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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Tuesday, January 23, 2001

Police, deputies remain on alert for fugitive duo

Staff Writer

PECOS, January 23, 2001 - With two of the seven Connally Unit escapees remaining at large and reports they may be headed towards the Mexican border, local law enforcement agencies are still on alert.

Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney said that all his officers are going about their daily business with extreme caution.

"They are being more cautious than normal," he said. "Because we have no idea who we're stopping."

McKinney said that the officers might not seem to be as friendly but assures the community that they are only being careful.

"It may seem to be less courteous in some ways by our actions but we're trying to be as cautious as we can," he said.

Four of the seven were captured and a fifth killed himself after they were located in Woodland Park, Colo. on Monday. The two remaining escapees, Patrick Murphy Jr., 39, convicted of rape, and armed robber Donald Newbury, 38, reportedly may have been in Woodland Park as recently as Sunday and may have left to get more money.

The town is located in central Colorado, between Denver and Colorado Springs, from where one of the possible routes to Mexico would be along U.S. 285 into Texas.

McKinney said that last month he and Sheriff Andy Gomez met with about 10 other police chiefs and sheriffs along with two Texas Rangers in this area to come up with a contingency plan in case the escapees were to come through this area.

"We did that so everybody knows who to contact, what each agency is going to do and where each will respond to," he said.

Chief Deputy Sheriff Victor Prieto said that the plan is still in use and will be until the remaining escapees are captured.

"Till the ol' son of a guns are behind bars we won't rest," he said.

Prieto and McKinney both said that the deputies and officers are carrying extra firepower with them just in case one of them should cross paths with the escaped criminals.

Prieto said the Sheriff's Department is grateful for the information sent out about the escapees and the help of the community.

"Hopefully someone will see them and turn them in," Prieto said.

Prieto asks the public to help capture the remaining escapees and not to hesitate calling the Police or Sheriff's Departments if they see someone who might be the criminals.

"We really do need to catch those guys and put them behind bars," he said.

Officials want U.S. 285 added to trunk system

Staff Writer

PECOS, January 23, 2001 - Officials from Reeves County are in Austin today following a decision made by county commissioners on Monday to support the inclusion of U.S. 285 in the Texas Trunk System plan.

Commissioners adopted the resolution in support of the plan during their regular meeting on Monday. Reeves County is seeking to add the 105-mile stretch of U.S. 285 from Fort Stockton to the New Mexico state line to the list of state roadways designated for expansion and improvement.

"At least three years ago, people from the region met in Odessa to voice our concerns about radioactive waste being transported to the WIPP site," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.

Radioactive waste being shipped from eastern states to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant will travel through Texas along Interstate 20, and then north on U.S. 285 from Pecos to Loving, N.M. The first shipments may begin later this year.

The section of the highway between Pecos and Loving will be the only two-lane stretch of road the trucks are scheduled to operate on. State and federal funds have paid for expansion of U.S. 285 in New Mexico from two to four lanes to increase the safety of trucks traveling to the WIPP site from the western United States. Deliveries of radioactive waste from those sites began in March of 1999.

Galindo, along with Commissioner Precinct 2 David Castillo, are in Austin today, to discuss the issue once more.

"We had discussed this previously at the Odessa meeting, about the hazardous stretch of highway, in which radioactive waste was being transported," said Galindo.

In this process, officials found that a section of the route was not a part of the Trunk System. "We want to ask the Texas Department of Transportation Commission to close the gap, to eliminate the existing gaps," said Galindo. "From Highway 285 to I-10, to Del Rio (along U.S. 90), it's a part of the Trunk System."

However, from Fort Stockton to the state line the highway is not a part of the Trunk System, since it was not part of the state's original Trunk System designation a decade ago. "If it were part of the Trunk System, it would mean more funding," said Galindo.

For whatever reason, elected officials did not advocate including U.S. 285 a part of the Trunk System back in the late 1980s. "This could mean a lot of resources if we became a part of the Trunk System," said Galindo.

