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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Officers mark anniversary of Rodriguez' death

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., May 15, 2003 -- A fallen Pecos officer is still recalled with fondness and admiration by his fellow officers and peers a year after his death following a shootout on a Greyhound bus in downtown Pecos.

"We think about him everyday," said Trans Pecos Drug Task Force Commander Gary Richards of Task Force Sergeant Jaime Rodriguez, who was shot and killed during a bus interdiction one year ago on Friday.

Rodriguez was among a number of officers who were in town for a meeting, which had been delayed after area law enforcement officers were called to deal with a standoff the morning of May 16, 2002, at Motel 6 in Pecos, involving two suspects in a double-murder out of Georgia. The two suspects eventually surrendered, and officers were returning to the Task Force office, located a half block from the Greyhound Bus Station in Pecos, when the shooting incident occurred.

"They had gone over to the bus station to do a routine bus interdiction," said Richards. "The officers went aboard the bus and Jaime went towards the back of the bus to talk to the passengers."

Richards said that Rodriguez was questioning one of the passengers and asked him to stand up. "When the guy stood up he pulled out a gun and shot Jaime in the chest," said Richards. "Officer Mike Henderson was busy talking to the other passengers, when he saw what had happened and shot the suspect."

Richard Colunga II, a 19-year-old Austin resident, was later identified as the man who pulled out a pistol and fired at Rodriguez. Colunga was shot and killed when Henderson returned fire, while a passenger on the bus, identified as 19-year-old Heather Lee of South Carolina, was also shot in the back during the gun battle.

Rodriguez was taken to Reeves County Hospital and later flown to Covenant Medical Center in Lubbock where he later died. Lee was also taken to Lubbock, where she underwent treatment and was later released after recovering from her wounds.

"Everyday that we come to work we think about Jaime," said Richards. "He was a hard-working, good law enforcement officer and he died doing what he loved best, being an officer," he said.

A scholarship has been set up in Rodriguez' name and his daughter, Jessica was the first recipient last year.

This year's scholarship will be awarded during a ceremony scheduled for 3 p.m., Friday, in the second-floor courtroom of the Reeves County Courthouse.

Rodriguez was also among 17 law enforcement officers being honored this week in Washington, in a ceremony attended by more than 15,000 people.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) honored 14 Texas law enforcement officers, and 150 overall across the United States, who died in the line of duty in 2002 at the 15th National Candlelight Vigil on Tuesday. Held at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., the Candlelight Vigil is an opportunity to publicly honor all of the more than 16,000 law enforcement officers in the United States who have given their lives in the line of duty since 1792.

Rodriguez was also honored May 5, "The Ninth Biennial Texas Peace Officers' Memorial" at the Texas State Capitol, Austin.

Salcido gets Lions Club honor with essay

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., May 15, 2003 -- One of Pecos High School's seniors will represent Pecos and the Pecos Downtown Lions Club next week in Arlington at a state competition.

Philip Salcido competed in the Youth Outreach Contest sponsored by the Odessa Downtown Lions Club on April 24 and qualified for the state competition, set for next Saturday, May 24, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Salcido, along with Jack McKinney and Kristian Aguilar, the top three students in the senior class, were asked by the Lions to write an essay on the topics of diabetes, outstanding young contest and binge drinking.

After reading each of the students' essays, the Lions chose Salcido to represent them in the contest.

Salcido chose to compete in all three categories, in which he placed first in the binge drinking contest. Though he did not place in the other two categories, Salcido received a plate for participating.

Salcido said that he competed with four other students in the binge drinking speech, 12 in the Outstanding Young speech and 14 in the diabetes essay contest.

During Wednesday's Pecos Downtown Lions meeting, Salcido read his speech to the members in attendance.

His speech, 'How can binge drinking be controlled with high school and college students,' begins with story of a 'fine young man by the name of Tommy.'

Salcido's story describes Tommy as captain of his football team, president of the student council and was often recognized for his academic achievements, who one day decided to take a jog out by an old farm road near his home.

