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But Jennings and fellow concert producer Tony Joe White want to hand the
money to individual Saragosans from their own hands, said David
Anderson, who is coordinating the event.
"They want to divide it equally to the people who need relief," Anderson
said. "They plan to go to Saragosa and hand it to them not to a
foundation, not to any organization, but to the citizens themselves."
A recently formed non-profit corporation called the Saragosa Foundation
has requested through Texas Rural Legal Aid representative John Muir
that proceeds from the all-star Aug. 16 concert in Austin go to the
The foundation was established in response to community residents there
who felt they weren't getting all the help they were told was coming to
them, said foundation president Tony Gallego. "That's exactly where
Waylon and Tony Joe are coming from, " Anderson said. "That's the key. "
He said concert producers are working with Saragosa relief the concert,
producers will have a formal, public presentation of the funds in Austin
and welcome all media coverage, he said.
They'd like to keep the date of their trip to Saragosa relatively quiet
so that the citizens there won't have to worry about being embarrassed
while the aid is being distributed, he explained.
Anderson said he expects from $50,000 to $60,000 to be available for
distribution to Saragosa residents if all 7,000 concert seats are
The concert, set for 10 a.m. that Sunday at the paddock area of Manor
Downs in Austin, will include performances by Jennings, White Jesse
Colter, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Steve Earle, Johnny Rodriguez, Rex
Allen Jr., and John Anderson.
It was White's idea to put together the concert for Saragosa. White is a
Texan and has performed in this area often, Anderson said.
Anderson, who was Willie Nelson's road manager for 12 years and produced
both Farm Aid events, expects the Saragosa benefit to draw the desired
The $15 tickets are available through Shamrock Tickets in Austin by
calling (214) 443-6699 or 443-2722 or at Ticketron locations in El Paso.
Those attending the concert will also be encouraged to bring any dry or
canned goods they might want to donate. Tyson Foods has not only donated
$15,000 to offset concert expenses but also plans to truck a load of
food to Saragosa to be distributed with the concert proceeds.
Some local leaders, including Gallego and U.S. Congressman Ron Coleman
representative Martha Fleming, are concerned about concert producers'
plans to distribute the money themselves.
"We've been in contact with the Texas Rural Aid, and we could encourage
them to work with the agencies already set up for distribution," Mrs.
Gallego said the foundation would like to use the money to make
long-range plans for Saragosa.
Anderson said producers are "well aware" of state and federal monies and
other funds that have been pledged. "The long-range relief is here,"
he said. "We want to give them money whether it be $1, $2, or $10 for
them to use now to do with it what they need now.."
Ironically, the concern about money no, reaching Saragosans soon enough
was what prompted seven of them to form the foundation.
"They wanted more say so about what to do with the money that was coming
in," Gallego said, adding:.
"These people have been hearing all these things, reading about all
this money, yet they haven't been very much of it." The foundation
will eventually consist of 21 directors with a wide range of experience
and leadership in Reeves County, Gallego said.
Led by a Waco builder, the volunteers will build one-, two- and
three-bedroom houses with designs similar to the yellow boxlike house
that was the first to be completed with donated material and volunteer I
That dwelling will be inhabited by Sofia Gomez, her daughter and
"I'm so content and grateful," Mrs. Gomez said while sitting on a stack
of carpet padding, as her two new ceiling fans stirred the cool stream
from a wall air conditioner. "We lost everything, everything ... but
this is beautiful."
The three-bedroom house was built with lumber and other materials
donated by businesses in Waco. L.M. Dyson Jr., a builder and a Baylor
University professor of real estate, led volunteers from three Baptist
churches in Waco. Because he teaches summer school, a plane donated by a
Waco company takes him to Saragosa on Friday afternoons and flies him
home Monday afternoons.
"I loved doing this. That's why I'm coming back to build more," Dyson
said as he inspected joints in the house.
Like many of her neighbors, Mrs. Gomez is buying furniture, a
refrigerator and stove with a grant from the Federal Emergency
Management Agency. She said she received $4,000.
