Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Status of arena awaiting study from engineer
By BRENDEN BRIGGS
No progress has been reported as of yet on repairing the deteriorating south side stands at Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena ahead of July’s West of the Pecos Rodeo.
Damages to the wooden supports from time and possible termite infestation was reported by Fire Marshall Jack Brookshire on May 7, after a routine inspection of the stands at the facility, some of which was built over 60 years ago.
Brookshire came up short of actually condemning the stands, but said in an interview last week that they “needed some work before the rodeo. Some of the supports have rotted so much that they are no longer in contact with the ground.”
As of last week, Brookshire said that he is recommending that an engineer evaluate the stands.
According to Rodeo Committee President Clay McKinney, Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo is working on finding an engineer to evaluate the condition of the stands and to give recommendations on the necessary steps to ensuring a safe place for rodeo-goers to sit.
“We met with Judge Galindo last week, and we hope to have an engineer located soon with his help,” McKinney said. “Hopefully we are going to hold a meeting in the near future to decide upon a course of action.”
The south side stands hold about one third of the total seating for the arena, and about half of the box seats. McKinney said in an interview last week that the closure of the stands would be “disastrous” to the rodeo.
The stands will be shut down this weekend, when an AJRA rodeo is held at the arena. But the turnout of fans for that event can be accommodated in the larger north stands of the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena.
The termite problem was brought to the public’s attention during the County Commissioners’ meeting of May 10, when County Treasurer Linda Clark asked the court whether they had heard the rodeo stands had been condemned during Brookshire’s most recent inspection. Galindo said that he hadn’t, but would look into the matter as soon as possible.
The ownership of the arena has changed over the years, and most recently from the city to the county about 15 years ago, when the city was going through budget problems and Reeves County had funds in their budget to take over maintenance of the facility, along with baseball and softball fields in Maxey Park.
Enterprise changing back to weekly publication
After 34 years of daily publication the Pecos Enterprise will move to a once-a-week publication schedule beginning next month.
“We will publish our last daily edition on May 28th,” Publisher Smokey Briggs said. “We will publish our first edition as a weekly on June 3rd.”
Briggs said the decision was financial.
“In the end, we are a business. We have to make payroll and pay our bills just like the hardware store and the grocery store. The decision to move to a weekly format is simply a matter of adjusting our business to fit the current economy of Pecos,” he said.
Briggs said that for the past decade the Enterprise enjoyed the dubious distinction of being the smallest daily newspaper in Texas.
Like most weekly newspapers the Enterprise will print Wednesday evening and will carry a Thursday dateline. However, current plans are to allow subscribers to access major local news stories during the week through the Enterprise’s website. Those stories will then be available in the weekly paper.
Briggs said that he anticipated most editions would be available in news racks, stores, and from street sellers Wednesday evenings.
Delivery to subscribers will move from home delivery to mail.
“The Post Office does a really good job in this area and subscribers will receive their paper with Thursday’s mail,” he said.
Current subscribers will have their subscription prorated.
“We will be mailing a letter to each of our subscribers with complete details,” he said.
If there is a bright side to the announcement it is in how the paper will continue to serve Pecos.
“In some ways we will be better able to do our job as a newspaper once we convert to the once-a-week cycle,” Briggs said. “We have been putting out a daily paper with a staff smaller than many weekly newspaper staffs. As a weekly I think we will be able to devote more attention to local news coverage and spend more time on individual articles.”
Briggs said he plans to retain the core circulation, editorial and advertising staff, but that some layoffs would be necessary.
The Enterprise was converted from a semi-weekly to a daily in 1970 under new owner, Phil Buckner of Seattle WA.
The Enterprise claims the title as the oldest business institution in Reeves County, having descended from the merged Pecos Valley News and Pecos Times, both established in 1887.
Daily publication began for the first time in 1911 when the Pecos Daily Times sought to give the news to Pecos ahead of the dailies from other towns, attracting subscribers from all 48 states. However, it has been a weekly or semi-weekly publication most of its 117 years.
Barney Hubbs held ownership for 30 years. He operated the paper briefly as a daily, before selling to Dr. Harlow Avery and Dr. John Paul Dunn in 1960.
“We have a one hundred seventeen-year-old tradition of putting out a first-rate newspaper here at the Enterprise. Daily or weekly, that will not change,” Briggs said.
City’s April tax rebate check shows slight rise
By JON FULBRIGHT
Sales tax rebates for the Town of Pecos City were up slightly in February, based on rebate checks sent out last week by Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn’s office.
April’s tax rebate checks, based on sales made during February, showed Pecos got $73,070 back, based on the city’s 1 1/2-cent share of the state’s 8 1/4 percent sales tax. Of that total, one sixth, or $12,178, goes to fund the Pecos Economic Development Corp.
The April check was up 3.52 percent from last year, when Pecos got $70,578 back from the comptroller’s office. For the first four months of 2004, the city has gotten back $162,220 in rebates, which is almost unchanged from a year ago, when Pecos received $161,289 in sales tax rebates during the four-month period.
Balmorhea also showed an increase for the month, while Toyah’s check for April dropped from a year ago. Balmorhea received $1,312, which was up 18.7 percent, from $1,105. As with Pecos, Balmorhea’s four-month total for 2004 is almost unchanged from a year ago. The city has gotten $4,172 so far this year and had received $4,183 during the same period in 2003.
