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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Thursday, March 25, 1999

Officers get in crisis training at RCDC

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer
PECOS, March 25, 1999 -- Two escapees were on the loose yesterday and a hostage situation which threatened to get volatile was occurring inside the Reeves County Detention Center.

But the inmates were not really inmates, but employees of the facility, who staged their escapes and uprising as part of a training session for area law enforcement officials..

"This was a "mock" exercise," said Reeves County Warden Rudy Franco, and local authorities and area ranchers were told about the event beforehand, to avoid any misunderstandings.

Franco said the demonstration was designed to test emergency response of officers and the systems and enhancing the relationships between the agencies.

"We have the border patrol on the lookout, Pecos Police Department officers, Marshals office personnel and the Reeves County Sheriff's deputies assisting us in this exercise," said Franco.

The exercise didn't affect the real inmates at the facility. "Everybody was called in to work today, so we have personnel taking care of our inmates, while the others participate in the drill," said Franco.

The escapees headed on back to town after lunch and a critique followed. "We'll gather and try to sort out what we need to work on and what is already working just right," said Franco.

"We've got excellent personnel who really take this seriously," he said. "I'm very proud of all of them," he said.

Alnog with local personnel, STAR officials were also on hand. STAR (Sheriff's of Texas Agreed Response) is headed by Midland County Chief Deputy Clayton McKinney, who was also at the RCDC.

The STAR program includes 45 counties and seven different cities. The program consists of sheriff's departments from Van Horn all the way to Fort Worth, according to McKinney, who retired from the Texas Rangers in 1985, has been with the Midland County office since then.

"We hope to have more counties coming into this," said McKinney.

The STAR program began with nine counties, and Reeves County was one of the first to participate, according to McKinney. "I called up 11 sheriff's, nine of them showed up and wanted to participate, and Andy was one of the first to express his interest," he said.

With money so tight due to slumping oil and farm prices, there isn't enough funds to do all the things that sheriff's departments would like to do and purchase. "This way we can share our expertise, our equipment, manpower and do the job right," said McKinney.

About 50 people in the program were at the RCDC helping out, and several departments brought some of their own equipment with them. "A lot of our equipment was bought from the military, but we had it repainted and repaired, to make it look like a county equipment, not military," said McKinney.

"We're also working on our timing, making sure we do everything as fast as possible and that nobody gets hurt," said Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez.

He said he plans to participate in all the "mock" drills at the facility. "This gives us a chance to practice also and to try and get things right so that nobody gets hurt," said Gomez. "The people we want to protect the most are community members."

Franco said that about two drills a year will be held from now on. "One of them might not be as extensive as this one, but we'll definitely has at least two," he said.

Couple's bills mounting in Livestock land dispute

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer

PECOS, March 25, 1999 -- Every time Jerome and Sandra Kimbel travel from their home in Lomita, Calif., to Pecos, they add another $1,500 to money already down the drain from their purchase of the Pecos River Livestock Inc. land at a sheriff's sale nearly three years ago.

The Kimbels paid $9,200 for the 80-acre plot and improvements when it was offered for sale by Sheriff Arnulfo "Andy" Gomez in 1996, by order of visiting judge Paul McCollum, in a loan foreclosure.

Since that time, Judge McCollum has ruled that the sale was illegal because the corporation's directors were not notified, but the Kimbels' money remains in trust as reimbursement to Reeves County on a defaulted $131,000 loan.

Reeves County's suit against stockholders in the failed goat dairy resulted in a judgment of $101,351 in favor of the county, but it is on appeal.

"We have pretty much decided we want to get our money back," said Jerome Kimbel Wednesday. It is in the appeals court and could go to the Texas Supreme Court. Nobody knows who owns the property."

Kimbel said that records at the Reeves County Appraisal District, Reeves County and the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD tax offices show that Sandra Kimbel owns the property. But she can't sell it because she can't get a clear title as long as the suit is in court.

"We don't want to pay taxes three or four more years," Kimbel said. "We have paid it for six years already. If the sale was illegal and they are appealing it, we just want out."

Attempts to talk with Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo have proved futile, Kimbel said, so they talked with Precinct 2 Commissioner David Castillo.

Castillo said he would discuss the matter with Galindo and District Attorney Randy Reynolds before Wednesday's commissioners court meeting and attempt to get it on the agenda for the next meeting.

