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Oct. 23, 1996
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After 10 months in her new post, Pecos Animal Control Officer Carmen
Mendoza, says she hopes to change people's minds about her position and
the local animal control issue.
Mendoza handles the city's entire animal control needs.
She said that one of the difficulties of her position is dealing with
people who do not understand the need for animal control or what her job
On a more positive note, Mendoza said she loves working with animals,
and stated in an earlier interview that, although she is required to put
animals to sleep, she understands the need for it.
Mendoza stated that one of the most difficult parts is seeing neglected
and starved animals.
She added that she also enjoys the opportunity, "to meet a lot of
people," and the chance, "to be outdoors."
When asked what she could change about animal control, she said she
wishes there could be more affordable veterinary services so that more
people would adopt pets. Mendoza added that she realizes that a lot of
people restrain from adopting from the pound because of the spaying,
neutering and vaccination requirements.
Mendoza said that working for the city has been a nice experience and
added her maintenance yard co-workers are truly, "gentlemen."
In the last 10 months Mendoza said she has managed to see renovations to
the kennel, worked weekends and evening hours in attempt to catch pets
released after working hours.
Born and raised in Pecos, Mendoza said she always enjoyed helping
people. Her previous employment reflects that. She worked at the local
"You learn a lot about yourself," she said, when you're inclined to help
others, said Mendoza.
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As Aida Contreras sums up, it takes a versatile person to manage the
offices of two enthusiastic local entrepreneurs.
Contreras manages the offices of West Texas Financial Services, Inc. and
Desert Rental Sales, both owned by Louis Matta. Ray Ortega is a partner
with Matta in DRS, the furniture and appliance business, and both are
now looking at starting up a grocery store.
Contreras has been with the locally owned finance company since it was
first established almost four years ago. And she continued on with WTFSI
when Matta and Ortega created DRS last year in the same building,
handling the office duties for both operations.
Her main chore Contreras said, is collecting. She jokingly adds that in
the near future when she feels like withdrawing from her office chores
she'll be able to move on to to handle tasks laid out at the grocery
Aida joined Matta and Ortega in the purchase of the old Amistad Lions
building in the 100 block of South Pecan Street to aid in the
establishment of an aerobics center.
Aida, as part owner of this enterprise, is a certified aerobics
instructor and manages the weekday classes. She's been doing aerobics
for almost five years. She didn't hesitate in the utilization of the
newest venture to form Total Body Treatment.
Her managing skills allow her to keep classes going, with the aid of
three other instructors, four nights a week, while continuing to
renovate. She recently expanded to two classes, one at 5:30 p.m. and one
at 6:30 p.m.
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Health care has always been in Landa Rediger's blood, stated the office
manager and assistant administrator of Pecos Home Health Care.
"We started building up this home health care business last September
and got it really going in April of this year," said Rediger.
Her past experiences in the health care business began at Reeves County
Hospital, where she held numerous positions including administration and
"I was the patients' account representative and with insurance claims,"
Rediger was also nursing secretary for two years at the hospital, and
was employed there overall for 10 years.
"At this time I was also doing some part-time work with my husband, as a
pharmacists technician at Rediger's Pharmacy," she explained. "I've
always enjoyed the home health field, I always had a romance for the
health care field, I just never did anything about it."
Rediger's efforts now go into keeping up with the home health care
business which her husband, John, first initiated.
"I was his idea to start this business, to provide better service for
all of our customers at the pharmacy and to give the people in Pecos a
choice as to which home health care provider they want, according to
their needs," said Rediger.
For a long time, Pecos only had one home health care provider, and this
new service to the community will give them more options, according to
"I'm devoting all my time and efforts to this service," said Rediger.
"This idea stemmed from my husband's efforts to continue serving the
clients at the pharmacy which has been open for 42 years," she said. "He
wants to continue giving them excellent service and to be able to
provide better service and quality care."
Pecos Home Health Care located at 721 S. Palm St., consists of two
assistant office managers, two full-time RN's, one full-time LVN, two
part-time LVN's and four home health aides.
