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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, December 22, 2006

Storm blamed for accidents, power outages

Heavy rain and lightning that hit the Pecos area Tuesday night knocked out power on the south side of town for about an hour, took out the local National Weather Service observation station at Pecos Municipal Airport and caused problems for drivers on Business U.S. 80 on Wednesday morning, as water from the storm formed ice that led to a six-vehicle accident between Barstow and Pecos in Ward County.

The storms arrived as part of a front that dropped temperatures from the low 80s this past weekend to the freezing level by Wednesday morning, and a new front arriving in the area late Friday night is expected to bring more rain on Saturday along with a chance of snow in the early morning hours on Christmas Eve.

The storms moved in from the southwest Tuesday and knocked out power to 2,284 customers on the south side, according to Donald Hunt of Texas-New Mexico Power Co. Hunt said the storm caused interruptions in transmission circuits, leading to the outage at 9:34 p.m.

Hunt said T-NP crews were able to get power restored to 1,797 customers before 10:15 p.m., while the remaining 487 customers had power back on at 11:50 p.m.

“Because we maintain a local presence in Pecos, our crews were on hand and ready to quickly respond to the outage,” Hunt said in a press release.

The same storm that caused power to go out south of Lincoln Street also shut down the weather service’s recording station, which monitors temperatures, precipitation and wind speed.

Temperatures were already in the upper 30s when the storm hit the area, and by 6 a.m. on Wednesday had dropped to the freezing level, which caused the accident on the long bridge, located midway between Pecos and Barstow. No one was seriously hurt in the incident, but six vehicles were damaged when they lost control after hitting ice on the bridge, prompting the Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Department of Transportation to shut down the road to thru traffic for about three hours.

DPS Trooper Chris Ryan, who investigated the accident, said the pre-dawn accident at first involved only three vehicles, but three more ended up involved by the time emergency personnel got to the site.

The problem began when an eastbound vehicle on Business I-20 lost control on the bridge, causing it to hit the south guardrail, before bouncing off and hitting the guardrails on both sides of the bridge before coming to rest facing southeast in the eastbound lane. The second vehicle tried to avoid the first and veered to the right and hit the guardrail, before continuing past the bridge. Vehicle No. 3 didn’t see the first vehicle when the driver lost control, hitting the north and south guardrails before coming to rest facing southeast on the bridge.

“Vehicle four was eastbound and didn’t see the car. He swerved and lost control and did a 360, and hit the south guardrail before coming to rest facing east,” Ryan said. “Vehicle five never saw vehicle one and hit vehicle one on the back left side and came to rest facing east on the north guardrail.

“Vehicle number six was traveling eastbound behind a city (police) unit. The city unit slowed down to help block traffic and No. 6 was traveling too fast, veered to the left, then the right, spun 180 degrees and hit the guardrail and came to rest facing southwest,” Ryan said.

He said the bridge was reopened after TxDOT crews were able to sand it to stop the ice problem, and that citations would be issued for traveling at unsafe speeds in connection with the incident.

Aside from the Business I-20 crashes, DPS troopers also had to investigate several other ice-related accidents Wednesday morning. They included an eastbound pickup on I-20 at the 37 mile marker west of Pecos, which hit a patch of ice at 7:06 a.m. causing it to strike a guardrail, accidents on U.S. 67 near the Pecos-Brewster county line at 7:07 and 8:42 a.m., and an accident reported to the DPS by the insurance agent for a driver who lost control and crashed on I-10 near the 216 mile marker, southeast of Saragosa.

Area drivers could be facing similar conditions Sunday morning. A 40 percent chance of rain is in the forecast for Saturday afternoon, dropping to 20 percent Saturday night. Any rain Saturday night or early Sunday morning could change over to snow, and rain on Saturday could also freeze over on roads and bridges by the morning, when lows are expected to be around 30 degrees.

The rain and snow threat is expected to end on Christmas Eve. High temperatures are expected to be in the 40s on Sunday, while going up into the 50s on Christmas Day.

Slack, other county officials honored at courthouse event

A retirement party was held in honor of a long-time businessman and well-respected politician, whose most recent service was in an emergency role as Reeves County Attorney, job he left nearly 58 years after holding his first county office.

