Tuesday, December 22, 1998
Council approves earlier youth curfewBy PEGGY McCRACKEN
It's official. Children must be home by 10 p.m. on school nights.
Pecos City Council on Monday amended the hours of a curfew ordinance requiring that anyone under 17 years of age be off the streets between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights.
On Friday and Saturday nights, the curfew hour is midnight.
City Attorney Scott Johnson said the new curfew hours are effective immediately.
Police Chief Clay McKinney said that his officers will be enforcing the curfew, even though school is not in session during the holidays.
The ordinance does allow exceptions, such as a child being accompanied by or on an errand for a parent or legal guardian.
"It comes down to common sense," McKinney said. "If they are getting into trouble or it looks like they are going to get into trouble, they will be questioned. The officer will have to make a decision. If he's right or wrong, it will go to a court," McKinney said.
"That curfew is a good deal. I think it works, and it helps," he said.
Councilman passed the amendment on second reading with little discussion in their regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. Rodriguez said most people he has talked with are pleased with the change. The original ordinance set curfew hours at midnight on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends.
In discussing the monthly report of Juvenile Probation Officer Alberto Alvarez, the council noted that 20 juveniles were handled during November, with five of those reported by the school district.
Councilman Danny Rodriguez, who is also Pecos High School principal, said that any time a felony is committed, the school is notified, "and we have to do something."
Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire said that a juvenile who was arrested for burglarizing St. Mark's Episcopal Church during the daylight hours was home schooled and not the school district's responsibility.
Since the Reeves County Juvenile Detention Center can only house a juvenile for up to 48 hours, the young burglar was moved to another facility, McKinney said.
"I guess that's going to be the process now. The county could be picking up the tab on that," he said.
Pecos Ambulance Service reported 100 calls during November, with $26,962 invoiced and $3,658 collected.
Reeves County Hospital will begin Jan. 1 to bill for ambulance calls, at the council's request.
Finance officer Steve McCormick said the hospital will collect for ambulance calls and deposit the money in the city's account.
"The ambulance people have to fill out a report on what they did, and the bill is made out from that report," he said. "When they make a delivery to the hospital, they will give them the report."
Rodriguez asked about the status of the city's telephone system, which some have complained leaves them hanging after they ask for a specific department.
City Manager Kenneth Neal said that for the most part the voice mail system works and employees are getting their messages and returning calls.
McCormick said he is working on an electronic answering program that will allow callers to dial the extension they want or select from the menu.
The council also renewed an easement agreement with Marcos Martinez Jr. to allow the city access to the sewer treatment plant near the Pecos River and to operate it;
* Adopted on second reading an ordinance placing four-way stop signs at the intersection of Second and Locust Streets;
* Renewed a fire contract with Reeves County for fire protection, with the county paying $93,280 (half the cost of operating the Pecos Volunteer Fire Department);
* Renewed a contract with Reeves County Hospital for ambulance service, with the hospital's cost $63,655;
* Renewed a contract with Reeves County for housing city prisoners in exchange for dispatch services; and
* Set regular council meetings for 7:30 a.m. during 1999.
Rodriguez, who had requested that one of the two monthly meetings be held at 5:30 p.m., said he would like to keep that schedule. Ricky Herrera agreed with him, so that working people can attend.
"But nobody is here," he admitted, noting the empty chairs.
"We tried it and not that many people showed up," Rodriguez said.
Randy Graham suggested setting the time at 7:30 a.m., but allowing for evening meetings on controversial subjects. His motion passed, and Mayor Dot Stafford said the next meeting will be at 7:30 a.m. Jan. 14, 1999.
In that meeting, the council will discuss the status of grant applications being drawn up by several different firms; ambulance billing; recommendation from the garbage committee on a Type IV landfill; and executive session to evaluate the health department director, utilities director and city secretary.
`Toys' gives 254 presents to local kidsBy PEGGY McCRACKEN
Santa Claus made a pre-Christmas visit to Reeves County Hospital Friday, leaving toys for 254 boys and girls who faced an otherwise bleak Christmas.
"Toys for Tots," an annual drive begun years ago at the Pecos Police Department, purchased the toys from a reserve fund and $125 in current donations, said Teenie Crider, treasurer.
Crider said she purchased the gifts from a list screened by Nancy Ontiveros at RCH to determine eligibility under strict income guidelines, choosing age-appropriate gifts for each child.
"We bought toddler-type toys for the small ones; dolls and dishes for girls; maybe a watch for a 14-year-old or a jewelry box for older girls," said Diane Tersero. "Something they would enjoy."
Children were invited to pick up the toys at the hospital, and most did. Others were delivered to the homes, Crider said.
"They seemed to be pleased," she said.
Crider said the group did not solicit donations from businesses this year as they have in the past, but they will send out letters next year.
"It has been successful so far," she said.
New Mexico girls critical after accident near OrlaBy ROSIE FLORES
Two young New Mexico girls were airlifted to a Lubbock hospital following an accident that happened early Monday afternoon 44 miles north of Pecos.
At about 12:30 p.m., a 1991 Pontiac Grand Am driven by Juanita Nijeria, 27, of Jal, N.M. was westbound on Ranch-to-Market Road 652, heading towards Orla near the Pecos River crossing in Loving County. The vehicle left the roadway, the driver overcorrected and overturned, according to Department of Public Safety Trooper Richard Jacobs, who investigated the accident.
Two girls in the Pontiac, Four-year-old Melissa and seven-year-old Andrea, were both taken to Reeves County Hospital by Pecos volunteer ambulance attendants. The girls later transferred via an Aerocare flight to University Medical Center in Lubbock. Both were in critical condition at the time of their transfer.
