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PECOS, January 8, 1997 - Treacherous highway conditions caused by
subfreezing temperatures and two days of sleet and snow claimed the
lives of two people and sent several more to Reeves County Hospital
Tuesday afternoon and early today.
Area Department of Public Safety officials continued to respond to many
more weather-related incidents through mid-morning, with accidents
reported in all directions outside Pecos over the past 36 hours.
Since just before 2 p.m. Tuesday, scanners and emergency radios blared
with reports of accidents along nearby stretches of Interstates 10 and
20 and U.S. 285, keeping DPS troopers and emergency response crews busy
with an estimated 50 incidents.
DPS Sergeant Harvey Stamper said earlier today that troopers are finding
it difficult to get back to headquarters to submit their reports, while
Dickie Jones of the DPS Communications Department in Pecos said 50 is a
"rough estimate" of the number of incidents investigated by area
"And this doesn't include the ones they've come up on that were not
reported," said Jones.
Trooper Richard Jacobs, of the Pecos DPS office, investigated the first
fatality about 5:20 p.m. Tuesday, when a 1993 GMC van driven by Leanne
Marie Johnson, 22, of El Paso, rolled down a concrete embankment just
east of the Pecos River crossing on I-20 in Ward County.
The vehicle was occupied by eight Mexican students, one of whom was
ejected and killed.
Daniel Eduardo Morales Hernandez, 14, of El Sausal, Chihuahua, Mexico,
was pronounced dead at the scene by Ward County Justice of the Peace
Pascual Olibas. He was not wearing a seat belt.
His body was taken to Pecos Funeral Home, and next of kin have been
According to the DPS report, Johnson, who was wearing a seat belt, lost
control of the van while westbound near the 48 mile marker on I-20,
after it drifted to the right and struck a concrete guardrail. Johnson
then overcorrected to the left, causing the van to run off the right
side of the road and roll down an embankment, overturning 1¼ times.
Six-year-old passenger Brenda Donis Luna, who was flown out of Reeves
County Hospital to a Lubbock hospital, was listed in critical condition
with severe head injuries. Luna, a resident of Juarez, Mexico, was not
wearing a seat belt, Jacobs reported.
No seat belts were worn by any of the other passengers - also students -
who were all treated for minor injuries and released from Reeves County
They were: Christian Manuel Martinez, 6, Juarez, Chih., Mex.; Gilberto
Chavez Marquez, 19, Juarez, Chih., Mex.; Jose Angel Morales Hernandez,
11, El Sausal, Chih., Mex.; Juan Manuel Alcantor, 12, El Sausal, Chih.,
Mex.; Christian Ruben Morales Hernandez, 15, El Sausal, Chih., Mex. and
Guadalupe Rebecca Santellanes Gonzales, 9, El Sausal, Chih., Mex.
In the second fatal accident, Patricia Othella Strickland, 61, of
Wellton, Ariz., was pronounced dead at 6:30 a.m. today by Reeves County
Justice of the Peace J.T. Marsh, near mile marker 25 on I-20.
Investigating officer, DPS Corporal Emmit Moore, said a legally parked
1995 Freightliner truck tractor and 1994 Lufkin trailer, both bearing
Oklahoma license plates, was on the shoulder of I-20, 2.2 miles east of
Toyah, when Wayne Hugo Strickland, 68, of Wellton, Ariz., lost control
of his 1996 Mercury LaSalle GS about 5:30 this morning.
The sedan was eastbound, said Moore, and struck the right rear end of
the trailer before coming to rest in the south side of the bar ditch.
The driver was wearing a seat belt, while the passenger was not, the
By 9:40 a.m. today, the DPS office had gotten reports of about five
truck tractor accidents on I-20 at mile posts 54, 56 and 62, which had
completely blocked the eastbound lane of the interstate.
On Tuesday, three local minors were treated and released from Reeves
County Hospital following a two vehicle accident about 1:40 p.m., just
north of town on Hickory Street, near Couch Hill, also known as
One of the vehicles struck a power utility pole, before rolling more
than 50 feet south on Hickory Street. Some North Pecos residents and the
KIUN-KPTX radio antenna experienced a power outage for about two hours
while Texas-New Mexico Power employees replaced the pole.