Sandra Kimbel presented a letter to commissioners before their meeting Wednesday, requesting the agenda item.

"I would like to find out if I am still the owner and if not, I want my money back and if possible back taxes, all expenses I have incurred since 9-6-96 plus attorney fees," Kimbel said in the letter.

"We have been trying to see Galindo for two or three years," she said of her attempts to resolve the matter.

While its ownership remains in limbo, the property is being vandalized, Jerome Kimbel said.

"We surveyed the farm Monday," he said. "There was a shotgunned trailer and the well pump was missing. Two pickups had backed into a quonset hut. We estimate damages at $11,450."

Sandra Kimbel said that the young Odessa family who offered $30,000 for the property in 1996 are still interested in buying it for their home and farm.

"Their bank has approved their loan, but they won't lend the money with a cloud on the title," she said.

The Kimbels said they believe parties to the civil suit appealed Judge McCollum's ruling to stall payment.

"They won't pay what they owe, and they don't care who goes down with them," Jerome Kimbel said.

Cocaine found during Wednesday raid

A female juvenile was arrested for violating her curfew and charges are pending on second person following a narcotics search warrant at a Pecos home Wednesday evening.

Members from the Reeves County Sheriff's Department and Pecos Police Department Multi-Agency S.W.A.T. Team executed a narcotics search warrant issued by Municipal Court Judge Phyllis Salyer at about 9 p.m. Wednesday at 911 E. Fourth Street.

During the search of the residence, a foil paper containing a white powder substance which tested positive for cocaine was found in the master bedroom. Found in the bedroom of a female juvenile was a pack of zig-zag rolling paper and a plastic bag containing marijuana residue.

"We carry an EMT with us, but we had to transport an individual to Reeves County Hospital, who claimed she was having a heart attack," said Pecos Police Investigator Paul Deishler.

One female juvenile was arrested and taken to the Reeves County Juvenile Detention Center for juvenile probation violation.

No other arrests were made for the drugs in the residence, but warrants could be issued depending on the investigation.

"It was definitely cocaine we found, it tested positive, but we are waiting for further investigation before issuing warrants," said Deishler.

Vote on boll weevil zone set for Friday

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer

PECOS, March 25, 1999 -- Farmers in the Pecos Valley are in their fields this week getting their land in shape for planting.

Cotton producers are divided on whether they should form a boll weevil eradication zone for the El Paso/Trans-Pecos region, said C.W. Roberts, Reeves-Loving counties extension agent.

A vote on the plan is scheduled for Friday, and in a recent public hearing, comments were made both in favor of the program and against it.

Roberts said the $20 per acre cost is the reason farmers opposed to the program cite.

Larry Turnbough, who with his father farms near Balmorhea, "has been really working on it," said his mother, Mrs. Rip Turnbough, today. "I'm sure we are for it."

Turnbough is in Abilene this week working on the eradication program, she said.

Bob Bickley, executive director for the Trans Pecos Cotton Association, said that a low percentage of the mail-in ballots have been returned.

"It would be difficult at this point to say which side is likely to be winners," Bickley said.

Some producers have complained that the Texas Department of Agriculture failed to mail ballots to all eligible voters, Bickley said.

"We find that in many families, maybe the husband got a ballot and the wife didn't, or vice versa. If you don't have one, you have to talk to the people with TDA," he said.

Ballots must be returned by Friday to TDA in Austin. Bickley said a ballot that is postmarked by midnight Friday should be accepted.

In the referendum, producers will vote on a maximum assessment, determine whether to establish a boll weevil eradication program for the zone and elect a board member to serve on the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation Inc.

The El Paso/Trans-Pecos zone consists of 60,000 acres in 15 counties: Brewster, Crane, Crockett, Culberson, El Paso, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Loving, Pecos, Presidio, Reeves, Terrell, Val Verde, Ward and Winkler.

South Plains producers recently voted down the program.

City OKs additions to enterprize zone

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer
PECOS, March 25, 1999 -- Pecos City Council this morning approved on first reading an ordinance creating an enterprise zone that takes in a two-block-wide strip along Business I-20 (Third Street) from Pecan to Eddy Street.

They also renewed the re-investment zone ordinance that allows for tax abatement for new or expanding businesses. The second reading of both ordinances will be on April 8.

