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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Monday, April 12, 1999

PHS head coach Swaim takes Midland High job

By JON FULBRIGHT
Staff Writer
PECOS, April 12, 1999 -- For the third time in four years, the Pecos Eagles are looking for a new head football coach, after first-year coach Dan Swaim resigned Thursday to take an assistant coach's position with the Midland High Bulldogs.

"Going to District 4-5A will be a great opportunity for me and my family," said Swaim, who will be defensive secondary coach under David Browning at Midland High. "It's hard to pass up an opportunity like this. You don't know how many you are going to get in life."

"I didn't look for this job, coach Browning at Midland High called me," he said. "After talking to him and looking at what Midland High had, I decided it was a hard opportunity to pass up.

"Over there I will be teaching fewer classes, and there will be a pay raise and I will coach fewer sports, so when you add it up there are a lot of pluses," he said.

Swaim's final two days with P-B-T are today and Tuesday. He'll arrive at Midland High in time to participate in the school's spring workouts.

He served as an assistant to Mike Belew during the 1996-97 seasons before being named head coach after Belew was reassigned in January, 1998. This past season, he led the Eagles to their first post-season appearance in 23 years, sharing the District 2-4A title with Canutillo.

The Eagles finished the year with a 6-5 mark, their first winning season since a 7-3 campaign in 1986.

"It's going to be hard to find the same type of kids as we had this season. I wish all of them the best of luck," Swaim said.

"He did us a good job. We're proud of what he and his staff have done this year," said Pecos-Barstow-Toyah Superintendent Don Love.

"Pecos has been real good to me and has given me a great opportunity," said Swaim, who told his players about the decision on Thursday.

"Like I told the kids, I've coaches at the 2A level (at Bracketville) and accomplished what I set out to do, and I've been able to become a head coach at the 4A level. Now I want to see if I can coach at the 5A level," he said.

P-B-T athletic director Bubba Williams said he had talked with Love and assistant superintendent Gome Olibas about the situation. "Right now we haven't decided anything yet," Williams said Friday. "I'm going to get together with Mr. Olibas and Mr. Love and go through the legality of opening it (the application process) up."

Love said Olibas put out a notice of the vacancy on Friday, following Swaim's resignation.

"We're going to look at it Thursday night (at the P-B-T school board meeting). It's published right now, and we're going to give it a couple of weeks to get the applications in and then do interviews," Love said.

He hoped the board could make a final decision on the new head coach before the May school board meeting.

Pecos' football situation going into the 1999 season looks far better than it did prior to last year. The Eagles had finished no higher than fourth in district play since 1981, but last year's realignment into the El Paso-area District 2-4A just after Swaim's appointment helped turn things around, and the Eagles will be favored along with Clint to compete for the District 2-4A title again this Fall.

"We still have coaches to run the off-season program and everything," Williams said. All three assistant varsity coaches, Gary Grubbs, Vance Washington and Elias Payan, remain with the school district. The three were appointed to their jobs after Swaim was hired.

"It should be business as usual. That's what I told the kids on Thursday," Swaim said. "I told them they've worked too hard in the off-season to stop, and they need to keep going to accomplish the goals they want to reach."

Air Force hears from area citizens

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer
PECOS, April 12, 1999 -- Margaret Lindley is concerned that the U.S. Air Force's proposed extension of a bomber training route would cross the Reeves and Loving County ranch she has owned and worked for 58 years.

"They will spook the cattle, horses and wildlife and cause them to tear up fences and water troughs," Lindley told Col. Byrd in a hearing at the Pecos High School Cafeteria Friday night.

"It will have a devastating effect on ranching," she said. "The government has lands of its own which they could use for this purpose."

Loving County Commissioner Skeet Jones is concerned for his livestock as well, but as commissioner is also concerned about the flights' effect on property values.

Sue Toone knows the effect on property values. Her home southeast of Saragosa is already in the flight path of B-1 bombers, and she can see the fallout from the jet exhaust settling on their crops.

When the big jets roar overhead at 500 mph, Toone's house shakes, pictures fall off the walls and antique items on shelves are rearranged.

"Another time I was in the yard when you came over our home and farms. This time I did not see the plane but I got the full effects of the horrific noise. The two owls who had lived in our trees for years flew out, seeming disoriented as they flew one way then another. The owls have not returned and it is a shame because we enjoyed their soft hooting during the night and also they helped control the rodents," she said.

Joe Vernon fears the electronic scoring site targeted for land near his country home at Alamo will bring in jet bombers at 200 feet and not only frighten his livestock, but will tear up his house and destroy the peaceful life he has built.

