Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Monday, June 15, 1998
Narcotic enforcement replaces PB force
By GREG HARMAN
A new drug task force to be headed by the Department of
Public Safety is on way to Permian Basin communities,
Governor Bush's office announced on Friday.
The former Permian Basin Drug Task Force, which worked with
local law enforcement agencies in the area, was disbanded in
light of recent allegations of mismanagement of task force
Bush announced the new force, dubbed West Texas Narcotics
Enforcement Task Force, will serve all counties formerly
served by the Permian Basin Drug Task Force and will involve
"all area sheriffs, chiefs of police and district and county
attorneys in the affected counties" which want to
Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez expressed some resentment
over the state moving into local matters, but said he would
"wait and see what they have to offer" before supporting the
new task force.
Gomez said that Reeves County couldn't afford to be paying a
quarter of the operational costs to be involved. "With the
old task force we didn't pay anything," he said.
As Gomez and Pecos Chief of Police Clay McKinney have
expressed before, an outside agency is vital for an
effective local undercover operation.
Organizational meetings will be held to work out an agreed
upon plan for staffing the task force with personnel from
the various local agencies. The force will be funded by a
federal grant covering 75 percent of operating costs, local
communities must meet the remaining 25 percent.
The Governor's Criminal Justice Division, according to a
prepared statement issued on Friday, "will make every
effort" to work out budget solutions with smaller
communities who may have trouble meeting the 25 percent
Governor George Bush said, "I believe that this cooperative
effort involving all aspects of law enforcement - local,
state and federal - is the best approach for fighting drugs
in our state."
The charges against the former Permian Basin Drug Task Force
now rest with the Texas Attorney General's office, following
investigations by both the FBI and Texas Rangers.
And what will become of the employees of the former Permian
Basin Drug Task Force not charged with wrongdoing? Will they
be retained in the West Texas Narcotics Enforcement Task
Force or will they need to reapply?
"As I understand it, it will be up to the individual
counties to decide . . . how to go forward," said Debbie
Head, a spokeswoman at Bush's office.
She continued that the new organization was formed because
Governor Bush was concerned that the counties involved be
protected and the allegations against the former task force
made it necessary to freeze funding.
PBT board nixes homestead exemption
By ROSIE FLORES
Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board members voted to rescind the
local option 10 percent homestead exemption at last week's
school board meeting.
In April the board had voted to keep the homestead exemption
against the recommendation of PBT ISD superintendent Don
However, the board took into consideration the financial
situation the district is in and voted to rescind this
exemption at last week's meeting.
Love wanted the exemption dropped because of the financial
situation of the school district. The district's operating
costs are staying level while its income is going down.
"We have 35 percent of homeowners who are currently paying
their taxes and there are 65 percent that fall under $20,000
who pay no taxes at all," said Love.
"This would be another $84,000 to add back to the revenues,"
PBT Board president Earl Bates stated that this was another
hard decision the board had to make, but that it was
something that needed to be done to help the financial
Also in conjunction with school taxes the board approved a
policy for property tax monthly payments.
"The tax office has made up a policy for homeowners to
follow," said Love. "All those who want to can get on a
contract basis to pay off their taxes can do so and it will
be a little bit easier," he said.
According to the policy, homeowners will need to pay a
minimum of $50 per month, with 10 percent down.
"This will make it a little less painful for those who can't
afford to pay the whole thing at once," said Love.
The contracts will state in part: that the school district
acknowledges that upon execution of this agreement, the
property subject to this agreement may not be seized and
sold by said taxing unit to collect the delinquent taxes
which are subject of this installment agreement unless the
payor: (1). fails to make payments as required by this
agreement; (2). fails to pay when due any other property
taxes hereafter levied by this taxing units which are the
liability of the payor-(Current year's taxes are to be paid
in full before delinquency); or (3). breaches any other
condition of this agreement. The agreement may not extend
for a period of more than 24 months.
