March 12, 1998
Ward County clerk, commissioner face runoffs
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, March 12, 1998 - Ward County voters will have a
couple of runoff election races to decide on April 14, while
voters returned several incumbents to office in Tuesday's
Meanwhile, Loving County voters decided only one contested
race in the Democratic primary, while the county's
Republican primary election was limited to just a single
voter in the nation's least-populated county.
Ward County Judge Sam Massey won renomination in the
Democratic Primary, defeating challenger Pam Tredaway by a
1,928-1,030 margin. Massey will face Republican Candido
Gutierrez in the November general election. Gutierrez was
unopposed in Tuesday's election.
Winning election and facing no opposition in November are
treasurer Nell Berry, who won renomination over challenger
Carolyn Cunningham by a 1,693 to 1,232 margin; Precinct 1
Justice of the Peace Pascual Olibas, who defeated Gene
Baker, 761 votes to 530; and Ronold L. Ray, who won the
Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace primary vote over Daria
Moore, 1,106 votes to 543.
The runoff elections in Ward County will be for county
clerk, where Judy Greer will face Natrell Cain, and in the
elections for County Commissioner in both Precinct 2 and
Greer picked up 1397 votes to 1158 for Cain and 455 for
Trina Orona in Tuesday's election. Candidates must receive
at least 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.
In the Precinct 2 commissioner's race, Kathy Faucett got 436
votes and Henry Cutbirth 368 to reach the runoff. The third
candidate, C. Pearson Cooper, had 256 votes.
In Precinct 4, Rickey McCurdy led the field of four
candidates with 196 votes. He'll face Don Creech, who had
143 votes, in the April 14 runoff. Creech beat out Johnny B.
Williams, who had 132 votes, while David Carrasco collected
Barstow voters went with the rest of the county in the race
for county judge, favoring Massey over Tredaway by an 81-25
margin, and gave Olibas 80 votes to 33 for Baker in the JP 1
race. But the Barstow voters lost out in the county clerk
race, giving Orona 81 votes to 36 for Cain and 20 for Greer,
and in the race for treasurer, where Cunningham edged Cain
by a 52-48 margin.
In the District 23 Congressional election, voters in Ward
County favored Joe Sullivan by a 1,284-606 margin over
Charles Jones, with Alan Rindfuss third with 169 votes.
Jones and Sullivan will be in a runoff on April 14 for the
right to face Republican Henry Bonilla in the November
In Loving County, the only contested race was for Justice of
the Peace, where McKinley Hopper defeated Socorro Fuentez by
a 59-39 margin. Running unopposed were Donald C. Creager for
county judge, Lenell Chandler 143rd District and Loving
County Clerk, and Joe Renteria and Royce Creager for
Precinct 2 and Precinct 4 commissioner.
Loving voters also went for Sullivan in the congressional
primary, 23 votes to 20 for Jones and 9 for Rindfuss.
In the Republican primary, Loving County had just one voter,
who cast his ballot for George W. Bush for governor, Tom
Pauken for attorney general, Hamp Hodges for agriculture
commissioner and Gary Walker for District 80 Representative.
Bush and Walker won renomination; Hodges was defeated by
Susan Counts and Pauken failed to qualify for the runoff,
where Barry Williamson will face John Cornyn on April 14.
Blackhawks conduct night flying practice
By GREG HARMAN
PECOS, March 12, 1998 - They flew into Pecos nearly-silent,
close to the treeline, in groups of three to four on Monday
afternoon. And throughout the week, those night noises may
not be what you would first expect.
The group of 11 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, flat olive drab
with black markings, from 227th Aviation out of First
Calvary Division of Fort Hood Army Base in Killeen, Tx., and
the crew members that man them, have been stationed at Pecos
Municipal Airport since Monday -here to conduct five days of
night flying practice in Reeves County. The night training
is in final preparation for intensive mock combat with an
"opposing force" to be conducted later in the month at a
national training center at Ft. Irwin, Ca.
Private First Class Theodore Klepin estimated that the
personnel consisted of about four per helicopter, forty-four
in total, and said that part of the night training would
include the use of "night vision goggles," or NVGs.
Fort Hood spokesman Cecil Green said that night vision
goggles were a light amplification device worn over the eyes
that are generally used in darker areas. The fact that
Reeves County has so much unpopulated space was probably one
of the primary reasons the team is training here, said Green.
The Blackhawk, in production since 1978 said Green, came to
replace the older Hewey helicopter as the U.S. Army's
primary utility helicopter. Green said the Blackhawks were
typically not used as "attack helicopters," and were very
durable and extensively used in Operation Desert Storm.
