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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Storm misses area; but snow still in forecast

The third storm in a week that was supposed to hit the Trans-Pecos and Permian Basin region on Friday and Saturday took a line further to the north, and left the area with only a few brief flurries on Saturday and temperatures in the mid-50s on Sunday. However, the National Weather Service is predicting more snow, rain and ice in the area beginning Monday night and lasting through Thursday.

Temperatures were expected to remain in the 20s and 30s until Thursday, when highs in the mid-40s are forecast, But the weather service also was forecasting rain chances of 40 percent on Tuesday and 20 to 30 percent on Wednesday and Thursday, before skies are expected to clear on Friday.

The forecast ice and snow had Permian Basin residents hitting local grocery stores to stock up on food, while high schools changed or cancelled games in anticipation of the winter weather, after the two storms earlier in the week forced road closures throughout West Texas, including Interstate 10 from Fort Stockton to San Antonio and I-20 in sections west of Odessa.

Glen Laurm with the Texas Department of Transportation in Odessa said crews in the Big Bend area were already reporting road condition problems there as of Monday morning. “The Texas Department of Transportation office in Alpine is reporting a freezing mist and fog at 10:30 a.m., creating icing on roadway surfaces,” he said in a statement late Monday morning.

He added that TxDOT is cautioning drivers that some areas of black ice could be forming on U.S. 67 from west of Alpine to about 20 miles south of Interstate 10; U.S. 90 from west of Alpine toward Marathon; and State Highway 118 from Alpine south toward Big Bend National Park.

Ex-KFC workers take wing at own restaurant

After working in the food industry for many years, the dream of owning their own restaurant came true for one couple when they opened their own earlier this month. “When I first told my wife that we should open a restaurant at this location, she thought I was crazy,” said Jose Chavez, the proud co-owner of El Rodeo Restaurant, located at 1501 S. Cedar Streets.

The restaurant is in the old Pecos’ McDonald’s building, which has been vacant since the store’s El Paso owner closed its doors at the end of 2003.

El Rodeo opened its doors to the public on Jan 7, and features a buffet complete with a variety of Mexican food, fried chicken and numerous side dishes.

“We’re trying to offer a variety, such as not just Mexican food, but baked and fried chicken,” said Chavez a longtime employee of the Pecos Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet, before its owner shut down the Eddy Street store last year.

The recipe for both types of chicken comes from Chavez himself who says that he loves to cook.

“Using the recipe from KFC would have cost us a lot of money,” said Chavez. “But the one we serve is good.”

Chavez said that his wife, Isela, who is co-owner, also enjoys cooking and coming up with new ideas.

Isela Chavez worked for KFC for 14 years and Jose worked there for six years.

The two said that while compiling a sales report, they realized just how much income they were generating for their clients and came to the realization that they were capable of producing a good income from a restaurant of their own.

“I always wanted to own my own business,” said Chavez, who twice received the Best of the Best Award from KFC for his store’s efforts.

Chavez said that he has invested all his savings in the restaurant and is always open to new ideas and suggestions.

“We want our customers to be happy and we will take suggestions,” he said. “I want to run a good family restaurant.”

Chavez came to Pecos when he was six years old and decided this would be his home. “My wife, Isela, is for Presidio, but she also likes Pecos and wants to stay here,” said Chavez.

Right now, the workers at the restaurant are going through a lot of training.

“We hired nine people and plan to hire up to 12,” said Chavez.

“I’m willing to work with anybody, if they are willing to give it a try, so am I,” he said. Chavez said that the Drive-Thru window is open now as well and plans some other renovations in the future.

“Some day, I want to put up televisions, so that people can watch the news or sports, while they are eating,” said Chavez. “The outside patio area, we want to put in a candy machine, rocking horse for the kids and a stuffed animal machine,” he said.

Chavez said that the menus are now ready and that they have gone through a lot trying to open up the restaurant and get it ready for customers.

“I feel like Pecos needed something different and I thought this location was great to bring in tourists and people off the highway,” said Chavez. “West Texas National Bank was really good to us and helped us a lot.”

He said WTNB president and loan officer John Grant referred the couple to Loretta Garcia, Counselor, Big Bend Region Small Business Development Center in Alpine. Working with Garcia, the couple put together a successful SBA guaranteed loan application for just under $100,000 to open the Cedar Street restaurant.

After the closing of the Pecos KFC, Chavez had been traveling back and forth to Fort Stockton where he was working at the combination KFC/Taco Bell located in that city. Prior to working for that company, Chavez had also worked at Anchor West Foods. “It’s hard to please 100 percent, but I want to make my customers happy,” said Chavez. “It takes time and money to do all the things we want to do, but eventually we hope to achieve all that,” he said.

