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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, May 30, 2008

Police seeking help with leads in murder case

Pecos police are continuing their investigation into the May 7 stabbing deaths of the owners of a west side bar, and Pecos Valley Crimestoppers is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons involved in this case.

On Wednesday, May 7, 2008, at approximately 4:17 p.m., officers were dispatched to DJ’s Roundup Bar, located at 1826 West Third Street in Pecos, where they found the bodies of A.J. and Rick Cherry inside.

Witnesses indicate that the victim of this crime were alive at approximately 10:30 p.m. the night before. Rick Cherry’s vehicle was also stolen during this crime, a 1995 Ford F-350 pickup, bearing Texas license plate number 8DFV60.

The vehicle was found abandoned on May 11 near Socorro, N.M.

Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney said on Wednesday his department had no new leads into the case, but is continuing their investigation.

“We have not gotten the final autopsy results yet, but the preliminary autopsy shows both victims died from multiple stab wounds,” McKinney said.

Randall Lee Stephens was identified as a “person of interest” on May 8 by police. On Wednesday, McKinney said the department still was classifying Stephens as a “person of interest” rather than a suspect.

The department does have a warrant out for Stephens’ arrest, on an unrelated charge of failure to register as a sex offender in Pecos.

If you have any information about this crime or the driver of the stolen pickup, please call Crime Stoppers at 445-9898 or leave a Secure Web-Tip at HYPERLINK ""

As always you will remain anonymous and Crime Stoppers will pay a $1,000 cash reward if it leads to the arrest and indictment of the person(s) involved in this crime. There is no caller I.D. on this line.

County weighs options to spur home construction

Housing in the community, a subject that has been discussed in the past by many organizations, was the topic for Reeves County Commissioners, during their Tuesday meeting.

The group met Tuesday morning, due to Monday’s Memorial Day holiday, and again in the afternoon, for an executive session to discuss the housing problem.

“We haven’t developed a plan yet, but looked at several options that the county can take,” said Reeves County Judge Sam Contreras.

He said that developers have expressed an interest in building houses or apartments in the Pecos area, but that some have not followed through and broke ground.

“They express the interest, but yet they don’t come back and finish the project or even break ground,” said Contreras.

He said that the county was weighing three options, which were discussed in executive session, but no action was taken during the open session of the meeting.

“We can do nothing and let the developers follow through and actually build something; we can form a public/private partnership or we can form a housing corporation on our timeline and work on more projects in the future,” Contreras said.

He said that he liked the third idea of forming a housing corporation, but that it was an issue that was going to be discussed further by the county.

“We have 150 vacancies at the prison right now and there are other employees out there that are in need of housing,” said Contreras. “We’re just waiting for developers to do something.”

He said that he had talked to the Pecos Economic Development Corp. and that they had said that they had some interested individuals who wanted to come to Pecos and build something. PEDC officials last week sought a section of land along Stafford Boulevard from the city council, where a developer is reportedly looking to build at least100 new apartments.

“But saying that is one thing and actually doing something about it is another,” said Contreras.

Contreras said that GEO Group, managers of the RCDC, had discussed the possibility of a trailer park in Pecos.

“They had talked about having a trailer park for temporary housing until the apartments get built,” said Contreras.

Town of Pecos City officials said GEO also has been in talks with officials in Monahans, about locating mobile homes there for RCDC workers to live in.

During the morning session of the regular meeting, the group approved Tony Trujillo Landscaping for the golf course expansion in the amount of $7,805. The city is looking to put in seven new holes on 111 acres south of the current 14-hole facility, after three holes on the north side near Interstate 20 were sold off for private development.

In other action, commissioners agreed to allow the Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 secretary to become a full-time employee.

“I should have listened to Linda (Clark), when she told me at the beginning to ask for her to be full-time,” said JP 3 Rosendo Carrasco. “We’re really snowed under and have a lot of work.”

He said that there are additional Department of Public Safety troopers in that area and sheriff’s deputies creating more work for his office.

