Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Friday, August 11, 2006
Deed questions complicate cemetery’s problems
Town of Pecos City Council members were given updates on several projects during their regular meeting on Thursday at City Hall, and agreed to seek grant funding on two of those projects, while being told work on a third will have to wait until a survey.
The council was updated on the status of the new Fairview Cemetery board and on a desertscape project for the 500 block of South Oak Street and on the city’s new landfill trench.
Councilman Michael Benavides, who along with mayor Dick Alligood are part of the new committee, updated other members on the group’s first meeting on Tuesday.
“We had a real good response from members. It showed they really care what’s going on at Fairview Cemetery,” Benavides said. “There were a lot of issues brought up, and we need to tackle them all one by one.”
Citizens maintaining family plots at Fairview have complained about the upkeep of the facility and the lack of water. The city said leaks from pipes at the cemetery were wasting 3,000 gallons a month, and a solution to the problem had to be found.
“The Parks Department has a $2,200 a month water budget for this year, and so far over nine months it’s already over $45,000,” said Parks Department Director Tom Rivera.
“If we do not do something about water consumption, we will not have water for the future,” said City Manager Joseph Torres.
The cemetery was reportedly given over to the city in 1938, but deeds were handled through Pecos Funeral Home. “Bobby Dean (a member of the cemetery board) mentioned it is a privatized addition. If it is, the city’s hands would be tied as far as water and getting it cleaned up,” Benavides said.
City utilities director Edgardo Madrid said Dean gave him a copy of the cemetery’s deed map, and it would be used along with the city’s survey of the facility. “If it matches really close, we’ll have a map to work with,” he said.
In addition, Alligood said the city was asking Pecos Funeral Home to see if they had information on the deed sales over the years, and where the money from the deed sales had gone.
The council approved seeking grant funds for the Main Street project, which would involve the east side of Oak Street next to City Hall, the Pecos Community Center and Pecos Municipal Court, which is part of a six-block planned Oak Street restoration.
“We are going to do this in phases, because of the limited amount of money available,” said Rivera. He told members the grants for the project came to $150,000 a year, with 10 percent of that going towards administrative fees.
“We have a lot of issues with bad sidewalks and ADA compliance,” he said. Those include the width of the sidewalks being too narrow for wheelchairs and the surface being cracked by roots from the fruitless mulberry trees planted along the curbs.
He showed the council plans for the area in a PowerPoint presentation, along with a picture of the replica streetlights that will be used as part of the downtown restoration.
“The Tree Board will provide the native plants, and we were able to get the four lights at $499 per light,” Rivera said. The lights will all go on the east side of the 500 block of Oak Street, but plans are to eventually replace all the lights on both sides of the street down to the old Missouri Pacific Railroad Depot.
Council member Danny Rodriguez asked Rivera why the project didn’t begin at the Depot and West of the Pecos Museum.
“The Community Center is used for a events and we host a lot of workshops there,” Rivera said. “Also at the Municipal Court building when the Social Security representative is here we have a lot of senior citizens who show up.”
He also said that since the block is all city property, the work could be done without disturbing businesses. “If we apply for the grant and lf businesses are going to be affect, we have to submit a plan on how to keep the businesses in business while the work is done,” Rivera said.
The landfill presentation was made by summer intern Jake McKinney, the son of police chief Clay McKinney. Madrid said McKinney was working on his engineering degree at the University of Texas, and had spent the summer working in his office, including work on finishing the second trench at the landfill.
“The project is about 98 percent complete. All we have left is the grades on the slopes,” McKinney said.
The city will take over landfill operations from Duncan Disposal in December, after the new trench is finished. Madrid said the new landfill is two years into its projected 27-year lifespan.
In other action, the council was told by Madrid that the city has purchased two new pumps for lift stations on the southeast and southwest sides of town. The pumps, at the Stafford Boulevard lift station and at the one near the Quality Inn on South Cedar Street, are designed to improve the sewer line flows from the Reeves County Detention Center and from TransPecos Foods.
“We’re replacing the regular pumps with shredder pumps,” Madrid said. Grease coming from the processing plant and solid waste dumped into the sewer by inmates at the prison were cited as the problems. He added that TransPecos Foods has been doing more frequent clean-ups of their lines, which has helped the situation, while the city is working on another way to lessen the prison waste problem.
