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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, January 17, 2005

Pair indicted in ’04 primary vote fraud case

Two Pecos women were indicted on Thursday by the 143rd Judicial District Court Grand Jury on charges of voter fraud, in connection with the 2004 Reeves County Democratic Party primary election.

The Grand Jury indicted Anita Baeza, 68, on five counts and Trine Villalobos, 60, on four counts of voter fraud. The indictments against both women were Class B misdemeanors. The Texas Attorney General’s Criminal Investigations Division handled the case, and Attorney General Greg Abbott made an announcement of the indictments on Friday.

“My investigators will be increasingly vigilant as we near the 2006 primary season,” said Abbott. “The validity of our election process is imperative for our democratic society to function properly, and I will make sure that anyone who taints this process will be held accountable.”

The document alleges that Baeza on or about Jan. 28, 2004, and before the presentment of this indictment, did then and there knowingly possess an official ballot or official carrier envelope provided under the Texas Election Code to Sebastion Martinez for the purpose of early voting by mail in the March 2004 Primary Election.

A second count of the indictment charges that on or about Feb. 23, 2004, Baeza did then and there knowingly possess an official ballot or official carrier envelope provided under the Texas Election Code to Juana Ibarra for the purpose of early voting by mail in the March 2004 Primary Election; count 3: on or about Feb. 23, 2004, Baeza provided a ballot to Encarcion Ibarra for the purpose of early voting by mail in the March 2004 Primary Election and count 4: on or about Jan. 29, 2004, Baeza provided an envelope or official ballot to Belia Montanez for the purpose of early voting by mail in the March 2004 Primary Election.

Bond for Baeza was $10, Personal Recognizance Bond.

During this election, Baeza’s son, Jeffrey Baeza, was running for the office of Reeves County Sheriff against the current sheriff, Arnulfo “Andy” Gomez. Baeza was defeated by Gomez in the 2004 primary, and currently works as an investigator for 143rd District Attorney Randy Reynolds, who turned the voter fraud investigation over to the state Attorney General’s office.

Trine Villalobos’ indictment states in Count 1 that on or about Jan. 29, 2004, Villalobos then and there knowingly posses an official ballot or official carrier envelope provided under the Texas Election Code to Cruz Jimenez for the purpose of early voting by mail in the March 2004 Primary Election. Count 2 alleges on or about Jan. 29, 2004, she provided an official ballot to Ysidra Jimenez for the purpose of early voting by mail in the March 2004 Primary Election; she provided an official ballot to Ysidra Jimenez; count 3: she provided an official ballot to Maria Gallardo and count 4: she provided an official ballot to Elisa Carrasco for the purpose of early voting by mail in the March 2004 Primary Election.

The Attorney General’s office said investigators its Criminal Investigations Division interviewed numerous witnesses, who corroborated complaints that the two women routinely assisted elderly residents in filling out applications for mail-in ballots. When the actual ballots arrived by mail, the women returned to these homes to collect completed ballots and mailed them for the residents.

The indictments apply to violations of Chapter 86 of the Texas Election Code, which specifies the officials who may handle and process mail-in ballots. The charges, Class B misdemeanors, could result in a $2,000 fine and up to 180 days confinement on each count. Assistant Attorney General Will Tatum presented the case to the grand jury. The cases represent the Attorney General’s fourth set of indictments since mid-2005 against individuals for voter fraud in Texas. All were investigated and prosecuted on referral from the Texas Secretary of State.

In December, four individuals were indicted for illegally possessing and transporting election ballots following a May 2005 Robstown ISD election in Nueces County. In November, Attorney General Abbott obtained a guilty plea from a Hardeman County commissioner for collecting mail-in ballots while he was a candidate in the 2004 primary and general elections.

In July the Attorney General also obtained a guilty plea from a Bee County woman accused of voter fraud for mailing an absentee ballot in the name of her mother, who was deceased.

Other individuals indicted last week include:

Jesus Gonzales, 19, and Brian Garcia, 17, both for aggravated assault. Bond was set at $10,000 on Gonzales and $25,000 on Garcia. The indictments allege that on Aug. 27, 2005, Gonzales and Garcia did then and there intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to Gabriel Huertas by stabbing him about the body, did then and there use or exhibit a deadly weapon, knife, during the commission of the assault.

Adrian Santana, 22, was indicted for possession of a controlled substance. Bond was set at $250,000.

