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May 4, 2001

Saturday's vote to decide local offices, bond issue

Staff Writer

PECOS, May 4, 2001 - Two city elections, three school board races and one hospital board contest will be up for grabs on Saturday, when area voters go to the polls to decide this year's contested local elections.

Voters in Balmorhea will also be casting ballots on a $1.6 million bond issue the Balmorhea Independent School District is seeking in order to rebuild or refurbish the district's gym and auditorium to meet federal guidelines for the disabled.

Balmorhea voters will also be casting ballots for two seats on their school district's board, while voters in the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD will have two elections to decide, choosing between seven candidates for three full-term seats on the board and between three others seeking a one-year unexpired term.

Polls will be open for general election from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., on Saturday at several locations including the Pecos Community Center, 510 S. Oak St., where the city's voters will go to cast ballots in the city council, school board and hospital district elections. Other polling sites will be the Barstow Community Center, Red Bluff Lake Office in Orla, Toyah City Hall, Saragosa Multi-Purpose Center and the Balmorhea Fire Hall.

Early voting ended on Tuesday in Pecos, with a total of 950 who voted by personal appearance. About a quarter of those voted on the final day, according to Early Voting Clerk Debbie Thomas, who added that another 194 ballots were mailed out for Saturday's election.

Although there are more contested races this year than in 2000, early voting this year was down by about a third from last year, when 1,402 people voted early and about 2,100 voted overall in the city elections, and more than 2,400 cast ballots county-wide.

The race with the most candidates is for the three-year terms on the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board. Lila Cerna, Paul Deishler, Veronica "Ronnie Dutchover, Saul "Chip" Flores, Crissy Martinez, Brent Shaw and Julio Torres are the seven competing for the three available spots. Shaw is the only full-term incumbent, while Deishler was appointed to the school board last year after losing by 18 votes in last May's election, when two of the seven school board seats were up for grabs.

P-B-T voters will also decide between Michele Galindo, Francisco "Frankie" Rodriguez and Ruben Salazar for the unexpired term currently held by Deishler. Aside from Shaw's seat, the other seats up for election are held by Earl Bates and board president Louis Matta, neither of who opted to seek a new term.

In the race for Town of Pecos City Council, three seats are up for election on Saturday. All three incumbents are seeking new two-year terms and will face a pair of challengers, including a former Pecos mayor.

Incumbents Gerald Tellez, Larry Levario and Johnny Terrazas will Mary Patino and Frank Sanchez, who served as Pecos' mayor during the mid-1980s.

In the race for the Reeves County Hospital District board only voters in Precinct 2 will have a race to decide on Saturday. Linda Gholson and Clark Lindley are competing for that seat, currently held by Marcella Lovett, while Hugh Box is running unopposed for the Precinct 4 seat currently held by Holly Key. Both seats are two-year terms.

Balmorhea voters will decide whether or not to approve the $1.6 million bond issue, which has drawn some local opposition.

Those against it say the measure will raise local taxes at a time the city has lost its second-largest employer, the Brunswick-Roadmaster bicycle warehouse. School officials and other supporters say the gym and auditorium have been cited by the state for failure to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, and that the state will cover 86 percent of the bond issue, leaving Balmorhea ISD responsible for about $14,000 annually over the 20-year life of the bond issue.

In the Balmorhea ISD school board race, Cathy Carrasco and Eva Portillo are challenging incumbents Armando Mondragon and Paul Ward for the two available three-year terms.

In the Balmorhea City Council race, there are five candidates seeking three seats. Incumbents Olga Lopez and Ike Ward have filed for new two-year terms, and are facing Marty Galindro-May, Ruben M. Fuentes and Sammy Baeza.

Toyah and Barstow have no contested city races this year. In Toyah, Incumbent Diana Tollet of Toyah is seeking a new two-year term on council and has been joined by newcomers Danny Wayne Enmon and Laura E. Budlong. There are three positions open in the Toyah election.

In the Barstow City Council race, all three incumbents whose terms are up filed to retain their seats, and are running unopposed. Aldermen Olga Abila, Dora Villanueva and Lucio Florez filed for new two-year terms.

RCDC food service duo served with sex charges

Staff Writer

PECOS, May 4, 2001 - Two female employees at the Reeves County Detention Center (RCDC) were arrested recently on charges of having sex with inmates at the prison.

Complaints have been filed in federal court against Pecos residents Elsa Levario of 1517 Katherine Street and Helen Stephens of 1744 Washington Street. Both women were charged with violating Title 18, United States Code, Section 2246(2)(A)(B), which makes having sex with an inmate an offense.

According to Warden Rudy Franco the investigation was instigated by information gathered by the prison's internal investigations unit.

"We contacted the Inspector General's Office and they finished the investigation," Franco said.

Affidavits supporting the complaints were filed by Special Agent Ronald L. Holland of the Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General.

According to the affidavits an RCDC special investigator noticed that an inmate telephone call was placed to a local number. All inmate calls are recorded and the call was reviewed.

