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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving morning blaze damages club

Investigators are still seeking the cause of a fire early Thanksgiving morning that heavily damaged the attic and northeast corner of the Suavacito Club at Ninth and Cedar streets.

Pecos Volunteer Fire Department crews were called out to the club about 3:30 a.m. to battle the fire, which began in the back area of the main bar, and spread to the attic and roof.

About firefighters and three fire trucks responded to fire, according to Pecos Volunteer Fire Chief Freddy Contreras. He said that the fire was contained to the north, east side of the building and to the attic.

“It did cause extensive fire and water damage to the building,” said Contreras, who added that nobody was inside at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported.

“The attic’s in pretty bad shape,” said Pecos Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire, who added the blaze appeared to have begun near an opening between the rear door of the club and Ninth Street.

“I haven’t finished the investigation into what caused it,” Brookshire said Monday morning. “Most of the damage is to the attic and to the electrical lines.”

He said he hoped to determine if the fire was caused by any sort of electrical problem, or if the fire was arson related. While the attic, roof and ceiling to the bar suffered damage from the fire, bar owner Sandra Muniz said the pool tables suffered only water damage, while the bar area on the Cedar Street side of the building was not touched by the fire.

“The back area suffered some smoke damage,” Muniz said. She added that the main concern is to the roof and the supporting beams that were burned by the blaze.

Crimestoppers seeking leads in November vandalism cases

Pecos Valley Crimestoppers is asking the community for help in solving several crimes that have occurred recently in the community, including to three Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD buildings.

Crimestoppers, along with the Pecos Police Department, are urging community members for help in solving these crimes that affect everyone.

The school damage involves vandalism to two current buildings, one of which is not occupied, and one new school building still under construction.

On Tuesday, Nov. 25, officers were dispatched to Bessie Haynes Elementary School were a cafeteria window was shot approximately 15 times with a BB gun causing about $3,000 worth of damage.

That incident was followed two days later by vandalism to the new addition at Crockett Junior High School.

“Somebody went and wrote on the north wall, at the new addition,” said Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Superintendent Manny Espino of the Thanksgiving Day incident.

Espino said that they had contacted Mid-Tex Construction, which is currently building the new wing at the junior high school. “They didn’t want to sandblast it, so they are talking to the masonry workers to see what can be done about the damage,” he said.

Another school, Pecos Elementary, which is closed, also received extensive damage two weeks ago and the graffiti at that campus has been removed.

The other two incidents also involve vandalism, and occurred earlier in the month.

On Tuesday, Nov. 4, officers were dispatched to the Skate Park at 700 S. Alamo, concerning graffiti damage to the park.There was at least $1,000 worth of damage to the concrete skating section and the surrounding area.

On Monday, Nov. 17, officers were dispatched to downtown to the Pecos Rodeo Hall of Fame site at the former Missouri-Pacific Railroad Depot, where they found that several windows and door glasses were broken out with rocks causing several thousands of dollars worth of damage.

Crimestoppers is asking for everyone’s help to put these criminals away.

If anyone has any information about these crimes, or any other crime, call Crime Stoppers, at 445-9898 or leave a Secure Web-Tip at HYPERLINK ""

As always the caller will remain anonymous and Crime Stoppers will pay up to a $1,000 cash reward if it leads to the arrest of the person(s) involved in these crimes.

There is no caller I.D. on this line.

Lions handle early arrivals for holiday dinners

Thanksgiving dinners were going out the door by mid-morning on Thursday at the Reeves County Civic Center, as Pecos Downtown Lions Club members and other local volunteers took up what had been a yearly tradition in Pecos up until last November.

Lions Club members prepared and packaged free Thanksgiving dinners for both those in need and those who simply wanted to skip cooking this holiday. The event had been sponsored annually by the Pecos Christian Home until last year, when a shortage of helpers caused the event to be cancelled.

This year, the Christian Home did handle preparation and delivery of dinners to local Meals on Wheels customers for Thanksgiving, when the service does not operate, while dinners for others were done in the kitchen at the Civic Center. “We started serving at 10 a.m., and by 10:30 we had already done 100,” said Sulema Ulate, who organized the effort for the Lions Club and was one of the cooks for the turkey, dressing, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries and yams prepared by the volunteers.

Ulate said individuals donated most of the food for the meals, which ended up with several hundred being prepared between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Workers said they did not keep a full count on the number of meals served this year, while Ulate said she didn’t have the exact numbers for the people who donate food and other items for the dinners.

