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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, June 1, 2007

All Shook Up

Controlled blasts at test track, prank explosion at high school rattle nerves

Loud, booming noises coming from the old Smithers test track have some people who live nearby concerned, but officials say that there is nothing to fear.

“We had some calls about the loud noises, so we went out there to check for ourselves,” said Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez.

Residents in eastern Reeves County and the Coyonosa area of northern Pecos County reported the loud noises over Memorial Day weekend. Gomez said that some people had been frightened by the loud noises, which was coming from explosives testing underway at the former tire testing facility, which is no being operated by the Texas Transportation Institute and Applied Research Associates out of Albuquerque, N.M.

Applied Research Associates constructed three reinforced concrete bunkers at the track to test explosives under a contract with the federal government. During a meeting in January of the Pecos Economic Development Corp., president Mike Burkholder said The ARA deal involves 20-by-20-by-10 bunkers with three-foot thick walls and 1/2-inch steel reinforcement, where munitions would be exploded and measured by lasers.

Gomez said that ARA does some underground explosions, but that there is no debris or tremors.

“Everything is under control and there is nothing to fear,” said Gomez.

“When we got there, they were doing some testing, but there was nothing, it’s just a lot of noise,” he said. “You don’t even see it and it’s a controlled explosion,” said Gomez.

The area east of the test track is home to several gas plants, homes and farms in the Coyonosa area, and a planned natural gas storage facility which is being hollowed out of an underground salt dome in far eastern Reeves County, near the Waha gas hub.

Gomez said that the testing would not affect the storage tank, which is located between Coyonosa and the test track.

“It’s not that close to it, and it won’t affect it at all,” said Gomez.

A last day of school prank landed two Pecos High School students in jail for a day, after they threw a homemade explosive device onto the north parking lot at the school. No one was injured in the incident, which occurred about 11:40 a.m. on Wednesday in front of the automotive classroom at the PHS vocational building on West Washington Street. School officials described the sound as like a large shotgun blast, and residents in nearby homes also reported hearing the explosion.

“Roger Jones called and said ‘you need to get over here, somebody just released a bomb in the parking lot’,” said PHS assistant principal Jim Workman. “I was talking to (police officer) Mike Balog at the time, and we grabbed truancy officer Jerry Matta and went over there.”

Workman said Jones was able to see the green pick-up from where the small explosive device was thrown from his automotive tech area, and the driver and a passenger inside were apprehended and placed under arrest.

The two arrested were identified as Manuel Padillo Sotelo III, 18, 1511 Morris St., and Joseluis Munoz Hernandez, 17, of 1004 E. Second Street. Both were charged with disorderly conduct, a Class C misdemeanor, and taken to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center. Workman said the bomb was inside a 3 liter Coke bottle thrown from the pickup. “It just hit the ground and exploded,” he said.

Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney said the bomb was triggered by a reaction to tinfoil placed inside the bottle.

“There are a lot of chemicals you can mix with tinfoil that will cause a gas, but we haven’t tested it to see what other chemical was in there,” McKinney said.

Scholarships awarded to PHS students

Several students from Pecos High School will receive much needed help to further their education in the form of scholarships.

The seniors were recognized and awarded the scholarships during a special program held Thursday, May 17, at the Pecos High School Auditorium.

Cynthia Marmolejo and Adam Medina were recognized as Academic All American; Cynthia Marmolejo, Matt Oglesby and Kyle Winkles received the Aquatic Club; the Alma Van Sickle Scholarship Western District Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs/The Modern Study Club went to Sylvia Davis and Zachary Morton.

The Association of Professional Educators Scholarship went to Brittany Castaneda, Matt Oglesby, John Paul Salcido and Joseph Tarin in the amount of $500.

The Bill Carrico scholarship went to Ramiro Guerra, $1,500; CWII Johnny V. Mata to Brittany Castaneda; Eveyln Turpin Dowling Endowment Scholarship, Daniel Reyes; the Floyd Estrada Memorial to Syra Mendoza; Flying J Scholarhsip, Ramiro Guerra, $2,000; GEO Group, Brittany Castaneda, Chris Navarette, Jennifer Palomino, John Paul Salcido, $2,000; Golden Girl, Eleanor Mason, $1,000, Jesseca Perea, $900 and Runner-Up/Congeniality Award to Syra Mendoza.

Jonathan Gomez and Christopher Navarette were awarded the Jaime Rodriguez Courage Award in the amount of $2,000 each.

The Jesse Villescas Memorial Scholarship, Sylvia Davis, $1,500; Jose Reyes Memorial Scholarship, Amalie Herrera, John Paul Salcido, $500; Judge Lee S. Green “Neat Kid,” Francisco Ornelas, John Paul Salcido, Jennifer Palomino, $250; Knights of Columbus, John Paul Salcido, Cassandra Terrazas, Sarah Wentworth, $500.

