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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
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Top Stories

Monday, December 4, 2000

New doses of flu vaccine at RCH lessens shortage

Staff Writer

PECOS, December 4, 2000 - Influenza has not hit the Pecos area yet, and for those wanting a flu vaccination now is the time to get it, with the arrival of additional doses of vaccine at Reeves County Hospital

"We have about 50 doses of the vaccinations," said Michelle Cser, physician's assistant, at the Trans Pecos Health Center, located inside the hospital.

Flu vaccine was in short supply earlier this fall, leaving people who normally get early flu shots unable to do so in October or November. Right now, the shots will be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis at the clinic.

"The earlier in December that you get it, the better," said Cser. "And right now, there's no guarantee that we will be receiving more shots."

The problem in the flu vaccination shortage is a distribution problem. "There may be some hospitals in the area that have them, but they'll probably using all the ones that they have," said Cser.

The flu vaccinations are $10 and are covered by Medicare, Medicaid and some insurance plans.

"People who have respiratory illnesses, smoke, have lung problems, asthma, cancer, or diabetes or a chronic disease, are in danger of influenza," said Cser.

Normally healthy children are not in danger of influenza, according to Cser. "The first one usually comes in January, so getting the shot in December is sufficient," she said.

People complaining of influenza don't have it, because it hasn't hit this area yet. "This is not influenza, those that have it for 6-12 hours, they're aching and feel sick, but it's just a cold," said Cser.

Influenza is a severe upper respiratory illness. "It literally flattens people for about 5-6 days, the people complaining of it right now, just have a little cold or flu symptoms," she said.

High fever, bone pain, shivers, lung pain and more accompany influenza.

"If they have no fever and chills, it's just a cold," said Cser. "Without the high fever and shakes, it just a little viral illness, because there is no influenza yet."

Viral illnesses can sometimes imitate influenza, but under a doctor's diagnosis, they can tell the difference between the two and therefore treat it accordingly.

`Christmas for Kids' deadline approaching

Staff Writer

PECOS, December 4, 2000 - If you want to get on the list to receive Christmas gifts these season by some special elves, Wednesday is the deadline to fill out an application.

"We'll just be receiving applications until Wednesday, Dec. 6," said elf Sofia Baeza.

Christmas for the Kids organization will once again be providing the essentials for those less fortunate this Christmas season.

Applications to be placed on the program can be picked up at the Reeves County Sheriff's Department.

Volunteer workers were out early Saturday morning collecting funds door-to-door. "I'm very pleased with the turnout," said Baeza. "We only had about 25 kids that helped us, but they were an enthusiastic bunch."

The group collected $1,800 to get a little bit closer to their goal of $6,000, which will provide something for all the children in the community that need it.

"We want to provide the essentials for as many children as possible, this Christmas season," said Baeza. "We want to help as many families as we can."

She said that applications started being accepted on Oct. 29 and would continue to be accepted until Dec. 6.

Last year, Christmas for Kids helped out 521 children, with 181 families benefiting from the special project.

"We raised about $5,200 last year, but we feel we'll have more children and more families on the list," said Baeza.

As of today, the group has about 140 applications with 400 kids on the list.

"This year, the deadline is Wednesday and there won't be any exceptions, because we have to help those who have already filled out the applications," said Baeza. "We want to help as many as we can, though, so please come fill out the application before the deadline."

Baeza said that last year they had a lot more families and children on the list than the year before. "The number just keeps growing and this year proves to be the same," said Baeza. "I have a lot of new names on the list and combined with the ones we usually help the number is going to be really high."

Since 1996, when we started this program, our community has always been there for us, I know it will be here again this year," she said.

"We provide the essential items such as shoes, clothes, jackets and we want to help every child that is on our list every year," said Baeza. "We want to make it a `Happy Holiday,' for these less fortunate children in our community."

For more information on the program call the Reeves County Sheriff's Office at 445-4901.

Deputies still investigating Marfa murder-suicide

Staff Writer

PECOS, December 4, 2000 - Presidio County Sheriff's Deputies are still investigating a murder-suicide last Thursday at Village Farms, a hydrophonic tomato farm in Marfa, in which a third person was sent to an Alpine hospital with gunshot wounds

Presidio County Sheriff Danny Dominguez said 58-year-old Ramón Ornelas shot 36-year-old Marina Estrada Serrano and 60-year-old Esteban Amaro before shooting himself.

Dominguez said that at 7:30 a.m., on Thursday while Serrano was walking in to work, Ornelas shot her in the parking lot of the facility, located on Highway 17 just north of Marfa.

"Apparently he was waiting for her to go in," he said.

