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Jan. 13, 1997
Area deals with second snowfall in week
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From Staff and Wire Reports
PECOS, Jan. 13, 1997 - Pecos residents awoke today to see snow on the
ground for the second time in less than a week, after going three years
without any snow accumulation prior to last Tuesday.
Flurries continued to come down early this afternoon in town, as part of
a second cold wave which brought snow and ice to areas as far south as
the Rio Grande Valley.
Federal court jurors drove from as far away as Iraan and Alpine to Pecos
this morning, arriving in time for the 9 a.m. docket call, despite
14-degree temperatures, snow and icy highways.
Senior Judge Lucius Bunton and his court reporter, Jimmy Smith, drove in
from Odessa. When a tire on Judge Bunton's car went flat, he just kept
driving and had it towed in for service after arriving safely at the
courthouse named in his honor.
One attorney from Houston was unable to get a flight out, and another
from El Paso said he drove to Pecos Sunday.
Judge Bunton accepted one guilty plea in a criminal case and presided
for jury selection in two civil cases, while a warrant for one criminal
defendant who failed to appear at the start of court today was rescinded
when he arrived later.
Snowfall that began Sunday with light flurries continued throughout the
night, depositing a quarter-inch blanket on the ground before daylight.
Larger flakes fell during the morning, depositing another inch before
Ice underneath the snow made walking and driving hazardous, and police
were called to a few minor accidents within the city limits.
Both Pecos-Barstow-Toyah and Balmorhea schools held classes on regular
schedules this morning. Both districts canceled classes last Tuesday and
began school late on Wednesday due to snow and ice that covered the area
and caused a series of vehicle accidents.
No major accidents or ambulance calls to vehicle accidents had been
reported as of noon today.
The winter storm had Texas in its icy grip from the Red River to the Rio
Grande, with seven deaths blamed on the freezing weather.
In the Houston area, 180,000 utility customers were in the dark due to
power outages blamed on ice.
``That's about 10 percent of our customers and that's a huge number for
us,'' said Houston Lighting & Power Co. spokesman Graham Painter said.
``It's mostly wet tree limbs breaking and falling across power lines.
``We had three times the number of linemen out last night but as they
made progress making repairs, power in other areas were going off. We
get some on and others go.''
Five people were killed in traffic accidents on Sunday on icy roadways
across the southern half of the state, and one other person was killed
on Friday night in the Panhandle, police said. An unidentified homeless
man was found dead on Saturday in Fort Worth.
Nearly all major school districts were closed in the Houston area.
Traffic was light with roads slushy and some overpasses icy and
Arneida Davis at International House of Pancakes restaurant in Conroe,
just north of Houston, said customers aren't complaining too much about
``We've had a lot of employees call and say they couldn't make it in,''
she added. `I just live across the street and walked over.''
Forecasters expected more freezing rain in the Houston area today but
said the icy conditions could be eased by a slight warm-up, said Andy
Stasiowski, meteorologist technician with the National Weather Service.
``We're worried about additional rainfall coating trees and wires,
causing problems'' by breaking already ice-covered limbs and power
lines, Stasiowski said.
Ice-covered trees and power lines resulted in some 20,000 electricity
customers in the dark in the Beaumont-Port Arthur area, Entergy
Marty Melton said she lost electricity at her home when a tree limb
collapsed onto a power line Sunday morning.
``I have a 2-month-old and an 18-month-old, so I'm trying to keep them
warm,'' Melton said. ``But it hasn't been too inconvenient. We have a
As of 7 a.m., most major highways in the state remained open, the state
Department of Transportation said.
However, conditions across much of South Texas were hazardous and
``driving is strongly discouraged,'' the DOT said in a telephone
In San Antonio, a stretch of Interstate 10 was closed due to icing
conditions. I-10 was open elsewhere across Texas, with a warning of ice
on bridges and overpasses.
The state's largest universities - Texas A&M in College Station and the
University of Texas at Austin - closed because of the weather.
School officials in many parts of southern and eastern Texas decided to
cancel today's classes.
