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Top Stories

Thursday, August 12, 1999

Council names Ramon municipal court judge

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer

PECOS, Aug. 12, 1999 -- Amonario Ramon Ramon is the new Pecos Municipal Judge, effective today, the Pecos City Council decided this morning - after presenting retiring Judge Phyllis Salyer with a plaque of appreciation.

Ramon was among four candidates for the position. He, Raul Garcia and Bill Hubbs were interviewed in closed session during the regular council meeting. Eleuterio Garcia, who made a verbal application, was considered but was not present for an interview.

"I have 12 years judicial experience and am familiar with the system," said Ramon before his interview. He is also Justice of the Peace for Reeves County Precinct 1 and a car salesman.

Since both judge positions are part time, Ramon said he will continue as justice of the peace but will give up car sales.

"In this position, I have to be accessible 24 hours to the public," Ramon said. "It wouldn't interfere with the JP job."

Hubbs, a former mayor, said he applied for the judge position because the city has always been his first love, "and if they need help, I will be happy to help. I have my business affairs in shape where I don't have too much to do and am about to climb the walls. I may as well be productive."

Raul Garcia is also an independent businessman who has served in numerous public offices.

"I think I can be impartial and fair to all the citizens," he said.

Ramon will be on six months probation as are all new city employees, said City Manager Kenneth Neal.

The council also reviewed the fire marshal's performance and granted Jack Brookshire a 1 1/2 percent salary increase.

While hearing routine reports, the council learned that the county road and bridge department is working on maintenance and upkeep of the civic center. They have purchased two large machines for mopping and waxing the floors and will have one employee and county jail inmates working to clean the walls and floors.

The county judge's office will be responsible for inspections before and after use, said Mayor Dot Stafford.

"Maybe that will prevent some things that have been going on there," Stafford said.

The Pecos Chamber of Commerce will continue to schedule use of the center and will accept deposits. However, deposits will not be refunded until the county has inspected the center.

Drop in  values may force increase in taxes

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer

PECOS, Aug. 12, 1999 -- If the Pecos City Council can hold expenses to the same level in 1999-2000 that they spent this year, property owners may expect an increase in the tax rate of almost four cents.

Tax assessor-collector Lydia Prieto told the Pecos City Council this morning that a $3.38 million decrease in real estate values increased the effective tax rate from 68 cents per $100 to 71.728 cents.

The effective tax rate would generate the same amount of revenue for operations as for the previous year. If the council sets the rate at 78.77 cents or above, citizens could petition for a rollback election, Prieto said.

In addition to the tax for operations, an estimated 25.819 cents will be needed to pay bond indebtedness.

The council has been cutting items from the proposed budget in an attempt to keep the tax rate at or below the effective rate.

Finance officer Steve McCormick said he will ask for an increase in employee insurance premiums from $165 to $225 per month next year.

He also recommended the employee portion of the premium for dependents be increased from the current $100 per month.

Claims this past year have depleted the self-insured fund, and the council voted to transfer $20,000 from the emergency and contingency fund to replenish it.

"We have bills totaling $36,000, and only $4,000 in the bank," McCormick said.

By zeroing out all the group health line items, he could transfer about $17,000, leaving a shortfall of at least $15,000. "But I prefer $20,000," he said.

McCormick said the plan was set up to allow employees to afford dependent coverage.

"We have had it six years and never increased their costs except a little bit on prescriptions," he said. "Our cost has not gone up dramatically, but it has continued to rise."

Abidur Khan reported that the Third Street sewer project is complete except for testing lateral lines, and Holloman Construction was to begin that today. Once that is complete, Spencer & Associates will inspect the job and recommend whether to penalize the contractor for failing to complete the job by the contract deadline.

Utilities Director Octavio Garcia said the job must be completed and paid for in this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

Councilman Ricky Herrera asked Khan for a report on future plans for sewer repairs and replacement so the council can budget for it.

Khan said that the city has purchased a TV camera to film the sewer's interior to determine where future work needs to be done.

TV camera surveys already completed show Fifth Street and "A" Street to be the next priority, he said.

