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Weekly Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Thursday, September 9, 2004

Boost sought for Pecos PD starting pay

Staff Writer

Pecos City Council members discussed efforts to find pay raises for Pecos Police Department officers, and went over other budget proposals on Tuesday during their council’s third workshop in preparation for drawing up the city’s new budget for the 2005 fiscal year.

Finding the funds for the police raises had strong support from audience members, though the council said during last week’s budget workshop that the city was facing an $800,000 deficit, and even an 11-cent increase in the city’s tax rate would only pay for about one-eighth of that total.

The police raises were among a number of items discussed on Tuesday, including finding additional funding for the Pecos EMS budget, which council officials said was a major source of the city’s budget deficit.

The police pay issue brought out a number of local residents in support of the higher salaries, and councilman Frank Sanchez said pay for the Pecos PD lags behind other area towns.

“The starting pay for police officers is $22,000, and that needs to be brought up considerable to what others are in the area,” he said. Sanchez later added that new state mandates on education for officers will force the city to increase its base pay over the next few years.

“The problem is a gap we have with starting officers pay. Once we correct that gap, we’ll be in line with all other cities,” Sanchez said. He noted that starting pay for a police officer in Pecos is $7,000 below the starting salary in Monahans.

“Currently, what we’re trying to develop is a pay scale like what the teachers have,” said city accountant Mark Rushing. He said the goal is to bring starting salaries into the $30,000 range.

City manager Joseph Torres said the police department currently pays for 18 officers, 12 on regular patrol, four investigators, one community service office and one assigned to the Trans-Pecos Drug Task Force.

In going over the ambulance budget, council members said the lack of a finalized deal with Reeves County Hospital over payments to support the service was a problem in doing estimates. Currently the hospital is offering a $40,000 payment with a $5,000 cap over that amount, while the city said the service is budgeted at $294,287. About $112,,000 of that is budgeted for EMS salaries.

“We can’t budget on a cap. We have to budget on a percentage,” said Sanchez.

“The mayor and I have been to two meetings in front of the (hospital) board, and at both meetings we’ve come away with ‘That’s all we can do for you right now’,” Torres said. “They have a take it or leave it attitude.”

City Finance Director Sam Contreras and Rushing said collections listed were just estimates, and that they expected to collect only about 40 percent of the payments due for use of the EMS service. Rushing added that the nationwide collection rate was only 30 percent.

“You taxpayers are subsidizing the ambulance service each time it leaves the city limits,” councilman Gerald Tellez told audience members, while Sanchez added, “I’d say about 30 cents of our tax base goes to EMS.”

Officials said the EMS makes calls in Reeves County, as well as to parts of Ward, Loving, Pecos and Jeff Davis counties at times. Stafford said talks with Reeves County about contributing to the ambulance service subsidy have produced no results, while EMS Chief John Cravey said in Odessa, residents are given the option of contributing $4 a month on their water bills to a fund that would pay for their ambulance costs, if a family member had to use the service.

“I have all the paperwork on it to bring to Mr. Torres,” he said. “I’ve got all the paperwork from Odessa to see how they’re setting it up.”

The council also discussed on Tuesday future utility services for the city. Contreras said they had talked with Reliant Energy and TXU about offers to replace First Choice Power as the city’s supplier, but noted that the current rates available to Pecos through First Choice were grandfathered in from the period prior to deregulation.

“We might be able to get a better rate for a year, but then we’d be subject to market rates,” Rushing said, while Sanchez told Contreras the city could request a free audit from First Choice which could show ways to lower peak power usage by the city.

Among the costs added to the new budget was an additional $7,000 to special services to pay for employee drug testing. Meanwhile, the council opted to put back $5,000 into the budget from the “uniforms” category, giving up embroidered Town of Pecos City shirts for council members.

“That could be an item we can delete,” said Stafford, while Valenzuela added, “I’m not opposed to buying our own. We can put this back into the budget.” During the Sept. 1 budget workshop, city utilities director Edgardo Madrid said the city might shift some department workers around in order to create an in-house construction crew.

