Colored Rock Map of Texas at I-20 in Pecos, Click for Travel Guide

Pecos Enterprise

Site Map
Pecos Gab

Pecos Country History
Archive 62
Archive 74
Archive 87
1987 Tornado Photos
Rodeo Photos 88
Archive 95
Archive 96
Archive 97
News Photos 1997
Rodeo Photos 97
Archive 98
News Photos 1998
Rodeo Photos 98
Parade Photos 98
Archive 99
Photos 99
Archive 2000
Archive 2001
Archive 2002
Photos 2000
Photos 2001
Photos 2002

Archive 2003

Area Newspapers
Economic Development


Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, April 11, 2003

Mata's body returns home, services tonight, Saturday

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., April 11, 2003 -- Family, friends and local residents lined the streets of Pecos early this morning as the body of U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Johnny V. Mata, was being escorted into town by local law enforcement agencies.

Pecos Police Department officers, Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire and Reeves County Sheriff's Deputies closed all the Cedar Street intersections at about 3:30 a.m., as the hearse carrying Mata's body was being escorted by other Pecos Police Officers, Reeves County Sheriff's Deputies, Reeves County Sheriff, Trans Pecos Task Force, District Attorney's Office and the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service from Interstate 20 to Peaceful Garden Funeral Home.

Mata's family was in El Paso Thursday when his body was returned to Texas. According to today's El Paso Times, when the casket was unloaded from a Continental Airlines flight just after 10 p.m. Thursday, a cargo facility was turned into a makeshift chapel.

Chaplain Philip Briganti, a Catholic pastor at Fort Bliss, said a prayer over the casket and sprinkled it with holy water before the casket was lifted into a hearse for the 210-mile trip to Pecos.

As Mata's body was driven down Cedar, those in attendance followed in behind the convoy, which ended at the funeral home at Fourth and Cypress streets. The crowd then stood vigil for some time before family member Freddy Contreras came out to thank everyone for their support and asked that the family have some time to be alone with Mata.

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, last Friday.

Sam Contreras, a cousin of Mata's who has served as family spokesperson since Mata was confirmed missing in action said on Tuesday that an e-mail account, a Post Office Box and an account at Security State Bank had been set up for Mata's family.

A memorial honoring Mata and other military personnel from Pecos serving in the war in Iraq, will hold a vigil tonight at 10:30 p.m. at Eagle Stadium. The vigil will begin after completion of the Pecos-Kermit baseball game at neighboring Eagle Field.

The game will begin at 7 p.m. and should conclude by 9:30 p.m. Meanwhile,

A rosary for Mata will be held at 7:30 p.m., today at Peaceful Garden Funeral Home Chapel.

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 Cemetery.

Nine members of the 507th Maintenance Company have been confirmed killed following the March 23 firefight, which also killed nine Marines who tries to rescue the company's member after their convoy took a wrong turn in the desert near Nasiriya in southern Iraq.

Pictures of five other members of the 507th who were captured by Iraqi troops were aired on television on March 23, but their whereabouts remain unknown.

Mata's family was in El Paso Thursday when his body was returned to Texas. According to today's El Paso Times, when the casket was unloaded from a Continental Airlines flight just after 10 p.m. Thursday, a cargo facility was turned into a makeshift chapel.

It was there that Chaplain Philip Briganti, a Catholic pastor at Fort Bliss, said a prayer over the casket and sprinkled it with holy water.

The casket, surrounded by family and friends, was then lifted into a hearse. Four cars from the Reeves County Sheriff's Department led a caravan out to Interstate 10 for Villareal Mata's final journey 200 miles to his hometown of Pecos.

Meanwhile, another family with ties to Pecos whose son died in the March 23 battle in Iraq was left seeking answers to why his body did not return home on Thursday.

U.S. Army Pvt. Ruben Estrella-Soto, was also to have arrived in El Paso Thursday, the Times reported, but the arrival has been delayed and his family is angry at the lack of information coming from the military.

These are two very different scenarios in what has been a waiting period for both families.

"I've been very patient, but this is it. It's not a game," Ruben Estrella Sr. said. Estrella lived in Pecos for 10 years before moving to El Paso, and his son graduated from Mountain View High School there before entering the U.S. Army.

A service for members of the 507th is scheduled for today at Fort Bliss.

Council again reviews skateboard park sites

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., April 11, 2003 -- Town of Pecos City Council members again discussed a site for the proposed skateboarding park during their regular meeting on Monday at City Hall.

Teens and parents have met with the council in recent months asking them to create a park, due to the lack of skateboarding facilities in Pecos. The two possible sites, which were discussed at the last two council meetings, were out at Maxey Park or an area behind the Girl Scout Hut.

