Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Friday, July 20, 2007
Five arrested locally on federal drug charges
Five Pecos residents were taken into custody last week, following a two-year investigation led by both local and federal law enforcement agencies that led to indictments for possession with the intent to distribute cocaine being returned in U.S. District Court.
On July 10, officers from the Drug Enforcement Administration, United States Marshal’s Service and the Pecos Police Department executed a document search warrant at a home on Johnson Street. Several drug arrests were made during and after the raid, while other arrests outside of Pecos also were made in connection with the investigation.
“The police department has been assisting agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration for the past two and a half years with the drug investigation,” said Pecos Police Investigator Paul Deishler.
He said the five individuals have been charged with Federal drug offenses and are currently being detained in the Pecos Criminal Justice Center, which normally houses prisoners awaiting hearings or trial in U.S. District Court in Pecos.
DEA agents, U.S. Marshal’s Service agents and Pecos Police Department officers executed a search warrant at the home of Aldo Venegas and his family 1521 Johnson St. Officials were searching for documents in connection with the investigation.
Venegas already had been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine when the raid occurred, Deishler said.
“Once the officers had completed their search of Venegas’ residence, Mr. Venegas was placed under arrest and transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center,” said Deishler.
Other individuals that were arrested at separate locations in Pecos on July 10 and charged with Federal drug offenses, included: Mark Madrid Renteria, 29 years old; Jason Craig Sappington, 30 years old; Augustine Gonzales, 46 and Aldo Venegas, 24.
Other individuals were arrested on federal drug offenses, from around the area and other states, according to Deishler.
Chamber seeks more volunteers for ‘Night’ event
Food and variety booths, along with a talent show are all a part of the activities planned for Night in Old Pecos next weekend, but volunteers for the event are still needed, Pecos Chamber of Commerce members were told during their monthly meeting on Tuesday.
“We already have 30 booths,” said Debbie Thomas, during the monthly Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Director’s meeting at the Pecos Senior Citizen’s Center. “This year the chamber won’t have the drinks (sodas), but we have eight different vendors selling soft drinks.”
Thomas said that they needed volunteers to help hang lights, set up trash cans and other items that needed to be taken care of about two to three days before the big event.
Night in Old Pecos is planned for 6 p.m. until midnight, Saturday, July 28 in Downtown Pecos.
“Setting up those trash cans was a great idea, because then the city crew doesn’t have so much to do the following day,” said Thomas. “They show up pretty early the next day and do a great job of cleaning up,” she said.
In other business, Town of Pecos City Mayor Dick Alligood talked to the group about housing opportunities in Pecos. A shortage of available housing in the area has led to employee shortages at a number of local businesses, along with a cutback in this year’s Pecos Cantaloupe harvest, do to a shortage of apartments to house migrant workers.
“We are working on housing, the city is doing everything possible to bring more housing to Pecos,” said Alligood.
He said the city is attempting to get work started on a proposed 96-until apartment complex in the 700-800 blocks of West Washington Street. The site was originally designed for 20 single-family homes, but only one home was constructed.
The city owes nearly $400,000 to the state on a loan for infrastructure installation at the site, and in 2005 received approval to substitute the apartments, primarily for low-income families, for the remaining 19 homes. California businessman Ram Kunwar was awarded the rights to build the complex last year, but work has yet to get underway.
“We’re pushing the apartments over by Gibson’s very hard, but if they don’t do something by September, the land comes back to the city,” he said.Alligood said that they do pre-qualify people and that they are working with those individuals.
“They show the customers homes in their price range and it’s up to the customer to pick out the house,” said Alligood.
Alligood said that there are also plans to put in two more hotels in Pecos.
“Hopefully we’ll move forward with these projects,” he said.
Chamber Executive Director Linda Gholson introduced the new secretary for the chamber during the luncheon. Candace Roach will be replacing Lupe Davis as secretary.
Chamber president Venetta Seals introduced all the guests at the meeting including the new finance director for the city, John Paul Phillip.