He said on planned seal coating of city streets, “The last improvement we did was in 2000. We did about 84,000 square yards seal-coating. What we’re planning on doing is $120,000 on material, but we can extend that amount almost triple what it was because we’re not spending money on contractors.”

However, the city will face an additional cost to purchase a new grader, which would be used both on the street projects and at the landfill. That cost was put at $32,000 annually in payments and $162,000 overall.

“We need to be prepared to start digging a new trench,” Madrid said, while Sanchez suggested he attend the upcoming Texas Municipal League meeting in his place, in order to get a look at equipment displays by retailers attending the event.

The council also voted during their Sept. 1 meeting to reject bids for two new water wells at Worsham Field, after the lowest bid came in at $70,000 over the cost estimate. New bids are now being sought, and will be discussed by the council at a meeting later this month.

The council will hold another budget workshop at 6 p.m. on Thursday at City Hall, after holding their regular meeting at 7 a.m. on Thursday. Items on that agenda include talks with Duncan Disposal on a rate increase for use of the city landfill; a request from Pitts Energy to build a road and drilling pad on city land southeast of Pecos; discussion of the inmate man-day rate with the U.S. Marshal’s Service; and amendments to the employee handbook.

School board to hear updates on stadium, gym construction

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board members will hear a report on construction of the new Austin Elementary gymnasium and the Pecos High School football field synthetic turf installation and track renovations during their regular meeting on Thursday.

The group will meet at 6 p.m., in the Technology Center, 1301 S. Eddy and the public is invited to attend the open session of the meeting.

The synthetic turf field is due to be completed in time for Friday’s homecoming game, but four weeks behind schedule, while work has yet to begin on the track resurfacing. Work is near completion on the Austin Elementary gym, the first gym facility for the first through third grade elementary campus.

Board members will also hear an update on Summary of Finance for 2003-04 and 2004-05; discuss reading and math academy for K-6th grade and Accelerated Reading and Math Instruction (ARM) for 3rd grade.

The group will discuss the enrollment report, drug testing and truancy officer.

In other business, board members will discuss and take possible action on Texas Cooperative Extension Adjunct Faculty Agreement; request by the Pee-Wee Football League for use of Eagle Stadium and waive fees; sealed proposals for beverage vending machines for the 2004-2005 school year; tax roll errors and corrections for 2003 and prior years; requests to purchase foreclosed properties and 2003-2004 budget amendments.

The group will meet behind closed doors in closed session as authorized by the Texas Open Meetings Act, Texas Government Code, Section 551.101 et. Seq., Section 551.074: a. Section 551.074(1) to deliberate the appointment, employment, evaluation, assignment, duties, discipline or dismissal of a public officer or employee.

Board members will reconvene in open session and take action, if any, on items discussed in closed session.

Regular agenda items include: tax report, cafeteria report and commodities received, depository securities report, current bills and financial report, investment transaction report, reconciled bank balance report and Reeves County Community Recreation Department report.

RCH board member Wendt dies

A long-time ambulance volunteer and member of the Reeves County Hospital Board died recently at Reeves County Hospital.

William Kermit Wendt, 65, of Saragosa, died Aug. 17.

He was born July 17, 1939, in Sutton, Nebraska to Elmer and Ina (Schnellar) Wendt. His parents had a farm on which they raised horses and Wendt became an expert rider at an early age, training horses himself by age of seven.

In high school, he played the trumpet, sang in a quartet, and was on the football team. In college, he specialized in diesel mechanics and became quite an expert at fixing anything from autos to houses. He spent some time selling carpet and magazines and became known as the best road and dam builder in a large area in Arkansas where he lived at the time.

He was also good at baking bread, tailoring, preaching and teaching. He became a crack shot with a rifle and even shot two rattlesnakes not long before his last hospital stay.

Wendt became a member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in his early 30’s and attended a medical missionary training school where he learned more about how to share Jesus with others, which became his passion in life.

He had two sons, Scott and Shawn, by his first wife Judy. They later divorced, and Wendt married Hazel Moser Lonberger in 1978.

He ran equipment for a logging company in Washington State for a short time, but had to quite after injuring his knee.

In 1980, he moved with his family to Saragosa, where he farmed land and was president of Saragosa Mission.