Chavez said that the entire family has been helping out at the restaurant.

“They know that this is their future, this is theirs,” said Chavez.

The Chavezes have three children, Imelda, who is currently attending Odessa College; Jose, a junior at Pecos High School, who has been playing baseball with the Eagles since he was a freshman and Joel, 14, an eighth grade student at Crockett Middle School.

“Before we purchased the restaurant, we had a family meeting and we discussed with them all the hard work and determination that it would take to make this work,” said Chavez. “They did me proud and made me happy, because they too, have been working really hard.”

Chavez said that the hardest working person is the family is his wife. “She is such a hard worker and always willing to help,” he said.

The restaurant is open Sunday through Thursday, from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m. until 11 p.m.

County, BOP reach deal on new RCDC contracts

New contracts to house as many as 3,763 inmates at the Reeves County Detention Center have been agreed to by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, with the bulk of those inmates to be housed under a long-term deal with the federal agency that could be worth more than $600 million to the county over the next decade.

The county was awarded a contract last week of up to 10 years by the Federal Bureau of Prisons for the housing of up to 2,407 criminal aliens at the Reeves County Detention Center Complex under the Federal Bureau of Prisons Criminal Alien Requirement (CAR)-6 request for proposals, said former Reeve County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo. The contract will replace the expiring Intergovernmental Agreement between the county and BOP.

The GEO Group, Inc. announced the new agreement for the RCDC I and II units. In addition, GEO said that Reeves County has been awarded a four-year contract by the BOP for the housing of up to 1,356 criminal aliens at the RCDC III under the BOP’s CAR 5 procurement. Those inmates will replace 864 Arizona inmates currently being housed at the center.

“It has been a long road to this point” said Galindo, who left office at the end of December after serving as county judge for 12 years. “Three years ago, the county and GEO set out to renew the Intergovernmental Agreement between the Federal Bureau of Prisons and Reeves County for the 2,000-bed RCDC I&II and to provide detention services for the State of Arizona in the 960-bed RCDC III facility. Short-term this was our objective.

“Long-term, our plan was to provide detention services for the Federal Bureau of Prisons using the whole 3,000-bed facility,” said Galindo. “Today, with years of hard work and effort behind us, Reeves County is the recipient of two 10-year contracts from the Federal Bureau of Prisons worth over $600 million dollars, which will employ over 500 people in our community.”

The county currently houses approximately 2,200 BOP inmates in RCDC I&II and will house up to 1,356 BOP inmates in RCDC III under the BOP’s recent Criminal Alien Requirement (CAR)-5 award. To accommodate the increase in population under the new CAR-6 award, the county will build a new housing unit along with special housing beds and a new medical unit using bond financing.

Following the completion of construction in November 2007, the capacity of the three units at RCDC will increase to 3,763 beds, making the RCDC the largest detention/correctional facility under private management in the world. “We are very pleased that Reeves County has received this important contract award from the Bureau of Prisons,” said George C. Zoley, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of GEO. “We played an active role in assisting the county with the submission of this proposal, and we look forward to strengthening our partnership with Reeves County, its community and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.”

The contract will have an initial base term of four years effective Feb. 1, 2007, with three two-year renewal option periods. Under the contract, the county will receive fixed monthly payments for up to 1,884 inmates and per diem payments for each additional inmate thereafter. The contract could generate approximately $490 million in operating revenues for the county over the entire 10-year period at or near full capacity. This in addition to the approximately $218 million in operating revenues projected for the RCDC III CAR-5 award.

“This new long term contract is indicative of a continuing tread of lengthy contracts being awarded by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the U.S. Marshals Service providing for increased revenue certainly for our company and a continuity of services for our Federal clients,” said Zoley. “This new contract will help ensure the long-term financial stability of this important facility.”

“Twelve years ago, we embarked on a mission to lower taxes, increase youth activities for our kids, and create new jobs,” said Galindo. “Today, I am proud to say that on all three accounts Reeves County has prospered with a tax rate that is 20 cents lower, a community sports and recreation department that has served hundreds of kids year-round, and the new economic engine for our future which has created over 380 new jobs.”

Deputies jail trucker in 2 1/2 ton marijuana bust

An El Paso man remained in custody at Reeves County Jail on Monday, four days after he was arrested west of Pecos when the truck he was driving was found to contain over 2 1/2 tons of marijuana.