After jogging about half a mile, Tommy was hit from behind by a 'raging car' throwing him fifteen feet into the air and landing near the street. Tommy had been hit by a drunk driver no older them him, and at the age of 18-years old, Tommy became paralyzed from the neck down.

As he ended his story on Tommy, Salcido said that binge drinking is a problem that concerns many high school and college students. He went on in his essay to discuss the issues and talk about ways on how to help educate students on the dangers of binge drinking.

"It is even said that binge drinking among high school and college students is uncontrollable," Salcido read to the Lions from his essay." "Binge drinking causes several problems from the students and the people around them."

Salcido wrote that one problem among students in high school and college is that they spend much of their spare time indulging in binge drinking.

"Such behavior is a hazard to their health and to their prosperity in life," he said.

Salcido went on to say that binge drinking can be defined for men as having five or more drinks in a row in two weeks. For women it is four or more drinks in a row in two weeks.

"These drinks consist of a 12-ounce can or bottle of beer, 12-ounce can or bottle of wine cooler, a four-ounce glass of wine, or a shot of liquor, either straight or in a mixed drink," Salcido stated in his essay.

A recent survey determined that binge drinking is the most severe drug problem on college campuses, Salcido says in his essay.

"Overall, 44 percent of college students were determined to be binge drinkers," Salcido said. "Among the gentlemen, 50 percent were binge drinkers. Among you ladies, 39 percent were binge drinkers."

His essay also stated that for those students covered in the study, intoxication was often the main priority.

"Of all frequent binge drinkers, 73 percent of the men and 68 percent of the women concluded that drinking to get drunk was an important reason for drinking," Salcido said. "The coverage of binge drinking varied widely among the 140 schools in the study."

In his essay, Salcido stated, "The solution is to make the consequences of binge drinking more aware to both high school and college students."

"A campaign against binge drinking should be brought into effect at all high school, colleges and universities," he said. The campaign should be advertised using alcohol awareness posters, banners and flyers, Salcido said.

Salcido ended his essay by saying that it is time the public make a stand to save America's youth from the fatal consequences of binge drinking.

"Remember Tommy and the many other countless people that were victims of binge drinking,' Salcido ended in saying.

Though he does not have any close friends who binge drink, Salcido said that he does know a lot of students in high school who do binge drink.

His mother, Lisa, said that they were surprised to find out that he had won in the binge drinking essay contest.

"We thought he would place in the diabetic essay contest," she said.

Both Salcido and his mom said that the diabetic essay was more personal.

Salcido said that he had an aunt who had died last year from complications resulting from diabetes.

"I have been around diabetics," Salcido said.

As he prepares to compete at the state level next weekend, Salcido hopes to make the Lions proud.

"I hope to make you all proud," Salcido told the group of Lions.

"We are honored that he accepted to represent us," said Downtown Lions President Michael Benavides.

Currently second in his class, Salcido will graduate in May and has been accepted to St. Mary's University in San Antonio, where he will major in biology.

Relay for Life chairwoman hopes event raises $25,000

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., May 15, 2003 -- Cancer in the family led this year's Relay for Life chairwoman to become involved several years ago in the annual event that is designed to help raise funds to find a cure for the disease.

"I became involved in Relay for Life because my grandmother was a 31-year survivor of cancer," said Terri Spence, the local chairwoman for this weekend's event at Eagle Stadium.

Spence said that she became hooked on participating in the event and that this will be her fifth year to help with the local Relay for Life activities.

This year's events are set to begin with the opening ceremonies at 7 p.m. Friday at the Pecos High School football field, followed by the survivor lap, at 7:15 p.m.

"All the cancer survivors walk that lap and will be wearing a different colored T-shirt than everyone else," said Spence.

The luminary ceremony will be held at 9:30 p.m. "Luminaries will be set up around the field and the names of those who lost their battle to cancer will be read out," said Spence.

