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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Police seeking runaway teen after argument

Pecos police are continuing to search for a 15-year-old reported missing by his family earlier this month, but believe the boy voluntarily ran away from home.

Gerardo Cerna was reported missing by his family on Jan. 20, after leaving his home at 2108 Country Club Dr., around 9 p.m. and not returning. “We checked a few houses where he might be,” said police investigator Capt. Kelly Davis. “The mom went to the grocery store, and when she came back, he was gone.”

Davis said Cerna left home following an argument, and “we don’t believe any foul play was involved.”

He was last seen wearing baggy jeans, a gray T-shirt with the words “For Sale, Best Offer” on the front and white sneakers. He is described as being 5-foot-5 and 130 pounds, with black closely- cropped hair and green eyes.

Anyone with information is asked to call the police department at 445-4911.

Vandals damage Eddy Street businesses

Pecos police are investigating a possible burglary and two criminal mischief reports involving businesses in the 1200 block of South Eddy Street that occurred sometime between late Friday night and early Saturday morning.

Police said the damage was discovered at 4:57 a.m. and involved Emily’s Accessory Shop, Dairy Queen and Pizza Pro. Police Chief Clay McKinney said investigating officers noticed damage to the front door at Emily’s, where the possible burglary occurred.

Officers searched inside the building after discovering the broken door and found no one there, but McKinney said a cash register in the back on the building was found to have been opened. He said investigators were called to the scene, but as of Monday morning, police were not sure if anything had been removed from the register.

McKinney said damage at Dairy Queen and Pizza Pro were limited to broken windows, and no entry was gained to either building. He said the front door was broken at Pizza Pro, while the drive-through window and two other windows on the north side of Dairy Queen had been shattered.

“Apparently the window was hit several times by a piece of cement about the size of a brick, that was found laying near the front of the (Pizza Pro) building,” he said.

“At this point, we don’t have any suspects, but the investigation will continue,” McKinney added.

Council weighs speed limit cuts on Cedar Street

Town of Pecos City Council members were told lowering speed limits on Cedar Street inside the city limits will probably be both a faster and cheaper option than putting a new traffic light on the street to control U.S. 285 traffic, after city officials talked to Texas Department of Transportation officials about the problem.

Councilman Danny Rodriguez asked last fall that the city look at putting a traffic light in front of Wal-Mart, because of traffic coming into town on U.S. 285 exceeding the speed limit on South Cedar Street. But during Thursday’s council meeting, Martin Arreguy, who is in charge of the city’s street department, said after talking to TxDOT, the initial cost of the project would have to be paid for by Pecos.

“The law requires us to hire an engineering firm to do the study, and then it would be up to TxDOT to put in the light at Wal-Mart,” he said. “So even if we do the study, it would then be up to TxDOT to look at it and decide if a traffic light is justified.”

“What the engineer recommended to me is if we want to control speed, we have to put more policemen and policewomen out there,” he added.

Pecos Mayor Dick Alligood said the other option would be to cut the speed limit on Cedar Street. Currently, the speed limit is 45 mph from Interstate 20 to East 14th Street, and then drops from 40 to 30 mph over the next six blocks.

“I think it needs to be consistent. It changes every couple of blocks,” said councilman Frank Sanchez, who recommended a 35 mph speed limit along all of Cedar Street inside the city limits.

“Thirty-five would be ideal,” he said. “We can always look at traffic later if that’s an issue.”

Alligood said the city should also look at possible changes to speed limits on two other state-maintained roads in Pecos, Business I-20 (Third Street) and State Highway 17 (Balmorhea Highway). Speed limits on Third Street range from 30 mph in the downtown and near west side areas to 40 mph on the far east and west sides. Posted speeds on the Balmorhea Highway are 50 mph between Third Street and Interstate 20 and 55 mph from I-20 to the south city limits.

Civil rights suit against city, county starts in federal court

Jury selection began on Monday for trial in a civil rights suit filed against several law enforcement officers and the Town of Pecos City by a local resident, stemming from incidents that allegedly took place four years ago.

The lawsuit filed by Joe A. Vernon alleging violations under the Federal Civil Rights Act will be heard this week in the United States District Court, Western District, Pecos Division. The lawsuit naming the city and Reeves County law enforcement officers was filed by Vernon under the civil rights act. Those named from the Reeves County Sheriff’s Department include Sheriff Arnulfo “Andy” Gomez, deputies Lionel Garza, Israel Campos, Richard P. Natividad and Reeves County. Also listed in his civil suit are the Town of Pecos City and Pecos Police Officer Helen Vernon, Joe Vernon’s ex-wife.

