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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Thursday, January 8, 2004

PHS students seek spots on All State band

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., Jan. 8, 2004 -- Eight Pecos students will perform in Crane on Saturday, Jan. 24, with the All Region Bands, while six of those students will be in Lubbock this Saturday competing for spots on the All State Band, according to Pecos High School Band Director Merle Lenfest.

During the last few weeks several Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD musicians have competed for spots on the Region 6 All Region Bands.

Carina Cerna earned a spot in the Junior High All Region Band, while R.J. Guerra, Ramiro Pando, Roger Quintana, Carlos Salgado, Donald Walker, Savanna M. West, and Kenneth W. Winkles earned spots in the High School Region Band.

Students must compete against band members from other Class 3A, 2A, and 1A band programs in the area to earn a spot in these groups, Lenfest said.

He added that he would like to thank all the students who worked on this music and those who actually competed for one of the region groups.

"These students demonstrated a desire to improve themselves and it is this attitude that will help the Eagle Band continue to improve in the future," said Lenfest.

These students will perform in concert on Jan. 24 at the ATSSB Region VI Clinic Concert in Crane.

The high school all region process continues with area auditions and finally the selection of the All State Band.

Over 33,000 Texas band members start this extremely difficult process in the fall to try and become one of the 240 All State Band members, according to Lenfest.

Guerra, Pando, Quintana, Salgado, West, and Winkles will audition this Saturday, at the Area West Area Band auditions at Lubbock Cooper High School.

Year In Review

August marked by discussions about prison

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the eighth in a series of stories recapping major news events in the Pecos area during 2003. Today's story covers the month of August.


PECOS, Fri., Aug. 1, 2003 Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD students will start each day with the recital of the Pledge of Allegiance and the Pledge of Allegiance to the Texas flag during the 2003-04 school year.

"State law requires students to recite the (Pledge of) Allegiance to the United States Flag and the Pledge of Allegiance to the Texas flag each day," said Pecos High School Principal Danny Rodriguez during discussion at a special school board meeting on the handbook for the new school year.


PECOS, Fri., Aug. 1, 2003 Rough road conditions on Interstate 20 between the Pecos River and Pyote are due for a long-lasting solution in the near future, while rail and road connections through the area from Lubbock to Mexico were among the items discussed on Thursday during the Texas Transportation Commission's monthly meeting.

Among the I-20 projects planned is the complete resurfacing of I-20 over a 16-mile stretch between the Pecos River and Pyote in Ward County. That section was just resurfaced two years ago, but already is redeveloping ruts in the pavement surface.


PECOS, Fri., Aug. 1, 2003 Pecos Enterprise publisher Smokey Briggs and wife Laura purchased The Monahans News from Buckner News Alliance on Thursday.

Buckner News Alliance has owned the Pecos Enterprise since the mid-1960s and purchased the Monahans paper in 1996.


PECOS, Tues., Aug. 5, 2003 Reeves County Commissioners dealt with several issues and fielded several questions about the troubled Reeves County Detention Center III facility Monday evening, during a special emergency meeting of the Commissioners Court.

The meeting was held at 6 p.m., in the third floor courtroom, and coincided with a town hall meeting called last week to discuss the problem. That meeting was the Reeves County Civic Center, and only Precinct 3 Commissioner Herman Tarin attended.

The county is seeking inmates to fill the 960-bed RCDC III. Payments for housing inmates were to be used to pay back bonds used to build the $40 million facility, which opened in March, only to see the BOP decline to add any inmates to the 2,000 currently held at RCDC I and II. The BOP also declined to agree to a 10 percent increase in the man-day rate at those units, from the $47.47 interim rate to $54.72, and instead wanted to cut its payment per prisoner by 5 percent.


PECOS, Wed., Aug. 6, 2003 The Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame Committee will begin financial planning for development of the downtown facility, as it now has a proposed renovation plan for the Missuri-Pacific Railroad depot.

