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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Candidates get ballot positions for new election

Staff Writer

The Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD has scheduled a special tie-vote election for June 16, and a drawing for places on the ballot was held during a special meeting held at noon on Friday.

Board members met to discuss and order a special tie-vote election between school board president Billie Sadler and David Flores, after a recount of the May 7 election left the two tied for the second of two three-year terms up for election.

Sadler and Flores, who was seeking to return to the board following a two-year absence ended up tied after Sadler initially had been given a three-vote victory in the three-way race for two available school board seats..

The group canvassed election returns at the special meeting held on May 17, following the recount, which was requested by Flores after he lost out for the final spot on the school board by three votes to Sadler.

The original vote count gave Sadler 405 votes to 402 for Flores in the final tabulation on Saturday. But when the recount was held Monday afternoon, Flores gained two votes while Sadler lost one off her final total.

The recount gave both candidates 404 votes, prompting Friday’s meeting to call a special election. The recount also showed the other incumbent seeking re-election, Paul Deishler, received 541 votes to earn a new three-year term. Deishler’s total was one vote less than the 542 he was reported to have gotten in the original vote count.

The two were also supposed to draw for a place on the ballot during the special meeting. Flores was unable to attend the meeting because he was a pallbearer in a funeral held for a co-worker on Friday, and his brother, Joe Ray Flores drew in his place.

The outcome of the drawing will have Davis Flores first on the ballot, with Sadler second.

Election judges, ballot board judges and alternate and central counting officials were approved during the special meeting.

The special tie-vote election has been estimated to cost $6,500.

The election calendar for the June 16 elections was also approved. Monday, May 23, was the first day to accept applications for early voting ballots to be voted by mail. On Wednesday, June 1, is the last day to publish notice of election in a newspaper and early voting by personal appearance begins, at the Pecos Community Center, on Wednesday, June 1.

Wednesday, June 8, is the last day to receive applications for voting ballot be voted by mail and Friday, June 10, is last day to vote early by personal appearance.

Election day will be Thursday, June 16.

Interest in the school board election shot up following an April 14 decision by the board to eliminate the district’s enhanced program. The board voted 4-3 to end the program, with both Sadler and Deishler voting in favor of eliminating it starting in August.

Parental protests resulted in another board meeting on May 3, in which Deishler switched his vote to keep the enhanced program for the 2005-06 school year. However, board member Steve Valenzuela, who voted to retain the program on April 14, voted to eliminate it during the May 3 meeting. Board member Crissy Martinez was absent, and the 3-3 tie left the April 14 decision intact.

Flores, who said he supports retaining the enhanced program, finished third among voters who cast ballots during the early voting period, between April 18 and May 3, while Flores was the top vote-getter among those who cast ballots on May 7.

Sadler has served as school board president during her past two terms, and was seeking a fourth term overall on the P-B-T board. Flores was first elected to the board in 2000 before losing his bid for re-election in 2003, while Deishler was elected to his second three-year term in the May 7 vote.

Jury picked to set damages in DWI fatality suit

A jury was selected Monday morning in 143rd District Court in Pecos for a civil suit connected to the deaths of a Pecos man and a Monahans man in a January 2004 car accident in Midland.

But the jurors will only be deciding on the amount of the award in the case, after the restaurant company being sued by the families admitted culpability in serving too much alcohol to a Midland woman who was later convicted of vehicular homicide in the case. Brinker International Corp., the Dallas-based restaurant operator agreed to admit culpability in the deaths of Felipe Ornelas Jr. of Pecos and Ruben Pando Jr. of Monahans, the Midland Reporter-Telegram said in its Friday edition.

The paper said attorneys Jose Luis Garriga of Odessa and Jon Bailey of San Angelo, told the Reporter-Telegram that Garriga's lawsuit against Ornelas' estate in behalf of Pando's ex-wife, Tanya Valdez of Kermit, and 1-year-old son Alejandro was dropped because Brinker took sole responsibility for serving too much alcohol to Diane Zamora at the company’s On the Border restaurant in Midland.

"I don't think it will be a long trial -- two or three days at most," Garriga told the paper. "Brinker's admitting liability cuts out a lot of the witnesses and evidence. Having only one bar involved in a dram shop case eliminates the argument that this driver had been to several places.”

Three of Brinker’s companies had been named in the original suit.

