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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, June 8, 2007

Child molester arrested in traffic stop

A convicted child molester, wanted in California for parole violations, was apprehended by Reeves County sheriff’s deputies Wednesday after the Sheriff’s Department received a call about a reckless driver on the Interstate.

Deputy Manny Jimenez stopped a U-Haul truck on I-10 at mile-marker 184, after receiving the report of the erratic driver.During the traffic stop and a check of his driver’s license, Jimenez placed the driver under arrest.

The driver, Carlos Miguel Valdez, 68, of Los Angeles, California, was wanted for a parole violation.

Valdez violated parole on an original charge of Sodomy with a person under the age of 14.

“He was placed under arrest and is in our jail, but will be extradited to California,” said Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez.

Gomez said that they were happy to take such an individual off the streets.

“I’m sure California will be glad also and will deal with him,” he said.

Why build a canoe when you can buy one?

Some things cannot be bought.

William Weston Grant, better known as “Wes,” has learned a thing or two in the past four months.

That learning has kept him pretty busy as well.

With all the free time that a 14-year-old freshman who participates in range judging, and pole vaults on the junior varsity track team has, Wes built a canoe along with his number one assistant and father, John. .

“Dad and I decided we needed a project,” Wes said.

Before the canoe, most of Wes and John’s projects came in the form of “honey do’s” around the house and on the family farm in Comanche County.

The canoe was a bird of a different feather. After coming up with the idea Wes did some research and finally decided on what is called a “cedar-strip” canoe.

There are other types of canoes you can build.

“I liked the way you could see the wood with the cedar-strip type,” Wes said.

As you might imagine, the canoe is built from thin strips of cedar, and sticking all those strips together into something you can paddle down a river is easier said (or told) than done. Wes bought the plans for a cedar-strip canoe on Ebay for $15, and he and dad began to pay their dues as boat builders.

“Yellow cedar is what you are supposed to use,” Wes said, “but we couldn’t get any, so we decided to use red cedar and it looks better anyway.”

They bought four cedar planks that were 1x8x16 and then began ripping the planks on a table saw into strips that measure one quarter-inch wide by three-quarters-of-an-inch tall.

Each plank would yield 15 of the strips that would become the hull of the boat.

Not having a wood shop, Wes traded his sweat with Jim Blanchard by pruning Blanchard’s pistachio orchard for access to Blanchard’s wood working shop.

“We really appreciated Jim letting us use his tools,” John said.

Before any part of the actual canoe could be built, however, first Wes and Dad had to craft the form - known to canoe builders as the “strong back.”

Compared to building the strong back, building the canoe was pretty easy.

Plywood and two-by-fours were cut and formed to form the interior dimensions of the canoe - almost like a form a potter would use to mold clay around.

Once the form was ready, Wes started building the hull, one strip at a time.

“You start with the sheer strip,” Wes said. The sheer strip is the top strip of wood - the one you would put your hand on when you tried to steady yourself and the canoe as you got in.

The building process is slow.

The plans call for at least 150 man-hours to build the canoe.

“It took at least that much time,” Wes said and Dad just nodded as though the plan’s time estimates were overly optimistic.

Each strip is stapled to the inside forms, twisted first one way and then another, until it runs the length of the canoe.

“Once the first strip is in place, you run a line of glue along it and clamp the next piece to it. Once the piece is clamped in place it is stapled and the process repeated.”

Gradually, a hull emerges, three-quarters of an inch at a time.

“It takes some time,” Wes said.

First the pair built the sides and then finally the keel or bottom of the boat.

When the final strip of cedar is glued and stapled in place, the real work begins.

“First you have to remove all the staples.

They held everything in place as we glued the strips, but then they have to come out,” Wes said.

Once the staples are out all the excess glue has to be scraped, and then the sanding begins.

The Grant boys started with 30 grit sandpaper and a belt sander and worked their way to 180 grit paper. Along the way you have to switch from power tools to your hands.

Wes estimated that between 1/32 and 1/16 of an inch of wood was removed, as the hull was sanded clean.

Then the work really started.

“I really enjoyed the wood working,” Wes said. “The fiber glassing was not as much fun.”

To stiffen the boat a special fiberglass is used. Once the glass and resin cure the finish is clear and reveals the wood underneath - as though the wood is the final layer.

Wes’ education, and maybe the elder Grant’s, progressed quickly as they went about the fiberglass job.

“It’s slow,” Wes said.

Better yet, the pair got to do the job twice. What went wrong?

“Go ahead, you can tell him,” the senior Grant told his son.

“We tried to go too fast and it really looked bad,” was all Wes would say.

“What happened is that patience is not one of his dad’s virtues,” John said.

“At one point Wes turned to me and said, ‘Dad, I don’t want to make you mad, but I think we need to slow down,’” John said. “He was right.”

So, the sanding started all over again. It took about two weeks to sand off the first fiberglass job.

