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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Friday, April 30, 1999

Council agrees to join new drug task force

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer
PECOS, April 30, 1999 -- Pecos City Council this morning voted to join the Trans-Pecos Drug Task Force for the 1999-2000 grant year, accepting responsibility for $32,845 in matching funds.

Before the vote, City Attorney Scott Johnson quipped, "With the job (narcotics investigation Paul) Deishler is doing, I don't know that we need a task force."

Deishler and Reeves County Sheriff's Deputy Ernest Lazcano are involved in an investigation that so far has yielded $1 million in marijuana, five weapons and numerous arrest warrants.

Johnson said he has talked with Sheriff Arnulfo Gomez about the task force and the reason why Ward County and the city of Monahans opted out for the new grant year.

"It appeared there may be some personnel problems," he said. "I recommend we execute it if you want to stay in it."

He said he would like to omit a provision in the resolution that makes the city council liable for the full grant amount of $1 million if something goes wrong.

District Attorney Randy Reynolds said the wording is standard with the state, and they will not accept any entity that deletes that provision.

The resolution makes each participating entity jointly and severally liable, he said.

"That's the form Austin puts out to all task forces...If someone steals the money, they may look to participating bodies."

But he said the chances are slim that could happen, since the grant money is paid out only as it is used.

"It is never drawn all at once," he said. "Our first draw was $77,000 for salaries and equipment. Always at the end we do an accounting check and let them know what it was spent for."

Reeves County Auditor Lynn Owens is the financial officer, and Bruce Salcido "says where it is to be spent," he said. "All the checks and balances are here, but they want protection if there is a thief."

Councilman Randy Graham said the city has liability insurance to cover a loss if it should happen.

Councilman Johnny Terrazas asked what kind of reports the council is entitled to.

Johnson said that all the records except for sensitive information used in undercover work are available.

Reynolds said that Owens could provide a monthly financial statement to the city.

Police Chief Clay McKinney said that the task force budget includes $27,000 for housing seized vehicles, and that would be paid to the city of Pecos for storage in the city yard.

"How will we get rid of all the drugs we are acquiring?" asked Councilman Gerald Tellez.

McKinney said they are forfeited by a judge and incinerated by the Department of Public Safety in Midland.

"We could have a courthouse property sale," Terrazas quipped.

McKinney said that defendants arrested in connection with the 720 pounds of marijuana confiscated this week by local officers will be prosecuted in federal court, and the marijuana will be held until the case is complete.

Johnson said that federal court cases are moving slowly right now because of the recent surgery of Senior Judge Lucius Bunton, who is recovering at home.

"Usually the feds just keep representative samples and destroy the rest pretty quick," he said.

PHA seeks answer to gang problem

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer
PECOS, April 30, 1999 -- Gang-related activities, and families living at the Pecos Housing Authority apartments who have children involved in gangs, were the topics at Thursday's meeting of the PHA's board of directors.

"They (police) have provided me with a list of alleged gang members with about 35 members on the list," said PHA Director Nellie Gomez, who added that out of the list there are about five families residing at PHA apartments who have children "supposedly" involved with gangs.

"It's a very delicate matter and something we want to take care of without hurting innocent people," said Gomez.

Gomez has reported several incidents of vandalism at buildings owned by PHA, including graffiti and one incident of physical abuse.

"One of our tenants was badly beaten by members of the gang that were attending a party given by another tenant," said Gomez.

The tenant hosting the party was allegedly providing alcohol to minors, some of whom reportedly were members of the BPG (Brown Pride Gang), a group known for vandalism, graffiti and other offenses.

"The gang members went next door to the other tenants apartment and beat him up severely," Gomez said.

As a result the tenant hosting the party was asked to leave, according to Gomez.

She told the board that she has talked to all five families of the alleged gang members residing at the apartments. "The parents were very cooperative, however, the youngsters denied being in the gang or having anything to do with it," she said.

