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PECOS, May 9, 1997 - Thursday was a big day in court for three members
of the purported Republic of Texas who were arrested on their way to
Fort Davis to "rescue" Rick McLaren from hundreds of law enforcement
officers surrounding their "embassy."
Dudley Edward Vandergriff, 29, of Dallas; Jeffrey William Howard, 32, of
Dallas; and Jimmy Dee Potter, 47, of Palestine, were charged in both
143rd District Court and Pecos Division of federal court with felon in
possession of a weapon.
District Judge Bob Parks advised the three of the state charges Thursday
morning and appointed attorneys to represent those who would accept one.
Vandergriff filed a writ of habeas corpus on his own, "to give notice of
fraud, kidnapping and deprivation of rights" under the law of the land,
"the common law, and under the American flag of peace."
The nine-page affidavit rambles on about the state and United States
having no jurisdiction over Vandergriff, who claims to be a sovereign
citizen, a free man, "a follower of Yahshua the Messiah in the laws of
the Almighty Supreme Creator.."
He filed the same writ in federal court, but later withdrew it on advice
of Odessa Attorney Robert Leahy, whom he finally accepted as counsel at
the urging of U.S. Magistrate Judge Stuart Platt.
Judge Platt arraigned the three defendants on federal indictments handed
up Thursday afternoon by the grand jury. Each pleaded "not guilty."
Adding to their woes, District Attorney Randy Reynolds filed notice of
seizure and intent to forfeit the 1983 Oldsmobile that Vandergriff and
Howard occupied at the time of their arrest in the Flying J Travel Plaza
parking lot April 30.
Vandergriff and his wife, Elizabeth, are named as owners of the
Oldsmobile, which Reynolds seeks to have forfeited to the state under
civil statues pertaining to drug violations.
Texas Ranger Marshall Brown filed an affidavit stating he believes the
car was used or intended for use in connection with the sale,
manufacture, delivery of possession or other felony undertaking
involving controlled substances.
Rangers found what is believed to be a baggie of marijuana in the car as
they inventoried its contents.
They also found two Nornico rifles manufactured in China, which made the
firearm possession charge a federal offense.
The Chevrolet Suburban which Potter occupied was "loaded with firearms,"
according to the complaint filed by an agent for the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms.
Listed are a .45 caliber pistol, three Norinco SKS 7.62mm rifles and one
Norinco MAC-90 7.62mm rifle, one Springfield M-1 Garand, .308 caliber;
and two 12-gauge shotguns.
Both Judge Platt and Judge Parks denied bail, and the three defendants
remain in Reeves County Jail.
PECOS, May 9, 1997 - Accidental gunfire during a police drug raid two
years ago has resulted in a civil damage suit against the city of Pecos.
Norma Garcia alleges in the suit that she and her daughter, Jennifer
Holguin, were treated by a psychologist as a result of the shooting,
although neither was physically injured.
Police Patrolman Cosme Ortega discharged a firearm as the city-county
narcotics task force "burst into" the Garcia home at 10:30 p.m. May 5,
1995, the suit alleges.
Ms. Garcia was exiting the bathroom with her daughter when the firearm
discharged. She alleges the officers were negligent in failing to warn
her of the possibility of gunfire. The city was negligent in failing to
train a police officer in the use of a firearm and in failing to ensure
the safety of all innocent persons in the residence, she said.
Plaintiffs seek an unspecified amount of damages.
City Attorney Scott Johnson said he could not comment on the lawsuit at
PECOS, May 9, 1997 - A story in the Pecos Enterprise about the museum
and its financial problems has prompted one local businessman to extend
"After reading the story about the museum written by Smith, I decided I
wanted to help the museum out," said La Nortena Tortilla Factory manager
An increase in expenses, a decrease in revenue, expansion of the
facility and increased air-conditioning for the West of the Pecos Museum
have combined to place stress on the already stretched museum budget,
according to a story written by Rick Smith in early April.
