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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
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Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Harris firebombing hearing delayed

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Nov. 13, 2002 -- A hearing scheduled this morning for the man accused of firebombing  the Monahans Police Station in early June was canceled, according to the  United States District Clerk's Office in Pecos.

According to Kevin Fry of the District Clerk's office, the government filed a motion for a continuance of the case against Travis James Harris, who had been scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson in Pecos federal court this morning. No new date had been set as of yet for the hearing.

Fry said that the U.S. Attorney in the case was in Lubbock also working on a big case there, leading to today's postponement.

During today's hearing, Furgeson was scheduled to hear comments and evidence concerning the June 3, firebombing of the Monahans Police Department. The fire caused severe damage to two rooms in the building, and forced Monahans Police to relocate their offices to another location in town.

According to an article in today's edition of the Odessa America, Furgeson was to hear and rule on a motion to suppress certain comments and evidence obtained in the investigation on this case.

Ector County District Attorney John Smith said that if comments made by Harris that led to the finding of evidence were suppressed, the evidence found would also be suppressed by default.

"It's the fruit of the poisoned tree doctrine," Smith said.

Harris is accused of breaking a window at the Monahans Police Department building at Second and Alice streets around 3:30 a.m. on June 3 and throwing a `Molotov cocktail' inside. The ensuing fire gutted two rooms inside the police department, although firemen were able to contain the blaze before it affected any other offices in the building, which also houses several other Monahans city departments.

Federal, state and area law enforcement agencies assisted in the investigation including the Pecos Police Department, the State Fire Marshal, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Texas Rangers.

Harris could face up to 20 years for the firebombing, his court-appointed attorney of Pecos, Scott Johnson said back in September.

Harris also faces federal charges of Carjacking Resulting in Death and the Use of a Firearm during a Crime of Violence, in connection with the death of Paul John Ceniceros, 30, whose body was found in a field near Odessa. Harris is charged with carjacking Ceniceros' vehicle, which was later found in Lubbock, killing him and dumping his body in an Ector County field.

That case is scheduled to be heard before Furgeson in U.S. District Court in Midland. But one of the pretrial matters to be determined in the case would be the change of venue requested by Johnson for both the firebombing and the carjacking cases.

Johnson is seeking to have both cases moved to U.S. District Court in El Paso.

Currently Harris is being held at the Winkler County prison facility since November 7, after being returned from Fort Worth, where he underwent a psychiatric evaluation ordered by Furgeson in August.

"He was released October 31," Johnson said last week.

While in Fort Worth, a judge in the Midland case asked for the psychiatric evaluation to include the carjacking case as well.

In the federal charge of carjacking resulting in death of Ceniceros, Harris could face life in prison or the death penalty.

Chamber eyes ways to boost Pecos Rodeo

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Nov. 13, 2002 -- Pecos Chamber of Commerce members discussed fundraisers  for the coming year, plans for the annual Pecos Christmas Parade and  the status of the West of the Pecos Rodeo during the monthly  Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors meeting held at  noon Tuesday.

The Christmas Parade this year will be held Friday, Dec. 6, in downtown Pecos, according to the Chamber's Interim Director Linda Gholson.

She told the group that entries are needed for the parade, which once again will be lighted up. "The same rule goes as last year, that the chamber will provide the only Santa Claus in the parade," said Gholson. "And this year, the women's division, will be having their lighting contest, but a little different, with something new added."

Chamber members also discussed ways to help out the West of the Pecos Rodeo committee and make the 2003 event a success, though questions were raised about the rodeo's current financial situation.

During the meeting, Gholson told the group that the chamber would once again support the annual event financially. "They'll be asking for quite a bit of money, like they do every year," she said, during the financial report.

"You just said that the rodeo committee will be asking us for a lot of money and I don't know how we can continue to support the rodeo, when they have been losing money every year," said board member Al Gomez. "We should have a discussion with the rodeo committee about ways to improve it and make it an event that everyone wants to attend."