"Of course they're going to deny it, but if they've been identified by the police, it means they have something to do with it," said board president Frank Perea.

The board discussed possibly evicting these families.

"I'd hate to lose my home because of one of my kids," said board member Ken Winkles.

"I don't know what to do, because I don't want to evict the whole family, because of one troublemaker," said Gomez.

She said one of the families with an alleged gang member has four children currently enrolled in school, while another has five children in school.

"It just isn't fair to the rest of the family, to lose their home because he wants to be involved in a gang," said Gomez. "It hurts me a lot to even think about asking them to leave. But if the problems persist I won't have a choice, I still have my other tenants to think about."

"I see no difference in them and the lady we asked to leave because her daughter couldn't keep out of trouble," said Winkles.

Perea suggested that Gomez serve each family with a copy of the first strike rule, from PHA and hand deliver it personally to each of these families.

"I also thought maybe if we showed up with a police officer and the juvenile detention officer, this would make more of an impact," said Gomez.

"It's tough, but it has to be done," said board member Ray Golden.

"I know, but the graffiti problem is costing us a lot of money, we just don't have those kind of funds to be fixing things when they destroy them," said Gomez.

She said she would make copies of the `Strike One' rule and hand deliver it to each of the tenants with an alleged `troublemaker.'

"I'll also stress the consequences to each of them," said Gomez.

"I just hope that they realize what they'll lose if they can't reach their children," said Perea.

In other business, board members approved merit employee wage increases for all PHA employees. "With this new CIAP, we'll have a lot more work to do, and the staff is already doing an excellent job," said Gomez.

"I think each of them deserve a raise and we have the funds for that," she said.

Gomez updated the board on the CIAP 96 grant and told them all the money from that grant had been spent and it had been closed out.

"Now we'll start working on CIAP 98 and we have preliminary plans that were sent to us from Ed Vaughn, the architect," said Gomez.

The plans include a community building and new offices that will be located in the building where the old Airbase Apartments had been located.

"Our offices will be in that other building that has been vacant," said Gomez. Only two of the old World War II-era buildings were kept standing when the apartments were torn down nine years ago.

Gomez also told the group that the architect would be in Pecos Tuesday and would be bringing a landscaper with him.

"We'll be working more on our landscaping, something we've already started doing, to make the apartments more pleasant looking on the outside," she said.

Monthly income, accounts payable and occupancy reports were approved for both PHA and the Farm Labor Housing.

In the FLH portion of the meeting Gomez reported that 21 apartments are currently rented out to non-eligibles. "We have 25 that we can rent out to non-eligibles," said Gomez. "But we have about 20 applications from migrants who will be coming in to town soon."

The units are rented out to migrant families, but local residents can also live in the 25 allocated apartments designated for what Gomez terms as "non-eligibles."

Saturday elections only affect Balmorhea

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer
PECOS, April 30, 1999 -- Most of the state will be going to the polls on Saturday to elect city, school and hospital district candidates.

But in Reeves County and the Pecos area, only voters in the Balmorhea area will be casting ballots, after all the other elections were canceled to due to a lack of contested races.

That's not a problem in Balmorhea, where 15 candidates are seeking six seats, three each on the Balmorhea City Council and Balmorhea School Board.

Balmorhea's school board election will be held from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Saturday, and voters can cast their ballots at the Balmorhea Fire Hall.

The three three-year terms that are up for election have attracted eight candidates.

Those running for school board include Javier Lozano, Jesus Matta, Braulia Natividad, Norman Roman, Diana Keeper, Dora Machuca, Jimmy Barragan and Luis Contreras.

Natividad and Lozano are incumbents and were early filers for new terms, while Matta, Roman, Kepper, Machuca and Barragan filed in the final days before the March 17 deadline.

The race for Balmorhea City Council is almost as crowded. Incumbents Sammy Baeza, Richard Hoefs and Olga Lopez are challenged by Anna Contreras, Rosa Dominguez, Diana Roman and Ike Ward.

