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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Tuesday, March 23, 1999

Suspect sought in carnival stabbings

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer
PECOS, March 23, 1999 - A Pecos teenager remains in an Odessa hospital today suffering from stab wounds received in an altercation Sunday evening, while a second victim was released after being treated at Reeves County Hospital for his injuries.

No arrests have been made as of yet, according to Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez, but deputies do have a suspect in the incident.

At approximately 10:40 p.m., Sunday, Reeves County Sheriff's Deputy Terry Halpain was dispatched to the Reeves County Civic Center in reference to criminal mischief of a vehicle.

Upon arrival, Deputy Halpain met with Ramilaben Bhakta, the owner of a 1997 maroon Pontiac Bonneville. Bhakta stated in her report to the officer that there was a fight in the parking lot and her vehicle was damaged by scratches on the doors of the vehicle caused by the fight.

Deputy Halpain asked Bhakta where the subjects were now. "She advised me that they left and a male subject then advised me that one person was hit with a hammer in the head, I then advised the dispatcher to let the hospital know in case someone went in," said Halpain.

At approximately 10:50 p.m., the dispatcher then advised Halpain that there was a stab victim at the Reeves County Hospital.

"I then went to the hospital and found out that there were two stab victims," said Halpain.

Peter Dominguez, 19, and Joaquin Matta, 17 were both stabbed at the civic center, the deputy said.

Matta was admitted into Reeves County Hospital where he has since been treated and released. Dominguez was transferred to Medical Center Hospital in Odessa where he is listed in "fair" condition. He has been moved from I.C.U., according to a hospital spokesman.

Pecos Police officers Billy Hull, Ken Roberts, and Jeff Green went to the hospital and helped interview witnesses and take down information from the victims.

Officer Hull took photographs of both victims and is now waiting for their return.

Investigator Michael Dominguez is currently working on the case and charges are pending. "There were no charges filed at this time, pending the investigation," said Sheriff Gomez.

"But from what I understand this young man, Dominguez, was stabbed about nine times," he said.

New task force involved in cocaine bust

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer
PECOS, March 23, 1999 - Drugs with a street value of $45,000 were seized Monday evening during a cooperative effort by local law enforcement officials and the new Trans Pecos Drug Task Force.

A fugitive was been taken into custody and approximately a pound of cocaine and about $600 in cash was seized a search warrant executed by the Reeves County Sheriff's Department, Pecos Police Department and the Trans-Pecos Drug Task Force.

"We had received information that the suspect was wanted on bonds, he was a fugitive," said James Cowell, with the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force. "We decided we had probable cause based on the outside information we had received on this individual. Based on this, we obtained a search warrant for that residence."

The search warrant was executed at approximately 8 p.m., at 5405 Sierra Road in the Lindsay Addition.

S.W.A.T. members entered the trailer home through the front door, while other officers were waiting in the back. "He attempted to run out the back door, but was apprehended in the back of the trailer," said Cowell.

Four people inside the residence were arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance, while one other was charged with hindering apprehension of a felon.

Arrested were Hector Pando, Jr. 26, charged with possession of a controlled substance, cocaine, and motions to revoke on charges of failure to appear on charges of drug possession and failure to appear on delivery of a controlled substance.

Guadalupe Pando, 29, was charged with hindering apprehension of a felon and possession of a controlled substance, cocaine.

Santana Sanchez, 20, was charged with possession of a controlled substance.

Gumercindo Arras, 42, of Lovington, N.M., was charged with possession of a controlled substance.

"We say the value of the drugs is $15,000, but the street value is $45,000," said Cowell. "The drugs confiscated were approximately a pound and we also seized the cash."

Jurors award Stickels $150,000 in libel suit

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer
MONAHANS, March 23, 1999 - John Stickels was "very pleased" with a Ward County jury's verdict Monday, awarding him $150,000 from Tom Finley, former commander of the now-defunct Permian Basin Drug Task Force.

Finley's 1996 letter to law enforcement officers describing Stickels as a failure at prosecuting drug cases was libelous by printing false accusations with malice, the jury found.

Damage to Stickels' reputation was $100,000, the jury decided, and they assessed $50,000 in punitive damages against Finley for his conduct in writing the letter.

Odessa Attorney Hal Upchurch, who represents Stickels, said he expects Finley's attorney, Scott Tidwell, to appeal the verdict.

Whether Stickels gets any money or not, Upchurch said that, "Just affirmation he had been done wrong was all he ever wanted."

