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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, March 28, 2008

School working to keep pool from taking dive

Structural repairs will be made to the building housing the Pecos High School swimming pool, after school officials noticed a crack in the southwest corner was getting bigger earlier this month.

The problem involves supporting dirt that apparently has been displaced under the corner of the building closest to the parking area on Iowa Street due to leaking water. The missing dirt threatened to undermine the support for the pool, which was completed in 1983.

“We’ve already contacted Monte (Hunter, architect with Hunter Corral of Midland) and he is on top of it,” said Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Superintendent Manny Espino.

Espino said that the week before Spring Break they had brought in a structural engineer to look at the pool and see what needed to be done.

“We found two holes, we don’t where they came from and got there,” he said.

Espino said that they want to figure out where the water is going to; where did the dirt go. He it didn’t come up to the surface and that they have to reinforce that wall.

“The southwest corner is sinking,” he added.

Espino said that there was a crack in that area that they could see for years, and little by little it got worse.

“What really got to us, is that on the outside we can see where the crack is getting wider,” said Espino. “From the bottom to the top, it’s just getting worse.”

Espino said that both the architect and the structural engineer are on top of the situation and plan to correct it soon.

“We’re going to get in touch with Monte and see what our next step will be, but it will be taken care of,” said Espino.

Cops eye drive-by arrests, seek leads in new incident

Pecos Police are asking for the community’s help in solving another drive-by shooting that occurred on St. Patrick’s Day on the east side of town, while hoping to make arrests soon in another drive-by shooting nine days earlier.

The first drive-by shooting was reported on March 8, in the 11 block of South Ash and police have stated that they are close to making an arrest in that case. Now, Pecos Valley Crime Stoppers and the Pecos Police Department need the communities help in solving the second drive-by shooting incident.

It occurred at 9:18 p.m., Monday, March 17, in the 500 block of Almond Street. Officers were dispatched to that location after receiving a call about multiple gunshots fired into the residence.

“Please help make our community safer by putting these criminals behind bars,” said Pecos Police Officer Mike Balog.

Police Chief Clay McKinney said no one was hurt in the March 17 shooting, but that there were no suspects in the incident.

In the March 8 incident, a gun believed to have been used in the shooting was recovered in Ward County five days after the incident.

“We are still confirming some witness statements, and we have some more interviews to do on that one,” McKinney said. “Depending on how those interviews progress, we decide whether we have probable cause to obtain a warrant for the arrest of the suspect. But we feel very confidant we have all the people involved identified.”

If anyone has any information about the March 17 drive by shooting or any other crimes, call Crime Stoppers at 445-9898 or leave a Secure Web-Tip on the website at HYPERLINK ""

As always, individuals with any information will remain anonymous and the tips provided could be worth a cash reward.

There is no caller I.D. on this line and the officers thank everyone for their help in keeping our town safe.

Oglesby seeks help in helping local seniors

Ombudsman is a big word that might not mean much to most people. But to 3,000 residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, the ombudsman may make all the difference Cindy Oglesby, managing ombudsman for the Area Agency on Aging, said that volunteers in the 17 counties she serves advocate for residents’ rights as well as bring sunshine into their lives.

“They provide a listening ear to people that are sometimes lonely,” Oglesby said. “Sometimes residents feel forgotten because their families don’t or can’t visit. Sometimes people have lost all their family.”

Oglesby is a licensed mediator, who can help families and staff work out differences when, for example, the families feel their loved one is not getting quality care.

“I am called in by one side or the other to help mediate a situation to make it better,” she said.

She has 23 nursing homes and 16 assisted-living facilities in the Permian Basin Regional Planning Commission area, with one or more volunteers in most of them. However, she is short of volunteers in Pecos, and is asking for help.

Volunteers are trained to work with residents in a number of ways.

“If someone didn’t want to eat breakfast when it was served and wants their eggs hot, a volunteer can take it to the microwave for them, Oglesby said. “Dehydration is a problem, so I encourage my volunteers to urge them to drink water.”

If a facility is short of nurses, the volunteer may fill in the gaps with basic services, she said, although they do “absolutely no nursing,” and don’t feed the residents.

Oglesby stressed that ombudsmen are not investigators or regulators. “We are just there to help,” she said. “I have a Christmas program called ‘Silver Bells.’ Every year we provide gifts for the needy residents.