Home care is service to recovering, disabled, or chronically ill persons
who need treatment and/or assistance with daily activities of living.
Generally, home care is appropriate whenever a person needs assistance
that cannot easily or effectively be provided solely by family or
friends on an ongoing basis, according to Rediger.
Pecos Home Health provides skilled nursing services, RN's, LVN's, case
management, home care aides to assist with personal care, physical
therapy, vital signs and full assessment each visit and lab services.
It also provides IV infusion/education, wound care/dressing care,
diabetic teaching/therapy, catheter care, parental nutrition, ostomy
care, pain management/support, PICC line placement/management,
nutritional counseling and pediatrics.
Services arranged for by Pecos Home Health are durable medical
equipment, respiratory therapy and prescription services.
Even though Rediger and her husband are on a 24-hour on-call basis, they
still enjoying doing other things together, such as snow skiing.
"We both enjoy snow skiing and spending time at our ranch, which is 10
miles from Pecos, situated on 4,000 acres," said Rediger.
She said the ranch has about "40 something" head of cattle and Rediger
helps out at there as much as possible.
"All the ranchhands gather to help each other out, so I'm usually the
chief cook at these roundups," said Rediger. "Since they're providing
their services free of charge, it better be a good meal," she said
Another roundup has been scheduled for November and Rediger states that
she is ready and willing to do her part.
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Dorinda Venegas has seen many improvements since going to work at the
West of the Pecos Museum back in the early 1970s. And she would like to
make sure that continues in her current role as curator of the
three-story downtown historical site.
Venegas has worked at the museum for 22 of the 34 years it's been in
operation, and took over as curator for Genora Prewit in July of 1995.
"I started as an after-school kid and came in and worked," she said. "I
just did everything that Mrs. Duncan (then-curator Fay Duncan) asked."
Over the past two decades, she said, "The museum has grown in size.
We've added more to our collection. When I started working here it
seemed like half the second floor was empty."
She said since the renovation - which was completed at the end of
Prewit's term as curator last summer - opened up the building's third
floor for the first time, the museum now has a total of 50 rooms
available for displays.
Funding for that project, which cost over $500,000, came for a variety
of outside sources, but with that work done, Venegas said most of the
West of the Pecos Museum's funds come from within the museum itself.
"We have the souvenir shop, and the Mesquite House Gallery and Gifts
which Marilyn Oden takes care of. Their main purpose is to support the
museum," she said. "I couldn't give you an exact quote, but we depend
most of museum visitors."
Donations from the 18,000 to 20,000 annual visitors are also augmented
by the sale of museum tiles and through memorial donations.
"We have almost every country and state represented here as visitors,"
Venegas said. "We do a lot of advertising with the Chamber, which is the
only way we can really afford it.
"Of course when we have any kind of event coming up we send out press
releases to all the area news organizations," she added. "Right now
we're getting ready for the kids' Christmas trees, which we do every
Along with collecting visitor's fees and running the souvenir shops,
Venegas said she and the other museum volunteers sometimes conduct tours
for those touring the building for the first time. "Depending on how
busy we are we'll walk them in and tell them a little bit about the
museum to get them started."
With the restoration of the 92-year-old building and the adjacent No. 11
saloon, which marked its 100th anniversary this year, Venegas said the
West of the Pecos Museum is focusing on building local support more than
on any new projects.
"Really what we wanted to do has been done already. We wanted to secure
the main building. If we had kept it at what it was it wouldn't of
lasted. Whatever we do now, we'll do on a smaller scale," she said.
"We'd like to get more community support ... We're always talking about
different fundraisers, but we don't have anything concrete at this
time," Venegas said, adding they would like to attract more business and
She also said the museum is working with Crockett Middle School students
from Kim Calhoun's Careers Investigation Class. "Her students will be
coming in to work during the day," much in the same way Venegas began
working at the museum. "It's a way to try and get the students more
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Tootsie Videtto was given a quick introduction to the world of cellular
communications when she began working for Cellular One 13 months ago.
