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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, October 22, 2004

Gunman jailed after Wal-Mart robbery foiled

Staff Writer

An armed robber who went to great effort to break into the Pecos Wal-Mart early Thursday morning was arrested by Pecos police a few hours later, after leaving his motel room key card on the roof of the building.

Casey Daniel Martin of Midland was arrested by police after he was found asleep in a van outside the room he had checked into the previous night at the Quality Inn on South Cedar Street, just a few blocks from the Wal-Mart store.

Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney said Martin had apparently climbed to the roof of the building and got inside through one of the air-conditioning ducts. They made the discovery, and found the motel room key card after going to the store as the result of the alarm activation and a call from one of the Wal-Mart workers who was inside when the incident occurred.

The alarm occurred as Martin was fleeing the story, McKinney said.

“We received an alarm activation at 5:17 a.m. that a back door had been opened at Wal-Mart,” he said. Officers set up a perimeter around the store and called in the department’s SWAT team members to check inside the building. They discovered the rear door was open, but by then the suspect had fled the scene.

Employees who were busy doing stocking and inventory at the time the break-in occurred said they were confronted in the back area of the building by a man dressed in black and wearing a ski mask and brandishing a handgun.

“He approached one of them and tried to take the Wal-Mart employee with him,” McKinney said. “The employee refused to go with the armed gunman, and at one point tried to escape.

“When the Wal-Mart employee ran, that’s when the individual ran and activated the alarm to the outside door,” he added.

Once they were sure the suspect was not inside the store, police began to search the area, and found a spot behind the building where they say Martin was able to climb up to the roof.

“He got up on the roof and tried to get into three air-conditioning units,” he said. “On the third one he was successful and that’s how he got into the store.”

However, in his effort to get into the building, police said Martin left them the clue that enabled them to track him down before 8 a.m.

“We continued to search and found a backpack on the roof with a scanner with our police department frequency on it. There was also a rope in the backpack, and we found a hotel card key,” McKinney said. “The officers tracked the hotel card key to an individual out of Midland.”

Police said the man apparently had checked into the Quality Inn the night before. He was given a room on the southeast side of the motel.

“We approached the room and knocked on the door and got no answer. Then we approached the vehicle and found the suspect sleeping inside in a sheet,” McKinney said. Officers found Martin dressed in black when they removed the sheet, and also found a ski mask, a loaded pistol and a loaded rifle inside the vehicle.

Martin was taken by police to the Criminal Justice Center. “Officers interviewed the suspect at the police department. He asked for an attorney and the officers then ended the interview and booked the suspect into jail,” McKinney said.

The chief added that officers also conducted a search of the room, but at press time he did not know if any other evidence was uncovered during that search.

Joe Henderson, an area loss management representative for Wal-Mart out of Odessa, was in Pecos Thursday morning to investigate the incident for the company. He declined to comment on the incident, and Sharon Webber, a company spokesperson out of Bentonville, Ark. Also declined to speak about the robbery attempt.

“We’re just grateful no one was hurt, and we’re fully co-operating with the police,” she said.

McKinney said Martin had no past employment history with Wal-Mart, and did not know of any previous arrests or warrants against the suspect.

Monahans man guilty, Pecos man sentenced in pot seizure

Staff Writer

A Monahans man was found guilty on federal child pornography charges this week in U.S. District Court in Pecos, while a Pecos man was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert Junell in a drug case that happened in May of this year.

United States Attorney Johnny Sutton announced that a jury in Pecos, convicted 30-year-old Armando Orona, Jr., a former juvenile corrections officer with the West Texas State School in Pyote, on charges of receiving, possessing and distributing child pornography via the Internet.

As a result, Orona faces between 10 and 40 years in federal prison and a maximum $750,000 fine.