A special song will follow and guest speaker Desirae Hernandez, a junior at Pecos High School and a cancer survivor, will talk to the crowd.

Twelve teams representing various local businesses and organizations will be participating this year including: the Catholic Daughters; Golden Girls; Winkles Trucks; First United Methodist Church; North Temple Baptist Church; American Home Health and Hospice; Security State Bank; Reeves County Courthouse; West Texas National Bank; Pecos Nursing Home; a group comprised of members of the Pecos Police Department, Reeves County Sheriff's Office and the Citizen's Academy and Austin Elementary School.

"Our goal this year has been set at $25,000," said Spence. "Last year we raised about $23,000 and our goal was $19,000."

Spence said that when all the expenses were paid out of the $23,000 last year, the group still had about $22,000 left to send to the American Cancer Society.

"This is for a very worthy cause, this money goes towards research so that hopefully someday they can find a cure," said Spence.

Spence said that there were six underwriter's who donated at least $250 to help with all the expenses: Security State Bank, Pecos Nursing Home, Dr. Orville Cerna, American Home Health and Hospice, West Texas National Bank and the Marshall Family.

"All these individuals donated money to help put on our relay," said Spence.

Other donations can range anywhere from $25 to $150.

"We'd like to thank Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD for allowing us to use the football field once again," said Spence. "This is our fourth year to hold the event at the football field, prior to that it had been at the rodeo grounds."

"We're very excited and honored that they let us use their facility," she added.

Providing music for the event this year are LGL D.J.'s with Cody West and Allan Morton.

The Lion's Club will be cooking hamburgers for a donation in the evening and proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society. "They will also be cooking pancakes Saturday morning," said Spence.

Both Pizza Hut and Pizza Pro are donating pizzas for the midnight madness.

Peaceful Garden Funeral Home is providing the hospitality tent and the Women's Division of the Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce will be serving healthy snacks for the survivors after they do their lap.

Little Miss Cantaloupe contestants and local Girl Scouts will be helping by filling up the luminary bags and placing them around the track.

"We'll also be spelling the word 'hope' in the stands with the luminaries," said Spence.

Cancer survivors will have the opportunity to have their hands imprinted on a special banner at the relay.

"We would like to encourage the community to come out and support the relay, especially during the survivor lap and luminary ceremony," said Spence. "We'd like for everyone to come out, at least for a few minutes."

She said that donations are still being accepted and they can contact her at 447-4738.

Games are planned throughout the night by committee members, who have graciously volunteered their time for this worthy cause. Committee members include: Teresa Winkles, Karen Hornberger, Rosemary Varela, Cindy Velez, Reita Prewit, Virginia Gibson, Betty Smith, Raymond Hornberger and Jay Spence.

"Teresa will chair it next year for two years, 2004 and 2005," said Spence. "I've done it for two years and I've really enjoyed it."

Spence said that each year the group has increased what they bring in.

"The Pecos community really comes together and supports this organization," said Spence. "That shows a lot of pride in Pecos. Maybe someday we can say that we helped find the cure for cancer."

Enchilada plate benefit sale set

PECOS, Thurs., May 15, 2003 -- An Enchilada Plate Sale will be held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., Friday at Santa Rosa Hall.

Plates will be $4 and consist of red enchiladas, rice, beans, salad and tea.

Proceeds will go towards medical expenses for Neddie Molinar.

To order call 445-2302 on day of event.

WTNB hosting bake sale

PECOS, Thurs., May 15, 2003 -- A bake sale will be held from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., Friday at West Texas National Bank.

Benefits will go towards the 2003 Senior Trip Cruise.


PECOS, Thurs., May 15, 2003 -- High Wednesday 105. Low this morning 61. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 60s. West winds 15 to 25 mph this evening decreasing to 10 to 20 mph late. Friday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the upper 90s. Northwest winds 10 to 20 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy. Lows near 60. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 90s. Sunday: Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 60s. Highs in the upper 90s.


Ruth Robbins

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Pecos Enterprise
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