Vernon, who ran a oilfield pumping service out of the family’s home in central Reeves County at the time of the alleged incident, alleges harassment by local law enforcement during the process of his separation and ensuing divorce from Helen Vernon.

Vernon’s attorney is Brett L. Bigham, while Gomez and all of the Reeves County Sheriff’s deputies and the sheriff are being represented by Denis Dennis and John William Weinacht.

The Town of Pecos City is being represented by Scott Johnson and Terry Wayne Rhoades, while Vernon will be represented by Rhoads, Johnson and Reagan L. Butts.

Pecos Trail members seek added funds

Members of the Texas Pecos Trail discusses ways to get additional funding and were busy with a tour, as part of their monthly meeting two weeks ago in Big Lake.

The historic riches of the Hickman Museum and the Reagan County Community Building were the area destinations visited by the Texas Pecos Trail members for their education program and bi-monthly board meeting on Jan. 11.

After an impressive and interesting tour of the Hickman by the head of the Historical Society, Ann Schneemann, a TPTR board director, the group of almost 50 individuals met at the Community Building for a networking lunch catered by M&M Catering and a board meeting immediately afterwards.

Among agenda items discussed were the intense lobbying efforts on behalf of the TPT to the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Historical Commission for continued funding of the award winning Heritage Trails Program, that has invested over $400 million dollars into heritage tourism development in Texas; and to the state legislature for protection and funding of our State Parks.

TPTR board chair Shanon Biggerstaff, President of the Ozona Chamber of Commerce, spoke to the gathering, thanking Big Lake community leaders for hosting the event and congratulating members for taking a sincere interest in making the journey to “help their communities with growth opportunities and to share success stories with their peers.”

Building membership in this new west Texas non-profit foundation, fund raising projects, and making resources and grants information available to communities for heritage preservation projects, were also high on the list of new business discussed. Cooperative tourism marketing, educational workshops, and website promotions and support for partners were part of a report presented by the Region’s new Coordinator, Keith Godwin.

The TPTR next meeting will be in Sanderson, on Thursday, March 8.

For more information on how you can become involved, or get assistance with building heritage tourism in your community, contact the region coordinator Keith Godwin at 325-387-2927, or visit the immensely resourceful website at

Staff shortage slowing city’s clean-up work

Town of Pecos City Council members reviewed in-town clean-up efforts by city crews, and approved both a final reading for an ordinance setting rural trash collection rates for residential customers and a first reading of rates for commercial businesses outside the city limits, during their meeting Thursday evening at City Hall.

City code enforcement officer Julio Quinones and sanitation department director Martin Arreguy updated the council on the city’s efforts to tear down condemned buildings, and showed the council pictures of three buildings demolished this month, while saying that a shortage of workers is slowing down their efforts to remove those buildings.

“Julio finally tore down the Old Mill Café. That was a Pecos landmark,” said councilman Frank Sanchez. Quinones said the building, which has been abandoned for over a decade, was in danger of having its roof collapse before demolition, though Arreguy added that the rock front wall was saved and sections taken by local residents for use in new home projects.

Quinones did add, in response to a question by councilman Danny Rodriguez, that clean-up efforts were being slowed due to a shortage of workers, and city manager Joseph Torres said a couple of job openings had not been filled.

Rodriguez asked if any local advertising had been done on the positions, and Torres said the city preferred to use the computer database through the Texas Workforce Commission.

“We use the Workforce Commission because they qualify with the workforce (criteria),” he said. “Our starting salary range is not what the oilfield is offering.”

Councilman Gerald Tellez asked about using Reeves County Jail inmates for clean-up efforts. Torres said while the city does have an interlocal agreement with the county, some jurisdictional issues over who will supervise the inmates still has to be resolved. “We’re working on an agreement to get a jailer to handle the Reeves County Sheriff’s Office inmates,” added Pecos Mayor Dick Alligood.

Arreguy said the city is also using a rear loader in their alley clean-up program, but said some residents are tossing junk back into the alleys illegally after work is done by the city crews.

“I guess now they think it’s a service, but if you get caught, you’ll get ticketed,” he said. “We’re trying to clean up Pecos, but we need citizens’ help. It’s still an uphill battle, but we hope they’ll comply,” Arreguy said.

