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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Police arrest four Saturday, find items stolen in burglary

Four persons were arrested by Pecos police over the weekend in connection with a house burglary that occurred two days earlier.

Police said the burglary occurred on Jan. 10 at the home of Jacob Carrasco, 1019 E. 120th St. According to Capt. Kelly Davis, a Glock .45 semi-automatic pistol, along with jewelry, clothing, tools and various other items were reported missing from the home. The total value of the stolen items was put at $4,130. Davis said as the result of an investigation, a search warrant was issued for a home located at 1014 E. Eighth St., and it was executed by police officers on Saturday, who discovered a number of the missing items inside.

Arrested in the home were Ulysses Pastrano, 17, Albert Pastrano, 19, Imelda Garcia, 30, and a female juvenile. Davis said they were charged with burglary, possession of stolen property and possession of drug paraphernalia.

“We haven’t inventoried all of it yet, so we don’t know is all of it was there, but most of it was recovered,” Davis said.

The Pastranos and Garcia were transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center, where they were formally charged, while the girl was turned over to officials at the Reeves County Juvenile Detention Center.

Party chairman hopefuls engage in trash talk at supper

Community members had the opportunity to meet the candidates for March’s Democratic Party primary election, during a chili supper held Friday evening at the Reeves County Civic Center.

Local candidates in the March 4 Democratic primary were on hand to greet the public, talk about the issues and draw for a place on the ballot.

Only four elections locally are contested this year, and the most lively debate was actually for the position of Democratic Party Chairman, where longtime local party leader Robert C. Dean is being challenged by former Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.

Galindo told the group that he was happy to have served Reeves County as judge for 12 years and said that it was a wonderful experience, before saying that Dean attempted to block him from running for the unpaid position. “A few days ago, my application was thrown in the trash,” said Galindo. “That’s why I want to talk to you about changes and why this election is different and the reason that I am running,” he said.

Galindo said that his application was thrown in the trash, because Dean said that he had failed to meet the requirements.

“He said I didn’t put the length of residency in this district,” said Galindo, who said Dean cited the Secretary of State.

“There have been other instances like this,” he said.

Galindo said that at one time, the late Frank “Kokie” Apolinar put in an application to run for office. “ But it went in the trash and he just walked away,” said Galindo. “I don’t intend to just walk away, I had to get this application out the trash.”

Dean said that the Secretary of State makes all the rulings and that he just abides by them.

“I don’t throw them in the trash, but if they tell me to turn it down, I will and if they tell me to put it back in, I do,” said Dean.

Galindo said that the item that was mentioned for the application to be rejected, didn’t need to be filled out. “They only require that the candidate fill in the state in which he is elected, it’s county, not the district,” he said.

“I filled out my length of residency, so what right did he have to reject my application,” he said.

Galindo said that there have been many other applications that have been “thrown in the trash” for some reason or another.

“People here have to pay $750, because of lack of trust or fairness,” said Galindo.

Galindo said that this was not a paid position, but a volunteer job.

“This is not an administrative position, in essence, this is a job of serving the Democratic Party and the community,” he said.

“What I also want you to know is that this isn’t about me, it’s about us,” he said.

Dean said Galindo, who served as Reeves County Judge from 1995 to 2006, was seeking the position only as a first step towards seeking higher office.

“He wants this position so that it will go on his resume, so that later on he can run for another office,” he said.

Galindo said that he wanted to help rebuild the Democratic Party and expand it.

“I want to give back to this community that has given me a lot, to me and my family,” said Galindo.

Galindo said that he came from a working family and was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

“It’s important to come together and care about each other,” he said.

“We can revive this party and make it like a family,” said Galindo.

Galindo said that if he was given a chance to be Democratic Party Chairman, nobody’s application would be thrown in the trash.

Dean said that he has experience and has been doing this job for many years. “We’re going to need a real Democrat, not just a partial or someone who is in for it just for himself,” said Dean.

One of the other contested races, is between incumbent Randy Reynolds and challenger Kevin Acker for 143rd District Attorney.

Acker was in attendance on Friday, while Reynolds was unable to make the meeting, but was represented by his mother, Norma Jean Reynolds.

