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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, August 8, 2008

Groundbreaking Friday morning on $9m hotel, restaurant complex

Groundbreaking is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday on the Paradise Plaze hotel and restaurant project, to be located on Interstate 20 next to the Reeves County Golf Course.

The project is the first part of a $9 million entertainment complex planned for the south side of Pecos by local businessman Leo Hung. The groundbreaking will be at the site located just to the east of the Country Club Drive overpass on I-20. State Rep. Pete Gallego is scheduled to be the guest of honor at the event.

The 65-bed Country Inns & Suites By Carlson hotel is scheduled to open in September of 2009. The complex, to be built in several phases, is planned to create 75 new jobs in the city. Phase two will include a family entertainment center with bowling, a theater and arcade. Phase two proposes to build a second hotel on the property as well, according to Nancy Martinez, who will serve as project manager.

Age makes scans for bone cancer effects hard to interpret

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 20th part of a story by Enterprise business manager Peggy McCracken on her diagnosis of cancer, surgery in April of 2005 and ensuing treatment for the disease.

Three years and seven months ago I discovered a lump the size of a goose egg in my left breast. I didn’t believe then it could be cancer, and maybe I am still in denial, but I am in good health.

A recent bone scan shows dark spots throughout my skeleton. How many of those dark spots are cancer and how many are degenerative bone disease is anybody’s guess.

I choose to believe that most of them are the arthritis that has plagued me for years. Pain in my lower back comes from damage done when, as a child, I dragged 50-pound sacks of cotton across the field and hoisted them into a trailer to be dumped and tromped.

My neck got a jolt when I fell into the bleachers while chasing a basketball back in high school. That crooked vertebrae is visible as a bump on the bone scan.

This bone scan is the first I have been able to view onscreen. It looks pretty terrifying, with solid black on the calvarium (right half of the skull), sacroliac numerous ribs, shoulders, arms and legs.

Reports on previous scans list only the skull, one or two ribs and a few vertebrae as being cancerous. Or possibly cancerous. Evidently even a trained eye can’t tell the difference in cancer and plain old arthritis.

Dr. Dave, my oncologist, said he would get copies of previous scans to compare and see if he can make sense of it. He claims the pain I was experiencing when I first went to him was caused by the cancer, and he questions why I don’t have pain now. Maybe the scans will give him the answer.

My explanation is that the skull is the only place where the cancer is active. I have some pain there when I haven’t exercised properly.

Since I have long had arthritic pain in the other areas, I choose to believe that is the cause of the black spots on the scan. And I prove it to myself every time I fail to get adequate exercise.

Exercise makes the blood flow and keeps away the pain. If I don’t overdo it, that is. Overdoing the exercise can aggravate an old injury and make the muscles seize up around it. Talk about pain!!

I did that very thing a few months ago with calisthenics, and my back hurt so that I couldn’t stand, sit or lie down. I tried lying on a heating pad, but the more I lay in bed, the worse I hurt. Taking strong pain pills on an empty stomach irritated it so that I couldn’t even hold down water, making bad matters worse.

Finally, I went to Wal-Mart to get Pedialyte to re-hydrate my body and found some wrap-around heating pads that eased the pain.

Now I restrict my exercise to mowing and trimming the yard. That works up a good sweat without hurting anything, and it is worthwhile work.

Since January I have been taking male hormones to counteract female hormones that feed breast cancer, and my tumor numbers have come down, then started back up. Dr. Dave says we will talk about chemotherapy at my next appointment. So far, my research has convinced me that chemicals that kill cancer cells and healthy cells are not for me. I can’t imagine having my immune system compromised to the point that I would be susceptible to every germ that came my way.

However, I will consider what he recommends, do the research, pray and decide what to do when that time comes. For now, I am content with good health, hairy legs, painful muscles and a bass voice caused by male hormones.

I am convinced that life and death is in God’s hands, and He will do what he chooses to do with me, anyway. My continued good health is more likely the result of prayers lifted up on my behalf than any chemical.