"What makes me sad is that our neighbors won't be around us for awhile.
We'll be all alone," she said.
The May 22 tornado that killed 31 people wiped out about 60 houses, but
the volunteers say they can replace most of those using donated
Saragosans whose homes were destroyed have been cleared of any
delinquent taxes and won't owe any this year.
But they may need to start preparing for future tax payments, note local
tax assessor collectors. A total $400,000 in property was destroyed
when 70 percent of the town was blown away in the May 22 tornado. Plans
in progress now will increase the worth of the town by at least three
times that much.
Delinquent taxes owed Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school district and Reeves
County were paid by relief agencies in order for Saragosans to secure
clear title to the property so that rebuilding can begin.
Ironically in light of Saragosa's economic situation even before the
tornado, those back taxes "were not an astronomical amount," said Reeves
County tax assessor-collector Alicia Navarette.
Indeed, many Saragosans were not obligated to pay taxes at all, noted
P-B-T tax assessor collector Philip Ferguson. The worth of their
property was less than the homestead exemption, he explained.
If these people are built a new, two-bedroom home for example, their
school taxes could go from zero to $145, Ferguson said.
Without exemptions, an owner of the average $5,000-value trailer home in
Saragosa would pay $31.50 in county taxes and $48.37 in school taxes.
A new home from 600 to 800 square feet and valued at or more than
$15,000 would put taxes owed the two entities near $200.
With exemptions given by the school district, taxable values on a
$15,000 home would be decreased by $10,000. The same person who once was
exempted from all taxes would owe the schools $48 and the county $94.
"The intentions are good, and these people deserve the homes, " Mrs.
PECOS, AUG. 6, 1987 - When you cross that Pecos River headed west, stop
and meet Reeves-County Sheriff Raul Florez.
He has an "open door" policy in his small office half-full with desk. If
you can't reach him there, you can call at home. He says he gets 10 to
15 calls on the average evening and sometimes at 3 and 4 in the morning.
At his modest home on five acres northwest of Pecos, you might find him
inside having coffee with wife, Jon, or you could walk out to the barn
and find him feeding his horses or mending fence.
Don't worry about the tall weeds. Florez says he can smell even feel a
snake 10 feet away.
A week or so back, he had a "fist fight" with a five-foot rattlesnake
and chopped it into three pieces before it gave in.
In fact, the only thing 50-year-old Florez is afraid of is dying. The
long surgical scar down his chest reminds him to "say thank you" when he
wakes up in the morning, and there've been tears when he says it.
Indeed, his eyes may not be as shiny as they were years ago, and only
his straw Resistol hat can hide that strip of gray hair across the back
of his neck.
But Florez plans to be sheriff for quite some time.
The South Texas native who often tells about being "born under a
mesquite bush by a poor Mexican woman" was first elected sheriff in 1976
by 72 percent of votes cast for four candidates. He was re-elected in
1980 and 1984 with 80 and 85 percent of the the vote.
Florez oversees literally hundreds of employees and prisoners and is
responsible for overall operations at the sheriff's office, the county
jail and the Law Enforcement Center. He has been asked to be relieved of
some of those duties, but Florez feels a need to put his knowledge and
experience to full use.
Welcome to Boss Hog country.
Or at least that's what some of Florez' critics have called his Law West
of the Pecos.
But that doesn't bother Florez.
"My personal feelings don't ever enter in my work ever," he said. "If
they did, I'd be after everybody anybody criticizing me or anything
Florez has been the subject of at least three grand jury investigations
during the past five years. He is currently on probation for willful
failure to keep federal tax records and is pending trial for allegedly
assaulting the financial controller at the LEC.
Findings of a recent grand jury session dealing with county prisoners
allegedly drinking alcohol while on work duty at Saragosa are to be
announced in commissioners court here Monday.
Florez said that because law enforcement officers are "in the public
eye," they're often targets of criticism and suspicion.
"I've always told my people when they go testify to testify to the
truth, because the truth never hurt anybody. If it's done in good faith
whatever it is that will be in consideration."
