Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Monday, April 20, 1998
Big Bend drug flight ends with Detroit crash
DETROIT (AP) - A small plane loaded with marijuana crashed
in a ballpark after being trailed by Customs agents for
1,500 miles after it entered the United States from Mexico
into southern Brewster County.
The homemade plane entered U.S. airspace from Mexico near
Big Bend National Park, where it was tracked by Customs
Service airplanes. Three Customs Service planes followed the
plane - carrying more than 300 pounds of marijuana - from
Brewster County all the way to the Detroit area, when it
crashed just before reaching the Canadian border.
When some residents saw they couldn't help the dying pilot,
they apparently helped themselves to some of the stash.
Gloria Johnson said she heard a boom, saw the plane hit a
tree and then crash Sunday into a west Detroit ball field
next to a junior high school. She said the pilot was still
alive when neighbors ran to help.
``There were big bundles of drugs and money all around the
plane,'' Ms. Johnson said. ``The bundles of marijuana looked
like two big suitcases.''
Ms. Johnson said she saw people leave the scene with some of
``A couple of guys came to help, then grabbed the bags of
drugs and left,'' Johnson said. Police would not confirm
``They began following it covertly, I want to emphasize
covertly,'' Customs spokesman Vince Bond said. ``We can't
shoot them down, we don't shoot them down, we don't ever
force aircraft down. It's unsafe.''
The pilot apparently ran low on fuel and the plane started
to break up before crashing, Fire Chief Lee Moore said.
Officials believe the pilot might have been trying to escape
``I'm assuming in his desperation there was an attempt to
stop in this field,'' Moore said.
As Customs agents removed bundles of cash and marijuana from
the scene, police officers searched an area several blocks
wide for parts of the plane and other evidence.
The pilot's body was taken to the Wayne County Medical
May election early voting starts slowly
By ROSIE FLORES
Early voting has started off slowly for the May 2 local
elections, but will pick up speed, according to early voting
clerk Debbie Thomas.
"We're not worried, I'm sure things will pick up," said
About 133 individuals cast votes early in the city, school
and hospital elections during the first 3½ days, Thomas said.
Voting sites have again been consolidated this year at the
Pecos Community Center, 508 S. Oak, next door to the Pecos
Police Department. Voting hours are weekdays between 8 a.m.
and 5 p.m.,
Ten ballots have been returned by mail and 147 are out,
according to Thomas.
Voting clerks have been busy mailing out ballots and will be
ready for the voters by personal appearance when things do
pick up, according to Thomas.
"We're averaging about 40 something a day, but I'm sure
we'll get more as things progress," she said.
Town of Pecos City Mayor Dot Stafford is seeking her third
two-year and is being challenged by former city councilman
Robert Hernandez. Incumbents Ricky Herrera and Danny
Rodriguez are also seeking new two-year term on the council
in at-large seats, but both are running unopposed.
In the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD race, positions up for
election include three full-year terms currently held by
Linda Gholson, Earl Bates and Frank Perea.
In that race, five candidates will be seeking a place,
including Perea, Bates and challengers Louis Matta, Brent
Shaw and Frank Rodriguez.
The Reeves County Hospital District board seats will be open
for Districts 1 and 3, along with the at-large seat for
which all Reeves County voters are eligible to cast ballots.
These positions are currently held by, respectively, Chel
Flores, Jesus Prieto and Greg Luna.
Luna, the hospital board's vice president, is unopposed for
the at-large position, as is Flores in Precinct 1. In
Precinct 3 Prieto will face challenger Mike Stallard.
In Barstow, city council incumbents, Robert Ortega and Benny
Avila have filed, while Salvador Villalobos has filed for
In Balmorhea, school positions up will be those currently
held by Paul Ward and Armando Mondragon. Both Ward and
Mondragon have filed and are being challenged by Virgil Ray
In the city elections, positions available will be that of
mayor, currently held by Ismael Rodriguez, and two council
positions, held by Rosendo Carrasco and Rosendo Galindo.
Rodriguez is unopposed in his bid for re-election, while in
the council race Carrasco opted to run for Precinct 3
Justice of the Peace, an election he won in last Tuesday's
runoff over Joel Madrid, while Galindo is being challenged
by Tami Marmillion and Danny Reynolds.
In Toyah, positions open are those of the mayor, a position
unoccupied at this time and council positions, held by
Howard Dennett and Linda Compton.