Voting in the city race will also be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Balmorhea Fire Hall.

Races that are uncontested include those for the city council in Pecos, Barstow and Toyah, along with the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah School Board and the Reeves County Hospital District.

Under state law, those elections have already been canceled in order to save money, and those candidates in the uncontested races will be officially sworn in to their new terms at the next board meetings.

In the Town of Pecos City Council election, incumbents Gerald Tellez and Johnny Terrazas will be joined by Larry Levario, maintenance director for the Texas Department of Transportation, who will replace retiring councilman by Randy Graham.

All three incumbents in the Barstow City Council filed to retain their positions. Olga Abila, Lucio Florez and Dora Villanueva will run unopposed for new two-year terms, while only one individual has filed for city council in Toyah, Diane Tollett, where three seats were scheduled to be chosen on May 1.

In the Reeves County Hospital District election, only one of the two incumbents, Precinct 2 representative Marcella Lovett, is seeking a new two-year term. She'll be joined by Holly Key, who filed for the seat in Precinct 4 currently held by board president, Jeannette Alligood.

In the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD election, neither incumbent Daisy Roquemore or Alberto Alvarez filed for new three-year terms. Former board member Billie Sadler and Frank Apolinar, Jr. are the only candidates in the race.

Storm brings wind, hail to Orla, Mentone areas

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer
PECOS, April 30, 1999 -- Wind. Wind. More wind. Some rain. Some hail.

That's the report from a storm cell that sat over northern Reeves County for about an hour late Thursday.

The wall cloud was spotted west of Orla about 8:30 p.m., said George Mathews of the National Weather Service in Midland. A few minutes later, the cloud was reported to be rotating with a rapid motion, but no report of a tornado had come in by mid-morning today, he said.

Dime size hail began to fall on Orla just before 9 p.m., and the cloud moved toward Mentone, where nickel size hail was reported, Mathews said.

Loving County Commissioner Harlan Hopper said this morning that no hail fell in Mentone, but that the east and south winds blew all night.

Orla Postmaster Susan Gahr said that the hail left no visible damage. One ranch west of Orla reported .9 inch of rain, she said.

Gahr said that she saw "a lot of lightning" at the Lindley ranch headquarters below Red Bluff Dam, where she lives. "We had a lot of tornadic clouds, but nothing came down that we saw."

While that cloud never came close to Pecos, gusty winds continued throughout the night. A cool breeze blew this morning under cloudy skies. Mercury dipped to 68 degrees at dawn, after a high of 90 was recorded Thursday.

Clouds mostly stayed to the east of Pecos until Thursday evening, with temperatures 20 degrees lower in the Midland-Odessa area, but clouds moved into the area after dark and a light rain was falling in Pecos late this morning.

Mistrial declared in trial of trucker

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer
PECOS, April 30, 1999 -- One lone juror held out for a guilty verdict Thursday, causing a mistrial in the case of a Monahans truck driver charged with criminally negligent homicide.

District Attorney Randy Reynolds said this morning that he has not yet decided whether to re-try Daniel T. Arrieta, 61. Roddy Harrison represents Arrieta.

Arrieta is charged in the death of Lisa Dawn Morales, 38, a Houston programmer, who died when her 1994 Toyota plowed into the side of Arrieta's truck on U.S. Highway 285 north of Pecos on Jan. 4, 1998.

Arrieta was westbound on County Road 402 in a 1994 Mack truck towing a water tanker when he failed to yield right-of-way at a stop intersection, said DPS Cpl. Emmitt Moore.

Heavy fog reduced visibility to about one-eighth to one-half mile, witnesses said. One witness traveling behind the white van that Morales was driving south on 285 said they were traveling at a safe speed.

The van struck the right rear of the water tanker, investigators said.

Jurors deliberated from mid-afternoon until 8:25 p.m., when District Judge Bob Parks accepted jury foreman Christie Cook's note that they were hopelessly deadlocked.