School OKs small increase in price for school lunches

Lunch prices for school students in Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD will go up for the coming school year.

School board members made the decision Tuesday evening, during a special meeting and discussed several items, including the cost of cafeteria meals.

“We had not raised meal prices in several years and last year, we had to go up, but didn’t want to go up to much,” said finance director Cookie Canon.

Canon said that the amount raised last year was 25 cents and that they had to go up another 25 cents this year.

“Everything has been going up and we’ll need to do so also with the meal prices,” she said.

Canon said that the price of meals for the district was very comfortable for the surrounding area.

“They haven’t printed the food applications yet, because they are waiting on this to go through the board,” said Canon.

Last year, the district started serving free breakfast to all the students. “There were some kinks in the breakfast meals, but I think the new food services director is working on that,” said Canon. “And this coming school year, they will be doing more from scratch, instead of prepared.”

“Can we bring this (the breakfast meals) to the high school,” said board president Lila Cerna.

“Yes, we can certainly work on that,” said Canon.

Student lunches will be $1.60 for full pay for all students in Pecos Kindergarten and Austin Elementary School; $1.75 for Bessie Haynes Students; and $1.90 for Crockett Middle School and Pecos High School.

Reduced prices will be 40 cents for all students in all grade levels.

Student breakfast is free to all elementary school students and $1.35 for Pecos High School students and 30 cents for reduced. Faculty will pay $1.75 for breakfast and visitors $2.00.

For those on a reduced schedule they will be faculty, $2.75 and visitors $3.50.

In other action on Tuesday, the board approved the hiring of Pamela Knight, music teacher for Austin Elementary School. Board members also were briefs on the campus ratings from the Texas Education Agency. Rakings for the district were released last Friday, and all schools in Pecos passed, with two named as “Recognized” one of the highest ratings given by TEA.

Austin Elementary and Zavala Middle School were both “Recognized”, while all the other schools in the district including, Crockett Middle School, Bessie Haynes Elementary and Pecos High School were rated, “Academically Acceptable.”

“Overall, we are very pleased with the ratings,” said PBT-ISD Superintendent Manny Espino.

He said that the science scores were what were giving the district some trouble.

“We are working on some plans to correct that,” Espino told the board.

He said that a couple of years ago, Bessie Haynes had been rated as “Unacceptable,” but that they are doing much better at that campus.

Espino added that they plan to focus on the science and work more on that, with the help of the lead teachers.

Pecos swimmers adjust to outdoor workouts

Getting outdoors to work out is something lots of people take advantage of during the summer, and this year, that includes the Pecos Eagles’ swim team.

With work continuing to repair damage caused by a sinkhole underneath the Pecos High School pool, the Eagles began their preseason practice sessions on Monday at the Town of Pecos City Athletic Pool, and will be working outside through the start of the 2008-09 school year on Aug. 25.

With tie-down ropes holding the lane buoys in place, about two dozen Eagle swimmers are going through the first part of their two-a-day drills at Maxey Park, while finishing up with weight training, which has been shifted from the pool to the lobby of the adjacent PHS gym.

The problem with the high school pool, which was discovered in March, kept the Eagles out of off-season workouts during the final three months of the 2007-08 school year. “We’re working a lot more basic, since we were out of the water and weren’t able to do it in the offseason. We’re going over strokes some more and going over some new drills.

“I know they’ve been horsing around at the pool a lot during the summer, but serious training is different. I want to make sure they avoid any serious shoulder injuries,” she added.

“The dry-land work has probably suffered more, since we’re not able to use the pool and have to do everything in the lobby area of the gym. So that’s taken a hit, but we’re still able to get it what we’re trying to do.”

Morse said she’s missing a few girls she had hoped would come out this week, while adding three freshmen on both the boys and girls sides from last year’s team, which won both the boys and girls district titles, along with the boys Region I-4A championship.

“This pool is a little longer than the pool we’re normally in, so we’re getting a little over-distance in. So that’s good, and overall, we’re pretty much doing what we normally do,” Morse said.

