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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Wednesday, August 11, 1999

RCDC employee jailed on cocaine, pot charges

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer

PECOS, Aug. 11, 1999 -- Local law enforcement officials culminated a three-month investigation Tuesday with the arrest of an employee at the Reeves County Detention Center.

Ruben Baeza, 27, of Pecos was arrested following the investigation by officers of the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force, Reeves County Sheriff's Department, Pecos Police Department and the Reeves County Detention Center. Baeza was arrested at the RCDC for possession of cocaine and marijuana.

"This is something that was initiated by the detention center," said Trans Pecos Drug Task Force investigator James Semmler. "However, at the beginning of the investigation they didn't believe it involved narcotics."

"We did initiate this investigation," said RCDC Warden Rudy Franco. "We felt something was going on and took action."

"He was arrested after U.S. Postal officials allowed him to pick up a U.S. Postal package which had been mailed to him containing the alleged narcotics," said Semmler. "We were working with the U.S. Postal service on this and with other agencies."

It is believed that Baeza was receiving alleged narcotics through the mail from California and trafficking them in the Reeves County Detention Center where he worked as a Food Service Assistant Director.

"This will lead to a federal investigation and other charges may be pending," said Semmler.

Several ounces of marijuana and several grams of cocaine were seized during the sting operation.

Franco said that he wanted to thank all the agencies that cooperated, including the district attorney's office, sheriff Andy Gomez and his staff, and the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force, for the investigation that proved successful in keeping drugs from coming in to the facility.

"This is something we always work towards, to keep drugs out, and an internal investigation is continuing," said Franco.

"We took care of all the ones that were involved at the detention center, we just have the ones that were sending him the `care' packages to take care of next," said Semmler.

Franco said that at times like these he really feels for the individuals involved and their families. "To do something like this, just hurts him, his family and ruins his career," said Franco. "You have to feel for those around him."

He said that RCDC will instill stricter policies and will continue to work towards keeping the facility drug-free. "These inmates are here for a reason," he said.

Tuesday's arrest was the one of a series made by officers of the Task Force, Sheriff's Department and the Police Department during the past week.

On Aug. 4, Emilia G. Garcia, 42, and Valeria Lozano, 24, were both arrested during a heroin sting at 12th and Martinez streets that netted between six to 10 grams of black tar heroin. Both were charged with delivery of a controlled substance and bond set at $25,000 each.

Lozano was also charged with delivery of a controlled substance in a drug-free zone and bond on that charge was set at $25,000.

Domingo Jimenez, Sr., 46, and Domingo Jimenez, Jr., 21, were both arrested for possession of marijuana during a local drug interdiction exercise.

Pecos teen faces marijuana charges

PECOS, Aug. 11, 1999 -- A Pecos teen was arrested for the offense of possession of drug paraphernalia Tuesday, and more charges may be pending, according to police.

Officers from the Pecos Police Department, Reeves County Sheriff's Department and the Texas Game Warden Department executed a narcotics search warrant, Tuesday, Aug. 10, at the home of Victoria Burciaga, 115 S. Locust.

After officers executed the warrant the residence was secured, and officers proceeded to search the residence.

"Found inside one of the bedrooms was paraphernalia commonly used in the smoking of marijuana," said Pecos Police Investigator Paul Deishler.

Deishler said that officers also found a substance believed to be marijuana.

After completing the search, James Burciaga, 18, was placed under arrest. Burciaga was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and transported to Reeves County Jail. He paid a $193 fine was released this morning.

"Marijuana charges are pending at this time," said Deishler.

Chamber members updated on Fall Fair

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer

PECOS, Aug. 11, 1999 -- Plans are coming along great for the Annual Reeves County Fall Fair, and a ribbon cutting ceremony is planned to kick off events on Oct. 1.

"I was on `Pecos Talking' discussing the fall fair and the many plans we have for it," said Barbara Creager.

Creager is one of the organizers for this year's events and she told chamber members the group had met for their monthly meeting. "We have lots of ideas and more are welcome," she said.

