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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Monday, January 5, 2004

Sheriff, commissioners races draw candidates

Staff Writer

PECOS, Mon., Jan. 5, 2004 -- Two long-time incumbents will face challengers, and nine candidates will be vying for the nomination to an open seat on the Reeves County Commissioners Court in the March 9 Democratic Party primary election.

Filing ended on Friday for the March 9 elections, which will also feature two candidates running for the position of 143rd District Attorney and two others seeking to challenge incumbent congressman Henry Bonilla for the 23rd Congressional District seat.

In the local elections, Jeffrey P. Baeza will challenge current Reeves County Sheriff Arnulfo "Andy" Gomez, who has been the sheriff for the past 11 years, while four challengers will be trying to unseat Precinct 1 Commissioner Felipe Arredondo, who will also be seeking his fourth term in office.

"We're just going to do the best we can," said Gomez, who defeated longtime sheriff Raul Florez in 1992.

Gomez also faced a challenger in the 2000 election. He will be trying to win a fourth term in office this year, which would be the same length of service as Florez, who served from 1976 until 1992.

"I just want to do what is best for the community," said Gomez. "We're going to give it our all and pray for the best," he said.

Baeza worked for the Trans-Pecos Drug Task Force, and formerly worked for Gomez as a Reeves County sheriff's deputy.

Arredondo is seeking a fourth term, and third consecutive term. He was elected to office first in 1984, then re-elected as a write-in candidate in the November 1996 general election, after being defeated for re-election in 1988.

Arredondo' four challengers are Rogelio "Roy" Alvarado, "Chel" Florez, Armando "Mondie" Granado and Robert C. Natividad.

In Precinct 3, incumbent Herman Tarin opted not to run for election after serving as commissioner since 1993. His seat is being sought by nine candidates; Abel Baeza, Lisa Lopez Boicourt, Rosendo Galindo, Jimmy Gallego, Saul Herrera, Manuel "Manny" Lopez, Joel Madrid, Joseph Peter Rodriguez and Bailey Wheeless.

The 14 candidates seeking the two commissioners court seats comes after six months of publicity about financial problems surrounding the $40 million Reeves County Detention Center III project. However, outside of those races, only incumbents have filed for the other Reeves County primary election races.

While the races for commissioner and sheriff will be contested, only one other Reeves County race in the March primary has drawn a challenger to the incumbent. Precinct 3 Constable Tomas "Tommy" Martinez is being challenged by Alma Fleenor.

Running unopposed will be incumbent tax assessor-collector Elfida Zuniga, county attorney Luis Carrasco, Precinct 1 Constable , Arnulfo H. Granado, Precinct 2 Constable, Jerry C. Matta and Precinct 4 Constable Heriberto "Eddy" Rodriguez.

Candidates in all county elections had to file with both Reeves County Clerk Dianne Florez and with the county party chairmen by this past Friday. All local candidates filed to run in the Democratic Party primary.

One other race will local candidates will also be on the March 9 primary ballot. Local attorney and current 143rd District Attorney Randall "Randy" Reynolds has filed to seek a third four-year term, and will be challenged by former 143rd District Attorney Hal Upchurch announced in November he planned to run for that seat again, after a 12-year absence.

Incumbent 143rd District Judge Bob Parks is unopposed in seeking another four-year term on the court. Parks has served as district judge for the past 17 years.

The District Attorney and District Judge positions cover Reeves, Ward and Loving Counties.

In the 23rd Congressional District election, Democrats Joe Sullivan of San Antonio and Virgil Yanta of Boerne will try to unseat Republican Bonilla, who will be seeking his seventh term in office. Bonilla narrowly won a sixth term in 2002, defeating Democrat Henry Cuellar, who opted not to challenge Bonilla again this year.

Incumbent State Rep. Pete Gallego is unopposed for re-election in the Democratic Party primary. Local voters will also cast ballots in the Democratic presidential primary election on March 9.

Year In Review

City, school boards got new members in May

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the fifth in a series of stories recapping major news events in the Pecos area during 2003. Today's story covers the month of May.