The Eagles have held one outdoor practice during preseason in the past, at the Balmorhea State Park swimming pool. Morse said the team would be doing that again this year, with a trip to Balmorhea for workouts next Monday.

Area accidents leave one dead, four injured

A Kermit man was killed and a second injured Monday night, in an accident on State Highway 302 near Mentone, while two other accidents on Tuesday and Wednesday in the Pecos area left three people injured.

David Jay Eaton, 24, was pronounced dead by Loving County Justice of the Peace Regina Derrick at the scene of Monday’s accident, which occurred at 9:46 p.m. 1.9 miles east of Mentone. Eaton was the driver of a 2003 Chevrolet pickup that was headed towards Mentone and failed to negotiate a left-hand curve in the road.

According to the report filed by Texas Department of Public Safety trooper Robert Orr, Eaton overcorrected after going off the left side of the road, went into a skid and rolled several times. Eaton, and a passenger in the vehicle, identified as Robert Jamison, 34, or Kermit, were both ejected. Neither was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.

The two men were both oilfield workers, according to the DPS report. Jamison was transported by Winkler County EMS crews to Medical Center Hospital in Odessa, where he was listed in stable condition with contusions, lacerations and abrasions, while Eaton’s body was transported to Family Services Funeral Parlor in Kermit.

Tuesday’s accident occurred just before midnight on Business I-20 between Pecos and Barstow, when a horse that had gotten loose on the road was hit by a pickup driven by a couple and their grandchild who were headed back to Monahans from California.

The 1999 GMC Sierra pickup, driven by Felipa Ochoa of Monahans, was eastbound coming off the long bridge on Business I-20 when it struck the horse, killing the animal while crumpling the hood of the pickup and shattering the windshield. Ochoa and her 2-year-old grandson were not hurt in the crash, but her husband, Rigoberto Ochoa, was transported by Pecos EMS workers to Reeves County Hospital after complaining of neck pain.

Orr, who also investigated this accident, said the loose horse had been reported earlier in the evening by a Pecos EMS crew headed back into town following a transfer run, and had chased him back into a pasture. But Ward County deputies had received a call about five minutes prior to the accident that the horse had gotten out a second time.

A full report wasn’t available Thursday morning on the accident that occurred Wednesday night, about 10 p.m. on U.S. 285, at the intersection with the Interstate 20 service road. A Nissan SUV was struck on the driver’s side door by a tractor-trailer and knocked into the parking area of the Amigo’s Shell on the northwest corner of the intersection.

Two people reportedly were transported by Pecos EMS to the hospital from that accident, but names and the extent of their injuries was not available.

Feds raid Kermit newspaper in reported child porn probe

By The Monahans News

The publisher of a Kermit newspaper reportedly is under investigation by federal agents in connection with a probe involving online child pornography.

The Monahans News learned Tuesday afternoon that FBI agents were in the process of serving a sealed warrant as part of a child pornography investigation at The Winkler County News office in Kermit, and were focusing on the paper’s editor Rick McLaughlin. Kermit Police officers assisted the FBI in serving the warrant, and Winkler County deputies were also on the scene.

Area television stations were informed of the raid by law enforcement officers and were on the scene for most of the day, and Kermit citizens were shocked to have federal agents in town.

The News spoke with McLaughlin by phone on Thursday morning. When asked if he had any comment on the investigation, McLaughlin stated, “Absolutely not.” He said his lawyer has advised him to say “no comment.”

Items were confiscated from The Winkler County News office and later from McLaughlin’s home at 900 E. Midland St. in Kermit.

No arrests have been made, and the investigation is ongoing.

Commissioners scale back bond issue’s projects, cost

Several projects for a planned Reeves County bond election were approved, while others were put on hold during a special Commissioners Court meeting on Monday afternoon at the Reeves County Courthouse.

Commissioners have been discussing placing a bond issue on the November election ballot and plans to use the money to fund new facilities and upgrade others in Reeves County. But after looking at the cost of all the project, commissioners cut their plans by more than 50 percent following Monday’s four-hour meeting.