Fliers have been distributed advertising the annual event and giving a listing of the events, according to Creager.

"We also wanted to have a grand opening and a ribbon cutting," said Creager.

There will also be lots of changes, new things and more things to do at this year's event, according to Creager.

Chamber members agreed with the idea. "We also need corn, if anybody is growing corn in the yards or knows of somebody, we need it to decorate," she said.

Also on Tuesday, Women's Division of the Pecos Chamber of Commerce president Judy Tipton updated chamber members on what her group is working on.

"We have $2,000 for the scholarship committee and $3,500 for the West of the Pecos Museum," said Tipton. "Thanks to Suann (Cross) and her committee, which made the Golden Girl a success."

Tipton told the group that the club is planning a fire department appreciation dinner, scheduled for Oct. 7 at the West of the Pecos Museum courtyard.

The Mother Goose Parade will be changed to the Mother Goose Halloween Parade and will be scheduled for later in the year. "This way the children won't get so hot," said Tipton. "Also, we want to plan a little something for the children for after the parade, so they just don't walk and don't have anything at the end."

A task force committee has been formed by the chamber to look into recruiting new members.

Dr. John Libbie gave a report on the things discussed at the task force committee meeting. One thing stressed is that the group does not want to see the dues raised, but all agreed something different needed to be done.

"We also want the dues to be due at the same time and to expire at the same time," said Libbbie. "This will save the office workers some time and extra work."
 

Council talks raises, to view tax figures

PECOS, Aug. 11, 1999 -- Wages and salaries - freeze or raise? - stumped the Pecos City Council Tuesday when they attempted to make final cuts to the proposed 1999-2000 budget.

City Manager Kenneth Neal said the council will hold another workshop to consider the payroll question, "and see if we can find anything else to cut."

Everything else is pretty much done, Neal said. Once the council decides whether to give employees a raise, the budget will be filed for public inspection before its adoption.

No date has been set for the next workshop, he said.

Meanwhile, on Thursday tax assessor-collector Lydia Prieto will present the council an estimate of taxable values for the year 1999 during their regular meeting. She will also give members a calendar of meeting dates relating to setting the tax rate.

The Reeves County Appraisal District submitted a certified appraisal roll showing net taxable values for the city at $114.68 million, down $3.38 million from last year.

Prieto said the current collection rate is 88 percent.

The council will also consider replacing Municipal Court Judge Phyllis Salyer, who is retiring;

* Consider the Third Street project and wastewater treatment plant permit;

* Award bid for 1999 street seal coat project;

* Consider funding for employee health fund;

* Hear reports from Municipal Court, Juvenile Court and Pecos Chamber of Commerce on the civic center and advertising/tourism.

In closed session, the council will review the performance of the fire marshal.

Hospital budgets for less revenue

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer

PECOS, Aug. 11, 1999 -- Reeves County Hospital faces a fiscal challenge in 2000 because of a decrease in Medicare funding, said Richard Mathis, chief financial officer.

Mathis told the hospital board in a special budget workshop Tuesday that projected patient revenues of $1.8 million will shrink to about $600,000 after Medicare deductions.

"We are booking a lot more income but collecting less," Mathis said. "Folks are staying longer, but we are collecting the same number of dollars. We are encountering pressures from Medicare on outpatient and managed care," he said.

Overall demographics of the community is reflected in bad debts, he said.

"We are looking at having approximately $210,000 more in bad debts from 2000 than in 1999," he said. "The more that Medicare and insurers pull back their portion to pay, that ends up in the insured's hands."

Administrator Charles Butts said that Medicare does not pay the full bill for patients, but pays a set amount based on the doctor's diagnosis. If the patient stays longer than Medicare allows for that particular diagnosis, the hospital does not collect for the extra days.

"If you get them out in time you can make money," he said. "But the average length of stay increases. Doctors are keeping people longer, and we are not getting paid for that."

