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Top Stories

Tuesday, May 9, 2000

Commissioners move on senior, phone contracts

Staff Writer
PECOS, May 9, 2000 - Reeves County Commissioners approved an addendum to the contract for senior services in the county on Monday and heard a presentation concerning a possible new telephone system during the regularly scheduled meeting of the commissioner's court.

County Judge Jimmy Galindo explained that there had been two contracts in the past for recreation and transportation services for senior citizens, one for Pecos and one for Balmorhea.

Last fall the Balmorhea director of senior services retired and the move was made to consolidate the operations under one director, he said.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Herman Tarin said that the addendum to the contract was the last obstacle to overcome in consolidating senior services, and that transportation services should again be available to Balmorhea seniors in the near future.

Galindo said that the county is also looking for a temporary building to use for recreation services for seniors in Balmorhea.

Commissioners also sat through a video presentation regarding one possible solution to the county's phone problems that sparked discussion among commissioners and spectators.

Galindo said that he had been impressed with the connectivity of the demonstrated system that combines voice and electronic mail, fax and telephone systems into one integrated package.

"With the definite need for a telecommunications system, when we look at a solution it should be an integrated solution," Galindo said.

Precinct 2 Commissioner David Castillo said that whatever type system the county decided on, it should be simple to use and that the county shouldn't pay for a lot of bells and whistles that wouldn't be used.

"Everybody needs to be able to use it with a minimum of training," he said.

"The big questions we need to answer, other than cost, ought to be ease of use, ease of implementation and time it takes to get it up," he said.

Dick Alligood, President of Oilfield Phone Service Co., advised the commissioners that the integrated type of system demonstrated in the presentation is generally known as Computer Telephony Integration or CTI, and is not new technology.

Alligood also told commissioners that the courthouse, and probably every other county building except the Detention Center, would need new cabling before any type of telephone system is installed.

County Auditor Lynn Owens told commissioners that he had met with several department heads and that the department heads are pretty frustrated with the current phone system.

"We need something. It doesn't make sense to buy new phones and tie them together with the hodge-podge wiring we have right now," he said.

Alligood suggested that the county hire a consultant.

"I would encourage you to have a consultant look at what the county needs overall before you buy anything," he said. "This technology will only work with the proper cabling."

Alligood volunteered to provide the court with a list of state certified consultants.

Castillo moved that the court advertise to solicit a telecommunications consultant to examine the communication needs of Reeves County.

The court passed the motion unanimously.

The court also heard from Mark Schumacher with Banes General Contractors, Inc., concerning progress on the Reeves County Detention Center expansion.

Banes is the general contractor for the project.

"Construction is moving at a fast pace and all the buildings are up structurally," he said. "As of today we believe the job is on schedule."

Commissioners authorized payment #13 to the company for the sum of $2,253,028.05 after the report.

County Extension Agent Terry Holder was also on hand to speak with the court about future office space for his agency.

"Mr. Holder and I have come up with a potential property we would like the community to consider," Judge Galindo said.

Galindo said that the property is the old Billy Sol Estes building on Highway 17 between Veterans and Stafford boulevards.

Holder said that the agency is running out of room in its current facility and that the new facility would provide more room for clubs and civic groups to hold meetings.

Galindo and Holder encouraged commissioners to walk through the building before the next scheduled meeting.

Galindo said that the county would need to talk with other taxing entities to see about making the building a county building.

Currently the building is owned by the taxing entities because of unpaid back taxes, Galindo said.

Red Bluff discusses less salt, more rain

Staff Writer
PECOS, May 9, 2000 - Red Bluff Water Power Control Board members got an update Monday on the ongoing problems getting the Malaga Bend salt alleviation project untracked, but will have to wait at least until next month to get briefed on a proposed cloud seeding project by an official from the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission.

Board members discussed both plans during their monthly meeting at the Red Bluff office in Pecos on Monday, and also canvassed votes for the two contested elections held Saturday involving Red Bluff board members.

Charlotte Wilcox won re-election to the board over Randy Bradenburg by a 100-25 margin in voting for the seat representing Ward County Water Improvement District No. 2, while Manuel Lujan defeated Benjamin Munoz by a 150-38 margin in Saturday's election for the Ward County Water Improvement District No. 1 seat. Lujan represents the Barstow area, while Wilcox represents the Grandfalls area on the Red Bluff board.