In his statement read by his mother, Reynolds said that he has a very dedicated staff that work very hard. “I have a very hard-working group and we plan to continue to serve the community,” said Reynolds. “We need all the voters in Reeves Count to come out and vote,” he said.

Acker, of Monahans, is currently Ward County Attorney and said that he was born in Pecos, but moved to Monahans when his dad was transferred to another position there.

“I think the school system in Pecos is poised to take off, this community has a lot to be proud of,” said Acker.

He said that he has been the county attorney in Monahans for 13 years.

“One of the things that I have been working hard on is making the criminals pay for some of the victim’s, put it into the crime victim’s fund,” said Acker. Acker said that he would like to get to meet everyone and that he has been in Pecos throughout the week getting to know everyone.

The other two contested races are for Precinct 1 and 3 commissioner.

In Precinct 1 Roy Alvarado is being challenged by Samuel Urias, who told those at the Civic Center he was born and raised in Pecos.

“I think we can do a lot of good things for the community and I hope that I can help,” said Urias.

He said that regardless of whether they were going to vote for him or not, to just to out and vote.

“Regardless of who you plan to vote for, exercise your right and go out and vote,” said Urias.

Alvarado told the group that since he has been in office, there have been a lot of new developments.

“We’ve been improving roads and getting grant funds,” said Alvarado.

“We’ve been working with the other entities and making sound decisions,” said Alvarado. “We’re making sure that the tax dollars are being used wisely and hope to continue in direction of prosperity.”

In Precinct 3, Herman Tarin is seeking to reclaim a position that he held for 12 years, before he lost to Saul Herrera in 2004.

Tarin said that he is very vocal and that right now the county as a whole needs our attention.

“One of the main things we need to focus on is the water, I believe it is very essential to fix that problem,” he said.

Tarin said that when he was in office the commissioners were able to make plans for a community center in Balmorhea.

“It wasn’t completed when I left office, but everything was already in place, and my opponent was able to complete it,” said Tarin.

He said that his purpose was still the same, to represent Reeves County and help it move forward.

“My record will speak for itself,” said Tarin.

“I have here my desire to work hard for Reeves County, thank you for your vote and God Bless you,” he said.

Herrera told the group that he has an associates degree in business administration and is currently working for Desiree’s Boutique.

He is a director of the Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce and serves on the community council board.

Herrera stated the many accomplishments that have transpired in Reeves County while he has been in office. “We currently have a surplus in the budget and have secured a 10-year contract for the prisons,” he said.

“The prisons are doing well and currently employ 500 individuals,” said Herrera. “With the help of commissioner precinct 1 Roy Alvarado, we secured a grant that provided water to residents on the north side of town,” he said. Herrera said that they have been working on repairing county buildings and are looking at fixing the courthouse roof.

“We completed the Balmorhea Community Center and when the library was in danger of closing we provided funding to keep it open,” said Herrera. “We’re working on the county roads and the colonias area.”

Several other candidates in uncontested races were also in attendance, including Rosemary Chabarria who has filed for the position of Reeves County Tax Assessor-Collector, after Elfida Zuniga opted not to run for re-election, was at the meeting. Incumbents are the only candidates in the other county primary races.

Culberson escapee surrenders following search

By The Monahans News

Local law enforcement officials were called out to search an area just to the south of Barstow in Ward County Sunday night, after a female inmate escaped from a Culberson County officer.

Officials spent several hours searching the area before the woman surrendered to officers, as temperatures in the area dropped into the upper 20s late Sunday night.

According to the Ward County Sheriff’s Department, a constable was transferring a female mental patient from Van Horn to the Big Spring State Hospital on Sunday, when the escape occurred.

Although the woman was handcuffed, she managed to pick up a bottle and strike the constable in the head, which almost made him lose control of the vehicle.

When he stopped, the woman opened the door of the car and escaped on foot into a pasture at Barstow.

The Ward County Sheriff’s Office was called to provide assistance. Deputies were unable to locate the woman because of the dense brush in the area. A helicopter was called in to aid in the search.

“The brush was so thick you couldn’t see someone standing next to you,” Sheriff Mike Strickland said. “We set up a perimeter and waited. After several hours, she finally gave up and came out on her own, and was taken into custody.”