To get a contract to pay taxes for the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah
ISD, Town of Pecos City and Reeves County Hospital, a person
should contact the school tax office.
A peace officer was approved by the board Thursday. PHS
Principal Danny Rodriguez told the board that the
administration is very excited about this. "I think it will
be an outstanding thing and are looking forward to working
with Hilda Woods," said Rodriguez.
"The city put up $10,000 to help fund the officer and the
school will provide office space and a telephone," he said.
"She will be present at the school at all times and will
assist at the other schools as well," said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez explained that the junior high schools will
benefit from having an officer as well. "She can be called
out to the other schools, especially the junior highs, but
her office will be at the high school," he said.
"I think it's a great idea and I want to thank the county
and the city for making her available to us," said board
member Freddy Lujan.
Technology director Jodi Exum updated the board on the
school's technology program.
"Some aspects of technology are right at where we ought to
be and some are not quite there, but we have a long-range
plan for technology in our schools," said Exum. "Internet
training went really well. The PHS teachers did a great
job," she said.
The district requires that anyone using the internet
connection be trained and a signed Acceptable Use Policy be
on file before they use the resource. Students must have a
parent's signature on their AUP, as well as their own and
the teacher who trained them. Four hours of internet are
Training was held after duty hours and 124 adults (staff,
community) were trained by Judy and Walter Holland. The
instructors were paid with Tech Training Funds and the
participants did not have to pay a fee.
"The Tech Deptartment feels like this is a service we can
provide to the community and staff," said Exum. "Robert
Hernandez trained two employees while he was at PHS and we
still have a list of people who want training," she said.
These will be scheduled when August training is set up,
according to Exum.
Internet trained teachers at PHS trained the students in
their classes. "This proved only moderately successful,"
Some teachers did not go through a structured training with
their classes, some just let them surf through the internet
for their training hours. "But, a few teachers went through
a structured, consistent training that encompassed ethics,
acceptable use and search techniques with their classes,"
This will improve with time, this was the first year for the
PHS staff to train their students on the internet, according
"We have had numerous instances of students accessing
inappropriate sites on the Internet from our equipment,"
said Exum. "Students lose their Internet privileges when
this occurs," she said.
In answer to the problem, Exum told the board she is
currently evaluating a piece of equipment in a
server-like-device that provides an Internet filtering
system, network the firewall and Internet administrator
monitoring capabilities all in one.
"I would like to use State Tech Funds to purchase this piece
of equipment, for $9,000 as soon as possible," said Exum.
Tech Training Funds paid for two, Internet trained, district
library staff to keep the PHS library open, Monday and
Thursday evenings from 6-8 p.m. "Students, staff and
community members were assisted by the staff members as they
utilized the facility during this time," said Exum. "Keeping
the library open on Monday and Thursday evenings was new for
our district and proved very successful," she said.
PHS staff have asked for Tech Funds to be used to keep the
library open every afternoon after school and every evening
Monday-Thursday during the 1998-99 school year for students
who need to work on research papers. "I do not believe that
State Tech Taining Funds should be used this extensively for
PHS after hour library access," said Exum.
"I feel PHS Title Funds or Local Funds could be the source
for paying library staff to keep the library open these
extra days and hours for the students (along with any
interested staff and community) to complete their work," she
Tech projects curently scheduled for 1998-99 include:
Automate the Pecos Elementary Library (changed from Lamar
Middle School libary per Board request at recent Budget
Workshop); Implement the federal E-RATE monies to put Pecos
High School Buildiing B, Crockett Middle School, Zavala
Middle School, Band Hall, Austin and the tax office on the
district Wide Area Network.
"I wrote the E-RATE application for $96,000 plus, to link
these locations to the WAN, this will give internet access
and student accounting access to these locations," said
Exum. "Also, the application includes a dial-up internet
account to the other campuses," she said.
"When we get official notification of our E-RATE approval,
we will receive an 87 percent discount to the requested
services per our free and reduced lunch stats," said Exum.