“We’re designing a bar screen to remove these solids,” he said. “We haven’t had time to get a construction crew together. We need to hire one more person, but we are going to do that soon.”
“It should be waste that goes into the trash can, not into the sewer,” said Alligood. “But Edgardo should be able to solve it.”
Madrid said along with those issues, the city may have to look at increasing the size of the sewer line running near Maxey Park, if new construction proposed for the I-20 corridor on the west side of town does occur.
“If there is development of new hotels, we might have to do something different, because it’s too much for that line,” Madrid said, explaining that an 8-inch sewer line may have to be replaced with a 12-inch line.
He added that the Texas Capital Fund offers grants for projects like that, based on the number of new jobs created. He said the fund offers grants of $25,000 per new worker, and number of workers who would be employed at the motels would fund the cost of the project.
Council members delayed action on the budget and tax planning calendar presented by Lydia Prieto, until a second round of budget workshops, set for next week. City Finance Director Sam Contreras said the additional workshops were needed before a final budget could be determined. Those hearings include a discussion on the city’s health care costs, tentatively set for Tuesday evening.
“There are still some items that need to be resolved at the hearings, so we can know more about the budget and we can decide whether to go with a (tax) increase,” Contreras said.
Council members are hoping to set the rates at their next meeting on Aug. 24. During Thursday’s meeting, they were also presented the 2006 appraisal rolls by Prieto, which showed next taxable real estate and mineral valuations at $112.7 million, up $770,000 from last year.
Tank battery blaze blamed on lightning
Thunderstorms that passed through the area ate Monday evening were blamed for a tank batter fire that broke out north of Interstate 20 near the Pecos River in Reeves County.
“There were about six water tanks, and every one of them had a little bit of oil,” said Reeves County Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire. “It melted all six of the fiberglass tanks. There was nothing left.”
The fire broke out shortly after 6 p.m., and Pecos volunteer firefighters were at the scene for about 3 1/.2 hours. “We had three trucks out at the site and two water tankers from Winkles (M&W Hot Oil) out there bringing water to us,” Brookshire said.
The location of the fire was difficult to access, and was at first believed to be on the Ward County side of the river near Barstow.
Brookshire said the fire was the only lightning-caused blaze reported from Monday’s storms, which ended a 10 day period of showers and thunderstorms that passed through the Trans-Pecos area, after most communities received under two inches of rain during the first seven months of the year.
Police probing death, stabbing in Monahans
Local law enforcement officials are continuing to investigate the shooting death of a Monahans man Tuesday night, which police said resulted from a fight between the man and the brother of the alleged shooter.
Federico “Fred” Baca Ortiz, Jr., 1301 S. Allen St., died Tuesday night after Darrell Fletcher, also of Monahans, shot him in the upper, left chest with a 12-guage shotgun, according to Monahans police.
The 25-year-old Ortiz was pronounced dead at Ward Memorial Hospital by Dr. Bill Davison around 9:45 p.m. A brother of Fletcher who was stabbed in the incident was also treated at the hospital, and later released.
According to a press release issued by Monahans Police Chief Billy Hammitt, “Investigation revealed that the victim (Ortiz) became involved in an argument with three black males outside his residence.”
Monahans police Lieutenant Orlando Orona said that the incident began with 34-year-old Kevin Fletcher standing outside Ortiz’s Allen Street house talking to his girlfriend, Angelica Ortiz - Federico Ortiz’ sister.
While the two talked, two of Fletcher’s brothers, Gregory age 41, and Darrell age 38, dropped by and joined the conversation, Orona said.
While the four were talking Ortiz came out of the house and told the three men to leave. When the three remained outside the house, Ortiz returned and had words with the three men.
Orona said that after this exchange, Ortiz apparently contacted his brother, Richard Ortiz, and told him to come over to the house, “because there was going to be some trouble.”When Richard Ortiz arrived he and Federico “exchanged words” with the Fletcher brothers. After this exchange, witnesses reported to police that Richard Ortiz “grabbed something from his truck, then struck Angelica Ortiz with his fist.”
“Investigation revealed that Kevin Fletcher attempted to stop Richard Ortiz from striking Angelica, and was subsequently struck by Richard. Richard then allegedly chased Kevin down the street,” Orona said. “Kevin jumped into the back of his brother Darrell’s truck, and they drove down 13th Street.