Dominguez said Ornelas fired two shots at Serrano and then ran 100-yards inside the plant and found Amaro by the green houses and shot him in his side.

"Then he turned the gun on himself," he said.

Ornelas and Amaro died as a result of their gunshot wounds; Serrano is in stable condition at Big Bend Regional Medical Center in Alpine.

Village Farms has been in operation in Marfa since 1997 and is constructed on 106 acres of land and employs about 200 people.

Robert Halpern, editor and publisher of the Big Bend Sentinel, said the hydroponic farm is one of the top five employers in Marfa and this is the first incident that has happened between the employees.

"They sent everybody home on Thursday," Halpern said.

Once employees returned to work on Friday counselors were onsite for the employees, according to Mike Bledsoe, Vice President of Technology for Village Farms, who also serves as media coordinator.

He said the counselors are onsite again today in case anybody wants to talk about what happened.

"We care about our employees more than anything else," he said.

Bledsoe said the environment at Village Farms is usually very happy and friendly and nobody expected something like this to happen.

In fact, Bledsoe described Ornelas, who has been with the company for many years, as being a "very happy worker and a hard worker."

"Nobody saw anything like this coming," he said.

Bledsoe said the employees are like family and have fun everyday but since the shooting the environment has been very somber.

"They're still shocked," he said. "It's very quiet now."

Bledsoe said security has been increased to 24-hours a day from the original 6 p.m.-7:30 a.m.

"There wasn't a whole lot of need for security during the day because there was always someone around," he said.

A Presidio County Sheriff's deputy patrols the grounds and makes sure he is seen not because they are concerned about violence but to comfort the employees, according to Bledsoe.

"His purpose to being here is to give a feeling of comfort," he said.

Dominguez said they have been able to talk with many witnesses but are still unsure of a motive.

"We have no idea," he said. "It was not work related we know."

Dominguez said they would continue interviewing witnesses and investigating.

"We're still looking into it," he said.

Hillcrest Funeral Home in El Paso is handling funeral arrangements for Amaro with funeral services pending.

Funeral services for Ornelas are scheduled for today in Marfa under the direction of Stanton Memorial Funeral Home in Stanton.

A prayer and memorial service for Serrano, Amaro and Ornelas is scheduled for 4 p.m., tomorrow for the employees of Village Farms.

PHA delays action on East Side project bids

Staff Writer

PECOS, December 4, 2000 - The Pecos Housing Authority Board of Commissioners tabled accepting bid proposals for parking areas and sidewalks project for the East Side development, during the regular meeting of the Pecos Housing Authority and the Pecos Farm Labor Housing on Friday.

PHA/FLA Director Nellie Gomez said the Board received only two bids on the East Side Apartment work, from Western Construction in Pecos and Odessa Bridge Incorporated.

"We need to check the references and the bonding issues on the lowest bidder," she said.

The bid proposals are for construction of parking areas and sidewalks up and down Orange Street.

The Board did approve the certificate of approved 2000 Capital Funds, which totalled $269,607.

Gomez said PHA/FLA would not receive anymore CIAP funds but would start receiving the capital funds to use on landscaping.

"Most of our dwelling units are pretty up to standard," she said. "So now we'll be working on landscaping, sidewalks and fencing."

In other business the Board approved the close out of the 1998 CIAP project, the final punch list and release of retainage payment to Fenix Contractors, to continue cleaning the Airbase vacant lots and financial reports for 1999.

They also approved the 1999 Public Housing Assessment Systems summary report and the monthly reports for November.

Under the Pecos Farm Labor Housing agenda, the Board approved the audit for 2000, the proposed budget for 2001 and the monthly reports.

They also approved taking off some names of people owing money to the FHA from the books and turning them over to a collection agency.

Those names and the amounts owed were Sharon Hernandez $185.50; Geneva Martinez $63; Mary Patino $65; Francisco Reyes $175; Lillian Sims $448; and Ana Rodriguez $571.

Blood donors needed to help RCDC worker's cancer fight

Staff Writer

PECOS, December 4, 2000 - Prayers and more prayers are what one Pecos family is asking for one of their members who was recently diagnosed with cancer.

Leticia Scott, whose husband Eric Scott was diagnosed with Chronic Melogonist Leukemia (CML), in October is asking the community for their thoughts and prayers during their time of struggle with the deadly disease.

"What I want the most from everyone is their prayers, because I believe they are very powerful and with them hopefully we can overcome this," said Leticia.

Eric, who currently an employee at the Reeves County Detention Center, will eventually need a bone marrow transplant, though for now, he said, "I'm fixing to start on a new, experimental program, and will be under that for at least 19 months. But ultimately, I will need a bone marrow transplant."

