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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Archives 1995

September 26, 1995

Fee hike dispute on hold

Staff Writer
An amendment to the fiscal 1996 budget relating to tax
collection was tabled after a long discussion during Monday
afternoon's session of the regular Reeves County
Commissioner's Court meeting.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo had written a letter
addressed to the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD School Board of
Trustees conveying his interest in collecting the school
district's taxes.

"The city has also decided to withdraw their tax collection
and it just doesn't make sense to duplicate services," said
Galindo. "They've decided to move tax collection to the
school district."

"The reason the letter wasn't discussed at the school board
meeting is because it wasn't on the agenda," said Precinct 3
Commissioner Herman Tarin.

Town of Pecos City Council members voted to let the school
district handle their tax collection services on Friday, and
school board members voted Monday night to offer its
services to the Reeves County Hospital District. The RCH
board has scheduled its own vote on the matter this evening.

Tarin questioned the reason the tax collections were being
moved to the school tax office from the county's office.

"well, what triggered the city and hospital to look for
alternative?" asked Tarin. "What I'm saying is that we need
to work together."

City officials cited an $8,000 increase in the county's
fiscal 1996 tax collection fee as the reason for their move,
RCH officials have unofficially been told their fee with the
county was to rise $3,000 for the upcoming year.

"I think this situation will just get more estranged if we
get mad about it," said Precinct 2 Commissioner Dr. W.J.

Commissioner's opted to draft a new letter to present to the
entities and have Dr. Bang discuss it with each one in an
effort to come to some sensible resolution.

In his letter to the school district, Galindo stated, "I
believe it is our objective to reduce the cost of
government, wherever possible, by not duplicating services
for the taxpayers and to ultimately make as much money
available for the education of ow youth."

"I am proposing that you consider allowing the county to
collect the school district's taxes," Galindo said. "After
much thought and consideration, I have determined that the
best way of allocating the cost of service for contract tax
collection is on the basis of parcels."

"This is the way the Reeves County Tax Appraisal District
office determines the cost of their service," Galindo said.

In Galindo's proposal, he determined that the county could
provide tax collection services for the city of Pecos,
Reeves County Hospital District and Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD
for an annual cost of $75,000.

On a parcel basis, the proposal would allocate 49 percent of
that cost to collect the school district's taxes. That
translates to $36,750 annually with 29,010 parcels.

Reeves County Hospital District would be 41 percent, which
is 24,047 parcels which translates to $30,750. The city
would be 10 percent or 6,150 parcels at $7,500.

"The hospital used to be charged $33,000 which means a
savings of $2,250," said Galindo.

The school pays $190,000 for tax collection with $90,000 to
the Appraisal District. In the proposal Galindo outlined,
$36,750 with a total of $126,000 and a savings of about

Total savings come to about $86,000 for consolidated tax
collection services, according to Galindo's proposal.

The judge's numbers were revised from the original letter
given to school board member Oscar Saenz last week, due to a
slight error in the percentages.

In connection with the current tax collection moves, an
informal meeting has been set for Tuesday, Oct. 3 at 9 a.m.,
in the P-B-T School Board Room, at 1304 South Park St., to
discuss the current tax collection situation.

School board officials, along with those from the county,
hospital district officials, and Town of Pecos City Council
are being invited to attend the discussion-only meeting,
according to the release sent out today by school board
president Linda Gholson and Dr. Bang.

No entity will be permitted to bring a quorum of elected
officials (more than two for the city, county and RCH board,
and more than three for the school district).

The general public is welcome to amend, however, the release
states that designated committee members only will be
permitted to participate in the discussion.

Reeves County Appraisal District Chief Appraiser Carol
Markham was on hand at Monday's commissioners meeting, and
urged the court to talk to the city, hospital and school

"I think you should have one last meeting with them because
it just might get so bad, with hurt feelings, you're going
to tear this county Span," said Markham. "Do a revised
letter, they'll meet you halfway, they've all told me they

Markham also pleaded with the court not to blame Reeves
County Tax Collector-Assessor Elfida Zuniga.

"It's not her fault, she's been doing a great job," she said.

"If we were all on-line together it would be a smoother
road. It's very difficult in getting a tax collection system
set up, so I urge you to try to meet with these people,"
Markham said.

"I think if the county makes one last effort you'll get a
lot of credit for it and possibly help some," she added.
"I'll do everything I can do to get it back to the county
because I do believe that is where it belongs."

In other action Monday, commissioners noted no tax increase
was instituted in the adoption of the 1996 tax rate of 57.9
cents per 100 valuation. It's the fifth year in a row the
county's tax rate as remained unchanged, though a number of
budget cuts were needed this year to cut into a deficit
Judge Galindo put last month at $1 million.

Commissioners also approved an order allowing split payment
of ad valorem taxes; approved senior citizen's homestead
valuation exemption; granted disabled veterans 1996 tax
exemption and granted 1996 medical exemptions at the
existing rate:

John Stickles. 143rd District Attorney, was appointed as
substitute trustee for Pecos River Livestock, Inc.
foreclosure to conduct the sale.

"If he doesn't want to do it, I'll do it," said County
Attorney Bill Weinacht.