T-NP Engineer Stanley Lam said that a circuit serving residents north of
the Elm Street substation and the radio antenna was shut off between
3:30 and 5:45 p.m.
No other details were disclosed as of press time about the incident,
which was investigated by Monahans Trooper Shannon Gray.
PECOS, January 8, 1997 - Snow and ice, which caused hazardous driving
conditions and delayed the start of school this morning, had melted off
city streets by noon today as skies cleared.
Pecos-Barstow-Toyah and Balmorhea ISD schools both opened their doors
late today, after closing on Tuesday due to the winter weather. Some bus
routes were canceled due to the hazardous road conditions, which were
blamed for a school bus accident to the east this morning in Big Spring.
An estimated three inches of sleet and snow has fallen intermittently in
Pecos since Sunday.
Moisture measured .21 inch for the 24-hour period ending at 7:30 a.m.
today, as sleet continued to fall in 19-degree temperatures.
A thin covering of sleet and ice on streets created hazardous driving
early today, causing drivers to creep along and ease through
intersections, ignoring stop signs.
Snow fell most of the day Tuesday, and little of it melted, as the high
temperature was only 29.
Along with causing problems for local schools, the weather also affected
city trash collections and knocked out the area's Fox Network signal
from its Gomez Peak antenna.
Slick alleys have kept Wes Tex Waste garbage trucks from emptying
dumpsters the past two days, and some are overflowing.
Ernest Falcon, WTW operations manager, said they will try to pick up
some commercial accounts today, but residential pickup will have to wait
Snow and ice make the streets and alleys dangerous for the trucks, which
could slide into a gas meter or damage private property, Falcon said.
And once the ice melts, the trucks could get stuck in the mud.
"We don't want to have any accidents or property damage," Falcon said.
"We are going to wait until this afternoon to see if we can run some
commercial accounts. I don't think there's as much problem getting to
them, because a lot are in bigger areas where we might get in there a
lot safer. Residential, we will just have to wait and see."
Falcon said WTW has received a lot of calls about overflowing dumpsters.
"We tell them as soon as we get a chance, we will empty them," he said.
WTW is under contract with the city of Pecos to pick up and dispose of
solid waste. The contract has an inclement weather clause, Falcon said.
Crews will work this weekend to catch up if necessary, he said.
Meanwhile, the idled trucks have been taken to the shop for maintenance,
Ice was also to blame for the problems with KPEJ's local signal, Mike
Wadle, engineer for the Fox affiliate in Odessa, said today.
Ice on the mountain, 40 miles southwest of Pecos, has affected the
antenna there. "We think that as soon as the ice on the mountain melts
everything will be fine," said Wadle.
However, he added, "We won't know until the ice melts if it's just that
Wadle is planning a trip to Gomez Peak to check on the antenna as soon
as the roads have cleared, in order to be certain the ice is the only
problem with the antenna.
"I'll still go ahead and check on the antenna, but since it's located on
a mountain we won't know until the roads are cleared enough for us to
travel down there," he said.
The western Permian Basin was affected more by the winter weather on
Tuesday, while conditions to the east worsened overnight.
A school bus overturned and slid off Interstate 20 near Big Spring this
morning, sending the bus driver and five students ranging in age from 10
to 17 to the hospital with minor injuries. Amber Rich, a spokeswoman for
Scenic Mountain Medical Center, said most of the injured were treated
and released but that some were still being evaluated.
``There's not much traffic around here today,'' said Renee Barrois, a
bookkeeper for American Hiddledy Piggledy, an antiques store in the Hill
Country town of Fredericksburg. ``I think everybody is staying
Ice caused hazards in patches throughout the northern half of the state
early Tuesday. Another snowstorm was expected in the same region again
``The forecasters don't know exactly what's going to happen, but it's a
pretty good idea it's not going to be terribly pleasant,'' said Texas
Department of Transportation spokesman Alan King.
Power lines snapped under the weight of ice in the Austin area, and
16,000 electric customers were without power this morning, utility
officials in the city said.
Oliver Olivar, owner of Border Taxi Cab in El Paso, said the
intermittent snow that has fallen since Sunday had ceased by Tuesday
afternoon, although 3 inches or more was predicted overnight.