Lawyers for the families of Ornelas and Pando had alleged that Midland’s On the Border Mexican Grill and Cantina served Midland school secretary Diane Zamora too many mixed drinks on Jan. 9, 2004.

According to the Midland police report, after leaving the restaurant, Zamora’s Mitsubishi Montero Sport then ran a red light while westbound near downtown Midland, and hit a southbound Ford Thunderbird broadside at Front Street and Lamesa Road, killing the 20-year-old Ornelas, the driver of the Thunderbird, and Pando, 28. Zamora was sentenced to 27 months in state prison in a criminal trial held in Midland in June of 2004.

The suit against Ornelas’ estate was originally filed based on an autopsy reports that showed Ornelas’ blood alcohol content was .10, which is over the state legal limit of .08.

City hopes feds fund mandated CJC salary hike

Staff Writer

Town of Pecos City owes 27 workers at the Pecos Criminal Justice Center over $180,000 in back wages, after a ruling by the U.S. Department of Labor last week. But city officials expect funds for those wages to eventually come from the U.S. Marshal’s Service and hope the money arrives by the 90-day deadline set by the DOL to pay those back wages.

City Council members approved transferring funds to pay the wages, during a 15-minute special meeting on Friday at City Hall. The $182,055.90 covers wages owed between August 3, 2003 and May 15, 2005 and must be paid by mid-August, and city officials hope the reimbursement funds from the Marshal’s Service will arrive by that time.

City attorney Scott Johnson said the ruling by the DOL was made to bring those wages in line with employees at the Reeves County Detention Center I and II units, which the DOL ruled two years ago had to raise their salary rates to meet federal guidelines.

“A city worker went to the DOL asking for an increase, and the DOL agreed,” Johnson said. City finance director Sam Contreras then did calculations to determine how much the city owed in back wages, while the DOL did their own estimate and came up with the $182,055.90 number.

“Some employees think we owe them more money, but that’s not the issue here. We’ve got 90 days from May 19 to pay that amount,” said Johnson, who then told council members the city shouldn’t have to bear the cost of the back wages.

“I think it won’t cost the city anything. I think the Marshal’s Service will agree to reimburse that amount,” Johnson said.

He told the council that failure to comply with the DOL order would mean the federal government would then deduct the pay amount from the city’s normal reimbursement for housing Marshal’s Service inmates at the CJC, and more importantly, the city would be barred for five years from entering into contracts with the federal government.

“All they need is a signature by today (Friday) to get the ball rolling,” city manager Joseph Torres said of the reimbursement by the Marshal’s Service. However, he added, “I can’t give you a timeline until we get the rest of the paperwork,”

“Do we have something from the Marshal’s Service guaranteeing us reimbursement in 90 days,” asked council member Angelica Valenzuela.

“Mr. Reyes (Richard Reyes, the city’s consultant in negotiations with the U.S. Marshal’s Service on inmate reimbursement rates) has been in contact with them on a daily basis, and he has assurances from them,” said Johnson, while adding that as of now the city has nothing in writing assuring them the money will be reimbursed.

In response to a question from councilman Danny Rodriguez, CJC supervisor Tony Dawdy said the employees at the facility are anxious to receive their additional wages following the ruling.

“They know they’ve got something coming, but they don’t know what’s going on. They’re waiting for someone to tell them,” Dawdy said.

He added that along with the CJC, other area facilities that house U.S. Marshal’s Service inmates might also be facing payment of back wages owed under the DOL ruling. “It’s not just us in this predicament. It’s us and it may be Winker County, Fort Stockton and it may be the Sheriff’s Department here,” he said.

“Since everybody’s on the same path and it’s happening with other cities and facilities, I feel it won’t take that long to reimburse,” said councilman Michael Benavides.

Johnson said the council could appropriate the $182,055.90 now, but could wait until getting word from the Marshal’s Service that reimbursement funds were arriving before paying the back wages. He added that if the Marshal’s Service doesn’t meet the Aug. 19 deadline for the city, they would still have to pay the money, and would have to go back in to make budget changes to account for the extra expense.

“”I feel comfortable going with that decision,” Benavides said. “I feel like we’ll see something in 90 days.”

The council ended up approving the measure by a 4-0 vote, with councilman Frank Sanchez absent from the noontime meeting.

“We will pay the unpaid wages that are due, but we will stay in consultation with the DOL and our representative, Mr. Reyes,” said Mayor Dot Stafford, while Dawdy said he would meet with CJC employees this week to update them on the situation.