Pecos Police Community Officer Mike Balog stood before the council members and thanked them for all of their support with the skateboard park.

Balog told the council that he and the skateboards had met last week and discussed the layout of the park.

"It is going extremely well," Balog said. "We have met the challenges."

He told the council that he had met with Jenny Abbott on behalf of the Girl Scouts and answered her questions and at the same time assuring them that they would share the area with the girl scouts.

"They had a few concerns but we relieved those concerns," Balog said.

The area, which is being looked at is the area located on the northwest corner of Seventh and Park streets, he said.

Balog explained to the council the reason for picking that area was because of its central location and that it was a safe area for the children to skateboard. He also stated that the skateboarders were afraid their park would be vandalized much easier out at Maxey Park, which has only a few homes nearby.

"It is a good location," Balog said. "I would also like to thank Mr. Madrid. He has done an excellent job."

Edgardo Madrid, an engineer for Frank X. Spencer and Associates said that they are currently doing a survey among the neighborhood and that in doing a survey of the area they must relocate three small trees and possibly a water system.

The area will then be used to create a concrete slab, which will not be movable, Madrid said.

"We will create the slab and the skateboarders will hold fundraisers to help them in buying one ramp at a time," Madrid said. "Those ramps would then be made out of the right material."

Until the ramps are purchased, he said that the skateboarders would be willing to bring their own ramps from home.

Madrid also informed the council that the contractor Jeff Lindsay could handle the foundation and had the steel to form the mass but would need to find out if some one would be willing to donate the concrete.

"We can build small squares as the concrete is donated or if we receive one large donation be can build one big slab," Madrid said.

However, area resident Stella Ornelas stated that she opposed the idea of the park being behind the Girl Scout Hut.

Ornelas stated that she was raising three children and did not expect to take care of any more kids.

She said that they had a problem with the cars parked at the car wash at Seventh and Eddy streets, and that the police department had helped them control that problem.

"It has been very quiet," Ornelas said.

She added that she had an 18-year old son whom she did not allow do go out after 10 p.m. and did not believe that the police department could not guarantee her that there would not be any boys out skating after that time.

Balog assured her that there was a curfew violation law and that it would be enforced.

"I know that some of them look rough," Balog said. "We did too in the '60s and '70s. I wish you could just meet them. These boys are so enthused about this having this park."

The neighborhood survey will be completed and a survey will be done to include the area in Maxey Park for possible sites of a skateboard.

During executive session council members discussed and considered the duties of Fire Chief Roy Pena and Municipal Judge Amonario Ramon.

In open session Town of Pecos City Mayor Dot Stafford said no action will be taken on Pena and added that Ramon would receive a 10 percent increase to his current salary of $9,600.

Pro Tem Gerald Tellez made the motion with Councilman Johnny Terrazas seconding it.

Approval of the minutes for the regular council meeting of March 27 was made with Councilman Michael Benavides making the motion and Tellez seconding it.

The accounts payable of $1,448,861.87 was approved with Councilman Frank Sanchez making the motion and Terrazas seconding it.

Finance Director Sam Contreras informed the council that a little over $1 million was given to BRB Construction.

Utilities Director Octavio Garcia informed the council that the landfill was about finished, they were just waiting on a final inspection.

"Our first priority is to take care of the burned down homes," Stafford said.

The council moved on to accept the juvenile monthly report with Sanchez making the motion and Terrazas seconding it.

The council also approved the bid of $127,238 by San Antonio Ambulance Med Tech for the purchase of an ambulance along with a resolution for its services.

The bid was accepted with Valenzuela making the motion and Benavides seconding it.

The resolution was accepted with Sanchez making the motion and Tellez seconding it.

School board to maintain DAEP at Lamar

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., April 11, 2003 -- Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board members decided to completely close one campus for classes but leave another as is, was made during their regular monthly meeting on Thursday.

After a long discussion, the board opted to close the Zavala Elementary campus and leave the alternate education (AEP) and disciplinary alternate education programs (DAEP) at Lamar Elementary, on the north side of town. However, board members were told the current set-up could put the district out of compliance with new government rules.

Options discussed included:

* Leaving DAEP students at Lamar and moving AEP students to Pecos High School and closing Zavala;

* Leaving both 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 both Lamar and Zavala.

"The first option will put the district back in compliance with TEA (Texas Education Agency)," said Superintendent Don Love.

Love said that they didn't know that they were out of compliance in having the DAEP/AEP at the Lamar site. "Up until a month ago, we didn't know we were out of compliance," said Love. "We either have to split them or have all the teacher's certified."

"How many years have we been out of compliance?" asked board member David Flores.