"If we don't sit down and come up with a good plan, it will continue to lose money," said Gomez. "They need to re-organize and reform."

"We need to come up with some sort of reform to get us back in," said Gomez.

Gomez said that as a businessman, just like the hotels and other restaurants in the community, they would like to see a profit and to see more tourists in Pecos in July.

"We just got one Top 10 cowboy in Pecos last year," said Gomez. "We've been losing money every year."

Increasing payouts for other July 4 rodeos in the U.S. and Canada resulted in a number of cowboys not attending this year's rodeo. Payouts for the West of the Pecos Rodeo have dropped by about $50,000 over the past three years.

Chamber president Kevin Duke said that they are losing a lot of cowboys because they are attending rodeos in Montana. "They have a big grandstand out there and the purses are bigger, which is one of the big issues, as to why we're losing cowboys."

Duke said that the cowboys sometimes also attend the top 50 rodeo, which Pecos is listed on, but they attend so many and make enough money at the beginning of the year, that they don't need to go to the rest of them.

"Some start in January and if they start attending those, by July they've made enough money they don't want to go to anymore," said Duke. "After those, they are also eligible for the nationals and don't feel they need to attend any others."

"They feel they don't have to go to any of the little ones," said Duke.

Gomez said that the ranch rodeo held during the Reeves County Fall Fair was a good event that had been well-attended. "We could have three little ones like that one, to lead up to our big Fourth of July event," he said.

Gomez added that the rodeo committee would have to reform and adjust to keep the annual event alive and doing well.

Gholson said that the president of the organization, Trevor Teague, welcomed all comments and suggestions. "They need all the help they can get, so if you want to help with suggestions or anything else, contact him," she said.

Duke told the group that he is trying to get together and host a Class 2A playoff football game next week.

"I've been trying to put together a little package," said Duke, who added he had already sent out letters. "It takes quite a few expenses, but I think we can find some volunteers to help out and not make it so expensive," he said.

Duke said he had already met with the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school superintendent Don Love and the Athletic Director Bubba Williams.

Duke said that Alpine might be one of the teams that will come to Pecos. Class 2A and Class 4A teams will be playing area round games next week where Pecos will be one of the midpoints between competing cities.

"We'd like to get everyone involved and maybe we can man one of the concession stands and the booster club the other," he said.

Duke said that this would be good for tourism and the economy of Pecos.

Nancy Ontiveros and Linda Gholson updated the group on the recent KOL meeting held in Indian Lodge recently.

Both said that the meeting was a success and a plan had been outlined, that is already in the process.

Commissioners vote to seek funds

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Nov. 13, 2002 -- About 58 more homes will be eligible for new septic  tanks, following a public hearing by Reeves County  Commissioners concerning the Office of Rural Community Affairs  Texas Community Development Program's colonia construction fund,  and approval of a resolution in support of the application.

Commissioners met Tuesday afternoon for the public hearing and to discuss a resolution authorizing the submission of a TCDP Colonia Construction Fund Application and authorizing County Judge Jimmy Galindo to act as the county's representative in all matters related to the TCDP program.

Commissioners agreed to submit an application and commit $50,000 to the project to install septic tanks in unincorporated areas of Reeves County.

"This is the fourth time we do this, the fourth go-around," said Galindo.

"There is still a significant need for adequate sewer disposal in unincorporated areas of the county," said Reeves County Commissioner for Precinct 3, Herman Tarin. "This application will serve 58 homes who currently have cesspools for sewage disposal."

In conjunction with the plan, the group approved an interlocal agreement between Reeves County and Upper Pecos Soil and Water Conservation District.

In business discussed during the commissioners' Tuesday morning meeting, the group approved payments to several contractors currently working at the site of the new Reeves County Detention Center III, approved the deputation and oath for Arturo M. Granado and also voted for bid for property located at 1407 E. Second St.

A request by Reeves County Sheriff's Department to purchase software for Racial Profiling Reporting was approved in the amount of $2,010.

