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PECOS, May 1, 1997 - One of seven Republic of Texas members arrested
Wednesday in Pecos was charged this morning in federal court with
possession of a firearm by a felon.
Dudley Edward Vandergriff, 29, of Dallas, is on parole on a state
conviction for possession of marijuana. He had two firearms in his
possession at the time of his arrest at the Flying J Travel Plaza about
6 a.m. Wednesday, the complaint alleges.
Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms filed the
complaint with U.S. Magistrate Judge Stuart Platt.
Judge Platt advised Vandergriff of his rights this morning and set a
detention hearing for 2 p.m. May 8. Until then, Vandergriff will be held
in Reeves County Jail.
State authorities have 10 working days to decide whether to revoke
Vandergriff's probation, said Judge Platt, so he can be held at least
that long without bail.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Blankinship filed a motion to detain
Vandergriff on the premise that he is a danger to the community and a
"We take the position that he is a danger to the community, based on the
nature of the crime and the circumstances surrounding the crime,"
The seven are believed to have been enroute to Fort Davis where Republic
of Texas "ambassador" Rick McLaren and 12 of his cohorts are holed up,
surrounded by law enforcement officers.
Vandergriff said he has never been convicted of a violent crime and has
never assaulted anyone, "and have no intention of doing so."
He said no state charges have been filed that he knows of and questioned
the federal charge.
"This right here is just because I violated my parole?" he asked.
"No," said Judge Platt. "It is felon in possession of a firearm. The
parole is another matter. They will put a parole hold on you, but they
probably won't have a hearing until this is concluded."
The federal charge is a felony, which likely will be presented to the
grand jury that meets in Pecos May 8, the same day of Vandergriff's
Vandergriff said he will hire his own attorney.
ATF agents said the two rifles found in the trunk of the Oldsmobile
Vandergriff occupied Wednesday were loaded Norinco, model SKS, 7.62 mm
A review of the defendant's criminal history showed he pleaded guilty in
Dallas County district court Jan. 29, 1988, to possession of a
controlled substance and was placed on five years probation. On Dec. 8,
1989, that probation was revoked and he was sentenced to three years in
On Jan. 21, 1992, Vandergriff pleaded guilty to aggravated possession of
marijuana and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, for which he is now
Also in 143rd District Court this morning, Jimmy Dee Potter, 48, of
Palestine, was charged with failing to identify himself to a peace
officer. He also is wanted in Montgomery County on about four charges,
including felony DWI and bond forfeiture.
A fourth suspect has refused to identify himself. District attorney
Randy Reynolds was seeking a judge's order to force him to be
fingerprinted, Woods said.
Charges against the other three were pending.
Along with the rifles and other explosive material, Texas Rangers found
a blue NIV Red Letter Edition Bible on the dash of the Oldsmobile. The
presentation page indicated the Bible was presented to Dudley
Vandergriff, agents said.
PECOS, May 1, 1997 - Since the arrest yesterday of seven heavily armed
men believed to be on their way to support Richard Mclaren in his
standoff in the Davis Mountains, rumors have circulated that more
supporters were expected to rally in Balmorhea on the northern edge of
the mountains, 35 miles north of Fort Davis. Pecos police remain in a
heightened state of readiness.
``I know they're headed this way.'' said Reeves County Sheriff Arnulfo
Gomez. ``I'm hoping there's no confrontation.''
Officials say they've received no reports of people gathering in
Balmorhea, where the Republic has said it is planning a rally this
Rumors of McLaren supporters gathering in Balmorhea have not
materialized, according to Pat Brigalba, a member of the Balmorhea
Chamber of Commerce board of directors.
"I haven't seen any strangers here," Brijalba said. "Strangers stick out
like a sore thumb here."
Brijalba said the only unfamiliar faces he has seen recently in
Balmorhea, a town with a population of only 765, belonged to members of
crews conducting telephone and highway construction in the area.
Pecos Chief of Police Troy Moore said he has cautioned his patrol
officers to be extra careful.
"I instructed officers not to make a traffic stop unless they have
backup," Moore said. "The dispatchers have been instructed to keep the
office secure and if someone wants to come in that they don't know to
call an officer to check the person out."
