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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Tuesday, September 21, 1999

Golf course dispute focus of budget hearing

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer

PECOS, Sept. 21, 1999 -- A public hearing on the proposed Reeves County budget for FY 2000 proved to be a lengthy and wearisome experience Monday afternoon.

Reeves County Commissioners, concerned citizens and Reeves County employees were on hand for the meeting, which began at 2 p.m. and continued until midnight.

The three items on the agenda were a public hearing on proposed Reeves County budget for FY 2000, action adoption of the county's budget and setting a property tax rate for Reeves County the upcoming fiscal year.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo said the three main places county tax funds go are the Reeves County General Fund, the Reeves County Detention Center and the Road and Bridges Department.

"We'll have the same tax rate as 1999, 054.89 cents per $100 valuation," said Galindo of the budget, which was adopted by commissioners during the 10-hour meeting.

Some county employees, including officials with the Reeves County Sheriff's Department and the Reeves County Tax-Assessor Collector's office were on hand to ask for raises for the following year. Both groups were denied pay hikes.

Funding for the Reeves County Golf Course was one of the major changes in FY 2000. Total budget for the golf course was set at $121,139, with the greenskeeper's salary set at $25,000.

This item brought responses from the audience.

"From my perspective as I had mentioned in previous courts, when I made the suggestion of $38,000 for the greenskeeper position, I had a broader view," said Galindo.

Galindo said that the greenskeeper could possibly assist in other landscaping duties and not just be confined to the golf course.

"I don't think we were on the same page as the greenskeeper," said Galindo. "If Mr. (Royce) Cassell would like to assist us in other areas, we'll be happy to talk to him," he said.

Cassell had served as greenskeeper, along with running the pro shop and operating golf cart rentals at the course until earlier this year, when commissioners voted to put the pro shop concession up for bids.

Jo Cooksey, a member of the golf course committee, said she was not sure she understood what Cassell's other duties were when his salary had been set at $38,500.

Galindo outlined a landscaping project that would go from Country Club Drive to 285. In addition, Cassell's other duties, if the position were at $38,500 would include landscaping at the parks, cemeteries and the hike-and-bike trail, which will be partially funded through grants from the Texas Parks and Wildlife. "We're trying to procure some grants that would enable us to do this landscaping project," said Galindo.

"From my perspective, I had a bigger picture in mind, in which his duties would include this hike and bike trail," said Galindo. "Through the Texas Parks and Wildlife we hope to implement this project, but we have to look at maintenance also."

Another component of the project is to establish a greenhouse at the Reeves County Detention Center and eventually plant those trees and shrubs along the hike and bike trail. "We want to hopefully make it self-sustaining," said Galindo. "It's a bigger project than just the golf course," he said.

Cooksey said that the committee was not aware of Cassell's pay cut. "The men's and women's association is willing to donate their time and even some money to the golf course," said Cooksey.

"The idea is to try to create a break-even situation," said Galindo.

In response to a question from Ken Winkles, another member of the county's golf committee, County Auditor Lynn Owens said increases in greens fees at the golf course would go into effect on Jan. 1.

Winkles told the group that in the last three months the golf course has not been utilized as much. "We have seen a decrease, just from a personal point of view," he said putting the decrease at 25 percent. "This will affect your income," he said.

Winkles told the group that some golfers were going to stage a boycott of this weekend's golf tourney, "The Best of the Best."

"We always have about 80-100 and as of this afternoon we had 43 sign up," said Winkles. "That's half."

Cassell always sponsored the yearly tournament, which attracted golfers from the area. "We're considering canceling that tournament," Winkles said. "That's apropos of what's happening at the golf course."

"We feel it's because of what's been happening for the past three months," said Winkles. "We used to have 30-40 players each evening at the course, now it's down to 10."

He told commissioners they were making a mistake by cutting the greenskeeper salary from $38,500 to $25,000. "I don't think you would ask anyone else in the county to take a pay cut," he said.

Cooksey asked the court if any of the commissioners or the judge had spoken to Mr. Cassell about the situation.

"I don't think it's up to me to go to him," said Galindo.

Cooksey said this sounded a like for a group of individuals, not just one person. "A department yes, a crew, yes," she said.

"There isn't an acceptance of responsibility at all, it's just, `I'm not going to do it at all," said Galindo.

Galindo said that yes, it would entail more than one individual, but ultimately the responsibility would lie with the greenskeeper.

"My perspective for the greenskeeper position is that it's $25,000, if he's willing, or anyone else, would take the responsibility for other areas, yes it would be worth more money," said Galindo. "I don't think that it was asking too much for the responsibility, we have got to find teamwork," he said.