Jackie Reed of West Tex Waste Services Inc. presented the
court a new contract for rural trash collection, but
commissioners voted to keep the old contract.

"The purpose of my visit is that we want to standardize all
of our contracts," said Reed. "This will enable us to answer
questions better."

Reed also told the court West Tex Waste Services would not
be using the Pecos landfill.

"We just can't afford to use the one in Pecos, with the fees
so high," he said.

Reed stated that the company will be utilizing the landfills
in Presidio and Monahans.

Under personnel and salary changes, Cesar Urias was promoted
to deputy in the Reeves County Sheriff's Department at an
annual salary of $18,720; Irene Martinez to Jailer I at an
annual salary of $15,200; Rosie Poitevint, Jailer 11 at
$15,200 and Jose Alfredo Saldana from parttime to full-time
at $14,000.

In the Juvenile Center, Monica Rivera was approved as
vocational office education student, at $4.25 an hour, four
hours a day.

Michael Granado will be working at the Reeves County
Detention Center at $15,000 per year; Ramiro Garcia at the
RCDC at $15,000 and Joel Martinez at the RCDC at $17,000.

Martinez is certified and has five years law enforcement

Big Crowd for reunion at museum

Staff Writer
"Over 300 easily," is how many family members and friends
attended the West of the Pecos Museum 1995 Mexican-American
Pioneer Family reception Saturday, according to Assistant
Curator Dorinda Venegas.

Venegas said that 300 invitations were mailed and well over
300 people showed up to the event, which honored the
Natividad family this year.

The West of the Pecos Museum hosts a Mexican-American
Pioneer family reunion for descendants of a Hispanic settler
who wandered into Reeves County territory during the 1800's
annually each September. The family's name is placed and
honored on a boot-shaped plaque that hangs on the
newly-opened third floor of the museum, in the Hispanic
Pioneer display area.

Saturday's events kicked off with an invocation by Natividad
descendant Father Trini Fuentez, who said in Spanish, "I
don't believe that we have ever come together like this as a
Natividad Family."

He was proceeded by West of the Pecos Museum Curator Genora
Prewit, who gave a welcoming speech in both English and

Family history was presented to the crowd by descendants
from each of the four Natividad brothers who planted their
roots on Reeves County soil during the late 1800's. Other
descendants who spoke at the ceremony included Mary Perea
and Janie Rodriguez who shared their family history on
behalf of Telesforo and Nicholas Natividad; Rudy Martinez,
on behalf of his grandfather, Esteban Natividad, and Debbie
Flores, on behalf of Julian Natividad.

Entertainment for the large crowd included a mariachi tune
sung by Roxievette Mendoza and folkloric dancers, made up
mostly of Natividad descendants, and a performance by the
Pecos High School Mariachi Band.

Master of Ceremonies and Natividad family member Frank Perea
directed the crowd's attention to each of the performers
while children representing generations of the original
settlers' descendants played and older family members
visited during the gathering in the museum's courtyard.

September 27, 1995

County's sludge fight costs near $47,000

The cost of the ongoing battle by Reeves County to prevent
the application of wastewater sludge on land near Verhalen
is nearing the $47,000 mark, with mote expenditures due
following last week's court ruling in Austin.

The two-year cost of the county's battle to block sludge
application was $46,718.24 as of this month, according to
figures provided by the Reeves County Auditor's office.
However, two-thirds of the cost occurred in 1993, when the
county first took legal action over the situation, which was
first announced in April, 1992.

Total expenses for 1993 were put at $29,456.90.

Reeves County sued to block Weldon Reed and Trans-Pecos
Farms from receiving a permit to apply sludge to several
sites in the Verhalen area, citing various health concerns.

Judge Peter Lowry of the 261st District court in Austin
ruled against the county last week, saying the court lacks
jurisdiction to review action by the Texas Natural Resources
Conservation Commission affecting Reeves County, because the
county- did not file its petition within 30 days of the
TNRCC action approving the permit.

Commissioners voted on Monday to file an appeal of Lowry's
ruling. County Attorney Bill Weinacht told them he had
spoken with lawyers for Henry, Lowerre and Taylor, the firm
handling the county's case, and they said the cost of the
new appeal would be low, since most of the work already had
been done in researching the case.

Legal fees took up most of the expenditures so far, with
$29,379.33 designated for that purpose. Other expenses in
1993 were for sludge opposition supplies.

In 1994 the total expense for sludge opposition was
estimated at $9,093. Most of the expenditures for that year
came from ordinance publications in the Enterprise, with the
remainder going towards legal fees.

Expenditures in 1995 totaled $8,167 up until now, with
almost all of that going into legal fees. A total of $237.92
was designated for travel expenses for Commissioner Precinct
4 Bernardo Martinez.

DA explains charges against Villalobos

Staff Writer
Ward County Commissioner Ben Villalobos is facing 12 counts
of theft, and two other men face 67 counts of theft in
connection with the alleged use of county funds to buy auto
parts for personal use, according to the district attorney
who will be handling the case.