Council OKs oilfield firm’s I-20 land bid

Town of Pecos City Council members voted 3-2 to stand by an initial offer made to an oilfield services company in December, awarding them land along Interstate 20 at Highway 17 for a new yard. The item was debated in both open and executive session on Thursday, during the council’s first meeting of 2008, and was one of several items dealing with land and the construction of new facilities in Pecos proposed for the upcoming year.

The council also voted in executive session to accept a counter-offer from Dimension Enterprises LLC for land located in the 700 and 800 block of Washington and Adams streets, where Dimension plans to build up to 96 new apartments under a deal with the city.

The 4.24 acres of land along I-20 had been turned over to the Pecos Economic Development Corp. last spring, with the idea that the land would eventually go to Dr. Arbind Ghandi and his brother Henry, who bought eight acres of land just to the east of that site last year for a planned Hampton Inn.

The Ghandis had told council members they planned to use the 4.24 acres in the future as the site of a service station/convenience store and truck wash, though they said construction was unlikely to begin until 2010.

But when no action was taken for six months by the Ghandis on purchasing the land, the council put it up for bids in December, after Lubbock-based BOF Services said they wanted it in order to expand operations into the area.

On Thursday, the council was told BOF bid $25,000 for the property, while the Ghandis submitted a bid of $12,000. But Pecos Mayor Dick Alligood said the council should consider whether they wanted land along the Interstate at a major intersection to be sold for industrial use.

“I just want the council to understand we’re looking at putting an oilfield services company on a major retail corridor,” Alligood said. “We’ve got plenty of property off the Interstate.”

He said commercial use of the land would be less likely to disappear in the future when the current oil and natural gas drilling boom plays out. “I want the council to really consider that when making a decision,” the mayor said.

“If we don’t focus on putting hotels and restaurants on the (I-20) corridor, that’s the only source (of ad valorem taxes) we’re going to have after the oilfield activity,” added city public works director Edgardo Madrid.

But three of the five council members said they wanted to go with BOF’s bid, which was both the higher of the two and was one more likely to produce jobs right away.

“I see two bids, and I see a higher bid,” said council member Danny Rodriguez, who along with Frank Sanchez and Angelica Valenzuela voted to accept BOF’s bid. “We decided to go to bid because nothing was done with the hotel.”

“We didn’t make any specification when we put the land out for bid,” Valenzuela said, while Sanchez added, “We knew BOF was going to bid on this.”

“Why did we mislead this man?” Rodriguez said, referring to Ben Burkholder of BOF, who was at both the council meeting in December and at Thursday’s meeting, and will be the supervisor for the new yard. The council then opted to delay any further discussion until executive session, after which they voted 3-2 to accept BOF’s bid. Councilmen Gerald Tellez and Michael Benavides voted against accepting the bid. The council discussed the deal with Dimension during their Dec. 31 meeting. “This is dČj‡ vu. Why are we going through this again?” asked Valenzuela.

City manager Joseph Torres said changes to the initial offer by the company were rejected by company owner Dr. Rahat Saied and Ram Kunwar, vice president. The two balked at combining the first two scheduled payments to the Office of Rural Community Affairs (ORCA), along with the city’s request to move a payment schedule up from Oct. 31 to Oct. 1.

The land originally was developed for 20 single-family homes, under a grant from ORCA. But only one home was ever built, and last year the city worked out a deal with ORCA to repay the remaining $367,000 of the loan in a series of annual payments. Under the contract, Dimension will make the loan repayments to ORCA, and will build and own the apartments. The first payments would be for $15,000 and $55,000.

City attorney Scott Johnson asked that this item also be taken into executive session, and following the two-hour closed door meeting, the council voted to resubmit their offer with the Oct. 1 payment date, but without asking for the $70,000 combined payment up front.

Earlier, the council agreed to put a nearby 1.03 acres of land up for bids, after Madrid said the triangular-shaped piece of land was not of use to the city, but a company in the area has plans for its use. Madrid said the city would keep ownership of another piece of land in the area that could be used for future development.