Galindo said that the Road and Bridges Department has been doing an excellent job. "I think both you and I know that Russ Salcido has been doing a great job and he gets paid in the $30's," said Galindo. "He has a lot of responsibility, but he doesn't get paid more than that," he said.

"I think if you do it that way you'll have a hard time replacing him, (Cassell)," said Winkles. "You're not going to get someone at $25,000."

Winkles said surrounding cities pay their greenskeepers much more. "They pay anywhere from $45,000 to $50,000," he said.

"My office called Fort Stockton and their greenskeeper gets paid, $38,000," said Galindo.

Commissioners did agree to fund the Reeves County Juvenile Detention Center at $410,000, following a lengthy discussion with Juvenile Probation Director Alberto Alvarez.

Communication problems found during  drill

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer

PECOS, Sept. 21, 1999 -- Communications, or the lack thereof, is the biggest problem identified Monday by Reeves County Emergency Management department heads, in a critique of Saturday's simulated disaster.

"We don't have enough frequencies," said emergency management coordinator Armando Gil. "Everyone was trying to communicate on the police department frequency, and we were stepping all over each other, so that's going to have to be addressed."

Hand-held radios can communicate over distances of only three to five miles with the present antennas, Gil said.

"We need repeaters to be able to communicate from a distance," he said.

Another problem was a shortage of dispatchers at the police department, said Chief Clay McKinney. The three dispatchers who were on duty couldn't handle all the traffic, he said.

Ambulance chief Bill Cole said they were also short of ambulances, but in an actual disaster, they would use school buses to transport injured, as outlined in the disaster plan.

The "disaster" Saturday was a traffic accident involving a truck loaded with acid and two vans that left 16 "injured" victims and two "dead."

Other reported incidents, such as a bombing at Pecos High School, several fires and accidents, a cat in a tree and the theft of a fire truck, were written into the script to put pressure on the department heads gathered in City Hall, Gil said.

"It was to give them experience in making decisions how to handle other matters during a real disaster," he said. "They decided whether to ignore the call, dispatch units or call for outside assistance. It was just play like."

Everyone was real cooperative, Gil said.

"Everything in general went real well. There was a lot of teamwork involved in this.

Some confusion occurred in the operations center because the department heads did not recognize this reporter as the emergency management public information officer and dealt directly with a reporter who barged in demanding to talk to the person in charge. Then barred their public information officer from the room.

At the disaster site, a city employee dressed in an orange vest and with a helmet marked "Red Cross" went through the victims' pockets, taking money and other valuables, then rifled an ambulance, Gil said.

"One of the ambulance personnel asked who he was, then noticed the Red Cross hat and said, `Oh, I thought you were a looter,'" Gil said. "That's what he was."

To avoid such incidents in the future, Gil said he will issue photo identification cards to each person involved in the response. Anyone seeking admission to the operation center or disaster site must display the ID tag.

Gil said he was pleased with the response by fire and ambulance personnel, who stopped some distance from the wrecked truck and used binoculars to identify the cargo.

Ambulance personnel noted the code number of the chemicals in the tanker truck and relayed the information to Cole, who looked it up in his handbook to determine the danger and how the chemical should be handled to avoid further injury.

"The ambulance staff did an excellent job," he said.

Gil said the "acid spill" looked realistic, with colored water in a hole and dry ice to make it fizzle and smoke.

Emergency exercises are required each year unless a real emergency occurs, Gil said. It has been three years since Reeves County held its last simulated disaster, because a tornado northwest of Pecos, a chemical spill just across the Pecos River in Ward County, a tanker truck accident with drilling fluids and a train derailment have qualified as real disasters.

Hot weather blown away by cool front

From staff and wire reports

PECOS, Sept. 21, 1999 -- Fall was in the air this morning as a cold front broke the heat wave that kept temperatures above 100 for weeks. Texas A&M Research Station reported a high of 87 degrees on Monday, with an overnight low of 61.

No moisture has accompanied the cool weather, and only scattered rainfall has been recorded across Texas.

Isolated showers and thunderstorms developed today along the frontal boundary in South Texas. The front stretched from south of Lufkin through the San Antonio area to Del Rio. But elsewhere, the state was rain-free.

Accompanying the front, a surface high-pressure system centered over East Central Colorado helped bring gusty north winds to Texas.

Partly cloudy to cloudy skies

Pair sought in Tercero slaying case

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer

PECOS, Sept. 21, 1999 -- Crimestoppers is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of two men sought in connection with the death of 39-year-old Ruben Garcia Tercero, whose body was found buried northeast of Pecos in Ward County a year after his disappearance.