“We went a lot slower and mixed the resin differently too, the second time,” Wes said. Once the boat was fiberglassed inside and out it was time to put the finishing touches on it.

Inwales and outwales made of red oak were installed next. The two pieces of wood sandwich the top pieces of cedar and form the gunwale - the edge of the boats hull.

Brass screws secured the oak to the cedar. Last thwarts and seats went in.

The thwarts are horizontal braces that run from one side of the hull to the other.

The seats were also of oak construction with rope woven through the wood to make the seat bottom.

“We freehanded the paddles,” Wes said. There weren’t any directions for paddles in the building plans. Both paddles were made of left over cedar in the same way the hull was formed.

“Dad made his and I made mine.”

In all it took Wes and his dad about four months to craft the canoe.

Then it was time to test it.

“We finished on Thursday and had it in the water on Saturday.”

For a maiden voyage the Grants decided to travel down part of the Leon River that begins around Eastland and eventually flows into the Brazos.

Wes and his dad put in about six miles north of the family farm in Comanche County. According to the GPS the pair traversed about 16 miles as the Leon snakes back on itself again and again.

“We saw a drilling rig at one point, and then awhile later we saw it again - on the other side,” Wes said.

The first voyage was a success. According to Wes the canoe did not leak and was good and stable.

“The water was up pretty high and it maneuvered very well,” he said.

And then it was done. The canoe was built, and the trip a success.

“I learned a lot,” Wes said.

And for about the same cost as a new store-bought canoe, and only about 150 hours of their time, Wes and his dad had a canoe that could float down a river.

And maybe something else - something not easy to name, impossible to buy with money, and probably worth more than gold or silver.

Cloud seeders look to farm clouds

Finding the right clouds to seed and make rain was the subject of a talk given by guest speaker Gary Walker at a recent meeting on cloud seeding held Tuesday at the Pecos Municipal Airport.

Along with Walker, meterologist Nick Jones was on hand to answer any questions about the project.

“This is our second year to operate the program and four counties are involved,” said Walker.

Walker said that there was a lot of promise for hygroscopic seeding.

“Argentina does a lot of weather modification, they have bought their own planes,” said Walker.

Walker said that when you’re standing on the ground, you see a lot of clouds, but when you see it on the computer screen, you just see a few clouds.“The meteorologist is the one who determines which clouds will be seeded, he’ll tell the individual in the plane and they will take it from there,” said Walker.Walker said that it wasn’t an exact science, but that it was something that works.

“We’ve done cloud seeding three times this year in Reeves County and all three times, it rained,” said Walker. “We did it on the 28th, 31st and the third of this month and all three times it rained,” he said.

The counties that are involved in the project are Reeves, Loving, Culberson and Orla.

“They are all partners and there are people in every county that don’t want to do it,” said Walker. “The three days we did it in May in Reeves County it rained, so that tells us something,” he said.

“The atmosphere is full of moisture, but the cloud has a general duration,” he said.

Walker said that rain is a very inefficient process.

“We’ve done some cloud seeding at night, but usually that’s not a good idea, because it’s a hard process,” said Walker.

“He’ll talk to the pilots while they are up in their airplanes,” said Walker.

Walker said that he was a pilot in the Navy and had always been interested in flying.

“The Titan radar is a system that comes from Oklahoma, City, level two quality radar,” said meteorologist Nick Jones.

Jones said that their equipment is not the same as what the television stations have. “This is a super computer that can do so much more,” said Jones.Jones said that he had built the computer and that it was a very sophisticated system.

Cloud seeding is increasingly being used for both water supply enhancement and weather damage reduction. In the West, cloud seeding is performed with the goal of increasing the overall precipitation into a watershed. Elsewhere, particularly the High Plains of the United States and Canada, it is used for hail suppression to reduce damage to crops and urban areas, Walker said.

Hygroscopic seeding is used in warm or mixed-phase clouds. Large hydroscopic particles (salt powders and hygroscopic flare-produced particles) are injected into a cloud to increase the concentration of “collector drops” that can grow into raindrops by collecting smaller droplets and enhancing the formation of frozen raindrops and graupel (snow-like ice) particles. This method of seeding may also be effective in wintertime clouds because it may counteract the negative influences on precipitation of high concentrations of pollution.Walker said that for over a hundred years they have drilled through the dirt below our feet to reach the water that is essential to our existence.

“That water, pumped from the Ogallala Aquifer, has made the South Plains of Texas one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world,” said Walker. “But that aquifer, the only water available to agricultural producers, is being depleted at an alarming rate in many areas, including Gaines, Terry and Yoakum Counties,” he said.

Walker said that he had served on a water conservation district.

“This is sophisticated stuff building years and years of development,” said Jones. “It’s a big operation in South America, but we’re not touting scientific proof,” he said.

Valeriano receives degree from UTPB

A former Pecos resident and single mother, Zaira Valeriano, received her degree from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin on May 5, with a degree in bachelor’s of business administration in management.