Testimony provided during the one-day trial revealed that on Dec. 18, 2003, this case began when agents with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement executed a search warrant on a residence in San Jose, Calif. From that search warrant, authorities learned that the defendant, using the screen names, “StiffyAlways” and “alwayshard69,” was sending child pornography to the San Jose residence via the Internet. Authorities later determined that the defendant had over 1,000 images and videos depicting child pornography on his home computer. In addition, between April 28, 2004 and July 1, 2004, he was responsible for distributing at least 500 computer images and videos depicting child pornography.

“Today’s conviction by an Alpine Jury reaffirms that we will not tolerate the exploitation of the most vulnerable members of our society, our children. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will aggressively prosecute those who engage in child pornography,” said U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton.

“This case exemplifies the length ICE special agents are willing to go to in order to remove these violators from our communities,” said Jeff Boyette, Resident Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Alpine. “It took ICE special agents working together with state and local officials in three states to arrest and convict Mr. Orona, ultimately removing him from his position of trust where he had daily contact with minors,” he said.

Judge Junell will sentence Orona, a resident of Monahans in January 2005. This case was investigated by the United States Immigration and Customs Service in Alpine, Midland and Fort Stockton together with the Ward County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney James J. Miller, Jr., is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

In the separate drug case, Judge Junell sentenced Edward Gonzales Esparza of Pecos to 37 months in federal prison and five years supervised release in a drug case that happened on May 24, 2004.

Two men from Presidio and Esparza, of Pecos were arrested when the pickup they were in was found to contain nearly 1 1/2 tons of marijuana.

Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol Agents of the Marfa Sector said three men were arrested near Balmorhea and 2,959 pounds of marijuana was seized in the incident, which began last Thursday south of Marfa.

According to a press release by the Border Patrol’s Marfa office, agents at the U.S. 67 checkpoint south of Marfa stopped a 1998 Ford F150 about 7:30 a.m. Thursday morning for a routine immigration inspection. During the inspection, Agents became suspicious of the US Citizen driver and the resident legal alien passenger, both of whom live in Presidio, but no narcotics were found in the vehicle.

When the two men left the checkpoint, agents followed them from Marfa north on Highway 17 toward Fort Davis where it met up with a 2003 Ford F250 pickup. The two vehicles continued through Fort Davis to Balmorhea traveling very close to each other and at a slow rate of speed.

Near Balmorhea, the two vehicles were stopped with the assistance of the Texas Department of Public Safety. A U.S. Citizen, from Pecos, was driving the truck carrying the marijuana. Border Patrol officials did not release the names of the three suspects. The marijuana was wrapped in 1,948 bundles and has a street value of $2,367,480. The three men, the drugs and the vehicles were all turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Matthies says Waha project shows need for local water district

Staff Writer

Reeves County may have gotten a $90 million natural gas underground storage project because it doesn’t have an underground water district. But an official with a neighboring district concerned about the project said the county could face the prospect of state takeover of its underground water rights in the near future if it doesn’t form a district to manage its water resources.

Enstor is seeking to build a 7.2 billion cubic foot high deliverability salt cavern gas storage site on two sections of land along FM 1450, on the Reeves-Pecos County line. The company originally announced the plan on May 3, saying at the time the site was chosen because it is only three miles away from the existing Waha natural gas trading point in West Texas.

“Enstor had a successful open season for Waha storage last fall, with market interests surpassing the capacity we were offering,” company president Matt Morrow said in the May announcement. “The Waha (salt dome) facility is strategically located near a major trading hub with excellent pipeline access.”

However, the Waha trading hub sits near Coyanosa, which is in Pecos County and the Upper Pecos Groundwater District. That district was set up two years ago in response to Senate Bill 1 in the 1997 Texas Legislature, which sought to tighten controls over water usage across the state.

The water district covers all of Pecos County, and came after talks involving Reeves County and neighboring counties about a multi-county underground water district fell apart.

By developing the salt dome in Reeves County, Enstor can store gas for long periods before sending it to the nearby Waha Trading Hub under favorable market conditions, and at the same time the dome’s use of water in construction doesn’t have to meet the requirements of an underground water district.

