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July 14, 1997
Superintendent Sotelo resigns
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By CARA ALLIGOOD
PECOS, July 14, 1997 - Mario Sotelo is no longer superintendent of the
Pecos-Barstow-Toyah Independent School District. He officially turned in
his resignation Friday afternoon, according to Jo Allgood, secretary to
Friday after press time, school board president Frank Perea announced
that Sotelo had taken the superintendent's position with the Edinburg
school district and resigned his post here. Sotelo had been vying for
the Edinburg position for about a month.
"He's already there. He's already on duty," Allgood said this morning.
This comes as no surprise to the P-B-T Board of Education, which had
already formed a contingency plan in the event that Sotelo was hired to
take over the position in Edinburg. Perea announced the plan last
week. Perea said that the P-B-T school board will immediately begin a
search for an interim superintendent.
Sotelo came to the PBT ISD in 1992 from the Van Horn school district. He
had moved to the Van Horn district after spending one half semester as
superintendent of the Carrizo Springs school district.
Sotelo's resignation comes right on the heels of the resignation of
Pecos High School's former principal, Alice Duerksen. Duerksen recently
stated plans to stay long enough to finish setting up next year's
schedule, thereby making the transition as easy as possible for whomever
takes her place.
"We don't have anybody in mind yet for either position," said Perea.
According to the McAllen Monitor, Sotelo signed a three-year contract
with the Edinburg school district at an annual salary of $90,000.
Sotelo could not be reached for a parting comment, although a secretary
at the Edinburg district office did confirm that Sotelo was there, but
"on another line."
Sotelo signed a three-year contract at an annual salary of $90,000.
"I've heard nothing but good things about this school district," Sotelo
said in the Monitor article. "This district is in good shape, and has a
lot to offer."
The Edinburg school board announced its decision Friday.
"Sotelo has really good people skills," Edinburg school board member
Josie Cappadona said. "His focus is always for the children, and even
though our school district is larger, we are hoping he will take a
personal approach with this school district as well. When we visited his
hometown, the people there were very sorry to see him leave."
Sotelo officially began his new job today.
"I am here to stay," Sotelo said. "My wife is going back for a short time, but I am looking forward to beginning work on Monday."
Cantaloupe crop promises
to be tasty fruit this year
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By SHANNON BRYER
PECOS, July 14, 1997 - Pecos has a new cantaloupe company and
distributer this year-Sun-Up Produce of Donna, Texas.
Three local growers, Dale Toone, W.C. Cunningham, and Roger Jones are
growing cantaloupe for the company which is in its first year in Pecos.
Toone's field is near Coyanosa; Cunningham is northwest of Pecos; Jones
is west of town. Together they have 500 acres, harvesting about 580
cantaloupes per acre.
"It's going well so far. The crop is good. We've been harvesting since
June 30," said Leslie Gilliam, who handles grower accounting in Pecos
So far, Sun-Up has packed a total of 42,000 cantaloupes. "It has run
anywhere from 5,000 or 8,000 up to 20,000 a day," Gilliam said.
Sun-Up also grows cantaloupe in Mexico. "Pecos has got the best soil.
You get sweeter and better cantaloupe. The cantaloupe is good in the
valley, it's just not as sweet," Gilliam said.
According to Gilliam, sales have been very good. "We can't keep up with
it," Gilliam said. "The last two days, it's slowed down. We have to wait
now until we get into a new field. We'll break a new one in on Wednesday
Sun-Up plans to be here again next year, growing, packing, and shipping
from Pecos. Sales are handled through Donna, which is 17 miles from
McAllen. Sun-Up has been shipping mostly to stores in Texas. "So far it
seems like they've been going to Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, and San
Antonio. We've only been able to supply the people here in Texas so
far," Gilliam said.
The local cantaloupe company, Pecos Cantaloupe Company, Inc., also sells
mostly in Texas. "We try to keep most of the melons in the state of
Texas. There's strong demand in chain stores here, and they're taking
all we can produce. As the season progresses we may go outside the
state," said Trey Miller, salesman for PCC.
"We've gotten off to a good start. We've been going two weeks now, and
we are just now getting into our big volume," Miller said.
PCC welcomes the new produce company in town, according to Miller. "It's
just good healthy competition," Miller said.
PCC grows their own cantaloupes in fields south of Pecos. Each acre
yields anywhere from 25 to 700 boxes of melons. "Sales have been
excellent. The market's good right now," Miller said.
PCC Assistant Manager Amparo Lopez said that they ran about 18 to 20
trucks yesterday. "Tomorrow we'll start earlier because we'll have more.
We'll go on like this until the middle of September," Lopez said.
"We had a late crop this year because of the cold weather in April," Lopez said.
Head Start meeting scheduled for tonight
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By RICK SMITH
PECOS, July 14, 1997 - Administrators of the Pecos Head Start Program
hope the public will attend a Town Meeting tonight called to discuss
problems affecting the program.
