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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, May 30, 2003

Eddy St. wreck leaves one dead, three others hurt

Staff Writer
PECOS, Fri., May 30, 2003 -- One person was killed and three others were taken to Reeves County Hospital with injures after a pickup truck struck a light pole in the 900 block of South Eddy Street about 2 a.m. this morning.

Jose Felix Mesta, 20, was pronounced dead by Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Amanario Ramon about an hour after the pickup he was driving slammed into the light pole on the driver's side of the vehicle. Deputies said Mesta died minutes after the accident, and his body was taken to Pecos Funeral Home, where arrangements are pending.

Police did not have a full report on the accident this morning, but five persons were reportedly in the Chevrolet extended cab pickup, which was northbound in the 1100 block of South Eddy Street. The vehicle apparently was traveling at a high rate of speed when it failed to negotiate the curve at Eddy and Walthall Street and began to veer off to the right side of the street. The driver then overcorrected, causing the pickup to go into a skid across Eddy, before slamming into the light pole next to Fairview Cemetery.

Pecos police and Reeves County sheriff's deputies were called to the scene, along with EMT personnel and Pecos Volunteer Fire Department members, who used the jaws of life to cut away at the side doors of the pickup to get to the surviving passengers.

Three of the four passengers were taken by ambulance to Reeves County Hospital. Their names and conditions were unavailable at press time. The fifth passenger in the pickup, identified as Victor Sandoval, was able to leave the scene of the crash on his own and was located by police about two hours later. His condition also was not released.

Skateboard park meeting planned at CJC

PECOS, Fri., May 30, 2003 -- A meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the Pecos Criminal Justice Center on Raul Florez Boulevard to discuss plans for the new skateboarding park in the 700 block of South Park Street.

The meeting will be in the Pecos Police Department offices at the Criminal Justice Center. Everyone is urged to attend the meeting.

Nance says first cloud seeding effort a success

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., May 30, 2003 -- The Trans-Pecos Weather Modification Program got a chance to seed its first clouds on Memorial Day weekend, and the program's chief organizer was happy with the results in the areas of northern Reeves and Loving counties.

"We did some seeding up in the Red Bluff area, west of the lake," said Tom Nance, with the Ward County Irrigation District No. 1 in Barstow, which has been the main financial supporter of the new cloud seeding program. "We flew for about two hours seeding the clouds and we feel like we increased the amount of rainfall. From the reports I received up there, the rain gauges reported from 1 3/10 to 7/10 inches of rain."

The cloud seeding program was re-established in the Trans-Pecos region after a 25-year break, with plans to cover the areas of Reeves, Loving, Ward and Culberson counties. But the project also has its critics, and in fact, the Cessna 340 planes and Doppler weather radar equipment used in the new program were bought from the High Plains Weather Modification District, after critics of the program there were able to cut out funding for the region north of Lubbock.

Pilot Lance Beardon also came from the High Plains project to the one based at the Pecos Municipal Airport, though the start of the project had to wait until the arrival of an on-site meteorologist. Archie Ruiz, from the Texas Weather Modification Association out of San Angelo, served in that position for the initial flight last Sunday, and is currently training new meteorologist Katie Simpson to handle the work.

The meteorologist determines whether or not there are any clouds that can be seeded. "To me, yesterday (Wednesday) looked real good. We had plenty of clouds, but none of the cloud were seedable, said Nance, who added even if some potential clouds are seen on the radar, it's still up to Beardon to decide whether or not to release the silver iodide crystals into the cloud once he's in the air.

"We went up prior to that (last Sunday), but didn't seed anything," he said. "We went to Culberson County, but none of the clouds were suitable."

The cost of the program is being split between the state and local taxing entities, but the $475,000 cost of the equipment is being shared by Ward County Irrigation District No. 1 and Reeves County Irrigation District No. 2, both of which are sub-districts of the Red Bluff Water District, which determined water releases out of the lake just south of the Texas-New Mexico state line.

The ongoing drought, both in Texas and New Mexico, has kept the lake's water level below 60,000 acre feet for the past two years, and dropped it as low as 40,000 acre/feet in 2002. As a result, farmers along the Pecos River have received no water releases during irrigation season since 2001. Red Bluff board members were hoping earlier this year that enough water would reach the lake to allow at least a partial release season, and last Sunday's cloud seeding project was designed to help that along.

"We seeded west of the lake and it rained west of the lake, on the lake and east of the lake," Nance said. "The cloud was going northwest to southeast the way it turned out."

The clouds in the area Memorial Day weekend were part of a line of storms that came through West Texas. The strongest storms were reported in areas east of the Trans-Pecos, with street flooding reported in Midland-Odessa. Other rains were reported around Fort Stockton and in the Davis Mountains, but the showers for the most part stayed just to the north of Pecos and western Ward County.