But officials with both Reeves County and the Town of Pecos City have been in talks with the Upper Pecos Groundwater District and officials with the Texas Railroad Commission because of their concerns over the use of underground aquifer water to create the 7.2 billion cubic foot storage area.

Zan Matthies, an independent consultant for the water district, said Enstor’s proposal calls for using 200 million barrels of water to carve out the salt dome over a six-year period between 2006 and 2012.

“Two-hundred million barrels equals one acre/foot of water over about 25,000 acres of land,” Matthies said. “That will be the approximate amount of water needed to wash out the salt water.”

Matthies said the concern is Enstor would use water from the Cenezoic Pecos Alluvium Aquifer, a shallow-level aquifer that is used by farmers in the Coyonosa area, as well as by the cities of Coyanosa and Imperial for drinking water.

“We’re hoping they’ll use an alternative source of water, which is the Capital Reef (Aquifer). It’s deeper and saltier, but would probably have to be transported,” Matthies said. “But it’s not going to hurt anybody’s fresh water. It would be a win-win situation for everybody, but it would be a lose-lose situation for everyone if they try and go forward with the Pecos Aquifer.”

Calls to Enstor officials this week were not returned, but Town of Pecos City water department supervisor Edgardo Madrid said the company’s alternative plans called for using water from Capitan Reef, which would require deeper wells and 13 miles of pipeline. The formation already has been used by Unocal to create a similar salt dome storage site in Winkler County near Kermit.

Madrid also said Pecos does not use the Pecos Alluvium Aquifer for drinking water, but the deeper Santa Rosa Aquifer. However, Matthies said, “The both run together,” and salt contamination of the Pecos Alluvium could affect Santa Rosa water and the Pecos water fields, which are located between 10 and 20 miles west of the project site.

“We feel like we haven’t gotten all of the hydrologists’ determination on what effect that amount of withdrawal will have on the (aquifer) water level,” Matthies said. He added that the Texas Water Development Board is doing a study of the situation, while Madrid said the city is having a private company do a hydrology study.

“We feel that this is a wonderful thing. We have no complaints about what they’re doing. It will be a big boost to the county’s tax base, but we can’t let them draw down the water to where it dries out.”

Matthies said areas such as Reeves County that don’t have underground water districts operate under local rules of capture, which means Enstor has the right to drill wells on its two sections of land in the eastern part of the county. He added that State Sen. Frank Madla is looking at trying to extend the deadline for creation of underground districts. Madla, a San Antonio Democrat, represents both Reeves and Pecos counties in the Texas Legislature.

Matthies said those areas that don’t form underground water district will see their underground water rights come under control of state officials in Austin. “You get into the matter of (local) taxes with a district, but the state is going to cost a lot more, though they might spread it out across the state,” he said.

But that could also mean officials in Austin could decide in the future to pump water out of Reeves County to areas deemed to need it more, since the underground water won’t be subject to local officials’ control.

“Every plant and animal on the world’s surface needs water to survive,” Matthies said. “It’s as precious a natural resource as we have.”

Early voting attracts over 350 in first days

Early voting is underway at the Reeves County Courthouse lobby for the Nov. 2 general election, and so far things are coming along smoothly.

Although there are no local races contested, and only one major race in the area, Reeves County Clerk Dianne Florez said over 250 people voted by personal appearance in the first three days of early voting.

“It’s going great, we’ve had a good turnout,” said Florez.

Florez said that early voting began Monday with 93 individuals casting ballots. On Tuesday there were 138 voters and Wednesday, 120.

Early voting will continue at the courthouse until Friday, Oct. 29. Polls at the courthouse are open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

On Nov. 2 all the area voting polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

“Deadline for applications to vote by mail is at 5 p.m., Oct. 26,” said Florez. “I’ll go check the box at that time and that will be the last day for applications by mail,” she said. Voters will be casting ballots in the presidential election between George W. Bush and John Kerry, while in the District 23 Congressional election, incumbent Henry Bonilla is being challenged for third time by Democrat Joe Sullivan.

