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Wednesday, March 15, 2000

Gomez reelected; Carrasco beats Holcombe

News Writers
PECOS, Mar. 15, 2000 - Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez successfully withstood a challenge to win nomination for a third term in office, while challenger Luis U. Carrasco defeated incumbent Walter Holcombe in the race for Reeves County Attorney in Tuesday's Democratic primary election.

The races for sheriff and county attorney were the only two contested elections all county voters were eligible to cast ballots in. Gomez collected more than two-thirds of the votes in defeating challenger and former sheriff's deputy Tony Aguilar by a 2,490 to 1,124 vote margin, while a big advantage in early voting totals carried Carrasco to a 203-vote victory over Holcombe, who was seeking his second consecutive term as County Attorney.

Carrasco held only a 180-vote lead over Holcombe after the 12 election day boxes were counted Tuesday night, but picked up an addition 1,109 votes from the early voting box, compared with 924 for Holcombe. Overall, Carrasco won with 1,877 votes to 1,674 for Holcombe.

Gomez, in contrast, won every voting box except for Balmorhea in his race against Aguilar, while winning the early voting totals by nearly 1,000 votes.

No candidates ran in either race on the Republican side, so other than write-in candidates, both Gomez and Carrasco will run unopposed in the November general election

Carrasco said he is, "very appreciative," to all the voters who placed their confidence in him. "I'm also very happy," he added for everyone that fought a, "long hard battle," on his behalf.

The future county attorney admits, "feelings were hurt," in the campaign process, "but my goals are still the same…work hard for Reeves County and make sure it remains a good place to live and raise a family."

During his campaign, Carrasco said he would serve as Reeves County's counsel on legal matters if elected. Holcombe opted not to serve as legal counsel for the county after his election in 1996, and commissioners then hired former County Attorney Bill Weinacht to handle those duties.

During a victory party at Saragosa Hall on Tuesday, Carrasco clarified that his goals include, "properly admonishing and responding to the needs of the county's defendants," in reply to his criticized campaign statement to increase the number of prosecutions performed by the county attorney's office. Carrasco complained during his run against Holcombe that "The county attorney's office has had a very significant drop in the number of prosecutions and convictions over the last couple of years,"

"I'm not after anyone," he added. "I won't go out and prosecute people," for the sole purpose of increasing the office's prosecution record.

"I promise to be fair," Carrasco said, but added that fees collected by that office have significantly dropped and as a result two probation officers were let go.

The number of staff kept by the county's probation office is, "directly correlated to the recovery of funds," by the county attorney's office, he pointed out, an issue he intends to address once in office.

Gomez celebrated his election Tuesday night with friends and sheriff's department personnel at the Reeves County Sheriff's Posse Barn. He was first elected to office in 1992, when he defeated four-term incumbent Raul Florez.

There was only one other contested two-man race in Reeves County on Tuesday, for Precinct 2 constable, where James J. Salgado defeated Clint Glenn by a 353-271 margin.

The other three Reeves County constables, Arnulfo Granado in Precinct 1, Tomas "Tommy" Martinez in Precinct 3 and Heriberto "Eddy" Rodriguez in Precinct 4, all ran unopposed, as did 143rd District Court Judge Bob Parks, 143rd District attorney Randall Reynolds and Reeves County Tax Assessor-Collector Elfida Zuniga.

In the state and area races, Reeves County voters went for Al Gore by a 3-1 margin over Bill Bradley in the Democratic primary for president. Bradley ended his presidential bid last week, but remained on the ballot. They also supported Isidro Garza by a 1,050 vote margin over Joe Sullivan in the District 23 Congressional race. Garza won overall in the district as well, and will face four-term Republican incumbent Henry Bonilla in November.

In the race for U.S. Senate, local voters favored Don Clark in a five-way race, giving him 700 votes to 588 for Gene Kelly in the bid to face Republican incumbent Kay Bailey Hutchison in November. However, statewide, Kelly finished first while Clark was beaten out by 416 votes by Charles Gandy for a place in the April 11 runoff election. Gandy is supported by the state Democratic leadership while Kelly is making his sixth bid for a state office.

Incumbents face runoffs in commissioner's races

Staff Writers
PECOS, Mar. 15, 2000 - It's back to the polls for some candidates, following the results of Tuesday's Democratic Party primary election.

Both the Precinct 1 and Precinct 3 races for Reeves County Commissioners were left undecided, as no candidate received 50 percent of the vote in either race on Tuesday.

Incumbent Felipe Arredondo will face newcomer Jesse Baeza in the Precinct 1 runoff elections on April 11. Arredondo, who won as a write-in candidate four years ago, collected 385 votes, while Baeza won a close race for second place and a spot in next month's runoff. He collected 226 votes; four more than Anita Baeza, while the fourth candidate, Roy Pena, received 202 votes.

In Precinct 3, challenger David Pattillo used a big advantage in early voting to edge out incumbent Herman Tarin for the top spot in Tuesday's race. Pattillo collected 387 votes, while Tarin earned a spot in the runoff with 376 votes. Jimmy Gallego picked up 204 votes and James H. Thomas had 45 votes.