"The next chance for clouds looks like it will be Sunday. That's what Archie said," Nance said on Thursday. The program itself is scheduled to run through the end of the current agriculture season in the Trans-Pecos, in the early fall.

Aguilar, Salcido named top PHS grads for 2003

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., May 30, 2003 -- Pecos High School's valedictorian and salutatorian were announced Thursday afternoon by school officials, and graduation ceremonies will be held tonight for the 150 students for the Class of 2003 at Eagle Stadium.

This year's Valedictorian is Kristian Aguilar. Aguilar had a grade point average of 4.323. She is the daughter of Gino and Annabell Aguilar.

Phillip Salcido was named this year's Salutatorian. Salcido had a grade point average of 4.303. He is the son of Ruben and Lisa Salcido.

The two will deliver their valedictory and salutatory address tonight, during the 2003 PHS commencement ceremony. The event is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m., at Eagle Stadium, though in case of bad weather, the ceremony will be moved indoors to the Pecos High School gym.

Guest speaker for this year's commencement will be State Representative Pete Gallego.

Telethon to feature Pecos family's miracle baby

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., May 30, 2003 -- A tiny Pecos resident will make his debut on television during the Annual Children's Miracle Network telethon scheduled for this weekend.

Landon Ray Matta, who was born Aug. 27, at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa weighing only one pound, four ounces, will be one of the babies featured during the fundraiser.

Debbie Matta was carrying twins and was only five months along, when she went into labor and delivered little Landon. Matta's actual due date was expected to be December 19.

The other baby, Amber-Lee, did not survive. She had suffered massive brain hemorrhage and her lungs had not developed. But little Landon proved that he was a fighter and was meant to come into this world, beyond several obstacles, including heart surgery just two weeks after he was born.

"He had a valve that wasn't closing right," said Debbie Matta. "After the surgery, a day or two later, his lungs were filling up with fluid."

She said at that time what saved him was the fact that she requested steroids. "For a week or two they gave him steroids and some medicine that helped the valve close appropriately," said Matta. "But after two weeks it opened up again and they again did surgery."

This time the surgery took only about 20 minutes and that right after that he started breathing and his lungs started working again, according to Matta.

"There were two or three occasions when the doctor would come out and tell me to prepare myself because he wasn't going to make it," she said. "But I always knew he would."

Matta said that the day she delivered her two babies a doctor specializing in high-risk pregnancies told her that her babies were not going to survive. "He said that they were both going to die during labor or shortly after, both of them," she said.

Still, Matta held on to hope that at least one of her little ones would make it into this world. And her prayers were answered, when Landon was born.

"He had problems, but I felt it in my heart that he could make it," she said.

Landon has also undergone two eye laser surgeries and came home with both an oxygen tank and heart monitor.

"He doesn't use the heart monitor anymore and the oxygen I use it occasionally to make sure his lungs are filled up enough," said Matta. "He always has breathing treatments, but other than that he is really active and alert."

Landon was welcomed home by his parents, Debbie and Steve Matta and an older brother, Allan Michael Almuina. His mother said that when she first brought Landon home she had to constantly take him to the doctor.

"We had different doctors we had to take him to, such as the eye doctor, the pediatrician, but now, we don't have to go as often," Matta said.

"We have to take him to a specialist in Dallas, we took him in April and go back in three months," she said. "He said that if he continued doing so well, maybe he wouldn't have to go back."

Matta said that when she had Landon, she didn't realize babies could be born so small. "I didn't think babies that little could survive, and he's the youngest preemie that has ever survived that was born at Medical Center Hospital, at only 22 weeks" she said.

Now, five months later, Landon weighs a whopping 10 pounds and has doubled his length to 231/2 inches long.

"The only thing we do now is he never took to the nipple so he eats formula through a feeding cup," said Matta.

"He's just a little miracle," said Matta, who added that he had made a lot of friends while hospitalized at Medical Center Hospital, including a little girlfriend. "He had all the nurses and doctors wrapped around his little finger and now it's us," she said.

There's going to be a reunion, for all the preemies that were born at Medical Center Hospital or spent time at the Neo-Natal Unit at the hospital, from 2-4 p.m., Saturday, May 31, at Music City Mall, near the Dillard's Department Store.

The Children's Miracle Network will be aired on KWES-Ch. 9 from 7 p.m. until midnight on Saturday and 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Sunday. For pledges individuals can call 1-800-MCH-KIDS.

"KICKS 99.1, a country music station out of Odessa, is also helping to raise funds for CMN," said Matta.

The radio telethon will be aired Saturday, 8-9 p.m. and Sunday, 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. "They said they would do it longer," said Matta. For pledges call 432-520-9910.

Williams retires from coaching, AD jobs

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., May 30, 2003 -- Citing health concerns and a desire to spend more time with his family, Pecos-Barstow-Toyah head football coach and athletic director Bubba Williams announced his retirement on Thursday, effective at the end of June.