Love said that they didn't know they were out of compliance until a month ago and that TEA had not officially notified them that they were. "Really we're not out of compliance yet, because TEA hasn't told us anything yet," he said.

Love said that he had spoken to them and let them know about the situation.

"We also don't have a certified administrator, Mr. Rodriguez (Pecos High School principal Danny Rodriguez) has been in charge of that campus," he said.

"I think it's because of the No Child Left Behind Rule that things have changed," said assistant superintendent Gome Olibas. "We found a month ago that we were out of compliance. It was by accident."

Olibas said that the program had been in different locations in past years and different administrators had been in charge.

"Jimmy Dutchover has done an excellent job over there," said Love.

"How many teachers are uncertified?" asked board member Paul Deishler.

"There's two that are uncertified at this time, but with the new law all will have to be in 2006," said Olibas.

"This is something that has evolved, it's developed," said financial administrator Cookie Canon. "It's not something that just came up."

"We're not out of compliance at this time, because TEA has not given us any ruling that we are out of compliance," said Love.

Board members voted last month to move sixth grade students out of Zavala Elementary to Bessie Haynes Elementary, which currently is home to the district's fourth and fifth grade students. At the time, the plan to move DAEP to Zavala was discussed, but concerns were raised about putting the disciplinary students at the campus, which is located next to Bessie Haynes.

Olibas told board members that at this time, there were just 19 students at Lamar that were attending school as a disciplinary measure. "The others, 42 of them, are there for academics," he said.

Board members discussed the pros and cons of having the DAEP/AEP students at the Lamar school and voted to keep the group at that site.

In other business, board members discussed a stipend for teachers with Master's degrees.

"We have 50 teachers with Master's degrees and if we give them $500, it would be $25,000, if we give them a stipend of $1,000 it would be $50,000 to our balance," said Love.

Love said that he would prefer to see what the state is going to do before any major decisions were made. "We just don't know what the state is going to do, we're in good shape right now, but that all can change," he said.

Jamie Crisp spoke on behalf of the TEA officers and told the group that there were three points to consider when making that decision.

"Teachers who live in Pecos, don't have incentives to pursue their Master's degrees; they have no incentives to stay in Pecos," said Crisp. "I know of three teachers who are considering leaving because of this," she said.

"The third point is the district won't be able to attract teachers with advanced degrees to Pecos, so if we lose master teachers at the high school they won't be able to offer concurrent classes and retain our academic recognized status," she said.

Love said that his biggest concern right now was that the school needed to pay for the employee's insurance.

"We have plenty of time to make a decision on this, because until we know what the state is going to do, we can wait on this," said Love.

Board member Paul Deishler made the motion to give those teachers with Master's degrees a stipend of $250.

"This won't break the bank?" asked board member Lila Cerna. "And also, will this make a difference those teachers," she said.

Deishler said that at least this was a starting point to show those teachers that they are appreciated.

"We can always come back and decide on more, but at least this is something," he said.

Board members Steve Valenzuela and Chip Flores abstained from voting, since both have spouses who work for the school district and hold Master's degrees.

Little League sets opening ceremony for Saturday

PECOS, Fri., April 11, 2003 -- The Pecos Little League plans a special tribute to slain U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Johnny Mata, during opening ceremonies on Saturday at Chano Prieto Field.

Opening ceremonies were postponed last week due to other activities in town, but will begin at 12 noon on Saturday, and will be followed by four games starting at 12:30 p.m. Starting times for the final three games, at 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m., may be moved back to allow people to participate in the 2:30 p.m. funeral ceremonies for Mata, who was killed in the war in Iraq.

Churches set special services for Palm Sunday

PECOS, Fri., April 11, 2003 -- Special services will be held as part of Palm Sunday this weekend at the local Catholic Churches.

On Saturday, St. Catherine in Pecos will be having mass at 5:30 p.m. while Santa Rosa in Pecos will hold a mass at 6:30 p.m.

The schedule for Sunday is as follows; Santa Rosa in Pecos will hold one service at 7:30 a.m. and the one at 8:30 a.m., Our Lady of Refuge in Barstow will hold a service at 9 a.m., St. Catherine of Pecos will hold a service at 10:30 a.m., Our Lady of Guadalupe in Saragosa will hold a service at 11:30 a.m. and a final service to be held at noon at Santa Rosa.


PECOS, Fri., April 11, 2003 -- High Thursday 86. Low this morning 55. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 50s. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the upper 80s. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Saturday night: Mostly cloudy. Lows in the mid 50s. Sunday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the upper 80s. Monday: Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 50s. Highs in the upper 80s.


Johnny Mata

Search Entire Site:

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

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