"I called Dorinda after reading that story and asked her if she needed
help," said Castillo.
After speaking to museum curator Dorinda Venegas, Castillo decided to
get involved in the effort to help the museum.
"I think the museum is one of our biggest assets and I decided I wanted
get involved," he said.
Castillo's project to help the museum involved the sale of tamales, a
delicacy La Nortena is popular for.
"For every dozen of tamales that we sold in the month of April, we took
out $1 to go towards the museum fund," said Castillo. "That's just one
of our projects we have in mind for the museum," he said.
The museum is one of the main things visitors enjoy seeing during their
stay in Pecos, according to Castillo.
"I would like to see more done with it, it benefits all of use including
the businesses," said Castillo.
Castillo estimated that Pecos attracts between 15,000-20,000 visitors
yearly and the funds generated from these visitors could add up to a lot
"If these individuals eat at our area restaurants that generates to a
lot of revenue for Pecos," said Castillo.
Castillo stated that he feels the museum should be kept up and that
everyone should help in this effort.
Castillo is planning on other fundraisers for the old hotel located on
"We also need to use it more often, such as the courtyard area, which is
really nice," said Castillo.
The courtyard was the scene for a dinner held there last year during the
"We had a courtyard dinner involving all the restaurants," said Castillo.
Castillo organized the dinner in which all the restaurant personnel were
invited to participate in.
"Each restaurant was to provide a dinner, with La Nortena providing the
raw materials to work with, such as the tortillas and red chile sauce,"
This effort was to get individuals from each restaurant to speak to each
other and share information, such as purchasing tips, according to
"I'm hoping we'll have it again this year, even though I haven't had a
chance to put anything together yet," he said.
"But this got restaurant people talking to each other, instead of just
thinking of it as competition, we all need to communicate and share
ideas and tips," he said.
"We'd like to see more people get involved with the museum," said
curator Dorinda Venegas.
Venegas stated that by Castillo and his establishment doing this for the
museum it just reinforces what museum personnel have always said, that
the community supports the museum.
"We really appreciate what he has done and it tells us that there are
community members out there that really care about our museum," she said.
Venegas stated that if any other individuals would like to help they
will be greatly appreciated.
"We just want to provide the best museum not only for the visitors but
for our local people to enjoy," she said.
From Staff and Wire Reports
PECOS, May 9, 1997 - A possible tornado look-alike was spotted in
Barstow yesterday evening following some bad weather in the area.
"We had just one person report it to us," said Reeves County Emergency
Management Coordinator Armando Gil.
Gil stated that his office had not received anything from the National
"With the Doppler Radar they would have detected even the smallest one,"
There was nothing about a tornado watch or warning in our area either,
according to Gil.
"What this person might have spotted is a `rain shaft', a tornado
look-alike," said Gil.
Powerful thunderstorms lashed parts of North and West Texas late
Thursday and early today, bringing heavy rains and spawning several
Winds of 75 mph blasted Wichita Falls Thursday night, causing civil
defense officials to sound warning sirens.
Some homes in the Faith Village neighborhood of southern Wichita Falls
were flooded as rains fell at up to four inches in one hour, officials
Rescuers were helping people trapped in cars stranded in flood water all
over town until late Thursday night.
Winds downed up trees and utility poles and tore off roofs from Vernon
to Henrietta, tossing them onto vehicles, streets, roads, houses and
yards. Some cellular telephone service was disrupted.
Hail pummeled ripening wheat all across the region. The crop, just days
before harvest, is at vulnerable stage.
North of Vernon, in the Fargo and White City areas, winds blew down
fences that scattered cattle spooked by the hail. Wheat crops were
pounded into the ground.
``The hail was stacked up ... looked like snow,'' said Lenville Morris,
a storm watcher and Wilbarger County commissioner, who was watching the
skies north of Oklaunion.
Winds and flooding stopped Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway trains
from Fort Worth north to Amarillo.