“We provide robes, gowns, socks and also purchase fun items for the activities department,” she said.

Bread machines and foot spas have been on the shopping list, along with Karaoke machines.

“We do that to help the activity directors provide stimulating and fun activities,” she said.

Some residents hesitate to take part in group activities, but may participate with encouragement, she said. “It would improve the quality of life.”

Oglesby said she provides quality training for certified volunteers. They learn about dementia, depression, aphasia (inability to speak after a stroke or other incident).

“You may have an alert person lying in a bed who is mentally sound, but unable to speak their wishes,” she said. “My concern is pain assessment. How can they communicate they are in pain? Or they may be lonely or bored.”

One way Oglesby has helped a young woman unable to speak is to provide a communication board through the “Silver Bells’ program.

“Now she is able to at least point to the board to express her needs, her feelings and wishes,” Oglesby said. “The staff and family are thrilled with it. Her life is enriched by this device.” The national nursing shortage has left gaps in care that sometimes make residents feel displaced, she said. “It breaks up their routine and it is somewhat traumatic to the older residents.” Certified ombudsmen are able to listen to their complaints or concerns, and if they are of a serious nature, forward them to Oglesby.

“We are in a disposable society,” Oglesby said. “We used to have appliance repairmen who would repair a TV or can opener. Now people just toss those and buy a new one. We equate that with our elderly people. Sometimes the residents feel that stigma and feel a void. They do sometimes feel forgotten, betrayed and lonely.”

Sometimes those feelings manifest themselves in anger or behavior problems, which causes a whole other set of issues for the staff to deal with, she said.

Volunteers can take some of the load off the staff, by visiting residents once a week for an hour or two or for 15 minutes several times a week; pouring tea or offering snacks.

“Every one of my 23 volunteers gets more out of it than they feel the residents do,” Oglesby said.

Anyone who would like to volunteer may contact Oglesby at 800-491-4636 to learn details of the training and program. For training in Midland, mileage is reimbursed at the state rate. Oglesby can also come to Pecos to provide classroom training, videos and on-site training.

“I would appreciate very much any help that anyone can give to the program,” she said.

RCH doc situation, finances improved, board told

Reeves County Hospital’s physician situation and its finances have improved over the past year, board members were told by hospital administrator Al LaRochelle during their monthly meeting on Tuesday. But the hospital is still looking to improve the financial situation of its dialysis center and final additional space for the Rural Health Clinic in the upcoming two years.

LaRochelle discussed those plans during an update of the management goals report drawn up a year ago. He said the report was a list of items to be done over a two-year period, and said several of the key things to be done have been accomplished since January of 2007.

“Physician recruitment already has been done, though we’re still looking for one more family practitioner with OB certification,” he said. The hospital has recruited four new doctors to begin practice in Pecos this summer and fall.

“We still need help in the physical therapy area. We need four physical therapists right now,” LaRochelle said. “There’s a big need and we can handle that plus more.”

LaRochelle said the current in-house efforts at the Rural Health Clinic are complete. “Basically we’ve fit all the people we can fit in there at this time,” he said, adding that the hospital is still looking to built a 15,000 square foot building to house the clinic, along with dental offices, that would be located next to the current facility.

“We don’t want to get land-locked,” he said of the current site. LaRochelle said the hospital is both in talks with neighboring landowners about construction of a facility, and is looking at acquiring nearby property for any future expansion plans.

He said financially, the hospital is stilling looked to improve its collection rates and update its computerized bookkeeping and billing system, but that losses were less in 2007 than they had been in 2006, and that the hospital turned a profit during the first two months of 2008.

Other items the hospital is looking at include improving the financial situation at the hospital’s dialysis center, and updating its mammography and bone scanning and CT scanning facilities, along with possibly acquiring an MRI unit in the future.

“Fort Stockton has just put one in place,” LaRochelle said. “This is not only to keep up with the Jones, but it’s better than a CT scanner is some places.”

He added that the hospital would have to come up with a plan for financing the unit, which would cost an estimated $1.2 million.

In other action following the 75-minute executive session, the board agreed to a contract with Dr. Steven Serrano, a family practice and OB physician who will begin his practice in Pecos August 1. They also voted to maintain the current contract with Dr. Ziad A. Abdo and to instruct LaRochelle to continue negotiations on a new contract with Dr. Don S. Apodaca.