He also flies a Cessna 150 from home to well sites where he is a contract pumper. Possible collision with the big jets and turbulence from their wake could force him to give up that mode of transportation.

Vernon said the Air Force has never contacted him about the proposed flight plan, and "I knew absolutely nothing about this until a week ago Monday."

He said he has been on locations in the oilfield where B-1s and F-111s fly over much lower than 500 feet and faster than 250 knots.

"The increase of decibels you show is ridiculous. It far exceeds that," he said.

Ellen Weinacht, a member of the Balmorhea Chamber of Commerce, said the flights would hurt Balmorhea's economy, which depends largely on nature tourism. Bird watching is the primary tourist draw.

"It is a major flyway," she said. Of 900 birds, 300 are in Balmorhea."

"I can't help but think this will impact that," Weinacht said.

She said the 42 jobs that would be created by the electronic scoring site would be "piddling" compared to what nature tourism can bring in.

Herman Tarin, Precinct 3 commissioner, said that flights already underway over Saragosa, Brogado and Balmorhea are causing problems.

He said the draft environmental impact statement ignores the presence of Hispanic people in those three communities.

"This community is only Hispanic with low income," he said.

Since the 1987 tornado that almost wiped out Saragosa, people are especially sensitive to the noise the low-level training flights create, he said.

"These flights have caused a lot of anguish; a lot of pain. I have never opposed the Air Force from training, but why do it over populated areas?" he said.

Chip Love, a Presidio County rancher, said the noise level of a straight flight is higher than at an airport where planes are landing and taking off at slower speeds.

Past experience may be different from the present and future because planes are louder and faster, he said.

The environmental impact statement is static and does not consider other airplanes from other bases along these routes other than Dyess and Barksdale. Holloman also proposes to fly along these routes, he said.

MacArthur Pineda said he has seen and photographed various types of airplanes flying as low as 200 feet over rural areas where he was working in the cantaloupe patch, and they also fly over the city of Pecos.

Clark Lindley said he is concerned about the effect of the flights on soil and water resources.

John Keefer of Balmorhea said he and his wife moved there 1 1/2 years ago from El Paso, where they lived next to an airport.

"We moved there because of the lake and it is quiet. Our primary concern is noise pollution from jets flying over our house, which are not within your flight path according to your charts.

"It will wake you up out of a sound sleep," he said. "My wife is American German, born in Germany. She was diagnosed with post war stress syndrome. The jets excite her very much."

Kay Kelley of Alpine, a member of the Trans-Pecos Protection Group, said she opposes expansion of military air space over human environment.

The military already controls almost 41 percent of the air space, with 35 percent more on the table, she said.

"We want the military to have the best training, but feel there is a better place than over populated private property. The EIS does not property address how these dirty, noisy machines will change West Texas," she said.

Brian Kelley of Alpine said it is important that everyone contacts the air combat commander with comments pro or con on the proposals.

William "Bill" Wendt of Saragosa said that, as a paramedic, he understands training and how essential it is.

"One night I was sleeping very soundly, and in the early hours of the morning, a plane came over getting louder and speedier, and pretty soon I realized it was a plane but couldn't understand how it cold be so loud. The walls and ceiling shook and the noise was deafening. I thought it was crashing. I called the hospital and asked if they had a report of a plane down, and I also called the S.O. and P.D. because I thought it had to have crashed.

"That's how low they fly over us. A man on a rig up 40 feet looked out and saw one at eye level."

"They are crossing I-10 three

Dyess officials see minimal changes to current system

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer
PECOS, April 12, 1999 -- Air Force bombers and fighter planes have trained over West Texas for 30 years, said Dwight M. Williams, airspace manager for Dyess AFB at Abilene.

He was one of a contingent of Air Force representatives explaining realistic bomber training initiative to citizens before a public hearing Friday in the Pecos High School cafeteria.

Proposed changes to the flight plan already in effect are minimal for Reeves County, he said. One electronic scoring site would be added to the route, along with extensions that would allow the bombers to turn and make a second pass over the target scoring site.

Civilian Kent Apple said he flew the route now designated Instrument Route 178 in the early 1980s.

"We try to stay away from buildings, towns and ranches," he said.

At one time in the approval process, IR178 flew over the town of Balmorhea, but it has been moved north, Williams said. However, Saragosa is in the middle of the route.

"We really work hard at trying to avoid flying over populated areas and certainly schools," said Lt. Greg Myers in response to a question about planes that have been observed flying over the school in Balmorhea.

