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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, July 21, 2006

School board selects new Bessie Haynes principal

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah board members approved the hiring of a Fort Worth school official as the new principal for Bessie Haynes Elementary School, during a special meeting held Tuesday evening.

The board approved La Tanya J. Lewis as the new principal of the elementary school, which is for students in grades fourth through sixth, following a closed-door session of the meeting.

Lewis is currently assistant principal at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Fort Worth and also served as assistant principal at Arlington Heights High School in Fort Worth; a history teacher at Eastern Hills High School, Fort Worth and a 7th grade history teacher, Shackelford Junior High School in Arlington.

She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Huston-Tillotson University in Austin and a Master of Education Degree from Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth.

In other business during the special meeting, the group approved an interagency agreement between the Reeves County Juvenile Department and Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD.

“This is basically the same agreement we have had with them,” said Superintendent Manny Espino, though he added there were some changes to the agreement.

“During the past two to three years we have not had any youth residing here, they are sent to Fort Stockton,” he said. “But we will meet on July 27, to decide whether they will reside here or Fort Stockton.”

Espino said that he thought it was important to keep those dollars in the community. He recommended to the board to go ahead and enter into an agreement with the juvenile probation department and discuss it further later.

“If we agree to this agreement does that mean we’ll have to add another person at the facility?,” asked board member Amy Miller.

“It will be more of a re-scheduling, instead of adding another person,” said finance director Cookie Canon. “Sometimes it’s two different teachers who go part of the day and the other one goes the other half.”

“I just wanted to make sure we’re not in violation of any laws,” said Espino.

“We still need to provide the services,” said board member Crissy Martinez.

“That’s why I said we should go ahead and agree tonight and then decide about keeping them here or sending them to Fort Stockton,” said Espino.

During the board’s regular meeting on July 11, they approved several new appointments, made some reassignments and accepted some resignations.

Appointments included:

Evangelee Cordova: certification, Generalist (EC-4), Generalist (4-8; degree, Bachelor of Business Administration; assignment, history teacher/coach at Crockett Middle School. Joe Denham; certification, All Level Music (EC-12); degree, Bachelor of Arts/Sul Ross State University; assignment, Assistant Band Director at Pecos High School.

Helen Kimbrough: certification, All-Level Physical Education (PK-12), Secondary Sociology (6-12), Driver Education (6-12); degree, Masters in Education/Sul Ross State University, Bachelor of arts/University of Texas of the Permian Basin; assignment, Special Education Teacher/Head Volleyball Coach at Pecos High School.

Oscar Luna: certification, Special Education (EC-12); degree, Bachelor of Business Administration/Howard Payne University; assignment, Discipline Teacher/Coach at Lamar AEP.

Maria Miranda: certification, Elementary Self-Contained (1-8), Elementary Spanish (1-8), Elementary Bilingual/ESL (1-8); degree, Bachelor of Arts/University of Texas of the Permian Basin; assignment, Kindergarten Bilingual Teacher at Pecos Kindergarten.

Shawn Pope: certification, All Level Physical Education (EC-12), Science (4-8); degree, Bachelor of Science/University of Texas at Arlington; assignment, Physical Education Teacher/Coach at Austin Elementary.

Tiffany Overby: certification, English Language Arts and Reading (8-12); degree, Bachelor of Science/McMurry University; assignment, Speech Teacher/Cheerleader Sponsor at Pecos High School.

Vanessa Villesca: certification, Math (8-12); degree, Bachelors in Business Administration/University of Texas at El Paso; assignment, DAEP Teacher/Coach at Lamar AEP.


Kim Anderson - From ISS teacher at Bessie Haynes Elementary to teacher at Pecos High School.

David Armbruster - From teacher at Pecos High School to ISS Teacher at Bessie Haynes Elementary.

Teresa Bigham - From history teacher/coach at Crockett Middle School to Physical Education Teacher/Coach at Crockett Middle School.

Eric Garcia - from Discipline Teacher/Coach at Lamar AEP to history teacher/coach at Pecos High School.

Pat Gent - from history teacher/coach at Pecos High School to Physical Education Teacher/Coach at Pecos High School.

Katie Henson - from speech teacher at Pecos High School to Speech/Drama Teacher at Pecos High School.


Veronica Abila - Science teacher/coach at Pecos High School. Effective 6-23-06. Evan Bates - Physical Education Teacher/Coach at Austin Elementary. Effective 6-28-06. Beth Dominguez - First grade teacher at Austin Elementary. Effective 7-10-06. Delma Molinar - Physical Education Teacher/Coach at Crockett Middle School. Effective 6-20-06. Elias Payan Jr. - Physical Education Teacher/Health Teacher/Coach at Pecos High School. Effective 6-26-06. Charlie Wilson - Speech/Drama Teacher at Pecos High School. Effective 6-16-06.