Serrano is the one of four physicians to sign contracts recently with Reeves County Hospital. Dr. William Tordzro, another family practice with OB certification, will begin his practice July 14. Dr. Sam Kim and Dr. Sayeeda Bilkis both internal medicine physicians, are scheduled to begin work at the hospital in July and October respectively.

Baord members on Tuesday also agreed to create and seek a candidate for the position of Practice Manager for the hospital’s Rural Health Clinic.

Also on Tuesday, the board heard from Town of Pecos City Mayor Dick Alligood and new Pecos Economic Development Corp. president Robert Tobias on creating a joint committee of local taxing entities to oversee resale of properties currently owing back taxes. Reeves County and the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD also have been approached about finding the best way to clean up abandoned properties and reselling them to get the properties back on the tax rolls.

“It’s costly to get them torn down, and it’s costly to get them disposed of,” Alligood said of the buildings city crews have demolished over the past few years. He also noted that even if back taxes on the properties are in five-figures, if the taxing entities agree to sales for prices as low as $250, that’s the amount the property will be valued on the tax rolls the following year. Tobias discussed turning supervision of certain properties on commercial sites over to the PEDC before any resales are approved, while hospital board and PEDC board member Leo Hung noted the taxing entities had to balance their efforts to resell property at favorable terms with the financial situations of existing local businesses.

“It’s always tough, especially for the PEDC, to retain businesses and help the other guy,” Hung said.

The board also approved a new one-year contract with John Edmonson, CRNA for professional services a move RCH chief financial officer Frank Seals said was more for Medicare bookkeeping purposes, since Edmonson was signed to a three-year contract in 2006.

“It gives us a pass-through payment,” said Seals, which would result in a higher payment than one based on a three-year deal.

California woman, teenage boy identified as I-10 crash victims

A 32-year-old woman and a 14-year-old boy have been identified as the victims of a one-vehicle rollover that occurred early Monday morning on Interstate 10 in southern Reeves County. Anna Bertha Rodriguez de Elias, 32, of Wilmington, Calif., and Julio Del Rio, 14, of Lynwood, Calif., were killed in the accident. Both were passengers in a 2002 Cadillac SUV, which rolled over at 7:34 a.m. on I-10 near the 194-mile marker, between Balmorhea and the I-20 junction.

Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Roy Lyttle, who investigated the accident, identified the driver as Pablo Elias, 28, of Wilmington, Calif. “The driver stated that he fell asleep and the vehicle drifted into the median and rolled over, and during the rollover two persons were killed,” he said.

Rodriguez del Elias and Del Rio were pronounced dead at the scene by Reeves County Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Rosendo Carrasco. Their bodies were taken to Memorial Funeral Home in Fort Stockton.

Elias was transported by Pecos EMS directly to Pecos Municipal Airport, where an air ambulance from Southwest Life Flight transported the victim to Medical Center Hospital in Odessa with critical head injuries. The other injured person, identified as Jose Madrid Lopez, 13, of Wilmington, Calif., was taken by Balmorhea EMS to Reeves County Hospital and was transferred to Odessa Monday afternoon. He was listed in stable condition with contusions and lacerations.

EMS crews from both Pecos and Balmorhea were called to the site, where two persons were pronounced dead at the scene. Balmorhea Fire Department crews along with Reeves County sheriff’s deputies and Texas Department of Transportation crews were also called to the scene to help out in directing traffic around the accident site.

Lyttle added that all four persons were wearing seat belts at the time of the accident.

Band Boosters annual auction set for Saturday

Pecos Eagle Band Boosters are working on the final preparations for the 29th Annual Pecos Eagle Band Booster Auction, scheduled for this Saturday at the Pecos High School band hall.

Band booster president, Monica Hinojos, said that the auction would start at 9 a.m. and continue until 9 p.m.

Donations of different merchandise has already been donated and is ready to be sold during the 12-hour sale.

The goal for this year is to raise $10,000, with the funds going towards trips and other necessities for the band.

The auction will be televised on Channel 11 – the Eagle Channel, and a number of local people will serve as auctioneers.

Telephone numbers to call on Saturday to place a bid are: 447-7438 and 447-7439.

