Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Friday, January 18, 2008
Midlander’s donation helps Pecos arson victim
A Pecos man received some very good news this morning in the form of some money, after perpetrators burned a home that he had been fixing up for his daughter.
A smiling stranger greeted Alfonso Hernandez this morning along with the crew from NewsWest 9.
Bob Cornell, of Midland, took it upon himself to raise and bring some money to Hernandez, whose home was burned on Jan. 9 by vandals, one of five arson fires set in town that night.
“I was checking the weather on the television, when I came upon his story,” said Bob Cornell. “That night, I just couldn’t sleep, I kept seeing his face and in the morning I knew I wanted to do something to help.”
Cornell drove to Pecos Thursday morning with his friend, Debbie Rodawalt to deliver the funds to Hernandez. KWES-TV decided to join him and do an update on the suspected arson and document the event.
“I just wanted to help out and maybe challenge others to do the same,” said Cornell. “I hope this helps him and I would like for others to reach out as well or to help other people,” he said.
Hernandez said that when he heard that the home that he had worked so hard on had been set on fire, he was very disappointed.
“I cried, because I thought, how could someone do this,” said Hernandez. “I have relatives in Arizona that tell me to go live over there, but I don’t want to, because I love Pecos, this is my home.”
He said that despite this terrible ordeal, he doesn’t plan to leave town. “This is a great place to live and I plan to stay here until I die,” he said.
Hernandez said that he had put in new fixtures and had been working hard on the house that would be used by his daughter and his grandchildren.
His daughter Mary Hernandez and her three children, Andre, Christopher and Jonathan were to use the house as their home.
“I lost hope, but God is here and I appreciate everything, everyone has done for us,” said Hernandez, who added that he would like to thank everyone that has been helping out, in one way or another.
“With faith in God, we’ll be okay,” said Hernandez. “It’s just disappointing that people have to do things like this,” he said.
Also on hand this morning, were Reeves County Sheriff Arnulfo Gomez and county emergency management coordinator Ricky Herrera, who also donated to the worthy cause.
If anyone else would like to help the family out, an account has been set up for Alfonso Hernandez at West Texas National Bank. The account number is 4524527 and individuals wanting to help can ask for Terry Terrazas or Diana Rodriguez.
Officials are continuing their investigation into the Hernandez home fire, along with fires that damaged another east side home and a pick-up. Two other fired were set in a dumpster and two a pair of mattresses, all occurring within a three-hour period on Jan. 9.
Town of Pecos City Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire said they have received tips on the fires, and hope to make an arrest in at least one of the cases in the next several days.
Deputies say traffic stop nets $1.37m cocaine seizure
A traffic stop on Wednesday by Reeves County Sheriff’s Department personnel resulted in the seizure of nearly $1.4 million in cocaine, and sent one person to Reeves County Jail on drug charges.
According to officials with the department, the arrest began about 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, when officers from the Reeves County Sheriff Department Criminal Interdiction Unit initiated a traffic stop on a silver 2002 Honda van traveling eastbound at mile marker 32, seven miles west of Pecos, on a traffic violation.
Deputies said the driver and sole occupant was identified as Daniel Minjares, 26 years old. During the course of the traffic stop, officers asked for and were granted verbal consent by Minjares to search the vehicle.
During the search, officers discovered a false compartment built into the vehicle by the engine. A sealed off hole made of bondo was broken off revealing 14 separately wrapped brick formation packages.
Each brick was wrapped in tape. Deputies said one of the bricks was cut open with a knife revealing a white powder substance believed to be cocaine, which later field-tested positive for cocaine.
Minjares was then placed under arrest and transported to Reeves County Jail where he was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance in Penalty Group 1 with Intent to Distribute a first degree felony which carries a minimum of 10 and maximum of 99 years in prison or life in prison.
The estimated street value in Dallas, where the driver was reportedly headed to at the time of the arrest, is $ 1.37 million.
City reaches apartment complex deal
Town of Pecos City Council decided to drop part of their counter-offer to a company the city wants to build new apartments in the central part of town, following an executive session at last Thursday’s city council meeting, and City Manager Joseph Torres said the company has accepted the deal, which is expected to add 128 new apartments to the central area of Pecos by June of 2009.
