Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Thursday, September 3, 1998
More counties agree to join task force
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
and JERRY CURRY
Sheriffs and police chiefs from across the Permian Basin and
the Trans-Pecos met in Monahans Wednesday to offer support
for a drug task force to be based in Reeves County.
Reeves County Sheriff Arnulfo Gomez said that brings to nine
the number of counties who back the plan, which is under
consideration by the commissioners court.
"I have talked to all the commissioners, and they say they
support our hosting the task force," Gomez said. "We won't
know until we show them what we actually have and they vote."
Participating counties have agreed to pay matching funds for
a state grant by setting aside revenue from a designated
number of beds in their jails, Gomez said.
Culberson, Jeff Davis and Presidio County sheriffs had
already agreed to the plan. Gomez said that all those were
invited have joined the effort. Among those signing on
Wednesday were Winkler, Ward, Midland and Andrews counties.
"Gov. George W. Bush's criminal justice staff told us to
come up with a plan," says Andrews County Sheriff Wayne
Farmer. "We have that plan."
The meeting took place in the Monahans City Council chambers
at City Hall.
Ward County Sheriff Ben Keele and Monahans Police Chief
Charles Sebastian both say they support a regional attack on
drugs that would be coordinated through the office of Reeves
County sheriff, who would receive the federal dollars
allocated for such efforts.
Law enforcement command officers have been looking for an
alternative to the Permian Basin Drug Task Force since June
1 when members of the governor's criminal justice staff
refused to allocate federal funds because of allegations of
The refusal to fund the Ector County headquartered regional
drug effort in effect killed the task force. A state grand
jury has refused to issue indictments based on an
18-month-long inquiry into the way the defunct Permian Basin
Drug Task Force was operated.
The decision to kill it was not transmitted to law
enforcement officers who were members of that unit's board.
Among those members was Ward County Sheriff Keele.
Meanwhile the governor's DPS controlled effort, scheduled to
begin operation this week, generally has gained only token
support. Ector County commissioners recently rejected
becoming the granting agency for the anti-drug traffic
dollars because the governor's office told them they would
have no control over a drug task force's policies or
Gomez said the task force will retain the Permian Basin Drug
Task Force name, which he hopes will allow them to keep the
bank funds, cars, office equipment and other assets of the
Pickup painting won't bring charges
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Reeves County employees who used a county jail inmate to
paint a private vehicle will be disciplined by Sheriff
Arnulfo Gomez, and no criminal charges will be filed, said
District Attorney Randy Reynolds.
"My investigation has led me to believe there are some
instances of improper conduct regarding painting of a
private vehicle by an inmate of the county jail," Reynolds
"The investigation revealed three county employees that had
some part in the matter, we believe. Only one, it appears,
received a significant benefit," he said.
"They were definitely working on legitimate things," he
said. "They were painting the S.W.A.T. truck and decided to
paint a personal truck at the same time."
A complaint by an anonymous citizen led to the
investigation, which covered about two weeks. Reynolds said
at first he thought the allegations were unfounded, but was
told by other officials that they had heard the same thing
and thought it might be credible.
"Then I requested the Texas Ranger to begin an
investigation," he said. "I conferred with the sheriff, and
he was aware of the matter and cooperated with me 100
Gomez was out of town Thursday and said this morning he had
not talked to Reynolds about his conclusions.
He said he will discipline the people involved, and in
addition, he has put a stop to using inmates for any
personal services, such as washing vehicles.
"It is legal to wash official cars," he said. "We have been
letting them wash personal cars, just to keep them busy, and
the owner was paying them maybe $5 per car."
Trusties will continue to do legitimate work, such as
working on city parks, as they are doing today, Gomez said.
Bigham indicted for Brooks' murder
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Reeves County grand jurors on Thursday indicted a suspected
murderer, who will be extradited from Washington state to
face trial in Pecos.
Christopher John Bigham, 36, of Washington State, is charged
with the murder of Lora Ann Brooks on Dec. 1, 1997 by
shooting her with a gun.
District Attorney Randy Reynolds said that Bigham claims he
shot Brooks through the heart in self defense after she
jammed a gun into his back.
In a statement given to Texas Ranger Jerry Villalobos,
Bigham said he buried his girlfriend's body on their 20-acre
ranch near the Pecos River north of Pecos, then dug it up
two or three days later.
Cleaning off the body, Bigham placed it in a 55-gallon "burn
barrel" that had a hole near the bottom. He fashioned a
chimney and a fan to force air into the barrel, then hooked
up a five-gallon propane canister to set the fire, the
Bigham said he placed the body, fully clothed, into the
barrel and set it afire. The body burned for two days, then
he stuffed the remaining bones in a five-gallon plastic
bucket and put it in a dumpster behind Thriftway.
