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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Firebug hunted following new arson incidents

Staff Writer

Local law enforcement officials are looking into a number of suspected arson fires that have occurred both inside and outside of Pecos over the last several days, including a fire that destroyed the former Pecos Recycling Center building Thursday evening.

That fire broke out about 8:30 p.m. at the abandoned building, located at Second Street and Broadway Court on the west side of town. “It was a set fire. When we got there the whole building was on fire,” said city and county fire marshal Jack Brookshire. “It was kind of like the one we had early in the morning on the east side.”

Brookshire said the early morning fire on Thursday involved an abandoned building at Second and Locust streets that had been the target of arsonists several times in the past year. “I believe we’ve been called to that building four times. This time it was completely engulfed when we got there,” he said.

The Thursday night blaze was the more spectacular of the two fires. Flames from the blaze could be seen from all parts of the city, and fire crews spent about two hours trying to contain the blaze, keeping it from nearby buildings and from damaging utility poles that were located on the property.

“Evidently we’ve got a firebug running around who likes to set fires of Second Street,” Brookshire said. He said that while the flames damaged on-site utility poles, there was no power going to the building, which contained recycled paper that contributed to the building going up so quickly.

“It was completely engulfed in just a couple of minutes. The same thing happened on the east side,” Brookshire said.

He said he didn’t know if anything was used to start the fire, but that anyone with information about either incident should call his office at Pecos City Hall (445-2421), the Pecos Police Department (445-4911) or Pecos Valley CrimeStoppers (445-9898).

Following the structure fires on Thursday, Pecos Volunteer Fire Department crews were called out to several grass fires over the weekend outside the city limits, and Brookshire said at least a couple on Saturday night west of the city appear to have been arson.

“There were three grass fires Saturday night that were set out on the Duval Road (FM 2119),” Brookshire said. However, he said a Sunday evening fire eight miles north of Pecos that destroyed two mobile homes may have been accidental.

“It looks like somebody may have been burning grass around there. There was a lot of grass in the area that had been burned,” he said.

The fires occurred at the Smart residences off U.S. 285, and firemen were at the scene Sunday evening for about two hours. Neither of the trailers was occupied, Brookshire said. High fire danger warnings were issued for the mountain areas to the south and west of Reeves County over the weekend, due to high winds and the dry conditions that increase the threat of grass and brush fires. So far the most serious brush fires have occurred in the area east of Abilene and Wichita Falls and around San Angelo in Texas, but a large grass fire destroyed several buildings over the New Year’s weekend west of Hobbs, in Lea County, N.M.

County receives state grant for water line improvements

Construction of new water lines for the northwest side of town will began in mid-summer, after Reeves County received a half-million dollar grant for the project.

Commissioners discussed the grant, along with ways to find funding for repairs to the Reeves County Courthouse, during the regular Commissioners Court meeting held Monday morning.

County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo told the group that they had received a $500,000 Community Development Award from the Office of Rural Community Affairs.

“Commissioner (Roy) Alvarado has been working closely with (Don) Bonifay, grant writer and now they have announced that we have received the award for $500,000,” said Galindo.

Alvarado, County Commissioner for Precinct 1, said they are at the point that they need to sign off on the contract.

“This will help provide adequate water to the region located behind B&B Wrecker,” said Alvarado. “The people out there will see an increase in pressure on their tap water.”

However, he added the changes won’t take place right away. “We’re probably looking at mid-summer before construction begins,” said Alvarado.

He added that the area located on the northwest side of Pecos had been designated as a colonia area by the State of Texas.

“This comes with in-kind services,” said Galindo. “So the total of the project would be $525,000, because the in-kind services is for $25,000.”

“The majority of expenditure will go towards improving the water facilities and folks on the north side have lived without water for a long time,” said Galindo.

Galindo said that unfortunately the lady who had pushed so hard for this type of improvements to the water on the side of town had not lived to see them.

“Linda Herrera was the lady who had pushed and pushed for this type of improvements out there, and unfortunately she died last year and did not live to see these improvements,” he said.

Alvarado also talked to the group about receiving an estimate for Reeves County Courthouse Roofing repairs.

“They gave me an estimate of roughly $200,000,” said Alvarado. “At this point we’d like for you to look at it and to consider it and look at getting funding to do this project,” he said.

“Every time it rains it leaks inside the courthouse,” said Precinct 3 Commissioner Saul Herrera. “It’s something that we really need to look into,” he said.

Galindo said that maybe they could look at it as a restoration project and receive some funding there.

“If we could do it that way it would be a 50-50 match, we could explore looking at the courthouse as a restoration project,” said Galindo.

