March 24, 1998
Commissioners oppose Air Force proposal
By RICK L. SMITH
PECOS, March 24, 1998 - Reeves County Commissioners
yesterday joined with leaders of other West Texas
communities who oppose the U.S. Air Force Realistic Bomber
Initiative Training proposed for the area.
Commissioners signed a resolution opposing the U.S. Air
Force plan that would have as many as 40 military jets
flying as low as 300 feet at speeds approaching 500 mph
every day through Reeves and other West Texas counties.
The resolution sited concerns about the effects of the Air
Force proposal that include: increased air pollution, high
noise levels, physiological and psychological effects on
population, damages to social/economic structures,
deterioration of land use, damage to water resources,
transportation hazards (including radioactive waste
shipments) and hazards from crashes, flares, fuel dumping
Representatives from the Trans-Pecos Protection Group that
is actively fighting the proposal petitioned Reeves County
Commissioners to force their opposition to the proposed
training plan during the commissioners' regular meeting
"We have examined 21 environmental impact statements on the
proposal and found that not one of them passed all of the
Environmental Protection Agency requirements," said Bryan
Kelley of Alpine. "The Air Force has no technological
baseline for doing what they are doing."
Kelley and Clark Lindley, of Pecos, told the commissioners
that while they supported the U.S. Air Force training its
crews, they felt the training should not take place above
populated areas where accidents could occur. Instead, the
Trans-Pecos Protection Group has taken the stand that such
training should be done above unpopulated federally owned
Kelley and Lindley stressed that even if the proposed
training could not be stopped it was necessary that formal
opposition to the plan be documented in case damages do
occur and compensation is needed.
"By getting the counties and communities together, hopefully
this proposal will not take place," Commissioner Herman
Later in the meeting, discussion of hiring an Internet
technician for the Reeves County Public Library turned
heated after Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo suggested
that library department head Nancy Bently hire Pecos High
School Senior Lucretia Molinar for the position.
"I don't think we should get involved in suggesting who to
hire," Commissioner W.J. Bang said. "I don't think that is
right, we have no authority to do that."
Bang said the part-time job opening at the library should be
advertised to allow anyone interested to apply for the job.
An obviously angry Galindo replied that he had been talking
with Bently for four months about the position and that Bang
was not up-to-date on commissioners' court business.
"I'm not sure that I want someone else telling me who to
hire for a part-time position," Bently said. "Who will hire
her replacement, me or you?" she asked Galindo.
After several minutes of heated discussion between Galindo
and Bang, Galindo withdrew his recommendation.
In other business, commissioners approved a resolution
supporting the John Ben Sheppard Public Leadership Forum set
for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 28 at the new gym at Pecos High
During the forum as many as 50 students from Pecos and the
surrounding area will prepare for their future by learning
about such topics as: goal setting, communications,
leadership and youth suicide and drug-abuse prevention.
Students in grades seven through 12 will participate in the
"There is a lot of talent in our community and all we need
to do is make it blossom," said Jonathan Fuentes, Pecos
Youth Advisory Commission president.
Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez requested the annual pay of
county jailers be raised from the current amount of $14,000
"It's hard to hire jailers at this rate and when we do hire
them they do not stay for long," Gomez said. "Right now we
Gomez told commissioners that no budget increase would be
needed to make the change. The commissioners approved his
Reeves County Detention Center Warden Rudy Franco requested
that $160,000 from telephone profits at the prison be used
to fund three vocational trades programs for inmates. All
three programs would benefit the RCDC and its inmates.
Inmates participating in a horticulture program would learn
how to grow native plants that could be used to beautify the
area. Those in a building trades program could perform light
facility repairs at the RCDC. Inmates in an auto mechanics
program could help maintain the prison's vehicles.
Franco's proposal was approved.
The purchase of 80 pine trees at $35 each for landscaping at
the Reeves County Convention Center and along highways in
the county was approved.
Ornelas sentenced to 10 years for rape
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, March 24, 1998 - Jurors deliberated more than two
hours Monday night before handing down a 10-year prison
sentence to Felix Ornelas Jr., 23, for aggravated sexual
Ornelas, also known as "Nunie," pleaded guilty to having
sexual relations with a 13-year-old female on June 20, 1997,
then asked the jury to assess punishment.
District Attorney Randy Reynolds called several witnesses
during the punishment phase of the trial, including the
victim's mother and the doctor who examined the girl shortly
after the assault.
They said the girl appeared to be traumatized by the assault
and resisted examination.
Ornelas claimed the girl consented to have sex with him.
However, Reynolds said sexual relations with a child under
age 14 is aggravated sexual assault even if it is consensual.
Ornelas disappeared after the assault and was arrested in
Midland Oct. 3, 1997 after the FBI entered the case.