A Department of Public Safety dive team recovered the burn
barrel from the Pecos River last Thursday, where Bigham said
he disposed of it. Contents were sent to an anthropology lab
at Texas Tech University in Lubbock to determine if any
human remains were present, but it had not been analyzed as
Reynolds said it may be possible to retrieve the bones from
the landfill if they were placed in a dumpster. Villalobos
said he is not convinced the remains are not buried on the
ranch, and he may use cadaver dogs to search it again.
Probation given to Armstrong in case
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Paul Coleman Armstrong pleaded guilty Thursday to possession
of a trace amount of cocaine and was placed on three years
While on probation, Armstrong will be required to pay a
$1,500 fine, $416.25 court costs and $140 restitution to the
Department of Public Safety.
If he successfully completes probation, the conviction will
not be final, and Armstrong will not have a criminal record.
District Attorney Randy Reynolds said that a trace amount of
cocaine is a state jail felony, which carries a sentence of
from six months to two years in a state jail. A defendant
who has no criminal record is automatically placed on
Should he violate any term of probation, District Judge Bob
Parks could sentence Armstrong to jail for the full two
years, and the conviction would appear on his record.
Reynolds said that deferred adjudication is a powerful tool
for the courts and a good deal for the defendant who wants
to straighten up his life and keep his record clean.
The guilty plea was rescheduled from Friday, when
Armstrong's attorney, Tom Hirsch, was handling a trial in
Alpine, Marfa host festivals
By ROSIE FLORES
The hot air balloons are headed back to Alpine in full force
this Labor Day Weekend, according to the Alpine Chamber of
Twenty-five colorful balloons are scheduled to appear at the
Second Annual Labor Day Balloon Rally slated for Saturday
Plenty of other entertainment will also be held in the Big
Bend area. Twenty-five miles to the west, the "Marfa Mystery
Lights" Music Festival will again take place this weekend.
For three straight days famous bands, such as Bobby Pulido
and Shelly Lares, will be performing.
Alpine's first balloon festival took place last September,
and Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Guy Combs said
,"Once again Bruce Boatman will be serving as
Balloonmeister," Boatman lived in Alpine in 1980's and has
flown the skies over Alpine more than 400 times.
According to Combs, he is thoroughly versed in the safety
aspects of hot air balloons and will be overseeing the
Three launchings are planned, but the location has not been
finalized. "These launchings all depend on wind direction,"
said Combs. "We are currently in the process of finalizing
the set location and seeking back up locations should the
winds be from a different location," he said.
Last year the balloon pilots and crew attempted to hold a
Balloon Glow in the evening, but it was unsuccessful due to
the winds. This year they plan to hold a Balloon Burn,
allowing onlookers to learn about the procedures and the
equipment needed to boost the large balloons into the West
"It was a blast last year," said Combs. "Residents of Alpine
and tourists got a chance to meet these talented people and
learn what skill it takes to fly a balloon. We are hoping
that this year the balloon burn is remembered as being one
of the most interesting parts of the event," he said.
The schedule for pilots and crew involved in the
Invitational will begin at a Friday night registration and
reception party. Saturday will see a morning competitive
flight, an afternoon reception, and the evening balloon
burn. Sunday includes a competitive flight and an awards
brunch around noon.
"We are looking forward to bringing the balloons back to
Alpine," said Combs. "I can't imagine anything more
beautiful than waking up to a sky full of color," he said.
Festivities in Marfa will start Friday at 8 p.m. with a
street dance featuring Dana Lee and The Ranger Band in front
of the Presidio County Courthouse. Food and crafts booths
will also be set up.
On Saturday, a 5K Run is scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m.,
sponsored by the American Heart Association. A downtown
parade will commence at 11 a.m. and a co-ed volleyball
tournament is scheduled from 1-5 p.m.
A concert that evening will be held beginning at 7 p.m., at
Vizcaino Park and feature Bobby Pulido, Shelly Lares and
On Sunday, activities will be held at the Presidio
Courthouse with food and crafts booths, dancers and plenty
A washer tournament will be held from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
along with a co-ed volleyball tournament which begins at 10
a.m., three blocks from the courthouse on MISD's Martin
A finale dance is scheduled for 8 p.m., with performers
David Escalante and Los City Boyz, at Vizcaino Park.
Meeting set for tonight on tax proposal
By ROSIE FLORES
Officials from Austin will be in Pecos tonight for a special
Town Hall meeting on economic development, scheduled for 7
p.m. at the Reeves County Civic Center.