Videtto has been with the company's South Eddy Street office since it
opened in September, 1995 after working for four years at the First
National Bank. "Because I'm involved in sales, I've been more in contact
with people here than I was at the bank," Videtto said.
Marjorie Saenz was sales manager when Cellular One first opened, but
moved earlier this year, and Robert Clinton now holds that position. "I
worked the office by myself for about four months, while we didn't have
a sales manager or an outside rep, so I had to learn the stuff pretty
quickly," Videtto said.
"It's a fun company to work for," she added. "They keep you going every
month with different kinds of contests. That's how I won a cellular
Part of her job included a trip to `Boot Camp," which was held in
Lubbock for area customer service reps. "They tell you this history of
the company, how it got started and about company policy and
procedures," she said. "You learn about phones and antennas, what you'll
face out in the field and which departments to call for assistance."
She said the camp took place last November, and since that was two
months after she began work, "By then I pretty much knew about how to
use the phones and about the rate plans."
The Pecos area's cellular networks are still less than five years old,
so most new subscribers are still first-time cellular buyers. "Some know
what they want and some don't know anything about it (cellular), so we
have to explain to them what cellular is, what the coverage area is and
what our sales plans are.
"I tell them once the leave the home area (which includes most of West
Texas and Southeastern New Mexico) and start using other company's cell
towers, the cost can get expensive, so you should be careful using when
you're out of the area. And I explain what the difference is between a
hand-held phone and a bag phone. They have different wattage and
reception, and it depends on what you're need are.
"For someone who's out in the field a lot, like farmers, ranchers and
oilfield workers, we recommend the bag phone, but for people who are
just going to Odessa or Midland and want a phone with them, the
hand-held is just fine," Videtto said.
She said the plans also are matched to the customers. "Some can get the
lowest plan for 100 minutes (monthly) and go off and use 300 minutes, so
you want to put them on the right plan for what they need."
Videtto, who is married to Town of Pecos City policeman Paul Videtto and
has a daughter Giselle, 3, said in her job "I work long hours, but
that's all right, because it all pays off.
"I also noticed, too, how I've learned to work more with the public.
From a selling point of view, you have to be agressive to try and sell
them a phone, but you have to be able to work with them so they'll get
what they need."
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When asked why she decided to take on the managerial tasks of two
separate businesses, Neta Rhyne replies, "because I can."
After a brush with lung cancer, and given only two months to live in
1992, Rhyne said she's seen a lot of people quit because of doctors
"A grim prognosis does not mean it's your last," said Rhyne.
And with that in mind, Rhyne continued running the family owned scuba
and souvenir shop in Toyahvale, The Desert Oasis, located just west of
the Balmorhea State Park.
Originally from Houston, the family ventured into the business in 1989,
five years after moving to West Texas from East Texas, where Rhyne said
she acquired some managing experience.
Currently the shop is running on winter hours, opening only on the
weekends. But, "I'm available all the time," said Rhyne, citing
instances when persons are seeking scuba gear or services during
The summer is a busy times for the shop, she said. "We're open seven
days a week, 14 hours a day."
Rhyne claimed that the move west was, "a pleasant change," and a, "whole
different thing," compared to East Texas living.
She manages the shop with the aid of her husband and 16-year-old son.
Last month, Rhyne went into the restaurant business, leasing the former
Renamed the Desert Rose, the Toyahvale resident said, "I love the
place," referring the wooden-framed building, with a covered patio deck,
located in downtown Balmorhea.
As soon as she found out it had become available, Rhyne said, "I
snatched it up."
Although currently for sale, Rhyne said she'll continue to serve from
her Mexican/American menu, because, "I feel it's quite an asset to the
Restaurant hours are: Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.;
Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10
p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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Owning her own business was a dream come true for one Pecos woman, even
though she waited awhile before achieving it.
"I've been thinking about this for about 15 years," said Sandra Fierro,
owner of the Western Club.
Fierro bought the club in September of last year, when the old owner
decided to retire.
