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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Police await autopsy result in E. side unattended death

Pecos police are awaiting results of an autopsy into the death of a 48-year-old Pecos man who was found dead in his east side home Thursday afternoon.

Willie Collins’ body was found on the living room couch inside his East 12th Street home. Officials said Collins apparently had been dead for several days, and an autopsy was ordered.

“We are investigating the death,” said Pecos Police Capt. Kelly Davis, while adding that foul play was not suspected and there were no signs of any struggle inside the home.

“The body was set for autopsy, but we haven’t gotten the preliminary report yet,” Davis said Monday morning.

“We don’t know the actual cause of death, so we will investigate until we find out,” Police Chief Clay McKinney added.

Davis said after officers completed their investigation, family members were allowed to move the couch from the house. Davis said there were no blood stains on the couch, but there were body fluids released after Collins died.

“His relatives dragged it outside because it smelled, and they wanted to clean up the scene,” Davis said. “We had released control of the scene after we finished our investigation, so we didn’t have any reason to keep them out of the house.”

After being returned from the medical examiner’s office in Lubbock, Collins’ body was taken to Peaceful Gardens Funeral Home, where services are pending.

Work on first of new motels gets underway

Work has begun on the first of as many as six new motels planned for Pecos, though the actual construction of the first building on the Interstate 20 site isn’t scheduled to get underway until the end of the year.

Best Western Swiss Clock Inn owner Hans Schlunegger was in Pecos on Monday along with other members of his family, meeting with city officials on their plans to build a new three-story motel just to the west of their current location at I-20 and Country Club Drive. Schlunegger, who is based in Kerrville and has owned the current motel for 30 years, said the new facility will have 60 rooms.

The project, and the others planned for Pecos, are due to the drilling boom in the area that has resulted in local hotels running between 90 and 100 percent occupancy for the past two years. Construction work on another hotel a mile to the west on I-20 is also scheduled to start sometime later this year.

“It’s going to be a separate hotel,” said Jean Winget, manager of the Swiss Clock Inn. “The only thing it’s going to have with this hotel is the Best Western name. Each hotel will have its own staff.” “They will be separate, but there will be some sharing,” said Ueli Schlunegger, who is overseeing the Best Western project for the family’s Swiss Inn, Ltc. That includes having Winget as manger of both hotels, but she said, “I figured out in that one, we will be employing about 25 people.”

Schlunegger said they’re planning to use a ‘tilt wall construction’ method to build the new motel. “We will pour the walls on the ground and then stand them up,” he said.

He said the hotel will be concrete construction, but will have its own lobby with a heavy timber ceiling. “It will be very much an upper-end hotel.” Schlunegger said. “It will have a Texas-European theme.”

Winget said the rooms would be roughly 14-by-14, and would have LCHD TVs and high-speed internet connections. It would probably have two handicapped accessible rooms, to go along with the four currently in the one-story Swiss Clock Inn.

Hans Schlunegger said the family is familiar with construction, having built a 20,000 square foot convention center in Kerrville. “We just finished up a 31,000 square foot rental area,” Ueli Schlunegger added.

The Schluneggers met with Town of Pecos City public works director Edgardo Madrid on Monday to go over plans for the site. City Council members last month approved removing an unbuilt section of South Eddy Street from the city’s street plan as part of the proposal for the new motel, which will have both suites and regular rooms.

“If we can get the name, it will be the Swiss Chalet Inn and Suites,” Hans Schlunegger said. “There is a restaurant with the Swiss Chalet name in Texas, but we don’t think we’ll have a problem.”

Lindsay Construction already has cleared off the area between the Swiss Clock Inn and Maxey Park, where the new hotel will be located. Winget said construction work is expected to begin sometime in November.

“We’re looking at about one year for construction, sooner if we can get in done earlier,” said Ueli Schlunegger, while Hans said the construction project will also provide some local jobs.

“I will use some people from out of town, but we will use local people as much as possible,” he said.

The other major motel project on which construction is expected to start before the end of the year is a new Hampton Inn, to be located Pinehurst Street at the eastbound Highway 17 exit off I-20.

Dr. Arbind Ghandi and his brother Henry will build the motel, which will be similar to one the brothers built two years ago in Fort Stockton. Work on that has been delayed for several months due to the lack of utilities at the site. However, the city and the Pecos Economic Development Corp have been working to install water, sewer and electric lines, with the PEDC last month approving a $120,000 payment for underground utility line installation.

Pecos Rodeo reports profit for ’07 show

The 2007 West of the Pecos Rodeo cleared about a $16,000 profit, with payouts of between $200,000 and $210,000, according to rodeo committee officials.

“We figure our attendance was up about 15 percent,” said Joe Keese, chairman of the West of the Pecos Rodeo Committee for the past two years.

The rodeo has been held on Thursdays through Saturdays for the past decade. This was the first year that Family Night discounts were offered for the Thursday and Friday night shows, and the first time the rodeo was held entirely in June, instead of closer to the July 4 holiday. A special fireworks show was held on July 4 at the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena this year, along with youth roping events due to the early finish to the 2007 rodeo.

Keese said the event’s profits “can be a lot better. We had a lot of one-time expenses this year. Hopefully next year, we can do better.”

