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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

House raids, traffic stop by police lead to five arrests on drug charges

Two raids and an arrest in the south-central part of town led to the arrest of five persons on drug-related charges, according to Pecos police, with three of those arrests for possession of cocaine.

A cocaine charge is also pending in first of the five arrests, which came following the execution of a narcotics search warrant on Oct. 18 at 522 Pine St. Investigator Paul Deishler said SWAT team members secured the area. Deishler said a substance believed to be cocaine was located in the master bedroom of the home, along with a digital scale used in the weighing of narcotics.

Arrested on a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia was Randy Leonard Dominguez, 24, of 522 E. Pine St., He was transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center following his arrest, and Deishler said Dominguez could also face a charge of possession of a controlled substance.

The second incident involved the arrests of two Pecos High School students for possession of a controlled substance. Deishler said the incident took place on Oct. 20 following a complaint of several minors in possession of alcohol around the Town and Country Food Store, 1219 S. Cedar St. Police officer Oscar Machuca located a vehicle matching the description given officers as it was traveling in the 1100 block of South Cypress Street.

Machuca said the two persons in the vehicle, identified as Romeo Martinez Ybarra, 17, 405 S. Oleander St., and Vincent Palomino, 17, 2122 S. Missouri St., were then seen throwing something under the vehicle that was later determined to be cocaine. Several other minors at the scene were issued citations for minor in possession of an alcoholic beverage, while warrants for Palomino and Ybarra were issued on Oct. 24 by Municipal Court Judge Amanario Ramon, and they were placed under arrest at the high school and transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.

The final incident also took place on Oct. 24, following the execution of a narcotics search warrant at 506 N. Cherry St. A search of the property turned up what officers said was cocaine, and officers placed two persons inside the building under arrest.

Charged with possession of a controlled substance was the resident of the home, identified by police as Gregorio Juarez Navarrete, 53. Deishler said the other person, identified as Sergio Zermenio Delgado, 43, 806 E. Ninth St., was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, after an item used to smoke marijuana was found in his possession.

Both men were transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center for booking. “More arrests are pending in reference to the suspected cocaine that was found on the property,” Deishler said.

Insurance firm sued by county over legal bills

A jury trial has been scheduled in November to listen to arguments from an attorney representing the Reeves County Sheriff and an insurance company. Ruben Robles, with Robles, Bracken, Coffman & Hughes, L.L.P., El Paso, attorney for Reeves County and Sheriff Andy Gomez stated that the insurance company is refusing to pay for the sheriff’s legal bills, which he said are insurmountable.

Gomez has racked up the bills from a lawsuit brought forth by Pascual Olibas, of El Paso.

“Lexington (Insurance) and the other attorney from Houston Casualty, which insures the county have refused to defend the county,” said Robles. “So I sued them to have a jury declare that they need to pay for the sheriff’s legal fees, which are considerable.”

Bob Parks, 143rd District Court Judge, said that he was granting the continuance, because both demonstrated conflicts for the trial that he just couldn’t resolve. A state appeals court had ruled in favor of Gomez, in a legal dispute involving Olibas, a former Pecos bail bondsman, now located in El Paso.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in El Paso issued a ruling on Aug. 23 upholding a previous decision, involving a lawsuit arising out of a Texas Open Records request, filed by Pascual Olibas. The court ruled that Gomez did reply to Olibas’ requests for information within the 10-day time period allowed under state law.

Olibas, the owner of Freedom Bail Bonds sent Gomez a letter on Jan. 19, 2005 requesting the names of all reserve deputies employed since January 2000. He also sought a list detailing how many hours each reserve deputy had worked since January 2002 and a list detailing any type of expense the county paid for and the cost for each reserve deputy, including but not limited to, uniforms and insurance.

Olibas sent the request pursuant to the Texas Open Records Act and the Freedom of Information Act, which Gomez’ office received on Jan. 21, 2005.

The court ruled that Gomez’s reply by letter on Feb. 3, 2005, met the criteria of the Open Records Act. Olibas received that letter and a second, dated Feb. 4, on Feb. 7, four days after he filed suit. Gomez’s second letter stated that, he had filed suit, alleging Sheriff Gomez failed to timely respond to his open records request under Section 552.221(d) of the Texas Government Code.

Deal reached by city, county on venue tax

After nearly 2 1/2 years of negotiations, Reeves County and the Town of Pecos City have finally reached an agreement to set up a venue tax board for rehabilitation of the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena and Reeves County Civic Center.

City Council and County Commissioners separately approved agreements last week to create an eight-member Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena Authority board that will oversee use of the new venue tax that will be added to hotel and motel bills in Pecos.

“We’ve had several things we’ve worked out with the county,” said Mayor Dick Alligood, who also explained the state rules that will govern the new authority to the council.