Upchurch said that Tidwell called only two defense witnesses former Enterprise reporter Mari Maldonado and Ward County Sheriff Ben Keele. After their testimony on Thursday, Tidwell said he planned to enter records in evidence of Stickels' treatment in a psychiatric hospital during 1994.

"On Thursday, the defense obtained records from Glennwood and stated they intended to produce everything as a matter of public record, but offered us the option to receive a public apology from Finley and drop the lawsuit," Upchurch said.

Stickels was treated for alcoholism and depression in 1994 at Glennwood, and has been sober ever since, Upchurch said. He refused the settlement offer.

Upchurch said that he summoned Stickels' former pastor, Becky Davis, and the trial was continued until Monday to allow her time to appear.

When the trial resumed Monday, Tidwell introduced records from Glennwood showing Stickels was treated for alcoholism.

"It contained references to his lack of self image, depression, feelings of failure and physical ability to function as a district attorney," said Upchurch.

These are classic symptoms of an alcoholic in denial, Upchurch said.

"John has been sober ever since, according to Becky Davis. She said in her 15-year ministry she has never seen a greater commitment to straighten out his life," Upchurch said.

Davis said that Stickels' family relations are great with his wife, Angela, and his children; and he has an excellent reputation.

"He admits he is an alcoholic, and he's sober," Upchurch said.

In connection with the jury verdict, visiting judge Pat Baskin of Midland ruled that, as a matter of law, the Permian Basin Drug Task Force was not legally constituted as an authorized governmental agency.

Upchurch said that Ector County, as the task force's sponsoring agency, is liable for the actual damages. The jury did not assess punitive damages against the task force.

Development corp receives Wal-Mart grant

PECOS, March 23, 1999 - The Pecos Economic Development Corporation is $4,000 richer today thanks to a grant from Wal-Mart.

Tim Bernicke, general manager for the Pecos Wal-Mart, presented Gari Ward with the check this morning in front of the store.

Ward is president of the Pecos Economic Development Corporation, which was formed after a vote by local citizens last November.

"Wal-Mart is committed to helping the economy in Pecos," Bernicke said. "I'm proud to be able to present this contribution on behalf of Wal-Mart."

Ward said that he applied for the grant in December and that the grant totaled $4,000, with $2,000 to be received this year and the remaining $2,000 in 2000.

Ward said that the money would be used to fund industry recruitment to the Pecos area.

"On behalf of Pecos I want to thank Wal-Mart for this grant and also Tim," Ward said. "Tim was instrumental in Pecos receiving this grant and we really appreciate his efforts."

Bernicke moved to Pecos last July and was married in September.

Tarin urges attendance at hearing on jet flights

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer
PECOS, March 23, 1999 - Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 3 Herman Tarin on Monday invited everyone to a meeting about the planned low-level flights scheduled by the U.S. Air Force for parts of West Texas.

Tarin's precinct is in the main area of Reeves County where flights by both the U.S. Air Force and German Luftwaffe aircraft are scheduled to cross.

"I just think this is very important and it will affect everyone," said Tarin.

The meeting on low-level flights will be held at 5 p.m., April 9, at the Pecos High School Cafeteria. It is one of several scheduled by the U.S. Air Force, following release of their environmental impact statement last Friday.

"I think we all need to get involved in this. I don't think we need those planes flying so low, so close to our homes," said Tarin, who urged everyone to come to the meeting and give their input on the situation.

"I'll be making some phone calls and I think we really need to do something about this, because I think this will affect us all," he said.

County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo suggested drawing up a resolution to send to lawmakers in support of not having the low-level flights in this area.

"I think I would like that, that's a great idea," said Tarin. "We need to let them know how we feel about it, because they claim that it won't affect us."

According to Tarin, the Air Force has determined that the planes, which travel only a few hundred feet off the ground, will not have an impact on area residents.

In other action on Monday, Precinct 2 Commissioner David Castillo reported that officials from Odessa College had visited a site in Pecos and will be putting a package together to bring a campus here.

"I think this is very important for our young people to get a head start on their education and for those who want to continue their education," said Castillo.

Castillo said that he had attended the economic development meeting and that officials from Odessa College had expressed their interest in a campus in Pecos.

"This is something we've been waiting for and something we'll definitely be proud of," he said.

Tarin also said he would like to invite everyone to the courthouse during County Government Week, April 19-23.