Scott will be undergoing the new treatment at Medical City Hospital in Dallas and the family is just waiting for them to call to schedule a time to begin his treatments.

"It's fairly new, very limited and (has) very few spots. I feel I was fortunate to get on this program," said Scott. "They gave me a choice between this program or interferon shots, and with the shots I would have to go to Odessa five times a week."

Scott said that this treatment also has less side effects and he will begin the new treatment within the next two weeks.

Scott's ailment came to light when he had an abscess that needed to be removed. "I had had surgery on it and my wife was cleaning out the wound about a month later, when she noticed something wasn't right," said Scott. "She took me back to the hospital and this time they did more extensive blood work and sent me to an entomologist," he said.

The results that came back were devastating to the whole family. Scott was diagnosed with leukemia, which is cancer of the blood.

"I was so upset when I heard the bad news," said Leticia. "I was so sad, because my brother died of that when he was 15," she said.

Leticia's past experience with leukemia was 17 years ago, but it's something she can't forget. "I just took it very, very hard," she said. "Because I know it can be a deadly disease."

Even though, Eric tires easily these days, he continues to work at the detention center.

"I want to give special thanks to Mike LeCuyer, who recently organized a blood drive at the detention center," said Scott. "Everyone at work has been really great."

"Our family has been very good to us and for that we are grateful. Everyone has been really good to us," she said.

Both the Scotts are from Pecos and the two are raising their children, John, 9 years old and a fourth grade student at Bessie Haynes and Maria Luz, 7-years-old and a student at Austin Elementary School.

Leticia is an employee at Anchor West. "They held a fundraiser for us there too, so that we could have money to take him to the doctor and other expenses," she said.

"We're asking for everyone's prayers, because I think it's the most important thing, God is stronger than anything," she said.

Another blood drive and bone marrow drive is scheduled for noon until 7 p.m., tomorrow, at the Reeves County Hospital.

The bone marrow drive is to search for that "Miracle Match" that so many cancer patients need.

The Reeves County Detention Center was recently honored for their efforts in procuring blood for Scott.

In response to repeated blood shortages in the Permian Basin, KOSA-TV (Ch. 7) and United Blood Services launched a new campaign to urge local residents and businesses to take the "Time To Care" and donate blood.

Since the first week of May, KOSA has recognized individual donors or blood drive sponsor groups for doing their part to help prevent blood shortages. A special "Time To Care" clock and certificate is awarded to the group or individual for their support of United Blood Services' volunteer blood donor program.

Last week's, "Time To Care" award winner was the Reeves County Detention Center. Nearly 50 employees, family members and friends participated in this first time blood drive and bone marrow registration campaign. The drive was organized by the Detention Center, as a show of support for Scott, who was recently diagnosed with leukemia. Cancer and leukemia patients can require frequent blood and platelet transfusions as part of their treatment to battle their illness. The award presentation was shown on KOSA-TV, CBS 7 evening news at 6 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 30.

KOSA Promotions Manager Molla Maytubby said, "This campaign ties in perfectly with our station's commitment to serving the needs of the entire area. We want to do everything we can to improve and enrich our community, including the health and well-being of local residents, especially those in need."

United Blood Services is a non-profit community blood provider for the Permian Basin and the surrounding area. Established in 1943, in Arizona, United Blood Services took over the operations of the Permian Basin Blood Institute in December of 1998.

Since that time, many improvements have been made. However, the blood supply continues to experience periods of severe shortage.

Art Association's Christmas Sale set for Saturday

PECOS, December 4, 2000 - The Pecos Art Association will be having their Annual Christmas Sale, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., Saturday at the Art Building, 1501 W. Third Street.

The group would like to invite everyone in the community who also paints or has crafts they would like to sell to come and set up their display, too. There would be no charge for the space and no commission will be taken from their earnings. This is a great opportunity for those people to show their talent and sell their items.

For more information call Barbara Creager at 377-2231; Pat Towler, 940-2445; Billy Bickley, 445-4613 or Joyce Morton, 447-2688. This is to let them know how many people are interested in setting up their crafts.

Set up time will be at 3 p.m., Wednesday.


Serenita Sanchez|


PECOS, December 4, 2000 - High Sunday 39. Low this morning 36. Weekend rainfall at Texas A&M Experiment Station .06 inch. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Low in the upper 20s. Light and variable wind. Tuesday: Partly cloudy. High near 60. Light and variable wind in the morning: Becoming southwest 5 to 15 mph by afternoon. Tuesday night: Considerable high cloudiness. Low in the lower 30s. Wednesday: Mostly cloudy, windy and colder. High in the lower 50s.

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