Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Friday, December 1, 2006
State officials think recount totals are valid
A manual recount was held on Wednesday in the election for Reeves County Judge, with the results confirming the Nov. 21 totals that boosted the number of votes in the race by over 200 from the count immediately following the Nov. 7 general election.
At the same time, a spokesperson with the Elections Division of the Texas Secretary of State’s office said they had taken a look at the vote total changes, and found there were no problems with the recount numbers or with the county’s new optical scanning system.
Republican Robert Hanks requested the recount, after losing by 96 votes in the Nov. 7 election for county judge against Democrat Sam Contreras. The results that day showed Contreras had received 952 votes to 856 for Hanks, out of a total of 2,270 ballots cast in Reeves County.
The recount held on Nov. 21 and on Wednesday at the Reeves County Courthouse involved the same 2,270 ballots, but the results showed Hanks gaining four votes from his Nov. 7 total, while Contreras added 199 votes. The new figures gave Hanks a total of 960 votes to 1,251 for Contreras.
The change increased the total number of votes cast in the county judge’s race on the 2,270 ballots by 11 percent. A story in Tuesday’s Enterprise incorrectly listed the increase as 20 percent. Out of the 203 additional votes, 98 percent went to Contreras.
Hanks said on Monday he did not want to comment at that time about the recount results, while a spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office on Tuesday confirmed they had been contacted about the results of the recount.
However, Ashley Burton, with the Secretary of State’s Elections Division, said on Thursday they had not found any problems with the new numbers or with the optical scanning machines the county began using in March.
“After speaking with county officials, we’re confident the problem with the recount was not with the machines,” she said. “We think that some of the votes found during the recount were due to voters not marking their votes dark enough.”
Burton said the scanners may not have read lightly marked boxes on the ballots the first time around, though she added to her knowledge, “We haven’t had any other calls about it,” from other Texas counties using the system.
“We’ve been pretty happy with how Election Day went,” Burton said. She added that local polling places in the future may have to put up signs to remind voters to darken the boxes of the candidates they’ve selected while filling out their ballots for optical scanning, to avoid a repeat of the problems with the Nov. 7 vote count.
Reeves County was mandated to replace its old punch card ballot system at the end of 2005, under federal order, after Congress outlawed the punch card ballots as a result of problems with the 2000 presidential election and ballot recounts in Florida. No problems were reported with the March 7 primary elections, the first time the new machines were used, but failure to count a box on Election Night led to a lawsuit being filed by Al Gomez, who had won the March Democratic Party primary for county judge in a five-way race, but lost the April 11 runoff by 15 votes to Contreras.
Gomez’s suit was dismissed in late July in 143rd District Court, and Contreras was declared the winner. Hanks ran unopposed for the Republican nomination for county judge in the March primary.
Commissioners to help rodeo get advertising grant
Reeves County Commissioners agreed to sponsor an application for a $10,000 grant to the West of the Pecos Rodeo Committee, accepted the resignation of the county attorney and approved the appointment of his new assistant as his replacement, during their meeting on Monday at the Reeves County Courthouse.
West of the Pecos Rodeo Committee President Joe Keese was on hand for the meeting to ask commissioners to sponsor an application to the Texas Department of Agriculture Yes! Program.
“The Texas Department of Agriculture initiated several steps to help rural communities,” said Keese.
Keese told commissioners that through the Texas Yes Program, rural communities can receive funds for advertisement and tourism.
“The city sponsored a grant for this past year to help us promote the rodeo and we’d like to do it again this coming year,” said Keese.
He said that entities are allowed to sponsor two events per two years. “Since they already sponsored other events they can’t sponsor us again, so we are asking the county to sponsor us.”
Keese said that the application was for a $10,000 matching grant.
“We do all the work, the county only sponsors the application,” he said.
Keese said that everything they do will be turned over to the county.
“The filing deadline is Dec. 1 and all the paperwork is ready,” said Keese.
Keese said that the application process was a long and complicated one, which included a detailed budget.
Attendance at the rodeo was up 15 percent last year and the group is shooting for 15 percent more next year.
Keese said that they advertised with four or five radio stations this past year in an effort to bring in more people to Pecos during the rodeo festivities.
“Is it first come first serve?” asked Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo of the grant funds.
“Yes,” said Keese.
Galindo asked Keese where the Pecos rodeo ranked nationwide.
