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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Monday, May 1, 2000

Early voting nearing 1,000 mark

Staff Writer
PECOS, May 1, 2000 - A record number of voters have been casting their ballots at the Pecos Community Center for Saturday's city, school and hospital district elections.

Those elections are scheduled for Saturday, but Tuesday at 5 p.m. is the deadline to vote early in all of those races. The last day to request a ballot by mail for the May 6 election is 5 p.m., today.

A total of 975 people have already cast their vote early by personal appearance as of Friday, and the number just keeps growing, according to Debbie Thomas, Early Voting Clerk for the Town of Pecos City, Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD and Reeves County Hospital District elections. "And the number is unusually high," said Thomas.

A total of 302 ballots have been mailed out with 143 returned as of this morning. "They have until 7 p.m., on Saturday for the ballots by mail," said Thomas. "We just got 95 back today."

Twenty-five voters were at the Community Center on South Oak Street this morning casting their votes early, according to Thomas. "We expect a few more before early voting ends," she said.

"I don't remember having this many vote early before, but we're really pleased with the numbers," she said. This year's area elections have more contested races than in the past several years.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., on Election Day.

In the Town of Pecos City elections, mayor Dot Stafford will be seeking a fourth two-year term and is being challenged by Ray Ortega. In the council election, incumbents Danny Rodriguez and Ricky Herrera are challenged by Hector "Tito" Roman.

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

In the Reeves County Hospital District election, the only contested race is for the at-large seat, where incumbent Hiram "Greg" Luna is challenged by Leo Hung. Precinct 1 incumbent Chel Florez and Precinct 3 incumbent Jesse Prieto are unopposed in their bids for new two-year terms.

The names for the candidates in the city, school and hospital elections are all on one single ballot for voters at the Community Center.

Barstow City Council voters will also have a contested election for the first time in years, and Balmorhea will again have contested elections in its city and school elections.

In Balmorhea, early voting for the city elections will be at City Hall between now and May 2, while early voting in the school board election will be in the Balmorhea ISD boardroom.

In the Balmorhea city races, incumbent mayor Ismael Rodriguez is being challenged by councilman Danny Reynolds and Doug Maynard. Reynolds' seat was one of two on the council up for election this year. The other incumbent, Rosendo Galindo, is seeking another two-year term and will face challengers Tammy Marmillon, Bertha Brijalba and Eddie Roman.

In the Balmorhea School Board election the three-year terms of Reyes Castillo and Paul Matta are up. Matta has filed to seek another three-year term and will be challenged by Dora Machuca, Tommy Ray Dominguez, Louis Rene Contreras and Raymond Carrasco.

In Barstow, early voting will be held daily and on May 1 and 2, from 3:30-6:30 p.m., at the Barstow Community Center. Barstow voters will have one contested race, with incumbents Robert Ortega and Benny Avila facing challenger Pablo Navarette. Benny Hernandez will be unopposed in the race for Barstow mayor, where incumbent Salvador Villalobos opted against seeking another term.

Toyah city elections will be held this year. The mayor race is uncontested with only Ann Marsh filing to run for mayor, while Paul Anthony Budlong, Sharon Sanchez and Bart Sanchez signed up for the two available Toyah 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.

Cornyn asked to investigate 83rd DA vote

Staff Writer
PECOS, May 1, 2000 - The recount portion of last month's Democratic primary runoff election for 83rd District Attorney is over, having caused no change in the outcome of the April 11 race. But now, the election will come under the investigation of the Texas Attorney General John Cornyn's office over possible voter irregularities on three Brewster County ballots.

Ballots were recounted in the six counties that make up the 83rd District late last week, and Marfa attorney Steve Spurgin's 2,448-2,447 victory over Alpine lawyer Frank Brown was increased to a two-vote margin as the result of the recount. But that's still within the three-vote margin of the ballots in question that were cast by staff members of the Alpine Avalanche.

Managing editor Ian Talley, said he filled out a voter registration card on March 30, took it to election judge Gerald Raun and was allowed to vote, a violation of state law that requires registration at least 30 days prior to any election. Talley went back to the office on April 11 and was told by publisher Mindy Nelson-Combs it was against the law.

"I just didn't know the law," Talley said.

Nelson-Combs then sent staff members Bill Adler and Kerry Laird to see if they could register to vote as well. Both were allowed to vote by Raun, after which Nelson-Combs informed Brewster County Judge Val Beard of the situation.

Following publication of the Avalanche's story on the illegal votes in its April 13 edition, Brewster County Attorney Steve Houston assigned retired FBI agent John Newsome will conduct an investigation for his office.

However, after it was determined that Houston may be called as a witness in any future hearing, he announced he would turn the investigation over to the Secretary of State's office to avoid any conflict of interest.