In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, most schools were closed and
snow-and-ice-coated side streets delayed commuters, although most
highways had blown dry by morning. Police in the cities reported more
than 1,000 accidents since snow began falling Sunday morning.
American Airlines canceled more than 100 flights early Monday at
Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, said airport spokeswoman Angel
Biasatti, and de-icing has delayed departing flights an average of 20
minutes per plane. Roads and runways were in good condition, she said.
Lubbock schools delayed opening for two hours early Monday to allow
buses extra time to navigate streets and roads in the area that have had
some measure of snow cover for nearly a week.
Conditions across the state are not going to get better for the next
36-to-48 hours, forecasters say.
A winter storm warning was issued for a broad area of south central
Texas today because of freezing drizzle, sleet and light snow, and a
winter weather advisory for deep South Texas where temperatures below
freezing combined with light rain to produce dangerous driving
A winter storm warning also was in effect for East Texas, where freezing
rain and sleet accumulations of one-half inch are possible through the
day. Up to an inch of new snow and sleet was forecast for the rest of
A snow advisory is in effect for the Panhandle and parts of southwest
Texas, including the Permian Basin, and a high wind warning is in effect
for Guadalupe Pass in extreme West Texas.
Forecasters say the freezing precipitation will continue through Tuesday
PECOS, Jan. 13, 1997 - Starting salaries for correctional officers will
be higher at the Reeves County Detention Center, commissioners decided
today following a request by the prison's Chief Executive Officer, Rudy
Franco requested the new salaries during this morning's regular
commissioners court meeting, held at the Reeves County Courthouse.
Correctional officers hired at the RCDC will begin at $16,000 per year,
while Correctional officers II will be getting $17,000 per year and CO
III's will earn $20,000 per year.
"On behalf of the staff at RCDC, I wish to thank you for today and for
the prior pay increases. I believe this shows a commitment on your part
to bring the level of professionalism to RCDC that is needed in order to
compete in the world of private corrections," said Franco.
The county-owned prison has lost a number of veteran correctional
officers over the years due to the wage scale. Many have taken jobs at
the area's new state prisons, which paid higher starting salaries.
"I believe this also shows a commitment you have to recognize the job
that staff at RCDC do. I wish to say that the staff I am associated with
is as good as any staff I have worked with in 23 years with the Bureau
of Prisons," said Franco, who took over as CEO in October.
The staff, especially the line staff, are doing the most important job
in the criminal justice system which is keeping the community safe,
according to Franco.
"This will go in line with our objective of setting up a veteran staff
core at the facility," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.
A certain criteria and job performance will be set up before individuals
can reach the CO III level.
"The journeyman level will have to meet certain criteria before they can
earn the salary," said Franco. "We'll set up a set of professional
standards and propose they go through an interview panel and will be
expected to perform at top level," he said.
There will also be a cap as to how many CO III's will be placed in that
particular position, according to Galindo.
New hires at the RCDC include Correction Officers I, Vanessa Simmons,
Johnny Diehl, Sr., Tony Garcia and Gilbert Rayos, Jr. at the new salary
rate of $16,000 per year.
Alfredo Saldana will be a correctional officer III at a salary of
$20,000 and Janet Atchison will work with the San Antonio support staff
A contract was also drawn up and approved by commissioners for the new
Assistant Warden Antonio Perez, with a starting salary of $50,000 per
In other business, commissioners agreed to meet once a month in the
evenings on a trial basis of six months.
Galindo made the proposal at this morning's meeting, stating that
several individuals had approached him about having evening meetings in
which working individuals might be able to attend.
"This would better serve the public, since most of them can't attend our
morning meetings, because of work and other obligations," said Galindo.
"We could try this on a trial basis and see if it's alright with
everybody including the staff here at the courthouse," said Commissioner
Precinct 1 Felipe Arredondo.
The evening meetings will be held once a month, the fourth Monday of the
month at 5:30 or 6 p.m. An additional public business section to allow
citizens to speak before the court will also be included on the agenda.
"This will allow the public to voice their opinions or give
suggestions," said Galindo.
Approval of contracts for architectural services for the detention
center expansion and modifications was also granted.
