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December 4, 1996

Fire marshal rules arson in building fire

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Staff Writer
PECOS, Dec. 4, 1996 - Three starting points spaced throughout a burned
building at 1201 W. Third Street led Pecos Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire
to rule Tuesday that the cause of the Saturday fire was arson.

"It looks like gasoline was poured on the floor," Brookshire said. "A
hydrocarbon detector picked up something at three different places in
the building - one in the front, one in the middle and one near the
north end."

Further evidence of arson are burned wooden steps to an office, he said.
Fire got underneath the steps, indicating that the liquid fuel was
poured on the concrete and ran under the steps.

"Something had to have been poured on the floor," Brookshire said. "The
concrete has gotten real hot there; it is crumbling."

A $10,000 boat and two almost-new jet skis costing $11,000 were
destroyed along with the building.

Pete Capshaw owns the building, which was not insured, Brookshire said.
His daughter, Joni Capshaw, and Pecos High School swimming coach Terri
Morse owned the boat and jet skis. They had insurance only on the boat,
Brookshire said.

"Pete said he would bulldoze the building down," he said.

Weldon Brookshire picked up the jet skis this morning and took them to
B&B Wrecking Service's yard on West Highway 80.

The building's glass-enclosed front portion was once a showroom for new
Oldsmobiles and Cadillacs. The most recent tenant was a welder, whose
truck caught on fire and burned a portion of the building about two
years ago, Brookshire said.

Emergency! stop abusing 911

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From Staff and Wire Reports
You wake up on Election Day and don't feel like looking in a newspaper
to find out where to vote. The minister didn't show for your wedding.
You missed the lottery numbers last night on TV.

You need help. But you don't need 911.

Still, the Department of Justice reports that the majority of 911 calls
in many communities are routine inquiries such as those, tying up
dispatchers' time and sometimes blocking serious police, fire or medical
emergency calls.

Some people are still don't understand the concept of 911, according to
Pecos Police Head Dispatcher Diane Tersero.

"We get all kinds of strange phone calls on 911, ranging from, `do you
know what kind of weather we'll be having?' to `can you come and pick up
these strays?'"

People just don't understand that the 911 phone number is for
emergencies only.

The police department has a separate number (445-4911) that can be
utilized for non-emergencies or for other purposes.

Kids playing on the telephone dialing 911 are also causing the lines to
get tied up.

"We've had kids calling the 911 number and then hanging up," said
Tersero. "We contact the parents immediately to let them know about
this, but in most cases, they deny playing with the phone."

The 911 system allows police to see the address of where the call is
coming from, in order to speed the response of emergency officials.

Tersero stated that individuals will dial the number for all sorts of
little things that are not emergencies and sometimes not even a police

"Sometimes they're just looking for the dog catcher or just want to know
what day it is," she said.

Other cities also report misuse of the 911 line.

On Election Day last month, dispatchers in the Dallas-area suburb of
Euless were inundated with calls from people asking for polling
locations. Communications supervisor Melanie Reese said dispatchers
tried to provide precinct information when possible, while explaining
that 911 is supposed to be for emergencies only.

In Arizona, Scottsdale Mayor Sam Campana called 911 about six times
earlier this year for directions while she was driving in her car. She
later said she considered her actions an appropriate use of police
resources when she is ``under duress.'' The police chief finally gave
her three private telephone numbers to try when she gets lost.

``We get calls from people who ask for the lottery numbers, weather
information and even the time. We get a lot from state hospitals that
house the mentally challenged,'' he said. ``We get calls from people in
our community who have nothing else to do. They use 911 just for

Tersero said that there are also some elderly people who utilize 911 to
obtain information they deem vital.

"We'll be glad to help them, but we wish they would call on the other
line, not the emergency line," she said.

Tersero said that some of the problem stems from the low-digit number.
"It's just a lot easier to remember these three little numbers and to
punch those in, then to memorize the regular number," she said.

Sam Trejo, senior dispatcher at the Harlingen Police Department, said
nearly half of the 300 calls his 911 operators receive daily are not
actually urgent.