“Greg Fletcher also attempted to leave, but the victim (Federico Ortiz) ran in front of his truck causing him to swerve and strike another vehicle,” Orona said.
Witnesses said that the Ortiz brothers then “forced Greg Fletcher onto the ground outside of his vehicle, and began hitting and stabbing him.”
Orona said that a knife and a screwdriver were recovered at the scene but it was not known which of the weapons was used to stab Fletcher.
During the fight Greg Fletcher was stabbed in the head with one of the weapons.
At this point the other two Fletcher brothers were about half a block away. Darrell Fletcher got out of his truck with a shotgun.
A few moments later witnesses heard a single gun shot, and police later recovered a spent 12-guage shell casing at the scene, Orlando said.
He added that judging from the distance of the shell casing to the victim Fletcher was about 10 yards away from Ortiz when he fired, hitting the victim in the chest.
Ward Memorial Hospital EMS transported Ortiz to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Greg Fletcher was also taken to the hospital where doctors stitched the wound in his head before releasing him.
Orona said that the investigation will continue. He said that everyone involved had been contacted by the police and were cooperating.
“We’re finishing up the investigation and trying to determine if this was murder or self-defense,” the investigating officer said.
Red Bluff OKs new home, barn at lake
A new house and a new barn for Red Bluff Lake were approved by the Red Bluff Water Power Control Board members during their monthly meeting on Tuesday in Pecos.
Board members approved seeking bids for a double-wide mobile home for the district’s maintenance person at the lake, as well as a new barn for storing equipment. They also discussed setting up a meeting in Imperial sometime early this fall with members of the seven area sub-districts to discuss plans to remove dead salt cedars from along the Pecos River.
The mobile home was chosen over a pre-fabricated home option, and will replace the current home, which was build 60 years ago and has deteriorated to the point where it is no longer repairable. Managing director Randal Hartman said the mobile home option would cost between $45 and $50 a square foot, while the “ready built” home would cost $63 a square foot.
Hartman said the district would look at a trailer with between 1,800 and 2,000 square feet of space, with a cost of between $85,000 and $100,000. The cost would include all electric facilities and come with heating an central air conditioning.
“The only thing I want to do if we get a mobile home is to get a double floor put in,” he said.
The barn would be to secure the district’s equipment at the lake, and would be at least 4,000 square feet. “We need to have room to put all our stuff in and still have a locking area,” said Hartman. “Right now, we haven’t got any way to protect anything we’ve got. Anybody can go in and pick it up.”
Board members also approved seeking a utility trailer for the lake, at a cost of about $2,500.
The Imperial meeting was discussed after members said they had been approached about setting up a something for the seven water districts, which buy water from Red Bluff. The meeting would be to discuss plans for removing salt cedars killed off along the Pecos River over the past seven years.
“Most people down there here things second and third hand that are not always accurate,” said board member Ava Gerke. “It would be nice to put it all on the table on how the expenses are going to be divided up.”
In July, Red Bluff agreed to spend $75,000 at the request of the Upper Pecos Soil and Water Conservation District an the Natural Resources Conservation Service to help with plans to clear dead brush and trees from the river that have been killed off over the past seven years as part of the salt cedar eradication project.
The two agencies were seeking $150,000 for the project, and were hoping to get the remaining $75,000 from the seven sub-districts that receive water from Red Bluff Lake and the Pecos River, pending matching funding action by the Texas Legislature.
Board member Cecil Lee asked if the meeting, tentatively set for late September or early October, could be run under the control of Upper Pecos Soil & Water Conservation District officials.
During discussion on the water releases to-date from Red Bluff Lake to area farmers, Hartman said “We’ve had some requests for some extra acres of water,” which he said the district would be able to handle.
“There’s 4,750 acre/feet of water we didn’t allot. The three districts that bought would be eligible for it,” he said. The districts include Ward 1 and Ward 3 in Barstow, and Pecos 2 in Imperial. The allotment would come from water turned back by Loving 1, Reeves 2 and Ward 2 from their original allotments.
“We will re-allot it and have it out to those districts shortly,” Hartman said.
Chamber told ‘Night’ turnout good despite rain
Despite the rain showers that hit the area recently, the annual Night in Old Pecos/Cantaloupe Festival was a success, according to organizers of the event.
The festival was discussed during the regular Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors meeting held at noon Tuesday.
