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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Deputies think Coyanosa man killed wife, self

A Coyanosa man and his wife were found dead Sunday morning at their home, in what the Pecos County sheriff’s department believes was a murder-suicide.

The body of 61-year-old Jesus Maria Muniz was discovered in the carport of the couple’s home by a neighbor, and deputies then discovered the body of 49-year-old Sylvia Sauceda Muinz inside the house, Pecos County Sheriff Cliff Harris said on Monday.

“One of the neighbors called it in. They thought there was a possible suicide victim in the carport behind the neighbor’s residence,” Harris said. “We found the husband, who had hung himself on the back of the carport inside the home, and the wife we found lying in the living room.”

He added that the couple’s son was asleep in the bedroom at the time the incident occurred, between 10 p.m. on Saturday and 7:30 a.m. on Sunday. “He apparently never heard anything,” Harris said.

The couples’ bodies were taken first to Memorial Funeral Home in Fort Stockton, and then sent to El Paso for autopsy.

“What we have preliminarily, without the autopsy, is that she was stabbed one time in the chest,” Harris said. He added that the home was located on the southwest side of Coyanosa, 30 miles east of Pecos and that the .

The sheriff said Jesus Muniz worked at a pecan orchard in Coyanosa, and that neighbors reported that had not seen any major problems between them in the past. “They argued in the past, but there was nothing out of the ordinary.”

Harris said based on the evidence collected, his department believes the deaths were a murder-suicide, but will continue their investigation pending results from the autopsy in several weeks.

Barstow home blaze blamed on leaking gas

A Barstow man was flown to the Timothy J. Harnar Burn Center in Lubbock following a fire late Saturday night that has been blamed on a faulty gas heater connection. Richard Reyes was airlifted to University Medical Center’s burn unit early Sunday morning, following the fire that broke out about 11:45 p.m. inside Reyes’ home on Brandt Street in Barstow. No condition report on Reyes was available from the hospital as of late Monday morning.

Ward County Fire Marshall Billy Riley said the fire broke out near a gas outlet in the home, and leaking gas was blamed for fueling the fire.

“They had a faulty space heater set up,” he said. “They had a rubber hose connection between the heater and the outlet, and the connection failed and the gas built up in the wall, and that caused the fire.”

He said the connection between the outlet and the heater was improperly plumbed, and the temperature from the space heater heated up the rubber hose, causing it to expand and leak.

“The house was made of wood on the inside and stucco on the outside, so when it began to leak, what you were doing was sending gas straight up the wall,” Riley said. “There are a lot of really old houses in Barstow, and they were not even plumbed for gas when they were first built, so there are probably a lot of improper connections.”

Riley said Reyes was one of two persons living in the home. The second resident was unhurt, but all the items inside the home were destroyed as the flamed engulfed the home quickly.

“The Barstow Fire Department put out the fire, and did a mighty fine job of preserving the evidence,” Riley said. He added that based on what he had been able to gather from the home’s remains, the investigation of the blaze is over with the determination of the heater and hose being the cause of the fire.

School board weighs partial Austin replacement

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board members continued their discussion of possible changes to the district’s five main campuses on Thursday, including the possible demolition and reconstruction of the oldest sections of Austin Elementary.

Board members discussed the Facilities Assessment Report during their regular monthly meeting, and opted to hold another meeting and come up with solutions for the district’s aging buildings.

Architect Monte Hunter, with Hunter Corral Associates of Midland, was on hand to provide updated information and do a power point presentation for the board.

“This new numbers include what we discussed on Saturday,” said Hunter, referring to a Feb. 10 workshop held to discuss the committee’s recommendations, gain more input and look at the figures one more time.

“Joe (Coody, maintenance supervisor) and I looked at these and we’ve gained some ground, but the Bessie Haynes gym, was the biggest one,” said Hunter.

The campus, currently the home to fourth through sixth grades, does not have a gym. Students use the nearby Zavala Junior High gym, after that campus was shut down in 2004.

Hunter also provided a comparison of renovation versus constructing new buildings. He said that the four oldest schools in the district were Austin Elementary School, Pecos High School, Lamar and Zavala. The oldest sections of all those campuses were built in the early and mid-1950s.

“We updated the data base and added inflation,” said Hunter.

One of the options that the board is looking at is moving sixth grade to Crockett Middle School, adding classrooms at that campus, along with a new gym, dressing rooms, and band hall.

“One of the things that we will not negotiate on is that all schools will receive new HVAC’s,” said P-B-T Superintendent Manny Espino.

Hunter told the group that they needed to look at the summary and look at the pros and cons of building new or renovating.

Cost to replace Crockett Middle School, built in 1965 and expanded in 2000, was assessed at $13.3, while the cost to do renovations would be $8.4 million.

