that at least 10 soldiers were missing after the ambush.

On Monday there was news that two helicopter pilots from Fort Hood in Central Texas were captured by Iraqis.

Iraq claimed Monday that an Apache helicopter carrying two soldiers was shot down and said the soldiers were being held as prisoners. Monday night, the Pentagon declared the men prisoners of war.

The pilots have been identified as Chief Warrant Officer Ronald D. Young Jr., 26, from Lithia Springs, Ga., and Chief Warrant Officer David S. Williams, 30, from Orlando, Fla. Both were assigned to Fort Hood.

Terrazas opts to 'term limit' self off council

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., March 25, 2003 -- Keeping a promise to himself, Town of Pecos City Councilman Johnny Terrazas will not be running for a seat in this years City Council elections.

"It was a promise I made myself," Terrazas said. "I told myself that I would serve three terms if I continued to get elected."

Terrazas, whose full-time job is with the U.S. District Clerk's office in Pecos, was the lone incumbent not to file for re-election before last Wednesday's deadline for the May 3 City Council elections. Gerald Tellez and Frank Sanchez will be seeking new two-year terms, while former councilman Danny Rodriguez and Mark Bragg are the other two contenders for the three available seats.

After six years on the council, Terrazas said, "At this point in time I am a strong believer in new people, ideas and solutions."

He also believes that the past council and the council that is in place now has turned the direction of the city towards a positive in which things are being able to get accomplished.

"My first year, we were $600,000 in the red in our city budget," Terrazas said. "And in the fiscal year of 2002-03 we have approved a balanced budget. That is the first time in I don't know how long."

However, Terrazas said neither he nor the rest of the council takes the credit for that, giving most of it to the city's department heads, city manager and finance director.

"All of them working together to cut back on the spending and making sacrifices with their budget for equipment made it possible," Terrazas said.

In finding ways to cut back on certain items the city has not had to raise taxes, Terrazas said.

"Unfortunately, we did have to raise water and sewer rates as a result of the $8 million loan for the new water field," Terrazas said. "And it was the Texas Water Development Board who said that we needed to raise the rates."

During his tenure on the council, Terrazas said that it has given him an incite on how city government works.

"This was the first elected office I ever held," Terrazas said. "I learned to work with people and take the business approach on the issues but yet trying to stay way from the political approach."

He added that most people do not understand the work behind city government and that he has appreciated working with the city employees.

"An average citizen sees how he is effected," Terrazas said. "Serving on the council I am able to see the reasoning of why the certain things don't get done right away. And it is not because the city employees don't want to do it but because guidelines must be followed. Because employees at the city do a good job."

"I would like to thank everyone for their support, opinions and friendships," Terrazas concluded.

With April 24, being his last regularly scheduled council meeting, Terrazas hopes to be able to sleep in later, play golf and coach Little League.

During his tenure he has served with current Mayor Dot Stafford for two years and one year with ex-Mayor Ray Ortega.

RCDC employees holding benefit luncheon

PECOS, Tues., March 25, 2003 -- The Reeves County Detention Center Employees Club will be having a hamburger sale from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Thursday in front of the RCDC administration building.

Proceeds from the luncheon will benefit the scholarship fund, which offers a scholarship each year to a deserving graduate of Pecos High School.

If the weather is too windy, the luncheon will be canceled.

Lunch will be $3.50 and include hamburger, chips and a drink.

Ortega enjoys longtime spot on Pecos police force

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., March 25, 2003 -- A member of the Pecos Police Department for 16 years now, and a long time resident of Pecos Sgt. Cosme Ortega has seen a lot of people come and go and has worked under three chiefs while working for the police department.

"I have seen a lot of officers come and go," Ortega said. "We have even trained some of them here."

Ortega currently works with Ramon Ornelas and Investigator Olga Lopez, who have also been at the police department since he began.

Ortega began working as a dispatcher for Chief of Police Ed Krevit.

When Krevit left for Midland, Troy Moore was named police chief and he commissioned Ortega as an officer in December of 1987.

Ortega is currently working under Chief of Police Clay McKinney.

As the supervisor for his shift, Ortega assists the Chief or Lt. Juan Vasquez and makes sure that all paper work is turned in from his patrol officers.

Officers working under Ortega are Oscar Machuca and Helen Vernon.

The youngest of three children and the only Police Officer in his family, Ortega said that he remembers enjoying the idea of being a police officer.

"Since I was a little boy I have always enjoyed it," Ortega said, and recalled the day their home was broken into and the officer who took the report.

"The officer was Robert Diaz," Ortega said. "I was influenced by the him as he took the report of the burglary."

Diaz is currently working for the Ector County Sheriff's Department, and was shot and wounded in the line of duty in Odessa last April.

Along with working for the Police Department, Ortega has been a member of the Pecos Police Department/Reeves County Sheriff Department's SWAT Team for the past 10 years.

After working for the Police Department for 16 years, Ortega said that the best part of his job is knowing that he is helping others and making a difference in his community.

