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The body of Billy Wayne Starnes, 65, of Lubbock, was retrieved from the
hole caused by the explosion almost 2½ hours after the pipeline
ruptured, some 15 miles southwest of Pecos near the intersection of FM
869 and County Road 128.
Starnes, owner of Starnes Manufacturing, Inc. of Abernathy, was
pronounced dead by Precinct 4«MDBO» «MDNM»Justice of the Peace Lamberto
Herrera at 2:20 p.m.
Starns was digging a ditch from south to north on the edge of the field,
located near Kesey Feeders in south-central Reeves County, when the
accident occurred. Investigating Deputy Cesar Urias reported that he was
first called to the site about the pipeline rupturing, and as he was
enroute to the scene, received another report of a man trapped
underneath heavy machinery at the site.
Pecos ambulance and fire units were dispatched at this time.
Urias said officials were initially unable to get near the site, because
gas was spewing out of the pipeline, and there was a threat that the
escaping gas could ignite.
Two firemen equipped with Scott Air Paks made it out to the hole, where
they said Starnes showed no signs of life, Urias said.
Fire Chief Doug Cox told his crew to wait until the main valve to the
gas line was shut off before nearing the scene.
Delhi Gas Pipeline Corporation Foreman Karl Wren arrived at the scene at
about 1:10 p.m. and told emergency teams to continue waiting, as there
was still high amounts of gas detected in the area.
About 2:20 p.m. Wren gave the go-ahead for officials to advance to the
area of the explosion, upon which time Starnes' body was removed from
the hole, Urias reported.
David Fuentes of Saragosa, and employee for Starnes Manufacturing, Inc.
told the deputy that Starnes was digging a ditch about 11:10 a.m., while
he worked the field on a tractor, when he heard a loud explosion.
The gas was too thick for him to near the scene, Fuentes told Urias.
Delhi Director of Public Affairs Mike Dixon, of Dallas, said earlier
today that the company has no record of whether or not Starnes called
the 1-800 Dig Tess number posted on gas pipeline markers. "We have
called Dig Tess," he said, "but we're still waiting for a response."
He called the scenario an, "unfortunate incident," and added that the
line, which services the Van Horn area, was repaired Sunday.
Dixon added that the pipeline has just been inspected last month, and a
sign warning about the pipeline is located off FM 869 at the northeast
edge of the field.
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Reeves County Commissioners listed to a 1995 audit report given by the
company at this morning's regular commissioners court meeting.
"Expenditures have continued to rise in the last three years, but
there's been a slight decrease in expenditures for 1995," said Espino
Espino also suggested having an appropriate department for storing and
keeping track of all contracts be set up, and making sure all contracts
are signed as well.
"This only makes sense, because it's something that you really need,"
Espino stated that this way all contracts can be looked at easier to see
which are up for renewal and which ones need modification.
"A central location can be created, probably in the county auditor's
office," said Espino.
She also said having some check to see if all contracts are signed "
will only make contracts legal and more enforceable when needed."
Another form of cashing checks for inmates, once they are released from
the Reeves County Detention Center, was also suggested during the
Usually when an inmate is released a check is issued to that inmate,
which he endorses and an RCDC employee takes to the bank to cash for the
inmate. The employee then returns the cash to the inmate, according to
"Another form of doing this would help protect both Reeves County, the
employee and the inmate," said Espino. "I'm not saying I saw them do
anything wrong, but this is just as a precaution."
Espino also told commissioners that three unmarked vehicles were found
in use at the Reeves County Detention Center, which is a violation. "Any
vehicle that has an exempt license plate must be clearly marked," said
Espino also discovered county property which is obsolete, but is still
on the inventory list. Something needs to be done with those items, she
"You need to send out a memo to each department and each individual
department needs to list what is obsolete and proper method of disposing
such assets be implemented," she said.
Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo stated that he and Road and Bridges
Administrator Russ Salcido had discussed this issue and suggested an
auction of such items.
"This could also bring in a little revenue to the county," said Espino.
In other action this morning, La Tienda Thriftway was approved as an
early voting poll place and early voting set for Oct. 26 at that
designation. Early voting election judges and alternates for the Nov. 5
election were also approved.
An amendment to the resolution for general election was approved which
contained the new times for turning in the different boxes.
Personnel and salary changes at the Road and Bridges department were for
Jose Lujan who was hired at $14,000 per year; part-time employee Rodolfo
Lujan at $6 per hour; at the Juvenile Detention Center, Edmundo Lopez,
Jr. at $5.50 per hour, on a part-time, on call, as needed basis and the
Reeves County Sheriff's Department, Christina Winfrey at $14,000 per
year. Belinda Salcido was hired at the Reeves County Judge's office at
$17,000 per year.
At the Reeves County Detention Center, Rosie Poitevint was hired as food
services assistant administrator at $19,000 per year; Damian Arreguy,
RCDC officer at $15,000 per year and Robert E. Cook at $15,000 per year.
