Weekly Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
CCRC gets Toyah flood grant funds
By ROSIE FLORES
Appliances, food and cleaning supplies were just some of the items purchased for Toyah residents with funds from a mini-grant.
Reeves County Community Council was able to request $25,000 for the residents who lost many of these items during the recent flooding in the small community.
“This is a mini-grant, separate from other grants,” Community Council Program Director Velma Dominguez. “This is for emergency situations only, like the flood in Toyah.”
A break in the levee northwest of Toyah in the early morning hours of April 4 sent a wall of water from San Martine Draw racing through the north side of town. Over two dozen homes were damaged, some severely enough they had to be condemned due to water damage.
Dominguez said that through the CSBG grant, the council had the opportunity to purchase items like food, cleaning supplies, bedding items and appliances, such as refrigerators, stoves and heaters.
“We did that for them and in conjunction we also held a barbecue plate fundraiser,” said Dominguez.
Dominguez said that the fundraiser was held to help those individuals that did not qualify for the mini-grant.
“We had two things going on at the same time for those residents,” said Dominguez.
Dominguez said that about 29 people benefited from the mini-grant and the fundraiser.
“The community council assists people in the community who are need,” said
Dominguez. “There was funding available and luckily we were able to get it,” she said.
Dominguez said that the council still has a few items that they need to give out. “There are a couple of people that are out of town, while their homes are repaired and we need to give them their items,” she said.
Coke found on ground after downtown runaround
A suspect who tried to give police the runaround - literally - ended up in custody at the Criminal Justice Center on Friday morning on a charge of possession of cocaine.
Artemio Valeriano, 32, of 2415 Teague St., was arrested after leading police on a chase around the old Conoco gas station at Third and Cedar streets and then down an alley behind Taylor Flowers, in the 300 block of South Cedar.
Police chief Clay McKinney said officer Cosme Ortega originally stopped Valeriano at Third and Cedar at 8:09 a.m. on Friday for having a defective taillight. But after getting out of his Chevrolet pick-up, he broke loose from officers and led them on a chase around the building, across Third Street and down the alley, before falling near the Taylor Flowers parking lot.
Officers arrested Valeriano and then began a search of the area near where he fell, and found a small plastic packet believed to contain cocaine on the ground in some weeds next to the building. McKinney said the exact amount of cocaine was not given in the report filed by the department.
Valeriano was transported to the CJC, where he was charged wit possession of cocaine under 200 milligrams.
KWES airing Wednesday newscasts from Pecos
NewsWest 9 will broadcast live from downtown Pecos on Wednesday, part of the station’s visit to cities around West Texas this week.
KWES-TV’s 12th annual “Under West Texas Skies” road tour promises to be bigger than ever this year, according to promotions manager Kathy Swindler.
This year’s celebration is being slated as “Neighborhood Block Parties” with more events at each location and a free street dance at the end of the week.
Wednesday’s show will air from the West of the Pecos Museum. It’s the first time in two years the station has broadcast from Pecos, after technical difficulties prevented the telecast last year.
The entire news team and crew will arrive on location via All Aboard America Charter buses and will broadcast live for the 4:30, 5 and 6 p.m. shows.
Friday will include the 10 p.m. show as well from the street dance celebration in Alpine
“There is lots of fun planned at each location,” said Swindler.
NewsWest 9 broadcats from the Andrews County Courthouse grounds on Monday.
Tuesday’s show was broadcast from Big Spring, at the Heart of the City Park.
Following Wednesday’s stop in Pecos, KWES will air shows for the first time from the Davis Mountains to close out the week.
Thursday, the Ft. Davis Chamber of Commerce parking lot is the featured location, while n Friday, Alpine hosts the wrap-up of the 2004 tour at the Alpine Courthouse Gazebo.
Friday night includes a wrap-up celebration of West Texas with a free street dance featuring the very popular band “Checkpoint.”
“Railroad Blues” is hosting an after party to honor friends and neighbors around West Texas and the entire Permian Basin is invited.
Some of the events scheduled, include the popular “Ugly Dog Contest.” Residents are asked to bring their favorite mutt or mongrel on a leash to the location.
Ribbons are awarded with the grand prize winner receiving a gold cup full of doggy treats.
Orla Grocery’s owner gets 81st birthday surprise
By JON FULBRIGHT
Bessie Mitchell had a surprise waiting for her on Thursday, when she arrived to open up the Orla Grocery.
Local residents had decorated the front of the store, along with several other places in the small Reeves County community, to mark Mitchell’s 81st birthday.
“They were doing this when I got here,” said Mitchell, who for the past 27 years has run the Orla Grocery, currently both the only store and gas station along a 75-mile stretch of U.S. 285 between Pecos and Loving, N.M. “The people here have been real good to me.”
“I don’t feel much older, but I wouldn’t say I fell any younger,” Mitchell told one of her customers on Thursday. “I just make it one day at a time.”
“She’s a remarkable lady,” said Jeanette Scott, the Orla postmaster who helped plan the birthday surprise. The post office and several signs along U.S. 285 were also decorated to mark the occasion.
Orla Grocery is located at the intersection of U.S. 285 and FM 652 in Orla. The small store is adjacent to a now-closed café, and has an above-ground gas tank nearby, which is the only place to buy fuel between Pecos or Loving, or the equally barren stretch of FM 652, which runs 25 miles east towards Jal, N.M., through Loving County ranchland then west to U.S. 62-180 between Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains National Park. For drivers on that road, Orla Grocery is the only place for services for over 100 miles.
Mitchell said the building was home to a grocery even before she took over operations.
“I lease the building, but the store is mine,” Mitchell said. “In 1976, this old couple who owned this building, Paul and Jackie Oates, closed it. They died in 1977, and when they did that sold it to Bill and Linda Wilkinson.”
Mitchell then leased the building and reopened the grocery, which at the time was among several businesses serving travelers and locals along U.S. 285.
Oil and gas prices were up during the 1970s, and climbed even higher at the end of the decade. That was good for Orla, which is at the center of the oil and gas fields in northern Reeves County. But the decline in prices during the 1980s and 1990s took its toll on the small community and surrounding area.
Only a few businesses remain, though oilfield activity has picked up recently and Mitchell said her customer base is “mostly fellows who work out here in the oilfield.”
Still as far as retail businesses go, Mitchell’s store is all that’s left in Orla.
“It used to be we had more travelers - people who thought they had lots of money would come through and spend it, but mostly it’s the boys working out here,” she said. “They’re drilling a lot more right now. I don’t know how long it’s going to last, but they’re doing it right now.”
The oil business was what attracted Mitchell and her husband John to the Orla area in the first place. “He hauled water to the rigs, and I ran the store most of the time, and he filled in when I couldn’t,” she said.
Mitchell said she is originally from California and lived in several states before she and her husband moved to Orla. “We didn’t think we were going to stay, but we did,” she said.
The store itself has a limited number of items. “It’s mostly lunch supplies - beer, Cokes, candy and an occasional sandwich,” she said. “Not many people live out here anymore. When you go to town, you go to buy groceries, so now what I sell is mostly lunch supplies..”
Mitchell’s husband died in 1995, and while she has run the store on her own for the past nine years, as far as the future goes, she said, “Right now, I have no idea what I’m going to do. I don’t want to move. I’ve got two daughters, one in Wyoming and one in Paris, Texas, and they keep asking me what I’m going to do. I said ‘I don’t know, maybe you’ll have to pick it out for me.”
Jesusita Chavez, Oscar Lease, Martha Soto and Sadie Mildred Wallace
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321
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