The projects still on the list include a new library, repairs to parks, a sports complex, and golf course renovations. Total cost for the package is now put at $17-$18 million.

Commissioners began researching county needs earlier this year, and they hired the firm of Dailey and Spear to conduct a detailed analysis and then report their findings. Their initial findings included over $39 million in projects. The new plan cut that by more than $20 million, and commissioners plan to pursue the projects in phases.

The architects were on hand for the Monday meeting and presented a power point presentation to the court and members of the community.

The first phase focuses on projects that improve the quality of life for residents of Reeves County.

The proposed library would be triple in size to the current county library at Fifth and Park streets, and would be closer to libraries for counties with similar population, according to Reeves County Judge Sam Contreras.

The new library will offer a larger children’s section, public meeting rooms and an expanded computer area.

Several sites for the library are being looked at, including one in downtown Pecos.

Commissioners also supported renovations for the Reeves County Golf Course.

“The golf course right now functions with fewer holes than the standard 18,” said Contreras. The course currently has 14 holes, but three closest to Interstate 20 were sold to local businessman Leo Hung for his Paradise Plaza hotel, restaurant and entertainment center complex, on which groundbreaking is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Friday.

The golf course proposal calls for seven new holes and renovations on the existing facilities, creating an 18-hole course worthy of larger tournaments.

The proposed bond issue also the creation of a new sports complex with six new ball fields and shared facilities. The county currently is responsible for maintaining four fields at Maxey Park in Pecos, along with Martinez Field off of I-20 near U.S. 285.

“The current facilities fail to meet community demands, and some of the fields even prevent Pecos from hosting larger tournaments because they do not meet organizational standards,” said Contreras.

v “The commissioners court also wishes to focus on the construction or renovation of several park and recreational areas,” he said.

Plans include new park areas for the north and east sides of town and outdoor renovations for the Balmorhea Community Center, including paving the parking lot, a pavilion, and landscaping. In addition, the plans allow for renovation of the 4-H Barn.

“We wish to improve the quality of life for all residents of Reeves County,” said Contreras. “These projects especially focus on the children of our community because we want our county to be a great place for them to learn, play and succeed,” he said.

Contreras said that these projects signal to outsiders that we are willing to invest in our children, and we want outsiders to see that we believe this is a great place to work and raise a family.

The Reeves County Commissioners must now pass a resolution and file plans for the bond by Aug. 26, in order to place the issue on the November 2008 ballot.

Along with the bond proposal plans, commissioners also approved a temporary building to house the Reeves County Clerk’s office, which has been inundated with work due to the boom in oil and natural gas exploration within the county.

Officials conducting probe into inmate’s suicide death

An investigation is continuing in the death of an inmate at the Reeves County Detention Center I/II.

Reeves County Sheriff’s Deputies were called out to the prison on Saturday evening, at about 7 p.m., in reference to an inmate who was injured.

The inmate was found in the Special Housing Unit (SHUE), in a cell where he was the only occupant.

Officers from RCDC found 36-year-old Reyes Rangel-Garcia, bleeding from the neck. It was later determined that the inmate had stashed a blade from a disposable, single blade shaving razor, and slit his throat.

“He was bleeding profusely, the staff and medical staff attended to him immediately,” said Sheriff’s Deputy Reno Lewis. Lewis said that the staff administered care until the ambulance crew arrived. EMT’s continued to care for the inmate and administered CPR on their way to the hospital.

Rangel-Garcia was pronounced dead at Reeves County Hospital at about 8:24 p.m., by Justice of the Peace Jim Riley.

His body was sent to El Paso for an autopsy and the sheriff’s department is awaiting the results.

“The investigation is continuing in this incident,” said Lewis.

Ex-Stockton judge named to Pecos post

Town of Pecos City Council members named a former longtime municipal court judge in Fort Stockton to fill the same position in Pecos, and agreed to take bids for a new animal control shelter for the city, during a special meeting held Tuesday evening at City Hall.

