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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, October 17, 2008

Police investigating stabbings, drive-by attack

Pecos police are looking into two separate events involving a stabbing and a drive-by shooting that occurred early Sunday morning.

Police said they have suspects in both cases, but have made no arrests so far in the incidents, in which two people were stabbed outside a reception shortly after midnight, and shots were fired into a home about four hours later.

The stabbings are being investigated as an aggravated assault, according to Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney, who said officers received a call on the incident at 12:14 a.m. on a fight in progress at the Riverside Ballroom, 1300 E. Third St. “Two individuals were reportedly stabbed, and they were later transferred to Odessa Medical Center Hospital,” he said.

McKinney said the victims were a 25 and 41 years old, both male and both from Odessa. He said police did not have a chance to interview either man when the stabbings occurred, but “We are in the process of contacting them to see if they want to press charges in the case.”

He said other people at the ballroom told officers two individuals who had not been invited to the event were asked to leave. “They were escorted outside and once outside a fight broke out that led to the stabbings.”

He said police had two suspects in the case, both local, but declined to release any names until the victims decide on pressing charges.

The drive-by shooting occurred at 4:35 a.m. on Saturday at 412 E. Seventh St. McKinney said multiple shots were fired and at least one hit the door of the house, but that no one was injured in the incident.

“We might have some suspects in the case, but it’s in the preliminary stage,” he said.

McKinney said they didn’t have a description of the vehicle, but they did have the names of possible suspects from one of the people at the home when the shooting occurred. He added that there was no reason given at this time for the shooting, and the investigating officers’ report did not say whether or not the incident may be gang related.

Monday rains bring Red Bluff needed water

Red Bluff Lake got a needed infusion of water this week from the rains that came through the Trans-Pecos region on Monday night, Red Bluff Water Power Control District board members were told during their monthly meeting Tuesday in Pecos.

The board went over routine business including the water report, which showed the level of Red Bluff Lake had dropped below 60,000 acre/feet at the end of September, but that heavy rains that passed through the area dumped about four inches of rain around the lake.

“I’ll be it changed the situation quite substantially,” said board member Jay Lee, while managing director Randal Hartman estimated the rains would add about 6,000 to 7,000 acre feet of water to the lake.

Red Bluff’s lake levels had risen in recent years from as low as 30,000 acre/feet to over 120,000 acre/feet, which is still less than half of the lake’s capacity. Low lake levels forced the district to suspend seasonal water releases downstream for two years in 2002-2003.

In other action, Hartman said Tony Trujillo had completed survey work on the lake’s dam and spillway area. “He said they all looked real good,” Hartman said. “There’s nothing too far out right now.”

The survey, to see if there were any problems with elevation in any around the dam’s infrastructure, was the first done by the board in several years. Hartman said it would cost about $5,000 annually, but , “This is something we need to do every year. It’s one of the most reliable measurements of that type of problem.

Hartman said the district also needs to look at the installation of fencing around the dam and spillway areas. “We need about 600-700 feet on each side,” he told the board, adding that safety inspectors recommended the installation. “If they had told us 10 years ago, we couldn’t have done it.”

The board also approved renewal of the district’s retirement plan, and were told by Hartman that despite the recent turmoil in the nation’s economy and the failure of a number of financial institutions, the district’s $14 million from the 1989 Pecos River Compact settlement with New Mexico was safe at U.S. Trust in Fort Worth.

“They have matching funds, and as we increase our funds they increase our protected funds,” Hartman said.

“There’s not much we can do about that. The state’s tied our hands,” Lee added. The State of Texas requires Red Bluff to maintain the money in a trust account under the terms of the settlement, stemming from a lawsuit against the state of New Mexico for failing to release water amounts as directed by the original Pecos River Compact.

Home relocation avoids builders’ battle over lots

The problem of two builders fighting for the same two pieces of property that came before the Pecos Economic Development Corp. last week was solved before Monday’s scheduled noon meeting to try and resolve the situation.

Local realtor Reccia Pigman said First Service is negotiating for two lots on the west side of town for construction of two 1,500-square foot homes that would initially be used by its employees. The company had asked the PEDC for two lots in the Morris Addition, in the 800 block between Washington and Adams Street, next to where builder Antonio Briones is currently constructing the first six of up to 19 homes in the two-block area originally developed for subsidized single-family housing. “We had a follow-up meeting with the builder from midland, and they secured some other lots, so they’ll start building in another part of the city,” said PEDC Executive Director Robert Tobias.