Federico Murphy, 10152 Racoon Dr., in El Paso, remained in jail on a $1 million bond after deputy Kevin Roberts stopped the truck he was driving while it was eastbound at the 32 miles marker on Interstate 20, about seven miles west of Pecos at 9:32 a.m.

Roberts said Murphy was cited for no valid driver’s license, and Roberts then received permission to search the vehicle. The truck was supposed to be carrying yeast from the El Paso area to the northeast, but when Roberts checked inside he found wrapped packages of marijuana.

“I noticed numerous bags of marijuana co-mingles with the regular items,” Roberts said. “The load was headed to Pennsylvania. Where it (the marijuana) was going, I don’t know.”

After the marijuana was discovered, the truck was impounded and driven to Pecos and parked outside the Reeves County Courthouse, where the packages were removed from the vehicle and placed in the classroom at the sheriff’s department.

“It took six of us two hours to do it,” Roberts said. The packages were enough to cover two walls and tables in the classroom, and was initially estimated at 4,000 pounds. However, Roberts later said the total amount came to 4,617 pounds, and had an estimated street value of $3 million.

Murphy was charged with possession of marijuana, a first degree felony, and his bond was set at $1 million. Roberts said on Thursday that the trucking company Murphy was working for also was based in El Paso, but on Monday said he did not want to release the name of the company. However, the sheriff’s department does plan to seize the vehicle in connection with the marijuana seizure.

No other arrests had been made in the case as of Monday morning.

County’s unemployment drops as jobs increase

Reeves County’s job figures finally showed an upturn in the final unemployment report for 2006, though the total number of jobs at the end of last year in the county was still below the final level for 2005, according to figures released on Friday by the Texas Workforce Commission.

The county saw its jobless rate drop by over 1 percent from November, falling from 6.7 to 5.4 percent. The total number of workers in the county was up from a month ago by 45, increasing to 4,188, but that was offset by the addition of 95 new jobs, as employment rose to 3,962 last month, the TWC said.

Despite an improving economy due to increases in oil and natural gas drilling, labor force and job numbers within the county have been on the decline for the past two years, since the Workforce Commission modified its method of determining those numbers when it began using figures from the 2000 U.S. Census. The TWC’s figures show the county’s labor force has lost 69 workers over the past year, while the total number of jobs in the county was 3,984 in December of 2005, when unemployment stood at 6.4 percent.

Christmas time hires helped lower most unemployment rates across the Permian Basin in December

Midland County’s unemployment rate fell to 2.7 from 3.3 percent. The county added 126 workers and 529 jobs from November, and is up over 2,900 workers and 3,100 jobs from a year ago. Ector County’s unemployment rate fell to 3.2 percent from November’s 3.8 percent, with an increase of 45 jobs while the county lost 348 workers.

Andrews County’s rate dropped from 3.7 to 3.2 percent last month, as the number of workers was up by 22 while the county lost 53 jobs. Brewster County’s rate fell from 3.2 to 2.9 percent, while the county lost nine workers but added seven jobs. Crane County’s rate declined from 5.0 to 4.3 percent. The county lost 17 workers and four jobs. Culberson County’s rate was down from 3.8 to 3.4 percent, with an increase of 43 workers and 49 jobs. Dawson County saw its rate fall from 6.5 to 5.5 percent in December, as the county added 57 workers and 109 jobs, according to the TWC.

Howard County’s unemployment rate dropped from 5.2 to 4.3 percent last month. The county saw a drop of 98 workers but added 20 jobs from the previous month. Pecos County’s rate dropped nine-tenths of a percent, to 4.1 percent, as the county’s workforce was down by 16 workers while the total number of jobs increased by 44. In Ward County, unemployment was down from 4.9 to 4.0 percent, with the number of jobs up by 40 while the workforce was down by three from November. Winkler County’s unemployment rate also was at 4.0 percent, falling from 4.6 percent in November. The county’s workforce fell by 28 people while the number of jobs dropped by 11.

Presidio County’s jobless rate was one of the few to rise last month, increasing from 9.3 to 9.9 percent. The county’s workforce rose by 86 from November, while the number of jobs was up 16 from the previous month. Loving County’s jobless rate fell from 12.1 to 11.4 percent, thanks to the addition of two jobs and two workers to its labor force. The TWC said Loving County had 35 people in the workforce in December and 31 with jobs, which is three less workers and three fewer jobs than in December of 2005.

RCCRD begins registration for Tai-Chi class

The Reeves County Community Sports and Recreation Department will be starting a Tai-Chi (Taji) Quan Class on Mondays from 4:30 to 6 p.m. beginning on Jan. 29 at the old Pecos High School gym.