Following the special meeting, Stafford said the council’s regular meeting scheduled this week has been moved up one day, from Thursday to Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. Last Monday, council members held a special meeting to canvass the votes in the May 7 election, certifying the re-election of Rodriguez, Sanchez and Mayor Pro-Tem Gerald Tellez, and the approval of the 2 percent venue tax on motel bills in the city. The venue tax passed by nearly a 5-to-1 margin, while Rodriguez, Sanchez and Tellez were unopposed for re-election to new two-year terms.

Reynolds weighs taking action on slap allegation

District Attorney Randy Reynolds said his has yet to decide whether or not an incident involving a child allegedly being slapped last month at Austin Elementary School warrants being brought before a 143rd District Court grand jury, or if the incident will be turned over to Reeves County Court-at-Law for disposition.

Reeves County Sheriff’s Deputy Christina Winfrey said last week she had given details on the April 28 incident to the district attorney’s office, and Reynolds said he received the information on May 18. A first grade boy at the school and his parents told the deputy that a second grade teacher at the school had slapped the boys in the face twice while they were in the cafeteria area of the school.

Several people reportedly witnessed the incident, but Winfrey said on May 4 that they had given the department conflicting statements. “We had some (cafeteria workers) who confirmed the story, but other employees said they saw the incident, and it didn’t happen,” said the deputy.

Winfrey said at the time that Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Jim Riley had declined to handle the case, due to the conflicting testimony, and the information would be turned over to Reynolds’ office.

Section 9.62 of the Texas Penal Code does allow for a teacher to administer “reasonable discipline” of a student in certain situations. Reynolds said he’ll look at the case to see if the allegation was both strong enough to go before a grand jury and if it rose to the level of being a violation of state law.

“I’m going to review it with the information out there, but it may not be a felony,” Reynolds said. “I will review all the statutes and the facts.”

He said that the school district has been cooperative in providing his office with information relating to the incident.

Dad says police slow to react after son assaulted

Pecos Police are investigating a Friday night incident in which a 19-year-old reportedly was beaten by five other persons with a baseball bat and sent to Reeves County Hospital.

But the father of the injured teen said police are moving too slowly in making arrests in the case, which reportedly happed about 10:30 p.m. on Friday in the 500 block of Willow Street.

Danny Enmon said his son, Danny Enmon, Jr., was beaten by five other people he said were gang members. “My son is not in a gang and told them he didn’t want to fight. But they held a knife to his throat and then clubbed him with a baseball bad,” Enmon said. He said the younger Enmon had to go to Reeves County Hospital for treatment of his injures, but was well enough the next day to go over to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center to give a statement to police. However, Enmon said Monday he was unhappy no action had been taken by Monday towards arresting those involved.

“On Monday they hadn’t taken it to the DA’s office to get a warrant,” he said. “There were plenty of witnesses, and they talked to them and they elaborated the same story. Police Chief Clay McKinney said his department is continuing to look into the incident, but don’t have enough information yet to go forward with any arrests.

“Until the investigation is complete and we have enough evidence to go to the judge and get a warrant, that’s where the case is,” McKinney said. “We don’t want to jump the process and hurry the investigation, and make a mistake in the case to satisfy the complainant.”

“The officers talked to the son and got written statements from the witnesses,” McKinney said, while adding he personally did not have any information about a knife being confiscated from one of the people Enmon said assaulted his son.

“We may have found a knife, but I haven’t seen the report yet,” the chief said. Enmon said he went back to the area about 3:30 in the morning and found the suspects were still there. “We’ve got a curfew in this town, but there were about 20 of them out there at 3:30 4 in the morning walking up and down.”

He said that an officer did go to the scene, and confiscated a baseball bat and a knife, along with an axe handle. But Enmon said, “He let them go. He didn’t arrest anyone.” McKinney added that while Enmon said gang members did the assault, his department has not seen any increase recently in gang-related activity.

The chief also said his department is continuing their investigation into a May 5 incident, in which a bullet was fired into the side of an empty school bus, which police believe was traveling south on Mesquite Street to pick up students at Bessie Haynes Elementary. Police believe the shooting took place in the 800 block of Mesquite Street, but the driver of the bus did not notify police of the incident until eight days later. The bullet struck the rear driver’s side of the vehicle, but did not penetrate inside the bus, McKinney said.