"I didn't know the business I would eventually buy would be a club, but
I just wanted to own my own business," Fierro said. "This came up, at a
time when I had a little bit of money, so I decided to try it out."
Fierro said that she bought the club, located at Ninth and Cedar
streets, as a way to build up towards her retirement.
"This is something I can fall back on during my retirement years," said
Fierro's day sometimes begins before 6 a.m. at the club while she still
maintains another full-time job.
"I go to the club sometimes before six, to check inventory, clean up
and do numerous other things that go left undone the night before," said
She also works late at the club at times, giving her other employees a
break from closing.
"I stay there late sometimes to close up, clean and stock," said Fierro.
"I love owning the club, but it's very stressful, since there's so much
to do and not enough time," she said.
Fierro states that it's a "big challenge," but something she is
learning more about and enjoying.
"The only problem seems to be time, because it's like owning another
home, that needs upkeeping and care," she said.
Fierro has lived in Pecos since 1979 and has held numerous positions as
a legal secretary here and in Dallas, where she lived previously.
"Owning a business is really a 24-hour job, but I enjoy my full-time
job a lot," said Fierro.
Fierro is a full-time secretary for Dick Slack.
"When I'm not working, which isn't much of the time, I enjoy barbecuing
and especially spending time with my family," said Fierro.
She is also a big Dallas Cowboys fan and enjoys watching all their
games, plus any other football games.
"I love to cook, I enjoy being a homemaker, that's what brings me more
joy," said Fierro, who added she most enjoys cooking for her daughter,
Dana and her two granddaughters, Kiersten and Stacia.
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Jaxie Young is the glue that holds the work at the Texas A&M
Agricultural Research Station together, say her bosses, Dr. Jaroy Moore
and Mike Murphy.
In the 21 years Young has worked at the station, she has seen many
changes, but she keeps up with them all, Murphy said.
"She has a good eye for finances and budget and knows where we are most
of the time," he said. "Without that it would be awful hard keeping
going through the years."
Young obviously enjoys her work, and she doesn't just juggle numbers and
type memos. She can tell you about every important research project the
staff has worked on while she manned the front office.
"Of the things that a person can do in this world, agricultural research
is one of the most vital things that can be done - and must be done if
we wish to continue our world," she said.
World food production is enough now to feed everyone if it were
distributed right, but because of political situations, that doesn't
happen, Young said.
"In another 20 years or so, unless we can improve the output of crops,
develop more alternative crops and better utilize the ones we grow,
there won't be enough to eat or wear," she said.
The U.S. is a major food exporter because it makes better use of acreage
than do other countries, she said.
Researchers at the Pecos station play an important role, in that they
have to use saline water, which is similar to that in one-fifth of the
entire world for agriculture, she said.
"With every advancing year and more people, your quality of water
available for agriculture is being degraded. So we have to improve what
we do with the water we have," Young said.
Culling root stocks for salinity and drought is one of the major
responsibilities of the research staff.
Salinity has the same effect as drought, "so we can give good results
for drought tolerance tests for crop varieties," she said. "Salinity and
alkalinity change the amount of water that a plant can actually take up."
Young's job is to handle the money and paperwork that allows such
research to go forward.
She once typed all the reports, in quadruplicate or quintiplicate -
error free - but now research assistant Melissa Grote does that on a
computer. And Young uses a computer for bookkeeping, quite a change from
the pencil and Monroe calculator.
"We can do a whole lot more in the same hours," she said.
Being the only secretary for the station over the past 21 years, Young
has seen a lot happen, and she expects to see much more in the future.
"We have to move agricultural research forward; keep our farmers in
business," she said. "I probably would not live to see shortages and
revolutionary conditions that a lack of food will bring. If we can't
feed the world, there will be revolutions. The `haves' will be attacked
by the `have-nots'," she said.
Research done in Pecos may be shared with countries around the world.
"You do something that's real important. The day-to-day detail work can
be a real drag, but to me it's important to do it well and do the best I
can," Young said.