Ollie Springfield Nunn, Eleanor Mason; Panhandle-Plains Higher Education Authority, Corina Ortiz, Lisa White; Pecos Downtown Lions Club, Jesseca Perea, Christopher Perea, Sylvia Davis, Matt Oglesby, $500; Pecos FFA, Michael Lee, Zachary Morton, $500; Pecos High School Band Boosters, Stephanie Galindo, $1,000; Sarah Wentworth, $2,000; James Navarrete, $2,000, Ramiro Guerra, $2,000; Pecos Police Department, Adriana Armendariz, $500; Pecos Women’s Golf Association, Eleanor Mason, $500; Pecos Valley Masonic Lodge 736, Francisco Ornelas, Daphne Payne, Vanessas Samaguey; Reeves County Detention Center Employee’s Club, Jerris Rayos, Adriana Armendariz, Syra Mendoza, Jennifer Palomino, $1,000; Reeves County Sheriff’s Explorers, “J.J.” Jose Madrid, Adriana Armendariz, $250; Reeves County Sheriff’s Posse, Crystal Ikeler.

The Rotary Club Citizen Award, Kyle Winkles, Brittany Castaneda, Francisco Ornelas, $500; Rotary Club-Odessa College Pecos Center, Alicia Moreno, $500; Texas State Teachers Association Local, Eleanor Mason, Francisco Ornelas, $300; Twentieth Century, Eleanor Mason, $500; Windmill Square Playhouse, Francisco Ornelas, Cyntha Marmolejo, $750; Winkler County Credit Union, Ramiro Guerra, $250.

College/University Scholarships:

American Musical and Dramatic Academy, Francisco Ornelas, $14,000; Angelo State University, Ramiro Guerra, $3,750; Midland College, Ramiro Guerra, Adam Medina, $400; Odessa College, Jennifer Palomino; Our Lady of the Lake University, John Paul Salcido, $30,000; Permian Honor Scholarship Foundation, Ramiro Guerra, $7,600; Rice University, Eleanor Mason, $42,000; South Western University, Eleanor Mason, $60,000; Southern Methodist University, Eleanor Mason, $30,000; St. Mary’s University, John Paul Salcido, $36,000; Texas Methodist Foundation, Eleanor Mason, $20,000 and University of Dallas, Eleanor Mason, $46,000.

Recognition for Leadership and Excellence Performance, Kodak Young Leaders Award, Kayla Ann Natividad; University of Rochester Humanities/Social Studies, Rica Pino.

Family seeks to aid troops in Mata’s memory

A Pecos family is trying to help out soldiers stationed in Iraq, in memory of their own, who was one of the first U.S. casualties in the war four years ago.

The Mata family is busy collecting items for care packages that will be sent to soldiers serving in Iraq.

Staff Sergeant Johnny V. Mata was killed in action on March 23, 2003.

Family member Rosa Salinas said they are collecting toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, deodorants and hygiene products. The family had a booth set up this past Saturday at Maxey Park, during the annual Memorial Day concert.

“We never had the chance to do this for my brother, Johnny, and now we want to do it for other soldiers in his memory,” said Salinas.

“We have a lot of those and are in need of names and addresses from local soldiers so that we can send them these care packages,” she said.

Salinas said that they are in need of shampoo, dried foods and feminine products.

“We still need some of these items, because we don’t realize that these soldiers don’t get a chance to bathe very often,” said Salinas. “They can go anywhere between 10-15 days without a proper shower,” she said.

Salinas added that the soldiers have to carry everything they own in a backpack. “So we thought we could include small toothpastes, toothbrushes and other travel size items,” she said.

“They don’t get to shower anywhere from 10-15 days, and only have wipes, but with 115 degree weather and sand blowing everywhere, it’s just not enough,” said Salinas.

The family had wanted to do this for Mata when the buildup for the Iraq war began, but never had the opportunity because he was killed in action so early in the fighting.

“Now, we want to do it in his memory and I know that it’s something that he would think is a great idea, because he cared about everyone out there,” said Salinas.

Salinas said that Mata had only been in southern Iraq for six days when his unit was ambushed and several members killed.

“We didn’t have the opportunity to take care of him, but now we’ll take care of others,” she said.

Salinas said that her mother had bonded with one of her friends from Odessa who also lost a son in the war.

“She was able to help her son when he was there and he told her how much it meant to all of them,” said Salinas.

Salinas said that the woman had told her mother that her son had asked for a B.J. Burger and she told him it would be rotten by the time he received it. “He told her I don’t care, I just want some comfort food from home,” said Salinas.

Salinas said that by the time the woman had figured out a way to send it freeze-dried, her son was killed.

“She never got the chance to send it to him, he was killed that week,” said Salinas. “If they are willing to eat things from home, even if by the time they receive them they are not that good, then you know they are desperate,” she said.