PHS student 3rd in national poster contest

A local Pecos High School senior was one of among 2,300 high school students recognized for their artistic talents recently in a national contest.

Bryan Chowning, a senior at Pecos High School, won third prize in the 15th Annual Christopher Poster Contest.

The Christophers have announced eight winners in their Fifteenth annual Poster Contest for high school students.

Selected from a field of nearly 2,300 high school students from across America and throughout the world, these young artists were recognized for their unique interpretations of the theme “You Can Make a Difference” in original 15 X 20-inch posters. Entrants in this year’s contest made use of a remarkably diverse range of media, from paints and pencils to photography and computer graphics.

Chowning won third place and $250 prize for his poster of an elephant carrying a mouse over a stream. He said that he was really surprised to hear that he had won the art scholarship contest.

“But I was really pleased, I didn’t expect my poster to be that good,” Chowning said. The $1,000 First Place prize was awarded to Stephanie Hampshire, a junior at Western High School in Davie, Fla., for a poster of a child helping a younger child learn to ride a bike. The judges said the poster encourages us to, “Teach each other. Learn from each other.”

Second place and a prize of $500 went to sophomore Joeham Collado of Passaic County Technical Institute in Wayne, N.J., for his stark pencil image of a firefighter on the job. Five other students were awarded honorable mention prizes of $100 each.

Dennis W. Heaney, president of The Christophers, said, “The thousands of entries we see each year give all of us involved a feeling of hope. It’s wonderful and heartening to see so many young artists committed to making a positive difference in the world.”

Chowning said that he always held an interest in art and took some art classes throughout high school.

“I also entered a poster contest, we went to competition in Odessa,” he said. Chowning won a medal through one of the art shows held in Odessa, but this is his biggest accomplishment.

He said found out about the nationwide contest through the Internet. “I found it on the net and thought it would be something fun to try,” he said.

Chowning will be attending the UTPB for clinical laboratory studies.

“I like to do art as a hobby and I also enjoy working on cars,” said Chowning, who also keeps busy with a part-time job at the West of the Pecos Museum.

“I love my job at the museum, I get to meet a lot of people from all over the world,” he said.

Chowning is the son of Karen and Mike Chowning of Pecos and he has one sister, Lindsay.

Students in grades 9 through 12 are invited to participate in The Christophers’ Poster Contest. Posters are judged on their overall impact, communication of theme, originality and artistic merit. Many entries in this year’s contest expressed concern regarding the world’s poorer regions and for the victims of natural disasters such as the recent tsunami that ravaged parts of Southeast Asia.

For information about The Christophers’ upcoming Sixteenth Annual Poster Contest, e-mail or write to: High School Poster Contest, The Christopher’s, 12 East 48th Street, New York, N.Y. 10017.

A non-profit organization founded in 1945, The Christophers uses mass media to encourage all individuals to make a positive difference in the world, as expressed in the Christopher motto: “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”

A Texas Heritage Program presented during meeting

The Modern Study club met recently in the home of Martha Jay for a Texas Heritage Program entitled, “The Painted Churches of Fayette County.” Juracy Ray, Texas Heritage Department Chairman, planned and presented the program.

The thought-quote for the program was, “No man is worth his salt who is not ready at all times to risk his well-being, to risk his life, in a great cause” - Anonymous.

Using a display of color photographs of the churches and several photographs of the interiors of some of them Mrs. Ray told the following story.

Last spring my husband and I joined a tour of Schulenburg located on I-10 and Hwy. 17 for a tour of the Painted Churches of Fayette County where we also experienced the Germaan-Czech heritage they are known for. Schulenburg is said to be “half way to everywhere.”

I am going to give you a brief history of each church. These photographs will help to give you an idea of their beauty.

In 1856, several Czech families traveling from their homeland founded Dubina. Dubina was given the name because of the many beautiful oak trees around. The Czech word for oak tree is Dub.

At one time the population was 3,000, now much fewer, around 200. The people met in a log cabin and finally built the Parish in 1877.

Then on July 21, 1909, a tropical storm came and wrecked the parish church. They began construction on a new one that same year.

The present church was built in 1912, decorated with frescoes and stenciling. In 1952, the church was modernized and painted covered the beautiful work. Then they removed it by having a professional painter, paint blue and beige in the backgrounds to retain the artwork that had been there originally.