Santana is charged with on or about Oct. 26, 2005, knowingly, possessing, with the intent to deliver, a controlled substance, cocaine, in an amount of 400 grams or more, including any adulterants and dilutants.

Leonel Gonzales-Juarez, 43, was indicted for possession of a controlled substance. Bond was set at $250,000.

On or about Oct. 26, 2005, Gonzales-Juarez is accused of knowingly possessing, with the intent to deliver, a controlled substance, cocaine, in an amount of 400 grams or more, including any adulterants and dilutants.

Ephram Silvas Ortega, 48, forgery. Bond was set at $5,000. He is charged with intent to defraud and harm another, intentionally and knowingly pass to Monica Licon, a forged writing on or about Oct. 6, 2005, knowing such writing to be forged, and such writing had been so completed that it purported to be the act of Charles J. Eisler, who did not authorize the act, writing was a check.

Michael Munoz, 21, burglary. Bond was set at $10,000. On or about Sept. 28, Munoz, did then and there, with intent to commit theft, enter a building or a portion of a building not then open to the public, without the effective consent of Lamberto Herrera, the owner.

Clarissa Fobbs, 22, burglary. Bond was set at $15,000. On Aug. 24, Fobbs, did then and there, intentionally and knowingly, enter a habitation, without the effective consent of Henry Mator, the owner, and attempted to commit or committed theft of property, Phillips CD Player, Sony DVD Player Combo, Sanyo 19 inch television and assorted CD’s, owned by Henry Mator.

Darren Lynn Walker, 36, burglary. Bond was set at $15,000. On Aug. 24, Walker, did then and there intentionally and knowningly enter a habitation, without the effective consent of Henry Mator, the owner, and attempted to commit or committed theft of property, Phillips CD Player, Sony DVD Player Combo, Sanyo 19 inch television and assorted CD’s owned by Mator. Prior to this offense, Walker was also indicted for burglary of a building on Feb. 19, 1988.

City finance director Contreras among five in county judge race


Sam Mata Contreras is one of the five persons who have announced their candidacy to be the Democratic nominee for Reeves County Judge in the March 7 primary election. Contreras will be running against Israel Campos, Bernardo Martinez, Al Gomez and Grace Renteria for the position, being vacated by three-term county judge Jimmy B. Galindo.

Contreras has been the Finance Director for the City of Pecos for the last three years. “In that role of Public Service I have found that reward of Leadership in helping my fellow citizens,” said Contreras. “I now seek my community’s support in doing more for them in Public Service.”

“I also believe in serving first and then asking for the public’s approval to ascend to a higher purpose in public service,” said Contreras. “In that, I believe you can best tell where someone is heading by seeing from where he or she comes!,” said Contreras. Contreras is married to the former Anna Marquez and they have two sons Samuel, 12, and Elijah, 2; they are expecting another one in August. He is the son of Julia Mata Contreras and the late Fred “Lico” Contreras, he has two brothers, Javier and Freddy and two sisters, Angie Barreno and Isabel Florez.

Contreras is a graduate from Pecos High School, graduated with Honors from the University of Texas-Permian Basin with a degree in Finance. A Desert Storm & Iraqi Freedom era Veteran, he has been awarded two Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medals, the Good Conduct Medal, the Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal, two Navy and Marine Corp Overseas Ribbons, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Naval Reserve Meritorious Service Medal.

Contreras continues to serve his Country as an active reservists in U.S. Navy. He also serves as a member of the Pecos Lion’s Club, active member of the Santa Rosa Catholic Church and serves on the Finance Committee for the church, a volunteer youth Basketball Coach. He additionally has been elected as a Chamber of Commerce Director for a three year term.

Contreras sits as an Advisory Board Member for “Main Street” and as a Board Member of the Pecos EMS and Pecos Volunteer Firemen Pension Board.

“Some people run for office as a Vocation and some run for office as an Avocation. I make this commitment to all the Citizens of Pecos and Reeves County for both reasons,” said Contreras.

“I love my community and I love serving them; I believe you can have family values only by putting Value in Families,” said Sam in making his announcement.

In this effort, Contreras has plans to protect the children from Juvenile crime. A fiscal conservative, he will apply sound fiscal management to the Reeves County budget and work closely with the other entities of Pecos to reduce taxation and duplicity of services in all government and to help secure the future of Reeves County by pursuing new sources of federal revenue and job opportunities.