County auditor Lynn Owens said that it was difficult to tell exactly what the courthouse needed. “I know Roy has been up there looking at it and trying to find out where exactly the major repairs need to be done” he said.

Owens said that if they start at the top it would require a lot of major repairs. “We do have some leaks that I think are doing major structural damage,” said Owens. “The pigeon problem doesn’t help either.”

“Have you explored cheaper solutions?” asked Galindo. “That’s a big price.”

Alvarado said that he would explore other options and see if he could get a cheaper estimate. The group opted to table the subject and to look at ways to fund the major repairs.

Shooting of Mentone man called accidental

An early morning shooting incident in Loving County on Sunday was called accidental by Sheriff Billy Hopper, while the victim suffered only minor injuries and was treated and released from Reeves County Hospital.

Hopper said the shooting involved a Mentone couple, and resulted in Pecos EMS crews being called out about 6 a.m. on Sunday to take the victim to Pecos for treatment.

“The lady did shoot her husband, but she’s suffering from dementia and she thought it was somebody else,” Hopper said. “He was shot, but not seriously, and was just taken in for treatment.”

Hopper said the woman involved was transported for treatment of her illness to the Big Spring State Hospital.

Thief wrecks Ward SD vehicle in 30-mile chase

Staff Writers

People along Third Street in Pecos were treated to the unusual sight of a Ward County Sheriff’s Department pickup being pursued through town at 80 miles per hour by Reeves County Sheriff’s Deputies and Pecos Police Sunday morning, as part of an incident that began just outside of Barstow with the theft of that vehicle and ended a half hour later on Interstate 20 west of Toyah.

The pick-up belonged to Ward County Sheriff’s deputy Ben Deishler, and was stolen by 23-year-old Isaac Granado of Pecos, the driver of a vehicle that Deishler had stopped for speeding through Barstow about 9:30 a.m. on Sunday.

According to Ward County Sheriff Mikel Strickland, Granado was arrested after the traffic stop, when he provided false identification to Deishler. “Granado was handcuffed behind his back and placed in the front seat of deputy Deishler’s patrol vehicle. He was then secured by a seatbelt,” Strickland said.

The vehicle containing Granado and another passenger were stopped by Deishler in front of the home on Ben Hinojos, on the south side of Business I-20 just west of the Barstow city limits, and Granado was placed inside of the pick-up while it was parked in front of the home.

However, Strickland said “As Deishler returned to the violator vehicle to make contact with the passenger, he heard his vehicle begin to drive away. He turned and observed Granado operating the vehicle.” The suspect had been able to get his still-cuffed hands in front of him, and removed the seatbelt and moved into the driver’s seat, then locked the doors to keep Deishler from getting in.

“He stepped through the handcuffs,” the sheriff added.

Granado began backing the vehicle out of the road to Hinojos’ home at a high rate of speed, and out onto Business I-20. He drove the vehicle across the highway in a 360-degree spin, sending it into the bar ditch on the north side of the road, up an embankment and onto the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. The pickup then fishtailed and narrowly missed a sign at the railroad crossing on the north side of the road before heading west on Business I-20 at a high rate of speed.

The spin caused the pick-up to blow one of the tires on the passenger side of the vehicle. The tire shredded within a mile of the Barstow city limits, and sparks coming off the rim caused a series of grass fires along Business I-20 from about a mile west of Barstow to the long bridge, about midway between Barstow and Pecos.

Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney said his department was contacted just after the vehicle was stolen.

“We did have two units assisting in the pursuit, and we had one unit that suffered minor damages, but none of our officers were hurt or injured in any way, “ he said. “The vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed, and we had an officer who was trying to slow him down a little bit, and that’s when he collided with the rear of one of our vehicles.”

The pick-up came through Pecos on Business I-20 at speeds of about 80 mph despite missing the one tire. A second tire blew out as the driver got onto Interstate 20 at the 37-mile marker, and as a result, the chase took place at lower speeds as the vehicles headed west towards Toyah.

Reeves County Sheriff’s Deputy Erick Rodriguez said their first call about Granado came in 9:40 a.m. that Ward County deputy Ben Deishler needed assistance in reference to trying to ID a suspect. He added that along with police and deputies, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers also were involved in the chase west of Pecos.

Officers continued the chase past Toyah, as the speed of the pick-up slowed to 35 mph on the Interstate, before Granado finally stopped the vehicle near mile marker 17, about five miles west of Toyah and 30 miles west of where the chase began.

“I was advised later that our department assisted taking the suspect into custody, and that no one was hurt,” McKinney said.

“The individual was finally apprehended with the help of Pecos PD, Reeves County and DPS. He’s currently in custody in Reeves County Jail facing charges of evading arrest,” Rodriguez said.