Inmate transportation crew mileage in the amount of $2,085 was approved. "All the documentation and paper work was in order," said county auditor Lynn Owens.

Under reports from various departments, Owens told the group that a woman out of Pyote had contacted him about possibly providing drug testing for the county.

"She wanted to know if she could bid on the item and I told her we don't normally bid out this particular item, but if the court wants to we can," said Owens. "We're also not required by law to advertise it."

Owens said he had told the woman that he would submit the item as a report to the commissioners' court.

RCDC Warden Rudy Franco said the woman had also contacted him.

"She used to work with Allied," said Franco, who is the current provider of the services for the county. "I don't know how well the drug testing would work with inmates, because she would still have to submit the sample to a lab.

"In these cases, we need to have a strong chain of command," he said.

"I don't see a reason to change," said Galindo.

Owens said that he didn't see a problem with individuals wanting the county's business, but that the item was already being taken care of.

"It's being done locally by Trans Pecos Labs," said Owens.

Employees have to be tested randomly at least once a year at the RCDC, according to Franco. "Their initial screening is done through Trans Pecos Labs and randomly done through Allied Compliances, like the Road and Bridges Department," he said.

"As long as we're getting good service, I don't see any reason to change," said Galindo.

"We try to spread our business around, but this is just one of those services that you can't," said Owens. "If the court chooses to do nothing, we'll just ignore it," he said.

Red Bluff votes against funds for cloud seeding

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Nov. 13, 2002 -- Red Bluff Water Power Control Board members said they're  willing to give their support, but not their money, to a proposed  weather modification plan for the Trans-Pecos region.

Board members voted 4-3 against giving the Trans-Pecos Weather Modification Program a one-time donation of $1,000, and voted 5-2 against a second proposal to give the program $5,000.

Board members have discussed the issue for several months, and during their October meeting agreed to take up the subject again this month, at the request of members of Red Bluff's sub-districts. Supporters are seeking to match state funds for the project, which would involve cloud seeding over a multi-county area of both West Texas and Southeastern New Mexico

The motion on the $1,000 donation was made by board member Dick Slack, and seconded by board member Manuel Lujan, while Lujan made the motion to raise the contribution to $5,000, which was seconded by managing director Randal Hartman. However, Hartman made the motion only to bring the measure to a vote, and it was defeated 5-2, with only Lujan and Slack voting in favor.

The motion on the $1,000 contribution was defeated, 4-3. Slack and Lujan were joined by board member Theresa Walker in voting for the measure, while Hartman and board members Lloyd Goodrich, Charlotte Wilcox and Jay Lee voted against it.

Hartman said at the meeting that the district would be willing to install measuring stations any participate with other items, but did not want to put money into the project, which resulted in a heated discussion between board members and Tom Nance of the Ward County Water Improvement District No. 1 in Barstow, who has spearheaded the weather modification project over the past year.

"We're not against them; we just don't have the money," Hartman said following the meeting. "We offered to do something else at a later date, but they pretty much told us they don't want it."

"Not everybody in the (sub) districts agrees on it. Some of the boards didn't feel like they could support weather modification," he added.

"We didn't count on them. They've been against us from the beginning," said Nance following the meeting, which was also attended by project supporters Alan Zeman and Skeet Jones. "We can go forward without Red Bluff. It's just a crying shame what attitude they have."

Following the vote on the plan and explanation by the board about the district's lack of funds, Nance made a request to Red Bluff secretary Robin Prewit to see the district's financial audit reports for the past 10 years.

When the plan was announced back in January, the estimated price tag was between $300,000 and $350,000 per year, half of which would have to be raised locally. "We're still trying to raise funds," said Nance. "I'm real disappointed they wouldn't participate, but that's OK, we can find it somewhere else."

In other action, the board voted to retain CPA Randy Graham to conduct the audit for the 2002 fiscal year at a cost of $2,000, and voted to approve the district's budget for the 2003 fiscal year.

