Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Friday, April 20, 2007
School district holds meetings to outline bond issue proposal
Voters in the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD who would like to learn more about the bond issue that will be on the May 12 ballot will have four more to do so over the next 10 days, as part of a series of meetings the school district is holding to inform the public and answer questions on the bond issue that will be on the ballot.
The district has called a Bond Election not to exceed a total of $30 million as part of the regular school board election on May 12. The bond would provide for the construction, renovation, acquisition and equipment of school buildings in the district, which last did major construction of campus facilities in 1983.
District officials have scheduled several meetings to inform the residents of the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ID of the facts behind the board’s decision to call the election, to provide basic information regarding the election and to assist the voter in making an informed decision concerning the bond program. The first was held last Saturday at Pecos High School, and a second was scheduled to take place on Thursday night in Barstow.
The remaining public meetings include: Monday, April 23, at the Toyah Senior Citizens Center, 7 p.m.; Tuesday, April 24, Bessie Haynes Elementary School, 6:30 p.m. (Spanish) and 7:30 p.m. (English); Thursday, April 26, Saragosa Multi-Purpose Center, 7 p.m. and Monday, April 30, Lamar (Oak and F Street), 6:30 p.m. (English) and 7:30 p.m. (Spanish).
The group also made several other presentations to clubs and organizations including the Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce during their regular monthly meeting.
Georgia man’s vintage pick-up draws attention
A retiree from Georgia on his way to Arizona attracted attention in Pecos on Tuesday, thanks to his vehicle, a 1941 Ford pickup he reconstructed on his own and has been driving for the past 27 years.
George Harrison was headed west through Pecos on Tuesday with his belongings and one passenger, Oscar, his 4-year-old Maltese dog. He spent the night at the Laura Lodge and then made a stop to eat and one at Brownlee Hardware to pickup a new padlock for his belongings, before heading back out on the road.
Harrison spent the night in Pecos while moving from Georgia to Phoenix in his 66-year-old pickup, which he put together from a number of Ford pick-ups from that era.
“I built this truck from the ground up,” Harrison said. “It took eight vehicles to accumulate enough parts to put this together.”
“I’ve been driving it since 1980, and it took seven years to build it,” he said. “This is the fourth cross-country trip I’ve made in it.”
While he’s old enough to have been around when the ’41 Ford would have been new, Harrison said he never had a pickup while growing up in Georgia “All I knew was mule’s rear end when I was plowing,” he said.
However, he added he has been involved with working on vehicles for over half a century.
“I’ve been doing this since the Eagles ‘50s. The first car I had was a 40 Ford when I was still in the Navy, and that’s when I got the bug to start this. I helped restore other vehicles, but this is the first I built completely
“If you look at any truck from this era, they were made for the farm. They used to haul 2000-pound horses in this,” he said.
Being more farm vehicles than over-the-road ones, and with its age, Harrison said he stays well below the speed limit while traveling on the highway.
“I go between 50 and 55 and usually try to do 55,” he said, adding that past experience has shown things are easier at that speed on the Interstates, instead of taking the old highways across the country.
“I drove across Alabama and Mississippi on the old two-lane roads, and that’s worse than the Interstate,” he said. “You look in the rear-view mirror and there are dozens of cars behind you, and you’ve got to pull over eventually. At least on the Interstate, everyone can pass.”
Hernandez, Brookins arraigned in Pyote case
Arraignment hearings were held Thursday morning for former West Texas State School administrators Ray Brookins and John Paul Hernandez, after their indictments 10 days ago on charges of sexually abusing inmates at the Pyote juvenile detention facility.
Appearing separately before 143rd District Court Judge Bob Parks, both men entered not guilty pleas to the charges.
Brookins was indicted on two counts each of improper relationship with a student and two counts of improper sexual activity with a person in custody on April 10 by a Ward County grand jury. Hernandez was indicted on one count of sexual assault, nine counts of improper sexual activity with a person in custody and nine counts of improper relationship between a student and educator.
Following a not guilty plea by Brookins, his lawyer, Scott Dolin of Austin, made a motion for discovery. Brookins appeared confident and smiled as he spoke to his attorney.
Lisa Tanner, prosecutor for the state, said she would need time to go through approximately 40 boxes of evidence along with a 300 plus-page report from the Texas Rangers.
After some debate on the time it would take to sort through the information, Tanner explained that she needed to use “an abundance of caution” due to the age of some of the students and witnesses involved. She said the boxes of information received were not in any order, but that is how her office received it. She stated that personnel records were mixed with dorm files, student files, AMIS and behavior management plans, and she has had no chance to sit down with the investigators handing the material.