Physicians on the medical staff have been cooperative, but if they dismiss Medicare patients too early, they may have to be re-admitted, causing additional problems, Butts said.

Physicians continue to receive compensation for making hospital rounds even after the hospital's payment has stopped, he said.

"Our docs are real good, but we had patients that stayed a long time," he said. "Four or five really hit us hard. One was an illegal that stayed here 90 days. That blew everything completely out of proportion, but we took care of the lady."

Butts said that RCH has one of the better medical staffs that he has worked with.

"I don't think the people of this area realize the quality of the medical staff and medical facilities," he said.

Marcella Lovett said the preliminary budget figures presented by Butts and Mathis is realistic, and the board made no adjustments. Butts said it will be finalized and placed on file before adoption in the August 24 meeting.

The board chose to meet at 5 p.m. Aug. 24 instead of the regular time of Aug. 19 to give the administration more time to complete the proposed budget and to consider recommendations from the medical staff, who meet the same day.

Tax assessor-collector Lydia Prieto will have calculations on the effective tax rate and rollback rates for the budget meeting, Mathis said.

With 1979 bonds paid off this year, the tax rate will decrease, he said.

IRS sets Stockton tax problem seminars

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer

In an attempt to reach out to the people who support the federal government through income taxes, the Internal Revenue Service will hold two events in Fort Stockton Aug. 26.

Stuart Bradford, communications manager for the South Texas District, which includes everything south of Waco and west to El Paso, said that Fort Stockton is the central point for area cities.

Working side-by-side in the Pecos County Civic Center, the IRS will hold a problem solving day to help individuals and small-business owners who have long-standing tax problems with the IRS and will co-host a business information marketplace.

Fort Stockton Chamber of Commerce and the Sul Ross University small business development center will work with the IRS on the marketplace from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Representatives from the IRS will offer presentations and information on a variety of topics of interest to employers, including new ways to interact electronically with the IRS, said Bradford.

Offering their service in separate booths will be the Fort Stockton chamber, Sul Ross center, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Pecos County State Bank.

Bank employees will offer tips on Y2K, said Lorraine Ronquillo, communication specialist accompanying Bradford.

Government agencies' presentation topics are designed to help employers clarify and understand their regulatory responsibilities.

Other marketplace participants include the Texas Workforce Commission and the Texas Department of Economic Development, among others, in an open house setting.

In the problem solving area, taxpayers can meet face-to-face with IRS agents, managers or the taxpayer advocate to find a solution to their tax problems.

"Many problems are resolved at the initial meeting and all problems receive expedited attention from the taxpayer advocate's office of the IRS," said Bradford.

For example, taxpayers owing money can enter into installment agreements with the agency to pay the tax over time. Taxpayers can ask to have audits reconsidered.

Some taxpayers may qualify to make an offer-in-compromise, which is an offer to pay less than the taxes owed, depending on the circumstances.

IRS experts will also help explain notices and procedures for filing past-due tax returns. In some cases, certain penalties may be abated in order to help the taxpayer resolve an outstanding balance.

Since the inception of problem solving days in 1997, the IRS taxpayer advocate's office has helped more than 50,000 taxpayers seeking help at these special events nationwide, Bradford said.

To make an appointment, call 915-336-9166. An appointment is not necessary, but the IRS does recommend it so the problem can be researched in advance, Bradford said.

"I hope it will be well received and the kind of thing that will help people," Bradford said.

Problem Solving Day hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Federal jury convicts duo on drug charges

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer

PECOS, Aug. 11, 1999 -- Two young men traveling from California to Florida in a Ryder truck were found guilty in federal court Tuesday of possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

Rigoberto Salas and Antonio Sanchez-Salas were arrested at the Sierra Blanca Border Patrol checkpoint after agents found 234 pounds of marijuana in the truck, along with "thrown-in" furniture.

Border Patrol Agent Brett Pachciarz testified that he became suspicious of the two men while questioning them at the checkpoint because of their mannerisms and Sanchez's accent.