First Service was seeking a location with utilities, curbs and sidewalks already in place. Those had been put in by the city in 2001, when the site had been planned for 20 low-income single-family homes. However, only one home was ever built and the city eventually had to agree to repay the Texas Office of Rural Community Affairs $367,000 for the infrastructure development loan.

PEDC and city officials sought a builder, first for apartments and then for non-subsidized single-family homes before signing an agreement earlier this year with Briones’ West Texas Dream Homes, to initially build six homes on the site. The agreement also gave Briones first right of refusal on any of the remaining lots, and during the PEDC’s Oct. 8 meeting, he told board members that he would find another location to build his homes if the lots, located near the corner of Cowan and Washington streets, were given to First Service.

Tobias said he was happy First Service opted against trying to outbid Briones for the two lots, which come with an initial price of $2,500 each. “It’s good to find a builder who’ll work with you and say ‘I don’t want to disrupt the plans for West Texas Dream Homes’,” he said.

Pigman said the lots First Service is looking at are located along Texas Street, near Crockett Middle School. The company is working on installation of air conditioning units at Crockett and several other campuses in Pecos in the construction of new facilities, as part of the $30 million bond issue passed by voters last year.

She said the company is in talks with the city about adding curbs and gutters to the area. “Right now they’re declining to do that and are passing it on to my builders. This is a big items, because we’re only buying two lots,” Pigman said. The company will also have to pay for upgrading electrical utilities in the area, along with the connections to the city’s water and sewer lines.

“They’re ready to start building now, and they want to have the houses built by the end of November,” she added.

Tobias said the PEDC board does plan to discuss how to handle any similar situations in the future, during their meeting scheduled for next week.

City to oppose 9.9 % increase in city gas rate

Town of Pecos City Council members voted to join a lawsuit against Texas Gas Service on a proposed 9.9 percent rate increase, during their meeting on Oct. 9 at City Hall.

The council voted to join the legal action before the Texas Railroad Commission after hearing a presentation on the increase from Jeremy Sanchez of Texas Gas Service. Mayor Dick Alligood said the company had requested to go before the council to explain the rate hike before they received a request from the City of Andrews to join in the legal action.

“It’s been 17 years since we’ve been here in Pecos raising our rates,” Sanchez told the council. “One of the problems we’ve been having right now is we’ve been under-earning on our revenues from 1991 to 2008.”

He said the increase is part of an effort to standardize the rate structure in the Permian Basin from a single one for cities instead of the four rates now in use. Texas Gas Service also has lost 1,800 customers in the area over the past 17 years, but was able to keep operating costs flat by cutting overhead, including the reduction of Permian Basin managers from four to one.

Sanchez said the average increase for residential customers would go from $45.61 to $50.11 a month, and that the company would work with residential customers on averaging rates, so that monthly costs during the winter aren’t too high.

Council members were told the rate would take effect in 35 days if no action is taken, while a denial would trigger a hearing before the Railroad Commission within 120 days.

“We’re just trying to recover our revenues. It’s our fault, Texas Gas Service, for not filing rate increases earlier,” Sanchez said. City attorney Scott Johnson recommended joining in the lawsuit. “I don’t know how long it will take, but you usually reach a deal on an increase lower than the request,” he said.

Sanchez said Andrews was pushing the legal action because they were facing a 17.9 percent rate increase. He added that the company would seek annual hearings before cities in the future on rate adjustments, and that councils in Crane and McCamey already had approved the move.

In other action, the council recognized the promotion of Pecos Police Officer Helen Vernon to investigator, replacing Olga Lopez, and Alligood read a commendation from Fort Stockton Police Chief Juan M. Castro for work by Vernon, Capt. Kelly Davis and Police Chief Clay McKinney in assisting Fort Stockton police with the Oct. 3 investigation of the murder of local resident Drew Slater that led to the arrest of David Michael Myers in Midland the following day. Myers has since been charged with capital murder by Fort Stockton police.

“I want to congratulate all three of you,” Alligood said. “That’s a nice reputation to have in West Texas.”