“We’re glad they are out there, but we have a lot of work in our office and I really need for her to be full-time,” said Carrasco.

Money-wise, Carrasco said that they are doing really well. “We’ve brought in about $55,000 so far,” he said.

The group approved the full-time position for Joanna Dutchover at $19,000 per year.

Commissioners approved the sale of property located on Third Street.

The bid was submitted by Juan Valenzuela of Kermit in the amount of $1,200, for the old Lone Star Motel.

Total value of the property was set at $19,020.

Inmate transportation crew mileage payment in the amount of $5,506 was also approved.

Hospital receives three bids for proposed medical clinic

The Reeves County Hospital board of directors received three bids Tuesday on parcels of land located next to the hospital as the site for a 20,000 square foot medical clinic. But the board won’t make a decision on the winning bid until late June.

Board members opened bids for the facility during their regular monthly meeting, and received two bids on land just to the west of the hospital and one for land located across Stafford Boulevard, on the north side of the facility.

“We just opened the bids. We didn’t do anything,” said hospital CEO Al LaRochelle. “There was some material where a couple of them needed to give us more information.”

The clinic will be to house both doctors and dentists the hospital is currently in the process of recruiting to come to Pecos. The bids are from one local resident and two groups of out-of-town residents, though one of those two comes from two former Pecos residents.

Two of the bidders, HKA Corporation and Dimension Enterprises, were already known going into Tuesday’s session, while the third bid came from S&J Properties, owned by former Pecos residents Frank X. Spencer and Greg Johns, both of whom now live in El Paso.

HKA Corporation, owned by Leo Hung, made a bid to construct the facility on land located just to the west of the hospital’s emergency room entrance, on the south side of Stafford Boulevard. Hung, who is a longtime member of the hospital board, was awarded an option to buy the land last month by the Town of Pecos City for possible construction of the facility.

Hung is also in the process of developing a motel, restaurant and sports bar facility on Interstate 20 near the Reeves County Golf Course.

Dimension Enterprises, LLC put in a bid to build the clinic on part of the 27.4 acres of land the company is developing south of the hospital. California pediatrician and company president Dr. Rahat Saied is working with California businessman Ram Kunwar, who was awarded a bid by the city two years ago to develop the site. He paired with Dr. Saied last year to create Dimension.

Ground was broken on the property on Dec. 31, the final day Kunwar had to start work on the project under the terms of the original deal with the city. Since then, the city has reworked the contract to allow Dimension to separate out financing of the clinic site from other land on the property.

S&J Properties owns a section of land across from the hospital, running from Stafford to Veterans Boulevard. Johns is the former owner of Pecos Nursing Home, who sold the facility to Hung a decade ago, while Spencer still has an office in Pecos, and has been involved with the engineering work on a number of buildings and infrastructure projects in Pecos over the past 30 years.

LaRochelle said he would spend the next few weeks going over the bids and deciding on what key points the board should focus on before making a decision.

“We’re going to go ahead and tear them apart and see which bid is the best,” he said, adding that all three groups will get a chance to address the board directly during their late June meeting.

“Each one of them will get a 30-minute presentation at the next board meeting,” LaRochelle said.

He added that Hung has signed a full disclosure affidavit on his proposal, due to his connection as a member of the hospital board.

LaRochelle said other items at the meeting included accepting the 2008 preliminary valuations from the Reeves County Tax Appraisal District, which showed an increase in valuations of over $100 million, and granting staff privileges to several out-of-town physicians for emergency room duty, due to the shortage of local doctors.

Four new physicians are scheduled to begin practice in Pecos over the next several months, and LaRochelle said the hospital is continuing their efforts to attract more doctors to the area.

PHS students collect food, dump tardies

A large amount of canned goods was collected by students at Pecos High School, several of whom had the chance to clear up some of their tardies, during a fundraiser sponsored by the Campus Crimestoppers.

“The food drive was held from May 8 through May 21,” said Brian Carrasco, PHS Student Council president. He said that the students could have one tardy removed, by bringing in five cans.

