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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, February 1, 2008

Three persons jailed by police after cocaine found in houses

Pecos Police officers report that two narcotics search warrants executed in January resulted in the arrest of three individuals on drug possession charges.

The first narcotics search warrant was executed at 5:52 p.m., Friday, Jan. 11, at 1613 S. Missouri St.

Once the residence was secured, the officers proceeded to search the premises, where they detained 17-year-old Jose Chavez. During the search of Chavez’s bedroom, officers located a substance believed to be cocaine, according to the police report.

“Officer’s also found inside of Chavez’s bedroom digital scales, which are commonly used with the weighing of narcotics,” said Pecos Police Investigator Paul Deishler.

He added that officers also found over $3,000 in U.S. currency inside his bedroom.

“It is believed that the currency found inside of Chavez’s bedroom was derived from the sale of cocaine and the currency was seized,” said Deishler.

Officers completed their search of the residence and Chavez was placed under arrest for possession of a controlled substance within 1,000 of a school (Crockett Middle School) and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Officers were again busy again on Friday, Jan. 25, at 1111 W. Second St. Officers executed a narcotics search warrant at that home at 9:46 a.m.

Officer’s located a substance believed to be cocaine inside the bedroom, according to the police report.

“During the search of the restroom, officers located a substance believed to be cocaine and materials used with the packaging of cocaine,” said Deishler. “Officers also located inside the (defendants) vehicle a substance believed to be cocaine.”

Officers completed their search of the property and Eloisa Gonzales Baeza, 39, and Sergio B. Baeza, 27, were arrested for possession of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of school property (school bus barn) and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The Baezas were then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center and released to the jail staff for booking.

Kelton to be featured speaker at Chamber’s annual banquet

A Crane native, renowned Western writer, whose novels have won the Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, will be the guest speaker at the Annual Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce Banquet.

Elmer Kelton, one of the best known and widely read authors of western fiction will be the guest speaker for the annual event scheduled for Friday evening at the Reeves County Civic Center.

Tickets are still available at the chamber of commerce office for $20. Awards will be handed out throughout the evening and the meal will include Rib-eye steak, shrimp scampi, vegetables, cheesecake and tea, catered by Old Mill.

The West of the Pecos Museum will also have Kelton for a book signing from 10 a.m. until noon, Saturday, Feb. 16.

Kelton has over 40 novels to his credit along with a myriad of accolades from a variety of publishers, newspapers, organizations as well as other authors.

The Good Old Boys, was the basis of a Tommy Lee Jones made for TV (TNT) movie in 1995 and four other novels have won the Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. The Western Writers of America have also bestowed the Spur Award to seven of Kelton’s works.

Kelton is not a stranger to west Texas. A native of Crane, and growing up on the McElroy Ranch there and, after graduating from the University of Texas, spending 15 years as a farm and ranch writer-editor for the San Angelo Standard-Times.

Terra Peters will be entertaining at the banquet. A self-taught musician, she writes many of her own songs and shares stories of growing up on the family ranch outside of Marathon. In the summer of 2006, she played Annie Oakley in “Annie Get Your Gun” in Alpine. She is currently attending Sul Ross State University majoring in Equine Science.

Her genuine love for horses, family and nature is evident in the lyrics she writes and the passion by which she sings.

Mother, son work side-by-side in lumber business

Cecil James Lee is the third generation to operate Lee Lumber Company, which his grandfather opened 62 years ago this month. He partners with his mother, Sue Lee, who relieves him of paperwork duties he despises and helps wait on customers.

Her son has the business acumen she lacks, ordering the stock and selling it, Sue said. He also provides the service to customers that “is a chore for me in this culture. They don’t want a woman to wait on them.”

Cecil speaks fluent Spanish, picking it up from his father and grandfather, and reading newspapers his grandfather brought home from his monthly trips to El Paso, where he had another lumberyard.

Sue’s husband, the late Cecil Jim Lee, bought the lumberyard from his father, Cecil James Lee, (known as C.J.) as they worked as a team through the years.

Cecil’s children, Katie and Michael, have worked at the store, but both have higher ambitions. Katie is studying animal husbandry in preparation for a degree in veterinary medicine. Michael’s interest is wildlife. Both attend Angelo State University.

With a degree in animal science from Texas Tech University, Cecil also had higher ambitions, but got his fill of big city life while living in Killeen and working for a Simmental ranch. He said his house was broken into and robbed about every six months.

“They would take everything that plugged in,” he said. “Even a cheap $5 clock.” Rapes, robberies and murders were daily occurrences.

Pecos has a low crime rate in comparison, and is a good place to raise children, he said. Especially when you live in the country.

It was an easy decision to accept his grandfather’s offer of the same salary he was making in Killeen, plus the family ranch to live on.