Galindo had requested that commissioners approve negotiations for
contracting with the current architectural firm, Dailey, Rabke and
Gondeck, for such services, stating that the firm knows the center
better than anyone else and has been working on the Life-safety issues
required by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons at the facility.
The San Antonio firm has worked at the RCDC in different phases and
plans have already been drawn up for the modifications needed to expand
"I want to talk to them and possibly get a proposal on the cost of the
expansion and modifications," said Galindo.
A septic tank installation plan for Texas Community Develop Program
Award was amended, authorizing Reeves County to utilize the remaining
funds from that award to install more tanks in the county.
About $160,000 of that fund will be left over after installing the 90
septic tanks in the original grant.
Septic tanks are being installed as far south as Brogado and on through
the north side of Pecos to 16-mile dam, according to Galindo.
Contracts for the detention of juvenile offenders between Reeves County
and Ward, Pecos and Crane counties were approved.
PECOS, Jan. 13, 1997 - A botched holdup landed two juveniles in the
custody of Reeves County authorities on charges of aggravated armed
robbery, after one was treated and released from Reeves County Hospital
for shooting himself in the knee with the alleged weapon.
Police were dispatched to the Lucky Partners food store, located at the
corner of Ash and Fifth streets, Saturday night in reference to a
gunshot heard, according to a report by Patrolman Olga Lopez.
Patrolman Armando Garcia said store clerk Eric Martinez said he had been
held at gunpoint by two juveniles, whom he named, while they took an
undisclosed amount of money from the register.
The victim told police that the two teens were last seen in the 400
block of South Ash Street.
After checking the residence of one of the alleged robbers, Garcia said
he spotted a suspect who fit the description walking eastbound at the
corner of Fifth and Peach Streets. During questioning, the patrolman
reported that the juvenile was breathing hard.
Garcia then cuffed the 15-year-old and took him back to the scene of the
crime, where Martinez identified him.
Meanwhile, the other suspect was spotted in the 500 block of East Second
Street, where officer Freddy Contreras was patrolling. The 16-year-old
was also transported back to the scene of the robbery, where he too was
identified by the clerk.
At this time, the juvenile indicated to officers that he had injured his
knee after shooting himself accidentally with the handgun they used
during the robbery, when he tried to put it in his pants pocket.
The teen was taken to Reeves County Hospital, where he was treated and
Police Chief Troy Moore said that apparently the juvenile cocked the gun
during the robbery and forgot to uncock it before putting it away.
The incident, said Moore, "was handled in a very professional and
expedient," manner, commending all the officers investigating the crime.
He added that it was helpful that Patrolman Felipe Villalobos was in the
neighboring area when the call was first made.
Villalobos' report stated that he questioned the owner of the store,
Mary Martinez, who said her son, Eric, had gotten into his pickup to
find the two boys.
Other officers at the scene were Sergeant Jim Vaughn and Criminal
Investigator Kelly Davis, who processed the crime scene, said Moore.
No word was received on the youths' hearing this morning as of press
BALMORHEA, Jan. 13, 1997 - A good number of youths from southern Reeves
County braved the chilly winds Saturday to make it to the Balmorhea
The annual show comes one week before the 1997 Reeves County Junior
Livestock Show, which will take place this weekend at the Reeves County
Although their names were not available, all Pee Wee participants
received First Place ribbons for their efforts at Saturday's event, said
Bob Bagley, Balmorhea School Ag Teacher.
Eight students participated in all three divisions of the Goat
exhibition, with Amanda Orozco's goat bringing in the Grand Champion
prize. Adriel Roman received Reserve Grand Champion and Junior
Showmanship with his entry, while Teresa Hoffman and her goat took
In the Lamb category, Adriel Roman received the Breed Champion in the
Southdown division, while Chance Cook and his lamb took the Reserve
In the Finewool category, Adriel Roman received Breed Champion and
Reserve Champion. Roman also received the Reserve Breed Champion in the
Crossbreeds division, while Orlando Sanchez took the Breed Champion.