“We wanted to do this, to end the year on a good note,” said Carrasco, who added that they had a lot of help from the community.

“This fundraiser was great because we not only helped the students, but we helped the community, by donating much needed food for the Pecos Food Bank,” said Carrasco.

Parental aides Rosie Carrasco and Beverly Hathorn were a big help to the group, according to Carrasco.

“My mom is also the adult sponsor for the group,” said Carrasco.

“This was a good way to give back to the community, it’s been such a great year and I hope that next year will be that way as well for the new group coming in,” he said.

Carrasco said that he hopes the new group of Campus Crimestoppers is jut as successful or more than they were this year.

“We solve a lot of crimes, here at the school and the community and paid out some cash,” said Carrasco. “Just this month, three crimes were solved through our program.”

A total of 680 cans were collected within those 10 days and the last fundraiser they had was “Hats Off” and students were to wear their cap/hat all day.

“I want to thank everyone who helped make this year a great one and I hope the new group gets good responses as well,” said Carrasco.

Pecos, Balmorhea seniors set to graduate on Friday

Graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2008 will be held on Friday night for both Pecos High School and Balmorhea High School, with the PHS graduation scheduled for broadcast for the first time this year.

PHS officials had not released the names of the 2008 valedictorian and salutatorian by early Thursday afternoon, with ceremonies scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Friday in the Pecos High School new gym.

This year’s event is scheduled to be broadcast for the first time, according to Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Superintendent Manny Espino.

“We talked to a crew, that said that we can have a big screen and have images up high on two different walls,” Espino told Pecos Chamber of Commerce members earlier this month. For people not able to attend the ceremony, they can watch the ceremony over Suddenlink Cable Ch. 11.

In Balmorhea, a student who was named by the Pecos Chamber of Commerce as Student of the Year for 2007-2008 will be the Valedictorian for Balmorhea High School.

Russell Garlick will deliver the valedictory speech for the Class of 2008 during graduation ceremonies, scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday at the Balmorhea High School auditorium. Garlick has achieved many accomplishments during his high school career and been in involved in numerous extra-curricular activities.

He has been on the National Honor Society for the past four years; high school rodeo state qualifier, three years; was captain of football and basketball team his senior year; received the “Fighting Heart” Award as a freshman; All-District line backer junior year and All-District center; All-District Guard sophomore, junior and senior year; received “Academic” All-State football” junior and senior year; area qualifier track; area qualifier UIL Science, Physics and Number Sense; regional qualifier in UIL Math two years; UIL Science Team; has maintained a 3.58 GPA; homecoming king 2007; class president for four years, just to name a few.

Daniel Jimenez Estrada, III will be the salutatorian for that class.

He is the son of Daniel and Norma Estrada and has two siblings, Diego and Dora Estrada.

Estrada participated in football for four years; basketball, three years; track, two years and powerlifting, three years.

He was a member of FFA for four years; the Spanish Club, four years and UIL, four years.

“After finishing high school, I plan to attend Texas Tech University and obtain a degree in an electrical field, either as an engineer or technician,” said Estrada.

Balmorhea ISD offers summer meals

The Balmorhea ISD announces the sponsorship of the Summer Food Service Program.

Meals will be provided at Balmorhea ISD, school cafeteria, at First and El Paso streets in Balmorhea.

This program will run from June 2 through July 3. Meals will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and will be available to all children ages one to 18.

In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.

Salcido, Mata announce plans for June wedding

Ernest and Mary Lou Salcido of Pecos wish to announce the approaching marriage of their daughter, Rozzana M. Salcido to Ernesto Isaiah Mata, son of Connie Contreras and the late Ernesto C. Mata, grandson of Ruben and Carmen Mata, all of Stockton, CA.

Rev. Pablo Matta, cousin of the bride, will be officiating the ceremony at 2 p.m., June 7, at Santa Rosa de Lima Catholic Church.

Rozzana is a legal secretary for Roddy Harrison and also night clerk for Odessa College. Ernesto is a correctional officer for RCDC III.

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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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