The district's plans to pump brine water from Malaga Bend to man-made ponds owned by Loving Salt Co. remains on hold, but the board was told that lawyers for Loving Salt will meet with New Mexico officials to try and resolve the problem of getting final permits for the project.

The district and Loving Salt Co. have been working for several years to begin diverting the Malaga Bend water away from the Pecos River, since salt content readings in the river in Texas are double those above the site where the spring feeds into the river.

Board members delayed any action on the cloud seeding project until they could hear from officials involved with a similar project in the Big Spring area.

Board member Lloyd Goodrich said the cost of the seeding would come to about nine cents an acre, with the state paying seven cents of that total. However, Goodrich said the district has tried cloud seeding in the past, but had run into problems, in part because much of the basin that feeds into Red Bluff Lake is located in New Mexico.

"We couldn't get a permit to seed in New Mexico. New Mexico State University was the only ones allowed to permit," Goodrich said. "We also couldn't get a permit for the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, because the Ranger didn't want the ecology changed."

Goodrich said ground smoke generators used in cloud seeding helped produce an eight-inch snowfall one time in the Red Bluff area, but added there weren't enough of stations collecting information in the area to produce completely accurate baseline data on the project.

On a motion by Teresa Walker, the board voted to table the item until an expert on the plan could attend a board meeting.

The monthly water report showed the water level of Red Bluff Lake had dropped 10,000 acre/feet during April as irrigation season in the Pecos Valley began. The board was also asked to allow Pecos County WID No. 2 to get back some of the 2,355 acre/feet of water they had transferred in April.

The transfer represented about 40 percent of the district's allotment of 5,355 acre/feet for 2000, and board member Jay Lee said, "Without that water, they're not going to make it."

Lee said the Pecos County WID No. 2 board has been changed since the move to transfer the water was made, and the new members were requesting Red Bluff allow them to get the allotment back. Goodrich said the board couldn't take action at this time, but could put the item on a later board agenda.

Board members also approved accounts payable, cash disbursements and the quarterly investment report during the meeting, and all seven members of the board were sworn in to new terms, following the past Saturday's elections.

Phoenix woman identified as victim of I-20 accident

Staff Writer
PECOS, May 9, 2000 - A Phoenix, Ariz., woman has been identified as the victim of a one-vehicle accident which happened early Monday morning on Interstate 20, just east of the Interstate 10 junction.

According to a report by the Texas Department of Public Safety, the accident occurred at 6:59 a.m., and involved a 1989 Jeep driven by Hector Daniel Sotelo of Phoenix.

Killed in the accident was the passenger, Julieta Mendoza, 49, of Phoenix, who was pronounced dead at 7:50 a.m., by Justice of the Peace J.T. Marsh. Her body was taken to Pecos Funeral Home.

Sotelo, 33, was severely injured in the accident, with head injuries, arms and leg injuries and was airlifted to Covenant (Methodist) Hospital in Lubbock. His condition was listed as critical early this afternoon.

According to the DPS report, the couple was traveling eastbound on I-20. Sotelo was eating a candy bar when he choked and lost control of the vehicle. The vehicle ran off the road to right, the driver overcorrected to the left, causing the vehicle to skid sideways and it rolled three times.

Mendoza was ejected from the vehicle.

Trooper R.D. Woods of the DPS Highway Patrol office in Pecos investigated the accident.

Summer swim class sign-ups start next week

PECOS, May 9, 2000 - Registration for summer swimming lesson at the Pecos High School pool will be held three times, starting next Monday from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the PHS pool lobby.

Sessions will be from June 5-16 and from June 19-30 and are open to boys and girls at the preschool (ages 3-4) and school age (5 and up) levels. The cost for the two-week class is $25 per student.

The other registration days will be Wednesday, May 17 and Monday May 22, at the PHS pool. For further information, call coach Terri Morse at 447-7242.

Suspect pleads guilty in Caverns slaying

Associated Press Writer
CARLSBAD, N.M. - The prosecution rested its case this morning in the sentencing hearing of a man who claims he stabbed his best friend in a "mercy killing" after the two got lost and ran out of water in the New Mexico desert.

