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June 26, 1997
House committee gives OK to two states to dump low-level nuclear waste
in West Texas
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By MICHELLE MITTELSTADT
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) June 26, 1997 - - The House Commerce Committee has given
its seal of approval to an agreement that would allow Maine and Vermont
to ship their low-level radioactive waste to West Texas in a
The Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact, endorsed by
voice vote Wednesday, will go to the House floor later this year - where
opponents hope to derail its passage.
"This bill still has to jump the huge hurdle of winning on the House
floor," said Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-San Antonio, whose sprawling West
Texas district includes the proposed Hudspeth County dump.
"While the Commerce Committee agreed to the compact, we have no reason
to believe that the full House of Representatives agrees," he said,
adding that he and other dump foes will seek to educate lawmakers on the
"negative impact this compact will have in the long run for far West
The compact bill is being sponsored in the House by two Texans: Reps.
Joe Barton, R-Ennis, and Ralph Hall, D-Rockwall.
Congressional approval is necessary for Texas, Maine and Vermont to
consummate a deal inked by their legislatures that would allow the
Northeastern states to ship to Texas waste generated mostly from nuclear
power plants. The Senate Judiciary Committee in March approved the
In exchange for freeing Vermont and Maine from having to develop
long-term waste storage solutions, Texas would receive $25 million from
each state. The compact derives from a 1980 law nudging states to find a
common solution for their radioactive waste problems.
Congress already has approved nine other compacts covering 41 states.
The Texas compact - supported by Texas Gov. George W. Bush and more than
half of the state's 30 House members - was defeated in the House in
1995, setting the stage for this year's fight.
Although the compact is silent on location, Texas officials want to
build a waste dump near Sierra Blanca, 90 miles east of El Paso. The
state owns a 15,500-acre ranch near the impoverished town of less than
3,000 inhabitants. As a condition of receiving the dump, the community
would receive $5 million.
Backers argue the compact protects Texas from being forced to accept
waste from many other states - which it would be vulnerable to in the
absence of an interstate agreement.
Opponents contend the dump's location is tantamount to environmental
racism, with poor, politically disenfranchised residents in the
majority-Hispanic community having the facility foisted on them.
The critics also say the Sierra Blanca site is environmentally,
diplomatically and geologically unsound - located just 16 miles from
Mexico and the Rio Grande watershed. The site is in an area rattled in 1995 by the most violent earthquake to hit the region in 60 years.
Republic member found guilty on firearm charge
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By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, June 26, 1997 - Federal court jurors took only 35 minutes
Wednesday to agree that Jeffrey William Howard of Dallas is guilty of
possessing a firearm after being convicted of a felony.
Howard, a member of the Republic of Texas, was arrested April 30 at
Flying J Travel Plaza along with six companions.
Traveling in two vehicles, the group was suspected of responding to an
order by the "commander of the defense forces" for the ROT to go to Fort
Davis to defend Richard McLaren and others in a standoff.
McLaren claims to be the ambassador for the ROT. He and a handful of
"citizens" holed up at the "embassy" in the Davis Mountains Resort after
kidnapping a neighbor.
Surrounded by Department of Public Safety and other officers, McLaren
sent out the call for help from organized and unorganized militias
throughout the United States.
DPS received a tip from a confidential informant on April 29 that a
militia group was leaving the Greenville-Dallas area in a tan Suburban
loaded with weapons.
Watching I-20 for such a vehicle, Pecos Police Patrolman Cosme Ortega
spotted the Suburban and a blue Oldsmobile at about 5 a.m. April 30.
When the two vehicles exited I-20 and parked at Flying J, Ortega called
Five Texas Rangers enroute to Fort Davis were at the DPS office just
west of Flying J, and they joined city police in arresting the seven.
Howard was asleep in the back seat of the Oldsmobile, said Ranger
Marshall Brown. When Brown looked into the car, he didn't see Howard at
first, but did see a rifle.
Even with the weapon in sight, neither the rangers nor Ortega could give
a "probable cause" for arresting Howard and his companions.
They were "detained for investigation," they said.
Howard refused to give his name, but a fingerprint check identified him
as a convicted felon.
A Dallas County sheriff's deputy testified that Howard was convicted in
1991 of aggravated marijuana possession over five pounds.
Ricky Fontanilla of Dallas testified he sold one of the Norinco rifles
found in the Oldsmobile to Howard in August, 1996.
Bob White, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms,
testified that all of the nine firearms found in the two vehicles were
manufactured outside the state of Texas, which makes their possession by
a felon a federal violation.