The meeting, set for 7 p.m. at the Reeves County Civic Center is
intended to be an informational meeting to update the public on the
condition of the program and let them know what the program offers,
according to Caprice Cox, Executive Director of the Reeves County
Community Council which oversees the program.
In addition to informing the public about the Pecos Head Start Program,
community council members also hope to update the program's community
needs assessment, according to Cox.
Troubles began for the Pecos Head Start Program when evaluators from the
Dallas office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families found deficiencies in the
program last year.
The community council worked to maintain control of the Pecos Head Start
Program by correcting some of the deficiencies but when department of
health officials returned to Pecos in the spring they still found
problems in the program.
June 24 Pecos Head Start administrators signed an agreement with the
U.S. Department of Health which specified what the community council
needed to do to maintain the Head Start program, according to Mae
Saulter, Program Liaison Specialist with the U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services Administration for Children and Families. The
agreement gave the council until Nov. 1 to rectify the problems.
"It is mandatory that they take care of the problems in order to
maintain the program," Saulter said.
According to Saulter, administrators of the Pecos Head Start Program
must beef up training for program administrators.
Saulter said staff training is available through the health department.
The program's personnel policy also must be revised to include the role
which the policy council plays in overseeing the program, according to
Program personnel policy enforcement practices regarding hiring and
firing of staff, absenteeism and resignation must be revised.
And finally, the Pecos Head Start Program must conduct a community needs assessment to ensure quality service delivery, according to Saulter.
Commissioners approve a new
assistant warden for RCDC
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From Staff Reports
PECOS, July 14, 1997 - Reeves County Commissioners today accepted a
recommendation to hire a new assistant warden for the Reeves County
Detention Center (RCDC). The assistant warden spot became vacant at the
RCDC last month when Joe Trujillo was fired from the position.
RCDC Warden Rudy Franco recommended Charlie Marmalejo, a retired Bureau
of Prisons camp administrator, for the vacant position.
"The warden made the decision to fire Trujillo," said County Judge Jimmy
Galindo. "Franco makes executive decisions concerning staff at the RCDC.
It's not a commissioners court decision to make."
Franco had no comment concerning Trujillo's dismissal.
Trujillo's stay as one of the top men at the RCDC was filled with
controversy which included prison riots, escapes, being fired from the
warden's position at least once and now fired from the assistant
"It's a matter of what's right and what's wrong," said Reeves County
Sheriff Andy Gomez in a Pecos Enterprise article March 30, 1995
concerning the events which led up to his firing Trujillo from the Law
Enforcement Center (LEC) warden position.
The RCDC was then known as the Reeves County Law Enforcement Center.
Trujillo's 1995 termination letter stated no allegations for termination
due to the legalities involved with the situation, said Gomez. "Reasons
will be worked out later with Bureau of Prisons (BOP) authorities," the
sheriff said at the time.
However, Gomez was angered by Trujillo firing two LEC employees and
"Three employees' jobs were threatened because they went against the
warden," said Gomez in the Enterprise article.
The two fired employees had reportedly confronted Trujillo with issues
that they felt were not right at the LEC Gomez said.
Gomez reported the situation to BOP authorities when the employees had
sought his assistance.
Reeves County Commissioners approved construction of the $6.2 million
facility in 1984, at the urging of then-sheriff Raul Florez. The 528-bed
facility opened in May, 1986. The LEC began operations under the
authority of the Reeves County Sheriff's Department.
A total of 14 prisoners escaped from the facility in the first 26 months
of operation. The incidents were blamed by the BOP on poor security
Continuing problems with staffing and operations brought censure from
the BOP on numerous occasions, and the BOP pulled out about 200
prisoners when Sheriff Gomez fired Trujillo.
Reeves County Commissioners then took over operation with Gomez's
blessing and re-hired Trujillo.
On August 28, 1994, inmates torched the RCDC recreation building during
a 7-hour protest. The building was erected less than two years earlier
at the urging of the BOP, which also pushed for construction of
isolation cells at the prison.
Two employees of the LEC filed suit against Reeves County in 1995,
alleging their rights were violated under the Texas Whistleblower Act.
When commissioners hired Rudy Franco as CEO at the prison, RCDC Warden Joe Trujillo was to remain in his position.
Redford residents may ask for demilitarization
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SAN ANGELO, Texas (AP) July 14, 1997 - Residents from the small Big Bend
border town of Redford are scheduled to ask high-ranking federal
officials Tuesday to demilitarize the Texas-Mexico border, the San
Angelo Standard-Times reported today.
Maria Jimenez, the national director of the American Friends Service
Committee's Law Enforcement Monitoring Project, disclosed the group's
plans during a Democratic Party rally at Brown Plaza in Del Rio on
Representatives from the border community are scheduled to meet in
Washington with Clinton administration officials, drug czar Barry
McCafferty's chief of staff, Pentagon officials, an Immigration and
Naturalization Service commissioner and staff members from a special
operation studying low-intensity warfare.