For more information or for an application contact the clerk’s office at 445-5467. Commissioner Pct. #1 includes boxes 2 and 11; Pct. #2 includes boxes, 3,4 & 12; commissioner precinct #3 includes boxes 5,6&10 and commissioner precinct #4 includes boxes 1,7&8.

Polling Places include:

1. Community Center, 506 S. Oak, Pecos.

2. Odessa College, 1000 Eddy St., Pecos.

3. Pecos High School Gym, 1300 Iowa, Pecos.

4. Toyah City Hall, Toyah.

5. Balmohrea Fire Hall, 4th and San Antonio Streets, Balmorhea.

6. Saragosa Multi-Purpose Center, Saragosa.

7. Reeves County Library, 505 S. Park St. Pecos.

8. Lamar Elem. School, Rm. 1, Oak and F Streets, Pecos.

10. Reeves County Annex Building, council room, 700 Daggett Street, Pecos.

11. Sadler Haynes Center, 900 Locust Street, Pecos.

12. Texas New Mexico-Power, Reddy Room, 1126 Stafford Blvd. Pecos.

Gomez linking ex-foe’s mom to voter fraud

Staff Writer

A formal complaint of voter fraud has been filed against a local woman, who testified she has been assisting voters in Reeves County for a number of years, including an election this past March involving her son.

Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez filed the formal complaint against Anita Baeza, and forwarded it to the 143rd District Attorney’s Office.

“It was brought to my attention that during a deposition Mrs. Baeza admitted to voter fraud,” said Gomez, referring to a deposition in a case in which Mrs. Baeza is suing Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo. In the deposition, Baeza admitted that she would assist voters in their homes.

“It’s illegal to take the ballots out of the house and mail it for them,” said Gomez, who ran against Baeza’s son Jeffrey, in this past March’s Democratic Party primary election. During the deposition Baeza said she had assisted many voters by going to their homes and helping them to vote. She would then sometimes take the ballots with her, put postage on them and mail them.

“The reason I have filed a formal complaint is because we need to stop taking advantage of the elderly and disabled,” said Gomez. “We need to stop this before the new election.” Gomez said that there are a lot of elderly and disabled individuals that do need help casting their vote. “They can’t vote by themselves, because they can’t leave their homes and then there are people who take advantage of them,” he said.

Gomez said that Baeza had assisted individuals during the March’s Democratic primary, which included the election for Reeves County Sheriff involving Gomez and Jeffrey Baeza, a former Reeves County sheriff’s deputy.

Gomez said Baeza also allegedly helped people vote in the 2002 elections, which included the race for Reeves County Judge.

“I feel like I really don’t have a choice, but to file a formal complaint,” said Gomez. “As the sheriff it’s my duty.”

Gomez said that 143rd District Attorney Randy Reynolds could also recuse himself if he wants to, since Jeffrey Baeza’s is now employed by the DA’s office.

“I have no choice, we have to do this, put a stop to voter fraud, people should be able to vote however they want,” said Gomez.

Reynolds said that whenever he received a formal complaint on voter fraud he presents the case to the Texas Rangers. “I always forward them to the rangers and let them look into it,” said Reynolds. “This is what I will be doing in this case.”

Section 86.006 states: Carrier envelopes containing ballots may not be collected and stored prior to delivery to the early voting clerk. The criminal penalty for this offense depends on the number of carrier envelopes the person possesses, (i.e., 1-9 carrier envelopes is a Class B misdemeanor, 10-19 carrier envelopes is a Class A misdemeanor, and 20 or more carrier envelopes is a state jail felony).