"You look out front to avoid flying over structures as much as possible," Apple said. "You do route studies before you go out. Towns will be on the map, and a lot of individual ranches are, too."

Myers said pilots have a relationship with a lot of people on the route.

"We generally do a pretty good job of balancing our training need versus their need to have a good night's rest. Crew members prefer to have normal sleep segments too. Most fly in the daytime, but we do have night training requirements."

Two electronic scoring sites are included in all three proposals to expand IR178, which starts west of Marfa, travels east, then north, curves around Pecos and ends at a military operations area north of Abilene.

One of the proposed sites is near Dyess Air Force Base at Abilene. The other one will be in Reeves County. Two alternatives in Reeves County are under consideration. One is at Alamo, southeast of Pecos, and the other is southwest of Pecos in the Toyah Lake area.

Apple said that the corridor for IR178 would be widened inside the loop around Pecos to allow bombers who have made one simulated bomb run on the electronic scoring site to come back around and do another simulated attack.

"The aircraft in this one will go as low as 300 feet, but most will be at 500 feet," he said.

The draft EIS calls for a base of 200 feet over the scoring sites.

"With technology we don't feel it is necessary to fly that low right now," Apple said. "Something may happen later to make it necessary."

Technology has changed when he flew out of Cannon AFB in the 1980s, Apple said.

"Then we felt we needed to fly as low and as fast as we could. Current tactics say we don't need to fly that low and consequently most of our pilots don't fly below 400-500 feet. Very few are allowed to fly down to 300 feet."

B-1 bombers from Dyess AFB and B-52 bombers from Barksdale AFB in Louisiana will fly the IR178 route, which is within the 600 nautical mile range proposed to allow the pilots more training in a shorter period of time and with less use of fuel. Apple explained that 600 nautical miles are equal to 720 land miles.

Don Kerr, public affairs officer for Dyess AFB, said the bombers will not be dropping anything from the air when they make a simulated bomb run. Scoring of "hits" is done electronically.

"They do a bombing run and simulated dropping at low, medium and high altitudes," he said. The low level is under 1,000 feet, typically 500 feet, he said.

"For over 20 years, we have been flying in West Texas on IR178, which is the route that goes west of Pecos and into New Mexico six times a day," Kerr said.

"We are talking about using that existing air space and adding 10 to 15 percent and increasing it to 10 flights a day."

"The purpose is to bring training closer to the base and use existing military operating area by bringing together exiting routes to form one linked to military operating area where we practice medium and high altitude maneuvers, he said.

"The training we get right now is scattered in South Dakota and Wyoming. We want it all in one package like we are proposing to do with this."

Once all comments are in from the public hearings held across West Texas and by mail, the Secretary of the Air Force will study the EIS and concerns and questions brought up and make a decision, he said.

Under the National Environmental Protection Act of 1969, the AF has to consider input from the citizens and the impact on the environment, he said.

"We don't know the communities as well as the citizens do," he said. "That's why we come out here. It is very important that we work with the public.

"In Big Lake their concern is cloud seeding, and the Air Force didn't know about that. That way we can see how to de-conflict that with our training."

Two of the four alternatives are similar in that both use the existing IR178, he said. The biggest difference is the military operating areas. One of the proposed MOAs links three separate operating areas.

The other uses the same route but expands the existing Texon MOA.

Ten flights a day are planned by B-1 and B-52 bombers.

Kerr said that stories in the Enterprise that projected up to 30 flights per day are incorrect. However, those projections included flights from Holloman AFB in New Mexico, which plans to fly a similar route over West Texas.

"There are scattered military training routes throughout Texas used by bases in New Mexico and Southern Texas that at some places may overlap or cross the route we are proposing," Kerr said. "A lot of those routes are visual routes, so to have a number like 30, would be that they have set a number of routes.

"Instrumental routes are scheduled with the FAA for non-hazardous military training. If you are flying in the area, you will know because it has been scheduled with the FAA.

"A B-1 flies low and fast underneath radar to drop weapons and get back safely. They have to enter the flight within minutes of the time scheduled with the FAA.

Lt. Col Greg Mason opened the meeting for comment and introduced Col Byrd.

He said the meeting was not for debate or popular vote, but to gather information on the adequacy of the EIS and impacts being studied by the Air Force.

"Non-environmental issues should not be given," he said.

All comments, whether oral or written, will be given equal consideration, he said.