West of the Pecos Rodeo member Brenda McKinney said that they don’t have figures yet on the 2007 rodeo, but that the turnout was great.“We had a great turnout, lots of cowboys and everyone had a lot of fun,” said McKinney.
The last two nights were filmed and aired on the Outdoor Channel and another viewing will come out at 12 noon on Saturday, according to McKinney.
“By next month, we hope to have some figures,” said McKinney. “We do appreciate everyone’s help, it’s thanks to the community that this even is a success,” she said.
Olga Keese told the groups that the Fourth of July events held at the Reeves County Civic Center were a success.
“All the kids had a great time and the fireworks display was beautiful and everyone enjoyed them,” said Keese.
“We feel we provided something good for the community,” said Keese. “A lot of people came out and we fed about 500 at the barbecue plate sale.”Board member Elsa Palomino said that the Annual West of the Pecos Rodeo Parade ran about 90 minutes and that everyone had a good time.
“We want to thank everyone that helped out,” said Palomino. “Weldon Brookshire invited a car club out of Midland and it was great,” she said.Seals said that a Good Samaritan and her daughter had cleaned up the area at the old Kentucky Fried Chicken location, which closed in April of 2006.
“They just took it upon themselves and cleaned up that area,” said Seals. “They filled up the dumpsters several times,” she said.
Seals said that Nadine Smith and her daughter, Dana Magers, cleaned up the entire area before the rodeo activities.
City’s July tax rebate check up 45 percent from last year
The Town of Pecos City’s sales tax collections for July showed another sharp increase over the same month a year ago, while the increases in rebates for Balmorhea and Toyah were even higher, according to figures released last week by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs’ office.
Pecos’ latest rebate check on its 1 1/2-cent sales tax, based on sales made in the city during May, was $123,787. That’s up 45.24 percent from the $85,226 check the city got back in July of 2006, while for the first seven months of the year, the comptroller’s office has sent the city $755,034 in tax rebates, a 32.44 percent rise from the $570,052 from a year ago.
It was the fourth straight month the city’s rebate check has surpassed the $100,000 mark. Previously, the city’s sales tax collections had netted a check of over $100,000 for a single month only on sales made during the Christmas holiday shopping season. The city collected just under $1 million in sales tax rebates in 2006, and the seven month total of just over $755,000 for 2007 is $1,000 more than Pecos received for all of 2003, just prior to the start of the current oil and natural gas drilling boom.
One-sixth of this month’s total, or $20,631, goes to the Pecos Economic Development Corp. for its operations.
Balmorhea saw their rebate check for the month more than double from July of last year, while Toyah’s latest check was almost quadruple the amount it received a year ago.
Balmorhea’s check for $2,084 was 101.09 percent above last July’s $1,037, while the $17,126 the city has received so far in 2007 is 83.12 percent higher than last year’s $9.352. Toyah’s $1,215 check for the month was 370.9 percent above the $258 check it got back from Combs’ office last year, and the $5,063 total for the year is 79.83 percent higher than last year’s $2,816 total.
The Reeves County Hospital District, which had been lagging the cities in the county in their tax rebate increases during the first half of 2007, saw its July check jump by more than 75 percent, going from $38,197 last year to $67,064. Overall, the hospital district’s 1/2-cent sales tax has brought in $356,659 this year, up 22.95 percent from the $290,079 sent back from Austin over the same period in 2006
July’s totals were down slightly from June’s in the Permian Basin, when almost all cities close to the revived drilling activity in the Permian Basin reporting increases in their tax rebate totals this month. Results were generally up this month, but some cities in the Basin and Big Bend region saw their checks decline from a year ago.
Midland had the region’s single largest check, for $2.89 million on its 1 1/2-cent sales tax, which was up 24.56 percent from a year ago. Midland’s rebates are up 12.72 percent this year, while Odessa’s 1 1/4-cent sales tax brought the city $1.73 million in rebates, a 6.21 percent rise from last July’s total. While Odessa lagged Midland for the month, overall their 2007 rebate increases are on par with their neighbor’s totals, rising by 12.56 percent.