The Blackhawks weigh about 20,000 pounds and may transport
more that amount, capable of carrying as many as 11
passengers besides the crew. Some models may reach a top
speed of 193 knots.
Dennis Blanchard, co-manager of Pecos Municipal Airport,
said that military aircraft often use the airport
facilities, though it tends to be "feast or famine," to rest
and gas up.
"This morning we had one in from the Navy," said Blanchard,
"from (United States Navy Carrier) Nimitz after a six-month
deployment in the Gulf. And four Blackhawks from California
on their way to Ft. Hood."
Military personnel generally like the service the husband
and wife team provide them, said Blanchard as his wife,
Isabelle, returned with a wicker basket, containing
refreshments for the pilots and crew, that she had been
carrying around to the many locust-like warcraft. "We offer
a quick turn-around. Get them fed. We leave no stone
Blanchard said he had made arrangements for the army
personnel, who will be staying on the airport grounds, to
shower at Trey Park Campground.
PHS student council members stand out
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, March 12, 1998 - Hard work and perseverence paid off
for Pecos High School Student Council members as they get
ready to advance to state competition.
In addition, one Pecos High School student received a
Student council members recently submitted projects they
have been working on all year for District 8 commendations.
The group attended the Spring Forum in Odessa, Feb. 25, for
an all-day conference. The 1997-1998 student council
consists of five members from each class, one honorary
member, four officers and two sponsors.
The student council is divided into six committees,
according to student council president Gabi Bafidis.
The Outstanding Committee consits of the president,
vice-president, secretary and treasurer who organize main
projects such as homecoming festivities and the Drug Free
The remaining groups are the Pride and Patriotism Committee;
the D.A.S.H. Committee, made up of two committees, the
Health and Safety Committee and the S.M.I.L.E. Committee;
the Teacher Appreciation Committee; and the Student and
Spirit Attitude Committee. Each committee consists of a
chairman and members. The name of each committee describes
the kind of projects executed by the committees.
While forms were approved and investigated on whether
projects were completed or not, members were presented with
motivational speeches on everyday leadership situations.
Students spent half a day in motivational influence
instruction them moved on to the business portion of the
conference and the annual District 8 meeting was called to
order, according to Bafidis.
"During the meeting, committees from different towns were
recognized for completing the correct amount of projects,"
Pecos was given recognition in all committees that submitted
forms, earning sweepstakes. Committees earning District 8
honors were Pride and Patriotism Committee, D.A.S.H.
Committee, Energy and Environment Committee, and Outstanding
Committee. The Teacher Appreciation Committee, and Student
and Spirit Attitude Committee are not required to submit
Another recognition given out for the first year was a
District 8 Scholarship. The scholarship which was worth
$500, was given to four student council members out of the
whole district. Student council president, senior, Gabi
Bafidis was one of the four Stu-Co membrs who received the
District 8 Scholarship.
"I was really honored to have received this award especially
because its the first year," said Bafidis. "I was excited
because of the large number who could have received it," she
"All the hard work that I've contributed to StuCo since my
freshman year has paid off with this scholarship and
sweepstakes," said Bafidis.
As the meeting was adjourned, Pecos left the Spring Forum
with smiles on their faces, according to Bafidis.
"All committees that could enter forms were recognized and
Pecos brought home sweepstakes," said Bafidis.
Student council members will be advancing on to Austin,
April 30 through May 2 for recognition from the state.
Sponsors for the group are high school counselors Pat Cobos
and Jim Adams.
Choice of purchasing medicine or paying bills
By CARA ALLIGOOD
PECOS, March 12, 1998 - A growing number of people who need
medication to control life-threatening illnesses, but cannot
afford the drugs they need, live in Reeves County, according
to several members of the community.
Because of that increasing need, Community Council of Reeves
County members voted at their last meeting to seek grants to
fund a program to help these people buy the medicine they
need.But they assigned the task to their executive director,
Caprice Cox, who has been out of work lately with health
problems of her own. Hence, the search for a grant has not
yet begun. "The money is there, I'm sure, the problem is how
to tap that money," said precinct one county commissioner
People who have no money to pay for their medical care are
considered indigent, but most people have incomes that are
too high to qualify them for Reeves County Hospital's
indigent care program.
The Indigent Health Care and Treatment Act of 1985 put the
Texas Department of Health in charge of setting income
guidelines for hospital indigent care programs in this
state, according to Nancy Ontiveros, Reeves County Hospital
Director of Program Development and Community Services.
Ontiveros said that people cannot qualify for the program if
they are on any other medical program such as Medicaid or
Social Security. Resources such as personal property, a
vehicle with a value under $1,500, one's homestead and food
stamps or resources from other federal programs are exempt
from consideration as income. Still, the income guidelines
are sostrict that most people do not qualify for the program.
