Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Monday, May 24, 1999
Commissioners told by golfers to keep Cassell
By SMOKEY BRIGGS
PECOS, May 24, 1999 -- Citizens concerned about the fate of the Reeves
County Golf Course and its supervisor, Royce Cassell preempted the regular
agenda of the Reeves County Commissioners this morning.
More than 35 people packed into the court room to voice their concerns
to the commissioners.
The concerns centered around the contract between Cassell and the county
for running the pro shop and renting golf carts.
A letter of resignation from Cassell to the court instigated the gathering.
According Jo Cooksey, a partner in Fonville Jewelers of Pecos, the resignation
was prompted by the prolonged lapse in the contract.
The contract expired at the end of 1998 and has not been renewed.
Along with running the pro shop concession Cassell is also employed
by the county as greenskeeper.
The general consensus among the crowd was that the court should not
accept Cassell's resignation and that his contract needed to be renewed
as soon as possible.
Although many stated that they wanted the court to act on the matter
today, Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo stated that legally the court
could not do so since the matter had not been placed on the court's agenda.
It was also Galindo's opinion that the contract would have to be open
Reeves County Auditor Lynn Owens stated that since the contract concerned
the occupation and use of county property it should go through a bidding
Owens said that only a contract for professional services could be made
without going through the bidding process.
"I advised Judge (former County Judge Mike) Harrison of this and he
chose to ignore that advice," Owens said. "This court can choose to do
the same, but legally, I think this has to be open to bids,"
"Then let's get it on the court's agenda and get the process started,"
said Beau Jack Hendrick, the tournament chairman for the Men's Golf Association.
Galindo said that for today, the only thing that could be considered
was a proposal for the matter to be on the court's next agenda.
The proposal was made and the contract will be on the June 14 agenda.
Galindo also tore up Cassell's letter of resignation to general applause
from the crowd.
Balmorhea grads told to have character
By CLAUDE W. PORTER
PECOS, May 24, 1999 -- "Have character - don't be one!" was the final
admonition of the commencement speaker to the Balmorhea High School graduating
seniors on Friday night.
Marching to "Pomp and Circumstance", 26 seniors bore the hallowed robes
of high school graduation for the Commencement Exercises which began at
8 p.m. Friday in the Balmorhea High School gymnasium.
The invocation was given by Rosario Arredondo. In succession, the Pledges
of Allegiance to the American Flag, and the Texas Flag, were led by Patrick
The Salutatory and Valedictory addresses were given by Rebecca Orozco
and Nathian Rodriguez, respectively.
Dr. Carl Hoffmeyer, Superintendent of Schools for the Balmorhea Independent
School District, made introductory remarks in presenting the Commencement
speaker, Sue Toone, a former teacher who taught the Class of '99 in kindergarten
13 years ago.
In delivering the Commencement address, Toone reminisced of the straight
lines and ringing bells which marked time in the lives of the graduates.
"The ringing of a bell and standing in a straight line were tools which
taught us discipline," said Toone. "Throughout your lives you will be faced
with beginnings and endings. When you complete your accomplishment in one
line, you must hear the bell and move on to the next...."
Toone continued, "Whether you choose college or an early career, you
will discover that there will be no bell to tell you when to get up in
the morning unless you set it yourself. There will be no bell to tell you
when to go from having fun to working and achieving. No bell will ring
to warn you of danger. ...Another part of your education adventure requires
you to take the initiative..."
Drawing on the New Testament for illustration, Toone challenged the
graduates to embark on a journey of personal faith. Using the teachings
of the Apostle Paul, Toone projected a journey as going to the harbor and
boarding a sailing ship. The destination is out over the horizon, not in
"Yet, the Apostle had every confidence that he would reach his destination
safely and on time," said Toone, "...because he knew the Captain and knew
Him to be completely reliable."
"So you, too, must be willing to take the journey of faith," Toone challenged.
"It is not always possible to see the destination, but it is possible to
determine whose ship you get on."
Special awards were presented by High School Principal, Mrs. Elizabeth
Cook. Recipients were: Nathian Rodriguez - Valedictorian Award, and UIL
Scholar Award; Rebecca Orozco - Salutatorian Award, and University of Texas
Scholarship; Stephanie Dominguez - C.T. Gray Scholarship; and Amanda Lozano
- Floyd Estrada Scholarship.
Dr. Hoffmeyer also presented the GED certificate to Elizabeth Lozano,
Mother of graduating senior, Amanda Lozano.
The Class of '99 were presented diplomas by Mr. Michael Barrandey, Assistant
Serving their senior year as class officers were: President, Brenda
Dutchover; Vice President, Arturo Miranda; and Secretary/Treasurer, Stephanie
The Recessional was to the strains of "The River", which flowed with
excitement as the tassels were turned from candidates to graduates.
