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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, August 8, 2003

Natividad glad to be home from Gulf supply detail

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., Aug. 8, 2003 -- One young lady from Pecos is happy to be home safe and sound following her tour in the Persian Gulf during the Iraq war, but feels sad for the families whose loved ones didn't make it back home or who are still out there.

Rebecca Natividad, arrived in the United States from Saudi Arabia, on August 1, and reached Pecos on Tuesday.

"I'm happy to be home, but I feel bad for all those who lost a loved one out there and for those who are still there," said Natividad. "It seems like there's been more incidents, now that the war is over," she said.

Natividad joined the U.S. Air Force in August of 2001, a month before the Sept. 11 attacks.

"I was scared out of my mind, because every day something was happening," said Natividad. "Sirens were always going off and planes could be heard day and night."

Natividad said that the first time she jumped out of bed so high. "I was so stunned I just jumped up and we were always being cautious about everything," she said.

Natividad was deployed to Saudi Arabia shortly after she joined the Air Force and completed her basic training.

"They had told me that they wouldn't deploy you until you had served for two years in the service," said Natividad. "That's not so, we were deployed right away."

Natividad chose to join the Air Force following her high school graduation instead of going directly to college.

"I knew I needed discipline and if I went to college I would just be spending my parent's money," said Natividad. "I knew the Air Force could offer me discipline and I could grow up and earn money for college if I chose to attend later on."

Natividad said that the experience made her grow up a lot faster and that she has seen a lot in these past two years, since she joined the forces.

Natividad was sent to the Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia. "It was pretty much like a regular base, so I was lucky in that area," she said.

The troop worked six days a week, 10 or more hours a day and later they worked up to 12 hours. "We worked constantly, but our base had a pool and a gym, so I was stationed in a pretty good place, compared to others," she said.

But U.S. troops were still in danger and constantly on alert. "They hit Riyadh (the Saudi Arabian capital), which is just three miles from where we were," said Natividad. "We were all so scared, because we were receiving threats also."

The base where Natividad was stationed is owned by one of the members of the Saudi royal family, which was allowing U.S. military troops to use as a staging area for the Iraq war. "There's really two bases, the first one is where everybody lives and the other one located close by is where everybody works," she said.

Buses ran back and forth between the bases. "We went from living in dorms, to tents and then to trailers," said Natividad.

The sandstorms and the temperature were also a big shock even for someone who is used to the heat.

"We have dust storms in Pecos, but up there it's sand storms and a lot worse," said Natividad. "The temperature here in Pecos seems mild compared to up there."

"When those sand storms came, you couldn't see anything in front of you and you had to wear these big goggles," she said.

The temperatures at night were usually in the 80s, while temperatures rose to up about 110 by lunchtime. "Sometimes it got hotter than that," she said.

Natividad's duties included shipping and receiving different items, and she also learned how to drive an 18-wheeler.

"We shipped bombs, vehicles, parts and even coffins," said Natividad. "That was the sad part about it, we had to do all the paperwork on that."

The Riyadh base's staff was made up mostly of men, but everyone became a family while so far away from home. "There weren't very many girls there, but we all really bonded and cared for each others," she said.

Natividad became really close with two individuals from her base, another woman named Alejandira Tavarez, from the Dominican Republic, and a young man named Leonardo Thomas, from Puerto Rico.

"The experience made me open my eyes and appreciate everything so much more," she said.

She had to miss her younger brother's graduation back in May, and on the day that the family was celebrating, she was sitting in front of her tent crying out of loneliness for her family.

"I'm sitting there in the sand and my family is back home celebrating my brother's graduation," she said, "I cried so much that day."

Still, Natividad said that she knew when she signed up that that would be one of the consequences.

"I knew that's what I had to do," she said. "You get used to it, it scared all of us, but at the same time, we knew that's what we had signed up for."

Right now, she is just enjoying eating her mother's home cooking and visiting with everybody. "I missed all this," she said.

"I think about all my friends still out there and it kills me because I wish they could all just come home," said Natividad.