The date of the festival was changed this year to the end of July, from its previous date in late June, to coincide with the Annual West of the Pecos Rodeo events.
“We don’t have any figures yet, but it was wonderful,” said one of the organizers for the event, Debbie Thomas.
She said that despite the fact that it rained that weekend, nobody had left and that all the vendors were happy with the outcome.
“We just had two less vendors than last year,” said Thomas.
There were 35 vendors and they all had good comments about the outcome, according to Thomas.
Several other events that were usually held along with Night In Old Pecos in late June also changed their dates to coincide with the new date of the event.
“They also decided to have those events changed to a later time,” said Thomas.
She said that the committee has been hearing both pros and cons about the date change and that they welcome all comments from the community.
Thomas said that the Windmill Square melodrama had a low attendance, but that there were a lot of people at the Annual Night In Old Pecos/Cantaloupe Festival.
West of the Pecos Rodeo President Joe Keese talked to the group about this year’s rodeo results and plans for next year’s event.
“We’ll be meeting and discussing the dates for 2008,” said Keese.
“It looks like we did make some money this year.”
He said that they had already invested a lot for next year’s event.
“We have about $15,000 worth of products,” he said.
Keese said that Hugh Box had fixed a lot of things out at the rodeo arena and that the Reeves County Road and Bridges Department had worked on the stands and done a lot of work out there as well.
“Profit wise - we expect more next year,” he said.
Keese said that they had a lot of volunteers. “We had about 40 plus volunteers one day, it was great,” he said.
Keese said that anyone who would like to join the rodeo committee could do so. “You don’t have to attend the meetings if you don’t want to, just volunteer wherever you can or want to,” he said.
“Our rodeo producers said that it was the best rodeo that that they had seen and that it was great how the community came together,” he said.
In other action, the Hawaiian Beach Party that had been held for the past four years on Labor Day weekend will not take place this year. Chamber directors voted not to have the event again this year, but are looking forward to the Reeves County Fall Fair in early October.
“The books should be ready soon for the fall fair,” said chamber director Linda Gholson. “We’re working on tying up loose ends,” she said.
Chamber president Jimmy Dutchover told the group that Congressman Henry Bonilla will be in Pecos this coming Tuesday and will be speaking at the Reeves County Courthouse lobby.
“I would like for all the directors to be there to give Congressman Bonilla a big welcome,” said Dutchover. “He has been very instrumental in Reeves County getting the contract at the Reeves County Detention Center III with the Bureau of Prisons,” he said.
Man held following assault of woman
A local man remained Reeves County Jail on Thursday facing charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon following an altercation that occurred early Tuesday morning.Willie Glenn Ephriam, 39, 714 S. Hackberry, is currently in the Reeves County Jail on charges of aggravated assault on a deadly weapon after allegedly attacking a woman at another location.
Police said at 1:58 a.m. on Tuesday officers were dispatched to 1111 S. Cherry St. in reference to a disturbance.
“Upon arriving at the scene the officers observed the complainant lying on the ground and it appeared that the victim had been stabbed,” said Pecos Police Investigator Paul Deishler.The on-scene officers contacted the ambulance service and the victim, identified as on Lorie Ann Lopez, 35, of 1205 S. Elm St., was eventually transported to the hospital for her injuries.
Deishler said about 40 minutes after they were called about the assault, at approximately 2:37 a.m., Sgt. Ishmael Gamboa and Officer Juan Prieto located the suspect that they believed had committed the earlier assault on Lopez.
“The suspect was observed at the intersection of Eighth and Oak Streets,” said Deishler. “At that time he was identified as being Willie Glenn Ephriam.”
Ephriam was placed under arrest for the offense of public intoxication and transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center and released to the jail staff.
Officers continued their investigation later that day, and Deishler said, “After conducting an investigation in to the assault, a probable cause affidavit and a complaint was provided to Judge Amonario Ramon to review.
“Judge Ramon issued a warrant of arrest for Ephriam for aggravated assault and he was served with the warrant while still in custody,” he said.
According to Deishler, Lopez had severe wounds to her face, head and her left upper arm from the attack.
“The investigation in to the assault is still continuing and more arrest warrants could be issued,” said Deishler.
Bond has been set at $50,000 for Ephriam, who is currently still in the Reeves County Jail, where he was transferred from the Criminal Justice Center.
