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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Trooper dies in Monahans New Year’s accident

Monahans News

Texas Department of Public Safety officials are continuing their investigation into the death of a trooper on Interstate 20 near Monahans on New Year’s Day.

DPS Trooper Billy Jack Zachary, 32, was struck and killed by a pickup truck while he was conducting a traffic stop on I-20 on Sunday, the DPS said in a preliminary report. Zachary had two vehicles pulled over around 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, one parked behind his patrol vehicle and another in front of it when he was struck by a pickup truck heading west on the highway as he walked from the vehicle parked behind his toward the other, said CPL. Kathy Briggs.

The collision sent Zachary into the ditch and the truck went on to strike the rear of the patrol car, Briggs said.

According to the Pecos DPS, the driver of the truck, Mario Valdez, 33, called the accident in at 4:42 pm.

The accident is still under investigation. No arrests have been made.

According to the DPS office in Pecos, Valdez told officials he fell asleep at the wheel of his pick-up before it struck Zachary and his patrol vehicle.

Zachary began training in Ward County under Trooper Jason Anzaldua on August 30, 2004. He was the replacement officer for Trooper Eric White.

“He was a good family man and a good friend. He will be missed,” Anzaldua said after the accident.

Zachary was born and raised in Madisonville. He moved to Huntsville and owned a landscaping and lawn business for five years.

He then went to Sam Houston State in Huntsville where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree.

He married Tara in Huntsville and they had a daughter, Zoe Kathryn, at Odessa Regional on Oct. 6, 2005.

He had been in the DPS academy for six and a half months before training with Anzaldua. Zachary had picked Monahans as his first of three choices given him by DPS because he was familiar with the area. His grandparents, Bill and Dovie Conner, had lived in Odessa during his childhood.

The Interstate was closed by the Texas Department of Transportation for approximately five hours because of the accident.

A memorial service for Zachary was held in Monahans on Monday. Visitation was scheduled at the Church of Christ in Madisonville on Wednesday, with funeral services set for 3 p.m. on Thursday at the church. Burial was scheduled for Mt. Tabor Cemetery in Madisonville, under the direction of J.M. Day Funeral Home.

A memorial fund has been set up at the First National Bank in Monahans, account number 205109.

Fields crowded for judge, commissioners races

Reeves County will have a new Democratic Party nominee for County Judge, and a crowded field to choose from, following some last-minute filings on Monday, the final day to enter the March 7 primary race.

Last-minute candidates in the judge’s race and in the race for commissioner made it to the county clerk’s office in time to file their treasurer’s designation, and filed with county Democratic Party chairman Bobby Dean prior to Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline.

The list of potential candidates for the office of county judge grew to five on the Democratic side, while both the Precinct 2 and Precinct 4 commissioners’ races will be contested in March.

The county judge hopefuls will be seeing the office held for the past 11 years by Jimmy Galindo who decided not to seek a fourth term in office. Those who filed for the position with Dean include Al Gomez, Sam Contreras, Bernardo “Chaquen” Martinez, Israel Campos and Grace Renteria.

All five also filed with County Clerk Diane Florez, as did a sixth potential candidate, Bobby Hanks, who could still run as either an independent or as a Republican.

Almost all county elected officials over the years have run in the Democratic primary and won its nomination, though candidates can also run as Republicans in the March primary election, or be appointed as the Republican nominee if no candidate has filed to run in the primary election. Hopefuls can also run as write-in candidates for the actual election on November 2006.

The other contested races will be that of Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 2 and Precinct 4.

The Precinct 2 position is currently held by Norman Hill, who filed for a second four-year term. He’ll have two challengers in Alvesia “Tita” Tarin and Gabriel Martinez. In the Precinct 4 race two-term incumbent Gilbert “Hivi” Rayos will have three challengers, in Alex Ramirez, Conchita Hernandez and Ramiro Guerra.

The other incumbents who have filed include Dianne Florez, who is seeking re-election as Reeves County Clerk; Linda Clark, as Reeves County Treasurer; Pat Tarin who is seeking re-election as District Clerk, and Walter Holcombe, who is running for a new term as Reeves County Court-at -Law judge.

For Reeves County Attorney, Richard Slack, who is currently filling the unexpired term following the October resignation of Luis, has filed to retain that seat. The 91-year-old Slack, who served as Reeves County Judge from 1949 through 1952 and then for 28 years in the Texas Legislature, will be running for a two-year term.

Amonario P. Ramon filed his treasurer’s designation to retain his seat as Justice of the Peace Precinct 1, while Justice of the Peace Precinct 2 Jim Riley and Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Rosendo Carrasco have filed for new terms. In Precinct 4, Heriberto “Eddie” Rodriguez filed for justice of the peace, a position currently held by Lamberto Herrera. Voters will also elect candidates for several regional races, along with the governor’s race, the race for U.S. Senate and other statewide positions.

In District 23 in the U.S. House race, Rick Bolanos of El Paso County has filed to run as a Democratic, and will be unopposed in the primary to run against six-term incumbent Republican Henry Bonilla of San Antonio in the November general election. Bonilla is unopposed in his primary election.