Salinas said that anybody who would like to help with the project could contact her, at 448-1280.

“We also need names and addresses of local soldiers and they can contact me about that,” she said.

Mason, Salicdo named top 2007 PHS grads

The 2007 valedictorian and salutatorian for Pecos High School have been announced, in preparation for Friday night’s graduation ceremonies at 7:30 p.m. in the new Pecos High School gym.

Eleanor Lela Mason will be giving the Valedictorian speech, Friday evening at the Pecos High School New Gym.

Mason, who was named Golden Girl last June and Student of the Year by the Pecos Chamber of Commerce earlier this year, is the number-one ranked senior for 2007. She has been involved in many activities throughout her high school year, is ranked number one in her class and has a 4.30 grade point average.

Mason is a member of the Pecos Eagle Band; FFA Chapter and National Honor Society. Her honors and achievements are many and include, Outstanding Student of the Year in Pre-AP Biology; Intro to Agriculture; AP US History; was awarded the University of Rochester Outstanding Student in the Humanities and Social Sciences and was named to Who’s Who Among American High School Students.

Mason plans to attend Rice University following high school graduation and double major in political science and sociology. After college, she hopes to continuer her education and attend law school. As an attorney, she plans to specialize in constitutional and international law. Her ultimate goal is to participate in the United Nations’ conflict resolution department. She is the daughter of Mike and Socorro Mason.

The 2007 Salutatorian is John Paul Salcido, the son of John and Rosie Salcido, the grandson of Juan and Adela Salcido and the late Pablo and Trini Rivera.

His involvement in extracurricular activities during his four years at PHS include: participating in Student Council, student DARE committee, campus Crimestoppers, National Hispanic Institute, National Honor Society, French Horn Soloist with the Mighty Eagle Band, and playing with the Pecos Eagles Varsity Baseball Team.

His awards and accomplishments at PHS include being nominated for the 2006-2007 Chamber of Commerce Student of the Year. He received the KODAK Young Leaders Award, the Outstanding Achievement Award in Pre-AP English II, Pre-Calculus, and Concurrent Biology. He also received the President’s Educational Excellence Award for Outstanding Academics. He has been named to Who’s Who Among American High School Scholars, was given the US Achievement Academy Leadership Merit Award as well as begin named to the US Achievement Academy as a National Honor Student.

He was selected last year as the 2nd Team All District Varsity second baseman; was also awarded the Academic All District Honors in varsity baseball, as well as being nominated to receive Academic All State Honors.

Salcido attended the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine in Houston, the National Hispanic Institute Forum at Southwestern University in Georgetown, and at Sul Ross State University in Alpine.

He also attended the Presidential Classroom for Young American Students in Washington, D.C., as well as playing in the Select Baseball World Series Tournaments in Hutchinson, Kansas and in St. Louis, Missouri.

He will be graduating with 20 college hours which will be transferred to St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, where he will major in Biology. His goal is to become a medical doctor and help the sick and less fortunate.

Award created to honor boy killed in crash

A student at Bessie Haynes Elementary School received a very special award last week, during an awards ceremony held in the Zavala Gym.

Gustavo Mendoza received the first ever Chantz Dickenson Contreras award, in memory of a former Bessie Haynes student who lost his life in a one vehicle accident that occurred a year ago this Sunday on U.S. 285.

The award in Dickenson’s memory was made anonymously and the student who received the award was chosen by a group of teachers.

The student received a $100 gift certificate that can be used at the schoolbook fair and a set of bookshelves.

The accident happened at 3:25 p.m., on June 3, 2006, on U.S. 285, midway between Pecos and Fort Stockton. The family was traveling in a 2004 GMC Yukon, with four occupants in the car when the accident occurred. Dickinson, 10, was transported to Memorial Hospital in Midland, where he died of his injuries.

Neither the driver of the vehicle, his mother, Lisa Contreras, nor the two other passengers, Ethan Contreras, five years old and Emily Contreras, 11 months, were seriously injured. Everyone was wearing a seatbelt.

During the May 23 awards ceremony, librarian Debra Goff read some anecdotes about the Dickinson, who was kind and caring.

“Not many people know that Chantz had been bullied throughout that school year,” said Goff.

Goff said that the bullying incidents had gotten so bad that the police were going to have to get involved.

“He had been bullied really bad and towards the end of the school year, he was beaten up pretty badly,” said Lisa Contreras.

Contreras said that they told her the police could get involved and charges filed if they wanted to.

“We talked to Chantz about it and he said ‘no’, he didn’t want those kids to get into trouble and ruin their whole lives,” said Contreras. “Instead he told us we should pray for them,” she said.

His mother said that the incidents never did get resolved.