Paperwork has been submitted to the Texas Natural Resources Commission on proposed work on the waste water treatment, and Spencer is waiting for the go-ahead, Khan said.

TNRCC authorized the city to start working on the abandoned pond, which can be converted for use. It may need a liner, Khan said.

"They are to have it published in the newspaper for public notice and possible public hearing," he said. "If there is no response, we could start doing rehab work."

Additional waste water generated by the new sewer lines will require more ponds, and Spencer hopes to have the work ponds ready within two years, Khan said.

The council awarded the bid for seal coating to Van Zandt Paving Inc. of Odessa on their low bid of $61,265.

Jones Bros. of Odessa bid $64,576, and Lipham Construction of Aspermont bid $71,199.

Balmorhea adding events to Labor Day festival

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer

BALMOREHA, Aug. 12, 1999 -- Things will be heating up in Balmorhea the first weekend of September, when the 24th Labor Day Festival gets underway.

Events scheduled for Saturday, Sept.4, a include the World Championship Frijole Bean Cookoff. This will be the 23rd Annual Frijole Bean Cookoff.

Cooks prepare the favorite food using various fuels. First, second and third place trophies will be awarded to the winners. The second annual Brisket Cookoff will also be held in conjunction with the weekend's activities.

Winners receive trophies and the champion will receive a complimentary entry (sponsored by the Pecos Chamber of Commerce) in the World Championship BBQ Cookoff, to be held in Pecos on Oct. 1-2. For more information on the Bean and Brisket Cookoff call 915-375-2272, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Events for the kids will include a new fishing pond competition, along with face painting, an egg toss and watermelon eating contest.

Also new this year will be the "Oasis of West Texas Yo-Yo Contest," which will have three novice divisions: eight and under; 12 and under; and 13 and over. For yo-yo enthusiasts in the area this will be the first opportunity to show off their skills.

There will be no charge for the games including the yo-yo competition. For more information on the yo-yo competition contact Pat Brijalba, after five at 915-375-2323.

Events for the adults include the ever-popular Washer Pitching, for men's and women's division. Winners are awarded trophies for first, second and third place. Entry fees are $10 per team. Teams can sign up the morning of the event. A dance contest will also be held. Dancers will dance to country, rock, and Tejano music. The winning couple will receive trophies and a gift certificate. No entry fee for the dance contest.

Little Joe Davilla and the Jetliners will again entertain the crowd with a dance under the stars. Dance starts at 9 a.m. until 1 a.m. Joe Davilla will MC and provide DJ music during the day. There is no fee for the dance. The Jetliners feature Tejano music, but will also play country and rock.

For information on food and crafts contact Norman Roman at 915-375-2206. Sites will be assigned on a first pay basis.

CCRC surveys interest in day care at Saragosa

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer

SARAGOSA, Aug. 12, 1999 -- Business is booming in Balmorhea, and some parents need day care for their children, said restaurant operator Ellen Weinacht.

With a modern multi-purpose center owned by the Community Council of Reeves County in Saragosa, Weinacht hopes to open a low-cost day care center there.

The council is circulating a survey to parents who may need the center, giving proposed fees and asking for data on the number of children who may attend.

Some parents may need to leave their children for only an hour or two a day during the school term, Weinacht said. The survey asks for the ages of the children, hours day care is needed, number of children who need after-school care - and first, second and third choices of a name for the center.

The council owns two vans that can transport children from school to the center, Weinacht said.

Survey forms are to be returned to the attention of Mary Jane Ontiveros, community council executive director, at 700 Daggett St., Suite. F, in Pecos.

Proposed enrollment fees are $10 per day for children 0-4, with a discount for two or more children. For less than four hours, the proposed fee is $6.

Drop-in rate is $2.50 per hour, maximum $15.

For children age 5-13, the proposed rate is $9/$5 for one child. Single parents would receive a $1 discount from the full daily rate per child.

After-school charges would be $3 per child or $15 per week, with transportation an additional $3 per week.

Greater Opportunities of the Permian Basin is using part of the multi-purpose center for a Head Start program.

The center was built after a 1987 tornado demolished all the public buildings and most of the residences in the small agricultural community.