The mayor's position is being sought by Paul Budlong and
Four people will be vying for the two positions available.
Those include Howard Dennett, Jana McHorse, Bart F. Sanchez
and Clara McConnell.
Early voting will continue until Tuesday, April 28, while
the election will take place on Saturday, May 2.
Cantaloupe pageant entries lag
By ROSIE FLORES
Deadline to register for the annual Little Miss Cantaloupe
Pageant is approaching, and more girls are being sought for
the June event, according to organizers.
"It's been slow so far, but we want everyone to know that
they can still register," said Brandy Owen.
Girls in grades kindergarten through second grade can
register to participate in the Little Miss Cantaloupe
Pageant between now and Friday, Owen said. Entry forms can
be picked up at Norma Jeans, 1227 S. Eddy or at the West of
the Pecos Museum.
Girls who want to participate must be between the ages of
"exiting kindergarten" through "exiting second" grade.
Contestants must attend Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD.
The winner must be willing and available to represent Pecos
in local functions as "Little Miss Cantaloupe" for the
An entry fee of $25 and a photograph must be submitted with
the application. The fee may be paid by parents or a
sponsor. Checks will be made payable to the Women's Division
of the Pecos Chamber of Commerce.
"All girls will model in the Style Show on May 9," Owen
The Little Miss Cantaloupe Pageant will be held along with
the Golden Girl Pageant on Friday, June 26, in the Pecos
High School Auditorium. "All contestants will be required to
attend rehearsals the two weeks prior to the pageant," said
All contestants will be judged on interview and stage
presence, and Owen added that "Judges will not be from
For more information contact Owen at the West of the Pecos
Museum at 445-5076.
Artesia squawks about chicken plant's cost
ARTESIA, N.M. (AP) - Emotions are running high as the City
Council prepares to vote Tuesday whether to issue $210
million in industrial revenue bonds to bring in a chicken
The city and Nuchik Inc. remain at odds on a number of
topics, said Councilman Royce Pearson. Those include details
of the bond ordinance and the city's desire that the company
pay costs associated with the impact of the growth on
``We're fairly far apart on some fairly substantial
issues,'' Pearson said last week. ``We hope to have a better
idea by Tuesday.''
The chicken plant would be the largest of its kind in New
Mexico and one of the biggest in the region. That large
scale has raised concerns among some of the 11,000 residents
in Artesia, located 120 miles northwest of Pecos.
The company wants the city to issue the bonds to finance the
proposed plant, which they say will bring in about 1,500
jobs in everything from hatching chickens to the final
One area of contention is that Artesia wants Nuchik to pay
nearly $10 million to cover the costs of increased school
Nuchik President Gary White said Friday his company has
decided it would rather build its own private school that
would serve students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Nuchik officials had urged the council in February to pass
the ordinance, but the council postponed a decision.
At the time, City Attorney Duane Brown told the council and
then-Mayor Ernest Thompson the drafted ordinance was ``just
a shell'' and had too many holes.
The next month, Artesia voters elected a new mayor and four
Also, a committee of four city councilmen, including
Pearson, was created to work with Nuchik to fine-tune an
ordinance that would authorize the bonds.
It's uncertain whether Nuchik will get the green light
``My commitment has always been to be open, to look at the
whole picture and get everything on the table,'' said new
Mayor Daniel Reyes, who votes only in a tie. He said he has
formed no opinion on the merits of the plant.
If approved, the bonds would be paid off by Nuchik, which
gets a property tax exemption for the life of the bonds. The
city is not liable for the debt.
The plant would be built on land about five miles west of
town, outside the city limits but still under the
jurisdiction of Artesia.
Nuchik officials, campaigning for the proposed plant, said
Friday the business, if approved, would bring in more than
$7.3 million to Artesia over the next 30 years.
Officers hunting for suspect
By CARA ALLIGOOD
Local law enforcement officials are looking for a man in a
tan pickup truck for questioning in the apparent assault of
a woman at a carnival site next to the Reeves County Civic
Debbie Bengert, a white female, age and address unknown, was
found in a travel trailer shortly after 11 a.m. this morning
in the parking lot at the Reeves County Civic Center.