``We just make sure we keep our cars running up to par,'' Olivar said.
``We keep experienced drivers out there. Some guys don't want to fool
with it and just want to stay home.''
Ice caused scores of minor accidents across the Trans Pecos and Permian
Basin. A Denver City policeman escaped serious injury when he rolled his
squad car Monday on the way home after hitting an ice patch.
Meanwhile, U.S. 87 between Comfort and Fredericksburg was shut down much
of Tuesday because of ice. Frozen sheets up to a half-inch thick were
reported in the Hill Country, prompting state Insurance Commissioner
Elton Bomer to advise Texans to stay off icy roads.
Copyright 1997 Pecos Enterprise. All rights reserved. AP contributed to
PECOS, January 8, 1997 - Compromise that will please some and disappoint
others led the Pecos Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday to
re-zone 15 lots and a portion of two others in the Parker Heights
Addition from C-1 to C-2, with restrictions.
Bowing to "pretty strong feeling," the commission added the restriction
of no retail liquor sales nor beer parlors.
The changes would allow Pecos Autoplex to open a garage and La Tienda
Thriftway to sell beer and wine for off-premises consumption, but
prohibit "beer joints" and liquor stores.
Oscar Saenz said that should satisfy most of the opposition while
opening that area to a long list of businesses that are desirable.
The zoning commission's recommendation will go to the Pecos City
Council. They would have to pass an ordinance making the change before
it would become effective.
Should the council approve the C-2 zone, La Tienda would then be
required to obtain a license to sell beer and wine for off-premises
consumption before adding alcoholic beverages to their stock.
Commission chairman Jesse Stephens said that a deed restriction for the
Parker Heights Addition prohibits competing businesses.
Stephens said the zone change affects only Lots 1-8 and part of 9 (La
Tienda) and Lots 15-21 and part of 14 (Pecos Autoplex) of Block 1. It
will not affect the site of the old Fina station that fronts South Eddy
Street, because it is Lot 26 of Block 1, he said.
Saenz said he found no master plan to guide the commission in its
Frank Spencer asked if the change would be spot zoning and if the
council would be breaking the law to grant the requests.
"It probably is spot zoning," said City Attorney Scott Johnson. "But all
spot zoning is not illegal...Whichever way you go, one side won't be
happy. It may end up back in court anyway, but don't let that scare
Erasmo Acosta said he would base his decision on input from the general
Bill Oglesby said that some businesses not allowed in a C-1 zone already
are operating in that area, such as the Pecos Autoplex used car lot.
Johnson said that Harris Properties obtained exceptions from the zoning
board of adjustments to allow auto sales and repairs in the C-1 zone.
Johnny Teague objected to the change, saying the C-2 zone would open the
affected lots up to "everything else."
"I think we are safer with C-1 with exceptions than C-2 with
restrictions," said Teague, who cast the only "no" vote.
Spencer said the present zoning map was created in 1946.
"I don't think allowing the sale of beer in a grocery store would make
Pecos in that area of town a gutter or a place where people don't want
to go," he said.
He said changes need to be made, and he has tried to get a new master
plan drawn up.
"I ask this commission that we ask the council to review and do what we
need to do to get a new master plan," Spencer said.
Johnson said a new master plan should start with the zoning commission,
and he will have the city staff gather information to help them.
PECOS, January 8, 1997 - Salaries for mid-level managers at the Reeves
County Detention Center were specifically outlined in an emergency
meeting of the Reeves County Commissioners Court held Tuesday afternoon.
The meeting was held to clarify the salaries for mid-level managers at
"These salaries were approved at the last commissioners court meeting
and the county treasurer requested that we specifically outline the
salaries, so that she can complete the payroll," said County Judge Jimmy
Galindo said the subject qualified for an emergency meeting under
section 551.045 of the government code.
The new salary scale sets captain's pay at $29,000 annually; department
heads will get $27,500; lieutenants will be earning $25,000 a year; unit
managers, $25,000 a year; case managers, $23,000; and unit counselors,
$22,000. The salary for the San Antonio-based administrator was set at
$20,000 and the administrative assistant will receive $19,472 yearly.