The meeting is to discuss a possible rollback of sales taxes
collected by both the Town of Pecos City and the Reeves
County Hospital District. That money would then go into
funding an economic development program for Pecos.
Scott Joslove with the State Attorney General's Office will
be on hand to explain the laws and ramifications of a 4-A
sales tax rollback. Bob Bearden, Comptroller of Public
Accounts will talk to the group and answer questions on the
4-A sales tax and it's benefits that other communities have
received by passing the sales tax for economic development.
"The purpose of this 4-A sales tax is long-term and will
create new jobs," said economic development coordinator Gari
This is a business investment in the community that will
potentially have the effects of reducing sales tax,
according to Ward.
The school district will benefit the most from the 4-A sales
tax, according to Ward, since they are exempt from any tax
incentive in locating new industry in the area.
The tax rollback election will be on the Nov. 3 general
election ballot, and everyone is urged to come out to the
"We want everyone to come out and ask questions, the guest
speakers will be happy to answer any and all questions,"
said Ward, explaining that the proposal has the potential of
affecting the future of Pecos and Reeves County.
"This is an opportunity for voters to decide if they want
this community to grow and prosper or to stay stagnant and
eventually die away," said Ward.
"We certainly want to move forward," he said.
A Spanish interpreter will be on hand to answer questions
for those people who don't speak English.
Ward officials expect to fill EMS position
From the Monahans News
MONAHANS - Ward Memorial Hospital Administrator Steve Holmes
says he expects to quickly fill the ambulance service
positions vacated by workers he says overreacted to
Six of 11 emergency service employees have quit, four since
Thursday, Aug. 27.
"It was apparent the recent rash of resignations is the
response to rumors circulating and not based on factual
information," Holmes said.
Those rumors varied in content but essentially left the
impression emergency service workers would be required to
double and triple their production by working in the
Hospital officials said it's true EMS personnel may be
asked to provide emergency room relief, but if so, they will
be compensated for any additional hours that may require.
The four resignations have not and will not hamper delivery
of medical services in Ward County, emphasizes Holmes.
"There will be no lapse in service," says Holmes. "We
already have contacted several certified individuals who
have applied for employment. A number of those positions
will be filled in the next two weeks. The remainder will be
filled as appropriate applications are received from
licensed emergency service technicians or paramedics."
Two emergency service technicians resigned in July, Holmes
reports, at about the same time Ward County Commissioners
began investigating the possibility of out-sourcing the
county's ambulance service, which traditionally had been
operated through the hospital.
Says Holmes: "Those positions were not filled pending the
decision on possible privatization because we had adequate
staff until a decision could be made."
Four other resignations came after The Monahans News
reported on Aug. 27 that commissioners probably would
approve a plan to forego privitazation and keep the
ambulance service within the Ward Memorial's jurisdiction.
The hospital plan would streamline and enhance emergency
medical services while providing some relief, by reality
scheduling, to the hospital emergency room staff. Monday,
Aug. 31, the commissioners approved the proposal.
Homes recalls: "The commissioners court sought proposals to
privatize the service. While commissioners were seeking
proposals, we had an opportunity to do some research to
determine whether it would be reasonable for the service to
stay under the umbrella of the hospital. We took our
findings to the commissioners ad reported to them so they
could consider the information along with the
"This past Monday the commissioners decided it would be in
the best interests of the hospital and the community to keep
the ambulance service under the hospital umbrella," Holmes
Vivian L. Hudson, 88, died Monday, Aug. 31, 1998, in Odessa.
Graveside services are scheduled for 11 a.m., Tuesday, Sept.
8, at the Dido, Tx. cemetery.
Hudson was born March 1, 1910, in Richardson, moved to Pecos
in 1942 where she resided until 1997 when she moved to
Odessa. She was a housewife, a teacher's a member of the
First Baptist Church since 1942 and had been a member of the
Modern Study Club for 50 years.
She was preceded in death by her husband, L.R. Hudson and a
Survivors include one daughter, Martha McIlvain of Carlsbad,
N.M.; two grandsons; five great-grandchildren and six
The family requests that in lieu of flowers memorials be
made to the First Baptist Church of Pecos or the charity of
High Thursday 93. Low this morning 72. Forecast for tonight:
partly cloudy. Lows 60 to 65. Light winds. Friday, partly
cloudy. Highs in the mid 90s. Southeast winds 5-15 mph.
Labor Day weekend forecast, partly cloudy days and fair
nights. Lows in the lows to mid 60s. Highs in the lows to
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