“It should always be about what’s in your heart first,” said Contreras.

Stock show entrants earn multiple wins

A brother and sister took the top honors on Saturday in the Reeves County Junior Livestock Show’s hog competition, while a couple of entrants took home multiple honors on Friday night, during the steer, goat and lamb show competitions.

Mateo Tarango and Marissa Tarango earned the Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion honors at Saturday’s hog show. Tarango’s heavy cross hog earned the show’s highest honor from judge Kevin Williams of Lubbock, while his sister’s heavy Hampshire hog earned the Reserve Grand Champion award.

On Friday, Zack Morton, Michael Lee. Adrianne Bagley and Maylee McElroy each took home more than one of the top honors in the three shows. Morton’s honors came in the Commercial Cattle and the Lamb Show, as he won Grand Champion in the first and earned Reserve Grand Champion in the second. Lee won Reserve Champion and the Senior Showmanship awards in the Commercial Cattle show; Bagley won the same two awards in the Goat Show, as well as earning Senior Showmanship honors in the Lamb Show, and McElroy earned Junior Showmanship in both the Goat Show and the Lamb Show, while in-between she won Grand Champion Lamb honors.

In the hog show, the Charlie Moore Junior Showmanship Award went to Joel Madrid, while Justin Hannsz won the Harve Moore Senior Showmanship prize, while Rayann Box won Junior Showmanship in the Commercial Cattle Show.

Other awards in the Lamb Show went to Bagley, who won Fine Wool Breed Champion, while McElroy won Reserve Breed Champ, while in the Cross, the Breed Champion was won by Bagley with her heavy entry, while McElroy won Reserve Breed Champion.

In the Hog Show, the winner in the Duroc Breed division was Clay Teague, while John Paul Gonzales’ entry won Reserve Breed Champion. Matt Martinez’s entry finished as Reserve Champion behind Marissa Tarango’s entry in the Hampshire breed division; Martinez also won Breed Champion in the Dark OPB division, with Amber Cook earning Reserve Breed honors; Hannsz’s Yorkshire entry won Breed Champion, with Mateo Tarango earning Reserve Breed Champion; Chris Martinez won Breed Champion in the White OPB division, with Lauren Elliott earning Reserve Breed Champion; and Mysela Alvarez won Reserve Breed Champion in the Cross division ,behind Mateo Tarango’s entry that later took home the Grand Champion prize.

Saturday morning’s hog show was followed later that day by the livestock show’s barbeque dinner and the auction sale, which took place Saturday night. Steve Taylor again served as auctioneer for this year’s show, but final sale totals were not available as of Monday morning.

Bonilla secures funds for local NOAA station

Area residents will have a new way to receiver weather reports and emergency weather warnings, after U.S. Congressman Henry Bonilla secured funding for a NOAA Weather Radio station for Pecos last week.

Bonilla (R-San Antonio), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, announced last Wednesday that funding has been obtained for a 1000-watt dual transmitter, generator and building for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to establish a radio station for Reeves County and nearby areas. Funding comes through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and will give area residents access to the NOAA Weather Radio system for the first time.

NOAA operates over 900 radio stations across the United States that broadcast weather information, including emergency weather bulletins and warnings from the National Weather Service. Currently, the nearest NOAA station to Pecos is a 1000-watt station in Midland, which does not have a signal strong enough to reach Reeves County.

“Texas is known for thunderstorms and tornadoes that can be destructive to homes and lives,” said Bonilla. “The residents of Reeves County will be better protected from severe weather by this early detection system.”

There already are 67 NOAA Weather Radio stations in Texas. Along with Midland, other West Texas cities which already have stations include El Paso, Lubbock, San Angelo, Amarillo, Seminole, Big Spring, Ozona, Sweetwater and Borger. The stations are located on one of six frequencies allocated by the Federal Communications Commission.

The NOAA stations require either a scanner or a special radio to pick up the broadcasts. The stations’ frequencies are located in the same area as the communication frequencies used by law enforcement and emergency service personnel.

Bonilla serves as chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, which funds all grants to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. His role on the subcommittee allows him to shepherd funding for importation projects in his district.

“I’m proud that my role on the Appropriations Committee allows me to assist constituents back home,” Bonilla said.