Natividad said that she also cried when she heard the news about the death of Chief Warrant Officer Johnny Mata during the Iraq war.

"I wish I could have been here and when I saw how people in Pecos came together for one of their own I was so touched and sad at the same time," she said. "I had never seen Pecos pull together for one person and it just made me cry and I wanted to be here so bad."

Bertha Natividad, Rebecca's mother, said that she felt guilty at times, because her daughter is home safe, but that other mother's won't have the opportunity to do the same thing.

"I'm very proud of her, but I feel bad for those other families who aren't as lucky as we are," said Bertha. "I'm just glad to have her home and so happy."

She is now enjoying spending time with her family which consists of her parents, Bertha and Robert, four sisters, Pilar Zamora, Tracy Valles, Marissa Contreras and Sara Natividad and her brother, Robert Natividad Jr., who has joined the U.S. Army and will be leaving in September.

Natividad also wants to meet the students who were in Heather Scheier's second grade class at Austin Elementary School this past school year. The class "adopted" Rebecca this past year and she received a lot of e-mails, letters and cards from the group back home.

"I would like to meet them all before I leave and she's trying to arrange something and so is my mom," she said. "It was great, they made me feel good, because there wasn't much to do as far as recreation up there."

Natividad said that she and her friends would play cards, go to the PX, check their e-mails and just "hang out." For security reasons, the troops were not allowed off the base.

Despite her experience and having to participate in a war during her first years in the armed forces, Natividad is thinking about re-enlisting.

"I'm still undecided, but I might re-enlist," she said.

She will be heading back to Tampa, Fla., where she will be stationed. "They run the war from there and everything else is there, until I get deployed again," she said.

Her experience still hasn't sunk in and she's amazed when people tell her that she is a war veteran now.

"When we came back to the U.S. they told us we were now war veterans," said Natividad. "And for me, it still hasn't sunk in, that I was actually in Saudi Arabia and that 20 years old, I'm a war veteran."

Drug task force nets 132-pound marijuana bust

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., Aug. 8, 2003 -- Trans Pecos Drug Task Force Officers were busy early this morning near Van Horn finding over 130 pounds of marijuana in a pickup and an SUV on Interstate 10.

At about 1:45 a.m., Trans Pecos Drug Task Force Officer Joe Gonzales, made a routine traffic stop at mile marker 145 westbound on I-10 in Culberson County.

"The driver of the (Ford) F-150 2001 pickup truck gave me verbal consent to search the vehicle, following a conversation with her," said Gonzales.

Gonzales uncovered 53 pounds of marijuana hidden in the gas tank of the vehicle.

"Upon further investigation, we found an additional 79 pounds of marijuana in another vehicle traveling in conjunction with this individual," said Gonzales.

The other 79 pounds of marijuana was found inside a 1999 Jeep Cherokee. "That's a total of 132 pounds of illegal drugs taken off the streets," said Gonzales.

Driver of the first vehicle was Cindy Melendez, 32, of Van Horn and the driver of the second vehicle was her brother, Omar Ray Melendez, 23, also of Van Horn.

Cindy Melendez was arrested for possession of marijuana over 50 pounds and under 2,000, a Felony 2, and placed in Culberson County Jail.

"I took her to the jail in Culberson because that is where she was arrested, while her brother was arrested in Pecos," said Gonzales.

The brother is currently in Reeves County Jail for a suspended driver's license and will also face charges of possession of marijuana over 50 pounds and under 2,000.

Last week the local task force confiscated $31,000 in two separate cases, off of Interstate 20.

In one of the cases, the group confiscated $20,000 and was assisted by the Attorney General's Office, IRS and the U.S. Department of Treasury.

"On Wednesday of this week, two subjects were arrested on I-20, with numerous stolen items from Wichita Falls," said Gonzales. "Wichita Falls assisted with that investigation."

"We've had a busy two weeks," said Gonzales. "But this is the first time, that I do two drugs busts one after another," he said.

RCDC items at special meeting put on agenda

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., Aug. 8, 2003 -- Several items discussed and approved concerning the Reeves County Detention Center at two special meetings over the past 10 days have been placed on the agenda for Monday's regular Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting.