RCDC Chief Executive Officer Rudy Franco was on hand for the special
meeting and told the court that he will be conducting some research in
an effort to upgrade entry-level positions at the facility.
He said he is undertaking the effort in order to produce a
revenue-generating facility with top employees.
"I think this will create more of an incentive for us to employ
qualified individuals and compete with other facilities," said Franco,
who began work as CEO for the prison three months ago.
The entry-level salary would be slightly higher than the one currently
paid at the Big Spring facility, according to Franco.
"It's real important that the staff know that commissioners court
doesn't decide who moves up and who doesn't, it's up to the executive
staff," said Galindo.
He explained that the executive staff is the one who makes this decision
and the court merely approves the salary changes.
The motion to approve the RCDC salary changes was agreed to unanimously
by Precinct 3 Commissioner Herman Tarin and Precinct 4 Commissioner
Bernardo Martinez. They were the only two commissioners present, along
Newly elected Precinct 1 Commissioner Felipe Villalobos was unable to
attend because he is currently attending school. Precinct 2 W.J. Bang
was also absent.
In other personnel changes, Oscar Barrera was hired as a part-time
employee to work on the second perimeter fence at the RCDC, supervised
by the Road and Bridges Department.
An amendment to the budget was approved to accommodate funds for the
"We will have about $55,000 on grant fees to be paid by the state," said
County Auditor Lynn Owens, "but in the meantime we need some money in
that particular account which can be taken from the general fund."
Raul Garcia was appointed to represent the county on the Reeves County
Appraisal District board. The seat was forerly held by Emily Fernandes.
Commissioner Precinct 4 Bernardo Martinez made the motion to appoint
Garcia and told the court he had already spoken to the appointee.
"I've spoken to him also recently and he stated that he would be honored
to represent the county on this matter," said Galindo. Garcia forerly
was a member of the appraisal board, as a Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD
PECOS, January 8, 1997 - Silent movies were shown in Saragosa on the
35-millimeter 1904 projector loaned this week to West of the Pecos
Museum for a special exhibit on cameras and projectors.
Wynn Hamilton, whose father opened a movie theater in Saragosa in the
1920s, loaned two projectors for the exhibit.
Kelly Davis, Howard's Studio owner, has some cameras that will be
placed in a glass display case, said Mary Barfield of the museum staff.
Adding interest to the display are items such as a $12.50 invoice to
the Community Theatre of Saragosa for the movie "Coming Thru" in 1926
and yellowed admission tickets, one with the number "114."
Barfield said a partition across the large room just off the museum
lobby created the special exhibit room.
Christmas trees decorated by school children occupied the room over the
holidays. Later, the room will be used for Black History Month and other
temporary displays, Barfield said.
Hamilton's father operated a general store in the original town of
Saragosa, which is a half-mile north of the present settlement. His
two-story house is one of the few buildings still standing in the
Michael Toliver Patrick, 55, died Thursday, Jan. 2, in Houston.
Patrick will be cremated and private memorial services will be held in
He was born July 11, 1941 in Pecos, was a Catholic and a lifelong
Houston resident. He served for several years as a deputy constable for
Harris County before beginning his own business as a commercial
photographer and owner of Angelique Artworks in Houston.
He was preceded in death by his father, Troy Patrick, of Balmorhea and
his grandparents, T. L. Patrick of Barstow and B.A. Toliver of Pecos.
Survivors include his mother, Helen Toliver Boone of Houston; two sons,
Charles Clay Patrick of Portland, Ore., Michael Troy Patrick of Houston;
two sisters, Clay Patrick of Balmorhea, Louisa Acosta of Cristoval, Tx.;
one brother, John Patrick of Odessa; his stepmother, Tudie Patrick, of
Balmorhea and several nieces and nephews.
PECOS, Jan. 8, 1997 - High Tuesday 29, low last night 19. Snow estimated
2.5 inches, moisture .21 inch. January moisture .33 inch, year-to-date
.33 inch. Tonight, mostly cloudy this evening, then decreasing
cloudiness. Low around 20. Northwest wind 5-10 mph. Thursday, partly
cloudy and warmer. High around 45. West wind 10-20 mph.
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Copyright 1997 by Pecos Enterprise
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