Brisket plates will also be sold from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., at the Pecos High School Cafeteria, for $5 a plate and there will be a bake sale going on as well.

Everyone is invited to tune-in and bid on the items on Saturday to help support the Pecos Eagles.

Gomez’ announce birth of son

Roman and Nettie (Rodriguez) Gomez, announce the birth of their son, Noah Roman Gomez.

He was born Jan. 24, at Covenant Lakeside in Lubbock and weighed seven pounds and was 20 inches long at birth.

His parents are both Pecos High School graduates and both graduated from Texas A&M.

They currently reside in Seminole.

Paternal grandparents are Daniel and Rosa Gomez.

Maternal grandparents are Danny and Lisa Rodriguez and maternal great-grandmother is Eva P. Rodriguez and the late Juan E. Rodriguez, all are from Pecos.

New county extension agent seeking input

Learning about Reeves County and learning about the changes to the Texas Agriculture Extension Service have kept Logan Lair busy, in his first two weeks as the county’s new extension agent.

Lair began work last week as the County Extension Agent-Agriculture and Natural Resources for the Texas Agri-Life Extension, the new name for the Texas A&M Extension Service, which has served the state’s 254 counties since 1915.

This is Lair’s first job with the extension service, but he’s been in the area for a while, having graduated from Sul Ross State University.

“I lived in South Texas for a while, but I’ve lived in Alpine for a good long time,” he said. “As far as my ag background, I’ve worked with a lot of ranchers in the Big Bend and work for a vet’s clinic, and I also shod horses for a while.”

“I heard about it through the extension website, and applied for it,” said Lair of the position, which had been open for over six months, since the resignation of Tommy Dominguez as Reeves County Extension Agent.

“I had to go to the county commissioners and get their approval before I was hired by the state,” he said. He started on the job on March 17, and has moved to Pecos, while his wife Shayann is commuting daily to Fort Stockton, where she works for the Farm Service Agency office

He said he was attending a course on Monday with the extension service, which changed its name to Agri-Life Extension last year.

“We use to be the Texas Co-operative Extension Service, but that’s been changed, and I spent all day learning how we’re marketing the new brand,” Lair said. “Our new slogan is ‘Improving Lives. Improving Texas’ and that’s our goal, and in Reeves County that’s my goal.”

He said part of the change involves having every extension agent identify five goals in their area. Locally, that includes working to improve both the county’s agriculture industry and the water quality situation in the area, but Lair said the work also involves improving local education programs and working on economic development for Reeves County.

“I want to work with community developers in Pecos. That includes economic development and the Pecos Main Street organization, because the Extension is not just agriculture stuff. So I’m planning on contributing there and working on some projects, and I’m planning on seminars for the ag producers.”

“There’s lots of stuff to do here, so it’s hard to narrow everything down,” Lair said. Among his early plans is to organize new county committees and an Extension Service Task Force. “Since I’m so new here, they’ll help me understand the needs we have for the county,” he said.

“What this county is really lacking is a good 4-H program, and I intend on bringing it back,” he said. “We’ve got great facilities and a great bunch of kids, but we’ve got no leadership, and I’m planning on changing that.

“We’ve also got an extremely diverse group of agriculture producers. We don’t just do cantaloupes,” Lair said. “The total number of crops produced is down, not just because of the natural gas prices, but for other reasons and one of the big things is the salinity in the water.”

He said cotton, sorghum, some corn and some pecan orchards are among the other crops grown in the county.

“One of the things the producers have to adapt to out here is the salinity in the water,” Lair said. He mentioned the recent Pecos River Watershed study, which goes over the problems and possible solutions to the salinity problem but said, “Any permanent answer is going to have to come from fixing the (salt) problem in New Mexico.”

Lair said anyone wishing to contact him could call the Extension Service office at the Reeves County Annex (447-9041) or on his cell at (432) 448-2681

Police Report

EDITOR’S NOTE: Information contained in the Police Report is obtained from reports filed by the Pecos Police Department, Reeves County Sheriff’s Office, or other officers of those agencies.The serving of warrants by an officer for outstanding fines of either traffic citations, animal control violations or other court costs are considered arrests and will be printed as such unless indicated that the fines were paid. In such instances we will indicate payment and release.