He took various emergency medical courses, eventually working his way up to Paramedic, Coordinator and Instructor.

Wendt worked in the emergency room at Reeves County Hospital and with the ambulance transfer service. He was elected to the hospital board twice and was their only medic.

He spent the last four years of his life working at the Firestone Test Track in charge of safety, hiring and firing and payroll services.

He was diagnosed with colon cancer in January 2003 and died on Aug. 17, 2004 at Reeves County Hospital.

Wendt was preceeded in death by his father Elmer.

Survivors include his wife, Hazel Wendt of Saragosa; his mother, Ina Wendt of Hastings, NE.; one sister, Delene Webb of Hastings, NE.; one brother, Warren Wendt of Missouri; three sons, Scott Wendt of Rincon, GA., Shawn Wendt of Hastings, NE., William E.K. “Billy” Wendt of Saragosa; three daughters, Kara Miller of Pullman, MI., Marla Ramirez of College Place, WA. and Willina Stone of Saragosa; 11 grandchildren and one great-grandson.

Matta deployed to Iraq with Air Force

Airman Carmen Matta, of Pecos, has been deployed to Iraq.

Matta has been in the Air Force for two years and is a 2001 graduate of Pecos High School.

She was previously stationed at the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.

Matta is the daughter of Sarah Vasquez and Adan Matta Jr.

Grandparents are Helen and Adan Matta Sr.

Juarez completes boot camp

Peter Juarez, of Pecos, graduated from the U.S. Marine Boot Camp at Camp Pendleton in San Diego on July 30.

He is a 2002 graduate of Pecos High School and will be going to Missouri.

Juarez is the son of Margie Juarez, of Pecos and Tony Navarrette of Odessa.

He was a member of the 1st Battalion Alpha Company and was named the high shooter. Juarez’ was the Honor Platoon, which was the best there. He was also squad leader of his platoon.

Grandparents are Gloria and Tito Juarez and Cuca and Calistro Navarrette, all of Barstow.

ill celebrates first birthday

Laci Brooke Hill celebrated her first birthday on Aug. 5 with a party held in her honor. Theme for the special event was “Finding Nemo.”

She celebrated her birthday with cake and ice cream.

She is the daughter of Karen and Craig Hill.

Attending the party were grandparents Keith and Carollee Waters of Amarillo and Norman and Dorothy Hill of Pecos.

A number of aunts, uncles and cousins also attended and Laci enjoyed playing with all the gifts she received.

Commentary on the movie by Mel Gibson

By Fr. Gustavo Lopez

In the month of August, the movie “The Passion of the Christ,” by Mel Gibson set out into the public market sales on DVD.

The movie is centered in the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus, from the agony in the Garden of Olives, to the death on the cross, unfolding unto the resurrection. I categorized the movie, “The Passion of the Christ,” as “technically” very good.

Excellent cinemtagraphy in sound, illumination, the rate, the effects, the music, the outfits and the actors. Mel Gibson, director of the movie has utilized technology in a stupendous manner to capture the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ coming to life through the eyes of those who see it. The movie is captivating, as if one were there. It impels feelings and emotions.

From an artistic point of views, this is a work of art, due to its’ professionalism, quality and excellence. It is the best movie that I have ever seen on the Passion of Christ, I recommend it. There is an invitation of presence into the scenes of the Passion of Christ as the actors utter the words in Aramaic and Latin tongues. It’s context is very original because it situates us into the time and era in which the languages were spoken.

The movie is filled with spirituality leading you into prayer and reflection, causing you to think and contemplate. Mel Gibson, director, has attained what he proposed, creating an alluring mystery for many. The movie is filled with spirituality because it reaches the heart and the conscience of the public who see it.

In the movie, the love of the Father appears outpouring a tear from the heavens, but the pain for his son transforms a falling tear into an earthquake. The love of the Holy Spirit appears in the form of a dove during judgement giving him strength and consolation. I would like to emphasize on the actors of the movie. A man dies because of our sins to free us from sin and to give us new and eternal life. In this sense we speak of salvation and redemption which is God’s movement in the history of mankind.