Cecil lives on the Pecos River north of Barstow, where he and the children swim, float in the river and raise purebred cattle. They raised hay until 1991, when river water for irrigation became hard to get.

Although he’s never regretted coming home, it’s been tough keeping a lumberyard open in Pecos, where people routinely drive to Odessa or Midland for supplies, Cecil said. “If more people would buy in Pecos, we could get everything they buy in Odessa,” he said.

For a while he had trouble getting lumber delivered in quantities less than a truckload per item, but now has a supplier who will deliver a mix of sizes.

His grandfather had the same problem when he opened the yard, because everything was rationed, due to World War II, Cecil said.

“The salesmen would come in big trucks and would let you have what they wanted you to have,” he said.

C.J., a Barstow native, did have the advantage of knowing the salesmen, because he was in charge of supplies for both the Pecos and Pyote air bases.

Sue Buckalew was born in New Mexico, but moved to Barstow when she was 2 1/2 years old. Her father had a large pear orchard, raised cotton and certified Alfalfa seed. She remembers hoeing weeds out of the hay fields and picking cotton. Her older sister drove a team and plowed.

“Daddy was real progressive,” Sue said. “He bought tractors and all the stuff to farm with. He also drilled wells on the canal banks so he could still have water when the river was down.”

They operated a dairy and raised mules.

Cecil and Sue like to help people, and their motto could well be, “Service is what we sell.”

RCDC payments, rec job OKed by commissioners

Lease payments for the different Reeves County Detention Center facilities were approved by Reeves County Commissioners, who also approved new hire for the Reeves County Community Sports and Recreation Department and held a discussion on a county employee during executive session during their regular meeting on Monday.

The actions were taken during the afternoon portion of Monday’s meeting. Commissinoers approved the 2001 lease payment for RCDC I&II, in the amount of $495,000; the 2001 maintenance reserve payment for RCDC I&II, I the amount of $29,166 and the 2005 lease payment for RCDC I&II, in the amount of $218,283.

Commissioners also met behind closed doors to discuss an employee’s complaint that they had been fired without cause by Reeves County Treasurer Linda Clark. The item was also discussed in open session at the request of the employer.

The group discussed the duties and complaints against the county personnel officer during the executive session, but took no action on the complaint filed against the personnel director by the former employee.

“As an elected official, I can hire and fire anyone, with cause,” said Clark, who was also at Monday’s meeting.

“They listened to her complaints, but took no action,” said Clark.

“We did listen to her complaints and as far as the termination was concerned we took no action,” said Reeves County Judge Sam Contreras. “She also had some complaints about her pay and that we will take a look at, she said she didn’t get paid correctly. It’s not a commissioners agenda item, but something we can take a look at.”

Currently, Clark and her department, the County Treasurer’s Office is in charge of all personnel. In the past those duties had been assigned to the judge’s secretary.

“At this time, the duties will remain the same, with Ms. Clark in charge of that,” said Contreras. “The duties get assigned by the commissioners court. “

The group also approved the hiring of an individual at the Reeves County Community Sports and Recreation Department. Danny Rodriguez was hired as a coach, with an annual salary of $40,000.

In his letter to the court, Contreras the hiring of Rodriguez, a former coach and principal with the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD, was done in conjunction with the school district.

“This position was created with approval from school officials that this position would help our youth throughout the year,” Contreras said in his letter. “This person will be responsible for implementing new programs that will enhance the current programs. The program is being developed with the input from various school, county and city officials.” “We’ve been talking to the school, law enforcement and others about some of the issues with kids’ truancy and other problems,” said Contreras.

He said that one of the things that they had discussed was more activities for these students.

“We wanted to implement programs for the off-seasons, such as in football and softball,” said Contreras. “We came up with the idea of an individual to head this project, to help resolve some of these issues,” he said.

He said that the county stepped up to the plate to hire Rodriguez, who also serves on the Pecos City Council, to provide these services for the youngsters in the community.

Contreras said that for now the county would foot the bill for the coach at the recreation department.

“But it’s an interlocal agreement with the city and school,” said Contreras. “We just wanted to get something going as soon as possible.”

Contreras said that the Recreation Department advisory board would meet at 6 p.m., Monday, at the PBT-ISD Technology Center, to discuss how they’ll use Rodriguez in the new position.

“At that time, we’ll get input as to what needs to be done for these youngsters,” said Contreras.

Other personnel and salary changes include: at the Reeves County Detention Center I/II, promoted, Rene Guerra, to senior corrections spec. at $34,179 and Alicia Flores, personnel clerk at $36,025.