Elders hope to reach many in their mission

Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by members of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints. The two are missionaries currently stationed in Pecos. We welcome all articles written by pastors, priests or missionaries that would like to appear on this page. Submit your material to the Pecos Enterprise, c/o Rosie Flores. By Elder Shane Stratford
And Elder Cody Titmus

Imagine this: You are asked to take a special assignment. You must leave your home, family, and the comforts of normal life behind for two years. For this time, you must give up watching television and movies, listening to the radio and reading magazines and books so that you can focus solely on the assignment given you. You must arise each day early in the morning and work all day long, seven days a week. Oh yeah…you have to do it without pay. Do you accept? Such is the call given to missionaries from The Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints.

My name is Cody Titmus, but for the next two years of my life I have taken on the title of “Elder.” I am 19 years old and I am one of nearly 65,000 who are currently serving as missionaries for our church. We are everywhere, from Australia to Africa, to West Texas and everywhere in between. Currently I am stationed right here in Pecos, along with another fellow missionary, named Elder Stratford. We are here because we want to serve God, our church and the people of Pecos.

Before we became missionaries, we were a lot like any of you. Both Elder Stratford and I grew up in Utah, went to school, played sports, and did all the things any normal teenager would do. But when we reached the age of 19, we chose to give the next two years of our lives in service as missionaries. We submitted in the paperwork, and a few weeks later received a letter from the president of our church telling us we were to be serving in West Texas and would need to learn the Spanish language. After a little personal preparation, we entered in to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. There, we received training in how to speak Spanish, how to teach and learned how to do everything associated with missionary work. After being there for two months, we came to Texas and were given assigned areas to work. My first area is Pecos and I have been here for two months. Elder Stratford was first sent to San Angelo and was there for six months before coming to Pecos a few weeks ago. We are both pretty new here, but we love it and consider it our new home.

Maybe you are thinking: “What is it exactly that we do?” As missionaries, we arise each morning at 6:30 and spend the morning hours exercising, studying the scriptures and Spanish, and preparing ourselves for the day. We are out the door by 11 a.m. and spend our day visiting church members performing service for others, and most importantly, sharing a message about Jesus Christ with any who will listen. After a full day of work, we return home by 9 p.m., plan what we will do for the next day and we are in bed by 10:30 p.m. Then we wake up the next morning and do it all again.

So why do we do it? The answer is simple. We know that we have been called by God, through a living prophet, to take his restored gospel to the world. We know that if people listen to what we have to say, more joy and happiness than they have ever known will come in to their lives. We know that God has prepared a way for all his children to return to live with him again. We have found the truthfulness of this church for ourselves and we want to help others find it as well.

We have accepted the assignment. We have dedicated the next two years of our lives to be in God’s service. It hasn’t been easy, but it is definitely worth it. To help others come to know God, is a joy that is truly indescribable. So remember, when you see us, don’t be afraid to stop and talk, because we have chosen to come here and serve the people of Pecos.

FFA members working to prepare stock show entries

Pecos FFA members have begun working with livestock projects. The projects consist of swine, sheep, goat, steers and heifers.

Livestock projects allow students to experience production agriculture from a “hand-on” perspective. Students learn responsibility, time and finance management and also fundamentals of animal husbandry.

Students are encouraged to make decisions related to animal health, nutrition and perform basic veterinary skills, including administrating inoculation and basic surgical skills. Students are required to participate in a housekeeping regimes and are also required to keep financial records in their livestock projects.

The final payback for these animal projects will be the Reeves-Loving County Junior Livestock Show and Sale on Jan. 13-15. Some students will also attend major statewide livestock show through March.

The validation dates have been set for all of the livestock projects.

The swine validation is set for Nov. 13, at 8 a.m. at the Pecos FFA Pens and Nov. 16, from 4-6 p.m., at the Balmorhea Ag shop.

The fee for regular validation in $6 per head of animal.

If any individual will not be able to attend there will be a late validation on Nov. 29, annd the fee will be $10 per head of animal. There will be no validation for the commercial steer projects.


Doris Moorman and Rigoberto Perez

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