Pecos patrolmen have also been instructed to check out suspicious
vehicles by running license tag checks.
"Of course we have to have probable cause to actually stop someone,"
The men arrested here yesterday were traveling in two vehicles loaded
with rifles, military gear and rations. They also had an undisclosed
amount of marijuana, authorities said.
Rangers searching the vehicles found a total of 10 guns including: five
semiautomatic rifles, a shotgun, a .45-caliber pistol, and several
hunting knives, said Texas Ranger Sgt. Steve Foster. They also had
ammunition, fatigues, and medical supplies.
Nothing except the marijuana is illegal, Foster said.
The men said they were going to Fort Davis to hunt hogs, said Pam
Bustillos of the Reeves County Sheriff's Department.
Two of the men had been arrested as of Wednesday evening.
Officers had a theft warrant from Longview, in East Texas, for one of
the men, James Leslie Williamson Jr., 29, whose hometown was unknown.
Another man was booked for refusing to identify himself, said Bustillos.
He even refused to be fingerprinted. (See story above.)
All of the men were interviewed by Texas Rangers and agents from the
U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, she said. More charges
were possible, Bustillos said.
The standoff in the remote Davis Mountains, 175 miles southeast of El
Paso, began Sunday after members of the Republic of Texas took two
neighbors hostage in retaliation for the arrests of two followers.
Both hostages were released Monday in exchange for one of the jailed
followers, a man arrested on weapons charges. The other follower, a
woman, remains jailed in Austin on two contempt charges.
PECOS, May 1, 1997 - After having lived in many different places, the
new Pecos area engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation
considers Texas his home.
"Having been an Army brat we lived in a lot of places for two or three
years at a time," said Doug Eichorst.
Eichorst has taken over as area engineer and is excited about his new
He was born in South Bend, Ind., hometown of the Notre Dame fighting
Irish, and later attended Texas A&M University. He currently holds two
degrees from A&M, one in Engineering Technology, silo construction and
the other in Civil Engineering.
"I worked for about a year and a half after obtaining my engineering
technology degree, but then decided I needed a little bit more education
to do what I really wanted to," said Eichorst.
Eichorst returned to school where he later obtained his civil
"My wife helped put me through school the second time in order for me to
achieve my goal of getting my second degree," said Eichorst.
Eichorst has already moved into Pecos and on his first day on the job
stated that he is looking forward to meeting everybody and getting to
know the staff.
"Everybody has been real nice to us, and they have really welcomed us,"
No new changes are being planned at this time for the Pecos office which
has several projects already well underway.
"This office has been doing an outstanding job, I hope I can learn from
them and possibly provide guidance in areas that I have expertise," said
Even the engineering director in Austin has praised the local and
compliments them on their outstanding work, according to Eichorst.
Eichorst worked at two different TxDOT offices in Abilene before being
transferred to this little West Texas town.
"I worked in the area office and the district office, I went back and
forth, in Abilene," said Eichorst. "I was the district design engineer
in Abilene," he said.
"There's several projects in the area which are well underway, we
visited Balmorhea last month and I plan to look at the other projects
that are going on this morning," said Eichorst.
Making long-term plans and looking at a pretty good sized "wish list",
to get the area's share of the money, are some of the priorities
Eichorst will be working diligently on.
"That's part of my job to get things taken care of in this area and I
want to push to really get more money in this area," said Eichorst.
Since the Pecos area is competing with bigger cities, like Odessa and
Midland, who have a bigger traffic rate, getting money for the smaller
towns is a little bit harder, according to Eichorst.
"Once we get the money in here, we need to be sure to spend it wisely,"
Eichorst plans to meet with local officials from the county and city to
gather input and find out the needs of the community.
"We need to bring together their goals and mine and see if we can
combine them with the state system," said Eichorst.
"Right now, we're just very happy to be here," said Eichorst.
Eichorst and his wife, Karen have two children, eight-year-old Trey and
five-year-old Dirk. The family will be moving to Pecos at the end of the
Eichorst was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers in
Abilene, where he was treasurer for a couple of years and a member of
the Aggie Club.