Galindo, along with other officials will be on hand to talk to the Texas Department of Transportation Commission about becoming a four-lane highway and becoming a part of the Trunk System.

"Over the past three years, we had been approaching TxDOT about the possibility of getting U.S. 285 north to the state line enhanced to a four-lane highway," said Galindo. "We went before TxDOT to ask them to consider amending the rules to allow the department, the closing of this gap and the commission to authorize designation of U.S. 285 to become a part of the Trunk System," said Galindo.

Galindo said that the resolution was to state their support to make it a Trunk System from Pecos to the state line and to make it a four-lane highway.

This gap keeps that stretch of highway from qualifying for additional federal funding. "There's a very limited dollar amount to improve U.S. 285 and make this a part of the Trunk System," said Galindo. "This will make it qualify for additional funds."

Commissioners also approved a resolution in support of Pecos County in their effort to become a part of the Trunk System. Galindo said he had spoken to a couple of commissioners from Pecos County who will also be attending the meeting in Austin today.

In other action on Monday, commissioners approved the Pecos Volunteer Fire Department interlocal agreement between Reeves County and Town of Pecos City. "This is just a routine agreement," said Galindo. "We agree to fund 50 percent of the cost of expenses for operation of the fire department."

This year, $10,000 will be used to go towards a new fire truck, which will be held by the city, according to Galindo.

Commissioners approved a contract between Reeves County and Pecos County Juvenile Probation Department, during the regular meeting.

The group also approved bond and oath for several employees including Sylvia Garcia, Annabel Orona and Mary Lou Chavez.

Reports from various departments, budget amendments and line-item transfers and minutes from previous meetings were also approved.

Personnel and salary changes included, at the Reeves County Detention Center, Omar Muniz, food services foreman I, at $19,000 per year; Jason Trammel, recreation officer II, at $24,000; George Martinez, recreation officer II, at $24,000; at the county treasurer's office, Faustina Trujillo, deputy II, $18,000; Reeves County Library, Lourdes Villescas, on a temporary, part-time basis, at $5.75 an hour; in the county judge's office; Pedro Villalobos, as maintenance, at $18,946 a year; and Peter Mora, assistance to the development landscape project, at $28,000 per year, with $26,000 coming from the RCDC and $3,000 from the judge's office budget;

Commissioners also approved Randy Baeza, as horticulture and training for the inmates to develop landscaping, at $31,500, with funding for the position coming from the RCDC and judge's office budget.

"We now have 250 trees that are all here now, and at RCDC," said Galindo. "This is a significant purchase, we have a lot of work ahead of us, but are looking forward to it."

Commissioners approved a request from the district attorney's office, the Crime Victims Assistance Program. The group submitted a grant application to the governor's office in the amount of $28,000 and the county will contribute matching local funds of about $5,000.

Federal agents kept busy by border pot, coke busts

PECOS, January 23, 2001 - U.S. Border Patrol agents in Marfa seized over three-quarter tons of marijuana hidden in a cattle truck after discovering it during a checkpoint search last week.

A total of 319 bundles of marijuana, weighing 1,700 pounds were found in the rig after a drug sniffing dog alerted agents to its location. The bundles, which were wrapped in gray duct tape, were valued at $1,370,928 by customs officials.

The driver of the truck, an American citizen, along with the marijuana and the truck, where turned over to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Border Patrol officials did not give the name of the driver

The seizure is one of a series of drug busts made by Border Patrol and Immigration and Naturalization agents in El Paso, Marfa and South Central New Mexico sectors in the first three weeks of the new year. Agents report confiscating 106.7 pounds of cocaine in two seizures and 2,777.3 pounds of marijuana in 38 seizures during the seven day period ending midnight on January 18.

The largest cocaine seizure occurred last Wednesday at the Ysleta port of entry when Customs inspectors seized 58.5 pounds of the drug.