Council members voted to drop a demand for a combined payment from Dimension Enterprises LLC, as part of a deal for land located in the 700 and 800 block of Washington and Adams streets. The council did maintain a change in the original contract that would move up the deadline for the annual payments by one month, but Torres said that was due to a mix-up between the city and the company’s owners over the payment date.
“They have accepted the agreement. As a matter of fact, they already have a general contractor set up,” Torres said following Wednesday’s special meeting of the city council.
Britt Montt Contractors of Dallas will do the construction on the 128 apartments, up 32 from the original 96-unit plan that was to replace the 19 single-family homes originally designated for the site. Torres said the schedule calls for the work to be done over a 412-day period, with completion planned for May 29, 2009.
The council already had discussed the deal with Dimension during their Dec. 31 meeting. “This is dČj‡ vu. Why are we going through this again?” asked councilwoman Angelica Valenzuela during the council’s Jan. 10 meeting.
Torres explained that company owner Dr. Rahat Saied and Ram Kunwar, vice president, rejected changes to the initial offer by the company. They balked at combining the first two scheduled payments to the Office of Rural Community Affairs (ORCA). However, Torres said they didn’t have a problem with the Oct. 1 deadline for making the four annual payments.
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.
In a related issue, the council approved a series of new stop signs in the area where the apartments are due to be built. Streets through the site were paved in 2003, but no signs were ever put in at the intersections with the existing cross streets.
Council members were told two accidents already have occurred in that area this month. “They are uncontrolled intersections,” said Police Chief Clay McKinney.
The Dimension contract was one of several land-related issues discussed by the council during their Jan. 10 meeting. That also agreed to put a nearby 1.03 acres of land up for bids, after city public works director Edgardo 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.
Council members also vote to put the old F.W. Woolworth building at Third and Oak streets up for bids. “We’ve had some people in the past ask to bid on the property, but they have not followed through. Now we have another group coming in,” Pecos Mayor Dick Alligood said.
The building was constructed in 1956 and has been empty since 1989.
City Fire Marshal and building inspector Jack Brookshire presented the council with a new form for building permit applications, which were approved for use. He said the new form will help the city be more specific about what is required during construction.
“People were coming in to get building permits and weren’t following requirements,” he told the council. He said the new form provides buildings with a FAQ list on both local and state building construction requirements.
He said the new rules wouldn’t be retroactive, and that the city will still face the problem of people who start construction without the proper permits, but added violators will face the prospect of having to tear down the unapproved construction at their own expense.
The council also agreed to solicit bids for janitorial supplies for the Pecos Criminal Justice Center, approved an easement for Cimarex Energy for a road right-of-way through land owned by the city southeast of town under the same terms as an earlier easement agreement, while putting off action on an interlocal agreement with Reeves County Hospital and on a new executive director for the 4B Pecos Economic Development Corp. pending further action by the hospital district’s board and the PEDC 4B board members.
The council did approve going forward with a plan to unify tax abatement procedures between the city, hospital district and Reeves County for any future projects. Alligood said the plan would base abatements on their dollar value and job investment.
“We would like to try and form a committee to start work, made up of all three entities,” he said, while Rodriguez noted the city already has three requests for new tax abatements.
Alligood said all three taxing entities would still have to approve any deals the tax abatement committee worked out, and until then, the city’s current tax abatement rules would apply.
Reynolds opts out of probing DA opponent
By MYRTLEANNE ANDERSON
Randy Reynolds, 143rd District Attorney, was granted a request to be recused regarding the investigation of two accusations of misconduct involving Ward County Attorney Kevin Acker, his opponent in the March 4 Democratic Primary Election.
District Judge Bob Parks granted the request Wednesday due to the pending primary race, which left Reynolds with a potential conflict of interest in the case.
In Reynolds’ place, Parks appointed Odessa attorney David Zavoda as a special prosecutor at a rate of $90 per hour. Zavoda severed as 143rd District Attorney in the late 1980s
Reynolds told The News he recused himself to avoid claims that the investigation and prosecution, if any, is politically motivated and tainted.
In the previously-filed information filed in the Ward County District Clerk’s office by Reynolds, he said he had received two complaints from Ward County Auditor Ellen Friar alleging misconduct committed by Acker in two separate matters.
Friar said she contacted Reynolds’ office after she had tried to collect money owed to the county by Acker.
The first complaint, received in November 2007, stated Acker charged a laptop computer to the county’s tax-free account online Office Depot account in August 2007.
