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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, May 5, 2006

Phone company gets new office after new name

One of the area’s cell phone companies marked the opening of a new store in town on Tuesday, to go along with the new company name and several new services being offered to its customers.

Alltel, which purchased Phoenix-based Cellular One last year and officially changed the company’s name last month, changed the location of its company store in Pecos this week, moving from South Eddy Street to the former Dan’s Music and Video building renovated last year by the Reeves County Teachers Credit Union. Alltel now shares the building with the credit union, occupying the area at the corner of Third and Cedar streets.

“We moved over for a bigger location and to display our products a little bit more,” said store manager Tootsie Videtto. She and her two co-workers were in town on Tuesday to mark the grand opening of the new location, along with workers from the Monahans store and Steve Parker, Alltel retail sales manager for the area.

Alltel’s purchase of Cellular One created the nation’s largest wireless network, and Videtto said the new office was offering both phones that have the capability of receiving cable TV channels via wireless connections, and the company’s new “My Circle” calling plan.

“My Circle allows you to add 10 numbers to you’re account, whether its wire line (regular) or wireless, you can call them for free,” she said.

The MobiTV phone costs customers an additional $9.99 a month, while offering customers a chance to watch channels like ESPN, CNN, Fox News and the Weather Channel on their cell phone.

Balmorhea fire burns trailers, lakeside home

Staff Writer

Reeves County Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire is continuing to investigate the cause of a noontime fire at Balmorhea Lake on Wednesday that destroyed a house and two trailers and left three women homeless.

Smoke from the fire, which was also fueled by exploding oxygen tanks, could be seen from the south side of Pecos, 40 miles away, and Pecos Volunteer Fire Department crews was called out to assist the Balmorhea Fire Department with the blaze, which was located on the southwest side of the lake.

“They have a little bitty fire truck and they had to run back into town to get more water,” said Reeves County Chief Deputy Victor Prieto. “By the time they got back, everything was up in flames.”

The sheriff’s department identified the three women as Ruby Holden, Nola Havens and Lucille Bell. None were injured in the blaze, though the women had to come to Pecos for replacement medication, and Prieto said would be living in town for now.

“Somebody found them an apartment at the Pecos Housing Authority. They’ll be staying there until they get back on their feet,” he said.

Brookshire said on Thursday two other smaller fires in the Pecos area on Wednesday had kept him from starting his formal investigation. But he was able to talk to a neighbor Wednesday, as firemen looked to put out the last of the blaze.

“We don’t know yet what caused it, but they said it started behind the trailer house,” Brookshire said on Wednesday.

Will Tuer, who owned the building just north of the site of the fire, said he was working inside when there was a power surge and he heard a noise coming from behind the home. “I’ve been here 10 years, and the electricity goes out often, but I’d never had a power surge like that,” he said.

“Shortly after that there was another blast and I saw flames flying up,” Tuer said, adding that a tool shed in between the house and the two trailers appeared to be where the fire broke out. “I looked out the window and it was bellowing smoke. The flames were a good 40 feet in the air.”

He said a man across the street from the home who was fishing at the lake was the first to come over and get the women out of the house, and he was forced to evacuate him home a short time later.

“I was on the phone 15 minutes later when someone came in and said you’ve got to get out of here, because it may blow out,” Tuer said.

While the home and trailers were located next to the shore of the lake, there are no hydrant or other water connections for firemen to use in the area. Along with a pumper truck, Pecos VFD crew members also brought their tanker truck down to provide water to battle the blaze, and it also had to make the 1 1/2 mile trip back into town for refilling before the fire could be fully brought under control.

Officials were still doing an assessment of what burned, but Tuer said a family member told him the shed had three welding machines with oxygen tanks and about $10,000 in tools. Preito said one of the women also was on oxygen and had a tank inside the house. The house was in the southern section of two groups of small houses and mobile homes located on the far side of Balmorhea Lake. Workers for Direct Energy were also called to the scene, after the fire heavily damaged some power poles adjacent to the home.

City, school early voting starts; judge’s race awaiting suit reply

Staff Writer

Early voting for the May 13 city, school and hospital elections has gone smoothly so far, after four days of voting, while county residents are still awaiting the final outcome of the contested April 11 runoff election for Reeves County Judge.

Sam Contreras scored a 15-vote win over Al Gomez out of over 2,400 votes cast in the April 11 runoff. That number changed twice after the original count, when it was discovered that two of the 11 boxes in the election had not been fully counted. The addition of votes from Box 7 cut Contreras lead over Gomez from 65 to 15 votes, and on April 27 Gomez filed a lawsuit in 143rd District Court, asking that the election either be voided and a new election ordered, or that he be declared the winner of the election due to the irregularities in the Box 7 count.

Contreras has until 10 a.m. on Monday, May 8, to reply to the suit, in which he was named as the only defendant. “They are going to file a response tomorrow (Friday),” said Contreras of the Austin law firm handling his case.

Contreras is being represented by attorney Buck Wood of Austin, while attorney Hal Upchurch of Monahans is representing Gomez.

Neither Gomez nor Contreras would comment on the ongoing legal battle, on advice from their attorneys, though Contreras said once his response is sent to the district clerk’s office, “It’s supposed to be a quick process. They want to declare a winner and usually it (the lawsuit) goes to the top, but I don’t know what the exact time frame is.”