Members were briefed before approving the venue tax concurrent order during their regular meeting on Thursday evening at City Hall. Commissioners also approved the order on Thursday, which will allow the city to begin collecting the new tax.

As mayor, Alligood will appoint four of the eight persons to the board, while Reeves County Judge Sam Contreras will name the other four. Alligood said he wanted to make the board members subject to council approval, but was told by the Texas Comptroller’s Office that by law the board had to be named by the top city and county officials.

“I’m responsible for it, but I will bring anybody in front for your consideration,” he told the council.

“This is to get things moving forward on the venue tax,” said Contreras. “The city has approved it as well and we plan to work together.”

Pecos voters approved a 2 percent hotel/motel tax in May of 2005 that would go towards rebuilding the 70-year-old rodeo arena and rehabilitating the Civic Center, which was last updated in 1986. But disputes on other issues, centering mainly on water usage fees at the Reeves County Detention Center, left the project in limbo at the same time hotel/motel tax collections were rising sharply due to the oil and gas drilling boom in the Trans-Pecos area.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Alligood, who thanked Contreras and Precinct 1 Commissioner Roy Alvarado for their work with him and Mayor Pro-Tem Gerald Tellez on working out a deal.

Several members of the West of the Pecos Rodeo Committee, along with Contreras, were at Thursday’s meeting. The effort to create the venue tax began after emergency repairs had to be made to the south stands at the Buck Jackson Arena in 2004 due to severe termite damage to the support posts. Preliminary plans called for replacing the stands and modernizing facilities at both the rodeo arena and the adjacent Civic Center.

“This is great thing to get done,” said rodeo committee member Brenda McKinney. “We are home of the world’s first rodeo, and we should have a top-notch facility.”

Alligood said once the agreements are signed, local hotels and motels would be notified to start collecting the new tax. That should begin in December, and the city and county will receive their first funds back from the comptroller’s office in February.

“I’m very, very proud that this will move forward, and maybe we’ll see some work before the next rodeo,” Alligood said.

El Paso engineering firm awarded water line project

Town of Pecos City Council awarded Parkhill Smith Cooper the engineering contract for construction of the new water lines for a planned Hampton Inn motel and restaurant on Interstate 20, while also reappointing Amanario Ramon as municipal court judge following an executive session.

Pecos was awarded at $238,000 Texas Capital Fund grant for improvements to the lines on I-20 near the State Highway 17 exit, where the motel is to be built. The city will contribute an additional $8,100 to the project for engineering work. About two-thirds of the total funding will go towards construction, which will be contracted out.

Representatives from Parkhill Smith Cooper and Frank X. Spencer & Associates made presentations to the council during the meeting, after which members voted based on a points system presented to them by city public works director Edgardo Madrid. “In this part of the project, it’s a set price,” he explained to council members.

Both companies said the project would be run out of their offices in El Paso, and cited their experiences on previous projects, including several involving Pecos and within Reeves County over the past 20 years. Engineers with Parkhill’s Midland office would also be involved with the project, and after going over the criteria, including questions about change orders that might increase the cost of the project, the council awarded the contract to the company, based on a 525 point score to 501 points for Frank X. Spencer & Associates.

Ramon was reappointed to his post on a split vote, following a second round of interviews with candidates for the position. A total of six candidates were initially interviewed for the job, with Ramon and two other candidates called back for interviews on Thursday. Councilman Michael Benavides voted against the reappointment.

In other action, the council was told by city finance director John Phillip that they were awaiting final word on the Office of Rural Community Affairs on the city’s plans for repaying the 2002 grant used for infrastructure construction in the Airlawn Addition for 20 low-income homes. Only one home was ever built, and the city will repay the bulk of the original $400,000 loan in five annual payments, beginning with a $15,000 payment this year.

The payment will allow the city to collect new ORCA grant funds for sewer line reconstruction. Pecos Mayor Dick Alligood said the city should await ORCA notification before sending the initial payment, but councilman Frank Sanchez favored sending the check right away.

“I don’t think we should be playing games with them. We don’t have any muscles to flex right now,” Sanchez said. The city has until Wednesday to send ORCA the $15,000 payment.

Phillip also told the council the new per diem agreement for housing U.S. Marshal’s Service inmates at the Pecos Criminal Justice Center would save Pecos $95,000 a year. The Marshal’s Service agreed to increase their payments to the city 3 1/2 years after the U.S. Department of Labor mandated the city increase the salaries paid to jailers at the CJC. The change left the city running a deficit for housing the prisoners under the original contract signed five years ago.

Council members also approved the 2007 tax rolls and corrections for the 2006 and prior tax rolls, as presented by Lydia Preito. She said the calculated total property tax collections for the city in 2007 came to $918,770.

The council also approved support of a measure from the Texas Legislature that would allow property kept in storage over 175 days within the city limits to be taxed. “We don’t have any of those types of personal goods here,” Prieto said, but they would include items such as rail cars left in one location for over six months at a time.