PECOS, Thurs., May 1, 2003 Town of Pecos City officials were cautioning residents to "ration" their water for a few days, while crews worked overnight to correct a water leak that occurred in the main pipeline near the Ward County water field.

Town of Pecos City Utilities Director Octavio Garcia said that the main line was the one coming into Pecos from Pyote across the Pecos River.


PECOS, Fri., May 2, 2003 Pecos Police Officers were busy Thursday evening executing narcotics search warrants at two separate locations in Pecos that led to the arrest of three people, two on drug charges and one on a sexual assault charge out of Alabama.


PECOS, Mon., May 5, 2003 Pecos voters elected two current city council members to new two-year terms and returned a third council member to the council after a year absence, as the result of Saturday's election.

Town of Pecos City Mayor Pro-Tem Gerald Tellez will keep his seat as will Councilman Frank Sanchez, while Pecos High School Principal Danny Rodriguez will replace outgoing Councilman Johnny Terrazas, who opted not to run for a new two-year term.


PECOS, Mon., May 5, 2003 Pecos-Barstow-Toyah School Board voters elected one new member and returned an incumbent to the board for three more years, after results from the May 3 elections were counted Saturday night.

Newcomer Amy Montgomery Miller received 722 votes during the May 3 election to place second in the four-person race for the two available seats on the P-B-T ISD board. She will join incumbent, Steve Valenzuela, who had 761 votes to lead all vote getters in this year's election.

Miller beat out another challenger, Randy Baeza, by 38 votes for the second seat on the school board. Baeza finished with 684 votes, while the other incumbent, David L. Flores, received 579 votes.


PECOS, Mon., May 5, 2003 Two incumbents will be serving on the Balmorhea City Council for another two years, following Saturday's elections, and will be joined by one newcomer who placed third in the five-person race for the council.

City Council incumbents Sammy Baeza and Ike D. Ward were re-elected by Balmorhea voters, and will be joined by Dora Machuca on the council.

In the Balmorhea School elections, incumbent Tommy Rey Dominguez retained his seat on the board, with 95 votes, and will be joined by newcomer Abel Baeza.


PECOS, Mon., May 5, 2003 A one-vehicle accident 13 miles south of Orla claimed the life of a 10-year old boy from Artesia, N.M. Saturday night, the third weekend in a row a fatal accident has occurred in Reeves County.

The DPS said Jesse Levario Ortega, 10, of Artesia was found pinned under the bed of the pickup, where he had been riding when the rollover occurred. He was pronounced dead at the scene, while three other people riding inside the vehicle, Joshua Leyva, 5, Christina Tesill, 23, and Juan Martin Leyva, 37, all of Artesia, were transported to Reeves County Hospital by Pecos EMS crews for treatment of their injuries.


PECOS, Tues., May 6, 2003 Pecos volunteer firemen had to dig into part of a house on Park Street late Tuesday night, after being called to a structure fire that resulted in no injuries and only minimal damage to the building.

Fire trucks responded to a call at 706 S. Park St., at about 11:30 p.m., Monday, and found smoke coming from the attic vent of the house. But it took a while longer before the source of the smoke could be located.


PECOS, Wed., May 7, 2003 The third time was the charm for four members of the Pecos Chapter of the Future Farmers of America, as they came away from their third trip to state with a championship in Dairy Cattle Judging.

The four earned national qualification for their Career Development Event Team, by topping a field of 53 qualifying teams from across Texas last Saturday at the state contest, hosted by Texas A&M University in College Station.

Members of the state champion team are: Amanda Armstrong, daughter of Cole and Bana Armstrong; Lauren Martinez, daughter of Jimmy and Sharlene Martinez; Kaci Harrison, daughter of Roger and Angela Harrison; Sarah McKinney, daughter of Brenda and Clay McKinney. Martinez's sister Shelly was also an alternate for the team.


PECOS, Thurs., May 8, 2003 Newly elected council members Gerald Tellez, Frank Sanchez and Danny Rodriguez were sworn into office this morning during the city council, regularly scheduled meeting at City Hall.

Council members also reviewed the city's teen curfew law, finalized the site for the city's new skateboard park while taking no action on the TransPecos Foods tax abatement request during the morning meeting.