Villalobos, whose precinct includes Barstow, was indicted by
a Ward County grand jury last Thursday on 12 counts on theft
of property charges and one for the allegations performed
while a public servant. Ward County Foreman Paul Valle and
Joe Larry Lopez, a former auto parts employee, were each
indicted on 67 counts of theft of property, said Tom Lee,
63rd District Attorney who is handling the ease.

Lee said Valle and Lopez are also looking at a 68th count
"of aggregation of all thefts done pursuing lo one course of
action," which would entail a felony offense. He explained
that the aggregate charge combined the total amount of
property stolen from all thefts to conclude that felony
amounts were stolen.

Lee, who works out of Del Rio, was handed the ease after
143rd District Attorney John Stickels declined to prosecute
the ease, due to a conflict of interest.

Lopez is also facing a charge that "alleges he was acting as
a public servant at the time of the thefts," said Lee.

An investigation into the alleged thefts was conducted by
the Texas Rangers and initiated in Mid-May after a county
employee contacted a law enforcement official, who later
contacted the Texas Rangers office in Midland, said Capt.
Gene Powell

Powell noted that Ranger ferry Villalobos of Fort Stockton,
no relation to Ben, was in charge of the investigation.

Lee said a pretrial hearing is scheduled for Nov. 13 and the
trial, tentatively for latter pan of November.

"These are subject to change," said Lee, "because the judge
and the prosecutor are in different part of the state."

Presiding for the trials will be 143rd District fudge Bob

September 28, 1995

DPS denies allegations over drugs, cash

Staff Writer
Texas department of Public Safety troopers are defending
themselves against two separate allegations resulting from
incidents in Reeves and Ward Counties.

DPS troopers on Wednesday were accused of planting illegal
drugs in a Ward County Commissioner's vehicle, a charge
denied by officials in the Pecos DPS office.

The DPS also is being held responsible for stolen tuition
funds that belonged to a suspect arrested for DWI over the
Labor Day weekend, though the DPS says no wallet was
reportedly found during an inventory of the vehicle.

In a press release, Precinct 1 Commissioner Ben Villalobos
stated that DPS officers, "planted a white powder in at
least one of the county-owned vehicles," which were parked
in the Precinct 1 equipment yard in Barstow.

DPS Sergeant Tracy Murphree said this morning that Pecos DPS
Canine Officer Burleight Locklar, Jr. and Trooper John
Henley arrived in the yard Wednesday morning and asked the
shop foreman for permission to conduct a drug search test
with the department's new canine unit, a black Labrador

Henley said he was busy planting a bag of marijuana in an
old model truck and another portion of "pseudo-cocaine" in
"an old tow trailer," while Locklar prepared the dog for the
exercise, at which item Villablobos called and asked to
speak with Locklar.

Murphree said that Locklar spoke with Villalobos and as soon
as it became apparent that Villalobos did not want them
there they "grabbed their stuff and left."

Henley stated that neither he nor Locklar knew what
Villalobos' county vehicle looked like, or if Villalobos's
vehicle was in the yard at the time of the attempted
practice session.

"This attack from the Department of Public Safety started
when it became public that I was interested in becoming a
candidate for Sheriff of Ward County," said Villalobos.

The white powdery substance, "pseudo cocaine," Murphree
said. is a substance mailed to them from the Austin DPS
office and is not classified as illegal.

Precinct 1 shop foreman Moe Moya said today he could not
comment on the incident.

Villalobos is currently pending trial proceedings for his
indictments involving 12 counts of theft of property and one
that alleged use of county funds to buy auto parts for
personal use.

A pretrial is scheduled for November 13, according to
prosecuting, 63rd District Attorney Tom Lee and a trial for
the latter part of November.

In the Labor Day incident, a letter to the Editor that ran
in Friday's Enterprise the letter writer, who asked their
name be withheld, claimed that her brother, who had been
pulled over and arrested for DWI by Murphree, asked the
arresting officer to allow him to retrieve his wallet from
his vehicle, as it contained money.

Murphree said this morning that 18-year-old Christ Valdez,
of Toyah, had been pulled over about 12:15, Sept. 3, for
speeding, at which time it was discovered that he was under
the influence and arrested.

He said Valdez asked for his wallet while on the way to jail
and only stated that he had phone numbers in it," "he did
not say anything about money."

The published letter went on to say that the vehicle had
been under the control of B&B Wrecker Service.

Both Murphree and Weldon Brookshire, of B&B, stated that the
wrecker service never did in fact take possession of the

Murphree said that Valdez's father "showed up at the station
at the same time the wrecker did," at which time it was
turned over to him.

"We signed the car over to him," said Brookshire, "when he
paid us for showing up, but not for loading it."

"This doesn't do your image any good," said Brookshire,
"when you're trying to be honest and here they are demanding
we pay them," for the allegedly stolen money.

Brookshire released a copy of the inventory report of
Valdez's vehicle on the night of his arrest.

The report was signed by Murphree and did not indicate any
wallet was found.

Murphree said that the vehicle was driven from the site of
the pullover, on the Interstate 20 Service Road, near mile
marker 38, by a civilian that had been with him at the time
of the arrest.

He stated that he spoke to the driver and he said there was
a wallet on the dash when he drove the vehicle to the

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