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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
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Wednesday, March 22, 2000

Wickett weather overnight causes damage

Staff Writer
Thunderstorms swept across the Permian Basin late Tuesday night and early this morning, bringing only a trace of rain to Pecos but causing heavy damage in Wickett shortly before 1 a.m. today.

Pecos was brushed by the southern edge of the storm that brought heavy rains and hail to homes around Barstow, Wink and Pyote, and lighting from the storm was believed to have caused a oil tank battery explosion and fire around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday near Orla. But the worst damage was reported in Wickett, with a population of about 600 seven miles west of Monahans, according to Ward County Sheriff Jerry Heflin.

"It appears that it was a sheer wind coming off that storm, creating a lot of damage," said Heflin. "It blew down electrical wires, a few metal carports and metal buildings and overturned an unoccupied mobile home."

Heflin and his crew were out on the scene helping out, along with the Department of Public Safety Officers and the fire department.

"It was a pretty good storm," said Heflin. "But it seems that that was the only place that it created so much damage."

Heflin said quite a few people were out of power due to the damage electrical wires.

"Texas-New Mexico Power Company, along with TU Electric, were out here quickly assisting the residences and trying to restore the power," said Heflin.

Heflin said the sheriff's department had also received a report on an overturned 18-wheeler, at mile marker 71, on I-20, two miles west of Wickett. "The truck was empty, which is probably what caused it to overturn, with those strong winds," said Heflin.

All of the damage happened in about the same area, according to Heflin.

"And the report I received is that we'll be experiencing the same kind of weather again tonight," said Heflin.

Tornado warnings for the Wink-Pyote-Wickett area were issued by the National Weather Service office in Midland after midnight, and Heflin said Ward County Sheriff's officers responded to scene in Wickett about 1 a.m. "I think that's when the real problems started," he said.

Southern Union Gas reported no problems. "We had someone from Monahans go check it out last night and the report I received is that they had no problems," said area manager Danny Shelton.

"Residents are still out of electricity," said TNMP Planning Scheduler Tommy Terry, and some people in Wickett will have to go without power all day today.

Terry stated that they had found as many as 11 electric poles down. "Some of the people's houses were badly damaged, some roofs blown off, over-fallen trees and debris."

Old tin barns were blown away, and there were some houses that lost their roofs. "Some of the homes that were more sturdy are still standing, it's just the roofs that were blown off," said Terry.

About 50 residents are without electricity and will be until 5 p.m. today, when all of it will be restored. "We'll have some back up within the hour, but the rest probably won't be back up until this afternoon," said Terry.

Crews from Pecos, Kermit and Fort Stockton were in Wickett, restoring the fallen electrical lines and utility poles.

"We'll have half of the residents back up soon, and the other half done by this afternoon," said Terry. "We're working as fast and hard as we can, in trying to get their power back on."

The fire personnel from Wickett and Monahans were out at the scene as well, helping direct traffic and helping the residents.

"No injuries have been reported so far," said Heflin.

Pecos volunteer firemen were called out earlier to the tank batter fire, located off County Road 426 near Seven Mile Draw in the Orla area of northern Reeves County. County Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire was out of town Tuesday and could not confirm a lightning strike caused the blaze, but said, "That's probably what it was, because there was lightning all over the area."

The storm cell formed just north of Pecos after sunset, and began moving quickly in a northeasterly direction after that. Residents in town received only a brief sprinkle, but hail was reported around Barstow and Wickett and .15 inch of rain was measured at the weather service station in Wink. The same storm was later blamed for a tornado touching down in Ector County near FM 866, seven miles south of Goldsmith.

Other storm cells resulted in tornado warnings being issued in Andrews, Gaines and Dawson counties overnight, and forecasts for today put the chances of more rain for the Permian Basin at 70 percent.

Kane gets 28-year term, still faces murder charge

Staff Writer
Shaun Michael Kane faces at least 28 years in federal prison, and will now face state murder charges in Nevada following sentencing on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Midland.

U.S. District Court Judge Lucius D. Bunton sentenced the 21-year-old Kane on three of seven federal counts filed against him, after Kane was arrested for shooting at a U.S. Border Patrol agent near Valentine in November, assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Parras said this morning. Kane earlier had agreed to plead guilty to the three charges in a deal with prosecutors.

"He pled guilty to attempted murder of a federal agent, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years, and he also pled to a federal statute of discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, which carries a minimum of 10 years consecutive," Parras said.

Judge Bunton sentenced Kane to 216 months (18 years) on the first charge and 120 months (10 years) on the second. A third charge of attempting to escape from the Winker County Jail after being transferred there from Marfa, carries a 60 month term, but that will be served concurrently, Parras said.

Kane pled guilty after he was arrested following an early-morning manhunt on November 22, 1999. He was charged with attempting to kill at a Border Patrol agents who encountered the suspect overnight near the Aerostat balloon site, south of U.S. 90 and seven miles east of Valentine. He had eluded officials two days earlier in Marfa after a records check showed the vehicle he was driving had been reported stolen.

Kane initially identified himself to authorities as Brian Lee Taylor, which delayed a background check by law enforcement officials. Once his real identity was known, records showed he was wanted on an outstanding warrant for a murder in Nevada that occurred on Nov. 12, 1999.

Kane was charged with the murder of Guillermo Cortez in Wendover, Nev., on the Utah state line 115 miles west of Salt Lake City. Wendover police Chief Richard Weighall said Kane shot Cortez twice in the head in an apparent drug-releated incident, and was identified from photographs police found in a camera he left behind after the shooting.