At RCDC III: Amanda Goodman, as food service specialist at $34,299; at the Reeves County Sheriff’s Department, Camilo Ybarra Evaro, jailer, at $31,179, from part-time to full time; Reeves County Sheriff’s Department, Jose Luis Lopez, Jr., jailer, full-time at $31,179; at the Reeves County Treasurer’s Office, Patricia Sparkman at $20,000 per year.

Deputation and oath for Oscar Machuca was also approved during the regular meeting. Machuca will be a deputy for the Reeves County Sheriff’s Department. He had previously been an officer with the Pecos Police Department.

Council approves city, hospital EMS service merger

The merger of the Pecos Ambulance Service and the Reeves County Hospital District’s ambulance service was approved Wednesday night by the Town of Pecos City Council, following a special meeting at City Hall.

Council members voted 3-1 to approve Option 2 out of four options presented, which will allow the new EMS service to hire up to 12 full-time workers over the next seven months, at which time the agreement will be reviewed when the city draws up its 2009 fiscal year budget.

Council members discussed allowing the 12 full-time members or going with Option 3, which would have limited the EMS to four full-time and eight part-time employees. Members eventually decided to allow for up to a dozen members, but told city officials and EMS Chief Dennis Thorp they would prefer if only six to eight full-time members were hired between now and September.

“That’s all I asked, that they don’t tie me down to a set number,” Thorp said on Thursday. “I couldn’t be more pleased.”

The other two options were to either keep the current EMS services as they are, or turn over the entire EMS service to the hospital district.

Thorp and City Manager Joseph Torres presented the contract to the board. Thorp said the city had to make a decision on the paid EMS service, because the volunteer operation would be down to only six people by the end of February.

“We’ve beat it up and worked it out, and Mr. Torres and I felt we could present it to you,” Thorp said of the contract, the ninth revision of the original agreement. Reeves County Hospital District board members approved the deal during their Jan. 22 meeting, and hospital CEO was in attendance at Wednesday’s special meeting.

“Mr. LaRochelle pointed out this project pretty much started off at this time last year,” Thorp said.

The main dispute dealt with figures on possible overtime pay to EMS members under a paid system, along with who would pick up the expenses if the combined city and hospital EMS fail to meet their target numbers.

“It’s kind of all being put on the city,” said councilwoman Angelica Valenzuela, who cast the only vote against the new contract. “We don’t want to be the bad guy, but for it to be fair, it has to be fair to all of us.”

The agreement calls for the hospital to continue its annual payment of $60,000, with an additional $10,000 commitment if deficits exceed projections. The new agreement also includes a $60,000 contribution by Reeves County, which Thorp said would allow the city to cut its base contribution down from $95,000 to $60,000.

The county’s contribution won’t cover the additional salary costs of the new paid EMS, but Thorp said, “By taking on the transfer service, we have a chance to get another $300,000.”

LaRochelle said the hospital had taken in about $188,000 last year through the transfer service. During a meeting last year, LaRochelle said staffing shortages with the hospital’s ambulance service had forced it to rely on air ambulance transfers for many patients who normally would be moved by ground transport to other regional hospitals.

Valenzuela said she thought the hospital and county should also be asked to pay for the EMS administrative costs. City manager said those costs would be incorporated into the city’s general fund, now that the EMS service would be an official department of the city government.

“I’d like to be on the other end, where I just put $60,000 in and that’s it,” Valenzuela said.

“It is possible (to add additional fees), but we would have it under the general fund balance,” Torres said.

“When I got on the ambulance service there were 30, because I was number 31, and that was in 1992,” Thorp told the council. He said of the remaining EMS workers, four would be willing to go full-time, and he said four others would be willing to come to Pecos to work on the EMS, at salaries ranging from $13.35 to $18 an hour based on training levels. The current volunteer EMS pays $4 an hour, or $96 for a 24-hour on-call period.

“We could easily be an eight-person (paid) staff if we have competitive wages,” Thorp said. However, he went on to tell the council a staff with only four paid members would create overtime cost concerns.

“With four people and eight volunteers the overtime would be astronomical, and even with six there will be some overtime,” Thorp said. When asked for exact numbers by Valenzuela, he said he did not have them, and that it would be hard to estimate overtime costs.

“These figures are not accurate,” she said. “We have to make a decision without numbers to see how much we’re saving.”

Thorp said the current short-staffing situation, which has forced remaining members into more overtime hours, also has contributed to some EMS workers leaving the group.

“These guys sitting with me here have an average of 180 hours on call (per month), in addition to full-time jobs. It’s too much,” he said.

“My worry is if we do commit to the hospital to do the transfer service and we run into problems where we cannot fill the (paid) positions for the transfer service,” Valenzuela said.

Thorp admitted there was no assurance the EMS would find enough full-time members, but said the number of emergency calls in the area and the higher salaries would allow the service to recruit younger EMS workers just out of college to move to Pecos.