Defense Attorney Scott Johnson argued in a unsuccessful motion to
suppress evidence that none of the weapons, nor the other battle gear
shown to the jury, should be allowed in as evidence because officers did
not obtain a warrant to search the vehicles.
"It is tough for me to say this, but this is a time in our history of
government over-reaction to situations, and that's exactly what we have
here," Johnson said in his closing argument to the jury.
"Maybe it was over-reaction," said prosecutor Jim Blankinship. "If it
is, send a message to your law enforcement officers, and they will quit
looking into this kind of stuff and go on to other things.
"He had his rifle in that car with helmets that had Republic of Texas
insignia...traveling with another bunch in another car with all their
weapons and they think it was just interfering with people out for a
A lot of the evidence is "very dangerous, dangerous weaponry that had
fallen into the hands of a convicted felon," he said.
"People ask `Why don't they do something about felons who keeping
breaking the law?'" Blankinship said. "These law enforcement officers
are the `they.'
"Today `they' is you. Ask yourself now, `While I am "they," is the
evidence there? Am I satisfied?'
The trial closed out Senior Judge Lucius Bunton's docket.
During the noon recess, Judge Bunton took time for an interview with Joe
Nick Potoski, a writer for Texas Monthly magazine.
Potoski said Judge Bunton's rulings in the Edwards Aquifer case piqued
his interest in the controversial judge, who is known for having more
cases overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals than any other
However, on Wednesday, Judge Bunton learned the U.S. Supreme Court
agreed with him on the religion issue related to a Catholic church in Boerne, overturning a Fifth Circuit decision against Bunton's ruling.
Don't leave children in hot car
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By CARA ALLIGOOD
PECOS, June 26, 1997 - Kids, cars and the summer heat can be a fatal
combination. Concerned citizens and the Pecos Police Department urge
everyone not to leave children by themselves in the family vehicle, even
for just a little while.
Legally, it is a Class "C" Misdemeanor to leave a child seven years old
or younger unattended in a vehicle for more than five minutes, unless
there is someone at least 14 years old with them. Pecos Police Chief
warns that leaving a young child unattended is a jailable offense,
punishable by a fine of up to $200.
"With the heat as hot as it is now, it doesn't matter what age a child
is, they shouldn't be left alone in a car," said Moore.
No formal complaints about this problem have been made yet this year,
but officers will be watching to make sure that it doesn't happen, he
said. Animals are also at risk of suffering health consequences, and
should not be left in a vehicle, either.
Reeves County Hospital Assistant Administrator Iris Rives explained the
symptoms of and treatments for heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which
can result from prolonged exposure to intense heat.
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two dangerous conditions that can
result from being left in a hot car, or from other situations that may
occur during the hot summer months, she said.
Heat exhaustion, the less severe of the two conditions, can be treated
at home by soaking the sufferer in a cool bath or covering them with wet
cloths, and having them slowly drink fluids, preferably those which
contain some sodium, such as sports drinks or broth. Symptoms to watch
for include pale skin, clammy (moist) skin, headaches, weakness,
possible nausea and body cramps or muscle spasms. If the person's
temperature is taken, it should still be normal, according to Rives.
Heat stroke is a more dangerous condition, which can result in death if
not treated immediately by medical personnel. When a person's condition
progresses to heat stroke, their skin will get very hot and dry, and they will have a high temperature, she said.
Council spends morning discussing street issues
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By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, June 26, 1997 - Streets, curbs and parking lots occupied most of
the time in this morning's regular Town of Pecos City council meeting.
Mayor Dot Stafford was on hand for the regular meeting, following an
extended stay in hospital and recuperation period.
The problem with curbs arose when school maintenance director Joe Coody
and elementary school principal Juanita Davila noticed some deteriorated
curbs in front of the school.
"These curbs are in real bad shape and we're concerned with the welfare
of the children who attend school and the parents who visit," said Coody.
Coody stated that they didn't know who's responsibility it is to get
them fixed, the school's or the city's.
The school in question is Pecos Elementary located 901 S. Willow.
"The curbs in front of the school on Willow and Cherry are in pretty bad
shape," said Coody.
Utilities Director Octavio Garcia told the council that several years
ago this same problem had arose and recently he had looked in the
ordinance and could not find anything on curbs and who was responsible.
"But several years ago, I had been working on some curbs and was told by
the council at that time that the city was not responsible for the
curbs, but the street only, and that the curbs were the homeowners
responsibility," said Garcia.
Garcia stated that at that time the council told him to quit working on
the curbs and that they had forgotten to include curbs in the ordinance
when they included the sidewalks and the fact that sidewalks should be
homeowners responsibility in maintenance and repairs.