"They have a hold on him. He is still presently charged, and he will be detoured to Nevada to face that charge before going to the BOP," said Parras.

Kane has a lengthy criminal background, including multiple arrests for burglary, possession of a controlled substance, shoplifting, grand theft auto, possession of burglary tools, trespassing, possession of stolen property and resisting a public officer, the FBI said after his arrest near Valentine. Parras said he is facing other charges of burglary and car theft in Nevada, Colorado and Texas, and the vehicle he was in when first spotted on Nov. 20, 1999 in Marfa was stolen from Lamb County (Littlefield) in the Texas Panhandle.

"He was just released from the Nevada State Prison in August of `99, and he never reported to his parole officer before this," Parras said, referring to the alleged Wendover slaying and subsequent manhunt in the Valentine area.

Toyah candidates beat filing deadline

Staff Writer
Candidates waited until the last day to file for elections in Toyah, where terms for mayor and two council positions will be up for grabs.

Candidates in all area city and school elections, along with those for the Reeves County Hospital District board, have only until 5 p.m. today to sign up to run in the May 6 elections.

In Toyah, Ann Marsh has filed to run for mayor, while Paul Anthony Budlong and Sharon Sanchez both signed up for city council seats.

Budlong is currently serving as mayor for the little community, a position he won in 1998.

The council seats up for election are those won by Clara McConnell and Howard Dennett two years ago.

On Monday, Barstow was assured of its first contested election since the mid-1990s when Pablo Navarette has filed for the position of alderman. He will join the two incumbents Robert Ortega and Benny Avila, who have filed to retain their council seats for another two years.

Benny Hernandez has filed to run for the position of Mayor of Barstow, a position currently held by Salvador Villalobos. Hernandez currently is unopposed in his race.

All area cities have the positions of mayor and two council seats up for election, while two school board seats in Balmorhea and Pecos, along with three seats on the Reeves County Hospital District board, will also be decided on May 6.

Incumbent Danny Rodriguez and Ricky Herrera have filed to retain their seats on the Town of Pecos City Council and are currently unopposed, while Ray Ortega will challenge incumbent Dot Stafford in the race for mayor.

In the Reeves County Hospital District election Leo Hung, filed last week to seek the at-large seat on the board against two-term incumbent Greg Luna. All county voters will be eligible to cast ballots in that race, and voters in Precincts 1 and 3 also will vote for their own representatives in May.

Incumbents Chel Flores for Precinct 1 and Jesse Prieto in Precinct 3 are the only candidates so far to enter those races.

In Balmorhea, only incumbent councilman Danny Reynolds has filed for the mayoral position currently held by Ismael Rodriguez.

The terms of Reynolds, a Reeves County sheriff's deputy, and Rosendo Galindo also are up for election on May 6, but so far no one has filed for either of the council seats.

The Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD election has four candidates seeking the two three-year terms up for election. Incumbent Steve Armstrong is joined in the May 6 race by challengers Paul Deishler, Steve Valenzuela and David Flores.

In the Balmorhea school board race, only one person, Raymond Carrasco, has filed for one of the two two-year terms up for election. Paul Matta and Reyes Castillo hold the seats that are up for election.

Workshop set on business tax at Civic Center

A workshop titled, "Understanding Your Business Taxes" will be held from 5-8 p.m., next Wednesday, March 29, at the Reeves County Civic Center.

Those attending the three-hour seminar will get information on how to accurately access your tax regulations and how they affect your business. It is free of charge and will cover such topics as: Should you be a corporation, a limited liability company or a sole proprietor? How do I find out how much money I am making, and how do I determine my employment taxes?

The Pecos Chamber of Commerce/CVB, the Big Bend Region Minority & Small Business Development Center of Sul Ross State University, and the Internal Revenue Service are sponsoring next week's workshop.

For more information or to register call Tom Rivera at the chamber of commerce, at 445-2406.

Council to discuss telecom franchise rate, water well project

The Town of Pecos City Council will tackle the telecommunications franchise tax rate tomorrow at the regularly scheduled meeting at city hall at 7:30 a.m. The council will also hear from Frank X. Spencer and Associates, Inc., about advertising for bids and submission of plans to the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission regarding water well projects in the Worsham Water Field.

In other business the council will discuss / consider:

· Amended ordinance for assistant fire marshal in absence or disability of the fire marshal. (This will be the second reading of the proposed ordinance).

· Tax collector's report.

· Ambulance report.


High Tuesday 83. Low this morning 48. Forecast for tonight: Cloudy with thunderstorms likely, some severe and with heavy rainfall. Low in the mid 40s. East to northeast wind 15-25 mph, becoming west before sunrise. Chance of rain 70 percent. Thursday: Decreasing cloudiness and windy with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms early. High in the upper 60s. West wind 20-30 mph and gusty. Chance of rain 20 percent. Thursday night: Partly cloudy. Low in the mid 40s.

Lotto Results

AUSTIN (AP) - Results of the Cash 5 drawing Tuesday night: Winning numbers drawn: 2-11-13-16-32. Number matching five of five: 1. Prize per winner: $76,081. Winning ticket sold in: Mesquite. Matching four of five: 170. Prize: $671.
AUSTIN (AP) - The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Tuesday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 8-8-2 (eight, eight, two)

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