Another piece of property on U.S. 285 across from Wal-Mart owned by B.J. Patel will be annexed into the city limits, following a vote by the council. Patel talked with the council last month about the 3.07 acres of property, where he plans to build a Holiday Inn Express. After the vote, council members and others at the meeting were shown plans for the motel by councilman Danny Rodriguez. It is one of six new motels that are being considered for construction in Pecos.

In a related item during public comments, the council heard from Best Western Swiss Clock Inn manager Jean Winget about a problem with the sewer lines in the area of the motel on I-20 at Country Club Drive, where the motel’s owners are planning to build a second 60-room motel just to the west of the current building.

“This may hold up the start of our building, so we have to get something going on it,” Winget said. Rodriguez called for the item to be added to the council’s special meeting this Thursday, so they could discuss how to fix the problem, and Sanchez said, “I feel we need to do some research on the issue. We don’t know where the problem initiates.”

Madrid said the southwest side sewer problems were linked to the volume of wastewater from the Reeves County Dentition Center, aging lines in the area, and the slope of the line in the area of the Swiss Clock Inn.

“At this time we have some surveys we’re doing to look at alternate routes and to divert some sewers to avoid that area,” he said.

“There’s some more building going on out there, so there is going to be a problem,” Rodriguez said.

“Before there is more any more development we need to do something. We don’t want to be behind the 8-ball.”

City moves towards expanded Sunday alcohol sales

Town of Pecos City Council members took a step towards the expansion of Sunday alcohol sales within the city limits, approving the first reading of an ordinance that would allow bars and restaurants to sell alcohol on Sunday.

Council members voted 4-1 to approve the change during their Thursday meeting, after they were told the change would bring Pecos into line with state laws on Sunday alcohol sales currently in use by larger cities, including Midland-Odessa. The measure will become law if approved by the council at its next regular meeting, on Tuesday, Jan. 22.

Mayor Dick Alligood explained that while beer can be sold in grocery and convenience stores on Sundays, “We still have a city ordinance that says it’s illegal to sell beer on Sunday within the city limits (for on-premises consumption).”

City Attorney Scott Johnson explained that state law allows alcohol sales on Sunday for on-premises consumption from noon until midnight, and from 10 a.m. to midnight if food is purchased with the alcoholic beverage.

“Some business owners want to open on Sunday,” Johnson said. “Another business owner said she doesn’t care, but wants it to be the same across the board.”

Police Chief Clay McKinney said he didn’t see the change creating any problems for his department, though Johnson and council members said they expected to hear from people opposed to the change between now and the Jan. 22 meeting.

“Once they hear about it, they’ll fill the room,” said council member Gerald Tellez, who cast the lone vote against the ordinance change.

“We’ll do the first reading, and if there’s any opposition, we’ll hear about it at the second reading,” said council member Frank Sanchez, who along with council members Danny Rodriguez, Angelica Valenzuela and Michael Benavides voted to approve the change.

In other action, the council approved taking steps towards the demolition of 21 homes in Pecos that have been abandoned by their owners.

“Letters have already been sent to the owners to either board them up or tear them down,” said city fire marshal Jack Brookshire. “We haven’t heard any reply, so we’re requesting the council allow us to start tearing down these structures.”

Council members asked Brookshire to begin the demolitions with an abandoned building in the 600 block of West Third Street. “We need to do that first. It’s downtown and it’s in the right-of-way.”

The council also approved advertising for engineering services and financial advisor services for the city’s new wastewater treatment plant, after city public works director Edgardo Madrid told the council the Texas Water Development Board has funding right now for 74 percent of the $6.8 million project.

Madrid said the money would be in the form of a loan for up to 30 years with a zero percent interest rate. “The only problem is we have an application deadline of March 10. That’s why we want to start advertising no later than two weeks from now,” he said.

“The good thing about this loan is if we get the applications ready and close this loan the money is available,” Madrid said. “We get the invoice, we can issue a check.”

Madrid told the council the city could also seek funds through the state’s EDAP program for impoverished areas. The council approved seeking engineering and financial advisory services under that program as well, though Madrid said that program is directed more towards building infrastructure in areas currently without water and sewer systems.

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