Ward County's dump plans nuked
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, May 24, 1999 -- State Sen. Robert Duncan of Lubbock didn't make
himself popular with Ward County leaders Friday when his amendment to the
nuclear waste bill passed, designating only Andrews County as an approved
storage site for nuclear waste.
Ward County is working with Envirocare of Texas to establish an above-ground
storage facility, said Monahans Mayor David Cutbirth.
Cutbirth said that Duncan's amendment upset him.
"It is nothing that we have done a lot of lobbying for," Cutbirth said
of the nuclear waste bill. "We have good interest in Monahans in the business
community and economic development people.
"A few ranchers in the area were unhappy with it. It wasn't anything
we wanted to fight about until we saw how the bill came out, whether the
site would be submitted."
Cutbirth believes Ward County's economy would benefit from waste storage.
An up-front cash payment, 10 percent of revenues and about 150 jobs are
Duncan said that he wanted to limit storage to Andrews County because
they already have a radioactive waste site. Both Envirocare and Waste Control
Specialists, Inc. own land in far western Andrews County they were hoping
to use as radioactive waste storage sites.
"He has other areas in the Panhandle that would probably be interested
in this and was probably thinking the less hazardous waste coming through
Lubbock the better," Cutbirth said.
"I am just real shocked that he did that without checking with Ward
County. This is a representative democracy," he said.
Cutbirth said that Duncan told him he didn't want hazardous waste disposal
to be an economic project, but that is what it is.
"Every rancher out here fought the oil and gas industry coming in, but
they came because there were jobs to be created and money to be made. No
one wants radioactive waste. If it was going to come here, and if it is
safe, I think it is very unfair we were excluded," he said.
In fact, radioactive material is already present in the oil field, and
workers deal with it routinely, he said.
And radioactive waste is being transported through Monahans now to Eunice,
N.M., which adjoins Andrews County, and is less than five miles from the
"Six trainloads stopped in Monahans 10 days last month," he said.
The Senate bill must pass the house and be signed by Gov. George W.
Bush before it can become law. Cutbirth said he talked to Rep. Warren Chisum,
R-Pampa, the author of the House bill, this morning.
"He thinks he has a good chance of working on it and getting it back
close to what he had originally proposed," Cutbirth said.
Bigham's new attorney wants verdict overturned
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, May 24, 1999 -- Jurors were seen talking to witnesses and other
non-jurors during the Christopher John Bigham murder trial, claims his
new attorney, Jesse Gonzales Jr. of Fort Stockton.
Gonzales was appointed to represent Bigham after a 143rd District Court
jury last month found him guilty of murder and sentenced him to 75 years
in prison and a $10,000 fine for the Dec. 1, 1997 shooting death of Lora
He has filed a motion for new trial based in part on a statement by
Patricia Burns of Renton, Wash.
Burns said in her affidavit that on April 26 she had seen jurors conversing
with non-jurors during a break in the trial. She also said that jurors
were seen talking for an extended period of time to an African-American
female with blonde hair, whom she later learned was a witness in the trial.
Gonzales also said that Tony Garcia, who worked as an investigator for
defense attorney Adrian Chavez during the trial, was also employed by a
narcotics task force under the district attorney. That was a conflict of
interest, he said.
Bigham's 75-year prison sentence is an unusual term, said Texas Ranger
Jerry Villalobos, who investigated the unusual murder case that was prosecuted
without a body or a weapon.
Jury foreman Clyde McDaniel said that jurors relied on Bigham's own
confession and the presence of human bones in the "burn barrel" that was
entered as evidence.
Bigham changed his story several times, saying in a statement that he
shot Brooks, his live-in girlfriend, in self defense. He testified during
the trial that she shot herself. But in both versions, Bigham said he burned
the body in a barrel, then threw the barrel in the Pecos River.
A DPS dive team found the barrel in the river, and scrapings produced
bones of two human toes, a pathologist testified.
McDaniel said the barrel was a key piece of evidence.
"It looked like it had been real hot to me. The human bone that was
stuck to the bottom of it - we couldn't tell it was a human bone, but the
Although the bones were too badly burned to yield DNA that would positively
identify the bones as those of Brooks, jurors had no problem making the
connection, McDaniel said.
As to the weapon, "Bigham testified that he disassembled it as much
as he could and threw the pieces out at different places when he went down
the road," McDaniel said.
"He changed his story so many times in different ways, but part of it
I think you could believe," he said. "That there was a dead body, and it
was his responsibility it got dead."
Jurors found the testimony believable, McDaniel said, and "there was
pretty much agreement. There was no haggling at all on the guilty part.