The movie presents the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin accuses Jesus and condemns him unjustly. Judas betrays him. Peter denies him three times. Herod makes fun of him. Pilate washes his hands. The disciples leave him alone. The people should requesting his execution. The Roman soldiers flog him, they humiliate him and they crucify him without mercy. And among all these characters the presence of Satan blends intelligently among them. Satins’ presence moves from the orchard of the olive trees to the cross, to see if Jesus renounces his mission. But, in the first scene of the movie Satan is defeated as Jesus crushes the head of the serpent, which relates to the promise of Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your lineage and hers and he shall crush your head.”

In my opinion the interpretation of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is extraordinary. Her presence is discreet, sweet and strong. One of the scenes that caught my attention is when the movie depicts Christ falling on his way to Calvary. In this scene Mary is seen running towards Jesus, stands by his side and gives him strength by saying, “Son, I am with you.” In this context she is the woman who accompanies her Son. She is the woman who knows how to be there for him. She is the woman who participates profoundly in the passion of her Son. She is the woman who permeates in the mystery from faith and from life. She is the woman whose heart is moved to gather the precious blood when her son is flogged. She is the woman who suffers but also the woman who loves. Those who suffer in love are those who truly love and no one knew this more than Mary. The road to Calvary was traveled not only by Christ, but also by Mary, his mother. She is the woman who accompanies and follows him closely. She walks witnessing all the pain of her Son. Mary, from where she stands lives the Passion of her loved Son, giving him the strength and the grace of her love. She is the woman who knows how “to accompany,” she is the woman who knows how to be the woman who creates presence. Mary is not a psychologist, but has a good psychology, because of her great empathy towards her Son as a woman who knows how to be. She totally shares in the salvific sacrifice of Jesus. Mary’s personality impresses me wholeheartedly throughout all the passion because of her humility and valiance and her strength.

The Passion of the Christ by Mel Gibson must be contemplated through the eyes of the prophet Isaiah 52:53. This biblical message is clear. “Many are horrified when seeing him, because his face was so disfigured that it no longer showed him as a human being, neither in appearance nor in beauty or in his human personality. Despised and familiarized with the suffering of man in pain, he was taken like a “lamb to the slaughter.”

I consider the movie as having strong theology and hard biblical content. It is a very realistic, very objective movie. The Holy Father Pope John Paul II was asked what he thought of the movie and he answered, “That is the way it happened.” In being faithful to the gospels, the movie narrates a series of biblical contrasts that are united to the Passion of the Christ. For example, within the movie appears the scenes of the Good Shepherd, The Sermon on the Mount, the gesture of Washing of the Feet, the Empty tomb. All these signs are united to be the redemption and validity of the Passion of Christ.

For some, the movie is categorized as a movie of much violence, in my opinion there is not only violence, also brutality. But, the brutality in the movie is not the most important; these commentaries can distract the sense of authenticity of the Passion of Christ. The most important is the love of God moving in the history of mankind. When Jesus suffered the most it was then that he loved the most. If the movie has awakened or caused controversy, it may be because it has left a message to the public.

The movie has been strongly criticized by some Jewish groups, because they have expressed that the movie is anti-Semitic, or anti-Jewish, because it portrays the Jewish authorities as the main persons responsible for the death of Christ. Nevertheless, in my opinion this is how things occurred. I am not going to project as to who killed Jesus, the intention of the movie is not that, but I want to emphasize, the power of redemption and the love that he gives to us all. If the movie is over brutality, the violence, the suffering of Jesus and who killed him, than it has failed in its biblical content, but if it relates the Divine sacrifice of love for us, then it has served a great purpose.

To me, the movie of Mel Gibson has an Eucharistic context of sacrifice, of offering. It is an account of the mass actualized in the presence of the sacrifice of Calvary for us. The movie is an excellent means by which we can value and live the holy mass in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The movie has everything of a sacrificial sense, viewed from the perspective of the cross, which are death and life, glory and human redemption. In my opinion the passion of the Christ more than a sorrowful passion, is a passion of love, a saving passion where we are included to receive grace. We should not focus in the bloodshed of the movie, but go beyond the pain, because love is greater than pain. The love of the redeemer gives us life.