Breed Champion for one of the largest competitions of the show, Lambs -
Medium Wool, was Jamie Gallego, while Adriel Roman took the Reserve
Gallego also received a prize for Grand Champion in this division and
Roman and his entry were awarded the Reserve Grand Champion.
Showmanship also went to Adriel Roman, in the Junior division, and Damon
Mellard, in the Senior Division.
James Ward took home the Breed Champion prize in the Swine Duroc
division, with Savannah Matta taking the Reserve Breed Champion.
Levon Barragan received a Breed Champion ribbon for her swine in the
Hamp division and James Ward took the Reserve Breed Champion.
In the Other Purebred division of the Swine competition, Jennifer Ward
took the Breed Champion, while Naomi Madrid was awarded the Reserve
Teresa Hoffman was handed both the Breed and Grand Champion prizes for
her swine in the Crossbred division. Chris Cook and his swine won the
Reserve Breed Champion and Levon Barragan the Reserve Grand Champion.
Showmanship went to Julia Garlick in the Junior Division and James Ward
in the Senior Division.
Damon Mellard's steer each took the Grand Champion and Reserve Grand
Champion ribbons home.
Other prize winners were:
Goats - Light Weight
Adriel Roman, 1st; Teresa Hoffman, 2nd; Reagan Haynes, 3rd; Chance
Cooke, 4th and Reagan Haynes, 5th.
Goats - Medium Weight
Amanda Orozco, 1st; Amanda Orozco, 2nd; Matthew Sanchez, 3rd and Chris
Goats - Heavy Weight
Adriel Roman, 1st; Jr. Orozco, 2nd; Teresa Hoffman, 3rd and Adriel
Lambs - Southdown
Adriel Roman, 1st; Chance Cook, 2nd and Chance Cook, 3rd.
Lambs - Finewood
Adriel Roman, 1st and Adriel Roman, 2nd.
Lambs - Crossbreds
Orlando Sanchez, 1st; Adriel Roman, 2nd; Adriel Roman, 3rd and Jamie
Lambs - Medium Wool - Light Weight
Adriel Roman, 1st; Jo Gina Gallego, 2nd; Jennifer Ward, 3rd; Jennifer
Ward, 4th and Jennifer Ward, 5th.
Lambs - Medium Wool - Medium Weight
Adriel Roman, 1st; Adriel Roman, 2nd; Damon Mellard, 3rd; Jo Gina
Gallego, 4th and Adriel Roman, 5th.
Lambs - Medium Wool, Light-Heavy Weight
James Ward, 1st; Damon Mellard, 2nd; Damon Mellard, 3rd; James Ward, 4th
and Jo Gina Gallego, 5th.
Lambs - Medium Wool - Heavy Weight
Jamie Gallego, 1st; Matthew Sanchez, 2nd; Chris Cook, 3rd; Jennifer
Ward, 4th and James Ward, 5th.
Swine - Duroc
James Ward, 1st; Savannah Matta, 2nd; Jourmain Matta, 3rd; Naomi Madrid,
4th and Jennifer Ward, 5th.
Swine - Hamp - Light Weight
James Ward, 1st; Liberty Wofford, 2nd; Liberty Wofford, 3rd; Brianna
Redwine, 4th and Chance Cooke, 5th.
Swine - Hamp - Medium Weight
Liberty Wofford, 1st; Jennifer Ward, 2nd; Naomi Madrid, 3rd; Julia
Garlick, 4th and Jourmain Matta, 5th.
Swine - Hamp - Heavy Weight
Levon Barragan, 1st; Chris Cook, 2nd; Logan Humphries, 3rd and Teresa
Swine - Other Purebred
Jennifer Ward, 1st; Naomi Madrid, 2nd; James Ward, 3rd; Jennifer Ward,
4th and Teresa Hoffman, 5th.
Swine - Crossbred - Light Weight
Chris Cook, 1st; Liberty Wofford, 2nd and Chris Cook, 3rd.