The council agreed to a lease with Gilbert Gonzales for land next to the Town and Country Food Store on West Palmer Street for a produce shed. Council members approved a temporary permit this past summer for Gonzales, and the new deal is a three-year lease with a right to terminate by either party at the end of each year.

The council opposed setting up a permanent building because of the site’s location next to a city water well at the Reeves County Golf Course. Madrid said he needed to talk with golf course workers about possible future use of the well.

PEDC starts 4B director hunt; 4A board to discuss close out

The new 4B Pecos Economic Development Corp. named an interim secretary and tabled any action on issuing a job description for an executive director, during a noon meeting on Monday at City Hall.

Council members named city secretary Crissy Barraza to serve as interim secretary for the 4B PEDC, which began operations this month. Board president Danny Rodriguez said Barraza would be paid a salary of $100 a week, pending approval by the Town of Pecos City Council.

The board took no action on the job description for the position of executive director, currently held by city manager Joseph Torres on an interim basis. Board member Jimmy Dutchover presented three possible job description outlines. He said with Torres currently serving in the role, the board could study the job description outlines for three non-EDC organizations and see if they would work with the 4B’s position.

Pecos Mayor Dick Alligood, who also is a member of the new board said, “I asked the state Economic Development Committee to send us job descriptions for 4A and 4B, but they haven’t gotten here yet.”

“We can table this and look at it at the next agenda,” Rodriguez said.

The 4B meeting came prior to Monday evening’s meeting of the PEDC 4A board. Items on that agenda included the dissolution/close out of the corporation, discuss/approve accounts payable, aid discuss the purchase of 3.07 acres of land which the 4A corporation executive director Mike Burkholder had been negotiating for purchase. The land, located at the Interstate 20-U.S. 285 intersection, was being considered as a possible site for a new motel.

Burkholder resigned as both 4A and interim 4B executive director earlier this month. The evening meeting will be run by the 4A board, of which only Dutchover and Leo Hung were reappointed by the city to serve as board members for the new 4B corporation.

Goose parade Judges select top costumes

Children from Pecos and nearby communities were on hand for the Annual Mother Goose and Friends Parade, held Saturday evening in Downtown Pecos. Children dressed up as fairies, Sleeping Beauty, Grim Reapers and other assorted characters to join the annual pre-Halloween parade, which began at the Drive-Thru of West Texas National Bank and concluded at West of the Pecos Museum.

In the birth through three-year-old category, first place went to Halle Sparkman dressed as a chili pepper; second place, Rylie Dominguez, dressed as Snow White and third place, Zachary Alvarez, a monkey.

Four to six year olds winners were: first place, Aaliyah Fuentes, Sleeping Beauty; second place, Ryan Dominguez, bull rider and third place, Ashlynd Urias, Sleeping Beauty.

Iriana Hidalgo, dressed up as a Kitty took first place in the seven to nine year old category; second place went to Clarissa Rodriguez, a Genie and third place, John Benavides, dressed up as a Bleeding Reaper.

Several children join the 10-12 year old group and winners consisted of: first place, Victor Jurado, a Barrel of Monkeys; second place, Isabel Fuentes, a Mardi Gras Clown and third place, Helen Connor, a witch.

In the Group Cateogary, several young ladies, dressed up as Fairy Tinkerbells took first place, Brianni Ryan, Zoie North and Penny Stanford.

PHS hosts blood drive next week

Pecos High School will be sponsoring a Blood Drive, from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 6, at the New Gym.

Blood Donor requirements include: be at least 17 years old; weigh at least 110 pounds; be in good health; know names of medications and valid ID (Drivers’ License, School or Work ID).

Contact Jeanine Ivy at 447-7400 to sign up.

Cholesterol testing is available now for all donors.

This is the Fall 2007 High School Blood Drive Competition.

Library Story Hour set for Nov. 5

Children’s Story Hour will be held at 10 a.m. and at 2 p.m., Monday, Nov, 5, at the Reeves County Library, 505 S. Park.

All children in the community are invited to attend.

Zavala, Bessie Haynes plan Veterans events

Zavala Middle School will honor our local veterans at 2 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 9, at the campus, while Bessie Haynes Elementary School will honor veterans and families of the military with a special program at 1:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 12, at the campus.

All American Veterans and families of those in the military at the present time are invited to attend the Zavala event next Tuesday.

Veterans are asked to be at the Zavala sixth grade campus at 1:30 p.m.

The sixth grade choir under the direction of Gloria Espino will present a special program to honor and remind everyone that freedom is a privilege and freedom is not free.

Veterans attending the Bessie Haynes event are asked to be at the fourth and fifth grade campus at 1 p.m.

The Bessie Haynes fifth grade choir will present a celebration of freedom under the direction of Espino. Veterans will be honored and those in the military will be remembered.

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