In suburban Iowa Park, winds tore the roof from Willebey's Paint and
Body and cut power to much of the city. The Iowa Park school board met
last night in a room illuminated only by flashlights.
No injuries were reported in what a Texas Department of Public Safety
dispatcher in Wichita Falls called ``a horrible night.''
Tornadoes were reported in West Texas near Barstow, Seminole and
Andrews, and in North Texas near Bridgeport. Wind damage to trees and
roofs there and elsewhere was extensive, but no injuries were reported.
Baseball-size hail was reported near Seminole.
Up to six inches of rain was reported north and west of Fort Worth,
closing some roads and stalling cars.
PECOS, May 9, 1997 - Rodeo committee members are very excited about new
events that will be taking place during rodeo time in Pecos.
"There are two things that we are very excited about," said West of the
Pecos Rodeo Committee President Jim Bob McNeil.
The rodeo committee and Coors will offer a Texas Matchup nightly.
"When individuals come in to buy their tickets they will be given a
sheet with scores from rough stock events," said McNeil.
"If you match up a score against your card, up and down, across or
diagonally, you will automatically win a prize," said McNeil.
Prizes will consist of T-shirts, caps and other assorted items.
"Anyone who blacks out the whole card will win $100,000," said McNeil.
McNeil stated that the rodeo committee is very excited to have been
chosen to participate in the Texas Matchup.
"Not all rodeos have this and we're very excited and happy to have been
chosen by Coors to do this," he said.
"This is a new attraction to the rodeo and we're grateful to Coors for
selecting us to offer Texas Matchup," said McNeil.
West of the Pecos Rodeo will again be using Bad Company Rodeo who bring
in the best in bucking bulls and horses in the business.
"The other thing we're really excited about is that we're bringing in
Emilio, to perform on the last night of the rodeo," said McNeil.
Emilio is a popular Tejano/Country Western star who has won numerous
awards in both Tejano and Country Western music. He and is brother are
the lead singers with an outstanding band backing them up.
"A free dance will also be held on Wednesday, as a thank you to all our
rodeo fans," said McNeil.
Texas Express will be the featured band at the free dance.
The next two nights will feature country western bands to be announced
at a later date.
Pre-sale tickets for the dance will be discounted and reserved tables
"We're expecting a lot of Emilio fans from all over West Texas," said
Ticket sales for the dance will begin on June 9 at the chamber office.
Tickets can also be ordered by calling 1-800-588-BULL.
"When tickets for the Emilio dance go on sale, reserved tables will also
be available," said McNeil.
NewsWest 9 is co-sponsoring Emilio.
"We're very appreciative of NewsWest 9 who is co-sponsoring Emilio with
us and will be on hand at the rodeo," said McNeil.
PECOS, May 9, 1997 - A state representative took steps this week to
ensure that Texas is included in a plan to secure safe passage of low
level nuclear waste to a storage site about 75 miles north of Pecos.
Last year, the Department of Energy awarded $120 million to New Mexico
for improving access to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), located
26 miles southeast of Carlsbad.
The WIPP is a disposal site for transuranic waste from research and
production facilities for nuclear weapons.
The funds will be distributed over a period of five years and used on a
project that includes the widening of U.S.
Highway 285, the primary access road to the WIPP, for safer radioactive
waste transportation.The endeavor only covers the New Mexico strip of
the highway from Clines Corners to Carlsbad. So far, no funds have been
designated to improve the Texas portion of U.S. 285 leading to New
Mexico. U.S. 285 is Cedar Street in Pecos, one of the heaviest traveled
streets in the city.
State Representative Gary Walker, District 80, has introduced a
resolution in the House urging the U.S. Congress to appropriate funds to
improve U.S. 285 in Reeves County.
"I believe it is only fair and equitable that Congress issue money to
Texas to secure safe passage into the WIPP site just as they did for New
Mexico," Walker said. "I look forward to working with the state Senate
to pass this measure."