“Crockett Middle School is one of your newer buildings,” said Hunter. “It’s actually in very good shape, all except for that (gym) wall that they are replacing this week.” Hunter said that one of the things that they had discussed was a new food services building.

“But if you move them into Zavala, there would be little renovations to make and that you would save you some money that you could use elsewhere,” he added.

Sections of Zavala were renovated in 2002, as part of a $2 million project that also included updates at Pecos High School. The building current houses the Pecos Head Start program.

Hunter said that Austin Elementary was one of the oldest buildings, but that Crockett was not that old and had a very long life to it still.

“If you were to replace a school, it would be Austin, because Crockett is still in pretty good shape and looking better to me all the time, compared to the other campuses,” he said.

A new gym was added to Austin Elementary in 2004, while classrooms on the north side of the building were added onto the existing structure in 1983. The campus houses the district’s first through third grade classes.

“If you decide to replace Austin Elementary it would cost $8.5 and the renovation summary is set at $3.5,” said Hunter.

“If we replace all of Austin, where would the kids go to school during this time?’” asked board member Crissy Martinez.

“That would be done in pods, we would start replacing the older parts first, such as the office and then when you do one part, move the kids to another part of the building, until everything has been reconstructed,” said Hunter.

Hunter said they make a decision to reconstruct the entire school, the project is done in pods, so that the students can continue to attend the same campus.

“They’ve done this in Monahans and Odessa. Most school districts do it this way,” said Hunter. “I’ve never seen a school district that has done everything on their list, though.” Hunter told the group that if they chose to rebuild at Austin, the newer parts would be left alone and only the older parts of the school would be re-built.

“You can state what things are not negotiable and what is,” said Espino. “Such as HVAC and lighting, those are things that are not negotiable.”

He said that if the board wanted them to bring back more info on both Austin and Crockett, they could do that or they could bring in the administrators to discuss it further. “Ultimately, it will be your decision and not everybody will be happy with whatever you decide, so that’s something to remember,” said Espino.

“But what if you bring the administrators in here and they just arguing about what each one wants,” said board member David Flores.

“That’s what you pay me for, I’ll take care of that,” said Espino.

“And when you’re writing the bond, you don’t have to be specific, but you do have to outline some plan for the use of the funds,” said Hunter.

“I think we need to bite the bullet and decide, without bringing all these people in here,” said Flores.

“The good thing about it, is you have a lot of land to work on,” said Hunter.

Board president Lila Cerna said she liked the idea of having a workshop.

“When we start cutting, have their priorities and have that information when you’re looking at it,” said Espino.

Cerna said that she proposed a workshop, with the information and a list from all the schools.

“They can give us their list, with the items that are not negotiable, that are definitely a must,” said Espino.

“That’s it, we need to settle it and it’s over, we’re not going to make all the administrators happy,” said board member Bubba Williams.

The board has discussed calling a bond election this spring on the proposed campus projects, but will have to make a decision by early next month to get the measure on the May ballot. Board members agreed to meet before then and come to a definite decision. The group also approved an election calendar, along with proposed judges, alternates and workers for the May 12 elections and special election. Four of the seven seats on the P-B-T ISD board will be up for election this year.

Chamber says tickets available for Thursday’s banquet

Tickets are still available for the Annual Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet, scheduled for this Thursday.

The banquet will be held beginning at 7 p.m., Thursday at the Reeves County Civic Center and tickets are $15 at the Pecos Chamber of Commerce office.

New State Senator Carlos Uresti will be the guest speaker at the annual banquet. Awards for 2006, including the Citizen of the Year honor, will also be announced during the event. The Women’s Division will be decorating the banquet room and theme for this year’s event is “Mardi Gras.”

Old Mill Barbecue Restaurant will be catering the event and items on the menu include grilled chicken with steamed vegetables, rice pilaf, tossed salad and apple or cherry pie.

Moya deployed to Persian Gulf

Air National Guard Senior Airman Cindy P. Moya has deployed to Southwest Asia in the Persian Gulf region to support the mission of Operation Enduring Freedom as a member of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing. The servicemember is normally assigned to the 203rd Red Horse Squadron, Virginia Beach, Va.

Wing members provide support for the U.S. Central Command’s Air Forces mission, assisting in the full spectrum of fueling and aerial refueling operations to U.S. and coalition aircraft engaged in the war on terrorism in the region. Flight crews fly thousands of combat refueling sorties delivering aircraft fuel in the millions of pounds.

Moya, an operational management journeyman with eight years of military service, is the daughter of Mari S. Estorga, of Pecos.

Her husband, Ara, is the son of Thomas and Sam Rinderle of Sheild Lane, Yorktown, Va.

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