“I started making a list of who brought what, but then it got out of hand and I lost track of what each person brought,” she said.

She did say that Alfredo’s Restaurant provided the turkeys for the dinner and Burrito Depot provided the stuffing, while the Salgado family provided the paper and Styrofoam goods and Wal-Mart donated the plastic bags for the carryout dinners. Abundant Life Church donated over 100 pies, and members of the Centauros Motorcycle Club helped out with some of the deliveries.

“We’ve been delivering to Green Acres (Lindsay Addition), the trailer park, the north side, all over the place,” said club member David Rodriguez. “We also are going to help out with the deliveries for (Tony Juarez) Toys for Tots.”

The Centauros Club was started on July 5 of this year in Pecos. The main goal of the group is to help people in the community and they have already been busy volunteering and helping out.

Census Bureau set to hire workers for 2010 canvass

The U.S. Census Bureau has begun recruiting efforts for individuals to do canvassing in Reeves County for the 2010 Census, which will begin work within the county early next year.

Charlene Romero McBride, partnership specialist for the Census Bureau’s Dallas Region, was in Pecos last week doing initial work towards seeking applicants for the census canvassing work, and said she would be in town two more times over the seven days.

“I’ll be doing a presentation for the city council (Thursday) and then to the commissioners (on Dec. 8),” McBride said last Tuesday.

She said those applying for the paid jobs must be 18 years or older, a U.S. citizen and have a valid driver’s license. Persons interested can call 1-866-861-2010 or go to HYPERLINK "" and will be asked to give their zip code to locate the nearest testing center.

“It’s a one-hour test, but it’s actually just 30 minutes, plus filling out forms,” she said, adding that hiring will begin in February and training will take place in March for the first part of the 2010 census, the Block Address Canvassing Field Operations.

“They will verify the list right now of confirmed addresses,” McBride said. The work is scheduled to last three months, and will be followed with a three-month period of recruiting local census office management staff for the 36 offices around the Dallas Region, which includes Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Those offices will have six managers per office and will open in October of 2009, with 30 staff members per office. The bureau expects to hire 75,000 people in the three-state region to conduct the 2010 census.

Training of the staff will run from October through December of next year, and even more staff will be hired to handle the non-response follow-ups in early 2010 for those households that do not fill out and returned the 2010 census questionnaire in March of that year.

The census numbers will be released to the public in 2011, and those numbers, which include the total number of residents locally, along with average household income figures, will be used to determine allocation of federal funds for Reeves and surrounding counties and for Pecos and surrounding cities between 2012 and 2022.

The loss of several major industries in Reeves County during the 1990 resulted in a 25 percent drop in the area’s census from 1990 to 2000. The oil and natural gas drilling boom over the past four years has caused an increase in the local population, though many people working in those jobs have been living in area motels, due to a shortage of available housing.

McBride said census takers would canvass those sites, as well as other non-traditional residences to compile their 2010 report.

“Those are part of the ‘group quarters’ count,” she said. Other sites included as ‘group quarters’ include nursing homes, dormitories and prisons like the Reeves County Detention Center.

“Basically, anything where there are a number of people living together who are not related are counted as ‘group quarters’,” McBride said.

Schedule set for Christmas lighting event

A bigger and better display is planned for the 8th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, scheduled for Tuesday evening at Maxey Park.

This will be the third year that the annual event includes a fireworks display, and organizers are excited about the upcoming event, which is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. in the northeast corner of the park.

Bill Warren, co-anchor for CBS 7 News in Midland-Odessa, will be the master of ceremonies.

“We’re very excited to have new, additional lighting displays this year and we think the public will be very pleased with these new additions,” said Nancy Martinez, one of the organizers of the annual holiday event.

The event is sponsored by the Pecos Rotary Club, with the help of the city, school and the community.

Austin Elementary (first, second and third graders), will be singing Christmas Carols, along with Mariachi Perla and Kiara Gutierrez, who will also be entertaining with Christmas music.

“We will have several vendors, who will be selling everything from beverages and food, to lighted Christmas Santa hats and toys,” said Martinez.

The group is coming in from El Paso for the holiday special.

“We’re excited about the event, it continues to grow each year and input is given by the public, to help us make it bigger and better,” said Martinez.

A Christmas concert at Pecos High School, which had been scheduled at the same time as the Christmas Tree Lighting was moved back an hour to allow everyone to enjoy the lighting and fireworks display.