Rodeo committee members hosted volunteers this past weekend at the home of Hugh and Gail Box to thank them for their work with this year’s rodeo. Committee member Brenda McKinney said 72 volunteers helped out with the four nights of shows and with the slack competition that began two days prior to the official start of the rodeo.

Appeals court rules for Gomez in open records suit by Olibas

A state appeals court has ruled in favor of Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez, in a legal dispute involving a former Pecos bail bondsman, now located in El Paso.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in El Paso issued a ruling on Aug. 23 upholding a previous decision, involving a lawsuit arising out of a Texas Open Records request, filed by Pascual Olibas. The court ruled that Gomez did reply to Olibas’ requests for information within the 10-day time period allowed under state law.

Olibas is the owner of Freedom Bail Bonds and on Jan. 19, 2005, he sent Gomez a letter requesting the names of all reserve deputies employed since January 2000. He also sought a list detailing how many hours each reserve deputy had worked since January 2002 and a list detailing any type of expense the county paid for and the cost for each reserve deputy, including but not limited to, uniforms and insurance.

Olibas sent the request pursuant to the Texas Open Records Act and the Freedom of Information Act, which Gomez’ office received on Jan. 21, 2005.

Gomez replied by letter on Feb. 3, 2005, in which he stated that he could not make lists for his specifications and that he made requests on a daily or weekly basis. Gomez stated that the sheriff’s department did not have sufficient staff to compile the information he was requesting to his specifications or answer his random questions. He did however, produce public documents that he had requested.

The sheriff also sent Olibas a second letter dated Feb. 4, stating he did not have a list detailing how many hours each reserve deputy worked or the type of expense the county paid for the cost of each reserve deputy, including but not limited to, uniforms and insurance. Olibas received both letters on Feb. 7, 2005, four days after he had filed suit, alleging Sheriff Gomez failed to timely respond to his open records request under Section 552.221(d) of the Texas Government Code.

Gomez in turn, filed an original answer, counterclaim, and motion for sanctions.

The counterclaim sought a declaratory judgment that he complied with Section 552.221(d). Sheriff Gomez sought sanctions under Section 10.004 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, alleging Olibas’ pleadings were brought for improper purposes (2) under Rule 13 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, for signing a pleading that on its face was groundless; and (3) under Chapter 11 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, asserting that Olibas is a vexatious litigant.

Other claims were later filed by Olibas, but the the trial court entered judgment denying Olibas all relief requested. The court also denied Sheriff Gomez’s counterclaim under the Declaratory Judgment Act, but awarded him $4,800 in attorney’s fees as sanctions under Rule 13.

Olibas appealed the sanction order in nine issues for review.

The first eight issues complained that the trial court abused its discretion in awarding Rule 13 sanctions while the ninth challenged the trial court’s refusal to sanction Sheriff Gomez for his pursuit of a declaratory judgment when such action was not authorized by law.

Schools set schedule for homecoming week

Students and community members are getting ready for Homecoming Week, scheduled for the week of Sept. 17-21.

The Pecos Eagles will face the Denver City Mustangs on Sept. 21 at Eagle Stadium.

In preparation students and individuals in the community can support the Eagles throughout the week beginning with Monday, Sept. 17, with “Ride Into the Night for a Victory!” Everyone is encouraged to wear their pajamas.

On Tuesday: Eagles are “Leaders of the Pack”. Dress to Impress or Dress like a famous leader.

Wednesday is “Blow Away the Mustangs.” Wear your windblown crazy hair.

Black out the Mustangs is the theme for Thursday. Everyone is encouraged to wear black.

On Friday, “Eagles Ride Into Victory!” Wear Purple and Gold.

Weather permitting, the parade will be held, at 5 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 20, with line-up starting at 4 p.m., at Seconnd and Eddy.

There will be a tailgating party starting at 7 p.m., until 10 p.m., at the PHS new gym parking lot.

For more information call the Pecos High School at 447-7400.

The Homecoming Pep Rally will be held at 2:15 p.m., Friday, Sept. 21, at the New Gym.

A Homecoming Exes Tea is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. that Friday at the Pecos High School New Gym Foyer.

The event is sponsored by the National Honor Society.

Baby contest entries sought

Applications are being accepted for the Annual Pretty Baby Contest scheduled for Oct. 5-6, during the Fall Fair.

Babies, from newborns to 24 months, are eligible to enter and prizes will be awarded for first, second and third places.

Applications may be picked up at the Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce Office, 111 S. Cedar or call 445-2406.

Deadline to enter is Wed., Oct. 3.

The event is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce Women’s Division and for more information call Dorinda at 445-5076.

Amendment election ballots available

The Reeves County Clerk’s Office is already accepting applications for the mail-out ballots for the Nov. 6, Constitutional Amendment Election.

If anybody has any questions or would like a copy of the amendments call 445-5476 or come by the Reeves County Clerk’s Office at 100 E. 4th Street, Rm. #101.

Couple announce birth of son

Juan Prieto Jr. and Teena Rodriguez announce the birth of their son, Justin Rey Prieto.

Little Justin was born at 7:38 p.m., Aug. 25, at Odessa Regional Hospital and weighed five pounds and 13 ounces.

He was welcomed home by two brothers, Juan Manuel and Mark Anthony Prieto and two sisters, Zaira and Marily Prieto, all of Pecos.

Proud grandparents are Juan and Teresa Prieto; Marie and Ted Cabral and Dagoberto Rodriguez.

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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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