Richard Slack celebrated his 92nd birthday on Wednesday, and county officials held a retirement reception in his honor at the Reeves County Courthouse.

Several other outgoing county officials joined Slack in the festivities, including Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Lamberto Herrera and Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 2 Norman Hill.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo, Commissioner Precinct 4 Gilberto “Hivi” Rayos, Sr. and Jesse Hinojos were also recognized for their service to Reeves County.

Slack served for just over a year in the role of Reeves County Attorney, resigning on Dec. 7 and turning the job over to his new assistant, Alva Alvarez. Slack was elected a month earlier without opposition to fill out the unexpired term of Luis Carrasco, who he had replaced in November 2005 on an emergency basis, following Carrasco’s resignation as County Attorney.

A talented businessman, successful and well-respected politician and World War II hero, Slack was born Dec. 20, 1914.

He graduated from Pecos High School in 1932, went on to Texas A&M College where he graduated with a B.S. in Petroleum Engineering, entered the United States Army in 1940 and served with the Texas’ 36th Division in Africa, Italy, France and Germany6 during World War II.

Slack was awarded the prestigious Bronze Star for valor for his heroism in ground combat near Villetri Italy in 1944. In 1948, he served two, two year terms as Reeves County Judge from 1948-1952; served on the State Legislature for 28 years, beginning in 1953 and was chairman of many of the committees, including Oil and Gas, when oil and gas was in its heyday in Texas.

He also served as Speaker of the House Pro-Tem and Dean of the House of Representatives. During his tenure in the legislature, he graduated from St. Mary’s School of Law and was admitted to the practice of law in 1956.

At its inception in 1991, he was appointed to the Texas Ethics Commission where he served for 11 years and was chairman for several of those years.

Slack lost his bid for re-election in 1980, but before taking over as county attorney, served on the Red Bluff Water Power Control District board for eight years. Overall, Slack has completed 44 years of public service.

Barstow chief facing charges of funds theft

By the Monahans News

A Barstow man was indicted last month on a State Jail Felony by the Ward County Grand Jury and placed on a $7,500 bond for misapplication of fiduciary property belonging to the Barstow Fire Department.

The indictment, which was returned on Nov. 1, states that Alberto Ramos Navarette misappropriated checks valued at $1,500 or more, but less than $20,000 from the Barstow Fire Department on or about Jan. 1, 2003 and continued until on or about Dec. 1, 2004, while he was acting as Fire Chief for the Barstow Fire Department.

“He did intentionally, knowingly or recklessly misapply property that he held as a fiduciary, or as a person acting in a fiduciary capacity,” according to the indictment. District Attorney Randy Reynolds’ office said a fiduciary is any person that acts as a trustee, guardian, administrator, executor, conservator, attorney-in-fact or agent appointed under a durable power of attorney as provided by Chapter 12 of the Texas Probate Code. Or it can be an officer, manager, employee or agent carrying on a fiduciary function on behalf of a fiduciary.

The indictment further stated, “This was contrary to an agreement under which he held the property and in a manner that involved substantial risk of loss of the property to Angel Abila the owner of the property, and the person for whose benefit the property was held, by using the checks for personal benefit.”

Navarette’s trial is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 8, at 9 a.m. in 143rd District Court in Monahans. If convicted, he could serve up to two years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice State Jail Division.

Women’s division picks lighting contest winners

Nine homes were chosen to receive cash prizes from the Women’s Division of the Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce, as part of their Holiday Christmas Lighting/Decorating Contest.

Grand prize winner in the contest was Daniel Portillo, 2015 Jackson Blvd. Portillo’s home was the winner from Section 6, which included part of the west side of town.

Each winner received $20 in Pecos Bucks and the Grand Prize winner received $100 in Pecos Bucks.

The women divided the city into nine sections and chose one home from each section as a winner. The group also picked out a business winner, a block winner and a grand prize winner during their contest. In Section 1, the winner was the home of Ramiro and Judy Lopez, 323 N. Walnut; Section 2, Luz Munoz home, 414 Mulberry; Section 3, Berta Estrello, 412 E. 14th Street; Section 4, Albert and Annette Mendoza, 1116 Hickory; Section 5, Tally Talamantes home, 2201 Country Club; Section 7, Craig and Mary Moore, #2 Tanglewood; Section 8, Jennifer and Jarrett Conger, 2232 Wyoming and Section 9, the home of Maria Villescas, 2291 Sandia Road.