Friar said she first believed the equipment was purchased for the county attorney’s office, but Acker later stated he had purchased the laptop on the county account for his daughter.
According to Friar, at that time, she informed Acker that he needed to pay for the laptop and contact Office Depot to have the purchase re-billed with the tax added, since it was not a County purchase.
Acker reportedly paid for the laptop that same month, but he still has not paid the sales tax on the purchase.
The second alleged misconduct came about when Friar said Acker did not pay the county the $200-a- month rent for his private law practice located within the county attorney’s office in the Rhemeyer Building. The rent was due beginning in July 2007.
Acker approached the Commissioners Court on June 25, 2007 requesting use of the building. “I would like to use the office to handle my limited private law practice, and I will pay a rental fee set at the Court’s discretion,” he said.
Acker told the court his private equipment was being used by his personal staff in the county office.
“There is an issue we have to be careful about in terms of using county equipment for private practice,” Judge Holly told Acker during the meeting.
The court approved his request, charging him a monthly fee of $200 for use of the facility.
According to Friar, when the auditor’s office did not receive payments, Acker was contacted about the matter, and responded by saying he thought the rent was being held out of his county paycheck.
“Funds cannot be withheld from a county employee’s check unless they sign a notice giving us permission to do so, and I explained that to him,” Friar said.
“When I asked him the second time about the unpaid rent, he said we didn’t send him an invoice, and that’s why he hadn’t paid the money he owed,” said Friar.
According to Friar, seven invoices were sent to Acker, but her office had not received payment. However, on Wednesday afternoon, January 16, around 2:30 pm, Acker presented Judge Holly with a check for $1,400, which satisfied the complaint.
The News contacted Zavoda, but he refused comment.
“I was hired to investigate the charges against Acker, and I cannot make any comment,” said Zavoda.
The News contacted Acker’s office for comment on Wednesday, Jan. 16, but Acker did not return the call by press time Thursday.
A call was made to Reynolds on Thursday to ask why the complaint had been in his office since November.
“I was contacted by Friar the first week in November 2007 concerning the alleged misconduct by Acker,” Reynolds responded. “I did some legal research about the misconduct and then delivered the case to a law enforcement agency on November 20, 2007 for further investigation.
“I was contacted by the law enforcement agency twice in December when they requested more information. I provided the information for them.
“I knew by late December that I would probably have to recuse myself from the case,” Reynolds explained. “Then I learned on January 2, that Acker had filed to run for district attorney, so I prepared the necessary paperwork for the recusal and filed it on Friday, January 4, 2008.
He declined to name the law enforcement agency conducting the investigation, saying he did not want this to become a political issue.
Tickets available for Chamber’s February banquet
Tickets are now available for the Annual Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet scheduled for Friday, Feb. 15.
The event will begin at 6 p.m., at the Reeves County Civic Center.
Tickets are $20 and dinner will include ribeye steak and shrimp scampi, catered by Old Mill.
There will be four major awards handed out that evening including: Hidden Hero/Ruiz Profile of Courage; Student of the Year; Citizen of the Year and a new added, Agriculture/Business Person of the Year.
The criteria for the Agriculture/Business Person of the Year are that the individual must have resided in Pecos for the past two years and be involved in the agriculture related business.
Nominations for the awards has been set for 5 p.m., Friday, Jan. 25 and all nominations can be turned at the Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce Office, 111 S. Cedar.
For more information on the criteria for the different awards they can contact the chamber at 432-445-2406.
The number of awards announced at the banquet had tripled over the past 15 years, and Chamber officials decided to cut down on the number of presentations at the event to make the banquet move faster. However, he other awards from the different entities and the community will be mentioned throughout the evening.
Annual Reeves Jr. stock show begins Friday
Weigh-ins began Thursday afternoon and judging will start on Friday for the 2008 Reeves County Junior Livestock Show and Sale, at the Reeves County Civic Center.
Judging will start with the steer show at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, followed by the lamb show and goat show. The hog show will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, while the barbeque dinner will be held from 5 to 7 p.m., when the sale will get underway.
Volunteers have had a little more work to do this year, following the resignation last summer of Tommy Dominguez as Reeves County Extension Service Agent. Jack and Cookie Canon are the chairmen and vice-chairman for this year’s show, with Kyle and Myra Taylor handling the sales event and Tim Flanagan and Bob Bagley as the Pecos and Balmorhea FFA advisors.
