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PECOS, March 13, 1997 - Farmers swarmed over the USDA Farm Service
Office Wednesday afternoon in an effort to get their records current so
they can receive back payments under the Agricultural Market Transition
But only about half the farmers in Reeves County who signed up for the
program were at a meeting Wednesday morning in which state FSA officials
explained the problems in the local office and what they are doing to
correct the records.
"One of the problems we had was that they didn't know about it," said
Dan Kropp, chief programs coordinator for the state FSA office.
All 103 producers in Reeves County who signed up their 122 farms in the
AMTA need to come in and get their records straight, he said.
"This morning we tried to lay out what we needed in the office as far as
signatures and documents to issue final 96 payments on farms that
haven't received it, and what we need for 1997 advance AMTA payments,"
Annual payments in Reeves County total $900,000 to $1 million, said Pat
Guy of the state office. Half the payment is made in advance in December
or January, and the remainder is paid in September.
Kropp said management problems in the county office left the records in
such poor condition that payments had to be halted until they could be
State and federal FSA officials have been going over the records since
"I realize we have had several jump teams in here looking at things,"
State officials first checked the records and made recommendations, but
USDA officials in Washington decided to make their own on-site
"Every time anyone reported to Washington, they thought there was some
kind of fraud, but it was just mis-management," Kropp said.
Kropp said he expects to have all the records in good shape by Sept. 1.
"Right now we are trying to get payments out in the next two or three
weeks," he said. "We threw the ball in the producers' court and told
them what we need. It is up to them to contact this office.
"We have authorization to open the computer system and will be able to
make the payments," he said.
Each individual producer will receive his check as soon as his records
are in order. Although many producers have already brought in
documentation, most records still lack something, Kropp said.
"They need us and we need them. We have to cooperate," he said.
"Sometimes it may be a little bit nit-picking, but that's what we need
to make this thing work."
Some producers claim they have been to the FSA office 50 times and
brought information and the staff lost it, he said.
"It doesn't matter. We still don't have it," he said.
He gave the case of a fictional John Doe as an example of the type of
problems found in the files:
"Our records show John Doe is owner of a farm, but when they bring in a
cash lease it says "John Doe Estate," he said. That is not close enough.
Kropp said the problems date back to 1987 or 1988. But he said the
interim staff called in from other county offices and the state office
is not going back to 1987 to correct records.
"We are going back to 93-94," he said.
Problems in Reeves County are not unique, but in other counties the
number of errors has been fewer, he said.
"It's not the producers' fault," Kropp said. "The people in this office
weren't making the right decisions.
Larry Turnbough, a long-time farmer in the Balmorhea area, was in the
office with his father, Rip Turnbough, to bring their thick files up to
"It sounds like after today's meeting that everyone needs to share
responsibility for it not being done correctly," Larry said.
"A lot of the office staff probably did some things to help producers
but just didn't get enough of the documentation down to please all the
regulators all the way up the line," Turnbough said.
From the meeting, Turnbough learned that problems were noticed by a
supervisor about 1½ years ago.
"Due to the new farm bill and FSA getting involved in some financing,
etc., they had so many things to do we became lower on the priority
list, so that let is slide through to this late date. It got where there
was so much wrong they just had to put a stop somewhere to get it
corrected," Turnbough said.
No one alleges any fraud, he said.
"It was just an accumulation of a lot of little things that have built
up. They said it was definitely not fraud on anybody's part. Just poor
management, and over time little mistakes became big problems."
A farmer might have many different pieces of lease land and "maybe
didn't get all the signatures," he said.
Government payments are based on acreage approved for crops and on
yields on those acres.
"You have some farms where you lease new land and add and subtract...and
the number wasn't correct going both ways," he said. "Also on
yields...when farms have combined yield that didn't get passed along
All of this is the responsibility of office personnel to make sure it is
right, but the farmer is responsible to prove up the records, he said.
Once those records are correct, farmers can collect an annual payment
for seven years, under the 1995 Freedom to Farm Act. Turnbough said the
farmers' claims can be confirmed by soil conservation service and
federal crop insurance records.
Bankers also attended Wednesday's meeting, because farmers depend on
subsidy payments to back up their loans.
Turnbough said that many farmers needed the September, 1996, final
payment to finance their harvest costs and to repay bankers. About 20
percent of Reeves County farmers did not receive their final 1996
"If you planned on that check in September to harvest, you were out that
money, and it was hard to go to your financing institution and ask for
more because you weren't sure you would get a check," he said. "That
created hardships. You need that money for harvest expenses. You had
everything riding on getting that crop in.