"The only thing we had any problem with at all was whether to charge
him with murder or reckless homicide.
"We did talk about the sentence some," he said. "There was not a terrible
lot of discussion. Everyone wanted to give him a pretty stiff sentence."
Not knowing how long he would have to serve before being eligible for
parole, they decided on 75 years because they wanted to ensure that Bigham
stayed in prison for a long time, he said.
"I believe he is capable of doing it again, in my mind. He just seemed
kind of cold to me."
Jurors hold crash victim responsible for accident
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, May 24, 1999 -- James Ogden was 75 percent responsible for the
accident that claimed his life, a 143rd District Court jury found on Thursday.
Ogden's survivors had filed suit against his employer, Agri-West Inc.,
and Colt Chevrolet-Buick, who sold the used pickup Ogden was driving at
the time of the rollover near Barstow.
They claimed that the pickup's seatbelt was defective when Agri-West
purchased it, but the jury found the seatbelt was not defective.
Colt Chevrolet was found to be 20 percent responsible for the wreck,
and Agri-West 5 percent. No damage amount was listed in the verdict as
due to Brianna Youngman, Gene Ogden and Linda Ogden.
District Judge Bob Parks has not yet entered a judgment in the case.
AUSTIN (AP) _ Results of the Lotto Texas drawing Saturday night: Winning
numbers drawn: 11-19-21-22-39-41. Estimated jackpot: $4 million. Number
matching six of six: none Matching five of six: 87. Prize: $1,273. Matching
four of six: 4,360. Prize: $91.
AUSTIN (AP) _ Results of the Cash 5 drawing Friday night: Winning numbers
drawn: 5-11-23-25-38. Number matching five of five: 1. Prize per winner:
$91,118. Winning ticket sold in: North Richland Hills. Matching four of
five: 303. Prize: $451.
AUSTIN (AP) _ Results of the Texas Millions drawing Friday night: Winning
numbers: 37-40-73-79. Number of tickets matching 4 of 4 Group 1: 0. Group
2: 1. Ticket was worth $25,000. Group 3: 0. Number of tickets matching
3 of 4: 468. Each ticket was worth $300.
Ygnacio Chavez, 85, of Wink, died Thursday, May 20, 1999 at his residence.
Mass was held at 2 p.m., Saturday, May 22, at St. Thomas Catholic Church
in Kermit, with Father John Lucido officiating. Burial was in Kermit Cemetery.
He was born Aug. 31, 1913, in Presidio, was a retired laborer from Texas-New
Mexico Railroad, had served in the United States Army and was a Catholic.
Survivors include his wife, Laurencia Chavez of Wink; one son, Jesse
Chavez of Lubbock, three daughters, Ramona Hernandez of Wink, Ermalinda
Chavez of Pecos and Gloria Gantz of Odessa; two brothers, Petroneelo and
Marcos Mendoza of Pecos; 12 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren and one
Cooper Funeral Home Chapel, Inc. of Kermit is in charge of arrangements.
Carlos C. Fierro, 82, died Saturday, May 22, 1999, at Reeves County Hospital.
A rosary is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. today at the Pecos Funeral Home
Mass will be held at 2 p.m., Tuesday, May 25, at Santa Rosa Catholic
Church, with burial in Barstow Cemetery.
He was born July 5, 1916, in Pecos, was retied, a lifelong resident
and a Catholic.
Survivors include his wife, Reynalda D. Fierro of Pecos; two sons, Manuel
and Victor Fierro of Odessa; three daughters, Mary Brown of Tucson, Ariz.,
Elena Fierro of Pecos and Vickey Munoz of Odessa; 13 grandchildren and
Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Alene Smith, 71, of Pecos, died Thursday, May 20, 1999, at Reeves County
Services were held at 2:30 p.m., today at the Pecos Funeral Home Chapel
with Elder William Ephriam officiating. Burial was in Eastside Cemetery.
She was born Feb. 28, 1928, in Nacogdoches County, was a Baptist, lifelong
Pecos resident and retired.
Survivors include one son, Jesse Lee Ephriam of Pecos; one daughter,
Lawanda Lamb of Kennard; two brothers, Robert Lee Walker of Stafford, Preston
Wilkins of Lubbock; two sisters, Una Faye Terry of Pecos, Velma Jane Hundley
of Killeen; three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
PECOS, May 24, 1999 -- High Sunday 92; low last night 66. Rainfall Friday
.12 inch. May rainfall .12. Year-to-date .59 inch. Tonight, mostly cloudy
with a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms. low 60 65. Southeast wind near
10 mph. Tuesday, partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms.
high in the upper 80s. Southeast wind 10-20 mph.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 1999 by Pecos Enterprise