Prosecutor Les Williams called two experts in dehydration who reviewed the case of Raffi Kodikian, who killed David Coughlin last August during a camping trip in the backcountry of Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Robert Moon, a biologist at the National Parks Service, testified that Kodikian's dehydration level was at 13 percent when he was found. Couhglin's level was at 12 percent. Moon said that someone with a dehydration level under 15 percent would be in agony, and would have problems walking or standing, and could die.

Moon said that one thing that surprised him was that there was unopened can of baked beans found at the campsite. Moon said that a person who is severely dehydrated would consume anything liquid, even such items as lotion or gasoline.

The defense then began its case. Attorney Gary Mitchell started questioning Spencer Hall, an emergency room doctor who handles search and rescue cases.

Kodikian says the 26-year-old Coughlin begged him to end his pain after they got lost and ran out of water. He pleaded no contest to second-degree murder during a sentencing hearing that started Monday.

Kodikian, 26, of Boston, could get up to 20 years in prison. His sentencing hearing is expected to last until Wednesday.

Under the plea bargain, Kodikian preserves the right to appeal a judge's ruling barring him from mounting a defense of temporary insanity based on dehydration-induced dementia.

Mitchell said Monday that neither Kodikian nor Coughlin, of Millis, Mass., took enough water into Rattlesnake Canyon. He said they were unprepared for the possibility that their one-day trip could turn into four.

The two were in "absolute desperate straits" after getting lost and running out of water, Mitchell said.

"The boys earlier had both attempted to slice their wrists and weren't able to do so," he said. "David begged him to put him out of his misery."

Williams said Kodikian apparently had made an agreement that he was going to kill himself after killing Coughlin.

Williams said Kodikian "did have marks on his wrist, across his wrist, but they were not deep," and he said his knife was too dull. Kodikian was dehydrated, "but not to the point that he didn't know what he was doing," Williams said.

Park workers rescued Kodikian about six hours after his friend died.

Dr. Dennis Klein, who performed an autopsy on Coughlin, said Coughlin had three cuts on his right wrist that could have been the result of a suicide attempt. Coughlin was dehydrated, but the cause of death was two stab wounds to the chest, Klein said.

Dr. Mark Hopkins, who treated Kodikian at Carlsbad Medical Center the day he was found, testified that Kodikian also was dehydrated, had a fever of 102 and had an extremely elevated sodium level and pulse rate. Kodikian was treated and released in three hours, the doctor said.

Lance Mattson, a park ranger who along with a volunteer found Kodikian, testified that as he approached, he saw Kodikian roll out from under a tent. Since two names had been on the camping permit, Mattson asked Kodikian where his friend was. Kodikian gestured toward some stones and said, "Right over there. I killed him," Mattson testified.

Kodikian told the ranger that Coughlin had been in an incredible amount of pain.

Mattson noticed cuts on Kodikian's wrist. "These are attempts of me killing myself," was Kodikian's response, he testified. Kodikian said his knife was too dull, Mattson said.

Mitchell told the judge that Kodikian and Coughlin were very close and that there were no problems between them.

Outside the courtroom, Mitchell said speculation that Kodikian was motivated by a love triangle was "absolute pure nonsense."

"There is not a single shred of evidence to that effect, and there's not going to be," he said.


Carl Ray Payne

Carl Ray Payne, 66, of Katy, died Sunday, May 7, 2000, in a plane crash south of Fort Stockton, while fighting a grass fire in the Glass Mountains.

A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, May 10, at the Pecos Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. J.E. McCormick officiating. Burial services will be held Saturday, May 13, in Katy.

He was born March 3, 1934, in Mertzon, Tx., was an Air Force Veteran, moved to Pecos in 1946. His school attendance was cut short when he left school and joined the Air Force. Flying all kinds of planes was his joy. He was a Colonel in the Confederate Air Force.

Survivors include his wife, Carla Payne of Katy; one daughter, Patti Neeley of Brookshier; two sons, Jimmy Payne of Somerset and Mike Payne; one brother, Johnny Payne of San Antonio; one sister, Sue Toone of Saragosa and seven grandchildren.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


PECOS, May 9, 2000 - High Monday 102. Low this morning 69. Forecast for tonight: Mostly clear. Low around 60. East wind 5-10 mph. Wednesday: Mostly sunny: Breezy: And hot. High near 100. South wind 15-25 mph. Wednesday night: Mostly clear. Low in the upper 60s. Thursday: Mostly sunny and warm Highs in the upper 90s to near 105.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.

324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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