McKinney said that while Granado drove through Pecos at well above the speed limit and damaged a police vehicle, as of Monday, “Our department does not have any charges pending on this individual.”

Fire trucks from Barstow and Pecos were called out to put out the fires that were caused by the sparks from the pick-up truck in Ward County. While there were also reports of sparks causing fires on the side of I-20 west of Pecos, there was no fire call made to that area.

Strickland said that after being placed under arrest by officers west of Toyah, Granado attempted a similar maneuver to get his hands free while inside a Reeves County SO vehicle that was to transport him back to Pecos.

Strickland said the damage done to Deishler’s pickup by Granado probably will result in the vehicle being declared a total loss.

Granado reportedly had just been released on parole from state prison by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Strickland said that Ward County is in the process of getting warrants to bring him to Monahans, where he’ll face charges of evading and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

Man arrested in ambulance theft attempt

A Midland man was arrested Saturday by Pecos Police, following an incident in which he attempted to take control of a Pecos ambulance while EMTs were out on call to treat the would-be thief.

The incident occurred on in the Airlawn section of town late Saturday afternoon.

“We had two prior calls on this man acting disorderly,” said Town of Pecos City Police Captain Kelly Davis. He said that the first call came in from Terrazas Restaurant and that another call came from La Tienda.

“The call from La Tienda was at 5:37 p.m., and they reported that a man was lying face down in the parking lot,” said Davis.

He said that ambulance personnel checked him and found that he was an epileptic. “He was wearing the bracelet and they determined he was an epileptic,” said Davis.

“He walked into the ambulance and then started acting strangely,” said Davis. The EMT attendant, Blaine Hannah, told police that the patient would not follow instructions.

“He wouldn’t follow instructions and then he got in the driver’s seat of the ambulance,” said Davis. “Blaine took the keys away and the guy pushed him in to the back of the seat and wall.”

The man, identified as Juan Roman Salazar, 43, of Midland, then got loose.

“At this time law enforcement personnel placed him under arrest and he resisted arrest,” said Davis.

Salazar was arrested and charged with assault and resisting arrest.

“He has a lengthy criminal record,” said Davis.

Trans-Pecos Trail meeting Thursday

The Texas Pecos Trail Region will have a meeting from 10:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., Thursday at the Swiss Clock Inn, 133 S. Frontage Road, I-20 W, (exit 40 at I-H 20 and Country Club Dr.).

The Texas Historical Commission recently designated the Texas Pecos Trail Region as the ninth heritage region in the Texas Heritage Trails Program and started formally organizing the program in September of 2005.

Everyone is invited to get involved in the regional program and join the group.

The Texas Pecos Trail Region covers the following counties in West Texas: Andrews, Crane, Crockett, Ector, Edwards, Glasscock, Kimble, Kinney, Loving, Martin, Maverick, Midland, Pecos, Reagan, Reeves, Sterling, Sutton, Terrell, Upton, Val Verde, Ward and Winkler.

This meeting is for all who are interested in promoting historic and cultural resources to tourists. They encourage directors, heritage society members, Main Street managers, chamber of commerce directors, historic site operators, county judges, county historical commission chairs and/or commissioners and county extension agents in the Texas Pecos Trail Region to attend.

A chicken fried steak lunch will be available for $10.

Individuals can RSVP to: Tom Rivera, Pecos Main Street Manager, or call 432-445-9656, or e-mail,

Experiment Station plans forage program

A program on Trans-Pecos forage production for 2006 will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 18 from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. at the Texas A&M Experiment Station on I-20 at FM 869, west of Pecos.

The event, which will include a free lunch, will begin at 11 a.m. with an update of the Pecos station’s current and planned forage research in oat hay, forage sorghum and sudan, alfalfa. At 11:20 a.m., officials with the state will take producer feedback on what information they need, how the local experiment station can help, and input into planning the station’s 2006 alfalfa and forage research.

Following lunch, there will be a 90-minute session on Trans-Pecos forage production updates. Calvin Trostle, Extension Agronomist for Texas A&M-Lubbock will discuss spring planed oats for hay and on forage sorghum, sorghum/sudans for silage or hay and early-season alfalfa management. Mark Muegge, extension entomology with Texas A&M’s Fort Stockton research station will discuss alfalfa insects. They include winter insects’ activity and early spring scouting and control.

For further information, contact Reeves County Extension Service Agent Tommy Dominguez at 447-9041; Pecos County Extension Service Agent Jed Elrod at (432) 336-2541; Ward County Extension Agent Derek Scasta at (432) 943-2682 or Culberson County Extension Agent Bill Teague at (432) 283-8440.

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York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321

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