Four alternatives are included in the plan. One is no action, which would leave IR178 as is, circling Pecos, but with no electronic scoring site.

The second uses 85 percent of the existing route but reduces transit time and creates 48 new jobs in Taylor County and 42 in Reeves County at the electronic scoring sites.

The third is similar, but instead of Lancer MOA north of Abilene, they would use Texon MOA south of Abilene and 75 percent of the existing air space.

The fourth alternative is a route in Northeast New Mexico. It would create 48 new jobs in Taylor County (Abilene) and 44 in New Mexico.

Col. Byrd presided for the public input period, giving each speaker three minutes.

After everyone had a chance to speak, he gave additional time to those who had already used their three minutes. On Clark Lindley's third time at the lectern, Col. Byrd tried to discourage him from reading the entire four pages, but to instead submit it in writing.

Lindley said he wanted to continue the presentation he started at Big Lake the previous night.

"Are you going to continue to follow us around and make these long presentations?" Col. Byrd asked. "If so, I would like you to organize yourself better; make better use of your time and present the essence of what you want to present.

"It is inappropriate for you to exploit this hearing when you could present the long document in writing," he said. "you are taking the opportunity to get up on the soap box, but I feel it is inappropriate for you to do this."

Nevertheless, when the audience did not object, Col. Byrd allowed Lindley to continue.

RCH pleased with Health Fair turnout

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer
PECOS, April 12, 1999 -- Pancakes for breakfast and a barbecue lunch were special treats at the 12th Annual Reeves County Health Fair, along with assorted tests at reduced prices Saturday morning and afternoon at Reeves County Hospital.

The event featured about 50 booths, with different health care providers and businesses represented.

"It went very well, we're very pleased with the turnout," said RCH patient representative Nancy Ontiveros.

"The turnout was less than last year's, but this time we were competing with other events, such as school events," she said.

New exhibitors were in Pecos and new people attended.

"They were also very pleased with the turnout and very impressed that we could offer so many different health care services under one roof," said Ontiveros.

Tests include thyroid testing, glucose, blood typing, urinalysis and much more.

The quality and the information provided was excellent and the exhibitors and attendees both were happy with the this year's event, according to Ontiveros.

This year's event also featured a drawing contest for children in grades first and second. The drawings were of health activities.

The Health Fair Committee will meet at noon Wednesday for a critique of this year's event and to start making plans for next year.

"We also welcome anyone that would like to join the health fair committee," Ontiveros. Those interested in helping to plan and work on next year's event can contact Reeves County Hospital, at 447-3551 or Linda Gholson at 447-4650.

"We want to thank the exhibitors for all they provided and volunteers who were there all day Saturday," said Ontiveros. "We also want to thank those who made a donation or contributed in any way to make this a successful event," said Ontiveros.

The pancake breakfast was a success as was the barbecue luncheon. "Both were sell-outs and the pancake breakfast that ran from 7 a.m. until 10 a.m., was a huge success," said Ontiveros. "They couldn't make enough pancakes, because there was always a line, it was great."

RCDC motion reversed, opposition to B-1 flights OKed

By SMOKEY BRIGGS
Staff Writer
Clarifying the meaning of a motion passed in an executive session last month topped the Reeves County Commissioners' Court agenda this morning, with commissioners eventually deciding to rescind the statement passed at their March 8 meeting.

The motion in question dealt with requests for legal opinions from the Reeves County Detention Center Warden to Bill Weinacht, the prison's retained legal counsel.

Warden Rudy Franco stated to the court that he interpreted the motion to require him to first submit any request for legal research to County Judge Galindo and the commissioners' court, which would then forward the request to Weinacht.

In the past, the Warden has been able to take legal questions directly to Weinacht.

"Although it was not the intention, this motion interferes with Mr. Weinacht's ability to do his job and we need to fix it," said Precinct 4 commissioner Herman Tarin said.

Galindo said the motion did not require the warden to submit all legal research requests to the county judge and the court, but only to report on such requests and the forthcoming results on a regular basis.

As such, Galindo said, a better solution would be to simply modify the statement in question to clarify the meaning.

The court voted instead to rescind the statement from the record with all four county commissioners voting in favor and Galindo voting against.

The court also voted to approve a resolution stating that the commissioners' court opposes the Realistic Bomber Training Initiative as it has been proposed by the Air Force.

During the discussion preceding the vote, the court heard from several citizens concerned with the possible health and economic impacts of the proposed, low-level flights.