Bengert had been in Pecos with the Tip Top Amusements
carnival that has been in town since last week and is
Law enforcement officials said that there weren't any
witnesses to the alleged attack, so the suspect, described
by her ex-husband as her current husband, is not being
charged with any crime at this time, but is being sought for
"I'm not surprised, it happens all the time," said the
woman's ex-husband Mike Bengert, also a member of the
carnival crew. He told officers at the scene that the man
being sought for questioning "is out on bond for the same
thing" in another town.
Neither a detailed description of the man officers are
searching for, nor the truck he is believed to be driving,
were available from the police dispatch department as of
Germans seek to increase low-level flights
From Staff and Wire Reports
The Luftwaffe wants to fly over a larger range in southern
The Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, Va., on
Friday released a final environmental impact statement on
the proposed expansion of German Air Force training flights.
The document reviews the impact of adding 30 more German Air
Force Tornado aircraft to the 12 already at Holloman Air
Some 640 additional German personnel also would come to the
The impact statement recommends expanding the flights to a
new target complex on Otero Mesa on the McGregor Range in
southern New Mexico.
A decision on the proposal is due in 30 days.
Hearings were held in New Mexico, Arizona and West Texas
last summer to discuss a draft impact statement released
last spring. Bob Pepper, a spokesman for Holloman Air Force
Base, said Friday no further hearings are planned.
The hearings, two of which were held in the Big Bend region
and one in Carlsbad, N.M. were similar to ones held in
February on new bombing runs planned over West Texas,
including flight paths through Reeves County.
Current flight paths already cover the southern part of the
county, and residents in the Balmorhea/Saragosa area have
complained that low-flying jets have often disturbed their
nights and their days. Other opponents said the new Texas
flight paths were sought because they were over
privately-owned land and would not require Congressional
approval, as would flights over federal land in states to
the north and west.
While the earlier German Air Force flights were to include
paths across West Texas, the new request is for areas within
South Central New Mexico. The preferred option would involve
a new target complex on 5,120 acres of McGregor Range. The
697,472-acre range is a longtime Army training area south of
Alamogordo, the closest city to Holloman.
The draft impact statement listed three alternatives for
meeting German training requirements: the Otero Mesa
complex; establishing a new target complex within the
Tularosa Basin part of McGregor Range; or using only
existing target ranges.
Aircraft would fly to the targets along existing military
The Luftwaffe currently has 12 European-made Tornado
fighter-bombers and about 300 personnel at its German
Tactical Training Center, which opened at Holloman in 1996
and trains pilots ``Top Gun'' style.
A new range is necessary because existing ranges on nearby
White Sands Missile Range are off limits when White Sands is
being used for testing, Lt. Col. Don Hargarten, assistant
deputy commander of the U.S. Air Force's 49th Fighter Wing
Operations Group here, said last summer.
Ridges around those ranges also present a problem for the
specialized terrain-following abilities of the Tornados, he
The German government would pay 60 percent of the range's
cost, while the United States would pay 40 percent,
Hargarten has said.
The Air Combat Command placed ads in newspapers this week,
alerting people to the release of the final impact statement
and listing communities where the document is available at
The Germans like Holloman because of favorable weather, air
space and the proximity to Fort Bliss in El Paso -
headquarters for Luftwaffe operations in the United States
Zobeida D. Arriola, 70, of Alpine, died Thursday, April 16,
1998, in a Midland hospital.
Rosary services were held Sunday, April 12, at Our Lady of
Peace Catholic Church. Mass was scheduled for 2 p.m., today,
with burial in Holy Angels Cemetery of Alpine, with Father
Rick Ruiz officiating.
She was born Feb. 3, 1928, in Alpine, lived in Alpine until
she moved to Marfa in 1954, returning to Alpine in 1994. She
was a homemaker and a member of the Catholic Daughters of
the Americas, Knights of Columbus, Amistad Club of Marfa, a
member of the St. Mary's Catholic Choir and a current member
of Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church.
Survivors include her husband, Conrado Arriola, of Alpine;
two sons, Conrad D. Arriola of Alpine, Mike Arriola of
Pecos; one daughter, Emma Reyes of Alpine; two brothers,
David Dutchover II of Pecos and Fred Dutchover of Fort
Stockton; one sister, Mary Lou Valenzuela of Alpine; five
grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
High Sunday 78. Low this morning 42. Forecast for tonight
and Tuesday: Showers and thunderstorms for portions of West
Texas tonight, with a lesser chance on Tuesday. Lows tonight
will be in the 40s. Highs Tuesday in the upper 70s.
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 1998 by Pecos Enterprise