Learning typing at her mother's knee, Young sharpened her skills in high
school. But she attributes her ability "to add two and two and get four"
for putting her in the research station office.
"All the years when I was raising six children, I typed stencils for
schools as home-room mother," she said. "It kept me slow, but accurate.
But when you do books for a group of veterinarians (as she did before
going to the research station), you have all the drug and instrument
inventory and get well rounded. You do some of everything."
You have to be well rounded to work at the research station, where the
staff is small, she said. The staff works with researchers from Lubbock,
El Paso and College Station as well as their own local projects.
"Some of it you can see the results," she said enumerating such projects
as shrimp grown in the station's head house that culminated in shrimp
farms in Pecos County; root stock work on grape vines that helped
establish a winery near Lubbock; work with pistachio root stock that
identified one variety that could withstand nematode attacks and another
that could tolerate cold weather.
"Someday they will get smart enough to realize you have to know what
variety of vegetable to grow; what it can take up out of the soil and
what it can't," Young said.
"There's more interest now in what we eat than at any time since World
War II when we had to depend on food stamps, and the government is
cutting everything," she said. "It is a strange situation. Those of us
that have been alive awhile can see trouble on the horizon."
Young's horizon at the station is a row of tall grass lining the
driveway just outside her office. Desert plants add to the view that
extends the bright, cheery atmosphere of her office.
She cites the surroundings as part of her reason for staying with the
job so long.
"Why would a person not want to work?" she asked. "And the people I work
with. They are all just absolutely super and have been the whole time I
worked for the experiment station."
She worked first for Dr. Jim Hefner, then Jaroy Moore and now Mike
"We have all been here that 20 years and are used to each other," she
said. "All are very independent, but very dependable. We all take our
work very, very seriously; very responsible - the whole outfit."
That extends to researchers from other stations, extension people from
Fort Stockton and graduate students from College Station.
Dr. Mike Foster of Fort Stockton has been working on Guayule research
for years and has improved the percentage of rubber a "great amount,"
she said. And he has developed a method of direct seeding rather than
having to grow the native desert plant in a greenhouse and transplanting
it to the field.
"If anything goes wrong in Southeast Asia, we are without natural
rubber," Young said. "There are certain things you can make with
petroleum stock, and some you can't. Rubber gloves and aircraft tires
are two of those. That's another funding they are cutting when it could
move into the commercial market."
One potential use is an additive for paint that will keep barnacles from
getting on ships, she said.
Nothing happens overnight in agricultural research, she said. It takes
seven to 14 years to develop a new variety and grow enough seeds to
Cotton has come a long way in the Pecos Valley, with strengthened fiber
and storm-proof bolls so the cotton doesn't fall on the ground.
"At the old station is where they did work with green bugs to develop a
grain that bugs didn't like to eat," she said.
The old station was 12 miles southwest of Pecos on Farm Road 869. Pecos
business people supported its move to six miles west of Pecos on I-20
several years ago. The headquarters building is now named for Sid Kyle,
a Texas A&M alumnus and longtime supporter.
"I would love to be able to say I will work another 21 years," Young
said. "Who is to say? They have made major developments in medicines.
Maybe they will find out why we get old."
Averaging fewer than one cold a year, Young said she has nothing to
"I can't run as fast or as far, but as far as enjoying doing things, I
think it is great," she said. "I might not have the energy to live my
life over again, but plan to enjoy what there is of it."
Young's daughter, Nancy, has graduated from Sul Ross State University
and is employed at Head Start. Her siblings are working as a driver's
license officer, airplcraft skin consultant, Stealth Aircraft framer and
horse trainer, truck driver and staffer at Pyote Children's Home.
The only grandchild died in infancy, and Young sees no more on the
horizon. So she invests herself in her work.
"I have people that call and ask who she is," Moore said. "They say `She
is the nicest person; I can't wait until I meet her.'"
Moore said that Young is so interested in the research that she would be
out in the field working if she didn't have to be in the office and
answering the telephone.