Toyah’s check for $239 was down 23.47 percent from the $313 it received in 2003. However, for the year, Toyah remains up 12.42 percent, going from $1,610 last year to $1,811 this year.
The Reeves County Hospital District, which received an unusually low rebate check for $8,198 a year ago, had a more normal total of $28,322 this month. That put the four month total for the hospital’s 1/2-cent sales tax at $139,242, which is up 3.84 percent from last year’s $139,090.
Most area cities showed increases in their rebate checks for the month, and the state has a whole saw an increase of 9 1/2 percent in checks sent out by Strayhorn’s office in April.
Midland had the area’s largest check, for $2.16 million, an increase of 7.4 percent; Odessa’s rebate for April of $1.46 million was up 7.5 percent; Andrews’ check for $93,264 was up 25.1 percent; Alpine received $80,843 back, up 17.5 percent; Crane’s check for $35,002 was up 27.1 percent; Big Spring got $404,246 in their April rebate check, an increase of 8.6 percent; Fort Stockton’s check for $131,810 was up 8.12 percent; Marfa received $18,643, up 16.9 percent; Presidio got back $29,091, an increase of 5.82 percent; Monahans received $91, 841, a 3.1 percent rise; and Kermit got a check for $29,054, which was up 12 3/4 percent.
Among cities seeing lower checks in April was Van Horn, whose $28,823 check was down three-quarters of a percent; and Wink, which got back $4,120, a 47.2 percent decline from last April.
Statewide, Strayhorn sent out $287.9 million in tax rebate checks to cities and counties in April. Houston again had the single largest check, for $35.2 million, a 17.2 percent rise from a year ago, while Dallas had the second-largest check, for $20.2 million, which was 3.6 percent above last April’s total.
Balmorhea grad dies during Marine training
By ROSIE FLORES
Family members of a soldier who collapsed and died while training for the U.S. Marines in California have questions about the cause of his death and the lack of information provided by military officials to family members.
Jerry Ray Mendoza of Balmorhea died last Thursday at Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, after collapsing while training at the Twenty-Nine Palms Marine Base in the California desert northeast of Palm Springs. Mendoza had begun serving in the Marines in January of this year. He graduated from boot camp on Friday, April 2, came home for 10 days and returned to California for Infantry Training.
“He called me last Tuesday night and told me he wasn’t feeling well, and I told him he needed to go see a doctor,” said Mendoza’s mother, Sylvia Mendoza of Balmorhea. “He said his throat hurt.”
Mendoza said that she then received another call at about 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, informing her that her son was sick and asked if they could fly to California to see him.
“They didn’t tell me what was wrong with him, but asked me if we had any money for plane tickets,” said Mendoza.
Mendoza informed the officer that they didn’t have that kind of money on hand. “He called me back later and told me that they had our plane tickets and for us to just go,” said Mendoza.
Mendoza and her husband boarded a plane to California and were met there by a couple of Marine officers.
Mendoza said that at this time, she didn’t know her son was so sick.
“I even asked if they had told my son that we were coming and they said ‘no,’ and I told my husband, ‘won’t he be happy to see us, it’ll be a big surprise,’” said Mendoza.
Mendoza said that at this point, she didn’t realize how serious the situation was and was very excited and happy about the opportunity to see her son.
“They told us he had a tube down his throat, was in stable, critical condition,” she said. “But they never said it was really serious or how bad it was.”
Mendoza said that she never expected to see him on life-support, and then received even worse news.
“We went to the waiting room and the doctor explained what was happening. He told us, our son was brain dead, that they had administered that test and that he was just on life support,” she said.
Mendoza said that several stories have emerged about her son’s collapse. “First they told me had gone on a three-mile hike and that he had collapsed out there, then they said that he was in his room and came out into the hall and collapsed,” said Mendoza. “He was having trouble breathing.”
Mendoza said that that is the reason the family is asking for an investigation and an autopsy. “If he was sick, why did they make him go running, or why did he go running?” she asked. “I don’t know if that’s a requirement or what.”
After Jerry Mendoza collapsed, he was flown to Balboa Naval Hospital, about 150 miles to the southwest of the Twenty-Nine Palms base, where he died last Thursday, May 13.
A tearful Mendoza said that they have not really received any answers to their questions.
“They said he had just collapsed and stopped breathing,” said Mendoza. “On the way over there, they told me he had a tube down his throat, but I didn’t expect to find him like that. I expected to find him still alive and happy to see us,” said Mendoza.
“He had been here visiting us and it hadn’t been long that he had returned,” she said.
Mendoza was a 2002 graduate of Balmorhea High School where he excelled in sports, including football, basketball and cross-country. He also participated in the History Fair and BPA, a team that made it all the way to state competition.
He is the son of Sylvia and Manuel Mendoza of Balmorhea and has two sisters, Marlynn Lujan and Melanie Morales and two brothers, Manuel Lee and Bryan Alonzo Mendoza.
Funeral services for the serviceman are pending with Martinez Funeral Home and will be held in his hometown of Balmorhea.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321
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Copyright 2003 by Pecos Enterprise