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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sunday snow across region melts quickly

Holiday weekend weather caused some problems for area travelers, but temperatures stayed warm enough in the Pecos area so that Sunday's snowfall caused only limited problems in the area, and most melted off of streets and sidewalks by the end of the day.

Pecos received between 3-5 inches of snow from late Saturday night through early Sunday afternoon despite temperatures above freezing, and clearing skies in the afternoon and temperatures in the upper 30s helped clear streets of the snow by sunset.

Only one accident was reported inside the city limits on Sunday, though Texas Department of Public Safety officers handed other accidents outside of town, where snow and colder temperatures created more problems.

Fort Stockton had the greatest accumulation in the area on Sunday, picking up 6-8 inches, and snow remained alongside roadways in the area overnight. Other snowfall was reported both to the west of Pecos, in the I-10/I-20 junction area, and along I-10 from Balmorhea to the Iraan-Sheffield area and on I-20 across West Texas, stretching from the junction through the Abilene area.

Pecos escaped the bad weather that hit West Texas on Thanksgiving and continued through Friday morning. Areas north of Midland and between Abilene and Sweetwater received 3-6 inches of snow, while Eddy and Lea counties in New Mexico also saw accumulations from the first line of bad weather associated with a cold front that arrived in the region last Wednesday. But the Trans-Pecos region only received a few flurries from on Thanksgiving, along with a light mist that continued throughout the day.

Temperatures by early Monday afternoon already had climbed back into the upper 50s in Pecos, and the National Weather Service was forecasting a high in the upper 60s on Tuesday and highs in the low- to mid-70s for the remainder of the week.

Commissioners OK curfew, eye park alcohol ban

Reeves County Commissioners approved countywide curfew was approved but delayed action on prohibiting the consumption of alcoholic beverages in county parks and rest areas, after a discussion during their regular meeting on Monday morning.

The group approved an order establishing a countywide curfew that would apply to all minors in the community, similar to a curfew already in place inside Pecos.

"We just copied what the city had and the same hours will apply," said Reeves County Judge Sam Contreras.

Commissioners discussed adopting an order prohibiting consumption of alcohol beverages in county parks and rest areas.

Contreras said that the main problem lies at the North Side Park, which is really a rest area. "People don't want to stop because of all the drinking going on out there, they are hesitant to stop with their families," he said.

Contreras said that it is not really a "park" but a rest area for travelers to stop and enjoy. "But they don't really want to use it for that, since they see what is going on out there," he said.

However, some questions about the effect of the new law were raised during the meeting.

"When we talked about passing this order, we didn't think about all the festivities that Balmorhea has throughout the year," said Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez.

He said that if the commissioners approve this order, then the consumption of alcohol would be prohibited during the festivities, such as the chili cook-off and Labor Day weekend activities.

"They have all those festivities in the middle of town at that little park and gazebo," said Gomez.

Reeves County Commissioner for Precinct 2, Gabriel Martinez, that the same problem would be posed at the Martinez Field, where there are several tournaments held throughout the year.

"When they have those tournaments, there is always alcohol," he said.

Contreras said that during these tournaments at Martinez Field, the cleanup is always left up to the Road and Bridges Department.

"I think, like with the tournaments at Martinez Field, we can charge a fee or a deposit, so that they can clean it up themselves," said Contreras . "After these tournaments there are always a lot of beer bottles and trash that they leave behind."

Contreras said that if a deposit fee is charged, then the individuals hosting the tournament would not get their deposit back. "I think it will bring some issues and these are just some that we need to discuss further," he said.

"We do have big baseball tournaments at the Martinez Field, we didn't think about that when we talked about this order, but they do drink out there when they play," said Gomez.

"Well the problem is they don't clean up after themselves," said Contreras.

The order will apply to all the parks, but the North Side Park, is the only county rest area, according to Gomez. "We'll still enforce it, if you pass the order, but we need to look at the Balmorhea festivities and the Martinez Field Tournaments," said Gomez.

