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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Pecos man facing 15 years after carjacking guilty plea

A Pecos resident faces up to 15 years in prison following an incident that occurred last year in Midland.

United States Attorney Johnny Sutton announced on Friday that 26-year-old Jimmy James Moutour of Pecos had pled guilty to carjacking. The trial took place in U.S. District Court Midland. As a result, Montour, who remains in federal custody, faces up to 15 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine. No sentencing date has been scheduled.

According to court documents, on Dec. 27, 2007, Montour, together with a juvenile accomplice who is being prosecuted by the Midland County District Attorney’s Office, approached the victim in the driveway of his residence on South County road in Midland.

Montour admittedly threatened the man with a weapon and forced the man to give them a ride to a remote location in Midland County.

During the trip, both Montour and the juvenile held a knife to the man’s neck and threatened to kill him if he did not comply with their instructions. Eventually, Montour and his accomplice ordered the victim out of the car and then drove off.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation West Texas Area Major Offenders Task Force and the Midland County Sheriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Glenn Roque Jackson.

Also last week, the leader of a cocaine trafficking organization was sentenced in federal court in Midland.

Rodolfo Olivas Hernandez, the leader of a cocaine trafficking organization, was sentenced to 270 months in federal prison after pleading guilty in January to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, according to United States Attorney Johnny Sutton.

In addition to the prison term, United States District Judge Robert Junell ordered that Hernandez be placed under supervised release for a period of five years after completing his prison term.

Other members of his organization received the following federal prison sentences for their roles in the drug trafficking operation: Guadalupe Alvarado Galindo (Hernandez’ lieutenant), 228 months; Jaime Carrasco, 70 months; Roberto Carrasco, 63 months; Larry McGill, 63 months; Victor Rocha, 57 months; Oraol Hernandez, 51 months; and Shalim Zubiate, 41 months. Each pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.

From May 2005 until November 2007, the defendants imported at least 66 kilograms of cocaine from Mexico into the United States and then distributed the cocaine to drug dealers in the West Texas area. On Nov. 2, 2007, authorities arrested the defendants after confiscating a large shipment of cocaine at Olivas’ house in Ector County Southwest of Odessa.

The convictions are the result of an Organized Crime Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Ector County Sheriff’s Office, Midland County Sheriff’s Office, Odessa Police Department, Department of Homeland Security, United States Marshals Service and Drug Enforcement Administration also participated in the investigation. Roque-Jackson prosecuted this case on behalf of the Government.

Police, Crimestoppers offering rewards for tips on burglaries

Pecos Police are seeking information into two building burglaries that were reported last week, in which items were stolen from two local businesses

Pecos Valley Crime Stoppers is also offering rewards in connection with both burglaries, the first of which was reported on March 31 at Needleworks at Second and Cedar streets.

Officers were dispatched to the store at 120 S. Cedar St. that morning, after the break-in was discovered. About $5,000 in items were reportedly stolen, including assorted jewelry (rings bracelets and necklaces), Brighton belts, assorted clothing, Simple brand women’s shoes, Brighton brand watches, Stone Mountain, Sak, and Brighton purses, a cash register, and an amount of cash.

Police are asking anyone who has any information on who took the items or who is approached by someone selling these particular items to contact the police department.

The second burglary occurred on April 1, at approximately 8:32 am officers were dispatched to Tommy’s Place, 1102 E. Third St. Items taken from Tommy’s Place were a 15” television, a DVD player, a five disc changer, a black phone, and five one dozen packages of tortillas.

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

If anyone has information about these burglaries or items taken or any other crimes please call Crime Stoppers at 445-9898 or leave a Secure Web-Tip on our website

As always the informant will remain anonymous and the tips could be worth up to a $1,000.00 cash reward. There is no caller I.D. on this line.

“Thank you for your help!,” said Balog.

School board approves hike in project cost

Contract proposals for construction at some of the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD schools were approved Thursday night, after board members were told by both the architect and the construction manager that rising costs had put the projects over budget.

The board discussed the projects as part of a special meeting held in the P-B-T Technology Center.

“Several Texas school districts, counties and municipalities have experienced escalating construction costs,” said architect Monte Hunter with Hunter Corral Associates.

“Primary causes are a state –wide construction boom, regional oil boom, federal projects, and international material shortage,” he said.

Hunter updated the group on the project and told them that costs have been escalating and that the projects were all over budget.

“You still have some contingency built in,” said Hunter.

The group had rejected some proposals because of the high costs.

Voters approved a bond in the amount of $30 million last May to update the school campuses and school officials and board members have been discussing the projects for several months.

Board members were told that the cost estimates for the two main projects, including expansion of Crockett Middle School and Bessie Haynes Elementary, are projected to come in about 20 percent over the original $10 million cost estimate.

Hunter said that West Texas school districts/colleges that have experienced construction costs in excess of bond budgets are Abilene, Andrews, Kermit, Midland, Midland College and Odessa.

Hunter presented the board with an estimate for construction at the Bessie Haynes and Crockett Middle School campuses, the CATE building and the concession stands.

In addition, he listed some items as alternates that could be excluded at this time.

The basic scope for Bessie Haynes and Crockett was estimated at $11.3 million, with final costs projected in the $12 million range. The sum of original bond allotment and scope items not included in the bond totaled, $10 million.

The basic scope for the CATE addition and concession buildings was estimated at $995,000, while the amount designated in the bond was$474,000.