"It makes me feel good helping his friends and his hometown people when they are in serious need of help," Ortega said. "It feels good when they tell you 'thank you,' and when they see you at Wal-Mart or any other store in town and they come up to shake your hand. It makes you feel very appreciated."

"I like my job," Ortega said. "It is one of the few jobs I have had that I enjoy coming to."

With the good comes the bad and Ortega said that for him the worst part of his job was seeing a fellow officer die in the line of duty last May, when drug task officer Jaime Rodriguez was shot and killed during a drug interdiction on a Greyhound bus stopped in Pecos.

"The worst part was the Jaime incident," Ortega said. "You think that something like that could never happen here till it does."

The other thing that Ortega claims to be the worst part of his job is seeing little children suffer.

"I also do not like to see little kids suffering because of parents lack of supervision or drug addiction," Ortega said.

Like any police officer Ortega would like to let local residents know that he along with his co-workers are here to help them.

"I want everyone to know that we are here to help them," Ortega said. "Everyone at the Police Department is willing to go beyond their call of duty to do what ever they can."

Working as a Police Officer, Ortega said that he has learned to be honest with himself and others.

"I believe it is important to respect others," Ortega said. "It helps me get along with everyone."

With that said Ortega added that he would like to tell the young people of Pecos to respect their parents and always look ahead and go for the best.

"The most important thing that I have learned as a police officer is that you must learn how to know and understand yourself before you can learn and understand others" Ortega said.

Ortega is certified as an Intoxilyzer operator, who can administer Breathalyzer tests and holds the Advanced Peace Officer Certificate.

He was also named the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year in 2001 by the Pecos Chamber of Commerce.

Ortega appeared on KIUN Radio's Pecos Talking this morning so that the citizens of Pecos could become familiar with him.

The program 'Behind the Badge,' will feature a Pecos Police Officer the last Tuesday of every month, which will then be followed by an article on the officer in the Pecos Enterprise that same day.

List of captured U.S. soldiers

By The Associated Press
According to family members, here's a list of members of the 507th Maintenance Company stationed at Fort Bliss who are missing or captured after Iraqi forces ambushed an Army supply convoy around An Nasiriyah.

-Supply Specialist Edgar Hernandez, 21, of Mission, Texas - His mother, 53-year-old Maria De La Luz Hernandez, held her son's picture in front of her as she talked to television reporters in Mission. "It is very hard," she said in Spanish. "He is strong, because he has a lot of faith."

-Spc. Joseph Hudson, 23, of Alamogordo, N.M. - Hudson's mother said she prays that fellow soldiers "will get him out of there." Anecita Hudson saw her son interviewed on Iraqi television in a broadcast carried on a Filipino TV station she subscribes to.

-Pfc. Patrick Miller, 23, of Park City, Kan. - Miller graduated from high school in 1998 in Valley Center, Kan., a small town outside Wichita. The father of two children was a welder before joining the military last summer to help pay student loans, said his half brother, Thomas Hershberger. Video footage on Iraqi TV showed Miller answering questions in a shaky voice, his eyes darting between an interviewer and another person who couldn't be seen on camera.

-Spc. Shoshana Johnson, 30, of Fort Bliss - Her father, Claude Johnson, said he learned of his daughter's capture Sunday morning while watching the Spanish-language network Telemundo. "I was searching for cartoons to watch with my grandchild (Shoshana's 2-year-old daughter Janelle)," Claude Johnson, of El Paso, said.

-Sgt. James Riley, 31, from Pennsauken, N.J. - His parents and sister said he is a military lifer who wanted to serve even when he was a young boy growing up in New Zealand. He lived there until the family moved to Pennsauken when he was 10. He retains dual citizenship.

-Pvt. Brandon Sloan, 19, of Bedford Heights, Ohio - He left high school last fall to get computer training in the Army, his father said. The Rev. Tandy Sloan described his son as God-fearing and easygoing. "He smiles easily. He's got a pleasant demeanor, and he is very loyal to his friends."

-Pfc. Jessica Lynch, 19, of Palestine, W.Va. - Lynch dreamed of being an elementary teacher someday and saw the military as her way to get an education. "That smile is all you ever see," said Glenda Nelson, a close family friend from Marmet, W. Va. "No matter what, she always had a smile on her face and loved kids to death."

-Pfc. Lori Piestewa, 22, of Tuba City, Ariz - Her older brother, Wayland Piestewa of Tuba City, said his sister, a graduate of Tuba City High School, joined the military about two years ago and was deployed about four weeks ago. She's married and has a 4-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter, he said.

-Spc. James Kiehl, 22, of Comfort, Texas - Kiehl is a computer repair technician with the Army's 507th Maintenance Company. He is married and his wife, Jill, is expecting to give birth to their first baby, Nathaniel Ethan, the last week of April.

Pecos-area military personnel

PECOS, Tues., March 25, 2003 -- Listed below are the names of service men and women from our community who are serving in our nation's Armed Forces. We ask that you keep our brave military personnel in your thoughts and prayers.