Hearing, trial date set for Carrasco on thefts

A pre-trial hearing has been scheduled Friday for former Reeves County Attorney Louis Carrasco, who faces charges of theft and misappropriation of funds.

Carrasco was first indicted in February, and the 143rd District Grand Jury added five new charges on June 19. His pre-trial hearing will be held Friday in the 143rd District Court and a jury trial is scheduled for Aug. 21.

Carrasco, 40, pled not guilty during his arraignment on charges of misuse of funds during a hearing held in March in 143rd District Court, as a result of the Feb. 22 indictments, which led to his resignation as Reeves County Attorney on Oct. 31 of last year.

The first grand jury returned nine indictments against Carrasco.

According to 143rd District Attorney Randy Reynolds, the 14 returned indictments involve allegations that Carrasco misused funds he held in both his capacity as a public servant as Reeves County Attorney and in his capacity as a fiduciary regarding cases he handled as a private attorney.

Reynolds said in February that he first learned of the problem in the summer of 2005. He then requested that Reeves County Auditor Lynn Owens review the expenditures and report his findings to Reynolds.

He also assigned his DA investigators, Freddy Contreras and Jeffery Baeza, to start an inquiry, and based on the findings of the auditor and the investigators, Reynolds requested that the Texas Rangers begin a formal investigation involving the Office of the Reeves County Attorney in late October of last year.

Shortly after the Ranger investigation was started, files from Carrasco’s office were seized on Oct. 26, and based on the findings at that time, Reynolds prepared a petition to remove Carrasco from the office of Reeves County Attorney.

Prior to the filing of the petition, Carrasco resigned from office and the Reeves County Commissioners then appointed Richard C. Slack, a long time Pecos attorney, to fill the vacancy.

Carrasco was first elected to the county attorney’s position in 2000, and was in the first year of his new four-year term of office when he resigned. Carrasco ran unopposed for re-election in 2004.

Former guards, RCDC inmate enter pleas

Plea bargains have been reached in four of the six cases involving Reeves County Detention Center guards charged last month with bringing in contraband items or engaging in sex acts at the prison.

Two of the six guards involved received probated sentences and $500, two of the others will be sentenced before U.S. Judge Rob Junell in September at the Lucius Bunton Federal Courthouse in Pecos, while a fifth was scheduled to go before U.S. Magistrate Durwood Edwards in Pecos on Thursday afternoon.

Oliver Isaac Zermeno, 22,and Pablo Baca Briones, 38, were given probation by Edwards for their guilty pleas. Zermeno went before the magistrate last week, while Briones’ hearing was on Tuesday, along with those of inmate Jaime Cervantes and two other guards, Sarah G. Mata, 35, and Vanessa Valles-Valenzuela, 23. All except for the inmate are from Pecos.

Zermeno pled guilty to one count of providing/possessing contraband in prison, a misdemeanor, and was sentenced to three years of unsupervised probation. Government prosecutors accepted the plea in exchange for dismissing a more serious charge of bribery, which could have brought a maximum of 15 years imprisonment. The misdemeanor charge carried a sentence of up to one year’s imprisonment.

Zermeno was charged along with another guard, Matthew Isaac Valencia, 23. His case was due for hearing before Edwards Thursday afternoon.

Briones and Cervantes entered their pleas together on Tuesday afternoon before the magistrate. Briones was accused of bringing in tight pills, along with T-3 pills (pills with enhancing testosterone level), Anabol pills (body-building pills), syringes with allergy medicine, shorts, toothbrushes, lotion, aspirin an candy, all prohibited objects for the federal inmates, to Cervantes, between Feb. 1, 2005 and Jan. 31, 2006. He allegedly was paid between $160 and $300 in U.S. currency.

Briones’ attorney, Scott Johnson, noted that none of the items were controlled substances, and Edwards noted that some of the items were available from the prison commissary.

Edwards then sentenced Briones to five years probation and a $500 fine, while Cervantes received a 90-day term, to be added on to the current term he is serving at the RCDC.

Mata’s deal tentatively calls for her to serve a term of one year and one day, pending approval by Junell during the September sentencing. She pled guilty to Count 2 of a three-count indictment, charging her with bribery. The other counts alleged sexual abuse of a ward and providing/possessing contraband in prison. She was accused of having sex and attempting to smuggle marijuana to inmate Rigoberto Mora-Ochoa, who also pled guilty before Edwards on Tuesday to one count of the indictment.

Valles-Valenzuela, pled guilty to the only count against her, sexual abuse of a ward, which carries a maximum of five years in federal prison. The sixth guard who has yet to appear before the magistrate judge, Magdalena Marie Mendoza, 24, of Pecos, faces two counts of abusive sexual conduct.