Mario Hernandez, Jr., 30 and Arturo Ortiz Gallegos, 27, both of Pecos, are being sought in connection with the death of Tercero, after another man already in custody was charged earlier this year.

Hernandez, who also uses an alias, Mario Hernandez Navarette, is a Hispanic male, 5-foot-8 and weighs 190 pounds. Hernandez is of medium build, has black hair and brown eyes. A warrant is also pending in Reeves County on a misdemeanor charge of evading arrest. He also has a tattoo under his left arm, on the left arm and on his face.

Gallegos is a Hispanic male, of medium build, who is 5-foot-6 and weighs 165 pounds and is 5'6". He has black hair and brown eyes. A warrant is also pending in Reeves County for a motion to revoke, for possession of a controlled substance.

The warrant from Ward County is a felony for murder, according to sheriff's department reports.

The body of Tercero, who had been reported missing since April of 1998, was found when Ward County sheriff's deputies and Texas Rangers excavated a grave site on the east side of the Pecos River on May 20, below Barstow Dam. The remains were found after Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez obtained information about its location.

Two months after the discovery, Joe Angel Hernandez, 31, of Pecos, was served with a warrant for murder and his bond for that offense set at $100,000, according to Ward County Sheriff Jerry Heflin.

The warrant was served in the Ector County Jail, where the suspect was being held on other charges, according to Heflin.

Hernandez was in the Ector County Jail charged with robbery, evading arrest, threat causing bodily injury and death, murder and robbery. "He'll eventually be brought back to Ward County on that warrant," said Heflin.

Total bonds for Hernandez have been set at $202,000, according to Ector County Jail personnel.

At that time, Heflin said, "We're still investigating this incident and more arrests will be made."

Crimestoppers offers a reward up to $1,000 for information on these two individuals. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of these two individuals can call the Pecos Valley Crimestoppers at 915-445-9898, and you will remain anonymous.

New budget, city park project on council's Thursday agenda

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer

PECOS, Sept. 21, 1999 -- Final approval of the 1999-2000 budget and 1999 tax rate share the Pecos City Council agenda on Thursday with discussions on site planning for a Pecos park and with giving the school district six lots in Block 8 Central Section for use as a sports complex.

The council will also consider application for economic development administration for South Worsham water field, appoint a member to the Permian Basin Airport Board and hear reports from the tax collector, ambulance service and finance director.

In executive session, the council will consider duties of the Municipal Court judge.

An item to discuss playground equipment has become moot since being placed on the agenda at the last meeting. The Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board of trustees voted later to donate playground equipment from the Barstow campus to Ward County for use at the Barstow Community Center.

Home heath care on hospital agenda

PECOS, Sept. 21, 1999 -- Home Health issues are among the agenda items for the Reeves County Hospital District's board of directors meeting at 5:30 p.m. today.

Jason Bullard of Covenant Systems will discuss home health.

Other agenda items include resale of property struck off at previous tax sales, tax collector's report, consideration of an optional partial lump-sum distribution for the employee retirement system, financial matters, medical staff report and administrator's report.

Board meetings are held in the hospital classroom, and are open to the public.

Lotto

AUSTIN (AP) Results of the Cash 5 drawing Monday night: Winning numbers drawn: 1-7-27-30-31. Number matching five of five: 2. Prize per winner: $42,376. Winning tickets sold in: Fort Worth, Houston. Matching four of five: 191. Prize: $665.

***

AUSTIN (AP) The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Monday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 0-9-6 (zero, nine, six)

Obituaries

Candida Martinez

Candida Alvarez Martinez, 87, died Monday, Sept. 20, 1999, at Pecos Nursing Home.

A rosary will be held at 7:30 p.m. today at Pecos Funeral Home Chapel.

Mass is scheduled for 2 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 22, at Santa Rosa Catholic Church with Father Manuel Munoz officiating. Burial will be in Mt. Evergreen Cemetery.

She was born Oct. 3, 1911, in Brogado, was a lifelong Pecos resident and a Catholic.

Survivors include one son, Jimmy Martinez of Pecos; two daughters, Eva Flores of Pecos and Juanita Carrasco of Phoenix; three brothers, Alberto and Alfredo Matta of Balmorhea and Abel Matta of Phoenix, Ariz.; seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Weather

PECOS, Sept. 21, 1999 -- High Monday 87; low last night 61. Tonight, partly cloudy. Low in the mid 50s. Light east wind. Wednesday, becoming mostly sunny and warmer. High in the lower 80s. Southeast wind 5-15 mph. Extended forecast, Wednesday night, partly cloudy. Lows in the 50s.



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