The announcement comes just six months after Williams assumed the role of head football coach, stepping down from his job as head baseball coach, a position he held for 21 seasons after serving 10 seasons as an assistant coach. Williams compiled a 324-211-2 record between 1982 and 2002, but in April of last year was diagnosed with a form of muscular dystrophy.

"Due to health concerns I feel like this is best for me and my family," Williams said this morning. "Right now getting back on my feet and staying there is my main concern. I was very sick last year and I don't want to fall back into the position I was in last year."

"I had 31 years of teaching and coaching at the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD, and it's been really great for my family. I've enjoyed all 31 years," he said. "Mr. (P-B-T Superintendent Don) Love and all the other people have been very supportive of the program."

Williams had served as an assistant football coach for over 20 seasons, under Jerry Milsapps, Daylon Whitehurst and Felix Urias. He became P-B-T athletic director in 1998, when head football coach and athletic director Mike Balew was reassigned by Love.

"Coach Williams has been here 31 years, and during that time pretty much every coach who has gone through the system has worked with him," Love said. "I was an assistant right along beside him in baseball. We're going to miss him."

Williams was making regular visits to a doctor in Dallas after being diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, and had to use a motorized scooter to move around on campus much of the time. His condition has improved since then, but he said "I had been looking into it (retiring) for the last two months.

"I go to the doctor in Dallas every three months for a check-up, and this last time he kind of felt this was a good idea on my part to do it while I can and enjoy is," Williams said. "Plus, I want to spend time with my grandkids. My daughter is in Austin, so I very seldom get to see my grandson, but I will now."

"He'll be greatly missed. He's a good man," said P-B-T Personnel Director Gome Olibas, who added that he has already begun placing advertisements for the head football coach and athletic director's position.

Olibas said the notice would be posted in the Odessa, San Angelo and Lubbock newspapers, while Love said it would also be advertised on the Texas High School Coaches Association and the Texas Association of School Administrators websites.

"We'll have it up for a minimum of 10 days to fill," Love said. That would put the closing date for applications before the P-B-T school board's next meeting, but Love said "We'll probably have a special board meeting after that," to appoint Williams' replacement.

This will be the second straight June the school district will be seeking a new head football coach. Gary Grubbs resigned from the position in June of 2002 after three seasons, and at the end of the month the board hired former Pecos junior high coach Fred Carter as the new head coach. However, after winning their first game of the season, the Eagles dropped their final eight contests, and Carter was reassigned in November by Williams, who took over the position himself while turning over his head coaching duties in baseball to assistant coach Elias Payan.

The new head coach will be the sixth for Pecos' football program in the past decade. Prior to that, the Eagles had only two head coaches over the previous 24 seasons.

Van driver indicted for smuggling illegal aliens

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., May 30, 2003 -- A federal grand jury in Pecos indicted a 28-year-old El Paso man on Thursday on four counts of transporting illegal aliens in connection with Tuesday morning's discovery of 17 illegal aliens crammed into the back of truck on Interstate 20 west of Pecos.

According to the indictment, Hugo Ricardo Ramirez was driving the truck that DPS Trooper Arnulfo Rivas pulled over for speeding just before 2 a.m. Tuesday morning near mile marker 33 on I-20, seven miles west of Pecos.

During the traffic stop Rivas discovered the 17 illegal aliens hidden behind furniture in the truck.

Ramirez, a United States citizen, was detained and two of the illegal aliens are also being held as witnesses.

The rest of the aliens were returned to Mexico, John Carter said. Carter is the agent in charge of the U.S. Border Patrol office in Pecos.

The indictment handed down yesterday accuses Ramirez of four separate counts of Transporting illegal aliens - a violation off Volume 8 of the United States Code Section 1324 (a) (1) (A) (ii) and (v)(II).

Counts one and two of the indictment accuse Ramirez of transporting illegal aliens and placing the life of another person in jeopardy.

Counts two and three of the indictment accuse Ramirez of the same offense and add the further accusation that he committed the offense for commercial gain.

The maximum sentence for transporting illegal aliens is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count.

However, according to the indictment, if Ramirez is found guilty of transporting the illegal aliens for commercial gain he could receive10 years in prison.

If he is found guilty on the two counts of placing the life of another in jeopardy while transporting illegal aliens he could receive a maximum of 20 years in prison on each count.

According to the United States District Clerk's office no detention hearing had yet been held and bond had not been set in the case.


PECOS, Fri., May 30, 2003 -- High Thursday 100. Low this morning 63. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows in the upper 60s. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 101 to 108. South winds 5 to 15 mph. Saturday night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 60s. Sunday: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms. Highs near 100. Monday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of thunderstorms. Lows in the mid 60s. Highs in the upper 90s.


Jose Felix Mesta and Miguel Contreras

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