Bonilla has served as Reeves County’s congressman since first being elected to Congress in 1992. Along with his position on the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, he is also a senior member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

Station’s forage program on Wednesday

A program on Trans-Pecos forage production for 2006 will be held on Wednesday 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.

Posse members offer several things to the community

The Reeves County Sheriff’s Posse held elections for new officers for the 2006 year on Monday, Jan. 2.

Officers for 2006 include: Captain - Andy Hannah; Lt. - Billy Edwards; Sgt. - Starkey Warren; Corporal Bret Walker; Chaplain - Lynn Foster; Corral Boss - Trent Davis and Trustees - Leman Barmore, Jack Manry and Cody Fallwell.

The group awards scholarships to deserving students each year in both Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD and Balmorhea ISD.

Reeves County Sheriff’s Posse members offer catering to the public and will cook anything that they would like, not just barbecue. The group also rents out the Reeves County Sherff’s Posse Barn located next north of the West of the Pecos Rodeo grounds.

The barn is available for quinceaneras, dances, parties and other special occasions. Some of the proceeds from these events go towards the scholarships that are offered each year.

The group hosts the annual barbecue lunch during the West of the Pecos Rodeo, hosts dances throughout the rodeo events and help out in other ways in the community.

Sales tax rebates continue increase to start 2006

The first sales tax rebate check of 2006 for the Town of Pecos City continued the upward trend from 2005, though January’s check from Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn’s office was slightly below the average for other area cities.

Pecos’ 1 1/2-cent share of the state’s 8 1/4-cent sales tax netted the city $69,337, an 8.8 percent increase over last January’s check for $63,727. The rebate was based on taxable sales made in the city during November, and one-sixth of the total, or $11,556, goes to the Pecos Economic Development Corp. for its operations.

The 8.8 percent rise comes after last year’s 10.4 percent increase in sales tax rebates from Austin, due to the area’s improving economy. But tax rebate totals were down overall in 2004 for Balmorhea and Toyah, Balmorhea by 3 1/2 percent and Toyah by nearly 22 percent.

Toyah’s rebate check numbers continued down in January, but Balmorhea saw their check nearly triple over the amount sent back from the comptroller’s office a year ago. Balmorhea received $1,799 back this up, up 198.1 percent from the $603 it received in January of 2005. Toyah’s check this month was for $196, a 13.12 percent drop from last year’s $226 total.

Also reporting a sharp increase in their tax rebate check was the Reeves County Hospital District. It got back $42,715 this month from its 1/2-cent sales tax, a 66.71 percent rise from last January’s $25,621 total. The hospital’s tax rebate totals were up in 2005 by just under 7 percent.

Double-digit increases were reported by many cities in the Permian Basin and Trans-Pecos regions, with some joining Balmorhea in seeing their check more than double from a year ago and only a few reporting lower numbers, according to the figures released by Strayhorn’s office.

Midland’s check for $2.18 million on its 1 1/2-cent sales tax was up 23.51 percent from last year’s $1.76 million, while Odessa’s $1.15 million check on its 1 1/4-cent sales tax was up by just over 2 percent from the $1.12 million check it received last December. For other cities collecting the 1 1/2-cent sales tax, Alpine received $65,245 from Austin, up 4.25 percent from a year ago; Crane received a check for $44,892, up 69.28 percent from last year; Lamesa got $65,192 back from the comptroller’s office, which was up 5.72 percent; and Seminole received a check for $59,633, which was up 17.36 percent.

Among cities collecting a one-cent sales tax Kermit received $37,718 in their rebate check, up 45.67 percent; Pyote received a check for $289, which was down 13.37 percent; Wickett received a $5,286 check from Austin, up 72.12 percent; and Wink received a check for $3,491, which was down 3.69 percent.

For area cities collecting a 1 3/4-cent sales tax, Andrews’ check for $156,439 was up 132.37 percent from last year, due in part to a 3/4-cent rise since then in the city’s sales tax. Marfa got a check for $16,211, which was 24.8 percent above last year; while Van Horn was one of the few cities to see a decline, as it’s check for $25,684, was 5.81 percent lower than a year ago.

For cities collecting the maximum two-cent sales tax, Big Spring received $318,849, an increase of 8.5 percent; Fort Stockton received $130,433, up 22.87 percent; Monahans received a check for $90,492, which was up 46.59 percent; Grandfalls got a $1,260 check, down 4.56 percent; and Presidio received $31,970, up 66.59 percent.