In contrast to the county elections, where total of 12 candidates were seeking the county judge and Precinct 2 and 4 commissioners seats, the city, school and hospital elections have been calmer, with the hospital election cancelled when none of the three officeholders up for election received a challenge.

In the early voting, total of 203 individuals have cast their ballots as of noon on Thursday, and individuals have until Friday to request a ballot by mail.

Early voting is being conducted at the Community Center, located on Oak Street. The polls at the center are open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., during early voting.

By law, they are required to have two 12-hour days. The first 12-hour day was held Monday, with the polls open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.

The next 12-hour day will be Tuesday, May 9, when the polls will be open again from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. All the other days the polls will close at 5 p.m.

Elections clerk Debbie Thomas said that they will be using paper ballots during this election, but that those are the only ballots they will be using.

Thomas said that the ballots will be hand-counted on May 13.

The highest profile race on May 13 is for Town of Pecos City mayor, where Dick Alligood, owner of Oilfield Phone Service in Pecos, is challenging incumbent Mayor Dot Stafford for her position. Stafford has held for the past four years and for 10 of the past 12 years.

Along with Stafford’s position, two council seats will also be decided. Incumbents Michael Benavides and Angelica Valenzuela have filed to retain their seats, and are challenged by Mark Bragg.

Two seats also are up for election on the P-B-T ISD board, where one incumbent and three challengers have filed for the available three-year terms.

Incumbent Amy Montgomery Miller and challenger Vanessa Simmons joined John Grant and Ramiro “Ron” Garcia in entering their names for the three-year terms up for election in May.

Miller was first elected to the school board in 2003, while the other board seat currently is held by Steve Valenzuela.

Houston man killed in I-10 SUV rollover

Staff Writer

A Houston man was killed and another man injured in a one-vehicle accident that occurred Monday near Balmorhea.

The fatality occurred at 9:30 a.m., Monday, on Interstate 10, 2.3 miles north of Balmorhea, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety, which investigated the accident.

Derek Younger , 46, of Houston, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was a passenger in a 1998 Ford Explorer and was ejected from the vehicle when the accident occurred. He was pronounced dead at the scene by Justice of the Peace Rosendo Carraso, and his body was taken to Peaceful Garden Funeral Home.

The DPS report said Staffan Kristian Vandyke, 29, was driving the Explorer and was traveling westbound on I-10. He drifted off the road to the right, overcorrected to the left onto the roadway and back into the roadway, causing the vehicle to roll several times, ejecting the passenger.

The accident was investigated by DPS Trooper Roy Lytle of Balmorhea.

Fuentez to participate in Upward Bound

Sul Ross State University’s Upward Bound Student, Rodney Fuentez, has been selected to participate in the University of Texas at Arlington’s Upward Bound Math and Science summer program.

Fuentez is a sophomore at Balmorhea High School. He has been an active participant of the Upward Bound program at Sul Ross State University since May of 2004.

Upward Bound Math and Science Regional Center is a concentrated program open to those students in the 10th and 11th grades who have demonstrated potential in the fields of mathematics, science and/or engineering.

The Math and Science program believes that in order for the United States to remain globally competitive we must challenge and educate our youth on a level that guarantees mathematical and scientific literacy. It will be impossible to compete in the world of tomorrow without such preparation.

Annually, students are selected from the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. The program participants are provided with academic assistance, motivational services, college planning, and career counseling to ensure their future success beyond high school graduation. The Center’s focus on technology and its effect on our future provide an excellent opportunity for participants to become future leaders.

Fuentez is one of 50 participants selected to participate within the summer program that begins in late May.

Kelly, Clark announce July wedding

Randy and Peggy Kelly of Sylvester and John and Linda Clark of Pecos, are pleased to announce the engagement of their children amber Lashea Kelly and Bobby Jack “B.J.” Clark.

She is the granddaughter of the late Richard and Lorene Kelly of Sylvester and the late Hardy and Parlie Brown of Dumas.

The future groom is the grandson of Frances and the late Bobby Morgan of Roby and the late Jack Clark of Pecos.

The bride to be is a 1998 graduate of Roby C.I.S.D. and a Texas Tech graduate. She has been teaching at Roscoe I.S.D. for the last 2 1/2 years.

He is a 1995 graduate of Pecos I.S.D. and TSTC graduate; he is employed by GE Wind Energy.

A wedding date is set for July 22 at the Double Horseshoe Ranch owned by David and Bonnie Estes.

The couple will reside in Potosi, Texas.

Moody named national award winner

The United States Achievement Academy announced that William “Bill” Moody, of Pecos, has been named a United States National Leadership and Service Award Winner.

Moody, will appear in the United States Achievement Academy’s Official Yearbook which is published nationally. He is a student at Pecos High School.

This award is a prestigious honor very few students can ever hope to attain. In fact, the Academy recognizes fewer than 10 percent of Al American high school students.

“Recognizing and supporting our youth is more important than ever before in America’s history. Certainly, United States Achievement Academy winners should be congratulated and appreciated for their dedication to excellence and achievement,” said Dr. George Stevens, Founder of the United States Achievement Academy.

The Academy selects USAA winners based on the Standards of Selection set forth by the Academy. The criteria for selection are a student’s academic performance, interest and aptitude, leadership qualities, responsibility, enthusiasm, motivation to learn and improve, citizenship, attitude and cooperative spirit and dependability.

Moody is the son of Claude and Elaine Moody of Pecos.

Grandparents are Evelyn Carson of Pecos and Cora Moody of Pecos.

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