Salas' lips were trembling as he answered questions about his citizenship, Pachciarz said.

Pachciarz said his drug-sniffing dog "bolted" to the open cargo area of the truck, where agents found 95 individually-wrapped bricks of marijuana near the front of the compartment.

Furniture in the van was "just thrown in," Pachciarz said. "The only thing neatly packed that I observed was the boxes of marijuana with a protective cover over it."

Asked by defense attorney Eduardo Solis if the presence of mattresses, bed springs, couches, bar stools, tables, refrigerator and toys (a stuffed animal) indicated a family was moving, Pachciarz said, "Not to me, no."

To explain why his report of the arrest was sketchy, Pachciarz estimated that 5,000 vehicles enter the checkpoint during one eight-hour shift, and only four agents are on duty.

He said he was interrupted four times while typing the report to tell the two suspects to stop talking to each other.

"There is not enough time in the day to complete that report," he said. "We are really busy and undermanned at the checkpoint."

Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Miller of Alpine prosecuted for the government. Solis and Robert Harris represented the defendants before visiting judge Ginger Berrigan of New Orleans.

The trial was the second for Berrigan this week, and a third started this morning. Gerald Lopez represents Miguel Machucha-Barrera Jr. in that trial.

Housing board to talk landscaping

Pecos Housing Authority Board members will listen to the landscape architect's service proposal and the final designs for CIAP 98 renovation from Vaughn Architect Plus at their regular monthly meeting scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday, at the PHA/FLH, administration office, 600 Meadowbrook Drive.

In conjunction, board members will discuss advertising for general contractor and bid opening set for Oct. 2.

Under business, board members will discuss resolution/approval for commissioners, executive director, and staff to attend annual conference and trade show in San Antonio, Aug. 17-20.

A resolution/approval for the application and CIAP budget/progress report for 1999 CIAP funds; resolution/approval: to transfer PHA bank accounts (Airbase Account) and (Security Deposit) to a higher interest bearing account; resolution;approval of monthly income and expense report for July and August, is also subject for discussion.

Under communications, board members will:

Receive a letter dated July 29, from Harold Lucas, assistant secretary HUD, Washington, D.C., regarding CIAP 1999 funds PHA share is calculated at $238,327;

Receive a letter dated July 29, from Mary Jane Ontiveros, CCRC Executive Director, notification of the elderly Meals On Wheels Program no longer occupying the facility at 1001 E. 10th St.

Review the PHA/FLH quarterly newsletter edition #2;

Receive information about the Texas Housing Association 1999 annual conference and trade show, scheduled for Aug. 17-20 in San Antonio;

In the Farm Labor Housing portion of the meeting board members will discuss resolution/approval for report on audit of financial statement and supplemental data for 12 months ended March 31.

Regular items to be discussed include monthly financial statement; monthly accounts payable; monthly occupancy status and rent roll and cash journal.

Water expert takes extension job

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer

PECOS, Aug. 11, 1999 -- A former water quality program assistant will join the staff at the Reeves County Extension Agency.

Terry Holder, was introduced to the Reeves County Commissioners at the regular meeting held Monday morning. He replaces C.W. Roberts, who resigned earlier this year.

"In the process of looking for an agent we had 10 applicants, from those we screened them out and took the top two," said Charles Neef, extension agent from Fort Stockton. "We had leaders review them and they felt like Mr. Holder would be perfect for the position," said Neef.

Holder obtained a business of science degree from Mississippi State University in agriculture and extension service and is currently working on his master's in agriculture business management in Mississippi.

He is currently employed as a water quality program assistant and works with the environmental education unit for the Mississippi State University Extension Service. He is experienced in developing hands-on educational demonstrations, publications on water movement and underground pollution.

Holder is also the author of publications and video tapes on water quality, and is actively involved in programs to help farmers, ranchers and homeowners with their agriculture related programs.

"We've been doing a lot with water and hope I can bring some of that information over here," said Holder. "I also work a lot with 4-H and youth, horse judging and water quality."