PECOS, Thurs., May 8, 2003 The Balmorhea Volunteer Fire Department took possession of a new vehicle on Wednesday, a new brush fire truck that was mostly paid for through a state grant.

The fire truck cost $41,900, and of that amount, $38,000 was paid through a grant from the Texas Forest Service, according to Balmorhea Fire Chief Luis Contreras.


PECOS, Fri., May 9, 2003 Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school board members swore in one new and one returning board member and announced the 2002-03 Teacher of the Year nominees and winners during the regular school board meeting held Thursday evening in the Technology Center.

A special meeting was held prior to the regular one to canvass the election returns, after which new board member Amy Montgomery Miller and returning member Steve Valenzuela took the oath of office for their three-year terms.


PECOS, Mon., May 12, 2003 Overcoming a 10-shot deficit wasn't in the cards for the Pecos Eagles girls golf team on Friday, at the Class 3A state tournament in Austin, but the Eagles did come home with a second place team trophy and a second place individual trophy, while their coach came home with a new last name following the girls' first-ever trip to the state finals.

"We got married on the steps of the state capitol at 8:30 Friday night," said coach Tina Hendrick, now Tina Doan after marrying Pecos Eagles assistant football coach Gaylon Doan following the final round of play.

"My mom showed up for me and the girls were the bridesmaids," she said. "Really the deal was we would get married if they got first, but I said it was close enough."


PECOS, Mon., May 12, 2003 There was more in the dashboard of a 1994 Dodge Grand Caravan than a cassette or CD player, officers with the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force found out, after they stopped the vehicle in Reeves County late Friday morning just west of Pecos.

The incident occurred at 11:05 a.m., Friday, when Trans Pecos Drug Task Force Officer Kevin Roberts stopped the van for a traffic violation, at mile marker 37, eastbound on I-20. Roberts said he then obtained verbal consent from the driver to search the van and discovered 41 bricks of marijuana.

Arrested was Gerardo Silva, 42, of El Paso. He was transported to Reeves County Jail and charged with possession of marijuana over five and under 50 pounds, a third degree felony.


PECOS, Tues., May 13, 2003 Reeves County Commissioners discussed moving a Justice of the Peace office from Toyah to Pecos and discussed a settlement offer in connection with pending litigation against the county on Monday, during their regularly scheduled meeting.

During reports from various departments, commissioners listened to a request from Justice of the Peace Precinct 2 Jim Riley to move his office to Pecos.

"I came to petition the court to move from Toyah," said Riley, who stated that his office is currently located in Toyah, which is about 20 miles from Pecos and that 95 percent of his cases are here in Pecos.


PECOS, Wed., May 14, 2003 Things are going well at the Reeves County Detention Center, but one of the main concerns is affordable housing for those working at the facility, according to RCDC Warden Rudy Franco.

Franco was a guest during the regular Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors meeting held at noon Tuesday and talked to the group about the local facility, which recently expanded its capacity to nearly 3,000 beds.

"I believe the RCDC will be the mainstay of what happens here in Pecos," said Franco, who has served as warden at the facility for the past seven years.


PECOS, Thurs., May 15, 2003 A fallen Pecos officer is still recalled with fondness and admiration by his fellow officers and peers a year after his death following a shootout on a Greyhound bus in downtown Pecos.

"We think about him everyday," said Trans Pecos Drug Task Force Commander Gary Richards of Task Force Sergeant Jaime Rodriguez, who was shot and killed during a bus interdiction one year ago on Friday.

Rodriguez was among a number of officers who were in town for a meeting, which had been delayed after area law enforcement officers were called to deal with a standoff the morning of May 16, 2002, at Motel 6 in Pecos, involving two suspects in a double-murder out of Georgia. The two suspects eventually surrendered, and officers were returning to the Task Force office, located a half block from the Greyhound Bus Station in Pecos, when the shooting incident occurred.


PECOS, Fri., May 16, 2003 The Reeves County Hospital held its 25th birthday party on Thrusday, with close to 200 people in attendance for the two-hour afternoon celebration.

"This is the first time we have had an event like this," RCH Director Program Development Community Services, Nancy Ontiveros said. "There was great interest specially among the children."