He added that the city is still planning to set up a schedule for roll-off beds to be set up on a rotating basis in neighborhoods to handle large trash items. Alligood said the roll--off bed will also be needed by local construction crews to dispose of junk from current and future building projects in the city.

The council approved new rural trash collection rates for residential customers during their Jan. 12 meeting, which set collection rates at $60 to $120 a month for residents from one to seven miles outside the city limits. The rates are based on weekly trash collections, while additional weekly collections would cost an additional $13.58 to $29.20 per month, based on distance from town.

The council delayed setting commercial rates during their Jan. 12 meeting, over concerns the city’s landfill disposal and transportation costs could be negatively affected by businesses with large amount of solid wastes to dispose.

The commercial rates will start at $70.90 a month for businesses within a mile of the city limits. Fees will increase by about $10.46 for each additional mile outside of town, up to seven miles outside the city limits. Additional collections will add $17.71 to the monthly bill for businesses within a mile of the city, increasing about $2.60 for each additional mile out of town.

On a related topic, the council tentatively approved the donation of property at 103 S. Mesquite St. Quinones said two homes that have been condemned are on the site, but could be torn down and the site used by the city as a recycling center.

“We could actually do this within a month,” Quinones said. “By the time we get more dumpsters in, the lot should be ready.”

The agreement to accept the land was qualified after Lydia Prieto, who handles the city’s tax collections through the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD tax office, said, “It will become exempt (from taxes) as soon as the city takes over.”

“We will look into any back taxes issue before the mayor signs off on it,” said city attorney Scott Johnson.

The council said they hoped to have a report from Torres and Johnson by their next meeting, on Feb. 8, on the results of a TECQ hearing in Austin on a complaint about water rates brought against the Town of Pecos City by Reeves County. The hearing is scheduled for Feb. 7-8, and Alligood said Torres and Johnson expected to be back in Pecos in time for the 5:30 p.m. council meeting.

Council members also said they would have a report on controlling roaming dogs on their Feb. 8 agenda, after hearing from local resident Clark Lindley on problems with two dogs roaming his west side neighborhood in recent weeks.

“There are two dogs out repeatedly, and I don’t know if the young man who is the (animal control) officer knows the situation,” he told the council. “I don’t want to wait until these aggressive dogs act a third time.”

Prieto told the council that the city has received $184,574 in property tax payments so far for the current fiscal year, which is 29.4 percent of the total amount due. She added that the rate is 2.4 percent above last year at the same time, and that property owners have until Feb. 1 to pay their taxes before facing late payment penalties.

Guest speaks at regular study club meeting

The Honorable Sherry Phillips Mayor of McCamey, and President of the Western District of the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs was special guest speaker for the Federation Day Program held by The Modern Study Club on Wednesday, Jan. 10, in the parlor of the First Christian Church in Pecos.

Federation Counselor Paula Fuller introduced President Phillips.

As she began her talk, President Phillips informed club members of new updates and information from GFWC She encouraged members to get involved with GFWC President Jacquelyn Pierce’s Special Project, Domestic Violence, by posting National Domestic Hotline information in schools, beauty shops and other places by preparing overnight kits for battered women and children.

Continuing, she gave club members suggestions on fundraising, publicity and recruiting, retaining and renewing members. She reported on the GFWC Legislative Day held Sept. 8, 2006, when GFWC Board of Directors stormed Capitol Hill advocating the passage of the Elder Justice Act and also funding for the Violence Against Women Act.

President Phillips encouraged club members to write letters to their congressmen and senators requesting the passage of he Gynecological Cancers Education and Awareness Act, also known as Johanna’s Law. It would authorize a three year national awareness campaign informing women about ovarian cancer, early detection, survival rates when caught early, and other vital information.

She told that the Women’s History Resource Center wants to know every General Federation of Women’s Clubs’ history and needs the information prior to July 1. She also reminded club members of the District Fundraiser and asked that chances be purchased on a James Avery necklace.

A beautiful painting by Joyce Morton of bird houses and a $25 check was presented to President Phillips as appreciation for her visit and to assist her with travel finances.

Paula Fuller led the Club Collect and Betty Lee led the Pledges of Allegiance to the United States of America and Texas Flags. The minutes were read by Secretary Catherine Travland and treasurer Betty Lee gave a statement of club finances.

Scholarship Chairman Margie Williamson reported on scholarship recipient Vanessa Valeriano and stated she was working on funding the 2007 candidate for competition for the Western District Alma Van Sickle Scholarship to be presented at the WD Annual Spring Convention.