The concert that will include the Pecos bands and UTPB, has been moved to 8 p.m., at the PHS Auditorium, according to Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Superintendent Manny Espino.

Martinez said that the organizers for the Christmas Lighting event hope that the public can attend the full show, with fireworks set to begin at 7:30 p.m.

“This year it will be broadcast live on KIUN, so those who can’t attend, they can tune it to 1400 and when the countdown begins can see the fireworks display throughout the community,” she said.

“It takes everyone to make this a success and we hope everyone can join us Tuesday evening,” said Martinez.

Newest court officer had long road to West Texas

Cathrin Gaida is eagerly looking forward to the first snow of the winter, because it will remind her of her home in Germany.

“I love snow,” she said.

Gaida is the newest court security officer for the federal court, and she loves her job. She also works as a reserve officer for the Reeves County Sheriff’s Department to keep her state peace officer certification.

“She has adapted and has done outstanding work,” said her CSO supervisor, Steve Balog, “Both judges really do like her.” District Judge Robert Junell presides for the monthly docket, and Magistrate Dwight Goains comes up from Alpine two or three times a week to preside for initial appearances, plea agreements and arraignment of defendants indicted by the grand jury.

Gaida moved to Balmorhea from Blanco County with her boyfriend, Stephen Frederick. He patrols the Balmorhea area for Sheriff Andy Gomez. They now live in Verhalen, where they have two horses and five dogs on their two-acre homestead. Her children are Sebastian, 21, a firefighter in Spring Branch; and Marlena, 18, a college student in San Antonio. She would like for them to move to West Texas when they are established in their careers.

Her own career got a boost when former CSO J.C. White steered her to Balog and the court job.

“I love it,” she said. “They are the best people to work with, and I love West Texas.”

She said the job is “wonderful and interesting,” and everyone has gone out of their way to make her feel welcome.

“It is too good to be true, almost,” she said. “I never expected that.”

Her duties are to protect the court and the court family, including the judges, lawyers, marshals, “even the defendant.” She assists during jury trials to see that court proceedings go smoothly.

Gaida came to the United States from Germany in 1985 with a man she met and married in the Bahamas.

“My aunt had left Germany in the early ‘60s and she and her husband ran a small diving resort in the Bahamas,” she said. “His father was a general surgeon in Chicago, and he had retired on the island to become an island physician. I went over there and we met. He is a real wonderful person, who now works for the Department of Homeland Security in Miami.” They are separated.

Part of his job with DHS involves courtroom naturalization ceremonies like Gaida experienced in Austin when she became a U.S. citizen.

“The whole ceremony was quite moving and very special,” she said. “If I ever get a chance to work one, I would consider it an honor.”

Her love of dogs and her desire to serve the community led Gaida into law enforcement with the mounted search and rescue unit in Blanco County.

“I thought a tracking dog might work well, and I started working with the police trainer out of Georgetown,” she said.

“The dog got certified and the Austin PD asked me to work on several cases.’

When she learned that her own lack of police certification kept her from working some of the cases, Gaida decided to enter the academy.

“I was not the youngest in my class, but my maturity helped and I graduated as valedictorian,” Gaida said. “It was one of the best experiences of my life.”

Through that she started as victim’s liaison officer and did a lot of work with dogs searching for narcotics. Then she worked for a private company that provides protection dogs, narcotics and explosive dogs in schools, oil refineries, and even University of Texas games.

“I also did general patrol duties. Since I was the only female officer, I had a lot of domestic violence cases, sexual assaults and all that.”

In her spare time, she patrols in Balmorhea and works in her garden.

“I am learning what plants not to kill,” she said, crediting her neighbors with warning about sprinkling new palm trees with salty water. She also loves horseback riding and is enjoying renovating the former Lindemann house in Verhalen.

“I do a lot with my dogs” she said of her Old English Bulldogs and German Shepherds.

“I can’t wait for my parents to come here and see West Texas,” she said. “This area reminds me a little of home, with its wide open spaces. I come from a very small town, so I love small-town living. I would not have it any other way.”

Club holds meeting about stem cell research

Members of The Modern Study Club of Pecos met recently at the First Christian Church Fellowship Hall.

President Margie Williamson presided over the meeting, the Collect was led by Lena Harpham and the Pledges of Allegiance to the United States Flag and the Texas Flag were led by Paula fuller.