"This year, maybe you had an operating loan to pay off, equipment or
land payments or leases.
"You might have had to sell all of your crop early, when prices are
lowest, to raise the money to do what you were needing to do to carry on
your business," he said. "That might have cost you quite a bit of money."
With planting time fast approaching, farmers need financing for this
year's crop, but no producer has received the advance payment for 1997.
Bankers are nervous about loaning more money when they're not sure if
the payment is forthcoming.
"Just not knowing was aggravation," Turnbough said. "You heard a lot of
rumors but no facts."
The fact that all the local office people resigned and there was no one
to explain what was going on added to the frustration.
Farmers put pressure on their representatives and the state FSA office
to get something done, Turnbough said.
"This has been a long struggle," said Kropp. "I started in October
coming out here. I was here with the Washington people and their
attorneys last week."
Attorneys had to make the decision whether the proposed actions to
correct problems are legal, Kropp said.
"We have to follow the statutes."
Darren Owens, a Pecos High School graduate who now works in the state
FSA office, was helping farmers Wednesday. He is chief of the common
Kropp said that Mark Maynard, who retired in October after a short time
as county executive director, accepted a retirement buyout offered
across the nation to reduce staff. Some county offices will be combined,
but Reeves County will continue to operate, he said.
Another county executive director will be brought in, but Kropp could
not say when that will be. In the meantime, interim county director
Harold Ross of Lamesa will continue to supervise the office while
corrections are being made, Kropp said.
All early voting for city, school and hospital board elections will be
in the new elections office at 508 S. Oak Street in the Pecos Community
Center. Early voting begins April 14 and closes April 29. Applications
for ballots by mail will be accepted through April 25.
Debra Thomas is elections coordinator. She will be in the office three
hours a day beginning Monday.
Police Chief Troy Moore explained the new juvenile policy which he and
juvenile probation officer Alberto Alvarez drew up using state juvenile
law and the penal code.
Juveniles are handled differently than adults when they are arrested for
a criminal violation, Moore said.
"On a juvenile, you don't have to have a complaint, but if you make an
arrest, you have to have enough paperwork for a detention hearing within
24 hours. That's been the problem, but we have it pretty well solved."
Officers have been using the new policy, and it is working well, Moore
said. It will be changed as needed.
Moore said he will meet with Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Supt. Mario Sotelo
soon to show him the code and coordinate with the schools on enforcement.
Danny Rodriguez suggested Moore present the juvenile policy in teacher
in-service training before school starts in August.
"We have a list of kids on probation," Moore said. "Any time we have
contact with a juvenile, we have to find out if he is on probation. If
he has violated it, there are no questions asked; he goes right there."
Moore said the police department's drug dog died, but Reeves County is
training one that they will be able to use in the schools.
Dr. Elvia Reynolds asked if police could enforce city or state laws
against littering to stop some of the beer bottle and diaper disposal on
Moore said officers seldom see a violation because people watch for
patrol cars, but that private citizens can file a complaint that may
lead to an arrest.
In considering financial reports, Ricky Herrera noted that a lot of work
is being done on the dog pound, where heating and cooling have been
Julian Florez of Barstow said 50-70 dogs have been picked up and brought
to Pecos, and it has had a positive impact on the town.
"We sure appreciate it," he said.
Mac McKinnon asked the council to approve another three months of
advertising through a monthly calendar in the «MDUL»Enterprise.«MDNM»
He said he has had positive response on the calendar as well as the
city's quarterly newsletter.
Rodriguez said he has also had positive resonse and would like to
"It is a win-win situation when you keep people informed," said Herrera.
Mayor Dot Stafford said that much of the $5,000 advertising budget has
already been spent, leaving about $1,500 for the remainder of the year.
Randy Graham made a motion to continue both newspaper and radio
advertising for three months "and see what our budget looks like." With
Rodriguez's second, the motion passed unanimously.
Dr. Elvia Reynolds proposed copying city codes and minutes onto computer
disk to make them more accessible. The council agreed to get costs for a
professional firm to do the work and for equipment and software to do
the work in-house.
In executive session, the council discussed applicants for city manager.
However, Stafford said they lack some information on some candidates and
are not prepared to make a decision. Five have been interviewed.
PECOS, March 13, 1997 - U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson capped a long
week of criminal hearings and sentencings Wednesday with a telephone
conference call to hear arguments in a civil Freedom of Information Act
Government attorneys in Washington, D.C. and El Paso joined Jack
McNamara of Alpine in a four-way conference call with Judge Furgeson and
McNamara has asked the court to force federal law enforcement agencies
and attorneys to release records pertaining to the drug smuggling
investigation of former Presidio County Sheriff Rick Thompson and his
co-defendant, Robert Chambers.
