Tuesday, December 8, 1998
Commissioners reject settlement offer
By ROSIE FLORES
Reeves County Commissioners rejected a proposal to settle a lawsuit brought against eight remaining defendants involved with a failed goat dairy farm funded through a county-backed loan.
John Stickels, the attorney representing Reeves County, conveyed the proposal to the commissioners during an emergency meeting held Monday afternoon.
"What they are proposing is that each of the eight defendants pay $5,000 to the county, making it a total of $40,000," said Stickels.
The $40,000 offer was made to settle a two-year-old lawsuit brought against the eight, as members of the Pecos River Livestock Corporation. The corporation defaulted on a $131,000 loan from the Reeves County Revolving Loan Fund, obtained through the Pecos Industrial Foundation.
The total still owed to the county is $95,000. "That's less than 50 cents on the dollar," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo of the $40,000 settlement offer.
A lawsuit was filed back in 1996, it was tried in August of 1996 and judgment was set in September of 1998, in the amount of $95,000.
"This is the judgment amount of debt, less payments and credits, each was held liable for 10 percent, which is almost $10,000, and each is proposing to pay back $5,000 to settle this dispute," said Stickels.
The original loan of $131,000 to the Pecos River Livestock Corporation was one of several loans made by the Pecos Industrial Foundation, which is now defunct, according to Galindo.
"Randy Reynolds is the only who has paid back his part in full, he paid $19,650," said Galindo of the Pecos River Livestock group. Reynolds is the current 143rd District Attorney while Stickles served in that position until January, 1997.
Other stockholders named in the lawsuit are John F. Teague, Rosemary Wilkie, David Kidd, Mark Wilkie, Wiley B. Kidd, Roger Simmons, Louis Lively and Trevor Teague.
Other assets towards the loan payment stem from a sale of items, such as the land and equipment, according to Galindo.
According to Galindo the loan would have been paid in full by March 1999. "It was calculated over seven years and would have been paid off in full next year," he said. "We can either accept their offer or reject it, which is $5,000 from each, $40,000 in all, less than 50 cents on the dollar," he said.
In December of 1996, a sheriff's sale was held, but Stickels said notice was not sent to the proper people about the sale, and the sale's proceeds from it were less than fair market value.
Reeves County Precinct 1 Commissioner Felipe Arredondo made the motion to reject the proposal. "We have to look at all assets to recoup the county's money," Arredondo said after the meeting. "This is Reeves County's money, the public's money and we want to go forward with economic development."
The motion was seconded by Commissioner Precinct 2 Dr. W.J. Bang.
Commissioners made a motion to allow Stickels to move forward and file a notice of appeal on behalf of the county. "We want to do everything we can to recover the public's money," said Precinct 3 Commissioner Herman Tarin. "We want to put it back into the new economic development corporation and help economic growth in the community."
Reeves County recently approved the creation of a new industrial commission, which was authorized to contribute $20,000 towards the operation of the Pecos Economic Development Corporation. The bulk of the corporation's funding through one-quarter cent of the city's 1 1/2 cent sales tax, was approved by local voters in the Nov. 3 general election.
First freeze no problem for area farmers
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Temperatures dropped below freezing Monday night for the first time this fall and stayed there for eight hours, said Mike Murphy for the Texas A&M Research Station.
Early this morning, the mercury dipped to 23 degrees, freezing tree leaves, flowers and gardens in town and cotton stalks in the country.
"Probably this late it shouldn't have any negative effect," said Don Kerley of Alamo-Kerley gins.
"Most of the cotton is off the stalks and in a module waiting on Alamo-Kerley Gins," he said.
Most of the cotton in the Coyanosa area is already stripped as well, said Gail Fritter, Coyanosa Co-op manager.
Bell pepper crops had been harvested as well, said Trey Miller of Pecos Cantaloupe Company. "We had a good year," he said.
A few showers dampened some areas of Southeast Texas before dawn today, and the temperature dropped to a chilly 19 at 5 a.m. today at Dalhart in the northern Panhandle, the Associated Press reported.
Clearing skies will cause temperatures to drop below freezing as far south as the Hill Country tonight.
A freeze warning has been issued for a large area of North Texas for tonight.