In February of 1982, a month after the Pecos Enterprise printed photos
of county prisoners working on Florez' house, a Reeves County grand jury
refused to indict him for official misconduct. The jury issued a mandate
forbidding use of prisoners for private projects, but noted that "no
offense was intentionally committed" in Florez' case.
"You know what I was doing?" he recalled. "I had 158 to 258 prisoners in
a 50-man jail. I had to do something with them, or they'd be killing
each other. So I had them cleaning lots, painting houses..."
Florez stopped talking long enough to break off a corner of a square of
chewing tobacco and pop it in his mouth.
"I was rotating them sleeping up there," he continued.
"That was before the jail commission. Then they came in here and wacked
me, boy, hard. We had to get them (prisoners) out of there."
Florez turned in his chair toward the large drawing of the new LEC on an
easel next to his desk. "Now that's one of my biggest accomplishments."
He said he spent four years designing the facility with architects and
planning its establishment here.
That may be why he became so angry when the new LEC financial board last
year suggested he hand over some of his control of operations.
"I knew that operation, if run well, would make people a lot of money,
create a lot of jobs," Florez said. "They saw big bucks in that thing,
too. Where else can you make a couple million in a year?"
He leaned over to spit, and his chair whined with the shift of 220
"Yeah, I got mad," he said. "Because it was something I put for the
people. I don't get any money for that responsibility. I don't get any
money for this responsibility the jail. I don't. I could've done (the
LEC) privately and make a quarter million a year. But I don't. I want it
for the people.
"It's kind of odd for a politician to talk this way, but this is just my
sincerity. If I live in rags from now on, and the poor people grow up in
riches man, that's really something for me.
"The people come first to me in their entirety. I help all of them the
ones against me, and the ones for me."
The words come so eloquently for Florez even with tobacco on his teeth.
Ironically, the part about his job that he likes least is politics.
"I hate politics," he said. "I'm not a politician, I'm a law enforcement
officer. They just don't mix. They don't dance the right walks."
Being a "champion of the people" is not always an easy job and many
times involves judgmental decisions.
"Law enforcement is not black and white," Florez said. "You got a long,
wide, gray area which is called the area of judgment that the officer
has to do. And how he performs in that area of judgment is how that
Probably his "most difficult" work in that area of judgment began on May
22, Florez said, when he "took charge" in Saragosa.
"The night of the tornado, I was faced with tremendous decisions that
probably no mankind could ever make. And I'm not that smart. But I made
those decisions, and every decision I made was right. But it wasn't me
it was from Cod."
The sheriff's office up until last week maintained headquarters at
Saragosa, helped with relief efforts and collected and distributed many
donated items and some $20,000 in cash contributions.
Even in the wake of these efforts, Florez has felt the "heat" of
criticism and accusations.
"I get into problems because I put my neck out for people," he said,
then spit again.
Florez' greatest weakness and his wife agreed ùis giving out money to
people in need. He said that's how he got in "the mess with the IRS" and
ended up pleading guilty on Feb. 10, 1986, to two misdemeanor counts of
failing to keep tax records properly.
"I never stole anything in my life," Florez said. "When I was a kid, I
couldn't even take from my mamma's purse."
Allegations that Florez may have been involved in the theft of siding
from the LEC early last year were reportedly cleared recently by one of
his' deputies, Jack Brewer, who conducts investigations for the district
and county attorneys.
The original investigator of the theft, then deputy Eddie Markham, is
the one who recently filed assault charges against Florez. The alleged
assault may have been sparked by the recent resurrection of that
investigation, Brewer reported.
Many of the incidents and accidents in which Florez has been involved
have been subjects for television, radio and print news. They have made
him somewhat of a celebrity, he conceded.
His chair whined again as he leaned back and smiled in the recollection
of an encounter with fame.
"I was at a meeting down there at Austin... I was going up the elevator,
and this one old boy says, 'You're that sheriff from Pecos.'
"I thought, 'Oh, my God.' There'd been all this notoriety about working
the prisoners and everything this has been years ago.