Swine - Crossbred - Heavy Weight
Teresa Hoffman, 1st; Julia Garlick, 2nd; Jordan Keerze, 3rd and James
ODESSA, Jan. 13, 1997 - An investigation of the Permian Basin Drug Task
Force by the Texas Rangers continues, with no timetable set for its
Barry Caver, Texas Rangers Captain of the Midland Division, Company E,
said this morning that the investigation directed towards the PBDTF,
"has been on for several months," and dubbed it "old news."
He added that the inquiry was initiated by District Attorney Richard
Clark of the 121st Judicial District, which covers an area of the South
Plains southwest of Lubbock.
Clark said just before lunch today, "I really don't know that I
initiated, but I did write a letter," and refused to comment on his
concerns involving the PBDTF.
Since then, said Caver, a number of people of have become parties to the
investigation, writing in their concerns with the state and area
Caver indicated that the nature of the probe had to do with
"irregularities as far as abuse of official capacity," as far as funds
"We continue to get new information," said Caver, while several
allegations remain, "to substantiate."
"Basically what it amounts to," he said, "is one word against another."
PBDTF Tom Finley was unavailable for comment.
Finley and former 143rd District Attorney John Stickels clashed last
year over the task force's authority outside Ector County. In late May,
Finley called for Stickels resignation, and over the final nine months
of 1996 the task force conducted no investigations within the 143rd
Judicial District, which includes Reeves, Ward and Loving counties.
Community Council of Reeves County directors will receive information
and ask questions of Head Start teachers in closed session during the
regular board meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
In a second closed session, the board will consider an appeal by a Head
Start teacher who was terminated and talk with teachers about the
board's expectations, said Linda Clark, president.
Two board vacancies will be filled, Dan Painter will present the
financial report, and the board will discuss and act on the 1995 audit,
presented in the last meeting by Ron Kirby, Odessa CPA.
CCR directors met with Head Start Policy Council members on Jan. 2 to
discuss problems that threaten to cancel the $518,000 federal funding
that not only keeps Head Start operating, but pays much of CCR's
Head Start Director Norma Rubio told the policy council that she is
working to correct deficiencies noted by federal monitors. Lack of
training for board and policy council members is one of the problems,
she said, and she has scheduled a training session.
Another problem board members noted is conflict between teachers, aides
and administrators. Clark told the CCR board in its December meeting
that teachers and aides have to learn they will take their complaints to
their immediate supervisor, and then appeal through channels if they are
not satisfied, rather than going to executive director Yvonne Martin or
to a member of the board or policy council.
Rubio suggested to policy council members that they refer complaints
made to them individually back to the administration rather than trying
to handle them.
PECOS, Jan. 13, 1997 - Ward County sheriff Ben Keele, jail administrator
Mary Byrne and four jailers failed in their duty to provide a safe
environment for a suicidal inmate, said attorney Curtis Stuckey in
federal court this morning.
Stuckey represents Maria Gutierrez, the mother of David Oyerbides, who
hung himself in the Ward County Jail on May 11, 1995.
Gutierrez seeks $1.7 million in damages, claiming the jailers failed to
follow their own written policy to continually watch an inmate believed
to be suicidal.
Oyerbides was arrested May 7, 1995 on a charge of violating probation in
an aggravated sexual assault case, said Richard Bonner, attorney for the
Shortly after he was booked into jail, Oyerbides became violent and was
placed in a padded cell without his clothing, then later returned to a
He had been in jail four days when he was placed back in the padded
cell, this time with his clothes on. He cut his shirt to fashion a
noose, knotted one end and hung himself by wedging the knots in a
waist-high door flap that allowed jailers to pass food into his padded
cell, Bonner said.
Bonner said that jailers checked on Oyerbides every 30 minutes. Two
jailers passing the padded cell happened to notice the knots in the food
slot and worked frantically to cut them loose, he said.
Paramedics who arrived within two minutes were unable to revive
Oyerbides, he said.
"My clients are not perfect human beings," Bonner said. "I am not going
to tell you we didn't make mistakes...the law does not require jailers
to be perfect...they did care; they did try to do their jobs."
The jury trial is expected to continue through Wednesday.
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Copyright 1997 by Pecos Enterprise
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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