Attorney for the city Scott Johnson told the council that he and city
manager Kenneth Neal had looked at the ordinance and could find nothing
on curbs and whose responsibility they were.
Johnson suggested that since nothing was in the ordinance about curbs
that an amendment be made in the ordinance to include them.
"It would just cost thousands and thousands of dollars to repair all the
curbs in the city," said Garcia.
Following a short discussion on several possibilities the council opted
to ask Johnson to draw up an amendment for the ordinance to include
curbs along with sidewalks and that the responsibility falls on the
homeowner to maintain them.
A group from the church Primera Iglesia Bautista was on hand requesting
that they be allowed to pave a street and turn into a parking lot for
church members and others who would like to utilize it.
"There is no present street there right now," said Garcia.
The area in question is at the corner of 8th and Sycamore Streets and is
a 50 foot wide area that is not currently being used as a street and is
"That was a designated street that has never been opened," said Garcia.
Garcia stated that there's no way it can ever be opened because of homes
that are already built in that area.
"We don't intend to close that area to nobody, but to beautify it and
make it a parking area for everyone to use," said pastor Paul Garcia.
If the church is attractive then it will attract more people, reasoned
However, the request was met by opposition by neighbors, Arnie and Edith
Calderon who stated that they have had problems with members of the
church and that the street is for everyone and should not be given to
"We can't give away streets, we just have the right of way," said Scott
Johnson explained that even if the city granted permission for the
paving and improvements, they could not sell it or give it to anybody.
"Once you choose to close it, it stays that way forever until you
re-dedicate it," he explained.
Raul Garcia spoke on behalf of the church and stated that the group
doesn't want to own it, but just want stewardship.
"If nothing else it will only make it better, improve it," said Garcia.
The Calderons stated that they would oppose anything like paving the
area and that this would only lead to further problems.
The city decided to table the item until more information can be
gathered and council members, the city manager and police chief can look
at the area in question and decide what is best for the community.
A group requesting the closure of several streets from July 4-6 were
absent for the meeting.
"They had told us it was an emergency that we put this item on the
agenda and then they don't show up," said City Manager Neal Kenneth.
Council members agreed to deny the request due to the expansion of time
they requested and the number of streets they wanted closed, but decided
to let police chief Troy Moore look at the situation.
"He can report back to the council on what he deems is best for the
community, and which streets can be closed.
"I'll take a look at it and see if there is something we can do to help
them," said Moore.
Payment of membership dues by the city to the chamber of commerce was
tabled until chamber director can get more information to council members on the situation.
ROT fugitive Keyes III interviewed on Internet
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By MARK BABINECK
Associated Press Writer
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) - Contrary to police speculation that he probably
succumbed to the rigors of the wild, Republic of Texas fugitive Richard
Keyes III said in an Internet interview that he's alive, well and angry.
"I'm past the point of no return," Keyes told a free-lance writer for
Mother Jones magazine, according to the magazine's on-line edition, The
MoJo Wire. Keyes' comments were posted Wednesday night on the World Wide
"We are people with nothing to lose. If the United States is comfortable
with going to war with people who have nothing to lose, then so be it,"
The writer, Joel Dyer, says Keyes contacted him on June 17 and would not
say where he was hiding except to say that he is "out of the country."
Keyes bolted from the separatist group's mountain hideout on May 3, the
day Richard McLaren and five followers surrendered to state troopers
after a week-long standoff. Keyes is wanted on charges stemming from the
brief hostage-taking of a neighborhood couple that began the stalemate
on April 27.
Another separatist, Mike Matson, fled with Keyes and was killed in a gun battle with troopers two days later.
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PECOS, June 26, 1997 - High Wednesday, 90, low this morning, 69. Skies
were mostly cloudy over the panhandle and clear to partly cloudy
elsewhere this morning. Widely scattered showers and thunderstorms
developed over northwest portions of the South Plains. Tonight, will be
mostly cloudy with lows from 65 to 70 and a southeast wind at 10 to 20
mph. The forecast is for fair to partly cloudy skies through Friday.
There's a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms over most areas
tonight, lingering Friday in some parts. Highs Friday will be in the 80s
and 90s mostly, hitting near 102 in the Big Bend Valleys.
Mac McKinnon, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium. Neither these AP Materials nor any portion thereof may be stored in a computer except for personal and non-commercial use. The AP will not be held liable for any delays, inaccuracies, errors or omissions therefrom or in the transmission or delivery of all or any part thereof or for any damages arising from any of the foregoing.
Copyright 1997 by Pecos Enterprise
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