Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Monday, November 30, 1998
Brookshire says internal politics hurting FD
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Pecos City Council will try for the third time Tuesday to
appoint a fire chief for the coming year, award a bid on
sanitary sewer system rehabilitation and acquire water
In two previous sessions, the council has considered a
recommendation from the Pecos Volunteer Fire Department that
Roy Pena be appointed chief. However, Pena's qualifications
fall short of state commission on fire safety requirements
for a paid chief.
Anyone who is paid as much as the minimum wage for 2,080
hours per year (40-hour week) in total compensation is
considered a paid fireman. The city pays $9,600 in salary,
plus a bonus for each fire call, furnishes the chief a
pickup and pays for training.
Following last week's meeting, the council had City Attorney
Scott Johnson check with the state to determine whether Pena
would be qualified to serve as chief if his compensation
were lowered below the standard for a paid fireman.
Johnson was not available for comment this morning, and City
Manager Kenneth Neal said he has not talked with him.
Neal said he believes a paid fire chief, appointed solely by
the council without a vote by volunteer firemen, would
better serve the department.
"I think it would be great if the fire department and
emergency medical service both were appointed positions to
keep the politics out of both departments," Neal said.
"They need to go about the work of saving lives and saving
property and not running for office all the time. It would
simplify matters for everybody and save the squabbling," he
Current fire chief Jack Brookshire agrees.
"Until they get rid of politics in the fire department, you
are going to have problems in there," he said.
This is not the first election that has caused controversy,
"It has gotten worse in the last 15 years," he said. "In the
last five or six years it really got bad. It seems like
every year it just keeps getting worse. There has been
controversy over the fire chief appointment since J.T.
Prewit retired about six years ago."
The current unrest has contributed to laxity among firemen,
Brookshire said, pointing to a tank battery fire this
morning to which only a few volunteers responded.
After two trucks were dispatched, Brookshire was at the
station for about 10 minutes, filling the water jug. Only
two more firemen showed up, and a third drove on by rather
than ride with the chief.
"He turned into the sheriff's office parking lot and when I
pulled out, he turned around and came back to the fire hall
so he could claim the call," Brookshire said.
Firemen report at fire practice each Thursday night how many
calls they responded to. "It is an honor system," he said.
That honor system is important, Brookshire believes, and
there is no room in the department for a thief.
"I feel like what lost me the election this year was that I
got rid of two of our firemen for tampering with government
records," Brookshire said. "They were tampering with the
records for personal gain.
"Before taking any action, I discussed it with the city
attorney. Before any charges were filed, both men were given
the opportunity to resign from the department. Charges were
filed against one; the other one resigned before any charges
"The last one was on Nov. 4, the day before our elections. I
wrote a letter to the city council and advised them of the
situation," he said.
"If I have to send a man into a burning house -- which could
be anyone's house in this town -- I don't want to have to
wonder when they are in that house, `Are they putting the
fire out or are they filling their pockets up?'"
Brookshire said there is no way a chief can do his job and
protect the city's interests and expect to be re-elected.
"I feel that's one reason we need to get rid of the
Even with the elections, the volunteers' choice is only a
recommendation to the council, he said.
"It is up to the city council to make the final appointment
for chief and to make sure the person they put in is
qualified for that position," he said.
Brookshire feels that lowering the pay for a chief would
equate to lowering the standards for chief, and the high
cost of equipment is another reason a fire department needs
a qualified chief.
"The replacement cost of the equipment we have is probably
going to be way over $1 million," he said. "The last truck
we got is a 1999 International, and the price was $140,000.
If you replace a pumper truck now, you are looking at over
"I feel like, if you are going to have that much money tied
up in equipment, you need someone in there with the
knowledge of how that equipment works and to take care of
that equipment," he said.
Pena has said his basic certification as a volunteer firemen
and seven years experience qualifies him to be chief. He was
not available for comment this morning.
The council meeting begins at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday in the
council chambers of City Hall. The bid question is first on
the agenda; acquisition of easements second and the fire
Both the fire chief and easements discussions will be in
executive session, with any action taken in open session to
New checks on gun sales begin today
From Staff and Wire Reports
Larry Windham, Gibson's owner-manager, has a manual on
instant gun checks and an 800 number to call if he has a
customer for a handgun, rifle or shotgun. But he doesn't
expect to use either right away.
Today marks the start of a new national system of instant
background checks by the FBI and state governments of
firearms purchasers, replacing the voluntary checks on
handgun buyers conducted by state and local law enforcement
agencies since 1993.
"We don't stock guns anymore," said Windham. "We just order
them if anyone wants them. I haven't tried the system yet,
so I don't know if it will work."
Windham said that a customer buying a firearm has to fill
out a form with information about himself, and then has to
pay the $14 to $16 fee charged by the FBI to do a background
"We call a number and give them the information off of the
form. They will say OK, delay, or deny it," he said.
In case of a delay, the customer has to wait three days. "If
we don't hear from them, we can sell the gun," Windham said.
"If they deny it, the customer can appeal."
Windham believes the instant check will be time consuming
and will probably have some snags at first.
"Until we try it, we don't know," he said.