"I've made a request for them to get involved," Houston said this morning. "As soon as I know who will be assigned to that, I will put out a press release."

Spurgin told the San Angelo Standard Times on Sunday he felt secure in his victory. "The investigation appears to be votes that were not cast for me. If the reports we received were correct the investigation shouldn't have any impact on this election."

"They may have. I don't know, but that wouldn't make any difference with what we're dealing with in my office," Houston said today. "What I requested was for them (the secretary of state's office) to send somebody from the prosecutor's assistance division to come down and look at the investigation, to continue the investigation and to look at what should be done as far as any criminal investigation."

Brown was out of his office this morning and unavailable for comment, but Jane Dees of the Elections Division of the Secretary of State's office in Austin said on April 13 that Brown could instigate a hearing into the final vote results.

"Should the candidate who lost file an election contest to show the candidate would have won were it not for illegal voting, the reporters could be subpoenaed and forced to state under oath who they voted for," she said.

Dees said voting illegally can be prosecuted as a Third Degree Felony, while registering to vote with intent to fraud and allowing someone to vote who should not be eligible to do so are both Class B misdemeanors. The results of the election could also be invalidated and a new election ordered as a result of the attorney general's probe.

Spurgin and Brown are seeking to replace retiring 83rd District Attorney Albert Valadez. There currently is no Republican candidate seeking the position, so Spurgin will run unopposed in November if this past weekend's recount is allowed to stand.

The 83rd District is made up of parts of six counties in the Big Bend and Trans-Pecos region. Along with Brewster and Pecos counties, the others are Presidio, Jeff Davis, Reagan and Upton counties.

Enterprise wins three awards

PECOS, May 1, 2000 - The Pecos Enterprise picked up three awards over the weekend at the Texas Associated Press Managing Editor's convention in Dallas.

Enterprise reporter Jon Fulbright won first place in business reporting for Class A newspapers, for a story on the chamiso harvest, which appeared in the November edition of Living off the Land. He also received an honorable mention in headline writing during Sunday's awards ceremony, while the newspaper's online edition won second place among Class A newspapers during an earlier awards presentation on Saturday.

Class A for Texas APME includes newspapers with circulations of 10,000 or less across Texas.

Other area newspapers to receive first place awards included the Odessa American and San Angelo Standard Times in Class 3A, and the Midland Reporter-Telegram in Class 2A. Odessa's Ken Brodnax won a first place award for headline writing, Midland's Richard Acosta won first place in the features category and San Angelo's Que Lam and Holly Henry won first place in investigative reporting.

One person dies in early morning accident on I-10

PECOS, May 1, 2000 - One person was reportedly killed about 8:30 a.m. today and six others were injured in a three-vehicle accident, which occurred on Interstate 10 near the Reeves-Pecos County line.

Ambulances from both Pecos and Balmorhea were called to the scene, between mile markers 224 and 225 on I-10. A Jaws of Life unit from Pecos was also sent to the site, 15 miles east of Balmorhea and 32 miles west of Fort Stockton.

DPS officers were still at the scene of the accident late this morning, and no further information was available about the accident at press time.

City's water field projects on council agenda

PECOS, May 1, 2000 - A contract for a new water field for Pecos and maintenance of the city's existing water field are the main items on the agenda for a special meeting Tuesday of the Town of Pecos City Council.

Council members will meet at 7:30 a.m. to discuss and consider engineer's recommendation to award bid on "Town of Pecos City, FY 2000 Water well project at Worsham Well Field (Well No. 16A), TCDP No. 719-639, Engineer's Project No. E0001," and to award bid on "Town of Pecos City, FY 2000 water well project at Worsham Well Field (Well No. 21), Engineer's Project No. E0005."

Other bids to be discussed and considered are: "Town of Pecos City, 1999 Water system improvements, Ward County Well Field, 24" water transmission line replacement, Phase V TCDP No. 719639. The Ward County and Worsham Fields currently provide the city with its drinking water, but a study given to the council six years ago said the two fields could only provide adequate water supplies for Pecos through the year 2008.

As a result, the council will also consider "Engineer's Project No. E99926": an engineering contract with Frank X. Spencer and Associates for South Worsham Water Field, during Tuesday's meet. They are also scheduled to approve fees for the preparation of the Economic Development Agency Grant for the development of the South Worsham Well Field.

Council members will discuss and consider approval to amend the engineering agreement to conduct and prepare the environmental impact document as required by Texas Water Development Board.

In executive session, the council will meet behind closed doors to discuss and consider acquisition of real property for South Worsham Water Field; the item will then be discussed in open session.


PECOS, May 1, 2000 - High Sunday 91. Low this morning 51. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Low 45-50. Light east wind. Tuesday: Mostly sunny and cool. High 75-80. North wind 5-15 mph. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy. Low in the lower 50s.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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