Cash disbursements, accounts payable and the district's investment and water reports were also approved by the board, as was a request by Goodrich to modify a spreadsheet program that charts the capacity tables at Red Bluff Lake, because the current program, based on measurements taken in 1976, contains an error.

"It will change the volume quite a lot, but it won't change the area," Goodrich said. The new chart's measurements will be done to 1/100th of a foot, while the old charge approximated lake capacity to the nearest foot.

Hartman also told the board that said drilling of a new well for the Malaga Bend Salt Alleviation project is also closer to getting underway.

"It looks like it's moving along quite satisfactorily," he said. The well will allow salt spring water currently running into the Pecos River just north of the New Mexico state line to be diverted to man-made ponds, where the water will be evaporated and the remaining salt mined out of the ponds.

Entries both up and down at Pecos show

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Nov. 13, 2002 -- The Texas Agriculture Extension Service in Pecos will be hosting  their annual Reeves-Loving County Pecan Food Show and Pecan Exhibition  on Thursday, with entries up in one division and down in the other.

According to Sue Evans, secretary for the Extension Service's Pecos office, this year's they only received three entries in the Pecan Exhibition portion of the show.

Evans said that some of the contestants had told her that their crop was not much, due to the lack of rain they received this year.

Because of the low entries, Evans said that she would be taking the pecans down to Fort Stockton to be judged, instead of having the judge come down to Pecos just for the three entries.

However, she hopes that they will receive more entries in the food show scheduled for tomorrow at Security State Bank.

"Usually we have a good turnout," Evans said.

Any resident youth or adult wanting to participate in the food show may do so, Evans said.

"It is open to who ever wants to enter," Evans said.

Entries will be taken from 9 a.m. till 10 a.m., with the judging taking place at about 10:30 a.m. Evans said.

Though there is no entry fee, Evans said that the items at the bake sale must contain pecans as an ingredient.

Evans also said that a compile of receipts of cakes, pies, breads and miscellaneous items will be provide in a booklet at no cost.

Police investigating death of east side man

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Nov. 13, 2002 -- The Pecos Police Department is investigating the death of an  elderly man that occurred  Tuesday afternoon on the east side of town.

According to Pecos Police Department Lt. Kelly Davis, a call came in at about 12: 24 p.m. about a possible suicide out at 701 Rancho Road.

Davis said that Pecos Police Sgts. Cosme Ortega and Juan Vasquez were the first ones to arrive.

At that point, Police officer Ernest Lazcano and Vasquez preformed CPR on, the resident of the home, identified as 65-year-old Juan Lopez.

"The case appears to be a possible suicide," Davis said. "But the cause of death is still pending the autopsy."

Davis said that the body of Lopez's was sent to Lubbock for an autopsy.

Davis is investigating the case.

Rotary Club sells briskets, turkeys for holiday season

PECOS, Wed., Nov. 13, 2002 -- The Rotary Club of Pecos is offering smoked briskets and smoked turkeys for the Christmas season.

Cost of the turkeys is $30 and the briskets are $34. The sale helps support local projects like the Youth Leadership Program.

Each year, the Rotary Club selects two Pecos youths and pays their expenses to the week-long leadership camp.

The turkeys and briskets will be delivered on Thursday, Dec. 19.

For more information or to place an order contact, Jim Ivy at 445-3306; Don Love at 447-7201 or Trey Miller at 445-9000.


PECOS, Wed., Nov. 13, 2002 -- High Tues. 60. Low this morning 35. Forecast for tonight: Mostly  clear. Lows 40 to 45. SE winds 10 to 15 mph, becoming westerly later. Thurs.:  Partly cloudy. Highs near 70. North winds 10 to 20 mph. Thurs. night:  Partly cloudy. Lows near 40. Fri.: Partly cloudy and cooler with a 20  percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. Highs around 60. Sat.: Mostly  clear. Lows 30 to 35. Highs 55 to 60.


Jesus Bejarano, Juan Lopez, Daniel and Mildred Hoefs

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