"The proposed routes fly directly over Saragosa a Balmorhea and pose a hazard to people as well as a probable disruption," said Tarin, who proposed the resolution. "I don't intend to hurt veterans our soldiers need to train to do their jobs but the government has plenty of land where they don't have to fly over peoples' houses and they should use it for these kind of flights."

The court also voted unanimously to have the county Road and Bridge Department to reconnect a sewage tank that is leaking raw sewage at 201 W. Iglesia Street in Saragosa.

Armando Gil, director of the City-County Department of Health, brought the matter to the court's attention.

"The tank that holds sewage has settled and caused the connecting pipes to break," Gil said.

Gil also said that the owner doesn't have the resources to fix the problem but that she could cover the cost of having the tank emptied.

"If she could have the tank emptied by a licensed pumper then it would not be a great expense for the county to help raise the tank and reconnect it," he said.

In other business during the morning part of the meeting, commissioners also voted to proclaim the week beginning April 19 as County Government Week.

Rec department sets youth hoops, softball meetings

PECOS, April 12, 1999 -- Sign-ups end on Tuesday for the Reeves County Community Sports and Recreation Department's peewee basketball leagues, for children ages 5 through 8 years of age. and a meeting will be held that night for parents in the old Pecos High School gym.

Parents can enroll their children at the recreation department office, located in the front of the old gym between 5 and 10 p.m. today and Tuesday. Regular season play is scheduled to begin on April 24.

On Wednesday, the recreation department will hold an organizational meeting for coaches and umpires for the upcoming men's softball season. It will also be in the old gym, beginning at 8 p.m.

For further information, call Nora Geron at 447-9776.

Lotto

AUSTIN (AP) Results of the Lotto Texas drawing Saturday night: Winning numbers drawn: 25-40-45-38-42-35. Estimated jackpot: $7 million. Number matching six of six: one. Winning ticket(s) sold in: Clarksville, Texas. Matching five of six: 82. Prize: $1,595. Matching four of six: 4,129. Prize: $114.

***

AUSTIN (AP) Results of the Texas Million drawing Friday night: Winning numbers drawn: 49-18-42-29. Number matching four of four in Group One: Zero. Number matching four of four in Group Two: Zero. Number matching four of four in Group Three: One. Prize: $10,000. Number matching three of four in any group: 457. Prize: $300.

***

AUSTIN (AP) Results of the Cash 5 drawing Friday night: Winning numbers drawn: 12-13-31-33-36. Number matching five of five: one. Prize per winner: $94,091. Matching four of five: 241. Prize: $585.

***

AUSTIN (AP) The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Friday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 5-6-9 (five, six, nine)

***

AUSTIN (AP) The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Saturday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 5-6-9 (five, six, nine)

Obituaries

Carmen Gomez

Carmen Carrasco Gomez, 85, of Odessa, died Sunday, April 11, 1999, at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa.

A rosary will be held at 7:30 p.m., today at the Odessa Funeral Home, Angeles Memorial Chapel.

Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m., Tuesday, April 13, at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church with Father Frank Chavez officiating. Burial will be in Rosehill Cemetery.

She was born July 16, 1913, in Candelaria, Tx., was a housewife and a Catholic.

She was preceded in death by one son, Concepcion Gomez and one daughter, Blanca Irma Gomez.

Survivors include her husband, Jesus Gomez; three sons, Maclovio and Jose Gomez of Odessa and Robert Gomez of Midland; one daughter, Amparo Sanchez of Midland; 10 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Odessa Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Enrique Avalos

Enrique Avalos, 63, died Saturday, April 10, 1999, at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa.

A rosary will be held at 7 p.m., today at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Saragosa.

Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m., Tuesday, April 13, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church with burial in Saragosa Cemetery.

He was born Nov. 16, 1935, in Nieves Zacatecas, Mexico, was retired, a life-long Saragosa resident and a Catholic.

Survivors include his wife, Amparo Avalos of Saragosa; four sons, Felipe Avalos of Leander, Ricardo Avalos of Saragosa, Enrique Avalos, Jr. of San Antonio and Melchor Avalos of Saragosa; one daughter, Maria Isabel Avalos of Dallas and 12 grandchildren.

Martinez Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Weather

PECOS, April 12, 1999 -- High Sunday 83. Low this morning 41. Forecast for tonight: showers and thunderstorms likely, some storms possibly severe. Low 50 55. East to southeast wind 10 20 mph. Chance of rain 60 percent. Tuesday, mostly cloudy and windy with a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms, some storms possibly severe. High in the mid 70s. southeast wind 15-25 mph and gusty.



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York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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