Both Arredondo and Tarin are seeking their third four-year terms on the commissioner's court, though Arredondo's first term was from 1985-89. Tarin was first elected as commissioner in 1992.

Arredondo thanked God and the people of Reeves County. "Without Him, nothing is possible," he said.

"I think it was a very good race, run very professionally by all the candidates," he said. "Everybody worked real hard."

The runoff will be even harder, according to Arredondo, who said he plans to run a clean campaign. "That's how you get the people and don't divide them," he said.

Arredondo added that he plans to continue on projects that have already been started by the current commissioners court. "After all, I still work for the people, I'm still a commissioner," he said.

"I'm really excited," said Jesse Baeza. "But I'm thinking what does it take to get there."

He said he plans to go ahead and work twice as hard.

"Everything was done so peacefully and friendly and if we continue to do that, things will go well," said Baeza.

"I appreciate the support of all the people and my wife, especially," said Baeza. "With her I don't feel alone, because she is a hard worker."

Tarin picked up 207 votes on Tuesday to 183 for Pattillo, but in the early voting, Pattillo out-polled Tarin by a 204-169 margin.

"I'd like to congratulate Gallego and Thomas for running a good, clean race," said Tarin.

"I thank God that he was there with us and everybody who went out to vote," he said.  "I plan to work hard and diligently. "I look forward to the runoff on April 11," he said.

"I'm very pleased, but not really surprised. I knew we had a lot of support. We'll be ready April 11," Pattillo said

As to why he thinks voters voted for him, "I hope the deciding factor was my honesty."

Tarin won among hometown voters in Balmorhea by 61 votes over Pattillo on Tuesday, while Pattillo won among voters in Pecos, where he lives, by a 99-46 margin over Tarin. In the other Precinct 3 box, Saragosa, Gallego was the hometown favorite, picking up 58 votes, 27 more than Tarin, but not enough to earn a spot in the runoff.

Gallego said, "Of course, I'm disappointed with the results. It's hard to say why people voted like they did. I won't be endorsing either Herman Tarin or David Pattillo in the run off election. Both are good candidates. "

The winners in the April 11 runoff will be unopposed in the November general election, unless a write-in candidate files following the April 11 primary. Arredondo defeated Lupe Garcia as a write-in candidate in 1996 and is looking to become the first candidate since Marcos Martinez Jr. in 1980 to win consecutive terms as Precinct 1 commissioner.

Florez wins race to retain Ward commissioner's job

Staff Writer
MONAHANS, Mar. 15, 2000 - Incumbent Ward County Commissioner Julian Florez carried his hometown of Barstow by a wide margin and used it to defeat Monahans City Councilwoman Mary S. Garcia in Tuesday's Democratic Party primary election.

Meanwhile, Barstow voters didn't go along with the rest of the county in the race for sheriff, as Mikel Strickland avoided a runoff by capturing over 60 percent of the vote in a four-way race but placed second in western Ward County.

Florez, who was first elected as Precinct 1 Commissioner in 1996, collected 86 of the 104 votes cast in Barstow on Tuesday, and won overall with 508 votes to 376 for Garcia. He'll be unopposed in the November general election.

Voting was heavy enough in Barstow on Tuesday that workers at Box 1W ran out of punch card ballots and had to use paper ballots, according to the Ward County Clerk's office.

In the race for Ward County Sheriff, voters in Barstow went for Juan D. Rodriguez, Jr. by a wide margin. He received 65 votes to just 22 for Strickland. Jim Price received 15 votes and Steven K. Vestal picked up 2 votes from the Barstow box.

However, countywide, Rodriguez finished a distant second to Strickland, a Ward County Sheriff's deputy who also will run unopposed in November. Strickland will seek to replace interim sheriff Jerry Heflin, who was appointed to replace Ben Keele last year and opted not to seek a full four-year term.

Strickland collected 1,955 votes, to 532 for Rodriguez. Vestal finished third with 287 votes and Price was fourth, picking up 225 votes.

While Mary Garcia lost her race to Florez on Tuesday, her husband, Robert Garcia, won his bid for the Democratic nomination for Constable in Precincts 1 and 4. Garcia picked up 618 votes to 568 for Tony Acosta. In Barstow, the vote split almost evenly, with Garcia getting 47 votes to 46 for Acosta.

In the other open race in Ward County on Tuesday, voters in Precinct 3 (Monahans-Grandfalls) favored Ron Widdess over Melvin Craft by a 441-371 margin. The two were seeking to replace retiring commissioner Larry Hunt in the November general election.

Running unopposed in the two area races, 143rd District Court Judge Bob Parks and 143rd District Attorney Randall W. Reynolds picked up 84 and 65 votes respectively in their bids for re-election. The 143rd District includes Ward, Reeves and Loving counties.

Loving County had no contested races on Tuesday. Winning election were Richard Putnam as both sheriff and tax assessor-collection, Precinct 1 Commissioner Harlan Hopper and Precinct 3 Commissioner Skeet Jones.

Worker electrocuted north of Mentone

Staff Writer
MENTONE, Mar. 15, 2000 - Eleberto Lozano Lopez, an employee of Burns Electric of Kermit, was electrocuted Tuesday afternoon while working on a transformer northwest of Mentone.