Salary changes at the RCDC were for Ruben Baeza, from $16,000 to $17,000
yearly; Eric Salcido, $16,000 to $17,000; Lupe Jeter, from $17,000 to
$18,000; Elias Lozano from $15,000 to $17,000; Salvado Lozano, from
$15,000 to $16,000; Martin Lumbreras, from $15,000 to $16,000; Maria
Luna, from $16,000 to $17,000; Robert Luna, from $15,000 to $16,000;
Luis Roman from $15,000 to $16,000; Edward Prieto from $16,000 to
$17,000; James Tarin from $17,000 to $18,000; Billy Joe Wilson from
$15,000 to $16,000 and Tony Hernandez from $18,000 to $19,000.
The motion to approve the modified salaries passed 3-1, with
Commissioners Precinct 2 W.J. Bang voting against the modified salaries.
Bang did not oppose the new hires.
Commissioners also approved a contract for detention of juvenile
offenders between Reeves County and the Rio Grande Council of
governments; semi-monthly bills; budget amendments and line-item
transfers and the official bond and oath on Lynn Owens.
Spread on the minutes was notice of over-axle over-gross weight permit
for Spurlock Company and the continuing education for county treasurer
Commissioners are planning to continue the meeting on Friday, at 1:30
p.m., at which time items which were tabled today will be discussed.
Commissioners will discuss the Fiscal Year 1997 Budget for the Reeves
County Detention Center and the minutes from previous meetings.
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The board on Friday approved the students' plan to construct a
basketball court, volleyball court, playground with slide, swings,
tether balls and sand pit on land formerly occupied by Airbase
Students have ordered equipment, trees and irrigation supplies with
their $5,000 grant, and the board approved $9,922 from Airbase funds and
the 1996 CIAP grant.
"I am real pleased. They are getting real enthused about this," said PHA
executive director Nellie Gomez. "We are all building a park together,
and we have never done it."
Roy Lindsay has agreed to clear concrete and pipes from the block just
north of the HUD office, and south of Stafford Boulevard. Utility
company workers will take out telephone poles, Gomez said.
"We will use them for the volleyball court as a barrier for the sand,"
Noel Ybarra presented the students' plan for the park, where they have
already cleared weeds to save $500 in cleanup costs.
He said they purchased 20 mulberry trees, four palms, 10 sage and 10
Gomez reported that one problem tenant should be moved out this week by
the Reeves County Sheriff's Office, and the board gave another three
months to catch up on back rent or move out.
Collection losses of $566 were written off and turned over to Retail
Merchants for further collection attempts.
That tenant, who has a newborn baby and two older children, said she
will return to work when she recovers from surgery and can pay $100 per
month from AFDC checks in the interim.
The board approved a resolution to begin work on the 1996 CIAP
renovation and to advertise for an architect to draw up the plans.
Proposals will be opened in the November meeting.
Gomez received permission to purchase a laser printer for networked
computers, estimated to cost $450-$500.
She reported that all of the seven vacant HUD apartments are assigned to
Farm Labor Housing has 27 vacant apartments, Gomez said. Only one
apartment is occupied by eligible agricultural workers, while 28 are
rented by the general public.
She said the Texas Department of Health has certified the units for
continued operation as migrant housing.
The board approved the FLH budget, financial statement and rent roll.
Present were president Frank Perea, Ken Winkles and Ray Golden. Debbie
Flores and Yvonne Martin were absent.
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Services for Enedina Muniz, 73, of Saragosa, who died at her residence
earlier today, will be held Oct. 16, 2 p.m., at the Pecos Funeral Home
Chapel. Burial will follow at the Saragosa Cemetery.
Survivors include: her husband, Antonio F. Muniz, of Saragosa; eight
sons, Nicolas L. Muniz and Marcos L. Muniz, both of Odessa, Ismael L.
Muniz of Seminole, Samuel L. Muniz and Octavio L. Muniz, both of Pecos,
Antonio L. Muniz, Jr., of Verhalen and Benjamin L. Muniz and Joel L.
Muniz, both of Saragosa; five daughters, Elfida M. Carrasco of Kermit,
Armida M. Ocon, Virginia M. Garcia and Dora M. Venegas, all of Pecos and
Juanita M. Morales of Saragosa; 34 grandchildren and 12
great-grandchildren; five brothers, Alfredo C. Lujan of Ojinaga,
Chihuahua, Mexico, Jesus C. Lujan and Thomas C. Lujan, both of Roswell,
N.M., Cruz C. Lujan of Hobbs, N.M. and Antonio C. Lujan of Carlsbad,
N.M.; one sister, Francisca Baeza of Hobbs, N.M.
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Frank Shorter, 69, died Saturday, Oct. 12, in Midland Memorial Hospital.
Services are tentatively set for Saturday, Oct. 19, directed by Pecos
He was born Oct. 10, 1927 In Wharton and had lived in Pecos since 1946.
He was a retired custodian, a member of the House of Prayer, Lions Club,
Shriners and Masons.
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Services are incomplete for Roy Willman, 61, who died Thursday in Hobbs,
Willman was a graduate of Pecos High School and former Pecos resident.
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PECOS, October 14, 1996 - High Sunday 93, low last night 57. Tonight,
fair. Low 55 60. South wind 5-15 mph. Tuesday, mostly sunny. High around
85. Southwest wind 10-15 mph.
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Copyright 1996 by Pecos Enterprise
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