The group plans to meet at 10 a.m., Monday in the third floor courtroom and the public is invited to attend.

Commissioners plan to discuss the Federal Bureau of Prisons Intergovernmental Agreement Modification #7 man-day rate adjustment to $47.33; professional services contract between Barnes and Thornberg Law Firm; professional services contract between Public-Private Strategies, Inc., and Reeves County and potential options for use of RCDC-III.

The items were discussed in two separate meetings held on Wednesday of last week and Monday evening at the courthouse.

The Pecos Enterprise filed a complaint Monday alleging several violations of the state Open Meetings Act by the Reeves County Commissioners' Court, in connection with recent meetings dealing primarily with actions on the Reeves County Detention Center. The county is seeking inmates for the 960-bed facility in order to obtain funds to meet bond payments on RCDC III, which was completed in March.

Enterprise Publisher Smokey Briggs said that he filed the complaint with Reeves County District Attorney Randy Reynolds, stating that he believed that the last two meetings held by the Commissioners' Court violated the law in several ways.

"First, the notice as posted by the Court did not comply with the law. When an emergency meeting is called the notice has to clearly identify what the emergency is and neither notice did this," Briggs said.

"Second, a governmental body can only call an emergency meeting to address a topic that requires immediate action because there is an immediate threat to public health or safety, or for a reasonably unforeseen situation," he said.

"I do not see how any of the agenda items on those two agendas qualify for that exemption."

"The philosophy at the Pecos Enterprise is that the Open Meetings and Open Records laws were put in place for a reason. The people the elected officials serve deserve the notice required by law so that they can show up at meetings and participate in their government," Briggs said.

Reynolds confirmed on Thursday he had received the letter and his office was looking into the claim.

"When the Commissioner's Court is going to meet and discuss issues of public business, we must post notice of the meeting at the courthouse and identify the issues that will be discussed," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo, in a statement released today.

"Members of the public were calling for the entire Commissioner's Court to meet and discuss issues concerning the prison," he said.

"No agenda had been posted for such a meeting, as required by law," said Galindo. "Therefore, I posted legal notice of an emergency meeting at the courthouse, so that the Commissioner's Court could have a legal meeting and discuss the issues requested by the public."

"The Enterprise claims that there was no emergency for the meeting, even though they have been running daily headlines claiming that the prison is in a state of 'crisis,'" said Galindo. "All of the items posted on the agenda that the Enterprise is complaining about were related to the state of 'crisis.'"

"Mr. Briggs filed a complaint stating that he did not have sufficient notice of the meeting. In order to make sure that everyone has a full and fair opportunity to be heard on this matter, I have re-posted all of the issues on the agenda for the Regular Commissioners Court meeting on Monday, Aug. 11, at 10 a.m., on the Third Floor of the Reeves County Courthouse."

Other matters that will be dealt with include discussion of the vacant Texas Cooperative Extension-Reeves County Extension Agent position; appointment of a tax assessor to calculate effective tax rate; Reeves County tax exemptions/half payment options for 2004; property bid for property located at 1100 S. Pecan; grant from the Criminal Justice Division of the Governor's Office for Reeves County Juvenile Detention Center; contract agreement between Reeves County and ProTELL Systems International, Inc., for Electronic Monitoring Services; and contract agreement between Reeves County and Hays County Juvenile Center.

Items involving work at the Reeves County Detention Center project include: ACME Electric Company request for payment No. 16 Final -RCDC-III; ABCO Fire Protection request for payment No. 8 Final- RCDC III; ISI Detention Contracting Group Inc., request for payment No. 16 Final -RCDC III; Jarratt Dirt Work and Paving request for payment No. 6 Final -RCDC III; Carothers Construction Company change order #7-RCDC III; Carothers Construction Company request for payment No. 20-RCDC III.

School board sets special meeting

PECOS, Fri., Aug. 8, 2003 -- Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board members will meet in a special meeting at 6 p.m., Tuesday in the Technology Center.