Precinct 3 Commissioner Herman Tarin said he welcomed Holder with open arms. "If there's anything we can do to help you let us know," said Tarin. "As you know, water is also a big concern to us, so you're expertise will be something to look forward to, something very vital to our community."

In conjunction, one audience member mentioned that a new meeting room is in need for 4-H and the Rio Pecos Extension Club. The current office has been remodeled to accommodate the Meals on Wheels Program, which now occupies that office.

In other business during the morning session, commissioners approved new computers for three of the four Justice of the Peace' offices.

The total for the purchases for all three JP's is $16,870, while Precinct 4 JP Lamberto T. Herrera had declined the computer purchase. "We'll let Commissioner (Hivi) Rayos talk to him and see if he wants one too," said Tarin. Rayos is commissioner for Precinct 4.

Crash victim didn't stop for work zone

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer

PECOS, Aug. 11, 1999 -- Antonio Gomez Garcia, 31, of 2217 S. Eddy St. died in a two-vehicle accident four-tenths of a mile south of Pecos Tuesday, said DPS Trooper Dan Woods, who investigated.

Garcia was northbound on U.S. Highway 285 in a 1993 Chevrolet pickup when he rammed the rear of a 1987 GMC stake truck hauling cantaloupes.

Juan Manuel Macias of Pecos, driver of the cantaloupe truck, said he was stopped at a construction barricade awaiting instructions from the flag man when the pickup rear-ended his vehicle. He was not injured.

The impact demolished the pickup, pinning Garcia inside. Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Amonario Ramon pronounced him dead at 11:37 a.m., and the body was taken to Martinez Funeral Home.

Traffic was restricted to one lane on U.S. Highway 285 in the construction zone, which extended over the I-20 overpass. While one lane of traffic moved through, opposing traffic was stopped or re-routed to the I-20 access road.

Seal coat is being applied to the highway surface by Cox Paving Inc. of Blanco, said Glen Larum, communications officer for the Texas Department of Transportation.

Larum said the thin coat of micro-surfacing was applied from 10 miles south of Pecos, and is nearing completion.

He said the construction area is marked with "construction ahead" signs to warn motorists to drive carefully.

One lane of traffic is the norm when resurfacing a two-lane highway, he said. A pilot vehicle leads one lane of traffic through the construction area while the opposing lane is held up by a flag man.

Lotto

AUSTIN (AP) Results of the Cash 5 drawing Tuesday night:

Winning numbers drawn: 8-11-20-29-33. Number matching five of five: 1. Prize per winner: $80,315. Winning ticket sold in: Beaumont. Matching four of five: 211. Prize: $571.

***

AUSTIN (AP) The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Tuesday by the Texas Lottery, in order:

5-6-3 (five, six, three)

Obituaries

Antonio Garcia

Antonio Gomez Garcia, 31, of Pecos, died Tuesday, Aug. 10, 1999.

A rosary is scheduled for 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 12, at Martinez Funeral Home Chapel.

Mass will be held at 10 a.m., Friday, Aug. 13, at Santa Rosa Catholic Church with burial in Greenwood Cemetery.

He was born May 24, 1968, in Ojinaga, Chih., Mexico, was a farm laborer and a Catholic.

Survivors include his mother, Delia Gomez Garcia of Ojinaga, Chih., Mexico; two sisters, Manuela Garcia of Pecos and Margarita G. Rodriguez of Houston.

Martinez Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Francisco Herrera

Francisco Herrera, 91, died this morning at his home. Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Weather

PECOS, Aug. 11, 1999 -- High Tuesday 106; low last night 77. Tonight, partly cloudy with a slight chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Low in the lower 70s. South wind 5-15 mph. chance of rain less than 20 percent. Thursday, partly cloudy. High 100 105. Southwest wind 5-15 mph. Extended forecast, Thursday night, mostly clear. Low in the mid 70s. Friday through Sunday, mostly clear. Lows in the mid 70s. Highs 100-102.



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