Mid-Texas contractor Alan White was on hand to discuss the several options with the board, along with Hunter.

“These all came in what Alan and I thought they would, but you’re not alone in this,” said Hunter.

White told the group that they had sent out from 300-350 for bids and received 60-70 responses.

“This was pretty consistent with what we are seeing in this area,” said White. “You’re seeing some real budget issues out there, but budget wise and reality-wise this is really good,” he said.

Hunter also provided the board with some options that they could take. Those included rejecting all proposals and redesign the project; modify current proposals package or approve current package.

“After bidding this thing out twice, I really think we need to make a decision and move forward,” said P-B-T ISD Superintendent Manny Espino.

He told the board that the district had made some money on the interest on the sale of the $30 million in bonds, and that they still had money in the fund balance that could be used for the projects. “There are some things here we can take out,” said Espino.

“The fund balance is about $14 million and were’ going to be giving it back to the state and you will wish you would have spent it,” said finance director Cookie Canon.

After a discussion the board agreed to approve the construction costs in the amount of $11.3 million, which included $904,000 of improvements not in the bond.

The board also added three alternates. They will be to replace Bessie Haynes interior lights; HVAC control system for both campuses and replace Crockett Middle School interior lights.

In the only other item discussed during the special meeting, the board approved the purchase of 100 additional “Study Buddy” units.

Director of Special Programs Juanita Davila, told the board that the district currently had 10 Study Buddy hand held units, but that they wanted to purchase 100 more.

Davila said that they were going to divide the units between five campuses and each campus would get 20.

“It focuses on reading and math and they will use it for the students who have not met the requirements,” said Davila.

Davila said that they units were being used to focus on the TAKS reading and math.

The special education department is going to bar code the units, so that they don’t get lost and there is accountability for these.

“The teachers will need to report on the progress made,” said Davila.

Davila told the group that they are always searching for ways to capture the students’ attention.

“These look like DS games that the kids like to play and this will draw interest,” said Davila.

Davila said that the total cost for the Study Buddy Units is $36,995 and that they had the money in the budget for them.

Primary voting limited locally to RRC runoff

A total of 49 individuals voted at the Reeves County Courthouse lobby for Tuesday’s Democratic primary runoff election.

There are no local races on the ballot. The only election voters will help decide is the nomination for Texas Railroad Commission, where Mark Thompson, a Central Texas therapist for blind children will face retired petroleum engineer Dale Henry in the runoff, with the winner going on to face Republican Michael Williams, who chairs the commission, in the November general election.

A total of 60 individuals cast their vote by mail. “We sent out 165 ballots by mail and we haven’t received all of them back yet,” said Reeves County Clerk Dianne Florez.

Several voting boxes in the county have been consolidated due to the low turnout expected for Tuesday’s election.

Locally, voters can cast their ballots: for boxes 1,7 and 8, at the community center located on Oak Street; boxes 2,3,10,11 and 12, cast their ballots at the Reeves County Civic Center; boxes 5&6 at the community center and box 4 at the Senior Citizen’s Center.

All local races in last month’s Democratic primary election were either uncontested or had only two candidates, and as a result there were no runoff elections needed on April 8.

Incumbents Roy Alvarado and Saul Herrera won re-nomination for new terms as Reeves County Commissioner, while 143rd District Attorney Randy Reynolds and Reeves County Democratic Party Chairman Bobby Dean also won two-man races for new terms in the March 11 primary.

County gets $350,000 Madera Valley grant

Reeves County was officially presented with a $350,000 grant on Monday for improvements to the Madera Valley Water Supply Corporation’s system in the Pecos area, during a brief ceremony at Reeves County Courthouse.

Maureen Mahoney and Valerie Thompson with the Office of Rural Community Affairs made the presentation to County Judge Sam Contreras and commissioners Gabe Martinez, Saul Herrera and Ramiro Guerra. “The grant is part of the Community Development Block Grant,” said Mahoney, ORCA’s regional coordinator.

Madera Valley Water Supply provides water to about 1,100 customers in the central and southern sections of Reeves County. The ORCA grant is to be put towards modernization of Madera Valley’s facilities in the area around FM 1216 and River Road, just to the northeast of Pecos.

The $350,000 is to go towards construction of two booster pump stations, a 42,000 gallon and a 10,000 gallon ground storage tank, 1,000 gallon and 250-gallon pressure tanks, two miles of water line, along with fence and valves for the project.

The project is designed to address water pressure problems suffered by Madera Valley customers on the north side of Pecos. The total cost of the project is $367,500, with the remaining funds coming from a 5 percent in-kind payment from by the company.

Credit by Exam deadline on Friday

Credit by Examination (without prior instruction), sign up deadline will be this Friday, April 11, in the counselor’s office at the Pecos High School. Students can sign up with Pat Cobos or Eva Arriola.

Test dates are May 5, 7 and 8, at 3:36 p.m., at the Pecos High School. Credit by Examination for acceleration allows students enrolled in grades 9 through 12 to be awarded credit toward high school graduation for acceleration.

Students who wish to obtain credit for any class that counts toward graduation may apply to take the examination for acceleration. The student may not have been previously enrolled in the class. Application may be obtained from the student’s guidance counselor.

Credit is granted to student’s who attain 90 percent or above mastery on the examination for acceleration. The test will only be administered once in the fall and spring semesters. A copy of the testing schedule and application deadlines may be obtained in the counseling office.

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