The group will call for demilitarization because of the May 20 shooting
death of Esequiel Hernandez, 18, by a U.S. Marine on an anti-drug patrol
in the community of about 100 residents, 180 miles southeast of El Paso.
"It is about the issue of dignity and respect for dignity, the dignity
of an individual, the dignity of a community and the dignity of a
nation," Ms. Jimenez said.
The group will confront the officials on the lack of consultation
between the anti-drug task forces and the border communities where they
are operating, she said.
The delegation will ask for three things:
- Congressional hearings to be conducted in border communities.
- An end to all military operations along the border.
- A constitutional amendment prohibiting the military from policing
civilians on U.S. soil.
Military anti-drug patrols were suspended along parts of the Mexican
border last week while authorities investigate the shooting of the
Redford goatherd. The Marines contend Hernandez fired his .22-caliber
rifle twice and was about to fire a third time when Cpl. Clemente
Banuelos opened fire.
Hernandez's family says he carried the rifle to protect his goats and
sometimes shot at targets.
The Texas Rangers and the Marine Corps are investigating the incident,
which raised questions about the risk of sending military personnel on observation missions.
New Mexico ranchers worried
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ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) July 14, 1997 - A proposed expansion of German air
force operations in southern New Mexico has ranchers worried that
low-level flights of military aircraft could scare their livestock.
"When you fly over herds of cattle or saddle horses, it can be
disastrous to us, and we know that," said Bob Jones, who owns a ranch
southeast of McGregor Range.
Low-level flights can stampede livestock into barbed wire fences and
cause a horse to throw its rider, he said Saturday in a public hearing
on a draft environmental impact statement for the proposed expansion.
A final environmental impact statement is to be completed in November. A
decision on the proposal is scheduled for December.
The proposal calls for an additional 30 Luftwaffe Tornado jet aircraft
and 640 more personnel at Holloman Air Force Base. The proposal would
require additional support facilities to be built.
The Luftwaffe currently has 12 European-made Tornado fighter-bombers and
about 300 personnel at its German Tactical Training Center, where pilots
are trained "Top Gun" style.
The Germans like Holloman because of favorable weather, available air
space and the proximity to Fort Bliss, Texas - headquarters for
Luftwaffe operations in the United States and Canada.
There are three options under consideration to meet the Germans'
One would be a new tactical target complex on the western edge of Otero
Mesa within McGregor Range, operated by Fort Bliss, in southern New
Another would be establishment of a new target complex within the
Tularosa Basin part of McGregor Range.
The third option would be using only existing target ranges.
Lt. Col. Don Hargarten said a new range is necessary because the
existing ranges on nearby White Sands Missile Range are off limits when
it is being used for testing.
And ridges around the existing ranges present a problem for specialized
terrain-following abilities of the Tornados, he said.
"The closer you make the range, the more training you get on it" and the
less time you spend in transit wasting money, said Hargarten, assistant
deputy commander of the U.S. Air Force's 49th Fighter Wing Operations
The Luftwaffe said the best option - and cheapest at about $4 million -
is the Otero Mesa site, a 5,000-acre range about 35 miles southeast of
The German government would pay for 60 percent of the range cost, while
the United States would pay 40 percent, Hargarten said.
"We want to make sure people fighting next to us are just as
well-trained as we are," he said.
Jones said ranchers in the area have supported U.S. war efforts in the
"This is not supporting a war effort," he said. "This is the Air Force
prostituting their technology and selling it to the Germans.
"Where does this thing end? People are accused of being paranoid about
us selling our sovereignty. They may be right."
Marianne Thaler, military issues chairwoman for the Sierra Club's Rio
Grande chapter, said expanding the use of White Sands with some use of
the Melrose Range, west of Clovis, would minimize the environmental
"No new acres would be removed from public access and multiple uses,
including hunting, camping, hiking and grazing, would continue on
McGregor unmolested," she said.
"No endangered species would be impacted and soil, biologic (and other)
resources would be minimally affected," Ms. Thaler said.
The draft report said the Melrose Range is too far away.
Aubrey Lewis of nearby Mayhill said New Mexico is becoming a tourist
destination because of its beautiful environment, which should be
"They (tourists) don't come here to watch jets zoom up and down the
canyons," Lewis said. "They come here for the peace and quiet."
R.B. Holmes, an Alamogordo banker, said the impact of expanded Luftwaffe
operations would be significant.
"Those guys are renting houses, buying groceries and buying cars," he said.
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PECOS, July 14, 1997 - High Sunday, 104, low this morning, 73. The
greatest chance of showers and thunderstorms tonight and Tuesday will be
in the low rolling plains and in the Big Bend area of Southwest Texas.
Lows tonight will be in the 60s and 70s. Highs Tuesday will be in the
Mac McKinnon, Publisher
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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Copyright 1997 by Pecos Enterprise
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