Trejo recalled one instance in which he was working a call regarding a
heart attack victim and was interrupted by a child making a crank call.

Trejo blames laziness and television programs such as ``Rescue 911'' for
the deluge of nonemergency callers.

``They figure that we're like TV - all the calls come in through 911.
They want to be a part of that,'' he said.

Mary Kozak, communications manager for the El Paso Police Department,
recalls a 911 operator getting called from someone at a wedding where
the preacher failed to show. The person called 911 to find a substitute.

``In their minds that was an emergency,'' Ms. Kozak said. ``That was
cute and all. We weren't that busy and the operator tried to help them.
She got them off 911 and said, `Well, let me take a look' and got them a
couple of numbers.''

Jim Goerke, executive director of the Advisory Commission on State
Emergency Communications, said the agency has worked hard to teach
children the difference between true emergency calls (such as a house
fire or a crime in progress) and those that aren't (a cat in a tree, a
burglary that has occurred long before the call is made, or vandalism).

Dispatchers say they either transfer nonemergency calls to a regular
police line or ask the caller to redial.

Still, Goerke said, most communications workers do not want intimidate
people about using 911, because that forces them into deciding whether
to call.

As an alternative, the city of Baltimore offers a new number for routine
concerns like noisy neighbors and lost pets. Baltimore is the first city
in the nation to offer 311, developed after President Clinton issued a
request in July to take the pressure off the 911 system.

Goerke said his agency generally opposes 311 ``because of that whole
issue of confusion and placing the responsibility on the individual of
ultimately deciding what's an emergency or what's not.''

But at least one Texas city is considering a similar concept. Dallas has
petitioned the Texas Public Utility Commission to designate 511 for
nonemergency city services, including routine police calls, street and
sanitation, animal control and other concerns.

Judith Shaw, interim director of Dallas' Equipment, Communications and
Information Services Department, said the request was denied last year
because the PUC was awaiting an official ruling from the Federal
Communications Commission.

But the city's program is still on the table, she said.

Until such an option is available, dispatchers suggest people keep the
regular police number next to the telephone for nonemergency situations.

``If it's not going on right now, you need to go ahead and stop and
think a minute,'' Ms. Kozak said. ``If it has just occurred, we would
love to hear from you on 911.''

Liquid-fueled fire sparks false alarm

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Staff Writer
COYANOSA - Dec. 4, 1996 - A passerby spotted what he thought was a grass
fire at a Delhi Pipeline Company station on Farm Road 1450 between Pecos
and Coyanosa Tuesday night and alerted the Pecos Volunteer Fire

Firemen arriving at the scene realized the fire was a flare and notified
Delhi dispatcher.

Toby Neves, Delhi area superintendent, said this morning that a small
amount of liquids was getting to the lit flare and burning liquid
instead of gas.

Firemen made no attempt to put out the fire, but waited for Delhi
employees to arrive and shut off the valve.

Neves said that firemen were notifed that the flare was burning toxic
hydrogen sulfide gas so they would be aware of the danger.

"No gas was escaping," Neves said. "We told them it was a hydrogen
sulfide station so they would be aware it was sour gas. We didn't want
them to put out the fire."

Balmorhea man suspected of drug possession

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Staff Writer
Charges are pending in Reeves County for a Balmorhea man currently in
the Presidio County Jail, after a warrant was issued following the
discovery of narcotics in his home by law enforcement officials.

Reeves County Narcotics Investigator Clay McKinney said Tuesday that
officials received information that Manuel Quiroz could be storing
narcotics at his home.

The department received the information after Permian Basin Drug Task
Force Interdiction Officer Ernie VanderLeest pulled Quiroz over in Jeff
Davis County and discovered over 40 pounds of marijuana in his vehicle.

McKinney stated that a warrant was issued for Quiroz's arrest after
McKinney, Police Narcotics Investigator Paul Deishler and County
Deputies Larry Humphries and Floyd Estrada entered Quiroz's home, at 113
Houston St., and discovered about one gram of cocaine in the master

McKinney said the powdered drug was rolled up in $20 and $1 bills in a
dresser drawer.