Tai-Chi is a form of martial arts which helps improve balance and coordination, increases strength and flexability, decreases anxiety, depression, stress and muscle tension and improves circulation and lowers blood pressure.

For more information on the class, call the RCCRD office at 447-9776.

Pair indicted following Big Bend pot seizure

A U.S. District Court grand jury in Pecos indicted two men on Thursday on marijuana possession charges, after U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested them three days earlier in a pickup reportedly containing over 1,800 pounds of marijuana.

Rolando Rendon of Midland and Jose Martin Medina, a U.S. citizen living in Ojinaga, Mex., were arrested in Presidio County on Jan. 15, and were indicted by the grand jury on charges of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Rendon, 27, was the driver and Medina, 35, a passenger in the pickup that officials said was carrying more than 1,800 pounds of marijuana in the bed.

Border Patrol agents from Marfa stopped the 1995 Ford after it was spotted speeding on a FM 2810, which runs from near Ruidosa on the Rio Grande to Marfa. Agents found 1,834 pounds of drugs, worth about $1.46 million, wrapped in tape in the back of the truck.

Rendon and Medina were turned over to investigators from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration after their arrest Monday. Following their indictments, they face a detention hearing at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Durwood Edwards in Pecos. The charge of possession of marijuana over 100 but under 1000 kilograms carries a prison sentence of between five and 40 years in federal prison, if the men are convicted. The case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney B. Dwight Goains.

Border Patrol agents in the Marfa area have seized about 11,000 pounds of marijuana since Oct. 1.

Police Report

EDITOR’S NOTE: Information contained in the Police Report is obtained from reports filed by the Pecos Police Department, Reeves County Sheriff’s Office, or other officers of those agencies. The serving of warrants by an officer for outstanding fines of either traffic citations, animal control violations or other court costs are considered arrests and will be printed as such unless indicated that the fines were paid. In such instances we will indicate payment and release.


Abel Lopez, 23, 1116 S. Cherry St., was arrested by police on Jan. 14 on a charge of public intoxication. Police said the arrest took place at 3:41 a.m. in the 1100 block of South Cherry Street, and Lopez was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Jose Martinez Jr., 22, 1102 S. Oleander St., was arrested by police on Jan. 13 on a charge of public intoxication. Police said the arrest took place at 3:07 a.m. at his home, after officers had received a report he was threatening to harm himself. Martinez was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Ruben Angel Montano, 19, of Odessa, was arrested on Jan. 13 in the 1300 block of South Eddy Street on a charge of driving with an invalid license. Police said the arrest was made following a traffic stop, and Montano was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Manuel Carrasco, 36, 1403 S. Oak St., was arrested by police on Jan. 14 on a charge of public intoxication. Police said the arrest took place at 12:49 a.m. in the 200 block of East 13th Street, and Carrasco was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Monica Marie Hernandez, 32, 1403 S. Oak St., was arrested by police on Jan. 14 on a charge of public intoxication. Police said the arrest took place at 12:49 a.m. in the 200 block of East 13th Street, and Carrasco was also charged on outstanding warrants for failure to pay fines on charges of no valid driver’s license and no proof of financial responsibility. She was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Oscar Saenz Barrera, 42, 1512 Johnson St., was arrested by police on Jan. 12 on a charge of public intoxication. Police said the arrest took place at 10th and Cedar Streets, following a call from the Suavacito Club, 900 S. Cedar St., about an unwanted male who had left the bar in a vehicle. Barrera was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Joe Daniel Wright, 28, 312 N. Cypress St., was arrested by police on Jan. 12 on a warrant out of Ector County charging him with non-payment of child support. Police said the arrest took place at 10th and Cedar Streets, following a call from the Suavacito Club, 900 S. Cedar St., about an unwanted male who had left the bar in a vehicle. Wright was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Eric Florez, 27, 2129 S. Hackberry St., was arrested by police on Dec. 9 and charged with public intoxication. Police said the arrest occurred at the Suavacito Club, 900 S. Cedar St., after officers were called about a fight involving two men at the bar. Florez was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Daniel Arevalo Sotelo, 32, 614 S. Mesquite St., was arrested by police on Dec. 9 and charged with public intoxication and possession of a controlled substance. Police said the arrest occurred at the Suavacito Club, 900 S. Cedar St., after officers were called about a fight involving two men at the bar. The drug charge was added following search of Sotelo, which police said turned up a substance believed to be cocaine in his possession. Sotelo was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.

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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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