She added that they were pleased with the community response and will now begin working on planning for the grand opening of the expanded facilities, which will open next year on the north side of the current building.


PECOS, Mon., May 19, 2003 Organizers of the annual Relay for Life said they surpassed their goal of raising $25,000 Friday night and Saturday morning, during the annual event to help find a cure for cancer.

"We approximately raised $29,000, not including our expenses," Relay for Life chairwoman Terri Spence said. "However, I feel that we surpassed our goal of $25,000."

According to Spence, there were a total of 12 teams participating in this year's event.


PECOS, Mon., May 19, 2003 Pecos High School senior Ruvel Carrasco became the first winner of the Johnny V. Mata Proud Eagle Award on Friday, at the annual All-Sports Banquet, while Mata's wife and family were presented the football jersey number of the 1986 PHS graduate, who was killed in March while serving with the U.S. Army in Iraq.

Carrasco was one of five seniors to receive awards at the conclusion of Friday's banquet at the new PHS gym. The awards followed the presentation of All-District, All-Region and All-State certificates to Pecos Eagle athletes during the 2002-03 school year, and the keynote speech by McMurry University head football coach and athletic director Steve Keenum.


PECOS, Tues., May 20, 2003 Pecos residents woke up this morning to temperatures over 50 degrees below Monday's high and to the first precipitation reported in the area in nearly two months, thanks to a cold front, which blew into town about 10 p.m. last night.

The city's high temperature hit 109 degrees for the second day in a row on Monday, but the cold front sent the thermometer plunging to 55 degrees around sunrise today. It also brought a cover of clouds and drizzling rain into the area.


PECOS, Wed., May 21, 2003 Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school board members awarded a Midland firm a bid for just under $300,000 to build a new high school girls softball field, with the completion date set for October.

School board members met Tuesday evening to discuss and take action on competitive sealed proposals for the new field, which will be build on the northwest side of the high school's Iowa Street football practice facility.

Architect Monte Hunter, with Hunter and Corral, was on hand to discuss the proposals and show the group a copy of the plans for the field.


PECOS, Wed., May 21, 2003 A former Midland Independent School District security guard and Pecos Police Officer was sentenced in U.S. District Court on Tuesday to two years in prison after pleading guilty in March to attempting to buy child pornography.

John Peter Marquez, 41, pled guilty on March 5 to attempted possession of child pornography and was sentenced on Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Rob Junell. Marquez had entered the guilty plea before U.S. Magistrate Stuart Platt, after a preliminary hearing on the charges was held in mid-February.


PECOS, Thurs., May 22, 2003 A decrease in real estate value in Reeves County will have an effect on local taxes, but officials don't know yet how much it will affect local tax rates and budgets later this year.

Reeves County Chief Appraiser Carol King Markham sent out 2003 appraisal valuations on March 9, and they show a decrease in the amount of $4.5 million is estimated for real estate valuations for Reeves County, the Reeves County Hospital District and the Town of Pecos City, while Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD saw its valuations decline by just under $4 million.


PECOS, Thurs., May 22, 2003 The family of U.S. Army Chief Warrant officer Johnny V. Mata will be spending Memorial Day weekend in Washington, D.C., attending a seminar for families of those who have died while serving in the Armed Forces.

Nancili Li Mata said she and her children, Eric and Stephani, would fly out of El Paso to attend the Ninth Annual National Military Survivor Seminar, which begins on Friday and continues through Memorial Day.


PECOS, Tues., May 27, 2003 Two alleged gang members were shot, and a third person was beaten early Saturday morning following an incident on the south side of Pecos.

No arrests have been made as of yet in the case, in which two people were grazed in the head by bullets and a third person was assaulted with a baseball bat in the 2300 block of Country Club Drive.

One person, later identified as Mike Garcia, 18, was found at the scene with a gunshot wound, and was transported by ambulance to Reeves County Hospital, while EMS workers at the scene also treated a second person, identified as Jesus Manuel Martinez, 25, for injuries.


PECOS, Tues., May 27, 2003 A traffic stop for speeding early this morning on Interstate 20 west of Pecos led to the discovery of 17 illegal aliens, including a mother and her baby, hidden in the cargo area of a utility truck headed from El Paso to Dallas.