Plans indicate radioactive waste from eastern states will be routed
through Texas via I-20 onto U.S. 285. Texas Department of Transportation
officials have indicated there are currently no plans or funds to
improve U.S. 285.The stretch of U.S. 285 from I-20 to New Mexico will be
the only length of highway the nuclear waste trucks headed for the WIPP
site will travel that is only two lanes.
The U.S. Department of Energy hopes to begin storing waste at the WIPP
site in caverns hundreds of feet below ground by 1998.
Project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient,
stable salt formation, 2,150 feet (almost half a mile) underground.
Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags and other disposable
items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly
Defense-generated transuranic waste is temporarily stored at more than
10 major generator/storage sites and several small quantity sites
In March of this year the shipment of three barrels of radioactive waste
through New Mexico sparked concerns in the state's capital city. The
three drums of radioactive waste shipped to Los Alamos National
Laboratory from the Pantex plant in Amarillo were not officially
designated as destined for the WIPP site, a federal official said at the
time. The drums made their way to Los Alamos by way of Santa Fe, N.M.
Radioactive waste which will eventually be shipped south to the WIPP
will travel along a 13-mile relief loop being constructed around Santa
The project to widen U.S. 285 from two lanes to four is intended to
increase the safety of trucks carrying radioactive waste along the
route. A WIPP truck was involved in a minor accident along a two-lane
stretch of U.S. 285 near Artesia, N.M. on Jan. 24 of this year.
Transuranic waste from Los Alamos and five other sites in the Western
United States will travel along the route after the WIPP site opens. The
long-delayed project is scheduled to be completed next November.
Commissioners will meet on the third floor of the courthouse on Monday
beginning at 10:15 a.m.
The HOME Program Implementation and Construction will be discussed along
with six-month extension for holiday and vacation leave at the RCDC.
Road and Bridge Department restructuring and reclassification will be up
for discussion at the regular meeting and commissioners will set a date
and time for the next commissioners court meeting due to the upcoming
Commissioners will also:
- Discuss/take action on personnel and salary changes (RCDC, Road and
Bride Department, 911 department, county judge's office and sheriff's
- Discuss/take action budget amendments and line-item transfers.
- Discuss/take action minutes from previous meetings.
- Discuss/take action on semi-monthly bills.
- Discuss/take action on reports from various departments.
- Spread on minutes: Surety Bond and Certificate of Approval of tax
assessor/collector and personnel policy amendment regarding section 7.01
PECOS, May 9, 1997 - Services are incomplete for Lorina Briceno, 54, who
died Monday, May 5 in California.
She was born March 11, 1943, in Saragosa, was a domestic employee, a
former Saragosa resident and a Catholic.
Survivors include one son, Billy Ray Briceno of El Paso; one brother,
Rey Briceno of Pecos and one granddaughter.
Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
PECOS, May 9, 1997 - Juan Esparza, 68, died Wednesday, May 7 at his
Services are scheduled for Saturday, May 10 at 3 p.m. at Harkey Funeral
Home Chapel in Monahans with minister Gordon Cox officiating. Burial
will be in Monahans Memorial Cemetery.
He was born July 24, 1928 in Dallas, was retired and a member of the
Survivors include two sons, Juan Esparza Jr. and Joe Fuentez of Fort
Stockton; two daughters, Genevia Garcia, Yolanda Pacheco of Fort
Stockton; four brothers, Armanda Esparza of Abilene, Jose Esparaza of
San Angelo, Frank Esparza of Visilia, Calif., Thomas Esparza of Deming,
N.M.; eight sisters, Manuela Velasquez of Crane, Pilar Salazar of El
Paso, Angie Holguin of Shafter, Calif., Rosa Primera of San Antonio,
Antonia Montez of Garland, Teresa Velasquez of Crane, Martina Coburrubio
and Connie Plata of Odessa and 13 grandchildren.
Harkey Funeral Home of Monahans 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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