For other cities collecting the 1 1/2-cent sales tax, Alpine received a $66,568 check, which was down 19.5 percent from last year. The city’s overall 2007 total is still up by 5.5 percent. Crane also was down for the month, despite the drilling boom. It received a check for $47,875, a 5.8 percent drop from 2006’s total; Lamesa got $76,489 back this month, which was up 7.5 percent; while Seminole received a check for $83,188, which was up 27.3 percent.
Among cities collecting a one-cent sales tax Kermit received $49,638 in their check, down 4.18 percent; Wickett received a $10,993 check, up 54.11 percent, Wink received a check for $9,002, up 102.75 percent, and Pyote, received an $1,080 check this month, a rise of 423.7 percent from last July.
For area cities collecting a 1 3/4-cent sales tax, Andrews received a check for $275,078, a 52.7 percent increase. Marfa got a check for $18,267, which was up 6.9 percent; while Van Horn got a check for $28,583, which was down 11. 4 percent from last year.
For cities collecting the maximum two-cent sales tax, Big Spring received $402,268, an increase of 5.1 percent; Fort Stockton received $166,470, up 19.7 percent; Monahans received a check for $117,990, which was up 2.6 percent from last July; Grandfalls got a $1,884 check, up 22.2 percent; and Presidio received $32,281, up 13.51 percent.
Statewide, Combs’ office sent out rebate checks totaling $304.1 million, up 9.52 percent from $277.6 million last July. Houston’s check of $36.3 million was up 4.1 percent from last June. Dallas’ check was next, at $18.5 million, which was up 10.17 percent from their rebate check a year ago.
School personnel changes made during special meeting
Several vacancies were filled and resignations accepted during a special Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board meeting that was held Tuesday evening at the Technology Center.
The meeting was held in executive session, but the appointments and resignations were approved during the open session of the meeting.The group will meet again to discuss several items, including more personnel at 6 p.m., Thursday at the Technology Center.
During Tuesday’s special meeting the board approved appointments:Rosa Granado, second grade bilingual, Austin Elementary; Laura Lara, as a Social Studies/Coach, at Crockett Middle School; Alejandro Racelis, Science, Pecos High School; Leslie Radford, English Language Arts/Reading, at Zavala Middle School and Kenneth Wallace, Special Education/Coach, at Crockett Middle Schools.
Resignations accepted were:John Anderson, Credit Recovery, Pecos High School; John Fabela, assistant principal, Bessie Haynes Elementary; Rosa Granado, second grade bilingual, Austin Elementary and Rodolfo Martinez, Spanish, Pecos High School.
Thursday’s school board meeting is scheduled to discuss several items relating to the campus changes planned for the 2007-08 school year, including the temporary need for an additional school principal.
Following passage of a $30 million bond issue in May, sixth grade will moved out of Bessie Haynes Elementary and will be housed at Zavala Middle School, while construction gets underway at the different campuses, including a new sixth grade wing at Crockett Middle School.
The sixth graders will move into Crockett when the construction at that campus is completed. Other construction scheduled includes the demolition and reconstruction of the front two wings at Austin Elementary, which houses the district’s first through third grade students.
Baeza, Trujillo announce wedding plans
Heather Eileen Baeza and Tony C. Trujillo, both of Pecos, plan to marry July 28, at the Reeves County Civic Center with Judge Sam Contreras officiating.
The bride-elect is the daughter of Oscar D. Baeza of Victoria and Dolores V. Baeza of Corpus Christi.
She is a 2005 graduate of Mary Carroll High School in Corpus Christi and attends Odessa College. She is employed by the Reeves County Court at Law.
Her fiancé is the son of Tony and Tina Trujillo of Pecos.
He is a 2003 graduate of Pecos High School and attends Sul Ross State University. He is employed by Tony Trujillo Land Surveying.
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