In the Texas Senate race for the Pecos area, Democrat Frank Madla is being challenged in the March 7 primary by Carlos I. Uresti of San Antonio, while in the Teas House race, incumbent Pete Gallego will be unopposed in his primary bid in March.

On the Republican side, two candidates also are running for the District 19 Senate seat, Dick Bowen, a real estate broker in the El Paso area, and Darrel Brown a management consultant living northwest of San Antonio. In the District 73 race, two candidates from that area, attorney Carter Casteel and businessman Nathan Macias, are seeking the nomination to challenge Gallego in the November general election.

Galindo cites success, but opts against new run

Staff Writer

After serving more than a decade as Reeves County Judge, Jimmy B. Galindo has opted not to run for office.

Galindo has served as county judge since 1995, after winning election in 1994. He was re-elected to the job in 1998 and 2002, but said he wanted to give someone else a chance to serve as the county’s top elected official.

“In 1994 when I first ran for the office of county judge, I wanted to lower taxes, help with community development and create jobs,” said Judge Galindo. “When I began serving as county judge, the county tax rate was 58 cents per one hundred dollar valuation and we lowered taxes by 18 cents over the three terms I have served,” he said.

Galindo said that they had focused on community development by re-establishing the Recreation Department for youth football, basketball, volleyball and softball.

“We built two new racquetball courts, provided new lighting for several baseball fields, created a new aerobics and fitness center, expanded the golf course to 14 holes, helped the school district resurface the running track, and helped the city with four million dollars to develop a new water field,” said Galindo.

The county expanded the prison from 500 beds to over 3,000 beds, which created over 380 new jobs with an average salary of $31,000 per year and increased revenue at the RCDC to over $50 million dollars per year, according to Galindo.

“I have done the best I can to help Reeves County and I would like to give someone else the chance to continue moving the county forward,” said Galindo. “I want to thank each of you for the opportunity to serve as your county judge and I will always do what I can to help Reeves County,” he said.

Problems attracting prisoners to the 960-bed RCDC III facility were the main focus of the first two years of Galindo’s third term in office. The county had to tap its General Fund to meet bond payments before signing a contract with CGI to manage all three units at the facility, and later an agreement with the State of Arizona to house inmates in RCDC III.

While the county’s financial situation has improved in the past year, five candidates filed to run in the March 7 Democratic Party primary while awaiting Galindo’s final decision on seeking a fourth term in office. The five are Al Gomez, Sam Contreras, Bernardo “Chaquen” Martinez, Israel Campos and Grace Renteria.

Gomez was the first to file back in November, saying, “I think Reeves County needs a change and I think I can make a difference as county judge. “

Gomez said his first priority as judge would be to rein in county spending and to try and improve the county’s credibility.

“We have got to get our finances straightened out. We have to secure a long-term agreement with Board of Prisons to fill RCDC III,” he said.

Martinez is the only other candidate so far to release a formal statement on his bid for the county judge’s seat. In his statement, he said, “There definitely is a problem,” with the county.

Martinez said the county must diversify its jobs, the community must work together as a team, and he said the county must tap its “River of Gold” - the land along Interstate 20 and offer it for development to private investors.

Officials hope local burn ban prevents outbreak

From Staff and Wire Reports

A ban on outdoor burning and fireworks use went into effect on Friday for Reeves County, as officials try to prevent wildfire problems in the area that have plagued other parts of West Texas and Southeastern New Mexico.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo issued the proclamation for the burn ban, which prohibits the use of combustible materials in an outdoor environment. Violation of the rule is a Class C misdemeanor, with a fine of up to $500.

The ban was put into effect on Friday in an effort to limit the use of fireworks in the area over the New Year’s holiday weekend. “We probably had 10 calls over the weekend for fireworks,” said Reeves County and Town of Pecos City Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire, though he added no citations were issued.

“Since the burn ban just came out, we haven’t issued any yet. We want to let everyone know about it first,” he said.

The worst of the fires in Texas left three people dead and destroyed over 100 buildings in Cross Plains, southeast of Abilene, while other major fires have been reported in areas around Lubbock and Wichita Falls. Other fires have broken out in areas west and north of San Angelo, as well as further to the west in Reagan County

Brookshire said no major fires have occurred as of yet in Reeves County, but he added, “We had a pretty good-sized fire Sunday night up near Orla, but it just burnt through a field. There wasn’t any major damage close by.”

Pecos volunteer fire department personnel handled the brushfire, and Brookshire said Loving County firefighters also sent a vehicle out to the area, about 40 miles north of Pecos.

Electronic signs along major highways in West Texas are reminding motorists about the fire hazard and the burn bans that are in effect. They include both Interstate highways 10 and 20 that pass through Reeves County.

“It’s probably as dry as it’s been around here,” Brookshire said. “With all the rain we had the last few years most of the fields are full of vegetation. This time of year, it’s mostly dead, so it’s a major fire problem.”

