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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Thursday, March 30, 2000

Bomber flights over area given Air Force's OK

Staff Writer
PECOS, Mar. 30, 2000 - The U.S. Air Force announced on Wednesday that it has officially selected the Lancer MOA and the IR-178 training route for use by B-1 and B-52 jets as part of its planned Realistic Bomber Training Initiative.

But the RTBI, which would route the jets in a low-level loop around Pecos, still faces questions about its effect of commercial jet flights in the Lubbock area, and a possible lawsuit by a group of farmers and ranchers in the Trans-Pecos and Big Bend areas.

In a press release on Wednesday, the Air Force said it selected the Lancer MOA, which covers eight counties in the area between Lubbock and Big Spring, and the IR-178, which will send the bombers over 11 other area counties in Texas and the southeastern corner of Lea County, N.M.

In the Record of Decision, officials said the route chosen "will help achieve the Air Force's goal of balancing readiness training with environmental and community concerns. This action incorporates federal and state agency inputs and public comments."

Comments were taken during a series of public hearings last April. The environmental impact statement was released in early February favoring Alternative 2 for the bombers, which will fly out of Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene and Barksdale AFB in Shreveport, La.

However, Reeves County farmer Joe Vernon, whose home will be one of the closest to the manned electronic scoring site the Air Force plans to construct south of Pecos, said neither he or any of his neighbors were contacted by Air Force personnel before the decision was announced.

"They talked about how many people they had talked to who would be affected (in the February report), but they don't have a list of names of anybody in the area they've talked to who would be affected," he said.

Vernon said he has talked with members of the Trans-Pecos/Davis Mountains Heritage Association, which joined ranchers and environmental groups in 10 western states in a lawsuit filed in Washington, D.C. in January, seeking to block training flights in those states. He also talked with Steve Uslar of the Southwest Regional Pilots Association about possible legal action, based on the Air Force's failure to talk with residents living beneath the low-level flight path.

"We knew they made a decision to go with this, that was obvious. After they do file (the final plan) he (Uslar) will look to pursue it on that angle," Vernon said.

The objections up in the Lubbock area have led Air Force officials to talk with the Federal Aviation Administration and with U.S. Rep. Larry Combest about how to handle the problem.

"I have been actively working with the Air Force, FAA and City of Lubbock officials to ensure that whatever the final decision is in regards to the RBTI proposal, Lubbock's civil and commercial aviation will not be adversely affected," Combest said in a statement last Friday. "This is something I will be monitoring and I have been assured by the Air Force and the FAA that we will continue to negotiate and have discussions in which all options for the proposal will be fairly and openly considered."

In Tuesday's announcement, the Air Force said they would return 1,000 square miles of military training airspace in Central and West Texas to the FAA that is not specifically needed to implement RBTI. Maj. John Boyle with the Dyess AFB public information office said some of that air space is around Lubbock, but is not part of the current talks on commercial flights in the area.

"For years and years and years we've had three military operations areas over those counties. They were part of the Reese Air Force Base's RTBI," Boyle said. After the based closed down three years ago, "Those three existing MOAs have been combined into one bigger than what we needed, and they cut off 1,000 square miles."

"We were giving back the 1000 square miles long before this issue was raised," Boyle said.

If everything remains on schedule, Boyle said funding for construction of the electronic scoring sites is in the FY 2000 federal budget, and work would begin this fall. "If it all goes through, we're looking at flying no earlier than late 2001," he said.

That would hinge on any impending legal action, and Vernon said area residents would have to join with other groups if they are to block implementation of the IR-178 plan.

"There are not enough people in this area to stand up and make a big enough stink do to anything," he said. "Individuals can't fight the government, that's why we're leaving it up to Steve Uslar and other agencies to see what we can do."

The bombing run through Reeves County will be at levels as low as 500 feet off the ground, while the manned site and other area electronic scoring sites would cost about $5 million to built. The Air Force said it would bring 31 new jobs and an annual $1.6 million into the local economy.

"Nobody out of here is going to be used. They're going to bring in their own people," Vernon said. "The only jobs will be construction, and that will be only short term manual labor. There are two or three construction companies around here and they may not even get the jobs, but after they finish building, there won't be any."

PHS students ready to act up in San Elizario

Staff Writer
PECOS, Mar. 30, 2000 - A group of Pecos High School students will take their show on the road Friday as they compete in UIL One-Act Play competition in San Elizario, east of El Paso.

The local group will compete against six other schools and they have been practicing diligently in preparation, according to director Ben Price.

Price and teacher Sam Armstrong will be accompanying the group to competition.

Pecos' one-act play group will perform the play titled, Elektra.

"This is the story of the murder of Agamemnon," said Price.

The story states, that in order to get to the Trojan War, Agamemnon had to sacrifice his first-born daughter, for the gods to fill his sails with wind. Because it upset her, his wife, Clydemesta takes a young lover after his gone to the war and when he gets back from the war they kill him.

His surviving children, who are Elektra and her brother, Orestes, then plot their mother's murder and that of her lover.

"In order to emphasize the war aspect and effect of war, we have chosen to costume it in different periods throughout the war," said Price.

Open rehearsal will be held at 7:30 p.m., today. Everyone is invited to attend.

Cast members include, Jenny Alvarez, as Elektra; Tabbie Montanez, as Clytaemestra; Grace Hernandez, Chrysothemis; Herman Seijas, as Orestes; Grant Holland, tutor and Cortney Freeman, Aegisthus.

Also, Ibefel Ramirez as the first woman; Sandy Belles, second woman; Crystal Valenzuela, third woman; David Gonzales, first attendant; Adam Seijas, second attendant; Craig Wein, third attendant and Wesley Roberts, fourth attendant.

Stage crew hands are Tye Edwards and Natalie Nazaroff.


AUSTIN (AP) - Results of the Lotto Texas drawing Wednesday night: Winning numbers drawn: 13-17-20-29-37-41. Estimated jackpot: $6 million. Number matching six of six: 0. Matching five of six: 86. Prize: $1,303. Matching four of six: 3,891. Prize: $104.


AUSTIN (AP) - The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Wednesday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 9-4-4 (nine, four, four)


Celia McCree

Celia McCree, 62, of Dallas, died Wednesday, March 29, in Dallas.

Graveside services will be held at 3 p.m., Friday, March 31, at Fairview Cemetery with Rev. Bruce Abbott officiating.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


PECOS, Mar. 30, 2000 - High Wednesday 75. Low this morning 45. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Low around 40. West wind 10-15 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy and breezy. High 70-75. West wind 15-25 mph and gusty. Friday night: Mostly clear. Low in the mid 30s. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Lows 40-45. Highs 75-80.

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Pecos Enterprise
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