At one time, Gibson's sold "tons" of firearms, Windham said,
"but we kind of got out of that market. There is a very low
profit, and you have to tie up a lot of money in inventory."
Few customers take advantage of the ordering service,
because most want to look at a firearm and get the feel of
it before buying.
"They may come in every week for two months before they buy
it," Windham said.
The effective date for instant checks was set in the 1993
Brady Act, which established federal background checks for
handgun purchases. Under the new system, the number of
checks performed will double because a new law requires
background approvals not just for handgun buyers but also
those who buy rifles and shotguns.
An estimated 12.4 million firearms of all kinds are sold
each year in the United States. All will be covered now, as
will an additional 2.5 million annual transactions when an
owner retrieves a firearm from a pawn shop.
Officials foresee some difficulties initially with the
expanded checks because of volume. December is the busiest
month of the year for gun sales, with hunting seasons
coinciding with Christmas buying.
To prepare, the FBI hired and began training 513 people in
West Virginia to handle its share of the work, set up two
telephone centers through a contractor and sent teams to
brief the nation's 106,000 gun dealers and pawnshop owners.
Federal law bans gun purchases by people convicted or under
indictment for felony charges, fugitives, the mentally ill,
those with dishonorable military discharges, those who have
renounced U.S. citizenship, illegal aliens, illegal drug
users and those convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors
or who are under domestic violence restraining orders. State
laws add other categories.
Three homes prepared to host tour
By ROSIE FLORES
Three Pecos homes have been decorated in preparation for the
second annual Christmas Tour of Homes.
The tour is scheduled for this Friday from 6-8 p.m. Ticket
booklets are now on sale for $10 and can be purchased from
any Women's Division of the Pecos Chamber of Commerce member.
Those attending the tour are invited for refreshments at the
Holiday Gift Show that is being held at the Quality Inn from
6-9 p.m. on Friday.
Everyone is invited to stop by and do their Christmas
shopping with local establishments which will be featured
including, Airlawn Furniture, Farm Bureau Insurance, The
Ceramic Shop, Needleworks, Etc., Norma Jeans, Oilfield Phone
Service, Old Dolls Shop, Rediger's Pharmacy and the Style
Homes on the tour include the Nazaroff Home, 1511 S.
Katherine St., which was built in 1980 and is the home of
Celia and Natalie Nazaroff.
As a child growing up in Cuba, Celia Nazaroff dreamed of one
day enjoying the kind of "white Christmas" she saw in the
movies and on television. Celia and her daughter, Natalie,
have since lived that dream and it is reflected in the
traditional white and gold decorations throughout their home.
The house has a step-down living room with a fireplace which
is often lit through the winter season. One of the
Nazaroff's favorite Christmas decorations is the wreath
hanging over the fireplace. Celia also loves to display her
candlestick collection, especially at this festive time of
Celia and Natalie came to Pecos last year from California,
and they have been very busy updating the kitchen and some
of the other rooms in the house. they plan to continue
renovating the home in the months to come.
The Roy and Reita Prewit home is located at 810 W. Lincoln
St. The four bedroom, three bath home was built in 1959 by
J. Robert Scott and it was designed for a family. There is a
large formal living room/dining room, a large den with a
fireplace and a large kitchen. Mr. Scott had three children
so two of the bedrooms have built-in desks to accommodate
the children and their schoolwork. The Prewit's bought the
home in 1970 when their children were young.
Christmas is a special time of the year for the Prewit
family. During the holidays the house is filled with
Christmas decorations, the wonderful smells of home cooking
and the bustling sounds of family and friends.
The Prewit's are fortunate to have much of their family
living in Pecos and their home is the center of all family
Christmas activities. The decorating of the Christmas tree
is a family tradition. The children, nieces, nephews, and
grandchildren gather to place his or her special ornament on
the tree. Special ornaments dating back as far as the 1940s
are hung with traditional stories and memories associated
with each one.
The Prewits hope you enjoy visiting their home as much as
they enjoy having you as their guest.
The third home on the tour is the home of Charlotte and Dick
Slack, 1820 Jefferson Street. It was built in 1962 by Mary
Peyton, who helped the Slacks redecorate in 1985.
Mr. Slack's Big Game trophies hang along the walls of a
large central room which features a ten foot Christmas tree
decorated with ornaments collected over the years, some
handed down from their parents. Over the fireplace hang
stockings made by Mrs. Slack for her three children and
their husbands and wife. In this room their seven
grandchildren will discover Santa's gifts on Christmas
The living room decorations share space with Mrs. Slack's
collections of birds, antique cut glass, and White House
Historical ornaments, on display year-round. In the family
room Christmas competes with their collection of musical
instruments acquired on their travels to others countries.
Throughout the house decorations are traditional, featuring
pine cones and apples, poinsettias, angels, Santa's sleighs
and rocking horses.
High Friday 79; Saturday 85; Sunday 70. Overnight lows 43,
57 and 46. Tonight, clear. Lows around 40. Light southeast
winds. Tuesday, partly cloudy. Highs in the lower 70s. South
winds increasing to 10-15 mph during the afternoon.
Ned Cantwell, 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