“I had talked to the principal and he didn’t do anything about it and I was at the point that I wanted to talk to the superintendent,” said Contreras. “Instead, the incident where he was really hurt happened and they never did anything about it, since he didn’t want to press charges,” she said.

Chantz was also a gentleman, according to Goff.

“One day after school two little girls were waiting out front when a big dog approached them,” said Goff. “Chantz just threw down his backpack and chased the dog away before he could get to the little girls,” she said.

“He was just a really kind, nice kid,” said Contreras.

Speeder goes back to school as car winds up in play yard

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD personnel had to be called out to unlock a gate and get a car out of a play area at Pecos Elementary, after a vehicle drove through the fence on the Willow Street side of the now-closed school early Tuesday morning.

Pecos police said the car ended up inside the play yard on the north side of the school following the one-vehicle accident, which occurred at 12:37 a.m. on Tuesday. The 2006 Mazda, driven by Oscar Barrera Jr., 2322 Sage St., Apt. B, was reportedly driving west in the 400 block of West Ninth Street at a high rate of speed when he failed to break in time for a stop sign at Ninth and Willow, went through the intersection, and then crashed through the fence and ended up in the yard.

Police estimated the Mazda was traveling around 57 to 59 mph at the time it entered the intersection. Neither Barrera nor a passenger with him in the vehicle, identified as Joseph Reynaldo Olivarri, were injured in the accident, which caused about $1,500 in damage to the school’s fence.

The vehicle was driven out of the yard and to Barrera’s home after school officials opened the gate. Barrera was cited by police for failure to control speed and disregarding a stop sign in connection with the accident.

Moore recognized for 25 years of service

Senior Corporal Emmit Charles Moore was recognized on April 20, for having completed 25 years of loyal, faithful and conscientious service to the people of the State of Texas as an employee of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Corporal Moore started out his career in Pecos, his first duty station. He graduated from Pleasonton High School in Pleasanton, Tx., attended San Antonio College and Texas A&I.

Moore is married to Louise Moore and the couple have two daughters, Susan, a student at UTPB and Catherine, a junior at Pecos High School.

His parents are Ida Moore of Big Spring and the late Emmit Moore Sr.

RCH preparing additional talks in hunt for docs

Reeves County Hospital District will be welcoming one new doctor to the hospital next week, will visit with two others during June and hope to conduct several more interviews in the upcoming month, as they try to solve the area’s current shortage of physicians.

Hospital board members discussed personnel, but took no action following a 45-minute executive session on Tuesday, during their regular monthly meeting, and wrapped up their other business in just under 20 minutes, during their meeting in the hospital’s classroom. Hospital CEO Al LaRochelle said some of the discussion involved the hospital’s continuing efforts to recruit new doctors for the facility.

The hospital will add one physician on Monday, when Dr. Don Apodaca begins working four days a week in the hospital’s Rural Health Clinic. Apodaca, from Garden City, will be working on 10-hour shifts on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at the clinic.

LaRochelle said information in a May 22 story in the Enterprise on the arrival another physician Dr. Sayeeda Bilkis, was in error. He said Bilkis, who will practice internal medicine when she moved to Pecos from Odessa, would not start work at the hospital until next year, instead of later this year. “She’s an ’08 grad,” he said.

Two other doctors, one from Kansas and another who will also finish residency in 2008 are due for interviews in Pecos next month. Both are family practitioners and obstetricians. LaRochelle said the hospital is trying to recruit younger doctors who are just getting certified in hopes they’ll remain in Pecos for a longer period.

“Most of them stay 6-7-8 when you get them in their first practice,” he said. “Even the J-1 (foreign) doctors stay around 5-6 years.”

Board members only had a few items on business for their May agenda. LaRochelle said the board would take up several other items, including the purchase of two new transfer ambulances, sometime this summer.

In other action on Tuesday, Precinct 4 representative Linda Gholson and Precinct 2 representative Pablo Carrasco were both sworn in for new two-year terms early in the meeting. Gholson was then re-elected board president and Carrasco was kept in his position as vice-president of the hospital board.

The board also approved the sale of six properties during the meeting; a lot at 1614 W. Fifth St., for $500 to Sylvia Salgado; a lot at 409 E. Fifth Street for $600 to Elizabeth and Jose L. Miranda; a lot at 301 N. Pecan St., for $510 to Esperanza Ortiz; a house at 716 S. Peach St., for $1,500 to Aurelia Gomez; a house at 7707 E. Fifth St., for $1,000 to Benjamin Peachee; and a house at 513 W. ‘E’ St., for $500 to Samuel Salgado.

Approved for privileges and credentials at the hospital on the advice of the hospital’s medical staff were Dr. Margaret E. Conner, for the RCH emergency room; Dr. Michael J. Waldron, and Dr. Bahram R. Oliai, both for the consulting staff in pathology.

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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321

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