“This rodeo ranks in the top 30 in payout prizes,” said Keese. “We had 700 cowboys and is one of the biggest rodeos in the country.”
Keese said that there is a lot of competition in bringing in the best cowboys.
“This will be the 125th, the oldest rodeo,” said Keese, who added the committee is also hoping to bring in a carnival during the 2007 rodeo.
The commissioners accepted the resignation of Reeves County Attorney Dick Slack and his accepted his appointment of Alva Alvarez to the position.
Slack, the 91-year-old former state representative, agreed to serve as county attorney in an emergency situation, after the resignation of Louis Carrasco last year. Alvarez began work for Slack on Nov. 7 as assistant county attorney, the same day she also was certified to practice law in the State of Texas.
Fireworks join holiday lighting at Maxey Park
Taking a quote from Walt Disney, the organizer of the Community Christmas Tree Lighting and Fireworks Display held Tuesday at Maxey Park, welcomed the community to the yearly event.
“I want to thank all the sponsors and everyone in the community who has pulled together to make this event a success,” said Pecos Rotary Club member Leo Hung, who added he thought that Disney had the right idea, when he said it was all about the children.
“Walt Disney grew up during the depression and had ideas on how to make a children happy,” said Hung.
This year’s event included a professionally choreographed fireworks display that could be seen for miles around. It was held before the lighting of the display, while other events included the posting of the colors by the RCDC Color Guard and Sara West singing the National Anthem.
Mariachi Perla was on hand to perform two Christmas Carols and Austin Elementary School students sang several Christmas songs.
“We were very excited with the turnout at the Christmas Lighting and fireworks display,” said one of the organizers for the event, Nancy Martinez.
It was a great joy to see everyone excited about the fireworks display,” she said.
Martinez said that adults and children alike had smiles on their faces.
“You could see faces light up as they watched the fireworks,” she said.
Students from Pecos Kindergarten, Austin Elementary, Bessie Haynes and Crockett Junior High decorated trees on the east side of the lawn.
Santa Claus was also on hand for the very special occasion and children had the opportunity to have their picture taken with him and to talk to Santa.
Martinez said that this was the first Christmas fireworks display in West Texas.
“Organizers are already making plans for next year’s event to help make it a bigger and better show,” she said, adding that the event wouldn’t have been possible without the sponsors.
“People still have an opportunity to contribute, we want to expand it for next year,” said Martinez.
Anyone wanting to make a contribution can contact a member of the Pecos Rotary Club or go to Professional Pharmacy, located at 925 W. Daggett St.
“We want to thank Mariachi Perla, we have been using their equipment these past few years and they perform here for us,” said Hung.
Cookies and hot chocolate were served following the presentation.
Area receives light snowfall with cold front
Pecos residents enjoying temperatures in the 80-degree range Wednesday afternoon were scraping snow off their cars Thursday morning, as part of a cold front that blew into Southwest and Central Texas overnight.
The cold front already had dropped temperatures into the 30s be mid-afternoon on Wednesday in the Panhandle. But the front didn’t reach the Pecos area until around 10 p.m. that night, and the snow didn’t start falling until 4 a.m., according to the National Weather Service’s monitoring station at the Pecos Municipal Airport.
Temperatures dropped overnight from a Wednesday high of 79 degrees to morning low of 27 degrees, and were expected to drop into the low 20s by Friday morning. A weaker cold front was due in the area by Sunday, but highs were expected to be back into the 60s on Saturday and Monday.
Thursday’s light snow fell on and off for about two hours, before ending just before sunrise. Most of the snow melted as it hit city streets, and temperatures were already below 30 degrees when the first snowflakes hit, which kept local residents from having to deal with freezing rain and icy roads Thursday morning. No major accidents were reported in the Trans-Pecos area due to the wintry weather.
The front was part of a major storm that dumped snow in Seattle on Monday, caused road closures in the Denver area on Wednesday, and caused the National Weather Service to issue winter storm warnings from Texas to Illinois through Friday morning.
Freezing temperatures and snow, sleet, freezing rain combined to glaze roads with ice and snow in much of the Panhandle, South Plains and Red River Valley. As much as 7 inches of snow fell overnight in parts of the Texas Panhandle, and it snowed as far west as El Paso.
Skies in the Pecos area had cleared off by 9 a.m., but snow was still falling near midday in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Airlines canceled 200 departures from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The cancellations were aimed at allowing more time to de-ice all departing aircraft Thursday, airport spokesman Ken Capps said.