During the call RCDC inmate Eddie Bonifacio had an "intimate conversation" with Stephens and also discussed a wire transfer made by Stephens for Bonifacio.

The contents of the phone call led to a search of Bonifacio's cell. The search revealed $500 and a partial receipt from a jewelry store. A watch, a necklace and a bracelet were confiscated after the search.

Holland said that the phone call also revealed that Elsa Levario might have knowledge of the crime.

Holland's further investigation revealed that two inmates, Bonifacio and Hugo Bonilla, worked in the food service area and frequently did not finish their tasks by the 7 p.m. deadline when inmates return to their cells.

The two inmates would then stay late to finish and Stephens and Levario would stay to supervise the inmates.

According to the affidavits it was during these times that the women had sex with the inmates.

Holland stated that the women provided sworn statements admitting to the crimes.

Both women are free on $10,000 bond.

Warden Franco said that the termination process had been instigated for both Stephens and Levario.

Franco said that in the five years he had served as warden other employees had been fired under similar circumstances.

"The standard of proof needed for administrative purposes is lower than the standard necessary for criminal charges to be filed," he said.

Franco said that this was the first time in his memory that enough evidence had been gathered to support criminal charges. .

Franco said that he did not think the problem was epidemic at RCDC.

"Most of our employees are hardworking, decent people, and we have extensive training programs to prevent things like this from happening," he said. "Unfortunately incidents like this still happen. I have had to deal with instances of improper behavior like this at every prison I've worked at."

Franco spent 23 years with the Federal Bureau of Prisons before coming to the RCDC.

Career change led Nelson to Pecos PD job

Staff Writer

PECOS, May 4, 2001 - The Pecos Police Department's newest officer thinks her nursing background might prove helpful someday in her new position.

Rosie Nelson found the career she had been dreaming of and hoping to attain and is settling nicely in this small community.

Nelson is the Pecos PD's newest officer and said she is truly enjoying her new job and the city.

She graduated from Lee High School in Midland, later attended Midland College pursuing a nursing career, before changing gears and attended Odessa College Police Academy.

"I was the only black female in the class of 24 and one of the 19 who graduated," said Nelson, who has been at her new position for four weeks and is assigned to patrol. She had previously worked for Ector County as a deputy jailer.

"My dad was helping me look for a job on the Internet and Pecos was one of the positions opened," said Nelson. "I applied and received word from them and here I am."

"I love it here, it's nice, quiet and peaceful and the people have been very friendly," she said.

"First of all, I want to thank God for helping me to achieve my dream of becoming a police officer and my parents," said Nelson. "I also want to thank lieutenant Tony Dawdy, Kelly Davis, Smiley Gamboa and Cosme Ortega, who believed in me and are helping me out."

"Since I was the only female, the others gave me a hard time and I thought I wouldn't be able to complete it and achieve my goal," she said.

Nelson said that throughout her training, it was her daughter who encouraged her and gave her the strength to complete the training and become an officer.

"She told me, `Mama, you can be anything through Jesus Christ and I know you can be a police officer," said Nelson. "My little girls were so happy when I graduated, they even cried."

Nelson is the proud mother of two girls, Tamara, 12 and Dawn, 10.

For now she is commuting back and forth to her home in Midland, but plans to make Pecos her permanent home. "As soon as everything gets straightened out, I plan to make Pecos my home," she said. "I love it here."

When she's not busy `patrolling' and keeping Pecos safe, Nelson enjoys church where she is a Sunday school teacher, at the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, swimming and working out.

"I've been working out, getting ready for the summer," said Nelson. "I need to get energized to go out and fight crime."

She has been on the road with officers Ortega and Gamboa and said she really likes the patrol assignment. "I like seeing the different scenery, riding around and making sure the community is safe. I love taking care of the people," she said.

"Being a police officer is the best thing," she said smiling.

Summer courses in Taekown Do, chess scheduled

PECOS, May 4, 2001 - The Pecos Community Sports and Recreation Department will be enrolling children for both Taekwon Do and chess classes during the summer recess months.

The Taekwon Do class will run two days a week for six weeks and is open to boys and girls ages 5-10. Registration fee is $10 per child with an enrollment deadline of May 24.

The beginners chess class will be for children ages 6-10 and will also run two days a week for six weeks. Registration fee is also $10 per child and will run through May 24.

Parents enrolling their children in either class can pick up enrollment forms at the Recreation Department office in the old Pecos High School gym during regular office hours. A birth certificate and signatures from both parents are required with the returned enrollment form.

For further information, call the Recreation Department at 447-9776.


PECOS, May 4, 2001 - High Thursday 95. Low this morning 64. Rainfall last 24 hours at Texas A&M Experiment Station .01 inch. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Low in the mid 50s. South wind 5 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation 20 percent. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High in the mid 80s. Southwest wind 10 to 20 mph. Saturday night: Partly cloudy. Low in the mid 50s. Sunday: Partly cloudy. High in the upper 80s. Monday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Low in the mid 50s. High in the lower 80s.

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