The council tabled any action on a request by Willie Mae and Frank Williams to use a building at 702 Peach Street for a beauty salon. The Williamses asked the council to allow the commercial business in an area zoned for residential homes, after the city’s Planning Board had turned down their request.

Council members noted that sno-cone vendors are already operating in that area. Willie Mae Williams noted there are other beauty salons in the city in areas that are zoned residential and that the building is located near Saragosa Hall, where food and drinks are sold during events, while Frank Williams said the building in question had previously been used for storage.

“I know in the past the zoning board has granted exceptions because the zoning didn’t know what they could do and what they couldn’t do,” city fire marshal Jack Brookshire said. He said the rule against granting single lot exemptions was a state law, while councilman Danny Rodriguez asked Johnson to look into possible options for getting around the law, based on past use of the building for commercial purposes.

Chamber of Commerce President Linda Gholson said the city needs to look at updating their current zoning rules. “With all this growth going on, ready or not, we’re working with 50-plus year rules on zoning,” she said, noting the current book was revised in 1957.

Council members also heard a request from Mildred Ferguson to repaint the crossings and put speed bumps at 13th and Locust streets because of drivers failing to stop at the intersection; replaced councilman Gerald Tellez with councilman Frank Sanchez on the Midland International Airport Board, and replaced Sanchez with councilman Cody West on the city-county Venue Tax Board. Alligood said due to the joint nature of the board, West’s appointment would also need approval by Reeves County Commissioners.

Council members also voted to increase the vehicle allowance for the mayor from $100 to $200. Sanchez said the rate had not been changed since he was mayor in the mid-1980s, while Rodriguez, who cast the lone vote against, said the mayor’s salary and car allowance were already above those of other area cities. He also said Pecos provides a cell phone to Alligood, which other cities do not.

“You’re getting paid more than anybody,” Rodriguez told Alligood. “When you run for something, you know what you’re getting paid for.”

Alligood said he had not asked for the increase, and Sanchez said, “He tried to talk us out of it.”

“The way I see it, this is a just reimbursement for expenses,” Johnson said. “He is very active and he takes a lot of heat for you guys.”

Chamber plans pre-Christmas event for CMN

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand, along with a number of different activities planned for December at the Reeves County Civic Center.

The 1st Annual Wal-Mart Christmas Bazaar, supporting Children’s Miracle Network, will be held from noon until 6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 7, at the Reeves County Civic Center.

The event, which is being sponsored by Wal-Mart Manager Richard Russell and his wife, Rachel and was the topic of discussion at the regular Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors meeting, held at noon Tuesday at the Pecos Senior Citizen’s Center.

“We were trying to think of something that we could do for the community and the kids and still help a worthy organization,” said Russell.

Russell said that and his wife had come up with this idea that would benefit both Children’s Miracle Network and the community, by providing something for everyone at the bazaar.

“There will be games for the kids and we will have booths set up with different items for sale,” said Russell. “It will also be like a giant garage sale, where people can set up and sell their items.”

He told the group that the activities will include free face painting for the kids; the Pecos Police Department will be doing Identi-Child; local schools and churches will be caroling; games for the kids; a canned food drive.

“For the canned food drive, each individual that turns in two cans will receive a raffle ticket and a television and DVD will be raffled, compliments of Wal-Mart,” said Russell.

The Dance Academy will be performing, and the event will feature a big outdoor garage sale. Local vendors will be selling products; medical staff will be on hand to talk about diabetes; recycle containers will be set up; cake walks and Children Miracle Network’s representative will here from Odessa.

Russell said that they have also included Fort Stockton and Monahans Chamber of Commerce.

“We’ll be having a silent auction, we are getting footballs, basketballs, alls sports to get the kids and coaches to sign them and they will be put in the auction,” said Russell.

The Pecos Volunteer Fire Department and EMS will be at the civic center to show off their vehicles.

Tables are $40 and an area outside under the cover will cost $20 to set up, according to Russell.

“All money from the tables and silent auctions will go to CMN,” said Russell.

All the money that will go to CMN will be used for Reeves County and Pecos.

In other businesse, Chamber members were told The Odessa Oil Burners Car Club will be in Pecos on Monday, Oct. 27.

“We plan to feed about 100,” said Kevin Duke.