The thought-quote for the program was – “True hope is swift and flies on the wings of swallows “ – William Shakespeare. A Home Life Department program was presented by Glenda Willis on her experience of donations stem cells to her brother. Her brother, Wayne Fincher, had several strange illnesses over the years, and during October, 2005 he was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia, Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukemia (CMML). They went to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and were told there have only been 500 cases diagnosed that they know of, around 20 cases a year. They were told that it was terminal, but with a stem cell transplant, he could be cured. Otherwise, he would live two to four years. He was only 59 years old and in general good health, did not drink or smoke, and was a good candidate for a stem cell transplant.

When Wayne and his wife notified the family members they claimed Romans, Chapter 8, vs. 28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

MDA informed the family that the donor would likely come from Wayne’s siblings. Glenda had the perfect match and was chosen to be the donor. Upon this finding the other siblings, one brother and another sister, were disappointed, but greatly relieved that there was a match.

Glenda had several appointments with MDA and was cautioned to stay well. She and her husband began to be careful about what they planned. They knew they would have to go to Houston when the doctors called regardless of what they had planned.

In the meantime, Wayne was taking chemo and doing fairly well until the chemo destroyed his white blood count. They were also having difficulty getting the insurance company’s approval for the approximate cost of $250,000 for the transplant. Many people were praying for Wayne and his family. When Glenda finally went to Houston for the harvesting of the stem cells, they had trouble with her small veins but eventually harvested 6.5 million stem cells. Wayne thanked her for giving him life. He received Glenda’s stem cells but they were slow to ingraft.

Wayne had to stay in isolation for three months and was not able to see his small grandchildren since small children have frequent colds. He could not eat any fresh fruits or vegetables. All hospital staff and visitors had to wash their hands and put on gloves and gowns before they entered his room. His immune system was very low so he could not fight infection. Wayne got to leave the hospital to go to their apartment in Houston. He was in and out of the hospital several times over the next six months. He never got to go home. He had many problems with graft vs. host disease (GVHD) which showed up as a rash on his skin and intestinal problems. Basically, GVHD is the donor’s blood rejecting the host (Wayne’s body). On Nov. 15, 2007, he was informed that the transplant was a success. Shortly afterwards, however, he became confused, lost weight and the doctors found that he had lesions in the brain. On Dec. 27, 2007, he was diagnosed with encephalitis and pneumonia and died Jan. 14, 2008. The family was with him and as he slipped away they sang “Blessed Assurance” and “Amazing Grace.”

Mrs. Willis also informed the group that adult human skin cells can now be made in to stem cells by adding four genes. These stem cells become like embryonic cells because the embryo dies when its stem cells are used. In recent months, researchers have announced that using the changed adult stem cells has ended the moral issue concerning embryonic cells because the embryo dies when its stem cells are used. In recent months researchers have announced that using the changed adult stem cells has ended the moral issue concerning embryonic stem cell research.

The minutes of September 24 meeting were read by Secretary Catherine Travland and approved as read. Treasurer Betty Lee presented a statement concerning club finances.

Paula Fuller, Federation Chairman, reported on four different topics as follows: Education: The Friends of Libraries, USA, sponsors Book for Babies to acquaint the parents of newborns with the important role they play in the development of children’s language skills and love of learning.

International Affairs: This year, Heifer International is offering a new way to give with a selection of Heifer projects from around the world.

Domestic Violence: In a single day, domestic violence programs served more than 53,000 adults and children in the United States. However, a significant number of requests – more than 7,700 – went unmet because domestic violence agencies lacked the funding and staff to meet the demand.

Patricia Siegfried-Giles, Texas President, reported that during her administration more than $170,000 was given to local and state scholarships.

Members were reminded to register for the 49th TFWC Western District Fall Board Meeting, Oct. 11, at Odessa Regional Medical Center.

President Williamson reminded club members there would be two bake sales this club year, Oct. 31 and April 3, 2009, at TransPecos Bank.

The club voted to pay for TFWC Western District President Catherine Travland’s room at the Elegante Hotel in Odessa prior to Western District 49th Annual Fall Board meeting.

President Williamson expressed her appreciation, Joyce Morton and all those who helped judge and hang the Youth Art Show shown at Reeves County Fair held recently.

Roll call was answered by responding to the question – How do you feel about stem cell research?

Hostesses Joyce Morton and Paula Fuller served delicious refreshments to 11 club members and four guests.

The project for this bi-monthly meeting is sponsor the Reeves County Fall Fair Youth Art Show.

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