Ontiveros said that in 1997, 846 individuals from Reeves
County were served under the indigent program. The county
had a population of more than 15,000 in the last census.
Many adults in the area do not qualify for Medicaid, are too
young for Medicare, have too much income for the hospital's
indigent program and either do not have jobs or have jobs
that do not provide them with medical insurance and don't
pay enough for them to be able to afford private insurance
Arredondo said some indigents are military veterans who
qualify for veterans' benefits, but estimated that number to
be about 10 percent of the total indigent population. He
said that local chapters of both the Catholic War Veterans
and the Veterans of Foreign Wars have programs to help those
people. He also said that the Catholic War Veterans plan to
become more involved in aiding people even if they are not
Catholic or veterans.
Some people are being helped directly by manufacturers of
certain medicines, Ontiveros said. However, each
pharmaceutical company has its own indigent program
guidelines, and a doctor must be registered with those
companies before that doctor's patients can apply for the
company's program. Even then, the application process can
take several weeks. If a patient does qualify for the drug
company's program though, they can receive their medication
for free, directly from the manufacturer.
"The churches had been wonderful about providing
medications," Ontiveros said.
Still, there are a lot of people who need medications they
can't afford and are not covered by programs that provide
for all of their needs. "There are a lot of people who fall
through the cracks," Ontiveros said.
"It is not an easy answer," said Ontiveros. "All of us who
have been involved in these programs become very frustrated
because people come to our programs for help and our hands
are tied. We're breaking the law if we go beyond the
guidelines that are set by the government," said Ontiveros.
There are a few members of the community who have been
willing to tell the stories of their situations, such as
"Mary" who did not want her real name used.
Mary and her two children have lived with her elderly
parents since an automobile accident lef ther injured and
unable to work. She borrowed her parents' car to pick her
children up from school one day and was hit by a drunk
driver. Now she doesn't have a job and her parents don't
have a car.
She said that her parents, who are both in their 70s, are
just able to pay for their home, utilities, groceries and
household necessities with their Social Security checks.
Both of Mary's parents need medications which are not
covered by Medicare, and their Social Security income
disqualifies them for Medicaid, she said. Her mother is
supposed to take medication for high blood pressure and
diabetes; her father has the same afflictions, but is on
antibiotics for an infection in his lungs as well.
One local man, Tim Sappington, has been out of work since a
motorcycle accident on March 22, 1974 left him disabled. He
suffers from degenerative arthritis, as well as
insulin-dependent diabetes and cirrhosis of the liver.
Sappington said that his insulin is being provided, but he
also needs two medications for his cirrhosis, tranquilizers
and sleeping pills for his chronic pain.
He said that even though he doesn't have to pay for his
insulin, the rest of his medications cost about $150 a
month. Sappington said that his source of income is a $578
monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) check, out of
which he must pay for utilities, back taxes on his home,
groceries and automotive upkeep and expenses. He also has a
wife and a son who live with him, but he can't claim his son
as a dependent because his son is 18 years old.
Sappington said that he currently doesn't have all of the
medications that he is supposed to be taking and is low on
the ones that he does have. He also said that he reduces the
dosages of the medications he does have in order to make
them last longer, even though his doctors haven't said that
those medicines are effective in lower dosages.
Sappington said that he has to decide every month whether to
buy the medicines he needs or to use the money to take care
of his family. "Do I buy my medicine or does my family have
Christmas this year?" Sappington queried.
He said that since he can't always afford the prescribed
painkillers he needs, "it's easier to just buy beer to dull
Sappington said, "After 24 years, I'm tired. Sometimes I
just wish I would die. I know that's terrible to say, but
I'm tired of the pain. I just want to be comfortable again."
Len Carson, a local man disabled by a workplace injury, is
one of those falling through the cracks between programs.
Carson's right arm was amputated after an oil rig accident.
He wears a prosthesis. Carson said he also suffers from
gout, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, and
diabetes. Additionally, Carson is missing most of his teeth
and said that he really needs dentures to be able to chew
his food. He explained that it is important for diabetics to
be able to chew their food well because many of them also
have "bad stomachs."
Carson doesn't take medications to control all of his health
problems. He said that his diabetes is the
non-insulin-dependent type, so he uses diet to control both
his diabetes and his bloodpressure.
Carson said that his income is slightly above Medicare
He has been given an estimate of $1,800 to pull his
remaining teeth and fit him with a set of dentures. He said
that Medicare has a "spend down" program that would pay part
of the cost of his dentures, but his remaining cost would
still be $706. His monthly SSI income is only slightly over
that, and must also pay for his house payment, personal
loans, utilities, groceries and automotive expenses. Carson
also has a teenage son.