Other technology improvements include replacing four
stations each in both of the kindergarten Writing to Read
labs with MM/Win 95 machines; provide software monies to all
the district WTR labs to use on their new machines; expand
the new administrative network to include the financial
component to meet the new software requirements and CATE has
ordered a 15 station lab for Pecos High School Building B
that will be installed this summer when the E-RATE projects
Summer recreation programs are going well with 200 students
participating in swimming; 50 in tennis; 52 in basketball;
52 in golf; 40 in track and 40 in volleyball.
Russell remembered for her deep faith
Marion Russell will be remembered as much for her deep faith
in God and her dry humor as for her artistic ability.
The 75-year-old muscular dystrophy victim died Sunday in her
home at 412 Alberta, which she shared with caregivers Sulema
and Juan Ulate.
Russell was the last of the gifted Russell children. Her
sister, Jeannie, and her brother, Jimmy, both artists and
both stricken with muscular dystrophy, preceded her in
death, as did their parents, Judge Henry and Marion Russell.
A fourth child, Tommy, died in the Korean war.
Marion, the oldest and first to contract muscular dystrophy,
was already famous for her oil paintings when Jeannie and
then Jimmy took up the brush. Her portrait of President
Lyndon Johnson hangs in the Presidential Museum in Odessa.
Her paintings of the Southwest hang in homes and offices
across the state and nation.
Fran Meek recalls one of an Indian plowing in a "very dry
"He had plowed up a buffalo skull. In a cloud above is a
herd of buffalo. Such senstivity," Meek said.
Painting was agonizing for Russell, who had to prop up her
left hand with her right arm to apply oils to the canvas. In
her latter years, she was unable even to go into the back
yard, so painted from photographs, Meek said.
She also did some still life, while Jeanne - who signed her
paintings Genii - tried a wider variety of subjects,
including many landscapes. Jim had his own style, painting
mostly architecture in acrylics.
"Everyone who has a piece of their art just treasures it for
many reasons," Meek said.
Alice Lasater, who with her late husband, W.D. "Bigun," and
Jim Ed Miller, hosted the "Russell Benefit" for 10 years and
held auctions of their paintings, said all three were
"That's how they made their money," she said.
Money was in short supply in the Russell home, but they
shared their gifts with the community, Meek said.
"That house was a lighthouse. Every time someone would get
to feeling sorry for themselves, they would go over there
and come out recharged. Their sense of humor was absolutely
wonderful. They would laugh at themselves and at each other.
"They never ceased being grateful for the help and
attention," Meek said. "There were many people who went by
and sat down and visited an hour at a time, two or three
times a week, and they always got blessed. They were so
bright, especially Marion. She was extremely intelligent."
Meek taught a Bible study in the Russell home for the past
10 years and saw Marion develop a deep, abiding faith in
God, as did her siblings.
"You would think they would be bitter, but they were not at
all," she said. "I think the Lord knew he could trust them
with that problem. What precious people. I have lost my best
prayer buddy. I could tell Marion everything, and she would
not be burdened with it. She knew where to go with it."
Marion first noticed symptoms of muscular dystrophy at age
12, but was able to finish high school. Jeanne attended
college one year and worked in the hospital. Jimmy also
They were members of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, which also
held fund raisers to help with the family's expenses.
Graveside services were held at 10:30 a.m. today in Fairview
Attorney, investigators indicted by feds
BY PEGGY McCRACKEN
Odessa attorney Tony Chavez and his investigator, Moises
"Boy" Hernandez Jr. are among 25 persons named in a 42-count
sealed indictment in federal court here Thursday.
They are charged with conspiracy, aiding, abetting and
counseling others in a drug-smuggling operation from 1995 to
Two of the defendants had not been arrested as of this
morning, and their names were not revealed.