Consultant John Wotjkun said the original ordinance was drafted last October and approved by the Texas Department of Economic Development, but was expanded to accommodate prospective businesses who want to locate downtown.

"Is there a way to include all of downtown?" asked Councilman Randy Graham.

Wotjkun said that the guidelines require enterprise zones to have high unemployment and residents below the poverty level. Based on census maps by block groups, some downtown areas do not qualify.

"A lot of areas along Highway 17 would be nice to include, but it is in a census block with Winding Way and other streets that have zero unemployment," he said.

The zone can be modified in the future if need be to include such buildings as the railroad depot and the ice plant, he said.

In discussing the juvenile court report, Councilman Johnny Terrazas said that people are concerned about juvenile crime.

City Attorney Scott Johnson said the city has a bad gang problem.

"We hear of juvenile gang problems almost daily," he said. "There is a tremendous increase in juvenile crime, and a lot appears to be violent and gang related."

Councilman Danny Rodriguez, back on the council after an absence of seven weeks due to a health problem, said he believes grants are available to fund a specialized officer to work with gangs.

Johnson said he plans to talk with the county attorney in hopes he would crack down on gang-related violence.

"We had a stabbing just last weekend, and I understand it was gang related," he said.

Councilman Ricky Herrera said he is on a gang intervention committee, and has learned that the problem is more complicated than it seems.

"It involves parents, school, police department, sheriff's office and juvenile center," he said.

Laws that apply to adults do not apply to juveniles, he said.

"In order for us to address this problem, we are going to have to work together. There's still some people out there that don't think the gang problem is that serious," Herrera said.

Finance officer Steve McCormick said that a lot of people realize there is a gang problem, "but what do you want us to do?"

Herrera said that the schools need to have a program with grade-school children, because by the time they get to junior high, some are already out of hand.

Police Chief Clay McKinney said that an officer who specializes in juvenile problems would help enforcement, as would a database with information on each offender.

Terrazas said he is afraid that someone will be killed, and "it might be an innocent bystander. We need to get together on this...we have a curfew; hit them on that and anything we can do legally. Don't worry about the parents right now. These kids are really out of control."

"You can't look to the police department," said Graham. "The long-term solution is parents talking to each other and the kids."

Warbirds host boxing smoker on Saturday

PECOS, March 25, 1999 -- The Pecos-Barstow Warbirds will host a boxing smoker on Saturday at the Reeves County Civic Center, beginning at 7 p.m. Admission will be $5 for adults and $2 for students.

Five members of the Warbirds team, along with fighters from Odessa, Amarillo, Andrews and Fort Stockton are scheduled to participate. For further information, call the Pecos Chamber of Commerce at 445-2406 or e-mail the chamber at pcoc@bitstreet.com.

Lotto

AUSTIN (AP) Results of the Lotto Texas drawing Wednesday night: Winning numbers drawn: 16-20-28-30-43-45. Estimated jackpot: $18 million. Number matching six of six: 2. Winning tickets sold in: El Paso, Houston. Matching five of six: 119. Prize: $1,634. Matching four of six: 6,167. Prize: $114.

***

AUSTIN (AP) The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Wednesday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 7-0-9 (seven, zero, nine)

Obituary

Kevin Jay Gradel

Services for Kevin Jay Gradel, 30, were at 10 a.m. today in Pflugerville, with burial in Cook-Walden Capital Parks Cemetery. He died Monday, March 22, 1999, in Austin.

Mr. Gradel was born March 29, 1968, in Fort Worth. He lived with his grandmother, Ruth Wells, and attended school in Pecos, graduating in 1986. He was active in the school's drama department and in the youth department of West Park Baptist Church, where he was a member. His favorite hobbies were computers and photography.

Survivors include his parents, George and Barbara Bunch of Florida; one sister, Carey Herrera of Pflugerville; his grandmother, Ruth Wells of Alpine; an aunt and uncle and two nephews.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Diabetes Association.

Weather

PECOS, March 25, 1999 -- High Wednesday 85; low last night 47. Tonight, cloudy with patchy fog and drizzle developing late. A 20 percent chance of showers. Low in the lower 40s. East wind 10-15 mph. Friday, morning drizzle and fog, otherwise mostly cloudy. A 20 percent chance of showers. High near 60. Southeast wind 10-20 mph.



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