Carson said one of the best sources of help in Pecos are the
churches, but they can only do so much.
People are faced with the choice of using their money for
their medicine or their utilities, Carson said, so many
people get behind on their utility payments and are faced
with having their utilities disconnected because of
non-payment of past-due bills.
He wants to see some type of board set up that would serve
as a go-between to help people who are faced with having
their utilities disconnected because of bills they can't
afford to pay.
Carson said that "the people at the community council have
been great about helping as much as they can," but that
there are some people, especially the elderly, who are
either too scared or too embarrassed to ask for aid, or
don't even know that there are programs that could help them.
The community council does have a program called the
Emergency Shelter Grant Program that can help with
utilities, but not on a long-term basis. Their search for
grant funds to help people pay for much-needed medication
will begin soon.
Tough judge can show compassion
BY PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, March 12, 1998 - Possessing and intending to
distribute almost 500 pounds of marijuana brings a penalty
of 10-plus years and a $10,000 fine in U.S. District Judge
Royal Furgeson's court.
Monday, Judge Furgeson sentenced Theodore Michael Brewster,
46, of Van Horn, to 122 months in prison, plus five years
supervised release and a $10,000 fine.
Brewster, who claimed he was working as a confidential
informant for law enforcement officers when marijuana was
stored in his barn, was ordered to pay $2,000 per year of
the fine while he is on supervised release after completing
his prison term.
Judge Furgeson, whose patience and courtesy with defendants
and attorneys often slows court proceedings, lost that
patience during a bond hearing for Cesar Gonzalez when the
defendant and family members were caught lying on the
Gonzalez, who has a history of fleeing, must post $75,000
bail to be released prior to trial.
Maria Leos Benavides of Marfa experienced Judge Furgeson's
concern when she won her bid for probation on a marijuana
Because the mother of two teenagers is their sole support
and must raise twin grandchildren while her older daughter
is in prison for the same offense, Judge Furgeson opted to
depart downward from the sentencing guidelines and placed
Benavides on five years probation.
She must continue to work, and for the first six months must
observe a midnight curfew.
In a flurry of activity Monday and Tuesday, Judge Furgeson
sentenced 14 defendants, accepted five guilty pleas and
presided for jury selection in another marijuana possession
Trial for Martin Todd Stone, 32, of Lawton, Okla., was set
for March 23.
Gerardo Jaquez-Cabello, accused of escaping from Reeves
County Jail in January 1997, along with two cellmates,
sought to have two of four charges in the indictment dropped
on a legal technicality.
Judge Furgeson said he would study the law and rule Friday
whether a conspiracy charge and two aiding and abetting
charges are for the same offense.
* Alejandro Lopez-Ayala of Kermit, 80 months, plus five
years supervised release, for possession with intent to
distribute 294 pounds of marijuana;
* Roberto Serna-Martinez, 13 months for false claim to
* Johnny Espinoza, 24 months for possession with intent to
* Daniel Olivera-Montes, 18 months for possession of
* Luis Villa, 14 months, smuggling marijuana;
* Isodoro Rojas-Rodriguez, 57 months for illegal entry;
* Jesus Galvez, 37 months for marijuana possession;
* Cecilio Sotelo-Eriquez, 15 months for marijuana possession;
* Ruben Ramirez-Enriquez, 21 months for marijuana
* Jorge Vasquez-Perdomo, 24 months for illegal entry.
Pleading guilty to marijuana possession were:
* Jose Ceniceros, Amiee Anderson, Ojilvia Moreno-Arroyo and
Aaron Carrillo pleaded guilty to illegal entry and was
sentenced to time served, then released to the U.S. Border
Several cases on the docket were continued to April 13.
PECOS, March 12, 1998 - High Wednesday, 63, low this
morning, 33. Just when it appeared that spring weather had
returned to Texas, somebody left the door open. A cold front
moved into the state during the afternoon yesterday,
bringing gusty north winds and a reinforcement of cold air
to the area. At 3 a.m. today, most of North Texas was below
freezing. Readings ranged from 22 at Wichita Falls to 37 at
Lufkin. Patchy light rain or drizzle was falling across the
lower Rio Grande Valley early today. Temperatures were ice
freezer-cold across the Panhandle and South Plains.
Temperatures at 4 a.m. today ranged from 16 at Amarillo,
Borger and Lubbock to 45 at Sanderson and Dryden about 300
miles to the south. A wintry mix of precipitation is
possible over southern areas of the Panhandle this afternoon
and tonight. Highs across West Texas should range from the
40s north to near 60 in far west parts of the region. Lows
tonight should range from the 20s north to near 40 far
south. Highs Friday should be in the 60s and 70s across West
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