According to Loving County Deputy Sheriff Billy Hopper, Lopez was working on a transformer when he apparently contacted a live wire.

"They were doing routine maintenance in the oil field, working on the power coming into the oil field to the pump jacks, when it happened," Hopper said.

Hopper said that Gene Burns, Lopez' supervisor, was on the ground when the accident happened.

"They work in pairs," Hopper said. "At about 5 p.m. Burns heard a noise. When he looked up, his helper was hanging from the pole by his harness."

Hopper said that Burns then immediately called 911.

"There isn't much else to say. The justice of peace ordered an autopsy out of caution, but it looks like it was a pure accident," Hopper said.

The accident was a hard blow to the family-owned electrical service company.

"We're a small company, and all of our people that work for us are like part of the family. We feel like we've lost one of our own," Maurine Burns said. "This is very hard, and we're very upset."

Mrs. Burns is one of the owners of Burns Electric, and mother of Gene Burns.

Chamber cuts back on `Night' bands

Staff Writer
PECOS, Mar. 15, 2000 - Only one band will be performing during Night in Old Pecos on July 1, as part of the city's annual Rodeo Week activates, Pecos Chamber of Commerce Directors decided during their regular monthly meeting held at noon on Tuesday.

"One of the recommendations made to us was to eliminate the band on Oak Street, to have more room for vendors and other activities," said Chamber of Commerce Director Tom Rivera.

"This would limit the performances to Windmill Square and not separate the crowd," said Rivera.

In the past, one stage has been set up on the south side of the intersection at Second and Oak streets, with the other stage at Windmill Square. Tejano bands have usually performed on the Oak Street stage, while country and western bands have played at Windmill Square.

Rivera said the band chosen to perform would cater to everyone, a variety band that can play different selections and types of music.

"It gets really crowded on Oak Street," said Rivera, who said another plan for Night in Old Pecos, is to extend it further south along Oak Street. "Give us your thoughts and opinions on new things for this event," Rivera asked.

"Also if anybody wants to share in selling sodas, they can do so," he added.

Rivera said organizers would like to get more of a family atmosphere and have more activities for children.

"I still think we need to get all the low riders involved," said board member Fred Dominguez.

The West of the Pecos Rodeo Parade will be held on Wednesday, July 5, this year, according to Rivera. The rodeo itself will run from July 5-8 at the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena.

Barbara Creager, president-elect of the chamber, presided over the meeting in the absence of president Jeannette Alligood. "I would like to see the chamber and the rodeo committee working more closely together," she said. "If there's anything we can do to help, let us know."

Rodeo committee president Starkey Warren handed out packets with information on the 2000 rodeo program and how to obtain advertising space on it.

"This is what we're sending out to advertisers to let them know what we're offering," he said.

Warren explained that there were different levels of sponsorship for the rodeo, and added, "We want to encourage everyone to buy an ad."

To purchase an ad in the program, individuals can contact Paul Hinojos at First National Bank, Brenda McKinney at Security State Bank or Warren, at Airlawn Furniture.

During the two-week membership drive held in late February and early March 17 new members signed up, reported Rivera.

"None of the teams met the minimum requirement of 10, so no prizes were awarded," said Rivera.

Rivera stated that he is putting some packets together for the new members and will be visiting with them personally.

The Reeves County Fall Fair Committee will be meeting at noon, Tuesday, March 21, at the Cattleman's Restaurant and everyone is invited to attend, according to Creager.

Florez to seek two more years on RCH board

PECOS, Mar. 15, 2000 - The third incumbent on the Reeves County Hospital District board whose term is up for election in May has filed to remain in office.

Chel Florez filed today for another two-year term as Precinct 1 representative on the RCH board, according to RCH administrative assistant Nadine Smith. Florez joins Precinct 3 incumbent Jesse Prieto and at-large representative Greg Luna, who previously had filed for new terms.

Leo Hung will challenge Luna in the May 6 election, while no other candidates have filed for the Precinct 1 or Precinct 3 seats.

Along with the hospital board, filing continues until March 22 for positions on the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah and Balmorhea school boards, along with city council and mayoral positions in Pecos, Barstow, Toyah and Balmorhea.


AUSTIN (AP) - Results of the Cash 5 drawing Tuesday night: Winning numbers drawn: 6-11-18-20-24. Number matching five of five: 0. Matching four of five: 224. Prize: $841.


AUSTIN (AP) - The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Tuesday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 9-1-2 (nine, one, two)


PECOS, Mar. 15, 2000 - High Tuesday 82. Low this morning 42. Forecast for tonight: Increasing cloudiness with a 20 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. Becoming windy and cooler after midnight. Low in the mid 40s. Southwest wind 10-15 mph, becoming north and increasing to 20-30 mph and gusty after midnight. Thursday: Mostly cloudy and cooler with a 30 percent chance of showers. High in the lower 60s. North to northeast wind 15-25 mph and gusty. Thursday night: Decreasing cloudiness. Low in the lower to mid 30s. Friday: Partly cloudy. High near 70.

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