Each year the parishioners of Dubina host their church picnic on the first Sunday in July. About eight miles from Schulenburg in the rolling hills is where the Czech - Moravian families settled in 1845 on Mulberry Creek. They named their settlement Swiss Alp.

Approximately 30 years later the name was changed to Praha. The stone church was built in 1855 and dedicated under the name of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The beautiful vaulted ceiling was painted by a famous Swiss artist and never been repainted. The stones used to build the church was brought by oxen from a nearby village. It’s beauty still stands today.

The Praha Cemetery is dedicated to nine young men who lost their lives in World War II. They are honored with a monument for losing their lives. Praha holds their annual feast on Aug. 15. It is known as “Prazka Pout” which means “homecoming.”

High Hill was the prairie land where several families left their home in Neudeck, Austria, to come to America and settled in November 1860. This area was called “Blum Hill” later changed to High Hill. We had lunch on the grounds of this beautiful church.

High Hill was the third church to be built on the nine acres deeded to the church in 1868. It is the classic example of the Gothic Revival style displaying not only late Victorian features with background of German and Czech - Moravian as well. The St. Mary’s Church has been placed in the National Registry of Historic Places.

There is the old High Hill Cemetery one mile to the south of the church. The Headstones date back to 1800’s. It to, has a historic marker on it’s grounds.

The High Hill Cottonseed Oil Mill to the north of the church was the first to operate successfully in Texas and our nation.

Today they host many events but the largest being a Labor Day Picnic.

Ammannsville was settled by Andrew Amman and his family. These families built a town with usual things - blacksmith shop, general store, bank, town hall meeting place, doctor and this one even had a band. I presume they provide music for all the annual feast.

Eleven and a quarter acres of land was donated for this future place and after visiting other parishes for years they decided to build their church and it was dedicated in 1890 as St. John the Baptist.

In 1909 the church and businesses were destroyed by a storm. They immediately built a new one.

In 1917 a third church was built on the same site. Inside the church is a purely ornamental painting with stenciling, infill, freehand and marbling techniques. It is said the wondrous painting was done by a European drifter.

Their annual parish picnic is held on Father’s Day each year.

Swiss Alp was the last one we visited. In 1848, a German-Swiss family came from their native homeland of Switzerland to settle in Texas. They decided on these rolling hills as it looked more like Switzerland and they decided to name it Swiss alp.

The Philadelphia Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized in 1867. Three different congregations formed this church. In 1890, a new church was built. In 1942 it was enlarged and remodeled. Later in June 1952, the church bell tower and northex was completely rebuilt. This church is the other church of the five that is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places and a historical marker is located in front of the building. This little community had a dance hall next to a store and this is where the legendary country singer B.J. Thomas got his start.

Today Swiss Alp is a blossoming community with dairies, farmers raising cattle and grass crops.

Mrs. Ray also told of the six rediscovered 19th Century paintings that now hang in Fayettesville’s St. John the Baptist Church painted by one Johann Ignaz Berger, a master painter who lived from 1822 to 1901 in Moravia, an ancient region in what is now the Czech Republic.

Services are still held in all of the churches.

Mrs. Ray also had as a door prize a tote bag showing four of the churches she presented in her discussion of the tour.

President Lena Harpham presided at the meeting. The club collect and the pledges to the United States of America and Texas flags were led by Nan Cate as those in attendance repeat all in unison.

Minutes of the previous meeting were read and approved and the treasurer reported on club finances.

Federation Counselor Nan Cate made us aware that many of our projects could be written up under the CIP caption and might even earn extra money for furthering our CIP Projects.

Joyce Morton made a motion that Lilly Valdez be the recipient of our Modern Study Club Scholarship Award. The motion was seconded by Nan Cate. Motion carried.

Roll Call was answered by telling of ‘your favorite church that you had belonged to or visited.’ The responses ranged from The Sistine Chapel and Westminster Cathedral to a small church in a wood.

Laras’ to exchange wedding vows

Linsey Shea Hathorn Lara and Timothy Albert Lara will exchange vows on June 11, in Pecos.

The couple were wed in November of 2004 and now wish to share in a celebration with family and friends.

Hathorn, daughter of Doug and Beverly Hathorn of Pecos, is a 1999 graduate of Pecos High School and 2003 graduate of UTPB. She is currently employed by Big Spring ISD. Lara, son of Erasmo and Mary Ann Lara of Wink, is a 1996 graduate of Wink High School and is currently employed by A&M Composites in Big Spring.

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