Duke and Hugh Box will be serving barbecue to the car club from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.

“We’ll be feeding them for free, but it’s open to the public as well,” said Duke.

The event will be held at the Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame and plates for the public will be $8.

In other business the group listened to a presentation on the proposals that will be on the November ballot election, by the Reeves County Commissioner’s Court.

Pecos Economic Development Director Rob Tobias spoke to group about the three propositions that will be placed on the November election ballots.

The three are being proposed by the Reeves County Commissioners Court and includes upgrades to several county facilities, such as the golf course, a Northside park and the library.

Tobias told the group that maintaining the facilities was very important and that they had been doing an inadequate job of it. “It’s very important to support these propositions, because they will impact Pecos tremendously,” said Tobias.

Proposition 1- in the amount of $12.4 million will be a new sports complex, golf course improvements, Balmorhea Community Center rand North Side Splash and Fun Park; Proposition 2 - $4.4 million for a new county library and Proposition 3, $500,000, for upgrades of the 4-H Grounds.

Tobias urged the chamber to write a letter of support for the propositions.

“There are several things we need to do, one is to do things right and two, make sure we operate them properly,” said Tobias. Board member Nancy Martinez said that the commissioners cannot promote the propositions in one way or another, but can only answer factual questions.

“The cost is certainly within your budget,” said Tobias.

Tobias said that he has heard complaints from people who say the government does not maintain the facilities that they build, but that is also everyone’s responsibility.

“We also have a responsibility, if we don’t like the way things are done,” said Tobias. “We are leaders in the community and have to lead by example,” he said.

RCDC gets good report on prison rating

Good news came last week for the Reeves County Detention Center, after the facility was audited and given a good rating. The Reeves County Detention Center was audited by the American Correctional Association during the week of Oct. 6.

ACA is the national recognized body in accrediting correctional facilities.

“RCDC has never attempted to gain accreditation in the past and this was a huge challenge for the staff,” said RCDC I-II Warden Martin McDaniel.

The audit is a very comprehensive audit that covers every area of the institution.

“Our auditors were Gail Zeek, Chairperson from New York, James Potiseck from Pennsylvania and Fletcher Morgan from Florida,” said Martin.

The facility scored 98.3 percent on this accomplishment.

“I could not be prouder of the staff, this is an outstanding accomplishment,” said Martin.

He said that every RCDC employee contributed in the success of this audit.

“To accomplish this score with the older facility is an outstanding feat,” said Martin.

PHS announces event schedule for homecoming week

Several events are planned for Homecoming Week, which will be celebrated throughout next Monday through Friday at Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD campuses.

The Pecos Eagles will face the Tornillo Coyotes next Friday at Eagle Stadium for their 2008 homecoming game. Events will begin on Monday, with 50’s Outsmart the Coyotes Day (wear your 50’s attire).

Tuesday will be 60’s Peace, love and victory for the Eagles (Dress like a hippie). Wednesday, 70’s Disco Feva – Dance off with the Coyotes! (Wear your 70’s/Disco attire or your crazy hair). Thursday – 80’s Rock out the Coyotes! (Wear your rock attire or 80’s apparel). Friday, Blast the Coyotes! (Show off your school spirit, wear purple and gold).

All outfits must meet dress code.

The Homecoming Queen will be crowned that evening during halftime. Homecoming Court consists of freshman duchess, Catherine Cerna; sophomore duchess, Carissa Cerna; junior duchess, Allyson Salcido.

Senior Homecoming Queen nominees are: Lilliana Gutierrez, Destiny Medina and Kristin Ikeler.

A Homecoming Exes Tea has been scheduled for 12:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 24, at the Pecos High School New Gym Foyer. All exes are invited to attend and the event is sponsored by the Pecos High School National Honor Society.

In addition the homecoming parade is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 23.

All former Homecoming Queens from the past years are invited to participate in this year’s parade.

If anyone plans on participating they need to be at the corner of Third and Eddy streets at 4 p.m., on Thursday, for line-up.

They will need to provide a car so that they can ride in the parade. Make sure a poster board is placed on the side of the vehicle and list the year of the homecoming reign.

Levarios announce birth of daughter

David and Christina Levario announce the birth of their daughter, Hope Alyse Levario.