She also said it would be difficult to sort out information needed by Brookins’ lawyer, Hernandez’ lawyer, or both.
“The state will not deliberately create an avalanche of material not related to Mr. Brookins’ case. We will try to organize as best we can,” said Tanner.
Parks said he had hoped to set a pretrial date in 10 to 14 days. “But it looks like that is not enough time,” he stated. “Security laws are very relevant to the law.”
Brookins, dressed in a black suit, appeared smug as he exited the courtroom.
Albert Valadez of Fort Stockton represented Hernandez, who also pled not guilty, and waved the reading of charges.
Hernandez, who appeared thin and tired in a stripped jail uniform and wearing a rosary, turned to greet family members who were seated in the courtroom.
Valadez asked the court to appoint a state investigator to assist in Hernandez defense due to indigence. The attorney told the court that Hernandez could not raise bail money or help in his own defense from jail, and noted that Brookins had been released on his own recognizance.
Parks said, “That is not an appropriate avenue to pursue at this time.”
Tanner informed the court that the Brookins’ bail was set by an Austin judge without notifying the state. “Otherwise,” she said, “We would have rejected it strenuously.”
She then stated that “the state was not ready to move forward on an indigence case at this time” because she had just received the request Thursday morning.
Valadez called Hernandez to the stand to determine his financial situation. Hernandez has been unemployed since February when he was fired from the Richard Milburn Academy, a charter school in Midland. He said his parents were on a fixed income and could not provide the funds needed. His father is retired from Enron, and his mother is retired from Fort Stockton ISD, where Hernandez worked before taking a job at the West Texas State School.
He said he would try to borrow the money against his home and have money released from his retirement “if and when I am released on bond.”
Tanner then said, “I think this is a premature motion at this point. She then questioned Hernandez concerning his financial status.”
Through her questions, she determined he owned a vehicle, a home with a loan value of $28,000 and an undetermined retirement fund.
Then she pursued his family’s finances, seeming to imply they were responsible for their son’s debts. She questioned whether their home was owned outright, whether they owned other property and whether his and their homes would be “put up” to pay his legal fees.
Judge Parks refused the request for investigative assistance until Hernandez could prove he had no other financial options.
Valadez said, “He is in a dilemma. He can’t get out of jail to work to hire an investigator.” The attorney added that he would ask again for financial assistance for his client, saying they could not match the state’s resources.
Efforts against illegal dumping to be increased
Illegally discarded items in Reeves County are on the rise, and officials with the Reeves County Sheriff’s Department will be out looking for violators.
“This is really becoming a problem,” said Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez.
Gomez said that deputies will be out looking for those violators and that they will be prosecuted.
“We’ll go down a county road one day and there is nothing, then the next day, it will be full of junk and discarded items,” said Gomez.
Gomez said that the items range from old carpet, refrigerators, sofas, air conditioners, and tires, just to name a few.
“All these items should be taken to the landfill and not dumped on the side of the road,” said Gomez.
Gomez said that some of the problem areas include off of Duval Road, northwest of Pecos, and on the north side of town, past the “Blueberry Hill.”
“There’s just a lot of trash and we’ll have our officers out there patrolling the area and catching those violators,” said Gomez.
He said that if someone is caught illegally dumping items, they will be prosecuted and fined.
“The Reeves County Road and Bridges Department will also be on the lookout along with other officers from law enforcement,” said Gomez. “This is a problem that we need to take care of,” he said.
“This has been an ongoing problem,” said Reeves County Emergency Management Coordinator Ricky Herrera.
The first time the offense is a Class C Misdemeanor, which carries a fine, according to Herrera.
“We’ve always had a problem with illegal dumping.”
Reeves County Attorney Alva Alvarez said that the offense can range from a Class C up to a State Jail Felony.
“The fine will depend on the amount or weight of the illegal dumping,” said Alvarez.
Town of Pecos City Code Enforcement Officer Julio Quinones said that there is an ongoing problem within the city limits as well.
“We are experiencing a similar problem, right here within the city limits,” said Quinones. “It can run up to a felony charge, depending on what they are dumping, it’s by weight,” he said.
The city has stepped up efforts to clean up alleyways in the past two years, but Quinones said that there has still been a lot of illegal dumping within the city limits and in alleys.
“People should realize that they are not supposed to discard those large items in the dumpster, or in the alleys,” he said.
Quinones said that items such as mattresses, refrigerators, stoves, branches, should all be taken to the landfill to be discarded.
“They need to take all these large items to the landfill,” said Quinones. “They’ll let them dump them for free the first two times and then it’s $35 per ton.”
He said that the fine for illegal dumping within the city limits is $500.
“There’s also a state law and they can get hit up on that,” he said.