Others are Gracielo Gardea-Carrasco, Homero Alvarado-Luna,
Hugo Alvarado-Luna, Juan Manuel Bugarin, Johnny Tony
Calderon, Soztenes Calderon, Raul Roberto Carbajal-Galindo,
Stepahnie Ann Cordova, Leticia Jo Esparza, Felipe Mata
Espericueta, Consuelo Gardea-Luna, Dominga Gardea, Josie Ann
Gardea, Jose Gardea-Carrasco, Raul Gardea-Luna, Delma
Leyva-Contreras, Blas Lopez-Jurado, Norma Ocon-Gardea, Luiza
Orozco, Floyd Lynn Pate and Reynaldo Ruiz.
All the defendants are charged with conspiracy to
manufacture with intent to import controlled substances, to
import controlled substances, to possess with intent to
distribute controlled substances, to distribute controlled
substances and to use communications facilities in the
commission of those offenses.
Chavez, Hernandez and 18 others are also charged with
conspiracy to conduct a drug trafficking enterprise through
the use of facilities in interstate and foreign commerce, to
obstruct justice and to launder the proceeds of drug
Gracielo Gardea-Carrasco, Raul Gardea-Luna, Johnny Tony
Calderon and others operated a business enterprise which
engaged in international smuggling and trafficking of
controlled substances, the indictment alleges.
They allegedly hired couriers and purchased automobiles to
transport loads of narcotics from the United States/Mexico
border, usually near Redford, Texas and/or Mulatto, Mex.
into the interior of the United States; provided scouts,
legal representation and other assistance to couriers
arrested by law enforcement and committed acts of bribery
and extortion in order to ensure the silence of their
Chavez and Hernandez allegedly aided, abetted and counseled
the violations of law alleged in the above counts.
The indictment alleges 20 counts of possession with intent
to distribute marijuana and cocaine over the past three
Gracielo Gardea-Carrasco and Raul Gardea-Luna are charged
with intimidating and threatening Roseann Holmberg to keep
her from informing law enforcement officers of the
Chavez, Hernandez and the two above defendants also are
charged with aiding and abetting one another to persuade
Holmberg not to relay information to a law enforcement
officer or judge of the United States about the violations,
and with delivery of U.S. Currency to Holmberg in a
Delma Leyva-Contreras and Blas Lopez-Jurado are charged with
aiding and abetting one another to persuade Joanna Cruz not
to relate information on a federal crime to law enforcement.
Gracielo Gardea-Carrasco, Raul Gardea-Luna and Johnny Tony
Calderon are charged with continuing criminal enterprise in
organizing and supervising the operation.
Raul Gardea-Luna, Juan Manuel Bugarin, Raul Roberto
Carbajal-Galinido and Josie Ann Gardea are charged with
using a communication facility to facilitate felony drug
District Judge Bob Parks on Friday revoked the probation of
Billy Ray Overcash and sentenced him to 12 months in a state
jail, with 29 days jail time credit, and a $2,500 fine.
Overcash was convicted of abandoning or endangering a child
on June 20, 1995.
Mariachi Festival a hit
Saturday night's fourth annual Mariachi Festival, with
internationally renowned Campanas de America headlining, was
a tremendous success.
The auditorium at Reeves County Convention Center was packed
with music lovers from as far away as Las Vegas, Puerto
Rico, El Paso and Ojinaga for the lineup of mariachi bands
from Mexico and the United States.
According to Eva Abila, who put the production together,
Campanas de America, formed in 1979, were "thrilled with
their audience and got a real good response." The group is
hoping to return to Pecos soon.
Other performers included Mariachi Infantil Guadalupano,
Mariachi Alegre, Mariachi Aztlan and Leslie Chavez and
"The Monterey children," said Abila of the Mariachi Infantil
Guadalupano from Monterey, Mexico, "sang and told jokes
between songs. They did very good."
The event was sponsored by Santa Rosa Catholic Church.
"Thanks to all our sponsors who helped and supported us,"
said Abila. "Without their help it would be very hard to put
on a good show for all the community to enjoy."
Balmorhea gets new grant
By GREG HARMAN
Balmorhea Independent School District was one of five
schools in a five state region chosen to receive a Southwest
Educational Developmental Laboratory (SEDL) program grant
for the 1998 through 2001 school years.