Everyone is asked to wear yellow ribbons and fly their American flags to show their support for our troops. Pray for their speedy and safe return home.

Individuals from Pecos and neighboring communities include:

Air Force Staff Sergeant Robert Chabarria, Jr., stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Sgt. Edward Lujan, serving in Kuwait.

Sgt. Matthew Gonzales, serving in Kuwait.

Martin Guzman, stationed in Fort Hood, on "standby."

Samuel M. Rodriguez, U.S. Army in Germany, on "standby."

Spec. Adrian Herrera, U.S. Army, stationed in Fort Hood, on "standby."

Spec. Filimon Herrera, U.S. Army, stationed in El Paso, Fort Bliss.

Sgt. Ruben Contreras, Jr., U.S. Army, serving in Kuwait.

Ricardo Garcia, U.S. Marines, serving in Kuwait.

Sgt. Wade Dodson, 82nd Airborn of Toyah, (Pecos graduate), serving in Kuwait.

Justin Ornelas, U.S. Navy, stationed in San Diego, Calif.

Benjamin Maldonado, Jr., U.S. Army, stationed in Georgia, on "standby."

LCPL Steven Marruffo, serving in Kuwait.

SPC Jesus "Chuy" Marruffo, stationed in Fort Hood, on "standby."

First Lieutenant Ismael Natividad, stationed in Fort Hood, on "standby."

PFC Jaime Natividad, stationed in Fort Hood, on "standby."

Roger Salinas, U.S. Airforce, serving in Kuwait.

Rene Salinas, U.S. Army, deployed to the Middle East.

Alexa Arredondo, Air Force, stationed in Albuquerque, N.M.

Lee D. Lyles, Senior Airman, Air Force, stationed in San Antonio, on "standby."

Joseph Torres, stationed in Fort Hood, Army, to be deployed to Turkey this week.

Patsy Abila Salinas, U.S. Army, stationed in Fort Bliss.

Benito Juarez, Marines, came from training is in Pecos, will be stationed in San Diego.

Hector Prieto Rubio, U.S. Army.

Mark Prieto Corrales, U.S. Army.

Robert Prieto Natividad, U.S. Army, stationed in the Persian Gulf.

From Balmorhea:

Melchor Avalos, Marines, serving in Iraq.

Arturo Miranda, Marines, serving on the front line.

Chris Natividad, Marines, serving on the front line.

Logan Humphries, Air Force, deployed to the Middle East.

Amparo Balderas, U.S. Navy, stationed in Japan.

Maria Balderas, U.S. Navy, stationed in San Diego, Calif.

Efren Rodriguez, U.S. Army.

Josh Pogue, U.S. Army.

Airman Rebecca Natividad with the U.S. Air Force, serving in Saudi Arabia.

Erlinda Salgado-Ramirez serving with the U.S. Army in South Korea.

First Lt. David V. Carrasco serving with the U.S. Army in Kuwait.

Stephanie and Robert Babcock who are with the 74th Engineering Company at Fort Hood, to be deployed to the Persian Gulf this week.

Rojelio Marta with the U.S. Army serving in the Persian Gulf.

Fernando Marta with the U.S. Army serving in the Persian Gulf.

Martin Arreguy (former resident and Pecos High School graduate) now serving with the U.S. Marine Corps in the Persian Gulf.

Mark Abila with the U.S. Marine Corps. serving in Iraq.

Ernest Matta Jr. serving with the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf.

Johnny Villareal Matta serving with the U.S. Army, 32nd Division, in the Persian Gulf.

Bobby Mitchell Johnson, with the U.S. Army, stationed at Fort Hood, Texas.

Sgt. Robert Overcash, the U.S. Marine Corps.

Roger Cortez, U.S. Army.

Nathan Lujan, U.S. Air Force.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Corrales with the U.S. Air Force, serving in Saudi Arabia.

Crystal Gayle Garcia, with the U.S. Air Force, stationed in Clovis, N.M.

Michael J. Carrasco, with the U.S. Army, stationed in South Korea.

T.J. Huffman, with the U.S. Marine Corps, serving in Iraq.

Jeremy "Jerry" Lara with the U.S. Marine Corps, stationed in San Antonio, on "stand-by."

David Carrasco, with the U.S. Army, stationed in Virginia.

Sr. Airman Clint Hounshel with the U.S. Air Force stationed in San Antonio.

Lance Corporal Eric Aguilar serving with the U.S. Marine Corps.

If you would like to add a name to our list, call 445-5475 or come by the office located at 324 S. Cedar.


PECOS, Tues., March 25, 2003 -- High Monday 85. Low this morning 52. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows near 40. Northeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Wednesday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the upper 70s. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 40s. Thursday: Windy. Partly cloudy in the morning then clearing. Highs in the upper 80s. Friday: Partly cloudy. Slight chance of thunderstorms. Lows in the mid 40s. Highs in the lower 60s.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.

324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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