Earlier in the day, Cook's note said, "We have two very stubborn hard headed people that will not change their minds. What happens now?

Judge Parks told the jury to continue deliberations. At 7:55 p.m., Cook wrote: "There's more discussion being done. We are set in our opinions.

"Tempers are starting to show. There will not be a unanimous decision from this jury. I know, because I am the lone person who believes he is guilty."

LaPlante finds Pecos not mean to ex-Green

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer
PECOS, April 30, 1999 -- Monahans native Lisa LaPlante was a little nervous about working in Pecos as assistant district attorney because of old rivalries between the Eagles and the Big Mean Green.

"Everyone has been very good to me," she said. "I am really enjoying the work, and the people I work with."

LaPlante is assigned to the D.A. by the Trans-Pecos Drug Task Force, and she will assist prosecutors with drug cases in other participating counties, said District Attorney Randy Reynolds.

"She is appointed special prosecutor by the district attorney in those counties," he said.

While her work will be primarily with task force cases, LaPlante has worked alongside Reynolds in all prosecutions in Reeves, Ward and Loving counties since taking the job in February.

This week she helped prosecute a murder and a manslaughter case in 143rd District Court.

"It is a learning experience," LaPlante said. "Every day I learn something new."

From Monahans High School, LaPlante went to the University of Texas at Austin, then to law school at South Texas College of Law in Houston and Santa Clara (Calif.) University.

She worked as a tax attorney in California and was a summer intern with the FBI in Washington. Her husband, Michael, is an FBI agent.

Reynolds said that he became acquainted with LaPlante last fall when she moved back to this area and was practicing as a defense attorney.

"She impressed me with her integrity, credibility, ethics and drive," he aid. And she's a worker!"

Two-month long `Walk' events begin Monday

PECOS, April 30, 1999 -- Put on your walking shoes. It's time for the `Walk Across Texas' and more teams are needed to help out.

A Walk Across Texas sendoff will be held at 10:30 a.m., Monday at the Reeves County Auxiliary Building, 700 W. Daggett St. Refreshments will be served.

Walking, biking, running events are scheduled to start on Monday, while the finish date is July 3. The starting point of the state-wide event is El Paso and the ending point targeted in Paris, northeast of Dallas.

`Walk Across Texas' is a program that persuades and motivates people of all ages to make that most important change...to get started. It is a program that is simple, inexpensive, and safe. All you need is a team of eight people and desire to get moving.

Teams do not really walk or ride together, although they may if they want to; teams simply pool their mileage each week to work towards the chosen destination on a map posted in a convenient place for people to check.

For more information contact the Reeves County Extension office at 447-9041.

Lotto

AUSTIN (AP) Results of the Cash 5 drawing Thursday night: Winning numbers drawn: 04-05-06-25-33. Number matching five of five: none. Matching four of five: 236. Prize: $928.

***

AUSTIN (AP) The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Thursday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 8-2-4 (eight, two, four)

Obituary

Ruthe Sherrill

Ruthe S. Sherrill, 72, of Pecos, died Thursday, April 29, 1999, at her residence.

Services will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, May 1, at the First Presbyterian Church with Dr. Jim Miles officiating. Burial will be in Mt. Evergreen Cemetery.

She was born March 3, 1927, in Archer City, Tx., was a longtime Pecos resident, a former office manager, a member of the Reeves County Hospital Auxiliary and a member of the Mt. Evergreen Cemetery Board of Directors. She was a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Pecos.

Survivors include two daughters, Kim and Kerry Stubblefield of Wink and one son, Clayton "Clay" Stubblefield of Dennison, Tx.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Weather

High Thursday 90; low last night 68. Tonight, cloudy. a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms. low 55 60. southeast wind 10-20 mph. Saturday, mostly cloudy. a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms. High mid 70s. southeast wind 15-25 mph.



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