He and his wife are very dedicated members of the Catholic Church, where
they participated in the children's liturgy program, adult education and
married couples group.
"I can see why Pecos has remained a stable community, despite the
problems encountered, it's because of the community spirit," said
Eichorst plans to get involved with community projects and hopes to meet
the rest of the community.
"Everybody has been so friendly and helpful, we want to become involved
here and participate as much as possible," he said.
Eichorst also stated that he and his family appreciate the warm welcome
they have received.
There are 10 regions in the state of Texas, with the top 10 in every
event, from all 10 regions, eligible to attend the State Finals to be
held in Abilene, June 6-15.
The top four qualifiers from each event will be going to the National
Finals scheduled in Colorado in July.
High school contestants from Pecos include DeAnda Allgood, Trever
Warren, Suzanne Kelton, Renea Rasberry and Randel Barmore.
Suzanne Kelton, who is a Reeves County resident, but attends Wink High
School, was champion Girl Cutter; DeAnda Allgood was Reserve Champion
Girl Cutter; Trever Warren and Randel Barmore finished fourth place in
the Team Roping and Renea Rasberry finished 10th place in the Barrels.
The rodeo enthusiasts compete all year long beginning in October. The
group competed in seven rodeos in the fall and five in the spring with
the regional finals taking place in San Angelo April 19-20.
Town of Pecos City Mayor Dot Stafford was joined by members of The
Modern Study Club as she proclaimed Thursday, May 1 as a special day as
Texas Federation of Women's Club celebrates its 100th anniversary.
The Modern Study Club of Pecos is a member of this state-wide service
As a federated club, The Modern Study Club has served Pecos and other
areas of the state for 61 years having been established in 1936 by the
Merry Wives Club, the first federated club in Pecos.
The MS Club organization supports the West of the Pecos Museum and
maintains the Bridal Suite, gives a $500 annual scholarship to a Pecos
High School graduating senior, provides Christmas gifts for all
residents of the Pecos Nursing Home and gives Toys for Tots, contributes
to the U.T. M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Center, maintains an active
Community Improvement Project program, supports Newspapers in Education,
participates in Operation Smile (an international children's outreach
program providing reconstruction surgery), contributes to the Western
District Alma Van Sickle Scholarship fund and four Texas Federation of
Women's Clubs state scholarship, and supports the Reeves County Library,
as well as other projects.
The Texas Federation of Women's Clubs is a member of the General
Federation of Women's Clubs, the largest and oldest non-denominational,
non-partisan, international service organization of volunteer women in
The purpose of the organization is to unite women's clubs and like
organizations throughout Texas for promotion of activities in the areas
of Conservation, Education, Home Life, Public Affairs, International
Affairs, the Arts and Texas Heritage. Membership is over 13,000 in 500
The TFWC is responsible for the establishment of 85 percent of the
libraries in the state of Texas and maintains a unique library of books
by Texas women or about Texas women housed in the TFWC Headquarters
Building in Austin, which is maintained by the TFWC Historical
Foundation through the support of federated projects by club women
throughout the state of Texas.
TFWC organized several other organizations including Mother's Club (the
forerunner of PTA's), the Texas Federation of Music Clubs, Texas Garden
Clubs, Home Demonstration Clubs and the National Organization for Women
in Safety in Texas.
They also helped with the Big Thicket Association and sponsored 4-H Work
in Texas, and are heavily involved in Historical Preservation, Health
and Behalf of Child Projects and consumer protection projects and
Their Public Affairs Programs include the adoption of the Bluebonnet as
the State Flower in 1901, the adoption of the Mockingbird as the State
Bird in 1927, and the adoption of the Pecan as the State Tree in 1919.
Also - the Crime Stoppers program, treatment of the Criminally Insane,
adding wife desertion to the Penal Code, Traffic Safety Laws, Poll Power
Campaigns, Rape Legislation, participation in Neighborhood Watch and
Legislation confirming state ownership of the Tidelands to 12 mile limit.
The TFWC Convention, will conclude with an evening banquet and award and
recognition ceremony on May 1 at the Hilton Hotel in Waco.
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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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