Jamie Rocha, 26, of Alice, was arrested by police on March 23 on a charge of possession of a controlled substance (cocaine), a state jail felony. Police said the arrest took place at 1:40 a.m. after Rocha had been arrested earlier on a charge of public intoxication in the 1300 block of East Third Street. Police said the cocaine was discovered in his vehicle while it was being towed from the parking lot, and the additional charge against Rocha was filed at the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Angela Morales, 19, and Adam Morales, 20, both of 607 S. Mulberry St., were arrested by police on March 18 on charges of simple assault under the Family Violence Act, a Class C misdemeanor. Police said they were called to the 600 block of South Mulberry at 4:36 p.m. in connection with a disturbance, and both subjects were then arrested and transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Delfino Lujan, 56, 311 S. Mulberry St., was arrested by police on March 17 and charged with public intoxication. Police said the arrest took place in the 100 block of East 11th Street, and Lujan was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Maribel Salgado, 33, 623 S. Walnut St., was arrested by police on March 17 on a warrant for motion to revoke probation on an early charge of theft by check out of the Reeves County Sheriff’s Department. Police said the arrest was made at 11:26 a.m. in the 600 block of South Walnut Street, and Salgado was then transported to the Reeves County Jail.


Arturo Hernandez Rayos, 35, 1605 Cowan St., was arrested by police on March 17 on a charge of public intoxication. Police said the arrest occurred at 10:11 p.m. at 1512 S. Plum St., and Rayos was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Phillip Christopher Vance, 28, 1004 E. 10th St., Apt. A, was arrested by police on March 17 on charges of assault causing bodily injury under the Family Violence Act, and resisting arrest, both Class A misdemeanors. Police said the arrest was made following an incident at Vance’s apartment, and he was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Police arrested a 15-year-old male juvenile and a 12-year-old female juvenile on March 18 on charges of evading arrest or detention. Police said both were arrested at 10:20 a.m. while on the campus of Bessie Haynes Elementary, 800 E. 11th St. and were taken first to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center and then to the Reeves County Juvenile Detention Center.


Robert Halpain, 23, 1517 Cowan St., was arrested by police on March 20 on a warrant for theft by appropriation. Police said the arrest was made at 4:17 p.m. at Halpain’s home, and he was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Larry Dominguez, 41, 720 S. Pecan St., was arrested by police on March 20 on a charge of assault, and on a warrant for non-payment of child support out of the Reeves County Sheriff’s Department. Police said the arrest was made at Dominguez’s home, and he was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Joe Rodriguez, 29, of Odessa, and Toney Rodriguez, 28, 221 N. Cedar St., were arrested by police on March 20 on charges of possession of marijuana, following a traffic stop at Elm and ‘F’ streets. Police said Joe Rodriguez was also cited for driving while intoxicated following the stop, at 6:20 p.m. while Toney Rodriguez was also charged on a warrant out of Reeves County for non-payment of child support. Both were then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Jimmy Lee Martinez, 18, 1512 Morris St., was arrested by police on March 21 on a charge of criminal mischief. Police said the arrest was made after they were called to 1606 S. Eddy St., at 5:02 a.m. in reference to a male subject damaging property in the back yard. Martinez was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Ruben A. Mendoza, 37, 2401 Madera Rd., was arrested by police on March 18 on a warrant for aggravated sexual assault, a first-degree felony. Police said the arrest was made at 7:44 p.m. at La Tienda Thirftway, 810 S. Eddy St., and Mendoza was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Martin Vasquez, 24, of Austin, and Jimmy Ray Vasquez, 23, of 1614 Johnson St., were arrested by police on March 21 on charges of assault under the Family Violence Act., a Class C misdemeanor. Police said the arrests were made at 9:32 p.m., after they were called to 1614 Johnson St. in response to a disturbance. Both Vasquezes were then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Rene A. Rivera, 36, of Texarkana, Ark., was arrested by police on March 23 on a charge of public intoxication, a Class C misdemeanor. Police said the arrest was made at 1:17 a.m. at Cash’s Sports Bar, 1330 E. Third St., and Rivera was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Jose Luis Bustamantes, 52, was arrested by police on March 23 on a charge of evading arrest or detention, a Class B misdemeanor. Police said the arrest was made at 2:08 p.m. at Bustamantes’ home, and he was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.

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

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