Quinones added that he was sending out flyers with information on dumping and junk vehicles.
The Town of Pecos City Code Enforcement Office is responsible for enforcing the city ordinances, and is empowered by the city council to pursue civil and criminal remedies to abate nuisances for the purpose of maintaining a safe, sanitary and clean place to live, according to Quinones.
“I want to notify and remind all citizens that each property owner is responsible for keeping their part of the alley, including behind the fence line, free of weeds, trash and junk.
Citizens that own empty lots are responsible for keeping their lot free of weeds and unsightly objects.
“Dispose of all green, tree limbs, grass and limbs by taking them to the landfill,” said Quinones.
Parking a junked motor vehicle, on private property or on a city right of way that is in the view of the public is a violation of the city ordinance, he added.
Quinones requests the help of all citizens in stopping and reporting illegal dumping.
Individuals can call city hall at 445-2421 during working hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or the Pecos Police Department at 445-4911, after normal hours, to report illegal dumping.
Gibson, Gray Perform hits for local fans
Most people remembering him “crooning” to audiences in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, and people in Pecos had one more chance to reminisce and listen to that music one more time on Wednesday night.
Virgil S. Gibson, the lead singer of the Platters, was on hand along with country singer Claude Gray at the State Theater, singing the songs that they made famous over 40 years ago.
The two were making a series of stops across Texas this week. Gray said following Wednesday’s show in Pecos, they would perform in Colorado City on Thursday, then go all the way over to Marshall for a Friday show before going to Grapeland for a show on Saturday.
East Texas is Gray’s home area, having been born in Henderson. He became famous in the early 1960s on the country charts, with songs like "I'll Just Have a Cup of Coffee, Then I'll Go", and performed first on Wednesday night, before Gibson at the State Theater.
Gibson was born in a two-room shack two blocks from Bethel Church in Birmingham, Collegeville, Alabama. He began singing at the age of eight, when he sang with the Bethel Church Choir.
He recently renovated his humble home where he was born and visits and lives there whenever he can.
“Bethel Church was the center of the Civil Rights Movement under the direction of Rev. F.L. Shuttlesworth, who baptized me at the age of eight,” said Gibson. “Bethel Church was bombed three times during the Civil Rights Movement and remains today a monument to those individuals who risked their lives for the human rights and dignity of minorities everywhere,” he said.
His stellar career began at age 12, when he appeared with various professional gospel groups in churches in his hometown of Birmingham.
Just before Gibson’s birth, his mother heard Lena Horne sing, “Stormy Weather,” on the radio and prayed to God that her child would have a ‘golden voice.’
“I believe this prayer was answered and I was blessed with one of the most beautiful voices,” said Gibson.
His voice has a rare range of six octaves.
“As a teenager, I admired Tony Williams, the original singer of the Platters,” said Gibson.
He prayed that one day he could sing with his favorite group.
“I just asked God and He just fixed it that I could sing with the Platters. I was 23 years old,” said Gibson.
Gibson was the lead singer of Paul Robi’s world famous Platters. Paul was an original member of Buck Ram’s Platters. In 1965, he formed his own Platters group with Virgil as lead singer.
Gibson toured around the world with the Platters, including Japan, Korea, Italy, Germany, Venezuela and Philippines as well as across the United States and Canada. He performed before kings and queens and concert audiences numbered in the tens of thousands.
He appeared with various groups and individuals including the Drifters, the Coasters, the O’Jays, Bobby Day, Dee Clark and Al Wilson.
He was also the lead singer for 17 years with the popular Rivingtons, who recorded the popular hit, “Papa Oom Mow Mow.”
Gibson recently returned from living and performing throughout Europe. While living in Germany, he served on the U.S.O.’s Advisory Board of Directors, arranging special events for the service members and their families.
He moved to Nashville, Tennessee enabling him to perform at various venues. He magically blends his Oldie Goldie music with country, blue grass, gospel and even hip-hop.
Gibson has hosted many benefits for those in need and has donated his time and energy to various charitable organizations. He remains deeply interested in the therapeutics of music and has collaborated on many programs for community agencies, addiction treatment facilities, children’s hospitals, nursing homes and correctional facilities.
“One of Virgil’s greatest joys is his unique ability to connect with each audience. Before each performance, Virgil asks God to bless him to touch every heart. That prayer is always granted,” said his wife, Pam. “He loves to sing Gospel music and that is what he is most interested in now,” she said.
Visit Gibson’s web site at www.virgilgibson.com .
He is currently releasing original music that he has written and produced over the years, generating a new generation of appreciative fans.
“He welcomes projects that involve collaboration with others,” she said.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321
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