The freeze warning covers the area along and northwest of a line from Bonham to Kaufman to Stephenville to Lampasas. Temperatures will drop into the lower 30s to the upper 20s in the area covered by the warning.
A Pacific cold front moved across the entire state and into the Gulf of Mexico by early today.
It will be clear to partly tonight across West Texas with clouds expected to increase on Wednesday.
North Texas will have clear skies tonight. Clouds will be increasing with a slight chance of rain on Wednesday in central and eastern sections.
It will be breezy and cool with clearing skies in South Texas.
Lows tonight will be in the 20s and 30s in West Texas, the 20s, 30s and 40s in North Texas and in the 20s in the Hill Country and in the 40s and 50s elsewhere in South Texas.
Highs Wednesday will be in the 40s and 50s except in South Texas where readings will be in the 50s and 60s.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Goat case headed to appeals court
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Defendants in the Pecos River Livestock Inc. civil suit offered to settle Monday with Reeves County for about $5,000 each, but county commissioners turned down the offer and voted to appeal Judge Paul McCollum's ruling.
Scott Johnson, who represents defendant Elvia Reynolds, said that a motion for new trial, filed by each of the parties to the long-running suit, expired Monday by operation of law.
"Now it will go to the Eighth Court of Appeals in El Paso," Johnson said. "I expect cross appeals from the defendants."
Judge McCollum heard testimony in the suit in August, 1996 and entered a judgment Sept. 21, 1998.
In that judgment, each of eight defendants was to pay Reeves County $8,642.68 plus attorney fees of $864.27. One defendant, Rosemary Wilke of Carlsbad, N.M., was to pay twice that amount, for a total judgment of $101,351.87.
The suit arose from a $131,000 low-interest loan made by Reeves County to Pecos River Livestock Inc. from its revolving loan fund financed by a state grant.
Parras starts prosecutor's job
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Jeffrey Jon "Jeff" Parras switched sides in federal court this week, joining prosecutors at the government's table. He has defended criminal clients from the other side of the courtroom for the past two and one-half years.
U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson administered the oath of office to Parras as assistant U.S. Attorney this morning, before a group of family and friends.
Parras, 29, will be stationed in Pecos, working with Fred Brigman and Jay Miller, who live in Alpine but prosecute cases for the Pecos Division. His supervisor, Tom Beery of Midland, introduced Parras with a brief history of his success as a defense attorney.
"Jeff has picked 12 juries in state and federal court. Of those, one pleaded guilty after the jury was chosen. He secured acquittals on eight. That's an outstanding record, even for a prosecutor," Beery said.
"We look forward to working with him. He will carry on the highest traditions of the Department of Justice."
U.S. Attorney Robert Blagg of San Antonio added several AUSAs to his staff when Congress passed a bill to beef up border security. Others were assigned to El Paso and Del Rio Divisions.
Although he has wanted to be a prosecutor since childhood when he read books by Vincent Bugliossi - who prosecuted such high-profile cases as Charles Manson - Parras said he had no qualms about defending criminals.
"Everyone is entitled to a defense," he said. "Looking back on the cases that I took to trial, (in county, state and federal courts) I can't think of any that told me they did it. So it wasn't hard to fight for those people right to the end."
Federal prosecutors for the Pecos Division are responsible for most of the cases that come through the Big Bend area, the Sierra Blanca checkpoint and all the way west to Fort Hancock.
"They are normally filed and indicted here, which means if they go to trial, it will happen here in Pecos," Parras said.
Of those cases, more than 90 percent involve importation or possession of controlled substances, he said.
"We have no hard line on what we will accept for prosecution," Parras said. "We will look at all the circumstances. If there is a need to go below a limit that's been set when the facts warrant it, then it would be accepted by the office and prosecuted in federal court."
Parras said he expects no policy changes. Defendants normally appear first before U.S. Magistrate Judge Katherine Baker in Alpine, because arresting officers are stationed in that area. Once they are indicted, the case is transferred to the district court in Pecos.
"To be a prosecutor is to have a special obligation: not just to win cases, but to ensure that justice is done in a fair way," said Judge Furgeson. "You join men and women who uphold the finest traditions of the Department of Justice. You are going to be a very worthy addition to this staff."