"I think we should have booths and plenty of information on everything we do, set up outside the courthouse," said Tarin. "We can invite groups from the schools and hand out promotional items."

"It's our responsibility to enlighten everyone about our duties and all the services we have to offer," said Tarin.

Tarin also suggested having a "mock commissioner's court meeting" and invite school groups to attend and see for themselves, first hand, county government at work.

"We need to share ideas and help tommorrow's leaders," he said.

Galindo said that one of the ways to reach out to the public that he is working on is in setting up e-mail addresses for all the commissioners. "People can e-mail that particular commissioner with their ideas and comments," he said.

"We can also make it a link site to all area and national leaders," said Galindo.

Balmorhea man's trial continuing on coke charges

PECOS, March 23, 1999 - Testimony continued this morning in the 143rd District Court trial of Manuel Rayos, 39, of Balmorhea.

Rayos is charged with possession of cocaine within 1,000 feet of Balmorhea ISD on Sept. 29, 1998.

Paul Deishler, investigator for the joint drug task force operated by the Pecos Police Department and the Reeves County Sheriff's Office, testified this morning that cocaine was found during a search of a Balmorhea residence.

Also charged along with Rayos were Sylvia Roman, 37, and her son, Kenyon Roman, 18. They are not on trial.

Mike Swanson is defending Rayos before visiting judge Joseph Connally, senior judge of the 244th District Court.

District Attorney Randy Reynolds is prosecuting for the state.

The trial began Monday afternoon, following a morning session of jury selections.

Hydrant break causes Cedar Street flooding

PECOS, March 23, 1999 - Pecos city water employees worked most of the night to repair a break in the water main that caused the loss of thousands of gallons of water.

City Manager Kenneth Neal said that a fire hydrant on Willow Street, across from Pecos Elementary, broke at about 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Water flowed east on Ninth Street, creating a minor flood on U.S. Highway 285 between Ninth Street and the storm sewer at 14th Street. Water covered the right lane on the west side of the street, as it made its way toward the Pecos River.

Utilities director Octavio Garcia and water department employees worked until 1 a.m. to repair the break. They were in Odessa today at a seminar, said Neal.

Local residents add rep to regional water board

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer
PECOS, March 23, 1999 - Pecos County rancher D.A. Harrall was appointed to the Region F Water Planning Group Monday when the 32-county governing group met at the Texas A&M Research Center in San Angelo.

Harrall named Reeves County rancher Jerry Moore as his alternate on the board.

Moore and Clark Lindley, both interim directors for the Trans-Pecos Underground Water Conservation District, attended the meeting to support Harrall's nomination by Pecos County Judge Delmon Hodges.

Harrall was rejected for the only open position on the board (for a water district representative) because he has no direct connection with a water district, Lindley said. Scott Holland of Mertzon in Irion County was named to that position.

"I asserted that the western counties are under-represented and told the board that we want a voting position with the water planning group in order to represent the needs and issues facing our counties," Lindley said.

Chairman John Grant then opened the floor to discussion of expanding the number on the planning group from 21 to 22.

"After some discussion, the planning group expanded its membership to include a representative from our counties," Lindley said.

County judges from Loving, Reeves, Winkler and Pecos Counties had written letters in support of Harrall, and Pecos River Commissioner Brad Newton, a member of State Sen. Frank Madla's staff, added his support.

Harrall was elected without opposition.

"We were very happy about this because it gives us a voice in that planning board," Lindley said. "I thought we had a productive day there."

There was only one other area representative on the Region F Water Planning Board before Harrall's appointment.

Texas Lotto

AUSTIN (AP) Results of the Cash 5 drawing Monday night: Winning numbers drawn: 7-16-18-27-28. Number matching five of five: 3. Prize per winner: $29,655. Winning tickets sold in: Rockport, San Antonio, Houston. Matching four of five: 260. Prize: $513.

***

AUSTIN (AP) The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Monday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 0-0-9 (zero, zero, nine)

Obituary

Betty Hinkle

Services for Betty Hinkle, 72, who died this morning at Reeves County Hospital, will be at 2 p.m. Thursday in Pecos Funeral Home Chapel.

Weather

PECOS, March 23, 1999 - High Monday 90; low last night 49. Tonight, becoming cloudy. Low in the upper 40s. East wind 5-15 mph. Wednesday, mostly cloudy, becoming partly cloudy by afternoon. high in the mid 70s. South wind 10-20 mph.



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