A nurse at the hospital said Andrea Nijeria was still breathing with the help of a ventilator this morning, but doctors who had induced an artificial coma on Monday were letting her wake up today. Her condition was "generally stable," the spokesperson said. No condition report was available on the younger girl from the hospital as of late this morning.
Cold front leaves temperatures in teensFrom Staff and Wire Reports
Freezing drizzle, freezing rain, sleet and snow flurries fell across Texas today, as temperatures dipped overnight to as low as minus 10 in the Panhandle.
An Arctic front sliced into Texas on the first day of winter Monday, and afternoon temperatures plummeted from the 60s to the 20s across the top half of the state.
The drop was just as sharp in the Pecos area, where Monday afternoon's high of 74 was followed by a low this morning of just under 19 degrees. High winds accompanied the arrival of the cold front in the Pecos Valley, shortly after 6 p.m. Monday.
The area did escape any snow and ice overnight that was brought along with the cold front in the North Central part of the state. But forecasts for tonight include the possibility of snow in the Permian Basin.
The Panhandle won't be seeing temperatures much above freezing through the end of the week, according to the National Weather Service.
"We've got a five-day forecast that shows all five days will be below 30 degrees," said National Weather Service meteorologist John Cockrell, based in Amarillo. "We've had a light snow, but there is a chance we'll have some more before the five days are out."
North and northwest winds of 15 to 25 mph lowered the wind chill to below zero.
Dalhart's high Monday was only 15 degrees with a low of 5, while Amarillo had a high of 19 and a low of 7. Lubbock had a high of 45 and a low of 14. Childress was in a range from 35 to 16.
Other sub-freezing lows were Abilene 20, Midland 22, San Angelo 28 and Wink 29. That came after a high of 72 in San Angelo and the upper 60s at Abilene, Midland and Wink.
The blast of cold, which was blamed for several deaths, was pulled from Canada into Texas by a low-pressure system in the northern United States. Forecasters say the cold temperatures will last at least another week.
A Dallas man disabled by multiple sclerosis died overnight when burners on the gas range he was using for heat apparently ignited his clothing.
Neighbors of Guillermo Garfias were alerted before midnight Monday by screams coming from his two-bedroom apartment, fire spokeswoman Barbara Block said.
An apartment manager used a fire extinguisher to try to save Garfias, 38, who was found in his wheelchair by the gas range in his kitchen, Ms. Block said.
Across the Texas Panhandle, readings ranged early today from minus 5 to minus 10.
Most Dallas service station driveways were empty as the mercury dipped to 22 degrees, with a wind chill of minus 11 early today.
But Rob Hathaway was fumbling with gloved hands, trying to unlock his gas cap.
"I have to do this so I can get to work," he said as he finally removed the cap at a Mobil station.
Ranveer Dhande, cashier at a Stop N' Go in Dallas, said most of her sales were coffee. She said she was working hard to keep enough coffee made for customers at her North Dallas store.
At the same time that sleet and light snow were falling across the northern half of the state, the southern half of the state was basking in temperatures in the 70s. San Antonio and Del Rio recorded records Monday for the highest minimums for a Dec. 21 — 65 in San Antonio and 60 in Del Rio.
"There is almost a clear line separating the state," Cockrell said. "On one side you have overcast skies and temperatures in the teens. On the other side you have sunny skies and temperatures nearing 80 degrees."
But that will change quickly.
"There is going to be a quick drop-off in temperature in those areas, in which they might experience a 25 degree drop in a single day," meteorologist Chris Darden of Lubbock said.
Temperatures are expected to remain below freezing across much of North Texas through Wednesday, in the coldest weather in almost two years, since January of 1997.
Officials urged precautions to protect plumbing, tender vegetation and pets.
Strong north winds will cause wind chill values from near 20 degrees below zero in northwest parts of North Texas to the single digits in the southeast.
By 1 p.m., temperatures had fallen into the 20s and 30s just behind the front — from Mineral Wells, through the Dallas-Fort Worth area, to Paris. At the same time, to the south of the front, readings were in the 70s — from Temple-Killeen to Longview to Texarkana.
It was 70 degrees at Lufkin about 7 p.m. Monday, but temperatures fell quickly with the front's arrival.
At Corsicana, the temperature plummeted from 75 to 45 in two hours, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Light snow fell in North Central Texas during the early afternoon. Sleet and freezing rain formed before 4 p.m. By 3 p.m. Mineral Wells was receiving sleet with temperatures in the 20s.
Ice was reported on bridges and overpasses Monday night in Palo Pinto and Parker counties west of Fort Worth.
Meteorologist Al Moller, stationed at the NWS office in Fort Worth, said it's the fourth-latest freeze on record for the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The record is Jan. 4, 1972. Other later freezes occurred on Dec. 26, 1933, and Dec. 25, 1965.
At least two deaths in the Wichita Falls area on Monday were blamed on the weather.
A third-grade teacher died Monday when her car hit ice and slid into the path of an 18-wheel truck, the Texas Department of Public Safety said.
Kristy Rogers, whose vehicle was eastbound on U.S. 82, was dead at the scene.
Philip K. Roberts, 53, vice president of the Windthorst National Bank, was fatally injured in an accident on icy U.S. 281 Monday morning. His car slid off the road and struck a tree.
WEATHERHigh Monday 74; low last night 18.6. Winter storm watch for tonight, cloudy with freezing drizzle or light freezing rain. Lows in the upper teens. East to northeast winds 5-15 mph. Chance of precipitation 30 percent. Wednesday, becoming partly cloudy, morning flurries or freezing drizzle possible. Highs in the mid 30s. North to northeast winds 5-15 mph. Christmas day forecast, slight chance of light rain or freezing rain. Lows mid 20s to lower 30s. Highs 35 to 45.
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.