Drought conditions through most of the 1990s kept brush fires from being a major concern in the Pecos area, following a series of fires in 1993 after the last rainy period for the Trans-Pecos region.

Grass fires in the state since December have killed three people, burned more than 200,000 acres and destroyed at least 250 homes, according to the Texas Forest Service. All major blazes were mostly contained Tuesday, but conditions were expected to worsen later in the day.

Gov. Rick Perry declared Texas a disaster area last week because of the fires and drought, and he said the declaration will help people to receive federal aid to rebuild.

No deaths were reported as a result of the nearly 60 fires that began burning Sunday in North and West Texas. Weary firefighters - including crews from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee and Wisconsin - worked Monday to contain several of those fires. By late Monday, the 35,000-acre blaze near the small towns of Carbon, Gorman and Desdemona had been beaten back to just a few hundred acres of mostly open ranch land, said Mark Pipkin of the Eastland Fire Department. Eastland City Manager Don Wilson said officials will investigate the cause of the fire that he said started near a hunter's tree stand near Rising Star.

Two fires covering about 50,000 acres burned a sparsely populated area near San Angelo in West Texas but were about 70 percent contained Tuesday morning, local officials said. One consumed 20,000 acres and 15 structures in Sterling County, just north of San Angelo, said Mary Leathers, a Texas Forest Service spokeswoman.

A 21,350-acre fire that threatened 70 homes in the Panhandle county of Donley had also been contained but officials were still working to determine damages, Leathers said.

In New Mexico, firefighters have been keeping a close eye on the weather as they work to put out what remains of four blazes that blackened more than 53,000 acres of grassland and destroyed 11 homes, two businesses and several vehicles just west of Hobbs.

Firefighters spent Monday dousing clumps of smoldering grass, fence posts and cow patties and patrolled overnight to make sure none of the hot spots flared up, said Dan Ware, state Forestry Division spokesman.

"We will make sure that all the hot spots and smoldering areas are put out for the simple fact that if the wind picks up, we'll be in trouble," Ware said, adding that the wind was expected to be stronger Tuesday.

A pair of fires burned about 22,000 acres in Lea County on the western outskirts of Hobbs. Ware said authorities initially thought the fires had burned more than twice that because of strong winds and smoke.

The flames forced the evacuation of 200 to 300 people on the city's fringe - including about 170 from two Hobbs nursing homes. Authorities said all have returned to their homes with the exception of residents from one of the nursing homes.

The fires also burned a number of barns and other outbuildings and several vehicles.

Modern Study Club gathers for public affairs program

A Public Affairs Department Program planned by Margie Williamson, Chairman of Public Affairs, was held recently by The Modern Study Club of Pecos in the parlor of the First Christian Church, Pecos.

The thought-quote for the program was - “Every mission constitutes a pledge of duty. Every man is bound to consecrate his every facility to its fulfillment. He will derive his rule of action from the profound conviction of that duty.” - Magazine: Life & Writings: Young Europe.

Jean Olson, a fellow member of The Modern Study Club and transportation officer for Reeves County Prisoner Transport, was chosen by Chairman Williamson to present the program entitled, “Public Safety and Transportation of Inmates Are Compatible and Not Antagonistic.”

Ms. Olson stated that she works under the Reeves County Sheriff’s Department and told of the approximate miles traveled moving prisoners, the type of prisoners transported and the criteria used for the safety of all concerned.

When officer Olson completed her presentation those in attendance were given a quiz of ten questions. She presented a prize to the member with the most correct answers. President Lena Harpham conducted the meeting. During opening ceremonies Catherine Travland led the Club Collect and Jean Olson led the pledges to the United States of America and Texas flags as all present joined in unison.

The minutes of the previous meeting was read and approved and a statement of club finances was presented.

During the reading of correspondence a letter from President-Elect Sherry Phillips was read asking for a donation for a gift for Outgoing Western District President Mary Vongsavath of Alpine. Said gift was approved and a check was to be sent to WD Treasurer Harriett Berlin in Odessa. Also a copy of a letter via e-mail to JoAnne McClurg and forwarded to The Modern Study Club nominated Maridell Fryar of the Twentieth Century Study Club of Midland for 2nd Vice-President GFWC/TFWC/WD.

The letter was written by Judy A. Roberts, 2004-2006 Pres. 20th Century Study, Midland. A letter from TFWC President Barbara Winingham of Bowie thanking us for the club member’s support sent for Hurricane Relief was also read.

Federation Counselor Nan Cate’s report for the meeting was concerning International Affairs and the One Campaign. “ONE” is a new effort by Americans to rally Americans - One by One - to fight the emergency of global AIDS and extreme poverty. The ONE campaign engages Americans through a diverse coalition of faith based and anti-poverty organizes to show the steps people can take, ONE by ONE, to fight global AID and poverty.” A web site was provided to members.

The Bears on Patrol, Books for Babies, Christmas for Kids, Presentation Gowns and the support of Reeves County Hospital projects of the club were also discussed.

Ten members were present for the gathering and enjoyed delicious refreshments provided and served by hostesses Catherine Travland and Pearl Gustafson.

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