The meeting will be held in closed session as authorized by the Texas Open Meetings Act, Texas Government Code, Section 551.101 et. Seq., Section 551.074; Discuss personnel or hear complaints against personnel and Section 551.071: Consultation with the Board's attorney: a. Level III hearing - Shannon Busby.

Board members will return to open session and take action, if any, on items discussed in closed session.

Weekend highs near 120 seen for Pecos area

From Staff and Wire Reports
With the furnace-like heat baking the state this week, many Texans have tried to avoid the outdoors as much as possible.

According to the National Weather Service in Midland, the surrounding areas have also been having the same high temperatures, and the Pecos area will probably face its hottest temperatures of the year this weekend, with temperatures around 120 degrees after highs averaged nearly 110 degrees for the first five days this week.

Thursday's high in the Pecos hit 110 for the third time this week, while the town of Wink reached temperatures of 108 degrees, Odessa 102 degree and Midland 104 degrees.

However, weather forecasters predict that tomorrow will be the hottest day with temperatures over the 110 mark. Temperatures are supposed to cool down late Sunday afternoon.

By late next week temperatures are to fall even more ranging into the normal and below normal temperatures, which for the Midland they would be 94 or 95 degrees.

No heat-released illnesses have been reported in the area over the past week, but state officials are urging residents of the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas to stay indoors Friday, as dangerously high ozone levels were expected during the day.

Olibas sues county, sheriff over rival's bond operation

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., Aug. 8, 2003 -- Freedom Bails Bond owner Pascual Olivas has filed a lawsuit in the 143rd Judicial District Court over a bond forfeiture of $50,000 connected to a four-year-old murder case and the status of a rival bail bondsman who was involved in that incident.

Those named in Olivas' lawsuit, which was filed on July 30, are Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez, Reeves County and B&M Bonding representative Lazaro Baeza, who Olibas' suit claims is illegally being allowed to continue to post bonds in the county.

The lawsuit claims that on or about May 3rd 1999, a final judgment on a bond forfeiture was entered against Baeza in the 83rd District Court of Pecos County, Fort Stockton, Texas, in the sum of $50,000 in connection with a murder case in that county.

The claim goes on to state that the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, disqualifies Baeza from writing a bail bond in the State of Texas any person who has signed as a surety on a bail bond and who is in default on the bond.

It states that despite the fact of the outstanding forfeiture judgment against Baeza, Gomez, and Reeves County continue to permit him to write bonds and post them to secure the release of prisoners fro the Reeves County Jail. This continues to occur despite the fact that Gomez has been placed on notice of the statutory disqualifications as it affects Baeza.

The suit states that it has been the past practice of Gomez to approve bond in Reeves County for presentation to sheriffs of other counties, despite the fact that the $50,000 judgment above occurred on a bond Gomez approved for the purpose of the securing the release of Fabien Castaneda, an inmate who was being held at the Pecos County Jail in Fort Stockton.

In his suit, Olivas said he reasonably believes and therefore alleges that this practice has continued despite Gomez being advised of the outstanding forfeiture judgment and the provisions of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, the claim states.

In asking for temporary and permanent injunctions, Olivas requests that the court conduct a preliminary hearing as soon as possible and that after such hearing, the court issue a temporary injunction prohibiting Gomez and Reeves County from accepting bail bonds from Baeza or anyone else Gomez knows to be in default with respect to one or more bail bond forfeiture judgment and that Gomez be prohibited from approving bonds for use in other counties on behalf of individuals he knows have outstanding bail bond forfeiture judgment.

Olivas, who declined to comment further on the suit, requests that upon final hearing, the court issue a permanent injunction barring Baeza's further bail bond operations.


PECOS, Fri., Aug. 8, 2003 -- High Thursday 110. Low this morning 74. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows 75 to 80. South winds 5 to 15 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy and very hot. Highs 112 to 115. West winds 5 to 15 mph. Saturday night: Partly cloudy. Lows 75 to 80. Sunday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 121. Monday: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 70s. Highs near 108.


Melchor Chavez, Juan Contreras and Billie Hughes

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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