School for Parras was all in his native West Texas. He grew up in Monahans and graduated from Monahans High School in 1987. He returned to his birthplace of San Angelo to attend undergraduate school at Angelo State University, then completed law school at Texas Tech University in 1994.
He moved to Pecos when he learned the county attorney's office had an opening, but never filed for election.
"I thought it might be smart to come to Pecos and get to know folks in case I decided to run for district attorney," he said, recalling his fascination with criminal prosecutions. "But I did enjoy defending a lot; more than I thought I would."
Parras and his wife, Becky, spent most of their first year here remodeling their house - "everything from new cabinets to a new picket fence" - he said.
"I like woodworking that I learned from my Dad. I built an entertainment center, complete with glass doors and working drawers," he said.
He is also a sports enthusiast who attends most of the playoff games in this area. In Monahans he played football, basketball and track, and enjoyed intramural sports before he opened his office here.
Troy Moore, a court security officer and former Pecos Police chief, said that Parras' experience as a defense attorney makes him a valuable asset to the federal prosecution team.
Parade, courthouse lighting set Friday
By ROSIE FLORES
A lighting ceremony, caroling and hot chocolate will be a part of Friday's Reeves County Courthouse lighting ceremony, held in conjunction with the annual Pecos Christmas Parade.
The parade is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., Friday and run from the Airlawn section of town to downtown Pecos. Lineup for the floats and parade entries will be at 5 p.m., at the Pecos High School parking lot. This year the parade again will head from the school north of Eddy Street and then east on Third Street to downtown. The route will then loop around the West of the Pecos Museum before coming back south three blocks to the Reeves County Courthouse, at which time the lighting ceremony will take place.
The theme for this year's event is "The Good Old West," and entries are still being accepted.
Refreshments will be provided to all those who attend the lighting ceremony, and several area churches will be leading the singing. The Pecos Eagle Band will also be on hand for the evening's festive, holiday events.
Christian Home seeks dinner donations
Plans are already underway for the Annual Christmas Dinner and items are still needed to complete the menu.
"We still need about eight gallons of sweet potatoes, green beans and instant mashed potatoes," said Christian Home Director Bruce Dury.
Dury stated that other items needed are pies, cakes and assorted desserts.
"We fed about 270 during the Thanksgiving Dinner, but we are expecting more for the Christmas dinner," he said.
Volunteers to help serve meals are also needed. "If we could get the same amount of volunteers that turned up for the Thanksgiving Dinner that would be great. We're just thankful to anyone who would like to help us," he said.
The dinner is scheduled from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., Christmas Day at the Reeves County Civic Center.
Meals on Wheels deliveries will also be made to the elderly and homebound.
Ex-Davidian's boss dies in escape attempt
BIG SPRING (AP) Former Branch Davidian leader George Roden, who had been in state care since he was declared insane in 1989, was found dead outside a mental institution.
Roden, 60, escaped from the Big Spring State Hospital late Saturday, his third escape from a state institution since 1993. An employee found his body on the grounds Monday morning.
A preliminary autopsy report indicated Roden likely died of a heart attack, Justice of the Peace China Long told the Waco Tribune-Herald.
Roden was driven out of the religious group in 1987 after a gun battle with David Koresh. Two years later, he was institutionalized after being found innocent by reason of insanity in the killing of his roommate.
Three years ago, he fled Big Spring for three days before being caught outside the Israeli consulate in New York City, where he reportedly caused a disturbance after being denied a visa to Israel. Roden, who claimed to be Jewish, said PLO-trained hitmen were trying to kill him.
Roden's mother owned the 77-acre site of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco known as Mount Carmel. She named Koresh as the trustee of her will.
Roden fought Koresh for control of the group, then moved to Odessa after the gun battle that led to attempted murder charges against Koresh and seven others. Koresh's case was declared a mistrial; the followers were acquitted.
Koresh and 78 followers died in a fire at Mount Carmel on April 19, 1993, ending a 51-day standoff with federal authorities.
High Monday 57, low last night 23. Tonight, clear and cold. Low 25-30. Light and variable wind. Wednesday, increasing cloudiness. High 50-55. Light southeast wind.
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