“For the bigger cities, almost all the ads asking for paramedics ask for two years experience. You can’t get that right out of college,” he said.

Nobody with our certifications wants to come here and work for $4 an hour,” said Judy Foster, who is retiring from the EMS at the end of February. “You wouldn’t want to do it for $4 an hour. But we do it because we’re dedicated to our community.

Valenzuela also questioned why the hospital’s added deficit liability would remain capped at $10,000 when the city was taking on the hospital’s obligations. That brought a response from LaRochelle.

“I think there is a misconception here. We don’t lose money on the transport service,” he said. “We’re trying to be a team player so you can keep your 911 emergency service.”

He said the hospital has delayed purchase of a new ambulance since August while a deal to combine the two EMS services was worked out.

“This issue is way beyond politics. We need to take the lead for our community,” said councilman Frank Sanchez. “It’s either Option 2 or Option 3 as far as I’m concerned.”

“All four signed off on this,” said councilman Michael Benavides. “Mayor (Dick) Alligood signed off on it, Joseph signed off on it and (city finance director) John Phillip signed off on it.”

Valenzuela said she preferred Option 3, due in part to the estimated salary costs of $165,000, versus $382,000 for Option 2.

“I want to be cautious,” she said. “If before September you see there is a need, we can always come back and you can recruit members,” she said.

Thorp said Option 2 would lock the EMS into the four paid positions for the next several months. “If in three weeks I’ve figured out I can make it with four, we’re right back to square one, and I can’t fulfill the contract,” he said.

“If you can’t fulfill it, you shouldn’t have put it in the contract,” Valenzuela said.

“How many do you need to operate?” asked council member Danny Rodriguez. “We go on what we were presented. None of us were in the negotiations. We were handed the options, and we’re going on the options we were handed.”

“If I have six I could work it with part time,” Thorp said. “So six and six would be the bare minimum.”

He said the period between now and September could be used as a ramp-up period, to see how well the service works with 6-8 paid staff members.

Council members also voted 3-1 on the budget amendment for the new EMS arrangement. Valenzuela again cast the only vote against the plan, while Gerald Tellez, who served as mayor pro-tem in the absence of Alligood, did not vote on either motion.

“This is a career-breaker for me and Dennis, if we don’t show we’re managing the financials on the back site,” Torres said.

“Just make it work,” said Tellez. “Because if it doesn’t, we’ll see you again in eight months.”

UIL to release new district list for Texas HSs

Redistricting for Texas High Schools will be announced on Friday morning by the University Interscholastic League, with some possible changes for the Pecos Eagles and their current Class 3A districts, while only minor changes are expected for the Balmorhea Bears, and their Division II districts in six-man football and in basketball.

The UIL will release the district alignments for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years in Austin at 9 a.m. For the past two years, Class 3A teams in West Texas have mainly been split into four-team districts, with one of the few exceptions being for Pecos’ district in football.

Pecos Eagles’ head football coach and athletic director Chris Henson said he would be among the coaches and ADs at the Region 18 Service Center on Friday to pick up the alignment packets. District schedules and pre-district games will be set in the weeks following Friday’s announcement.

Pecos, Monahans and Fort Stockton have been paired with Fabens, Clint, Anthony and Tornillo in football for the past two years, due to the absence of a football program in Presidio. However, the UIL is expected to eliminate the four-team districts for the next two years, while Presidio, which is paired with Pecos in other UIL activities as part of District 2-3A, could drop back to Class 2A when the new alignments are announced.

Other changes could involve Andrews returning to Class 4A after dropping to 3A in 2006, while some of the smaller 4A schools in El Paso might also drop to Class 3A, if the UIL lifts the bottom number for Class 4A high schools to around the 1,000 mark. Andrews is currently paired with Greenwood, Lamesa and Snyder, all of whom have been in districts with Pecos in past years, while in El Paso, both Anthony and Tornillo were allowed by the UIL to move up from Class 2A to 3A in 2006, in order to cut down on travel costs.

In six-man, the Balmorhea Bears’ football district will likely remain unchanged. The Bears are currently paired with Dell City, Sierra Blanca, Sanderson and Marathon as members of District 1-A six-man. No Division I six-man schools in the area are expected to drop into Division II in Friday’s redistricting, but former district members Grandfalls and Imperial could be moved back into District 1-A, after being shifted east in 2006.


Candidates for 2008 Golden Girl sought

Golden Girl Applications will be accepted from Friday, Feb. 1 through Feb. 22 at the Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce, 111 S. Cedar Street.

Pecos High School junior girls who are interested are invited to pick up a packet.

The pageant has been scheduled for Friday, June 27, at the Pecos High School Auditorium.

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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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