Little Hope was born Sept. 2, weighed seven pounds, six ounces and was 20 inches long at birth.

Grandparents are David and Esther Acosta and Randy and Emma Lozano.

Eagle Band set for Saturday’s area UIL event

Pecos Eagle band members will be “on the road again” this weekend to compete in UIL Competition.

The band will be competing at 3:45 p.m., Saturday in the UIL Area Marching Contest, at Ratliff Stadium in Odessa.

“The band is looking really good, we’re as close to a Division I as we have ever been,” said head band director Juan Rodriguez.

The band traveled to Midland the first of October to participate in the Tall City Festival and brought home a Division II.

“Last weekend we were in Plainview and brought home a two, two and a one,” said Rodriguez. “If we work hard enough we can get that Division I,” he said.

There are currently 71 members in the band. “And marching, we will take 61,” said Rodriguez. “We are always looking for new members, so if anybody wants to join the band, we welcome them.”

Students receive awards at Annual Art Show

Several students from Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD participated in the Annual Student Art Show held recently during the Reeves County Fall Fair.

Art winners included: from Pecos Kindergarten, Mrs. Gomes class – first place, Khenaghan Rodriguez; second place, Phillip Adame and third place, Ramon Garcia.

Mrs. Acosta – first place, Yris Rio Martinez; second place, Micah Quiroz and third place, Maraiah Nichols.

Mrs. Miranda – first place, Armando Corona; second place, Jose Santiesteban and third place, Yosmani Valdes.

Mrs. Tarin – first place, Devan Archuleta; second place, Zackery Levario and third place, Bailey Rodriguez.

Mrs. Miller – first place, Christian Jordan; second place, Odett Rodriguez and third place, Brandon Baeza.

Mrs. Chavez – first place, Kaylee Orona; second place, Jasiah Salas and third place, Areli Melendez.

Mrs. Holcombe – first place, Alessandra Lazcano; second place, Joseph Cordona and third, Michael Hernandez.

Mrs. Parent – first place, Raquel Ramirez; second place, Elijah Contreras and third place, Laci Hill.

Mrs. Bingham – first place, Lyla Gonzalez; second place, Ethan Vasquez and third, Prophetess Gray.

Mrs. Dominguez – first, Aaron Hernandez; second, Monique Dominguez and third, Mary Furlong.

First Graders included:

Tracy Greene – first, Ashley Millan; second, Kasandra Anchondo and third Nadia Beltran.

Writing – first, Isaac Vela; second, Steve Pineda and third, Jeremiah Hung.

Mrs. Arreguy – first, Faith Garcia; second, Isaac Muniz and third, Jennica Muniz.

Mrs. Ortega – first, Miguel Baeza; second, Alonzo Hernandez and third, James Marques.

Mrs. Dominguez – first, Yamariz Garcia; second, Cody Franco and third, Kaylee Matta.

Mrs. Lujan – first, Miriam Guzman; second, Tully Flanagan and third, Lydia Olivas.

Writing – second place, Kasandra Orona.

Third Grade:

Mrs. Matta – first place, Julia Armendariz; second, Alex Parmer and third, Natalee Estrada.

Mrs. Walker – first, Daniel Madrid; second, Julissa Patino and third, Maritza Marquez.

Mrs. Abila – first, Alejandro Navarro; second, Estrella Estrada and third, Jose Garcia.

Mrs. Richards – first, Dylan Montanez; second, Destiny Ortega and third, Chris Gonzales.

Writing – first, Alexsa Orona.

Fourth Grade:

Mrs. Wein – first, Isabella Millan; second, Antonio Carrasco and third, Joe Falwell.

Poetry – first, Jorge Daniel Hernandez.

Mrs. Foster – first, Julian Nichols; second, Sarah Serrano and third, Adrian Carrasco.

Mrs. Minjarez – first, Margie Romero; second, Chris Tarin and third, Ryan Gallardo.

Fifth Grade:

Mrs. Gilbreath – first, Katarino Carrasco; second, Michael Vasquez and third, Jazmine Mendoza.

Seventh Grade:

Mrs. Lucas – Jazmine Montanez; second, Pony Palomino and third, Liandro Caasteneda.

Eighth Grade:

Mrs. Lucas – first, Amanda Mora; second, Sammy Villegas and third, Marissa Prieto.

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