Graduate students for Texas Tech University's Architecture Department were in town Tuesday afternoon at the Reeves County Civic Center to share and receive ideas on their proposed renovation plans for the Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame, which would be located inside the depot, at First and Oak streets.


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.


PECOS, Mon., Aug. 11, 2003 Reeves County Commissioners went over a number of items relating to the county's efforts to find prisoners to fill the Reeves County Detention Center III facility this morning, during their regularly scheduled meeting, but took no new action on those items.

County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo went over options for filling the facility, lawyer and lobbyist contracts and the man-day rate paid to the county by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

Galindo outlined what future steps are scheduled to be taken by the county and federal officials for housing prisoners at the detention center, and explained the county's reason for entering into contracts with Washington D.C. attorney Joe Summerall and lobbyist Randy DeLay during a public comments section of the meeting.


PECOS, Tues., Aug. 12, 2003 A large quantity of illegal drugs and numerous stolen items were confiscated Monday evening by officers from the Pecos Police Department at a home on the south side of town.

One person was arrested as a result of the raid, which occurred at approximately 7:07 p.m., and involved the seizure of both heroin and cocaine from the residence.


PECOS, Wed., Aug. 13, 2003 Rio Grand Distributors plans to hold a liquidation sale Thursday in Midland of its West Texas convenience store and retail gasoline operations. But founding partner, Jerry Smith said that neither of Amigo's Texaco stores in Pecos would be shut down.

"There are no plans to close anything," Smith said.

Both of the Pecos Amigo's stores are located on South Cedar Street, one at 14th Street and the other on Interstate 20.


PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 14, 2003 Local law enforcement officials continue the search for an escapee believed to be heading back to San Antonio after escaping from the Reeves County Jail yesterday afternoon.

Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez said that John Michael Baker, 23, had escaped from a vent located in a storage room where recreation equipment is kept.

Baker, is wanted on allegations of murder. He was discovered to be missing at about 4 p.m. during head count, Gomez said.


PECOS, Friday, Aug. 15, 2003 The hunt for an escaped alleged murderer came to an end yesterday afternoon after he turned himself in to authorities in Callahan County, near Abilene.

Callahan County Sheriff's office stated that John Michael Baker turned himself into his attorney, Emiliano Duarte, at the local Dairy Queen, on Interstate 20 in Baird. Baker, 23, is currently in the Taylor County Jail in Abilene, 30 miles west of Baird.


PECOS, Friday, Aug. 15, 2003 Identification badges will be worn by all staff, personnel, visitors and students at Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD beginning Monday, following the approval by the board at last evening's regular meeting.


PECOS, Wed., Aug. 20, 2003 Once again early enrollment figures for Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD have shown a decline from the previous year, but school officials are hoping the number will go up a little.

Enrollment was down about three percent from the start of school last year, and enrollment overall has dropped by nearly 25 percent in the past decade, with the closing or severe cutbacks at several of the area's largest employers.


PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 21, 2003 The Pecos Police Department has charged a 39-year old man with manslaughter and aggravated assault as the result of a family fight Tuesday night on the north side of town.

Police were called to after the 400 block of North Ash Street late Tuesday night, Pecos Police Lt. Kelly Davis said.

"We received the call at 11:06 p.m. of an unresponsive male, Regino (Vasquez), at 414 N. Ash" Davis said. "They advised that Donny Ray (Winfrey) had assaulted them."

"We do not know the types of injuries he sustained," Davis said. "He (Vasquez) was transported to the hospital and pronounced dead by Judge (Jim) Riley."


PECOS, Fri., Aug. 22, 2003 A 48-year-old man was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison for the smuggling of illegal aliens in U.S. District Court in Pecos on Thursday, in connection with a attempt to smuggle illegal aliens into the country back in March.

Johnny Sutton, with the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Western District of Texas, announced yesterday in a press release that Kenneth Jack Pekel had been sentenced by Federal Judge Robert Junnell following his conviction by a federal jury in Pecos on six counts of alien smuggling on June 17, 2003.