"His wife gave us written consent," to enter the house, said McKinney,
who also said that the law enforcement group was equipped with a court
issued warrant.

Also found in the house was a marijuana plant and stolen weapons, one of
which was confirmed to have been stolen out of Austin.

"We're still looking into it," said the county investigator regarding
the identification of the remaining firearms.

Quiroz remains in custody of Jeff Davis County Sheriff's officials on
the original marijuana charge. A spokeswoman for the department said
Quiroz had not bonded out of the Presidio County Jail in Marfa as of
late this morning.

State senate election to change little in Austin

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Associated Press Writer
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) - The party of Abe Lincoln is poised to take another
step toward recovering from the Civil War, just in time for the 21st

A smattering of voters from one of the Texas' most conservative regions
could install the first Republican majority in an Austin legislative
chamber since Reconstruction.

Nominally, a runoff victory Dec. 10 by Republican state Rep. Robert
Duncan over Democratic ex-Lubbock mayor David Langston in their special
election battle for John Montford's Texas Senate seat would be one for
the record books.

Practically, no one knows quite what to make of it.

``I'm not sure an observer is going to be able to tell much of a
difference,'' said state Sen. Bill Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant, the
chamber's highest ranking Republican who this fall was named chair of
the powerful Finance Committee by Democratic Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock. ``I
don't know how you can be any more successful with the governor's agenda
than we were the last time. I think it's going to be very much a session
like last time.''

The ``last time'' refers to the 1995 assembly that featured the dulcet
tones of Bullock, Republican Gov. George W. Bush and Democratic House
Speaker Pete Laney, who orchestrated the session in three-part harmony.

On Tuesday, Bush said a Republican majority in the Texas Senate would be
important for the party, but not necessarily decisive for policy making.

Bush was among a legion of high-profile Republicans at a luncheon
Tuesday on behalf of Duncan in his race against Langston, a Democrat who
resigned as Lubbock's mayor to make the race, in next Tuesday's runoff

If Duncan wins, the GOP would have its first legislative majority since
Reconstruction. Duncan and Langston were the top vote getters in a Nov.
5 special election, although Duncan enjoys a large financial advantage.

The Texas Senate traditionally has granted the lieutenant governor broad
power, which could be endangered if the majority party isn't his own.

``I do believe it will be easier to get a conservative agenda through
the state Senate in the long run,'' Bush said of a majority GOP Senate.

However, Bush said he doesn't believe that scenario would alter his
congenial relationship with Democratic Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock.

``I think (a GOP majority) is important to show people who have worked
hard in the Republican Party that we're making good gains,'' Bush said.

The Nov. 5 general election left the state Senate essentially with a
15-14 GOP advantage and two open seats. A Duncan victory would ensure a
Republican majority.

If Langston wins, the focus shifts to Democrat Jim Turner's East Texas
district. Turner is leaving for the U.S. House, and the parties could
engage in a winner-take-all scrape there to determine the 31st and final

Like Turner, Montford parlayed his powerful tenure into something bigger
and better: Texas Tech's lucrative chancellorship.

The lieutenant governor's traditionally powerful role as president of
the Senate comes from the chamber's own rules, not the constitution.

``The Republican majority could have a really determinative impact on
the operation of the Senate,'' Democratic Party spokeswoman Anne Marie
Kilday conceded.

Democrats still would hold a majority had Turner and Montford not
departed in the middle of their four-year terms. Now, each has left his
party exposed to the GOP in regions where Republicans have winning track

Four top Senate Republicans, including Ratliff, met with Bullock
following the election to discuss committee chairmanships. The
rendezvous upset Bullock, though both sides since have tried to put a
congenial face on it.

``I think we either did a bad job of conveying what we were trying to
say or he misunderstood what we were trying to say,'' Ratliff said.
``It's certainly water under the bridge. I don't perceive anything
lasting coming of it.''