N.C. man admits to antique weapons theft spree

One of two men accused of stealing historical weapons from the Fort Davis National Historical Site in April and three other Big Bend locations pled guilty in U.S. District Court in Pecos on Tuesday to all three counts of the federal indictment involving the theft of U.S. government property.

Joey Kenneth Priddy entered a guilty plea before U.S. Magistrate Durwood Edwards in connection with the thefts at the Fort Davis museum, with sentencing scheduled in September. The plea came after his accomplice, Kirby Loren Amlee, reached a deal with prosecutors in which he confessed and returned the stolen items to their owners in return for a lesser sentence.

According to the indictment against Priddy, motion detectors were set off shortly after 1 a.m. on April 12 at historic site, which recounts the history of Fort Davis in the mid to late 19th Century. When the superintendent of the site arrived 20 minutes later, glass cases were found broken and eight historical items were discovered missing, along with $200 from the museum’s donation box.

The items included a Thurber and Allen bar handle percussion pistol, a Colt Model 1849 revolver; a Colt Model 1851 Naval Revolver; a Colt Model 1860 Army Revolver; a Colt Model 1873 SAA Revolver; a Colt SAA .44RF; a U.S. Model 1842 Percussion Pistol and a Bowie knife. Total value of the stolen items was put at $30,150, while damage to the exhibits and to the cases was estimated at $17,700 and restoration costs for the stolen items was estimated at between $4,850 and $19,400.

According to the indictment, special agents from the National Park Service later learned by mid-May that two men had been inside the historic site the previous day and were acting strangely and that a local antique dealer had been approached by the men four days earlier about selling items from the back of a pickup they were using. The report said the dealer also talked with Priddy and the second man, identified as Amlee, twice more within the next week.

During that time, three other thefts were reported to the Brewster County Sheriff’s Department. In the first, reported on April 14, antique military memorabilia stolen from a shed in Terlingua, where investigators discovered Amlee was a former resident. The second, reported 90 minutes later, involved the Hallie Stilwell Museum in Alpine, in which historical weapons, ammunition, Indian arrowheads and a small wooden butter mold were reported missing. The final theft was reported on April 17 at the Lajitas International Airport, in which some historical items, along with a wide-screen plasma television and several tourist items were also stolen.

Amlee’ picture was shown to people in the area, including the antique dealer, who identified him as the man she had spoken to the previous week, and an Internet search revealed that a Kirby Loren Amlee had been court-martialed in 1998 at Pope AFB in North Carolina for the theft of military memorabilia the previous year. He had served 18 months before being dishonorably discharged.

A further check revealed that a vehicle owned by Amlee had crossed the border at Presidio on April 14 along with the second man, identified at Priddy, a resident of North Carolina. It also showed that Priddy had been arrested on May 18 in Patrick County, Va., for stealing an antique wagon wheel in Stuart, Va., and had been convicted in 1986 in U.S. District Court in North Carolina for bank robbery, for which he received a 12-year sentence.

After that, sheriff’s officials in Moore County, N.C., obtained a search warrant to search Amlee’s residence in Robbins, N.C., and discovered items matching those stolen from the Lajitas Airport, but no items within the residence. Investigators later discovered Amlee had buried other items across the street from his home, following his arrest on May 24 in North Carolina for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Amlee admitted coming to Fort Davis, but denied the thefts, while his wife, Darla Sue Bergman, said she, her husband and their new baby, Colt, had traveled from North Carolina o Fort Davis to visit her parents, and that Priddy had arrived with Amlee’s mother, Sharon, a few days later, and the group then went to her condominium in Lajitas. That building was searched, with no items being found.

The investigation continued into early June, at which time Amlee’s attorney was informed of the pending charges and was offered a deal if he would cooperate wit prosecutors. On June 6, Amlee and his attorney arrived at the Moore County Sheriff’s Office with items stolen from Fort Davis, Lajitas and Alpine, and officials were given information about a storage shed in Lajitas, where the remaining items were found.

In a statement, Amlee waived his rights and confessed to working with Priddy to steal the items. Those stolen from the Fort Davis Historical Site were first thrown into the woods near a rest area on State Highway 17 between Fort Davis and Balmorhea. The two men then traveled to Pecos, making a stop at the West of the Pecos Museum, before continuing on to Carlsbad Caverns. They returned to Lajitas the following day.

The items stolen at Fort Davis were retrieved on April 17, following the burglary at Lajitas. Amlee told investigators he had stolen the items in Lajitas because the new owner of the town was a “jerk” who was trying to buy out everyone who lived there, while the items were stolen from the Fort Davis Historical Site because he collected antique firearms and was mad at the National Park Service for not hiring him.