PECOS, Mon., Aug. 25, 2003 Reeves County Commissioners opted for a bond payment over a water bill payment this morning, during a discussion on the county's large impending bills as part of the regular Commissioner's Court meeting at the Reeves County Courthouse.

Commissioners discussed what to do about four bills totaling over $1.28 million. Of those, three related to work involving the Reeves County Detention Center. They involved a 1999 maintenance lease payment in the amount of $420,077; a 1999 maintenance reserve payment in the amount of $29,166 and a 2001 lease payment of $411,117.

The other bill is a water payment to the Town of Pecos City in the amount of $422,320.


PECOS, Fri., Aug. 29, 2003 Town of Pecos City Council agreed to retain legal counsel in event of a default of Reeves County, during the executive session portion of their regular meeting Thursday evening.

The action was taken as the result of a decision by the county on Monday not to pay a $422,000 bill due Sunday as part of its share of the construction of the new South Worsham Water Field.


PECOS, Fri., Aug. 29, 2003 A little more than a year after the debate over the "open door" policy, Town of Pecos City Council members voted 3-2 to remove the security windows where residents pay their water bills at City Hall.

Barstow voters have contested Precinct 1 races

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., Jan. 8, 2004 -- Barstow area voters will have a couple of local races to decide on March 9, as will voters in Mentone during the Democratic Party primary elections for Ward and Loving counties.

Barstow area resident and incumbent Precinct 1 Commissioner for Ward County, Julian Florez, is seeking another four-year term in office, and is being challenged by Carrol Samuels. The other Ward County Commissioner's race, in Precinct 3, will also be contested, with incumbent Ron Widdess challenged by newcomer Pablo Valles.

Barstow voters will also have a contested race for constable, where incumbent Robert Garcia will go against Tony Acosta for the posting representing both Precinct 1 and 4 in Ward County.

Running unopposed in the countywide races are incumbent Sheriff Mikel Strickland and Tax Assessor-Collector Dolores Hannah Fine. Also running unopposed is constable for precincts 2 and 3, James P. "Jimmy" Hammond.

Ward County voters will also be deciding the 143rd District Attorney's race, along with voters in Reeves and Loving counties. Former district attorney Hal Upchurch of Monahans is challenging incumbent Randy Reynolds of Pecos.

Judge Bob Parks has filed to retain his seat on the 143rd District Court, and is unopposed, while Ward County Attorney Kevin Acker chose not to run for election this time. Greg Holley is running unopposed for that position.

For party chair on the Democratic line, Treva Oxedine is being challenged by Leo C. Helmer in Ward County, while voters will have one local candidate in the Republican primary. Dexter Nichols has filed to run for commissioner precinct 3 as a Republican and will face either Widdess or Valles in the November general election.

In Loving County, current sheriff and tax assessor, Richard Putnam chose not to run to retain his seat. Billy B. Hopper, a deputy sheriff in the county, will run for that position and is being challenged by Thomas E. Jones.

The two incumbent commissioner Harlan Hopper in Precinct 1 and Skeet Jones in Precinct 3, are running unopposed, as is the constable Jesse Vernon Jones.

City manager hopefuls meet with Council

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., Jan. 8, 2004 -- The Town of Pecos City Council met this morning to discuss the employee evaluation for City Secretary Connie Levario and to several items to discuss later this month, in-between two meetings on Wednesday and Friday with candidates for the vacant city manager's position.

The council met Wednesday afternoon with the five local candidates on the list of 10 finalists, with the interviews for the five out-of-town applicants scheduled for Friday at 4 p.m.

According to Councilman Michael Benavides, the review of the city secretary's performance is a duty usually relegated to the city manager. However, due to the position's vacancy after Carlos Yerena resigned in November, the job has fallen on the council's shoulders.

"Connie has really done an excellent job for the city during her time as secretary. She is an asset to the city, and works well with all of the departments to get the job done," Benavides said. "Because Connie has exceeded all expectations of her, the meeting was really short, with nothing but positive things being said about her performance."

Police Chief Clay McKinney's review was scheduled for today, but was put off due to the fact that his wife was undergoing surgery. McKinney also is currently serving as acting city manager until a full-time replacement can be selected.