"Well at Martinez Field, like I said, we can charge a fee or a deposit, and then whoever is having it is in charge of cleanup," said Contreras. "We can set up large trash bins and they can all clean it up," he said.

"In Balmorhea they have festivities about two or three times a year and we'll have to look at the rest areas," said Gomez. The group agreed to table taking any action and to discuss the item further and bring it back to the court.

Also tabled in other action on Monday was an order regulating certain fireworks in unincorporated areas of Reeves County and designating a "safe" area for fireworks and designating a specific date.

Reeves County Emergency Management Coordinator Ricky Herrera told the group that the county is currently not in a drought, which is when this order is usually adopted.

"The fireworks that would be banned would be those with fins and rockets, but right now we are not in a drought," said Herrera.

"That's why we called you, to see if was necessary to adopt the order or not," said Contreras.

Herrera said that he had talked to someone from the Texas Forest Service and that they told him that Reeves County was not under drought conditions.

"This is something we have to discuss with the fire marshal as well and I talked to Freddy (Contreras, fire chief), and he said that we had only had a few small grass fires, but nothing serious," said Herrera.

Herrera said that they have until Dec. 15, to adopt the order. "And we have another commissioners court meeting before that and we can adopt it then if necessary," said Herrera. "They start selling fireworks on Dec. 20, so we do need to notify the vendors before then, so that they will know what to order and what not to," he said.

Herrera suggested that the court wait until the next meeting and decide then. "We do have to do it by Dec. 15," he said. Commissioners approved inmate transportation crew mileage payments in the amount of $2,125; RCDC I&II 2001 lease payment, in the amount of $495,000; RCDC I&II, 2001 Maintenance reserve payment in the amount of $29,166; RCDC III 2005 lease payment, $345,701 and RCDC I&II 2007 lease payment in the amount of $218,283.

Commissioners awarded the general liability insurance proposal to Texas Association of Counties; the law enforcement liability coverage for the juvenile department and the Reeves County Sheriff's Office to Roger's and Belding and the public official liability insurance to Roger's and Belding.

Local tip helps snare Odessa bank robber

A bank robbery in Odessa was solved thanks to the efforts of the Reeves County Sheriff's Department, who received a tip that led to the arrest of one individual.

Thanks to the tip that came in to Reeves County Sheriff's Deputy Javier Contreras last week a suspect in the Nov. 19 robbery of the Southwest Bank on West Eighth Street in Odessa was apprehended in a home near the downtown area of that city just before midnight that same day.

"I received a tip from someone that I know about this robbery suspect," said Contreras. "I then called the police department in Odessa and they talked to the FBI who was doing the investigation."

He said that he stayed on the line with them while the officers went to the location where the suspect was.

"I gave them the address and told them that there would children in the home, to be careful with them," said Contreras.

The deputy said that he stayed on the phone with one of the officers, while they relayed the information to the FBI, who went to a home in the 1500 block of Tom Green Street.

Inside the residence, they found evidence of the robbery and money from the bank.

"Nobody would have known about him, because he has several aliases and is not from this area," said Contreras. "It's thanks to the tip that we received that this individual was captured."

FBI and local officers detained 31-year-old Jerry Gasca, and later sent him to the Midland County Jail to await formal sentencing on bank robbery charges. "He's done other things, but from what we understand he is from the Dallas area," said Contreras.

The tipster wants to remain anonymous and the sheriff's department is considering a reward.

"It's thanks to tips like this, that we can capture these criminals and put them safely behind bars," said Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez.

Local speed boat team earns 2nd at nationls

Pecos, Texas may have a river, but Pecos and speed boats aren't a natural association.

Neither is Phoenix, Ariz., in most people's minds, but that's where a group of Pecos people were two weeks ago, competing in, and placing second at the Coors Light World Speedboat Finals.

"We lost by five-thousandths of a second," said Chis Armstrong, one of the boat's team members.

Texas Red raced at the Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix for STP Enterprises. It's owners are Steve Prewit, Terry Tredaway and Paul Armstrong, while Jerry Hardwick is the powerboat"s driver. Chris Armstrong said Hardwick has a longtime association with the boat, which is how the others got involved last year.

