Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Thursday, April 10, 2003
Return of Mata's body delayed, 2nd slain soldier had Pecos ties
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Thurs., April 10, 2003 -- The return of the body of U.S. Army
Chief Warrant Officer Johnny V. Mata, which had been scheduled for this
afternoon, will not take place until sometime early Friday morning, family
members said today.
Meanwhile, funeral services have been set on Saturday for another soldier
killed along with Mata in the war in Iraq who had family ties to the Pecos
Mata, 35, was a member of the 507th Maintenance Company stationed at
Fort Bliss in El Paso. He was killed after his convoy was ambushed in Nasiriya
in southern Iraq on March 23. Mata was listed as missing in action by the
U.S. Department of Defense on March 26, and the DoD confirmed his death,
along with those of seven other soldiers from the 507th Maintenance Company,
Mata's cousin Sam Contreras, said on Tuesday that his body had been flown
to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, and was expected to be returned to
Pecos today. However, delays in transit will mean Mata will not arrive at
Biggs Army Airfield at Fort Bliss until late tonight, from where it will
be driven to Pecos.
Funeral services for Mata have been scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday
at Santa Rosa Catholic Church in Pecos, with burial to follow at Mt. Evergreen
During a meeting on Tuesday at the Pecos Community Center to plan a memorial
event for Mata and to honor other military personnel from Pecos serving
in the war in Iraq, it was decided to hold a vigil on Friday at 10 p.m. at
Eagle Stadium. The vigil will go on as scheduled, and will begin after completion
of the Pecos-Kermit baseball game at neighboring Eagle Field.
Pecos High School baseball coach Elias Payan was a classmate and close
friend on Mata. He spoke along with Contreras at Tuesday's meeting at the
Contreras also informed the crowd that an e-mail account, a P.O. Box and
an account at Security State Bank had been set up for Mata.
Along with Mata, a second member of the 507th Maintenance Company who
was killed following the March 23 firefight also had family members living
Pvt. Ruben Estrella-Soto, 18, of El Paso, was the son of Ruben Estrella,
who had lived in Pecos for 10 years. He and his wife, Nena Soto Estrella,
now live in El Paso, and their son graduated from El Paso Mountain View
Estrella-Soto was born April 22, 1984 and had been stationed at Ft. Bliss
in El Paso and had been in the United States Army for nine months following
his graduation from Mountain View HS.
Survivors include two sisters, Mirna Estrella of Monahans, Cindy and Edgar
Estrella of El Paso; his aunts and uncles, Israel and Hortencia Marruffo
of Pecos, Raul and Bertha Perez, former Pecos residents who now reside in
El Paso and Carmen and Felipe Loera of Juarez, Mexico.
Funeral Services are planned for Saturday in El Paso. He was a Catholic.
School board to again weigh DAEP move to new campus
PECOS, Thurs., April 10, 2003 -- Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board members
will once again discuss the issue of moving DAEP students to another campus
and consider several options, when they meet for their regular meeting this
The group will meet at 6 p.m., at the Technology Center, 1301 S. Eddy
St., and the public is invited to attend the open session portion of the
School board members will discuss and consider several options under
old business. The board will discuss and take possible action on leaving
DAEP (disciplinary alternative education program) students at Lamar and
move AEP students to Pecos High School and closing Zavala; leaving DAEP/AEP
at Lamar and closing Zavala; moving DAEP/AEP students to Zavala and closing
Lamar and fencing portions of Zavala or moving DAEP/AEP students to Pecos
High School and closing Lamar and Zavala.
Under the audience portion board members will recognize Lamar Elementary
sixth grade state science fair qualifiers and Crockett Middle School math
and science state qualifiers.
The board will also hear a letter from National Center for Educational
Accountability; a letter from 143rd Judicial District Judge, Bob Parks and
a letter from TEA: compliance monitoring review - child nutrition programs.
Under new business, the board will get an update on Summary of Finance
for 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 and consider and possible action on a stipend
for teachers with Master's Degrees. They will also see competitive sealed
proposals for Austin Elementary HVAC renovations and Pecos High School Building
A mold remediation project; hear a request by Pecos Eagle Band for spring
competition and guidelines; request by Women's Division of the Chamber of
Commerce rehearsals and pageant and waive fees and a request by Roy Prewit,
director of the Windmill Square Playhouse for use of the Bessie Haynes Elementary
cafetorium for their melodrama rehearsals and performance and waive fees.
Board members will discuss and take possible action on request by Town
of Pecos City for use of the Pecos High School auditorium for the Pecos City
Youth Advisory Committee citywide talent show and waive fees; resolution
for extending depository contract funds; resolution for Media Honor Roll
nominee(s); second reading and action on TASB Policy Update 69; sale of
foreclosed properties; 2002-2003 budget amendments and summer school.
The group will meet in closed session as authorized by the Texas Open
Meetings Act, Texas Government Code, Section 551.101 et.seq., Section 551.074:
(personnel) and Section 551.071: private consultation with the board's attorney
(1) consultation with attorney regarding personnel related issues (2) personnel:
to deliberate the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties,
discipline or dismissal of a public officer or employee.
The group will return to open session and take action, if any, on items
discussed in closed session, including consideration of non-renewal of term
Board members will consider and take possible action on professional
personnel appointments, reassignments, change of contract, retirements,
Other agenda items include: set date for canvass of election returns for
the May 3, school trustee election; tax report; depository securities report;
cafeteria and commodities received; current bills and financial report;
investment transaction report; reconciled bank balance report; Reeves County
Community Recreation Department Report; date and time for next meeting;
calendar of events and request for items for next agenda.