"She can do all of it," he said. "She is a very loyal and dedicated
employee that never utilizes her full vacation time. She has gone from
doing it with a pencil and calculator to an automated bookkeeping
system. She has stayed up with the times."
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HOUSTON - Ninfa's Mexican Restaurant learned something unsettling as it
expanded beyond the friendly confines of Texas.
People in other parts of the country are clueless about the Houston
``As we traveled, we found that Ninfa Laurenzo is not as well known as
she is here. She is included in some Texas history books,'' said Tom
Laurenzo, son of the founder and the company's vice president of
marketing. ``But you go to Atlanta, for instance, and they don't know
what a Ninfa is. In Texas, even if they have never heard of Ninfa, at
least they know it is a Hispanic woman's name.''
Laurenzo is not kidding. I called Atlanta to ask folks to participate in
a little word-association game. What do you think of when you hear the
``If I heard the word what???'' our first respondent puzzled. When he
heard the question a second time, he answered, ``I wouldn't have a
``That word doesn't mean a thing to me,'' another man said.
What would you expect to find in a business with that word on the sign
``I might think it was an antique store or something,`` a third man
``Maybe lingerie?'' was one woman's guess.
You can get a fine plate of food at a Ninfa's, but not a stitch of
lingerie - at least not at any Ninfa's I've ever been in.
To clear up any potential confusion, the company decided to name all of
its new restaurants outside of Houston and Dallas ``Mama Ninfa's Mexican
Restaurants.'' It's a small change, maybe, but small changes can work
The Atlanta man who expected to buy antiques at Ninfa's figured he would
find a restaurant under a Mama Ninfa's marquee.
To educate newcomers about the company's colorful past, Ninfa's also
transformed its menu into something resembling a family photo album.
There are pictures of the founder, Mama Ninfa herself, standing outside
the original location on Navigation Boulevard. Other photos show Ninfa
on her wedding day in 1946. Her kids, now company executives, are shown
pedaling tricycles and gathering around their matriarch.
``We have a
story to tell,'' Tom Laurenzo said. ``It's about a woman who is a great
cook. It's about her family who followed her into the business. It tells
people, `We've been at this a long time. Our mother's name is on the
door, and that is a very serious matter for us.'''
With the opening of the Mama Ninfa's in Shreveport, La., later this
month, the Houston-based chain will have 40 Ninfa's restaurants. All but
four are in Texas. Three are in Louisiana, and one in downtown Atlanta
opened just before the Olympics.
The company, whose past expansions have been a mixed bag of hits and
misses, is growing at a moderate pace despite recent problems.
Last Friday, Sysco Corp. filed legal action to force the parent company
of Ninfa's, Rio Star Corp., to pay $2.8 million in unpaid bills.
Sysco asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Houston to liquidate Rio Star,
which owns the 39-restaurant Ninfa's chain. Rio Star said it would
respond in a timely manner. The company has until Nov. 5.
In the meantime, all Ninfa's restaurants are open for business as usual.
Ninfa's is showing caution in the type of places it opens. New Mama
Ninfa's will be smaller and more intimate than most of the company's
locations in Houston. For many of its locations, the company has
remodeled restaurants that have closed - an expansion strategy that can
save both time and money.
Ninfa's most unusual expansion was a restaurant in Leipzig, Germany,
that opened this spring. Located in the heart of an 800-year-old Saxon
city, the restaurant is a blast from the Texas-Mexican border. For the
eyes, there are Mexican paintings, tapestries and a thatched roof over
the bar. For the ears, mariachi music. For the taste buds, a green sauce
that tastes like no strudel ever did.
The first Ninfa's overseas was cooked up by Eckart Wieske, a Houston
businessman who paid Ninfa's a licensing fee for the rights to use its
name and recipes. Sales have been good, but costs of operating the
250-seat eatery have been higher than expected. Wieske was unable to
keep up with the expenses, and the restaurant is now owned by the German
bank that lent him cash.
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Copyright 1996 by Pecos Enterprise
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Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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