Both are serving prison terms for their part in smuggling cocaine into
the U.S. from Mexico. Chambers was a registered informant for the Border
Patrol during the time he has admitted smuggling marijuana and cocaine
across the Rio Grande.
Judge Furgeson held a hearing on motion to suppress evidence in a
marijuana possession case Wednesday morning, which he took under
In that case, Gabriela Espinosa-Santilla was arrested by a Border Patrol
agent in Presidio after he found marijuana in the van she was driving.
Defense attorney Lizabeth Rogers of El Paso questioned the legality of
the stop, claiming the agent had no reason to believe Espinosa had
violated the law before he stopped her for questioning.
Agent Garcia testified he became suspicious of Santilla's actions after
she drove into a service station, but drove off after spotting his
As he drove behind Santilla on U.S. Highway 67, she pulled onto the
shoulder and traveled there for a short distance before turning into the
parking lot at the Tree Palms Inn, he said.
Garcia said he turned on his red lights ½ mile south of the hotel, but
Santilla did not stop.
"All the events combined made it seem like she was trying to avoid me,"
he said. "I had run a registration check on the license plate, and when
it cam back to an El Paso address, I decided to check (for immigration
The wheel wells on the van were still damp from crossing the Rio Grande
and had fresh mud on them, making him suspect drug smuggling, he said.
"I asked how much money she was offered. She said she was to be paid
$3,000 to drive the van to Marfa. First she said it (the river) was
crossed at Lajitas. Later she said it was at a little town 15-20 minutes
from Presidio. It turned out to be Redford," Garcia said.
A check with a drug-sniffing dog turned up no scent, but the van was
taken to the Presidio Port of Entry, where a U.S. Customs dog did alert
on the van, Garcia said.
In searching the van, agents found 212 bundles of suspected marijuana.
Also on Wednesday, Juan Moreno-Hernandez pleaded guilty to possessing
with intent to distribute marijuana. He will be sentenced May 12.
- Rito Rodriguez-Mancinas, Hilario Sanchez-Lopez, Javier Solis-Chavez,
Jesus Monclava-Valerio, Manuel Rodriguez-Mancinas and Israel de la
Cruz-Arriaga, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana
on Oct. 1, 1996, 27 months in prison.
- Luis Alfonso Ochoa-Sanchez, conspiracy to possess with intent to
distribute marijuana on Sept. 11, 1996, 27 months in prison.
- Edwin Rodriguez-Marquez, time served plus one year supervised release
for re-entry of a deported alien.
- Oscar Baeza-Carrasco, 24 months and one year supervised release for
- Mario Gutierrez-Medrano, two years supervised release for transporting
- Saul Moreno-Diaz and Luis Ochoa-Sanchez, 27 months for conspiracy to
possess with intent to distribute marijuana on Sept. 11, 1996.
- Jason Kyle Wood, 24 months for possession with intent to distribute
marijuana on Oct. 8.
- Isidro Ortega-Sanchez, 24 months for possession with intent to
distribute marijuana on Sept. 21, 1996.
- Alfonso Rios-Hernandez, 19 months for possession with intent to
distribute marijuana on Sept. 13, 1996.
- Israel de la Cruz-Arriaga, 27 months for conspiracy
- Raul Gerardo Vargas-Lopez, possession with intent to distribute
cocaine on Sept. 30, 1996, 57 months in prison.
PECOS, March 13, 1997 - The season has ended for one Pecos High School
baseball player, after he and a second member of the Eagles' varsity
squad were injured in a one-vehicle rollover early Tuesday just north of
the Pecos city limits.
Corporal Emmit Moore, investigating officer for the Texas Department of
Public Safety, said alcohol was involved following his examination at
the scene about 1:35 a.m. Tuesday, though there were no alcohol-related
citations issued as a result of the accident.
The driver, Joseph Lynn Strain, 18, was at the wheel of a 1979 Ford
pickup in the 2300 block of West "F" Street, just east of Fred's Body
Shop, when he took a right turn, lost control of the vehicle and over
corrected to the left.
The truck crossed the roadway and flipped once, coming to rest upright,
facing east, said Moore.
No seat belts were worn by Strain or passenger, Eric Muniz, 16.
Strain was ejected, according to the DPS corporal, while Muniz remained
in the passenger's seat.
However, Muniz reportedly suffered a fractured ankle as a result of the
Both were taken to the Reeves County Hospital, where Strain was treated
and released. Muniz was later transported to Midland Memorial Hospital,
where he was admitted and later released, according to a hospital
Moore indicated that the boys had been pulled over by a Pecos Police
unit and told to go home some 30 minutes prior to the accident.