Truckers' lives saved following I-20 crash, fire
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, Thurs., April 10, 2003 -- A truck driver from Georgia saved
the lives of two truck drivers from California this morning, after the vehicle
they were in burst into flames after crashing through a guardrail and down
an embankment at the Shaw Road exit on Interstate 20.
Smoke from the fire could be seen as far away as Barstow and Balmorhea
after the truck's cab burst into flames, setting both it and the trailer
ablaze near the southwest corner of the I-20 overpass at Shaw Road, 10 miles
west of Pecos.
David Brookins, a truck driver for National Van Lines out of Georgia,
was able to get to the cab and pull both the driver, identified as Trug
Trinh of Lockwood Calif., out of the burning cab, along with his passenger,
Sophorn Ly, also of California. Neither man was seriously injured despite
the fall off the 15-foot embankment, but Brookins said he did suffer some
minor burns to his hand while trying to open the cab door.
"The driver said he fell asleep and came off the bridge and shredded the
guardrail for about 50 yards before it went over," said Department of Public
Safety trooper Arnulfo Rivas, who investigated the accident.
Trinh's truck, containing onions, was eastbound on I-20, while Brookins
was headed west towards El Paso when the accident occurred.
"When I first looked up I could see he was pretty close to the guardrail,
then I saw sparks off the guardrail and he just went over," said Brookins,
who stopped his truck and ran down the embankment to the cab.
"When I opened the door I wasn't expecting to see anybody sitting up,
but the driver was there," he said. He pulled Trinh out of front of the
cab, while Ly was in the rear sleeper section.
"I saw the other one in the sleeper. That's when I grabbed him and got
him out of it," Brookins said. Ly was still in his pajamas when he was pulled
out of the cab.
"He needs to be commended for what he did," said Rivas, who was one of
several DPS troopers called to the scene from both Pecos and Balmorhea.
Pecos Emergency Medical Service personnel and volunteer firemen also
were called out, but by the time the first fire truck arrived, the cab of
the truck had been completely destroyed and the trailer section containing
the onions also was on fire from the roof of the vehicle. Other debris from
the truck also burned on the bridge above Shaw Road and the truck's transmission
was thrown clear of the vehicle by the force of the impact.
Neither Trinh nor Ly required medical treatment as the result of the
accident, and Brookins declined treatment for the burns to his hand.
TransPecos gets OK from council on tax abatement
By JENNIFER GALVAN
PECOS, Thurs., April 10, 2003 -- The Town of Pecos City Council unanimously
approved a tax abatement for TransPecos Foods, during their meeting this
morning in Council Chambers at City Hall.
Company president Patrick Kennedy of San Antonio was unable to attend
the meeting, but sent a letter to the council apologizing for his absence
and asked for a tax abatement of five years, or if possible longer, in order
to better help the company expand its operations.
The letter, which was read to the council by plant manager Bruce Salcido,
added that the council had provided them with five-year tax abatement back
City Manager Carlos Yerena said that the new tax abatement agreement
could not exceed 10 years.
Kennedy, who also owns Security State Bank in Pecos, acquired the plant
from McCain Foods last year, after McCain closed the facility nine months
after buying out Anchor Foods. The facility employed 700 people at the time
of the McCain purchase.
Security State Bank President Bill Oglesby told the council that TransPecos
Foods left two of Anchor's older lines in place, but that improvements have
Mayor Dot Stafford asked City Attorney Scott Johnson what he thought
about the situation.
"It your call," Johnson said. "They could use all the help they can get."
With the help of the city, Johnson said that it could become significant
in helping TransPecos Foods with its capital improvements.
"The city would benefit from having its citizens employed," Johnson said.
Salcido told the council that TransPecos is currently working two lines
and two crews.
"At first it was just 10 of us," Salcido said. "We now have 100 plus workers.
In the future we want to go back to five operating lines when business picks
Several council members stated that they agreed with Johnson and would
like to help Trans Pecos Foods by granting them up to 100 percent abatement.
Yerena said that other tax abatements they have made with other businesses
have either been for 100 percent over five years or a declining percentage
of 60 or 70.
"We want to keep you happy and keep you here," Councilwoman Angelica
The abetment contract will require that Trans Pecos Foods have 20 full
"In the old abatement we are still paying taxes more then what Anchor
was paying," Oglesby said.
Councilman Johnny Terrazas made the motion to approve five-year tax abatement
with about 100 percent abatement on all new capital improvement. Valenzuela
seconded the motion.
Acceleration credit exam registrations underway
p>PECOS, Thurs., April 10, 2003 -- Credit for acceleration for grades
1-5 and Credit for Examination for grades 6-8 are being held at the different
Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD campuses, with registration scheduled now through
Students in grades 1-5 need to meet some requirements and score 90 percent
or above on a criterion referenced test for the grade level to be skipped
in each of the following areas: language arts, math, science and social
In grades 6-8 students must score 90 percent or above on a criterion
referenced exam for acceleration for the applicable course.
Registration for the exams is now taking place at the different campuses
and Tuesday is the deadline to register and students can do so at the counselors'
office at the students designated school.
Test dates are May 13-16.
PECOS, Thurs., April 10, 2003 -- High Wednesday 76. Low this morning
47. Forecast for tonight: Mostly cloudy. Lows near 50. South winds 10 to
20 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 80s. Southeast winds 10
to 20 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy. Lows near 50. Saturday: Partly cloudy.
Highs in the upper 80s. Sunday: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 50s. Highs
in the upper 80s.
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
Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.
Copyright 2003 by Pecos Enterprise