Inspectors were performing an enforcement operation in the area where cars approach the primary inspection booths. Customs drug sniffing dog "Allie" gave a positive alert to a 1993 Dodge Caravan that was waiting in line. Customs inspectors searched the van and discovered a pair of trap doors on the floor of the vehicle. The doors were opened and Customs inspectors located 23 cocaine-filled bundles. Customs special agents arrested the driver of the van, identified as 35-year-old Irene Delgado of El Paso, in connection with the failed smuggling attempt.

The other cocaine seizure occurred on Thursday at Paso Del Norte crossing when Customs inspectors seized 48.2 pounds of the drug after an INS inspector at the primary inspection booth determined that the driver of a 1985 Volkswagen Atlantic was uneasy and nervous. Customs inspectors began searching the vehicle and detected signs of tampering before their drug-sniffing dog "Chigo" alerted to the gas tank area of the car. Customs inspectors then located 20 cocaine-filled bundles in a hidden compartment and arrested the driver of the vehicle, identified as 36-year-old Gustavo Contreras-Padilla of Juarez, Mexico.

PEDC plans to promote city though ad, convention visits

Staff Writer

PECOS, January 23, 2001 - The Pecos Economic Development Corp. Board members discussed the marketing strategy the PEDC is starting this year at their first meeting of the new year on Monday.

Chairman Oscar Saenz informed the board members that the PEDC plans to advertise in a magazine called "Twin Plants" in order to try and bring new businesses into Pecos.

The ad will state the benefits of Pecos and the close proximity to Mexico making it an ideal place for a maquila twin plant location.

PEDC President Gari Ward informed the board that the ad is scheduled to run in March, May and October costing a total of $1,200 for all three.

Saenz also said that he and Ward are planning to attend various conventions in order to hand out a "fact sheet" about Pecos and the benefits of the dry weather and large labor force as well as many other things.

"That's what we're going to be hand out," he said.

Saenz said that Ward is planning to attend a convention in Chicago on March 5 and he or Ward will try to attend another convention that month, scheduled for El Paso.

"It sounds like we've been busy and that's good news," Board member Elva Arreguy said.

The Board also discussed each member's "term" of office and when each term expires.

Saenz said the PEDC would need to make a recommendation to the Town of Pecos City Council on the Board members and directors.

Saenz and Arreguy's terms are scheduled to expire in March of 2002 while Board members Mike Burkholder, Frank Spencer and David Dutchover's terms expire in March of this year.

"We would like to go to the Council and recommend that everybody would be added for one more term," Saenz said.

The Board also approved keeping nominations of officers and directors the same as they currently are.

In other business, the Board approved the minutes of the last meeting in October 2000 and the December 2000 financial statement.

Foundation starts scholarship fund honoring Bunton

PECOS, January 23, 2001 - A permanent law scholarship fund is being created in memory of retired Senior U.S. District Judge Lucius D. Bunton II, who died last Wednesday in Austin.

The scholarship will be a component of the Permian Basin Area Foundation, and is being established with donations from individual attorneys, local law firms and West Texas Bar associations, as well as friends.

The Judge Lucius Bunton Memorial Law Scholarship Fund will provide for scholarships to selected West Texas students who are accepted to law school. Additional and ongoing contributions to the Fund are welcome.

"Judge Bunton was a unique jurist with an unwavering sense of fair justice under the law," according to M. Michele Greene, a Midland attorney and former summer law clerk for Judge Bunton. "A perpetual fund for legal scholarships benefiting law students from this area is a fitting tribute to his lasting legacy of wisdom and integrity. He truly cared for West Texas and the attorneys practicing here."

Bunton grew up near Marfa and served as that area's district attorney. He later practiced law in Odessa before being appointed to the federal bench by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 for the Midland and Pecos divisions.


Wanda Hoffman


PECOS, January 23, 2001 - High Monday 62. Low this morning 35. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Low around 30. Northeast wind 5 to 15 mph. Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High in the lower 50s. East wind 5 to 15 mph. Wednesday night: Mostly cloudy. Low 30 to 35. Thursday: Partly cloudy and breezy with a slight chance of showers. Highs near 60.

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