"He's been doing this for 17-18 years," Armstrong said. "The owner who had it previously he had been driving for them"

He said the attended last year's event, and then ended up working out a deal to purchase ownership of the 27-year-old Demarco speedboat, operating it this year in Texas and Oklahoma before qualifying for the world finals. "The boat's been running forever, but it's been under our ownership for just this year."

"It's been different. A lot different from racing on the street," Armstrong said.

"We raced at San Angelo, Marble Falls, Oklahoma City, Fort Worth and Brady,” he said. "Pecos is announced in every race we run. Nobody knows where it is, but they hear about it."

The team competes in the Southern Drag Boat Association. Armstrong said qualifiers from there and from the International Hot Boat Association were the ones who made up the entries at Phoenix, where the finals were held on Nov. 16-19.

"We ran against 25 boats at the Coors Light World Finals. We qualified in 13th place, and then got runner-up," Armstrong said. That included four runs to get to the finals and three qualifying runs. “So we're No. 2 in the world right now."

Armstrong said Texas Red races in the pro-eliminator class. The boat can hit 150 mph for eight seconds. "It runs a Chevrolet blown (methanhol) 468 engine."

He said along with himself, the other members of the crew are Shanna Tredaway, Michael Hardwick, John Cannon, Chet Bowles, Ashley Horsburg, Richard Smith Jackie Smith, Curt Long, Jesse Long, Mouse Hardwick, Heath Armstrong, Allen Morton and Zack Morton.

"The majority of them are from Pecos, except for two or three," Paul Armstrong said. "They pretty much go to each one, because it takes every crew members to do it."

The boat's sponsors are Armstrong Steel and Welding Supply, Luchini and Mertz Surveying, ICI Consulting and John L. Henderson Ranches.

Cowboys fans face scramble to see key game

Dallas Cowboys fans wanting to see their team face the Green Bay Packers Thursday night, in a game to decide the overall leadership in the National Football Conference will need either a satellite dish or a friend or restaurant with one, since the game will not be broadcast by any of the Midland-Odessa TV stations or on any available cable channel.

The Cowboys will host Green Bay in the first of two games over the next five weeks on the NFL Network, a channel owned by the National Football League, which currently is available on only a handful of cable systems around the United States, but is available to Direct TV and Dish Network subscribers.

Suddenlink Cable, which serves Pecos, Barstow, Monahans, Kermit, Crane and Midland, is one of the companies involved in a dispute with the NFL over carrying the channel, which was created five years ago and began televising late-season NFL games last year. Cable operators, led by Time-Warner Cable and Comcast, have balked at carrying the channel on basic cable, saying the cost asked for per subscriber is too high. Cable companies also are seeking access to the NFL's subscription package of Sunday games from across the country, which is currently available only to Direct TV customers.

On its website, Suddenlink officials say they want to offer the NFL Network as part of a digital sports package, but not at the basic level.

"The NFL Network does not offer the kind of year-round programming that justifies putting it on a standard cable package: During only two months of the year, the NFL Network will air only eight, live regular-season games, on Thursdays and Saturdays," the company said. "In contrast, Suddenlink customers in most areas will be able to watch more than 100 live NFL games on traditional stations and networks, throughout the season."

The NFL Network has asked cable companies for a fee of between 80 and 90 cents per subscriber to carry its channel. Fees for sports channels can range as high as ESPN's $3.10 per subscriber, but Suddenlink said the lack of year-round programming on NFL Network makes even the 80 cent cost too high.

"Already part of the world's most profitable sport, the NFL Network has suggested a price tag of more than $100 million, which is more than its programming or ratings justify, and more than some of the most popular cable networks charge," the company said.

The Cowboys and Packers both are 10-1 on the season, and the winner of Thursday's game is expected to have home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The NFL will make the game available over-the-air only on Fox Network stations in Dallas-Fort Worth and Green Bay.

The Cowboys had one game on the NFL Network last season, against Atlanta, and will be on NFL Network once more this season, on Saturday, Dec. 22 against the Carolina Panthers.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321

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