Strain was cited for failing to control speed and not wearing a seat
Muniz received one citation for not wearing a seat belt.
Strain, a PHS senior, has been the starting first baseman for the Pecos
Eagles this season, while Muniz, a junior, has played part-time at
shortstop. He started the Eagles' last game, on Saturday against Kermit.
There were no baseball games scheduled for Pecos this week, during
Spring Break for Pecos-Barstow-Toyah schools. Classes for P-B-T students
resume next Monday, while the next varsity game is on Tuesday at Midland
On Feb. 27, police arrested David Salcido, 25, 519 Mulberry St., on a
warrant service conducted at 2306 Country Club Dr. He was charged with
assault causing bodily injury and simple assault before being
transported to the Reeves County Jail.
Eliseo Lujan, 28, 2106 Hackberry St., was arrested on a warrant for
assault causing bodily injury the morning of Feb. 28 at his residence.
On March 1, police arrested Alvaro Adame and Tony Rodriguez for eluding
arrest and one male juvenile for possession of marijuana. The location
of the arrest, their names and address were not indicated.
Police investigated two acts of criminal mischief in the early morning
hours of March 2.
Julia Barraza reported an act of criminal mischief on March 2 at 1:50
a.m. She told police that the back driver's side window of her 1994
Pontiac 4-door was broken out while parked at the Illusions bar, 611 E.
Bibiana Chavez told police that the passenger's side door to her 1985
Oldsmobile Ciera was broken out while parked at the same location and
her purse taken sometime between 10:30 p.m., March 1, and 1:50 a.m.,
Police arrested Rodney Carrasco during the early morning hours of March
2 at his residence, 1206 W. Seventh St., for assault under the Family
Sylvia Baeza, 37, 1501 Johnson St., was arrested by police March 3 for
hindering apprehension in the corner of Fourth ad Cedar streets.
Jimmy Juarez was arrested for assault causing bodily injury the morning
of March 3. His age, address and place of arrest were not given.
A male juvenile was taken into custody by police the afternoon of March
3 for indecent exposure in the 1500 block of Johnson Street.
Crystal Bowers was arrested in the 1700 block of South Eddy Street on
traffic violations charging her with driving without a seat belt and
failing to display a license the evening of March 4.
On March 6, 7:15 p.m., police arrested Nelson Lee McGrew, 33, 811 E.
11th St., for assault under the Family Violence Act and outstanding DPS
warrant. The arrest occurred at his residence.
Ronald Lang, 1301 Iowa St. was arrested by police for assault causing
bodily injury under the Family Violence Act just after midnight March 6.
His age was not given.
Police arrested Israel Campos, 22, 510 Martinez St., on March 6 at
12:59 a.m., for DWI after pursuing him from the 1500 block of Johnson
Street and pulling him over in the 1500 block of South Eddy Street.
Police served Linda Franklin Jenkins with two warrants for forgery at
the Reeves County Jail the morning of March 6. Her age and address were
Angel Ramirez was arrested by police March 8 in the 900 block of Cherry
Street for assault under the Family Violence Act. His age and address
were not given.
Police arrested Michael Morales Varela in the 500 block of Orange
Street for public intoxication on March 8. His age and address were not
He was served a warrant for assault at the Reeves County Jail the
morning of March 10.
Isa Munoz, 23, 1101 S. Elm St., was arrested by police in the 1100
block of South Cedar Street on a warrant service March 9. She was
charged with assault causing bodily injury.
Santiago "Jimmy" M. Natividad, 59, died Tuesday, March 11, at
University Hospital in Albuquerque, N.M.
A rosary will be held Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Pecos Funeral Home Chapel
with Mass scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. at Santa Rosa Catholic
Church. Burial will be Santa Rosa Cemetery.
He was born Aug. 6, 1937 in Toyahvale, was a laborer and a Catholic.
He was preceded in death by a son Jimmy Natividad Jr. in 1989.
Survivors include five daughters, Patricia Wren of Costa Mesa, Calif.,
Sylvia Bonillas of Fontana, Calif., Annabel N. Zubeldia of Chino,
Calif., Estella Cordero of La Harba, Calif. and Julie Natividad of
Albuquerque, N.M.; three brothers, Pedro Natividad of El Paso, Benito
Natividad of Dallas and Ramon Natividad of Pecos; four sisters, Rosa
Rodriguez, Rufina Rayos of Pecos, Rita Fuentes and Kathy Sara of Odessa;
10 grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
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Copyright 1997 by Pecos Enterprise
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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