The jury found that Ornelas had not been convicted of a
prior felony offense and is eligible for probation, but they
recommended he not be placed on probation.
Mike Swanson represented the defendant before District Judge
Bob Parks in 143rd District Court.
In an unrelated drug case, Reynolds and defense attorney
Scott Johnson began questioning prospective jurors this
Julian Rodriguez is charged with delivery of a controlled
substance to an undercover officer with the Permian Basin
Drug Task Force. He was arrested Nov. 4, 1997, along with
more than 20 other suspects.
Across the street, U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson began
a jury trial for Martin Todd Stone, 32, of Lawton, Okla.
Stone is charged with importing and possessing marijuana
with intent to distribute.
NASA coming to look at Monahans meteorite
By ROSIE FLORES
MONAHANS, March 24, 1998 - Monahans officials are waiting
for NASA scientists to come pick up what is thought to be
Officials from both NASA and the Smithsonian Institute have
contacted the Monahans Police Department expressing their
interest in the rocks believed to have come from a meteorite
which lit up the sky across West Texas as it fell to earth
Sunday evening, according to Monahans Police Captain Dave
The first rock was found Sunday evening, while the second
one was found Monday as a deputy was enroute to the site
where the first one was found.
Residents across the area reported hearing a boom' which
lasted for about five seconds, and others saw a streak of
light travel from southeast to northwest about 7 p.m. Sunday.
A four-inch piece of rock, believed to be a meteorite,
landed about 30 yards from a group of youngsters playing
basketball on the north side of Monahans, while a second,
slightly larger rock, was found by a Ward County Sheriff's
Deputy at a nearby site Monday morning.
The first rock was brought into the police station shortly
after it was discovered. The second rock was found about 800
feet away, embedded in the roadway. "It's a little bit
larger than the first one, but other than that, it looks
about the same," said Watts.
"Right now we're waiting for the individuals from NASA whose
plane will be landing in Midland at noon," said Watts.
Watts said the department was called out to the scene after
a group of youngsters reported something falling from the
NASA officials will take both rocks back to have them
tested, according to Watts.
"We're making arrangements for them to take them, but they
will be returned and plans that are in the making include
building a glass case so that they can be displayed," said
The two rocks will officially belong to the City of
Monahans, according to Watts.
"What the officials from NASA are wanting to do is take them
back as soon as possible, because of their freshness," said
Watts explained that the officials wanted to do this soon,
since they were just discovered recently. "This will make it
easier for them to test them," he said.
Watts stated that police are not actually looking for any
more fragments, but if more are found they will be treated
in the same manner.
Florence McNeil, 83, of Pecos, died Sunday, March 22, 1998,
at Sierra Medical Center in El Paso.
Services are scheduled for 2 p.m., Wednesday, March 25, at
First Baptist Church with Rev. Greer Willis officiating.
Burial will be in Fairview Cemetery.
McNeil was born Jan. 15, 1915, in Oklahoma. She had lived in
Pecos since 1947, was retired and a member of the First
She was preceded in death by her husband, L.W. Rounder
McNeil in 1983.
Survivors include: three sons, Floyd James McNeil of
Kingsland, W.C. Dub McNeil of Horizon City, Tx. and Jimmy
Don McNeil of Presidio; seven grandchildren; and 18
Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Justo Tarango, 67, died Monday, March 23, 1998, at Reeves
County Hospital in Pecos.
A rosary will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Martinez
Funeral Home Chapel.
Mass is scheduled for 2 p.m., Wednesday at Santa Rosa
Catholic Church. Burial will be in Greenwood Cemetery.
Tarango was born on Sept. 14, 1930, in Valentine, Tx. He was
a lifetime Pecos resident, a retired truck driver and a
Survivors include: his wife, Cecilia Natividad Tarango; two
sons, Abel Tarango and Arthur Tarango of Pecos; one step-son
David Natividad of Kermit; three brothers, Ramon Tarango and
Felix Tarango, of Odessa, and Alex Tarango, of Pecos; two
sisters, Elfida Lujan, of Arlington, and Elena Ortega of
Pecos; and six grandchildren.
Martinez Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
PECOS, March 24, 1998 - High Monday, 92, low this morning,
48. The weather will remain pleasant and rain-free across
all of Texas tonight and Wednesday. West Texas will have
mostly fair nights and sunny days. A few low level clouds
are forecast across North Texas, but skies will be clearing
quickly on Wednesday. Windy conditions will continue through
Wednesday. Clear skies and windy conditions are forecast
across South Texas. Lows tonight will be in the 40s and 50s
in West Texas and in the 50s and 60s over the rest of the
state. Highs Wednesday will be in the 70s and 80s except in
the Big Bend area of Southwest Texas where readings will
climb into the low 90s.
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