Lali Rivera was selected by the council to fill the vacancy created by the death of municipal court judge Amanario Ramon in June. Pecos City Manager Joseph Torres said final approval will come following a full background check and a drug test for Rivera, who served as municipal court judge in Fort Stockton from 1983 to 2001.

Torres said for the past five years Rivera has been a case manager at the Reeves County Detention Center and an outreach coordinator for Sul Ross State University, which is also where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Rivera was one of six candidates interviewed by the city council, during a closed-door session on Tuesday. Torres said the other candidates for the position were John Jay, Wanda Hise, Jesse Ramirez, David Flores and Diane Tercero.

The vote to advertise for bids on the new animal shelter came prior to the interviews of the municipal court judge candidates. Pecos Mayor Dick Alligood said the council originally budgeted $50,000 last year for the project, and wanted to get the bids in before the 2008-09 budget is completed, in order to decide how much additional funding will be needed.

City Public Works Director Edgardo Madrid and his staff designed the new facility, based on one already in operation in Andrews. In June, Madrid told the council that changes required by state officials had raised the estimated cost of the new shelter to $260,000.

Problems with conditions at the city’s existing animal shelter on Walthall Street led to the decision to build the new facility near the Pecos Criminal Justice Center on the southwest side of town. Sanitary problems and the inability to quarantine animals at the shelter were among the problems cited by state officials. Alligood said with the rabies problem in the Reeves County area, it has forced officials to euthanize non-inoculated animals brought to the shelter and have their heads send off for rabies testing.

“We cannot have any animal adopted and moved out of Reeves County until the rabies situation is brought under control,” Alligood told the council.

Councilman Danny Rodriguez asked if the shelter would be located alongside the CJC. Police Chief Clay McKinney said the facility would be located on city-owned land about 200 feet behind the CJC. “It’s just dirt, and the land around us is cement, so we would have to break it up for plumbing,” he said.

Alligood added the location would also allow animal sewage waste from each pen to be isolated. He said state officials said each pen has to have its own waste disposal area, unlike the current Walthall Street shelter.

McKinney also told Rodriguez there was no problem on the location with the U.S. Marshal’s Service, which houses its prisoners at the CJC under a contract with the city. And he told councilman Cody West that the location would not interfere with any future CJC expansion.

“It would be to the north, and it won’t hinder any expansion of the CJC,” McKinney said. “We would expand to the west.” Tuesday’s meeting was the first of two special meetings for the council this week. The second was set for 5:30 p.m. on Thursday at City Hall, with the only item to go over the long-delayed audit report for the 2006-07 fiscal year.

Torres said auditor Tracy Tartar was supposed to be at Thursday’s meeting. Tatar has cancelled on several scheduled meetings over the past five months due to health problems suffered by his brother, who he works with in their Fort Worth accounting firm. Torres added that even if Tartar again misses the meeting, “We already have the final draft. Me and John (Phillip, city finance director) have gone over it and are making plans on the calendar for the budget workshops.”

Torres said the delivery of the audit report will allow the city to provide complete records to other agencies the city deals with, including those providing loans and grants that require updated financial records.

Hollands plan retirement party at museum

A retirement party will be held from 9:30 a.m. until noon, Saturday, Aug. 9, at the West of the Pecos Museum Courtyard in honor of Walter and Judy Holland.

The Hollands have been educators in the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD for many years and friends are welcome to come and wish them well on Saturday.

Walter Holland was the art teacher at Pecos High School, while his wife, Judy taught business classes.

Hill celebrates fifth birthday with party

Laci Brooke Hill celebrated her fifth birthday on Aug. 2, with a “Hello Kitty” party.

She is the daughter of Karen and Craig Hill.

Guests were served lemonade, cake and ice cream.

She is the granddaughter of Norman and Dorothy Hill and the late Arlene Hill of Pecos and Keith and Carollee Waters of Amarillo.

Attending the party were a number of uncles, aunts, cousins and friends.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321

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