Yerena, who took over as city manager in December of 2000, resigned to take a similar position with the city of Kingsville.

The review process for Levario and McKinney is timed according to the employee's hire date, and is not a renewal of a contract, but rather an approval of the continuation of employment.

The council also approved items for the next regular meeting that will take place on Jan 22. Among the items of interest are the council's request for a state health inspector to come to town and report on the local grocery stores, the submission of the USDA grant application for the renovation and replacement of existing sewer and water infrastructure, a review-reappointment of one of the council's selections for the Pecos Economic Development Board, and the postponed police chief's evaluation.

According to Benavides, the council's request for the health inspector is just part of a routine check of the refrigeration units at Bob's and La Tidena Thriftway. "The inspector has come before and we haven't heard any complaints, but we would just like to have a kind of in-depth review of the facilities at both stores," he said.

The agenda item concerning the PEDC appointment comes as laid out in the articles of incorporation that were submitted at the corporation's inception. The provisions state that board members can be appointed for one, two, or three year terms, and Texas law states that appointees may not serve greater that six years total on the PEDC board.

The board member's term under consideration is Johnny Terrazas. Terrazas, who left the city council last year, has served a single one-year term so far, and has the recommendation of the PEDC board to continue his term while also agreeing to remain on the board.

According to a PEDC communication to the council, three of the current directors will be ineligible to serve additional terms after this year.

Also the council is scheduled to look into the USDA grant-loan application, put together by engineer Frank Spencer's office. The application will cover the needed money to revamp the city's deteriorating sewer system, to improve the fresh water supply lines as well as the holding tanks, and afford the city the need revenue to possibly replace the existing sewage treatment facility on the east side of town.

According to Levario, the city is expected to receive three of the police vehicles by the end of this month. The patrol interceptors will supplement the aging fleet of squad cars currently in utilization by the police department.

Also the municipal dump truck to go along with the future opening of the city's new landfill has been delivered. City crews have already started the demolition of selected abandoned buildings, but are waiting on the opening of the landfill for the completion of the projects, according to Benavides.

Balmorhea preparing for annual stock show

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., Jan. 8, 2004 -- Hogs, goats and lambs are getting groomed and ready for this weekend's Balmorhea Livestock Show, scheduled for Saturday at the Balmorhea High School agriculture facility.

The show, which is held annually the week prior the Reeves-Loving County Livestock Show, will hold its weigh-in at 3:30 p.m. on Friday at the Balmorhea ISD ag building.

Balmorhea High School Ag. teacher Bob Bagley said that this year the group would have about 17 hogs, 15 lambs and 25 goats in the show. "We don't have any steers this year," said Bagley.

The show will begin at 10 a.m. and start with the pigs.

"We'll take a break for a barbecue lunch at noon," said Bagley.

The lunch will be $5 a plate and include barbecue and all the fixings. "This event and the show are sponsored by the Balmorhea Ag. Boosters," said Bagley. "They always do a great job for us."

After lunch the show will continue with the lambs and then the goats.

Officials conclude suicide was cause of Big Bend death

PECOS, Thurs., Jan. 8, 2004 -- Big Bend National Park officials said the death of an Austin man on Dec. 30 in the park was the result of a suicide.

Jonathan Autrey McManus, 50, of Austin was found on Dec. 30 in his vehicle at a backcountry roadside campsite.

"We are truly saddened by this tragic death, and offer our condolences to the McManus family and friends." said park Superintendent John H. King.


PECOS, Thurs., Jan. 8, 2004 -- High Wednesday 58. Low this morning 29. Forecast for tonight: Mostly clear. Lows near 30. Northeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 65. Southeast winds near 10 mph in the morning becoming light and variable. Friday night: Partly cloudy. Lows near 30. South winds 10 to 15 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 60s. South winds near 10 mph. Saturday night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 30s. Sunday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 60s to the lower 70s. Sunday night: Partly cloudy. Lows near 30.


Senona Villa

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

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