Department of Public Safety Trooper Arnulfo Rivas made the traffic stop, shortly before 2 a.m. today on I-20 near the 33-mile marker, seven miles west of Pecos. Rivas said there were two men in the passenger's compartment of the truck when he pulled the truck over for speeding, and later called in other troopers along with Reeves County sheriff's deputies to help with the investigation after the 17 illegal aliens were found hidden behind pieces of furniture stacked in the rear of the truck.


PECOS, Tues., May 27, 2003 A one-vehicle rollover Memorial Day on Interstate 10 between Fort Stockton and Balmorhea claimed the lives of a University of Texas professor and a student, while three others were injured.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety report the accident occurred at about 2:45 p.m. near mile maker 224 on Interstate 10,17 miles east of Balmorhea,

The victims were identified as Robert Kent Goldhammer, 46, and Raquel Vieira Desavariego, 26. They were pronounced dead by Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Rosendo Carrasco.


PECOS, Wed, May 28, 2003 Officials are continuing to search for the body of a man who is believed to have drowned on Memorial Day at Red Bluff Lake in northern Reeves County.

Area game wardens, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Reeves County Sheriff's Office are involved in the search of the lake. According to Reeves County Game Warden, Brad Reeves, the search for the victim began late Monday afternoon.


PECOS, Thurs., May 29, 2003 Winners of the Balmorhea Shrimp Festival received special prizes for their efforts. The festival was held last weekend in Downtown Balmorhea.

Winners included first place, Adan Rivera of Alpine; second place, Fidel Vasquez of Odessa; third place, Ricky Young of Fort Stockton; fourth place, Chris Crider and Mike Peacock of Balmorhea and fifth place, Jimmy and Pamela Salcido of Fort Davis.


PECOS, Fri., May 30, 2003 One person was killed and three others were taken to Reeves County Hospital with injures after a pickup truck struck a light pole in the 900 block of South Eddy Street about 2 a.m. this morning.

Jose Felix Mesta, 20, was pronounced dead by Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Amanario Ramon about an hour after the pickup he was driving slammed into the light pole on the driver's side of the vehicle. Deputies said Mesta died minutes after the accident, and his body was taken to Pecos Funeral Home, where arrangements are pending.


PECOS, Fri., May 30, 2003 The Trans-Pecos Weather Modification Program got a chance to seed its first clouds on Memorial Day weekend, and the program's chief organizer was happy with the results in the areas of northern Reeves and Loving counties.

"We did some seeding up in the Red Bluff area, west of the lake," said Tom Nance, with the Ward County Irrigation District No. 1 in Barstow. The cloud seeding program was re-established in the Trans-Pecos region after a 25-year break, with plans to cover the areas of Reeves, Loving, Ward and Culberson counties.


PECOS, Fri., May 30, 2003 A federal grand jury in Pecos indicted a 28-year-old El Paso man on Thursday on four counts of transporting illegal aliens in connection with Tuesday morning's discovery of 17 illegal aliens crammed into the back of truck on Interstate 20 west of Pecos.

According to the indictment, Hugo Ricardo Ramirez was driving the truck that DPS Trooper Arnulfo Rivas pulled over for speeding just before 2 a.m. Tuesday morning near mile marker 33 on I-20, seven miles west of Pecos.

PHS offer tutorials for TAKS testing

PECOS, Mon., Jan. 5, 2004 -- TAKS testing tutorials are currently being offered at Pecos High School, Monday through Thursday, from 7 a.m. - 8 a.m. and again from 4 p.m. - 5 p.m. All subjects will be covered.

For a detailed subject-by-subject schedule please call the high school at 447-7222.


PECOS, Mon., Jan. 5, 2004 -- High Sunday 67. Low this morning 31. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows near 25. East winds 10 to 15 mph. Tuesday: Mostly sunny. Highs near 55. East winds near 10 mph. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy. Lows near 30. East winds 10 to 15 mph. Wednesday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 60s. Southeast winds near 10 mph. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower to mid 40s.


Eliacer Cordova, Joe Gallego Jr. and Helen Richards

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