Statewide, the average increase for Texas cities and counties was 16.63 percent, as Strayhorn’s office sent out January rebate checks totaling $260.2 million, up from $223.1 million last year.

Houston’s $31.8 million check was the largest individual one sent out this month, and was 15.46 percent higher than a year ago. Dallas’ check was next, at $15.94 million, which was up by 7.67 percent from last December.

P-B-T, Willis to negotiate buy-out deal

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board members met behind closed doors during their regular meeting held last Thursday to discuss the situation with head football coach and athletic director Patrick Willis, whose contract board members voted not to renew earlier this month.

Board members opted not to renew the contract of Willis, during a special meeting held on Jan. 3. The board vote at that time was 5-1, with one abstention, on the renewal of the contract.

On Thursday, in open session, the board decided to allow interim superintendent Bob McCall to work with the attorneys to develop a final agreement with Willis, which would be in the best interest of the district. Willis has hired an attorney to arbitrate on his behalf.

Willis’ contract runs through June 30 and the board wants to find a replacement for him by March 1.

Willis, who took over a 1-8 Pecos team in 2002 and had a 5-25 record over the past three seasons, had been the topic of several school board meetings in which community members voiced their opinion about the athletic director.

During the audience portion of the meeting, several community members were on hand to talk about the current athletic director, with most again voicing their desire for quick action on finding a new head football coach and athletic director.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo told the group, during the audience portion, that he wanted to thank them for moving forward.

“But I would like to consider moving forward a little bit faster,” said Galindo.

“Going back to growing up in Pecos, there were three people who had a huge influence on me, those three people were coach Steve Peters, coach Beau Jack Hendricks and Bubba Williams,” said Galindo. “Those three coaches made a different in a lot of folks in the community and we got to go to the big house.”

Galindo said that when he said that they got to go to the “big house,” that meant state competition.

Winning and success did matter, according to Galindo. “I thank you for the action you took at the last meeting, you deciding to go forward, as parents winning to us matters and the other part of winning is a major commitment to the junior high program,” he said.

Galindo said that athletics needs to be built from the bottom, from the younger age groups. “Deishler (board member Paul Deishler) has made a commitment by participating in the Pee-Wee Football Program for the past five years, he has made a real commitment to that group,” said Galindo.

“It’s a huge morale booster to the whole community,” said Galindo.

“Now to really move forward, we need to bring someone in that will start to work right away, he might want to bring in his own coaches to help him achieve success,” said Galindo.

The current application period for Willis’ position will last through the Feb. 2 date for the bi-annual UIL realignment. Pecos is expected to be placed in a district with four El Paso area schools, which is expected to make winning easier for whoever the new head coach is. Pecos has not won a district game in a Permian Basin-centered district since 1997, while going 15-5 during four years as a member of the El Paso-based District 2-4A.

Galindo said that he knows the coaches sign contracts in March and urged the board to take action on finding a replacement.

Galindo said that he would also like to see some new coaches put in place at the junior high level. “We need coaches that really know their sports, that know what they are doing,” he said.

He said that he hopes the board looks at the new athletic director closely and find the right person for the position, for the best interest of the community.

Parent and community member Sam Urias told the group that he also commended the group on their decision.

“I had a run-in with the athletic director because he was in violation of UIL rules and he wanted to know why I told the principal and superintendent and he retaliated against my son,” said Urias, who did not say what violation he was referring to during his statement. Urias said that his son, Samuel, scored the only touchdown during the only game that Pecos won.

“Yet, he (Willis) did not nominate him for honorable mention,” said Urias. “He injured his knee when they played Sweetwater and wasn’t taken to the doctor until the season was over,” said Urias.

Urias said that his son had plans to play for San Angelo, but that now he can never play again because of his injured knee.

“I understand that you want to consider reinstating him, but I urge you to hold your ground, don’t hire him back,” said Urias. “We don’t need him here, we need someone that will have public relations with the community and that cares about the kids.”

Community member Cecil Lee said that he felt the same way as Galindo did. “With the oil and business rising, right now we have the opportunity to attract more people to Pecos,” said Lee. “If they have school-age kids, they will want to know more about the school and yes, the athletic program.”

“We want to have someone that will help Pecos attract more people and that they will want to stay in Pecos,” said Lee.

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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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