Acting director of human resources and payroll at Midland College and a single mother, she said her parents, Anna and Jose Valeriano of Pecos, her brothers and sister-in-law have offered “tremendous” support. But her children, Patrick, 13, and Briana, 12, are the main reason she reached her objectives.

Valeriano was inducted into the honor society, Beta Gamma Sigma, on April 27. Beta Gamma membership has been offered since UTPB received accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International two years ago.

She is a first-generation high school and college student, started at Midland College as a student worker after graduating from Pecos High School. She then worked as a secretary, benefits coordinator and payroll coordinator before moving to her current position in February, supervising six employees.

After receiving her associate’s degree from MC in 1997, she planned to go to UT Austin but decided against it to be closer to her family.

She studied at UTPB in 2000, then left and took all the classes she could at Midland College. For two years she took no classes and in summer 2005 went back to UTPB. Last semester, she took 12 hours and this semester, nine, to complete her education.

Miller earns top honors at science fair in San Antonio

A Pecos student was awarded top honors for his project at the 2007 ExxonMobil Texas Science and Engineering Fair in San Antonio.

James Miller, a sixth-grader at Bessie Haynes Elementary School, won third place in mathematical sciences in the junior division.

The 21st annual state competition, presented by the Texas Science Careers Consortium and hosted by The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), recognized all students placing first, second, third or receiving an honorable mention in the fair’s 19 competitive categories. In addition, more than $2.4 million in scholarships were awarded to students from Our Lady of the Lake University, Texas Tech University, The University of the Incarnate Word, The University of Texas at Arlington, and UTSA.

The competition drew 1,300 students from across Texas to compete in two divisions - junior division (grades 6-8) and senior division (grades 9-12). Grand prize winners in the senior division received all-expense paid trips allowing them to compete in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), which was held May 13-19, in Albuquerque, N.M. The top 10 percent of competitors in the junior division were invited to apply for the Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge in Washington, D.C. in October.

“We are proud to support a variety of outstanding math and science initiatives, such as the ExxonMobil Texas Science and Engineering Fair, which help prepare our young people to take on challenges of tomorrow,” said Truman Bell, ExxonMobil’s senior program officer for education and diversity.

“Each student who participated in this competition is truly a winner, and we salute them for their hard work and dedication. Whether they are advancing to a national competition or striving for a better understanding of the world around them, participation in scientific inquity helps hone their skills in research, problem solving and critical thinking. These skills will serve them well in the future, as they continue their studies and prepare to enter the workforce.”

For the seventh consecutive year, ExxonMobil served as the title sponsor of the event. The company’s contribution included funds allocated for support of a diversity recruitment initiative, aimed at assisting certain qualified students with project and travel expenses that would otherwise deter them from the competition.

“On behalf of UTSA, I would like to congratulate all the winners of the 2007 ExxonMobil Texas Science and Engineering Fair,” said Dr. George Perry, Dean of the College of Sciences, UTSA. “We are honored to host such an outstanding competition, where studentsw are provided with a forum to lean more about science and achieve their goals. I am amazed at the high-level thinking and creativity demonstrated by these students year after year, and we are grateful to ExxonMobil for their continued support.”

The Texas Science Careers Consortium, which represents the science programs of public universities around the state, has been operating the state level science competition since 2001. Students qualify for the state competition by placing first, second or third in a Science Service-sanctioned regional fair. Science Service is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the understanding and appreciation of science among people of all ages.

Students in both divisions also received special awards from sponsors such as the American Statistical Association, Intel, Showboard, Society of American Military Engineers, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and Yale Sciences and Engineering Association.

ExxonMobil Foundation is the primary philanthropic arm of the Exxon Mobil Corporation in the United States. The Foundation and the Corporation engage in a range of philanthropic activities that advance education, health and science in the communities where ExxonMobil has significant operations. In the United States, ExxonMobil supports initiatives to improve math and science education at the K-12 and higher education levels. Globally, ExxonMobil provides funding to improve basic education and combat malaria and other infectious diseases in developing countries. In 2006, Exxon Mobil Corporation, its divisions and affiliates, and ExxonMobil Foundation provided $139 million in contributions worldwide, with $54 million dedicated to education. Additional information on ExxonMobil’ community partnerships and contributions programs is available at

Quiroz, Pando announce upcoming wedding

Ramiro Sr. and Corina Pando announce the upcoming wedding of their son, Ramiro Pando Jr. to Kimberly Kaela Quiroz.

The groom-to-be is a 2004 Pecos High School graduate and is currently enlisted in the U.S. Army as an AH-64D Apache Helicopter Mechanic.

The bride-elect is the daughter of Rudy and Lorena Jimenez of San Antonio. She is a 2007 John J. High School graduate.

The couple will marry June 16, at the Saragosa Hall in Pecos.

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