The block winner was the block of 2100 Country Club Drive and the business award went to Rita’s Cakes and Flowers.

All winners in the “block” competition received a memorable Christmas ornament, as did the business winner.

Helpers still needed for Christian Home dinner

Volunteers and dessert are still needed to complete plans for the Annual Christmas Dinner scheduled for Christmas Day.

The Christian Home will serve dinner on Monday at the Reeves County Civic Center from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Anyone who thinks they will be late are asked to call 448-1101 or 448-1883.

“We have been very blessed, we had a great group of volunteers during the Thanksgiving Meal,” said one of the organizers for the event Ken Winkles.

“We want to thank everyone that participating in our Thanksgiving Dinner,” he said.

Winkles said that Pecos is a nice town to live in and that everyone always comes together during times of need.

“We sometimes forget about folks that aren’t as fortunate or going through tough times, but we want them to know we are here to help,” said Winkles.

Volunteers for the Christmas Dinner are needed in the kitchen, and for delivery of Meals on Wheels, starting at 8 a.m. Cooks already have enough turkeys, but desserts are needed.

Setup help is needed at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.

“Please bring all your love and your prayers,” said Velma Bradley for the Christian Home. “It’s Jesus’ birthday.”

There will be bell ringers for the Salvation Army located at La Tienda and Wal-Mart, on Friday, Dec. 22, Saturday, Dec. 23 and Sunday, Dec. 24.

“The Salvation Army helps individuals with bus tickets and also provides services for the Christian Home,” said Winkles.

Winkles said that the local Salvation Army wants to help.

“The good part about this, is that all the money raised stays here,” said Winkles.

Winkles said that he had met with the Lion’s Club during their regular meeting and discussed several things including the Salvation Army.

“The individual who runs the local Salvation Army doesn’t want the publicity, but I approached the Lion’s Club about the organization,” said Winkles.

Winkles said that a motion was made right away by the club to donate $500 to the Salvation Army.

“Then, another member said, ‘Let’s just take it on as a yearly project,’” said Winkles.

Anyone wanting to donate to the Salvation Army can do so at Trans Pecos Bank.

“They can donate at the bank, just talk to Libby (Horsburgh),” said Winkles. “Or they can call me at 448-1883, for more information,” he said.

Library offers prevention info on threat of wildfire to homes

Reeves County Library has teamed up with the Texas Forest Service Community Wildfire Awareness Program to provide timely information on preparing homes for wildfires, as new burn bans go into effect in West Texas and well before next summer’s wildfire season.

“People have the misconception that wildfires don’t destroy homes in Texas,” said Jan Fulkerson, Texas Forest Service. “The truth is we do have devastating fires here as seen in the 2005-2006 fire season, and this area is susceptible because of the vegetation type and the terrain.

Several West Texas counties have reinstated their burn bans with the upcoming fireworks season for New Year’s. The bans were removed after heavy rains hit the area from late July through early September. Little rain has fallen in the past three months, though showers were predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.

“Homeowners need to take all the steps they can before wildfire strikes so that their home has a chance to survive,” said Fulkerson. “This information will arm homeowners with the knowledge they need to make their homes more resistant to wildfires,” she said. The new display at the library contains a poster, brochures, and bookmarks, and bookmarks, as well as resource material available to check out, including, “Wildfire - Preventing Home Ignition” video featuring renowned fire research scientist Jack Cohen.

“We are happy to work with the Texas Forest Service to provide this information to our clientele,” said Reeves County Librarian Sally Perry. “We want to do our part so our friends and neighbors don’t lose their homes to wildfires,” she said.

The information will be at the Reeves County Library indefinitely. Perry wanted the community to know that the electrical problem in the library building will be repaired the first part of 2007.

“So those who want to use the computers, fax, copy machine, please start visiting the library,” said Perry.

The Friends of the Library have a display of new and popular books (includes high school yearbooks). “These make great Christmas gifts for all ages,” said Perry. “Everyone is encouraged to come in and look and help with this fundraiser.”

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

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