"I said, 'Yes, I'm afraid so.' And he said, 'Well, I wished our sheriff
did what you do..."
Support for Florez is more often expressed at home, and it doesn't stop
at the polls. The last time Florez faced trial in January of 1986, he
received $3,438 from the Committee for the Defense of Raul Florez
So who is Florez' hero?
Not Boss Hog.
But first, he called his friend, Waylon Jennings.
"Waylon said, 'Well, I'll go with you,' " White recalled. The results
are a benefit concert scheduled for Sunday at Manor Downs, east of
Austin, with a lineup White says will include himself, Jennings, Johnny
Cash, Neil Young, Jessi Colter, Johnny Rodriguez, John Anderson and
"I told Waylon, this is a long ways from a flat-bed trailer. This thing
kind of snowballed. Waylon just got on the phone and it got a lot
bigger, " White said.
White, whose songs have included "Polk Salad Annie" and his latest
album, "Dangerous," lived in Corpus Christi for several years.
Although he's never been to tiny Saragosa in West Texas, where 30 people
died and 160 were injured in the May 22 tornado, he said in a phone
interview from his Tennessee home that the news overage struck a chord.
"When I read that in the newspaper up here, there was something about
the looks on their faces. I knew some people weren't going to get any
help," he said. "It was something about the looks in those peoples '
eyes. Man, they got hit."
White said he and Jennings plan to donate all proceeds from the concert
directly to the tornado victims.
"Me and Waylon are going to go down to Saragosa the next day with a
priest and nun who've been working with the people. The hole point of
this is to get the money straight to the people who need it, " White
Gov. Bill Clements saluted the two performers for their interest in
"They heard of the disaster and immediately began to formulate plans for
this benefit. What they hope to accomplish with this concert is
admirable. It will bring the citizens of Saragosa another step closer to
rebuilding their lives, " Clements said.
The concert, which has attracted corporate sponsorship from Tyson
Economic of Springdale, Ark., is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Sunday.
Manor Downs, a horse-racing track, also served as the site for Willie
Nelson's Farm Aid II concert last summer.
When Johnny Cash appeared to begin the concert at 10 a.m. Sunday, there
were barely 200 people on the grass in front of the stage at the Manor
Downs racetrack. When John Anderson started his set at 1:30 p.m., the
crowd was around 500.
By the end of the day, there had been a total of about 700 paid
spectators and approximately $5,000 was raised for Saragosa, said
Cynthia Spencer a publicist for Waylon Jennings who helped organize the
Waylon will probably have to come up with some of the expenses. We
didn't make all of the expenses, " she said.
"Something had to be done and if we didn't do it, nobody would have. It
might work and it might not, but I would do it gain," Jennings said.
"I'm not really worried about it, " said organizer and singer songwriter
Tony Joe White.
Manor Downs near Austin also served as the site of Willie Nelson's Farm
Aid II concert last summer, which was attended by $40,000.
Cash said that despite the few fans, "it was really a good kickoff
"It's the thing to do. The American people have got to help heir own. It
seems like the American government has kind of forgotten about some
people," Cash said.
Five of the 183 survivors of the tornado that leveled the small West
Texas town made the trip were and were helping move and get up equipment
throughout the day.
"We are just thankful that the performers, especially Mr. White and Mr.
Jennings, came out to help us," said Felipe Lopez, one of the five. "we
are helping set up just to say thank you to everyone involved."
Lopez said the town of Saragosa is in the initial stages of rebuilding,
but is still in desperate need of supplies such as lumber and cement.
Johnny Rodriguez, Neil Young, Jessi Colter and Rex Allen Jr. also
performed at the concert.
Tickets were $15 apiece. Canned goods and other contributions were
Many people came to see the Los Angeles band Los Lobos, but were
disappointed after the group canceled.
"We kind of centered the show around them because they're so hot right
now," said Jennings. "And since they pulled out that hurt us a little
bit, but we'll have to pick up and move on."
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324 S. Cedar, Box 2057, Pecos TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321