A bicycle distribution center on the outskirts of Balmorhea has recently doubled its capacity and added employees to the staff.

Jury convicts Pecos man of pot smuggling

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer

PECOS, Aug. 12, 1999 -- Miguel Machuca-Barrera Jr. is guilty of marijuana possession with intent to distribute, a federal court jury decided Wednesday.

Barrera was arrested March 21 at the Marfa Border Patrol checkpoint after agents found 43.58 pounds of marijuana in speakers in his car's trunk.

DPS narcotics investigator Jose Munoz of Alpine testified that a Pecos juvenile, Aldo Venegas-Muniz, was with Barrera. Because he is a juvenile, he was not questioned nor charged, Munoz said.

Barrera said in a statement that he and Venegas had left Pecos at 3 p.m. on March 20, a Saturday, Munoz testified.

"He had left the juvenile with his father in Ojinaga, Mex. and then went to a motel. He couldn't recall the name of the motel," Munoz said.

Neither could Munoz identify the shop where he had work done on the speakers, nor could he give the location of a shop where he claimed to have had a tire repaired after a blowout on the 1991 Plymouth.

Defense attorney Gerald Lopez asked Munoz why he didn't ask the juvenile if he had anything to do with the marijuana.

"Questioning juveniles is a lot different," he said. "A parent has to be there, or you have to do it in front of a magistrate."

In rebuttal, assistant U.S. attorney Jeff Parras asked Munoz if Barrera claimed the juvenile had possession of the vehicle.

"No," Munoz said, but admitted to Lopez that he didn't ask Barrera that question.

Defense attorney Scott Johnson had previously lost his bid to suppress evidence in the case, claiming the vehicle search was illegal because the agents did not have any reason to suspect a law violation.

Two young males traveling alone has been an increasingly popular trend for narcotic smugglers, said Border Patrol Agent Sean Patrick Holt, who made the initial stop.

Agent Lupe Trevino's K-9 alerted to the presence of illegal substances in the car, leading agents to 18 bundles of marijuana in the speakers.

After his arrest, agents searched Machuca and found a small amount of marijuana in his wallet.

Visiting Judge Ginger Berrigan presided for the trial. She accepted guilty pleas today and will hold her fourth trial this week on Friday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Stuart Platt also held court today, including a preliminary hearing for Reeves County Detention Center employee Ruben Baeza on a charge of cocaine and marijuana possession. He waived the hearing and was released on bail.

Arraignments on felony indictments were scheduled for this afternoon, as the grand jury met for the regular monthly session.

Lotto

AUSTIN (AP) Results of the Lotto Texas drawing Wednesday night:

Winning numbers drawn: 18-38-35-09-19-44. Estimated jackpot: $4 million. Number matching six of six: None. Matching five of six: 62. Prize: $1,638. Matching four of six: 3,480. Prize: $105.

***

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

3-1-8 (three, one, eight)

Obituary

Francisco Herrera

Francisco Herrera, 91, of Pecos, died Wednesday, Aug. 11, 1999, at his residence.

A prayer service will be held at 7 p.m., today at Pecos Funeral Home Chapel.

Services are scheduled for 2 p.m., Friday, Aug. 13, at the Pecos Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Pablo Garcia officiating. Burial will be in Greenwood Cemetery.

He was born March 8, 1908, in Grandfalls, was a longtime Pecos resident, retired and a Baptist.

He was preceded in death by one son, one brother and three sisters.

Survivors include Maria Luisa Herrera of Pecos; two daughters, Mary Gomez of Casa Grande, Ariz. and Elvira Herrera of Fort Worth; a step-daugther, Alicia Vela of Pecos; three sons, Florencio, Jaime and Javier Herrera of Pecos; 33 grandchildren; 34 great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Weather

PECOS, Aug. 12, 1999 -- High Wednesday 105; low last night 72. Tonight, mostly clear. Low in the lower 70s. South wind 5-15 mph. Friday, mostly sunny and continued warm. High around 101. South wind 5-15 mph. Extended forecast, Friday night, mostly clear. Low in the mid 70s. Saturday through Monday, mostly clear. Lows in the mid 70s. Highs from the upper 90s to 102.



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