Construction to shut I-20 ramp
The westbound entrance and exit ramps on U.S. 285 will be temporarily closed due to construction.
TxDOT contractor Jones Brothers Dirt and Paving plan to close the westbound entrance and exit ramps (Exit 42) at U.S. 285 on Interstate 20 on Monday, Aug. 14.
The ramps will be closed all day.
Traffic can exit at Country Club and return to U.S. Highway 285 by way of the frontage road, according to Assistant Area Engineer Cijifredo “C.J.” Zuniga.
The eastbound entrance and exit ramps will be closed when construction is at that location at a later date, according to Zuniga.
Hill celebrates third birthday
Laci Brooke Hill celebrated her third birthday on Aug. 4, with a “Ladybug” theme party.
She is the daughter of Craig and Karen Hill.
A number of aunts, uncles and cousins attended along with special friend, Lindsey Shaw.
Laci is the granddaughter of Norman and Dorothy Hill and the late Arlene Hill, all of Pecos and Keith and Carollee Waters of Amarillo.
She received many nice gifts along with a swing set from her parents.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Information contained in the Police Report is obtained from reports filed by the Pecos Police Department, Reeves County Sheriff’s Office, or other officers of those agencies. The serving of warrants by an officer for outstanding fines of either traffic citations, animal control violations or other court costs are considered arrests and will be printed as such unless indicated that the fines were paid. In such instances we will indicate payment and release.
Police arrested a male juvenile on Aug. 8 on a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia and aggravated assault (knife), after a 19-year-old male reportedly was stabbed in the abdomen. Police said the 16-year-old was placed under arrest following the assault, which took place at 314 S. Mesquite St. The 19-year-old was transported to Reeves County Hospital for treatment of his injuries.
Jose Alfredo Lujan, 44, was arrested on July 19 at 412 S. Bois D’arc St., on a charge of public intoxication. Police said the charge was a Class B misdemeanor and Lujan was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.
Christopher Millan, 18, 405 N. Pecan St., was arrested by police on July 20 on warrants out of the Reeves County Sheriff’s Department charging him with minor in possession of alcoholic beverage and failure to appear. The arrest was made in the 1300 block of South Cedar Street and Millan was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.
Israel Chavez Ortega, 47, 812 W. Fourth St., was arrested by police on July 19 on a warrant out of Brown County (Brownwood) on motion to revoke on an assault charge. Police said the arrest took place at 2:50 p.m. in the 200 block of South Sycamore Street and Ortega was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.
Peggy Calderon Gonzalez, 46, 714 E. Eighth St., was arrested at 7:06 p.m. on July 26 on charges of assault, Class C, and resisting arrest, a Class A misdemeanor. Police said the arrest took place at her home, after police were called there on a domestic disturbance and observed Gonzalez assaulting her brother, Michael Lyles. She was placed under arrest and was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.
Juan Villalobos Serrano, 35, 1208 S. Oak St., was arrested by police on July 27 on a charge of public intoxication. Police said the arrest took place at 11:43 p.m. following a call of a domestic disturbance at 1309 S. Willow St., Serrano was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.
Rogelio Villa, 21, of Presidio, was arrested by police on July 28 on a charge of public intoxication. Police said the arrest took place at 1:50 a.m. at 1111 W. Second St., following a report of a disturbance. Villa was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.
Jimmy Don Juarez, 24, 1921 W. Fourth St., was arrested by police on July 28 on warrants charging him with open container of alcohol, a Class C misdemeanor, and assault under the Family Violence Act, also a Class C misdemeanor. Police said the warrants were served while Juarez was already in Reeves County Jail on a separate charge.
Saul Salgado-Carrasco, 58, of Deming, N.M., was arrested by police on July 21 on a charge of public intoxication. Police said the arrest took place following a traffic stop in the 400 block of East Ninth Street. Salgado-Carrasco was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.
Joaquin Chavez Gervacio, 501 S. Rancho Rd., was arrested by police on warrants charging him with driving with a suspended license. He was also charged with driving while license invalid following the traffic stop, at Walthall and Cedar Streets at 12:47 a.m. on Aug. 9. Gervacio was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.
Steven Ornelas, 818 W. Fourth St., was arrested by police on Aug. 7 at Uncle’s 201 E. Third St., on a warrant for an expired license plate. The arrest was made at 7:36 p.m. and Ornelas was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321
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