Rev. Gustavo Lopez.

Police Report

EDITOR’S NOTE: Information contained in the Police Report is obtained from reports filed by the Pecos Police Department, Reeves County Sheriff’s Office, or other officers of those agencies. The serving of warrants by an officer for outstanding fines of either traffic citations, animal control violations or other court costs are considered arrests and will be printed as such unless indicated that the fines were paid. In such instances we will indicate payment and release.

*** Alonzo V. Munoz, 820 N. Hickory St., was reported on Aug. 9 that his son, Ashton Jon Munoz, 20, had been missing since May 31 of this year. Deputies said they contracted Patty Subia with the Texas Department of Public Safety’s missing children clearing house to run a records check, and found Ashton Subia had been the subject of a criminal warrant check on Aug. 2 in Garland, just east of Dallas.

Deputies said Subia was 6-foot-1 and weighed 190 pounds, wore silver wire framed glasses and was taking Prozac and Risperdal at the time he disappeared. Deputy Reno Lewis said they were also seeking a records check on Subia through the Social Security Administration’s Odessa office.

*** Pecos police are investigating two forgeries reported on Aug. 30 at La Tienda Thriftway, 810 S. Eddy St. Police said in one incident a check was forged for $35, while in the other, checks for $65 and $55 were forged.

*** Ismael Menchaca, 28, 708 S. Cherry St., was arrested by police on Aug. 29 at 8:13 p.m. after a traffic stop, and was charged with no driver’s license and no insurance. The arrest took place in the 400 block of South Cherry Street.

*** Lee Anthony Orona, 19, 412 S. Pecan St., was arrested by police on Aug. 28 at 11:18 p.m. on a warrant charging him with assault. The warrant was for an incident that reportedly occurred on June 27. Orona also was charged on a warrant for theft by check, according to police records.

*** Eleuterio Perez, 38, 915 S. Cherry St., and Joe Alberto Adame, 1101 S. Elm St., were arrested by police on Aug. 28 at 6:56 a.m. at mile marker 46 on Interstate 20 on charges of public intoxication. Police said they were called to the site on a report of a disturbance between a man and woman in two separate vehicles.

*** Maxine Wickson, 302 N. Ash St., reported to police on Aug. 27 that the front screen porch of her home had been burglarized. Police said a wicker chair and wicker couch were taken from the porch.

*** Laura Gonzales reported to police on Aug. 27 at 11:13 a.m. that someone broke into her storage area in the 600 block of South Eddy Street and stole a number of items. Police said a TV, stereo, computer, 30 DVDs, CDs, and several other boxes of items were reported missing.

*** Chastity Carrasco, 188, of 2018 Johnson St., and Krista Diaz, 20, of 2024 S. Park St., were arrested by police on Aug. 27 at 12:13 a.m. and charged with fighting. The arrest occurred following an incident at Allsup’s, 708 S. Cedar St.

*** Ismael Leyva, 72, 620 E. Fifth St., was arrested by police on Aug. 25 and charged with public intoxication. The arrest took place at 10:03 p.m. at the Del Rio Bar on East Fifth Street.

*** Oscar Barrera, 40, was arrested by police on Aug. 26 and charged with public intoxication. Police said the arrest took place at 1:01 a.m. at the Suavacito Club at Ninth and Cedar streets.

*** Enrique Jaquez Ojeda, 69, was arrested by Reeves County sheriff’s deputies on Aug. 20 at 7:30 p.m. on a charge of assault under the family violence act. Deputies said the arrest occurred at 2313 Sacaton Rd., after his ex-wife, Paulina Gomez Ojeda, said he had come inside her home and had hit her.

*** Sheriff’s deputies received a call on Aug. 29 at 8 p.m. about a damaged water meter at the West of the Pecos Rodeo Grounds. Cesario Venegas Urias, 63, reported to deputies that a 4-wheeler apparently had broken the meter. Deputies talked to some people in the area riding 4-wheelers, and were told there had been some other subjects in the area riding vehicles, but they could not say they were the ones who did the damage.

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