Western District Arts Chairman Joyce Morton encouraged members to enter their photographs and short stories for district judging. Short stories may be fictional, historical or factual.

A note from Marthana Hudson was read regarding Bonnie Cearley’s pictures and newspaper clippings. Also, a letter from Safe Place was received reporting on plans for the coming year and requesting financial, spiritual or volunteer support.

The club voted to send a $25 check donation to the Alma Van Sickle Scholarship Fund in memory of Harry Reddick, husband of club members, Iris Reddick.

Roll call was answered by recalling favorite programs from years past. Bi-monthly projects were contributions to M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Hospital in Houston. One cent for year of age was collected for project Operation Smile.

Hostesses Joyce Morton and Catherine Travland served club members and special guest TFWC Western District President Sherry Phillips delicious refreshments from a table centered with a delightful Happy New Year theme.

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.


Police arrested two juveniles on Jan. 24 on charges of burglary of a habitation, in connection with a break-in on Jan. 12 at the home of Sebero Jaquez, 321 N. Walnut St. Police said the arrests were made five day after the juveniles were brought into the police department and confessed to taking currency, alcoholic beverages, a X-box and several X-box games from inside, both of which were later recovered. The two teens were transported to the Pecos County Juvenile Detention Center following their arrests, to await a hearing on the burglary charges.


Rodolfo “Rudy” Franco, 19, 853 Martinez St., and Alfred Keith Franco, 21, 744 Martinez St., were arrested by police on Jan. 29 on a charge of public intoxication. Police said the arrests were made at Allsup’s, 2232 S. Eddy St., and both Francos were then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


William D. Thomas, 30, 1514 Mary St., was arrested by police on Jan. 17 on a charge of assault under the Family Violence Act, a Class A misdemeanor. Police said the arrest was made at Thomas’ home after officers were called there at 1:50 a.m. in response to a call made by his wife, who said he had pulled out some of her hair and then thrown to the floor. Thomas was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Gabriel Aaron Orona, 18, 704 Brant St., in Barstow, and Robert Halpain Muro, 22, address unknown, were arrested by police on Jan. 24 on charges of possession of marijuana under two ounces in a drug-free zone. Police said Orona was the driver of a vehicle and Muro a passenger when less than two ounces of marijuana was found in a metal case next to the driver’s seat, while the vehicle was outside the Lamar AEP building in the 100 block of West ‘F’ Street. Orona and Muro were then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


John Wesley Bagley, 18, 1619 S. Alamo St., was arrested on Jan. 24 on charges of possession and use of abusable volatile chemical and possession of drug paraphernalia. Police said the arrest was made outside the Lamar AEP building in the 100 block of West ‘F’ St., when a marijuana pipe and a folded sock with silver spray paint were found in his possession. Bagley was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Eric Vasquez Florez, 28, 2129 S. Hackberry St., was arrested by police on Jan. 21 on a charge of assault under the Family Violence Act, a Class A misdemeanor. Police said the arrest took place after Florez was found hiding in a storage building in the 2200 block of Missouri Street. Police said he was accused of slapping his father, Nicomedes Melendez Florez, in the face, causing his glasses to break. He was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Urbano B. Franco, 34, of FM 869 at FM 1934 in Reeves County, was arrested by police on Jan. 19 on a warrant out of Culberson County, charging him with child neglect. Police said the arrest was made following a traffic stop in the 1000 block of West Third Street, when a records check turned up the warrant from the Culberson County Sheriff’s Department. Franco was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


David Angel Quiroz, 18, 112 W. ‘C’ St., was arrested by police on Jan. 19 at the Pecos Police Department office on a charge of enticing a child. Police said the arrest was made after Quiroz was found in the company of a 14-year-old female juvenile, who he had been warned against persuading to leave her home. Quiroz was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Miguel Estrada, 19, 801 S. Oleander St., was cited by police for minor in possession of alcoholic beverage, failure to control speed and no proof of liability insurance following an accident at 2:22 a.m. on Jan. 21, in the 900 block of Stafford Boulevard. Police said Estrada failed to control speed while turning north onto the 2200 block of South Eddy Street, causing his 2002 Ford Expedition to strike a light pole and a traffic sign. Estrada was transported by ambulance to Reeves County Hospital. Police said a 14-year-old female in the vehicle at the time was also cited for being a minor.

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