In an e-mail, Capps said the cancellations will be spread over all carriers that serve DFW. More than 1,000 flights depart from DFW every day. But Fort Worth-based American Airlines would be most affected since it has the most flights at the airport, Capps said.
South Central Texas was to remain under a freeze warning until Friday morning. Many area cities were facing a wind advisory Thursday afternoon. Forecasters also issued a winter weather advisory for parts of East Texas for Thursday. North and West Texas were under a winter storm warning until Thursday evening.
Council approves paying out back wages owed CJC jailers
Start-up employees of the Reeves County Detention Center will be getting a nice pre-Christmas gift from the Town of Pecos City this week, after the city received word on its reimbursement of back pay funds from the U.S. Marshal’s Service.
City Council members voted during a special meeting on Tuesday to approve paying the remaining 75 percent of the back pay owed to 19 CJC employees who were at the facility from the time it opened in 2002 to when the city was ordered to increase their pay retroactively by the U.S. Department of Labor.
The council agreed to pay $137,867 to the workers, which represents an average payment of about $7,250 per worker. City Manager Joseph Torres said the Marshal’s Service will reimburse the money paid out by the city, as part of a deal worked out earlier this year.
“We need to file the documentation, and set it as a packet for reimbursement,” Torres told the council. “Once we do that, we can send a letter requesting reimbursement with the documentation.”
He said the letter would also include a request for an increase in the per diem rate the Marshal’s Service pays the city for housing up to 96 of its inmates at the CJC. The city has been seeking the increase since 2004, when it was ordered by the Department of Labor to increase salaries of the jailers to match the $31,179 starting pay rate guards at the Reeves County Detention Center receive for working with U.S. Bureau of Prison inmates.
“There’s no way they’re going to back out of this deal?” asked councilwoman Angelica Valenzuela, before authorizing the nearly $138,000 payment.
“We’ve got it in writing,” Torres said.
The Marshal’s Service helped fund construction of the CJC in 2001, as part of a 10-year deal to house inmates awaiting trial or sentencing. However, in 2004, the Department of Labor ruled the city had to pay the higher starting wage rates, which left Pecos running both a deficit on its contract with the Marshal’s Service and owing its jailers over $182,000 in back pay as a result of the federal ruling. The ruling also forced the city to increase salary sales at the Pecos Police Department, so that starting officers wouldn’t be earning less than CJC jailers.
The council earlier had agreed to pay 25 percent of the back pay owed the jailers, and Torres said reimbursement of those funds should arrive in early December.
“The first check for $44,000 will be within 10 days,” he said, adding that each of the 19 employees must acknowledge in writing receipt of the final 75 percent of their back pay.
“We have a 30-day window of opportunity,” he said, after which any remaining funds must be returned to the Marshal’s Service. “I believe right now we have two employees we haven’t been able to locate.”
City Attorney Scott Johnson said the $182,000 being paid by the Marshal’s Service still doesn’t totally reimburse the city their costs for the back pay.
“It is less than what the city is out,” he said, and Torres added the extra money covers workman’s compensation and unemployment benefits the city had to pay out as part of the back pay restitution.
The agreement does say the remaining $13,927 will be paid to the city by the Marshal’s Service, which will be paid at a later date, brining the total compensation to $195,983. The city and the Marshal’s Service remain in negotiations on a permanent increase in the man-day rate, to balance out the higher pay scales ordered by the Department of Labor.
Lindseys announce birth of daughter
Big brother, Jaxon Hank Lindsey, welcomed home his new little sister, Jayde Hope Lindsey.
Jayde was born Friday, Nov. 17, at Odessa Regional Hospital and weighed five pounds, 10 ounces and was 19 inches long at birth.
Proud parents are Robin and Vivian Lindsey.
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.
Albert Perez, 25, 1222 E. Second St., was arrested by police on Nov. 23 on a charge of possession of a controlled substance (cocaine) over one gram but under four grams, a 3rd Degree Felony. Police said the arrest took place following an attempted traffic stop at 12:20 a.m. in the 200 block of South Mulberry Street. Police said the vehicle continued on to the 1200 block of Second Street, and when Perez was searched after getting out of his 2000 Nissan Altima a small baggie containing what police said was cocaine was found in his possession. Perez was placed under arrest and was transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.