"They said that one reason they chose Balmorhea," said
Balmorhea Assistant Principal Michael Barrandey, "was that
we had so many things in place already for the program to
The object of the grant is to meet the school community
needs through expanding partnerships with parents, school
staff, business, civic and religious organizations, social
services and teacher educational institutions.
The grant covers the expense of SEDL trainers to come and
teach the program to communities.
"They say that where this has taken place in other districts
it has really done things," said Barrandey.
The grant involves a "comprehensive action team" that will
be working with the community to improve instruction and
career planning for students while working to improve
economic conditions in the community.
A SEDL training class is being held from 5 to 8 p.m. on
Monday, June 29, at the Balmorhea school cafeteria. Those
interested in attending are asked to call the school in
advance at 375-2223.
AREA NEWS ROUNDUP
The Big Bend Sentinel
Marfa, June 11, 1998 -- An emergency order that prohibits
all outdoor burning of combustible materials was approved by
the Presidio County Commissioners' Court at their regular
monthly meeting held Monday. The action taken by the elected
officials extends indefinitely a declaration signed on June
2 by Presidio County Judge Jake Brisbin Jr., in an effort to
combat the county's drought conditions and threat to
Presidio, Tx. June 11, 1998 - A suspect in the murder of a
young Muleshoe woman, whose body was discovered March 13 in
Presidio, was arrested Sunday night in Portales, N.M.,
according to the Muleshoe police department. Gilberto
Guadalupe Reyes, 25, was arrested at about 11:30 p.m. Sunday
by Portales police on arrest warrants issued by Muleshoe
authorities charging Reyes with auto theft, possession of a
firearm by a felon and aggravated assault, the police
department in the Texas Panhandle community said.
The McCamey News
McCamey, Upton County, June 11, 1998 -- In a surprise
ceremony held Thursday, June 4, the Proud Community of
Rankin coordinator Anita Sparks, was presented the 1998
Governor's Community Achievement Award and a check in the
amount of $60,000. On hand to make the presentation were
State Representative Bob Turner and Joe Morales, District
Engineer with the Texas Department of Transportation. Rankin
is one of nine communities statewide to receive the honor.
The award is sponsored by Keep Texas Beautiful and the Texas
Department of Transportation.
The Sanderson Times
Sanderson, Terrell County, Tx., June 11, 1998 -- The Terrell
County Commissioners Court decided to continue to follow the
current plans and schedule for working rural county roads.
The decision follows previous questions concerning the
condition of the Shafter Crossing road which runs south from
just east of Dryden.
Iraan, Pecos County, June 11, 1998 -- The first West Texas
Hospitality Workshop was held in the upstairs room of the
fire department on Saturday, June 9. The workshop was
sponsored by the Iraan-Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and the
Iraan State Bank. The instructors of the workshop were
Freddy Ward and Loretta Garcia of the Sul Ross Big Bend
Regional Minority and Small Business Development Center.
Both presenters are certified business advisers and
certified hospitality instructors.
The Monahans News
MONAHANS, June 11, 1998 - Current electric bills will be up,
warns Kevin Slay, the Monahans area manager for TU Electric.
The reason: Increased power for cooling homes and businesses
as triple-digit high temperatures seared late May into June
and the drought continued. Weather prognosticators predict
no relief from the drought in Ward County but temperatures
did drop into the 90s on Friday, June 5, as a cool front
moved into the area over the weekend.
Marion Russell, 75, of Pecos, died Sunday, June 14, 1998 at
Graveside services were held at 10:30 a.m., today, Monday,
June 15, with Charles McIntire officiating. Burial was at
She was born Aug. 4, 1922, in Pecos, was a lifetime Pecos
resident, an artist and a member of St. Mark's Episcopal
Survivors include an aunt and numerous cousins and friends.
Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
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.
Copyright 1998 by Pecos Enterprise