Duncan, a two-term Lubbock legislator who has concentrated on tort
reform and higher education funding, finished slightly ahead of Langston
in the general election.

``The reason why a Republican majority makes a difference rests in our
ability to make state government leaner and more responsible to Texas
and Texans,'' he said.

Duncan and Langston, both attorneys, are battling to represent Lubbock,
Big Spring, about half of Odessa, a third of San Angelo, a smidge of El
Paso and scores of West Texas communities in between.

Langston, who once worked for former Democratic U.S. Rep. George Mahon
in Washington, urges voters to remember the party he credits with the
existence of Texas Tech, its companion medical school and Reese Air
Force Base.

``I'm concerned about representing the people of West Texas,'' he said.
``I'm not seeking to represent the Democratic Party, the Austin lobby,
special interests or anyone else.''

Langston points to Duncan's representation of insurance companies before
the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission while serving on the House
Insurance Committee as an unethical conflict of interest.

Duncan, who had raised more than $250,000 compared to Langston's $50,000
according to the most recent reports, has received large sums from out
of district, something Langston has criticized.

Duncan's camp rebuts that he's worked for a streamlined insurance system
and has voted for bills the industry has opposed. Duncan submits that
his foe hasn't received any out-of-district support because no one is
willing to bet on him.

Texas Tech political science professor Irwin Morris, who specializes in
legislative issues, believes Bullock's iron-fist Senate control indeed
is jeopardized.

``It's quite possible that if the balance of power does shift to
Republicans, then you may have a situation where the Lieutenant Governor
is not provided with the traditional powers usually accorded to him,''
Morris said. ``You could see a significant decrease in his institutional

Despite the threat, Ms. Kilday agrees with Ratliff that Bullock will
remain key to the legislative process this winter, regardless of party

``One can never overlook the force of Bullock's personality and his
statewide name recognition,'' Ms. Kilday said.

Click here for big Texas party

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AUSTIN - Have you thought about having a Totally Texas celebration this
holiday season? Agriculture Commissioner Rick Perry says everything
you'll need _ from decorating ideas to menu suggestions _ is grown or
processed right here in Texas.

"And now, they're as close as your computer," Perry said.

"Totally Texas Holiday" on the Texas Department of Agriculture's
website has holiday suggestions with a Texas touch. With links to
choose-and-cut Texas Christmas tree farms and Taste of Texas companies
with holiday gift baskets, the site is a convenient one-stop shopping
and planning center during the busy holidays. The Internet address is:
Recipes in the "Gifts from the Kitchen" and "Totally Texas Holiday
Menus" sections include ingredients grown or processed in Texas.
There's even a Kids Korner with holiday activities to keep the
youngsters busy while Mom and Dad are busy decorating the house -
perhaps with a wreath made with Texas cotton bolls - or baking up a
batch of Texas Pecan Pie Bars for a homemade gift.
"People should start their holiday planning with agriculture," Perry
"With the help of our farmers and ranchers, folks have a bounty of Texas
agricultural products for all their holiday needs."

I-27 corridor on highway repair agenda

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ODESSA, Dec. 4, 1996 - Roadway improvement is now the focus of a study
that once included a proposed north-south interstate highway.

The Texas Department of Transportation is asking members of the public
to help chart future highway improvements in corridors south from
Lubbock to I-10 and from Amarillo north to the state line.

Six public workshop meetings will be held across West Texas, including
one Dec. 10 at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center, 5200 E.
University Blvd., in Odessa.

The workshop meetings will begin at 7 p.m. and are expected to last
about two hours.

They are a key part of Phase 2 of a study which has already identified
five corridors but determined that construction of a controlled access
freeway with frontage roads from Lubbock to I-10 and Amarillo to the
Oklahoma Panhandle is not cost-effective.

TxDOT will spend $1.5 million to determine routes to be improved and the
order in which the improvements should be made within each corridor.

The corridor runs from Lubbock to Lamesa, through Midland-Odessa to I-10
near Bakersfield.