Alex Lujan, 18, 2204 S. Park St., was arrested by police on Nov. 17 at Pecos High School, 1201 S. Park St., on a charge of possession of marijuana under two ounces. Police said the arrest was made after Lujan was caught by assistant principal Jim Workman smoking a cigarette on campus, and a search by the district’s truancy officer turned up a baggie containing what police said was marijuana. Lujan was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.
Joseph Marks Tarin, 17, 1919 Jefferson St., was arrested by police on Nov. 26 on a charge of public intoxication. Police said the arrest was made after officers were called to the 2000 block of Adams Street in reference to a vehicle blocking a driveway. Tarin was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.
Armin Payen Tavarez, 45, 617 S. Mulberry St., was arrested by police on Nov. 27 on a charge of public intoxication. Police said the arrest was made in the 600 block of South Mulberry, after officers were called to the scene in reference to a male causing problems. Tavarez was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.
Eric Medrano Mata, 20, 618 S. Pecan St., and Frederico Rede Lara, 49, 817 S. Walnut St., were arrested by police on Nov. 26, Mata on a charge of public intoxication and Lara for criminal trespass. Police said the arrests were made at Uncle’s Convenience Store, 301 E. Third St. about two male suspects who were not wanted on the property. Mata and Lara were then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.
Jack Fuentes, 26, 413 Walnut St., was arrested by police on Nov. 25 on a charge of public intoxication. Police said the arrest took place after officers were called to the 300 block of West Fifth Street in reference to a stranded motorist. Fuentes was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.
Anthony Lynn Bailey, 37, of Wichita Falls., was arrested by police on Nov. 23 on a charge of assault causing bodily injury under the Family Violence Act. Police said the arrest was made after Bailey reportedly assaulted his spouse at 822 E. 13th St. He was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.
Alicia Cherry, 46, 1510 Iowa St., was arrested by police on Nov. 24 on a charge of assault causing bodily injury under the Family Violence Act. Police said the arrest was made after Cherry reportedly assaulted her spouse at their home. She was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.
Leticia Ann Granado, 43, 1018 E. Eighth St., was arrested by police on Nov. 23 on charges of public intoxication, a Class C misdemeanor, and criminal mischief, a Class A misdemeanor. Police said the arrest was made in the 500 block of East Fourth Street, after officers were called about a female subject damaging a passing vehicle by throwing a beer bottle at it. Granado was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.
Raul Garcia, 33, 812 S. Cypress St., was arrested by police on Nov. 23 on a charge of assault causing bodily injury under the Family Violence Act. Police said the arrest was made after Garcia reportedly assaulted his stepfather at the family’s home. He was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.
Emma Su Lujan, 36, 1104 S. Cypress St., was arrested by police on Nov. 21 on a warrant out of the Ector County Sheriff’s Office charging her with theft by check, a Class B misdemeanor. Police said the arrest was made as the result of a records check following a traffic stop at Cherry and Walthall streets, and Lujan was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.
Tracy E. Morales, 21, 1107 S. Orange St., Apt. A, was arrested by police on warrants for non-payment of fines on charges of no seat belt and no proof of liability insurance. Police said the arrest was made following a records check during a traffic stop, at 11:52 p.m. in the 2200 block of South Park Street. Morales was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.
Margarita Armendariz, 29, 2329 S. Eddy St., was arrested at her house on Nov. 18, at 12:46 a.m. Police said the arrest took place after the owner of the home called officers and said she did not want Armendariz at the residence and she was found to be intoxicated. Armendariz was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.
A 16-year-old male juvenile was arrested by police on Nov. 14 by police at Daggett and Eddy streets on a directive to apprehend, after he left the High Sky Children’s Ranch in Midland without permission. The juvenile was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.
A 15-year-old male juvenile was arrested by police on Nov. 14 by police at Crockett Junior High on a directive to apprehend. The arrest was made at the request of the Reeves County Juvenile Probation office, which wanted the juvenile to appear in county court-at-law on a charge of criminal mischief over $50 but under $500. The juvenile was then transported to the court-at-law and turned over to the probation officer.
A 16-year-old male juvenile was arrested by police on Nov. 14 by police at 308 S. Elm St. on a directive to apprehend. The arrest was made at the request of the Reeves County Juvenile Probation office, which wanted the juvenile to appear in county court-at-law on a charge of possession of marijuana under two ounces in a drug-free zone. The juvenile was then transported to the court-at-law and turned over to the probation officer.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321
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