Flanagan said John Kearney of Robert Lee will be the judge for Friday’s steer, lamb and goal shows, while Garrett Holder of Andrews, who is doing livestock judging at Texas Tech, will be the hog show judge on Saturday.
A total of 99 boys and girls will exhibit this weekend, Flanagan said, which is down a little from a year ago. “We’ll have 102 hogs exhibited, which is down a little, but it looks like the lamb numbers are holding steady, and the goats are up from what they’ve been,” Flanagan said.
He said the number of steers being exhibited is about the same as a year ago. Last year’s stock show sale brought in over $100,000, up by more than $30,000 from the previous year.
Other volunteers on this year’s show include Ronald Box and Trevor Teague for the steers and heifers, Ben Stickels and Cary Hannsz for the lams, Kyle Taylor and Butch Renshaw for the goats and Jack Canon and Tres McElroy for the hog show.
Pecos students listed to Dean’s List
The Dean’s List for the 2007 Fall Semester has been announced at Angelo State University in San Angelo.
To be eligible for the Dean’s List, students must be enrolled full-time and maintain a 3.25 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.
The honorees include the following from the Pecos area: Jennie A. Canon, Sarah K. Lee and Vanessa S. Valeriano.
Couple announce birth of daughter
Daniel Acosta and Beverly Ortega announced the birth of their daughter, Niciah Marie Acosta, who was born Dec. 23, 2007.
Niciah weighed six pounds at birth.
Proud grandparents are Genice Ornelas and Gustavo and Teodora Burciaga.
Ramirez’ announce birth of daughter
Ruben and Erica Marie Ramirez of Austin proudly announce the birth of their second child, Faith Gracelyn Ramirez.
Little Faith was born on November 29, 2007 at North Austin Medical Center in Austin, weighing in at 5 pounds, 14 ounces, and 19 inches long.
Welcoming his new sister at home was big brother, Dante Xavier Ramirez. Dante will be celebrating his own birthday on Feb. 2.
Ruben and Erica are both Pecos High School graduates.
Paternal grandparents are Ruben Ramirez and Irma Ramirez of Austin, and formerly of Pecos.
Maternal grandparents are James Herrera of Taylor, Tx., and Nova Herrera of Austin, both formerly of Pecos.
Maternal great-grandmother is Petra Gutierrez of Pecos. Faith's other Pecos relatives are her uncles and aunts: Arturo and Melissa Granado, and Hector and Leticia Gutierrez.
GED tests set for early February
GED Testing will be held Tuesday, Feb. 5 and Wednesday, Feb. 6, at the Pecos High School.
Registration is scheduled from 1-4 p.m., Friday, Feb. 4, in Room 2 at the Pecos High School.
Examinees must present a Texas Driver’s License or Texas Department of Public Safety ID Card.
For more information call Pat Cobos/Eva Arriola, Pecos High School Counselors at 447-7229.
Confirmation meetings for parents set
Confirmation II parents will have a very important meeting at 7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 18, at the Santa Rosa Hall, while Confirmation I parents will have their meeting at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 23, at Santa Rosa Hall.
If you have not brought a copy of your child’s baptism or First Holy Communion to the office, this would be a great time to do so.
Parents need to make sure that you bring in a copy to keep in the child’s file, not the originals.
Also, if anyone has not paid their $25 registration fee, they can do so at this time.
If anyone has any questions regarding these meetings, contact Sam Anchondo, 445-7714 or 445-2309.
Sul Ross hosts talent search event
All Gear Up and Talent Search students are invited to attend Trio Day at Sul Ross State University on Saturday, Feb. 2.
Trio Day will be a day of fun and games. There will be motivational speakers. Door prizes will be given.
Each will receive a T-Shirt.
The students will attend a college basketball game, Lobos vs. McMurry. Students are asked to pick up an agenda and parent release form from the Gear Up and Talent Search office in building A from Ms. Rivera and Mr. Anchondo, for high school students.
Zavala and Crockett Talent Search students are asked to pick up their parent permission form from their respective front office.
Parent permission forms must be returned by Friday, Jan. 25.
This Trio Day is mandatory for the student to be eligible to go on the year end trip.
Parents if you have any questions regarding this event, contact Sam Anchondo, at 294-3325 for Talent Search students or Ms. Rivera at 294-3925 for Gear-Up Students.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321
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