Both Amlee and Kirby were indicted on June 15. The following day, Amlee went to the Stillwell Museum and paid back the money stolen from the collection box and returned the frames in which the Indian arrowheads had been placed.

I-20 repaving project begins with accident

The start of construction work on 15 miles of Interstate 20 in Reeves County Thursday morning sparked a two-vehicle accident at the Pecos River crossing that sent two persons to Reeves County Hospital.

Jones Brothers Dirt & Paving began work on Thursday on resurfacing rutted sections of I-20 along a 15 miles stretch from the Pecos River to FM 869 west of Pecos under a contract with the Texas Department of Transportation, and work had begun to remove the surface of the right lane of the westbound lanes of the road when the accident occurred.

Glen Larum, Public Information Officer for TxDOT’s Odessa office, said he talked with C.J. Zuniga, the TxDOT engineer in charge of the project , who was at the scene when the crash occurred.

“Apparently, one of the drivers misinterpreted the flagman’s signal. We weren’t stopping the traffic; there was still a lane open and we were just slowing it down,” Larum said.

He said the driver of the car “came to a complete stop, and then wouldn’t proceed even though the flagman was telling him to proceed. Then the following vehicle came up behind the car and struck it from behind.”

The car was knocked into the center median just west of the Pecos River, and Pecos EMS workers, along with Pecos Volunteer Fire Department crews and the Jaws of Life were called out to the site to remove people from the vehicles.

The two people involved were transported to Reeves County Hospital for treatment of their injuries. Names of the injured were not available at press time.

Speed limits in the area, which were raised to 80 mph at the end of May, have been reduced to 65 mph in the work zones, and caution signs were put out warning drivers about possibly traffic stoppages due to construction. “One of the problems is they’ve been going 80 mph until they get to the construction zone, and they need to remember to slow down and obey all warning signs and signals in the construction zone,” Larum said.

The paving project is being done to replace the driving lane in two sections on the interstate, which began suffering severe rutting problems shortly after all lanes in both directions were repaved in the fall of 2004.

“There will be times when traffic will be restricted to one lane each direction for short distances and there will be exit and entrance ramp closures when the contractor is working at those locations,” said Zuniga.

The 14-mile area to be affected is from the Reeves County line at the Pecos River to just west of Pecos at the intersection with FM 869. The final phase -resurfacing -should be finished by early October, said Zuniga.

The $7.7 million repaving in Reeves County follows completion of work earlier this week to repave the driving lane on 19 miles of I-20 in Ward County between Pyote and the Monahans Sandhills. In both projects, a stronger surface is being placed on the highway in hopes of solving the problem caused by trucks rutting the roadway.

Jones Bros. will mill out the 11-foot wide driving lane and inlay a “superpave” hot mix in the rutted areas between the Pecos River and the US 285 intersection and west of Pecos from the Business 20 exit to FM 869.

The final phase will feature placement of a two-inch full-width “Superpave” overlay the entire length of the project. “Superpave” is a hot mix design created to withstand heavy truck traffic, according to Zuniga.

Rodriguez receives ASC All-Academic honors

Nine student athletes represented Sul Ross State University on the 2006 American Southwest Spring Academic All-Conference team. Lady Lobo softball players include Pecos resident, Jessica Rodriguez, a junior, majoring in biology.

To be eligible for the ASC All-American honor roll, student-athletes must letter in the spring 2006 season, be in at least the second academic year at their institution and carry a career grade point average of 3.00 or higher.

Carrasco named to Dean’s Honor List

Alessandra Carrasco, of Pecos, has been named to the Dean’s Honor List for the Spring 2006 semester at The University of Texas in Austin.

The College of Communication Honor List includes students who have completed 12 or more hours of graded work with a grade-point average of 3.5 (B+) or higher with no grade less than C.

Carrasco is a 2004 Pecos High School graduate.

She is the daughter of Sylvia and Jesse Carrasco.

Castillo attends scholarship program

P-B-T ISD student Aaron Michael Castillo recently attended the Texas State Student of the Year Scholarship and Recognition Program at the Houston Airport Marriott in Houston.

The 11-year-old was honored at the annual event that is designed to help students gain self-awareness, personal development, pride, self-confidence and social skills as the students participate in several academic events.

Castillo competed against some 400 students from other areas throughout the state. The Pecos sixth grader was selected from several applicants by Bessie Haynes staff to represent his town and school district for outstanding achievements during the 2004-2005 school year.

His trip was sponsored by M&W Hot Oil, Inc. of Pecos and Lydia Castillo, Jesse Bermea, Knight Aerospace Products, Paul Canuel, Rambo Garza and Daniel Vega, of San Antonio.

He is the son of parents, Albert Castillo of San Antonio, and April Fuentez, stepfather, Martin Fuentez and he has one sister, Julia and one brother, Chayo.

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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321

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