Chamber to award best home decorator

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PECOS, Dec, 4, 1996 - Decorated homes in Pecos will again be judged on
their glowing lights, animated reindeer and assorted Christmas

The Women's Division of the Pecos Chamber of Commerce will be having
their yearly Christmas Lighting Contest, which began this week.

Addresses of the homes to be judged need to be called in before
committee members go out and view it.

"As in the past we will be judging the houses, however, there's been
some misconceptions about how the homes are judged," said president
Jeannette Smallwood.

Individuals need to realize that the homes must be nominated by calling
the chamber and letting them know the address and name of the homeowner
before committee members can judge them.

Committee members will be taking nominations until Friday of each week,
giving them a chance to view the homes during the weekend before making
a decision.

If a home has been nominated but didn't win during that week, it can be
re-nominated the following week.

Homes can win only once during the contest.

Contest winners will receive $25 and a sign will be placed on their
front lawn.

"We'll also be in charge of moving the sign each week from home to
home," said Smallwood.

Homes will be judged on Dec. 9, Dec. 16 and Dec. 23.

A group of members have been chosen to be a part of the committee which
will do the judging.

To nominate a home individuals are asked to contact the chamber office
at 445-2406.


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PECOS, Dec, 4, 1996 - High Tuesday 60, low last night 31. Tonight,
partly cloudy. Low near 30. Wind north to northeast 5-15 mph. Thursday,
mostly sunny. High in the mid to upper 60s. Wind becoming west 10-15

Republic's bad checks circulated

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Click here for related stories: Republic of Texas

AUSTIN (AP), Dec. 4, 1996 - Members of the Republic of Texas
organization are passing worthless checks, Attorney General Dan Morales
is warning retailers, consumers and government agencies.

The Republic of Texas organization claims the annexation of Texas in
1845 was illegal. Its organizers say they have taken over assets held by
the state and will hold a constitutional convention next year.

Morales, who's suing the group over false government and legal documents
it has circulated, on Wednesday said Texans need to beware of the
group's bogus checks.

``They are attempting to pass these bogus documents in return for
services and products,'' Morales said. ``Some have attempted to pay
credit card bills or deposit the fake checks in real checking

Group leaders have ignored court hearings in Morales' lawsuit against
them, saying neither the court nor the attorney general have
jurisdiction over them.

Children, legal immigrants hit by welfare cuts

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AUSTIN (AP) - Thousands of children and legal immigrants could lose
disability and medical benefits under the new federal welfare bill,
state legislators are being told.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Bill Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant, on
Monday said the benefits gap - estimated at $366 million a year by
legislative budget experts - probably won't be plugged with state

``I think it will be very difficult for the State of Texas to pick up
major programs the federal government has discontinued,'' Ratliff said.

Legislators are uncertain of the total fiscal impact the new federal
welfare bill will have on Texas.

But officials say 12,000 children who have severe physical or mental
disabilities stand to lose $51 million a year. Legal immigrants,
historically provided benefits under the federal welfare system, also
will lose Supplemental Security Income, food stamps and Medicaid
benefits, about $316 million a year.

Some South Texas lawmakers say the state should pick up the slack left
by the federal government because they feared local taxpayers in border
communities would be left holding the bag.

``We're going to see a tremendous amount of expenses in the emergency
room and the classroom,'' said Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville. ``If the
state doesn't pick up costs ... we will see an increasing burden to
local taxpayers.''

Ratliff said charities and others will have to step forward to help deal
with social services that no longer are paid for by the federal
government. He said another avenue would be to shift financial
responsibility onto people who sponsor legal immigrants.

Leaving children, pregnant women and others without medical coverage or
supplemental cash payments will only temporarily ease the state budget,
said Mike McKinney, state health and human services commissioner.

``They are sticking their heads in the sand. Somehow or other Texas
taxpayers are going to pick up those costs. The people live here, they
get sick here,'' he said.

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Copyright 1996 by Pecos Enterprise
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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