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By BOB LITTION
PECOS, AUG. 19, 1987 - Victims of the May 22 tornado Saragosa may be in
new homes by Christmas, Judge Bill Pigman said today.
At a special meeting, Reeves County commissioners approved contract by
which the state will provide a grant of $449,000 for building houses in
Saragosa under the Texas Community Development Program.
Pigman said $414,000 of that amount will be used for building materials
and the remaining $35,000 for administrative costs. It should pay for
approximately 37 homes, he said. The Red Cross is providing funds for
building another 24 homes, he said.
A group of Baptist men and another group of Mennonites who have
volunteered to build the homes are expected here Labor Day weekend.
The administrative costs in the TDCA grant include hiring a fulltime
coordinator and a bookkeeper and setting up a field office in Saragosa.
Commissioners today appointed Jim Ingham of Pecos as coordinator. His
job will be to "maintain accurate files and records on each applicant
and all documentation pertinent to the application, " according to a
resolution of policies and procedures adopted by the commissioners today.
Kay Howard of Gary R. Traylor & Associates, Lubbock, the consulting firm
which prepared the county's grant application at no charge, told the
commissioners that the state had offered a contract which gives much
flexibility to the commissioners in designing their own policies.
The contract is for two years from Aug. 1, 1987, but Howard said she
anticipates the project will be completed within 12 months, assuming the
weather is good.
Replacement payments are not to exceed the cost of the replacement
dwelling actually bought by the displaced person or family, according to
the policies adopted today.
Maximum allowances are $9,500 for a two-bedroom home, $14,400 for a
three-bedroom home and $15,900 for a fourbedroom home.
Maximum allowance for utility hookup is $125.
Pigman noted that a modular home is being set up in Saragosa now for a
price of $5,200 that pays for all materials except rafters, plumbing and
In a separate action, the commissioners employed Gary R. Traylor &
Associates to apply for another grant to pay for paving streets in
Howard said she could have the grant application filed with the state by
December. A decision on it should be made by February, and if the grant
is approved, work could begin on the streets by next summer.
Traylor & Associates does not charge counties for preparing grant
applications, she said, but does ask counties to consider hiring them to
administer the project once it is funded.
If a county decides to terminate the company after the first application
is filed, they charge a $3,000 termination fee, she said. After a second
application, the termination fee is $5,000.
However, all of Traylor & Associates' work on the Saragosa housing
project was free, she said.
The commissioners today also passed a resolution supporting and
endorsing the principle of fair housing.
The resolution includes clauses that encourage all citizens to avoid
discrimination in selling and renting of property and to support the law
of the land in regard to the right of every person to have access to
adequate housing of his own choice.
Also today, the commissioners defeated a proposal to include the issue
of local horse race betting on the November general election ballot.
An amendment to the constitution allowing parimutuel betting on a local
option basis is to be included on the statewide ballot.
Pigman broke a tie vote to defeat the horse race betting issue, since
Commissioners Bernardo Martinez and Felipe Arredondo voted for it and
Commissioners Ismael Dutchover and Howard Davis voted against it.
Dutchover said he voted against horse racing because he believes it
would cost more money. "We can't afford to hire any more people to
patrol the area," he said. "If we pass it, I think the people are going
to start having Sunday races wherever they want and get into fights and
shoot each other."
A proposal to include the question of abolishing the county court at law
on the November ballot was dropped because the Legislature would not be
able to act on it until their next session in 1989.
In other action today, the commissioners accepted fire and ambulance
contracts with Pecos and Toyah.
PECOS, AUG. 20, 1987 - About 30 Saragosans and their children lined up
along the shade of a trailer Wednesday morning and watched television
cameras follow singer-songwriter Tony Joe White around their community.
"Can we shake his hand, too?" asked one of the youngsters.
"Excuse me, is that somebody famous?" a teenager inquired, not knowing
he was talking to White's agent, Neal Ford.
Though there may have been " few fans in the crowd, most were coming to
meet the man who held an all-star country western concert on their
behalf in Austin.
They had heard they were to receive $50,000 to $60,000, one of the older
men said in Spanish. "But it's all right," he added.
The concert didn't make what its producers had expected and in fact
didn't cover its expenses. Contributions from Tyson Foods and a personal
donation from top-billed singer Waylon Jennings made possible the $5,000
that was given to Saragosa on Wednesday.
Jennings was unable to help deliver the money as he had planned, but
White "was determined to come even if it was $5," Ford said.
"It's been two months now of talking about it," White said. "I can't
tell you how it feels to finally be here doing something."
The people smiled and clapped as White handed $100 bills one by one to
Saragosa Community Council Representative Felipe Lopez. White requested
that the Saragosa Foundation distribute the money to children who lost
both parents in the tornado.
Saragosa Foundation president Tony Gallego said Los Lobos has promised
another $2,500 for the community. The band had canceled its performance
at the concert "for good reasons" and wanted to help in this way, Los
Lobos, Bent Rick Bates told Gallego.
Concert organizers said Los Lobos' cancellation may have affected the
attendance at the Aug. 16 event. White noted that a better location,
indoors and perhaps another city, would have improved turnout.
"But I don't feel bad at all about what we did and about what we brought
in here," White said.
He shook everyone's hand and leaned down to speak to the smaller
children. He listened to several talk about the May 22 tornado.
"It hit here, man. It hit hard," he said, standing on the light blue
tile that was once the floor of the catholic church there.
"If I were to write a song about this, it would probably be pretty
bluesy. Words, I really don't think anybody could write."
"You know, a song may be too much of a reminder," he said. "It's time
for everyone to help get these people on with their lives."
About 100 Saragosa children and their parents are expected to come visit
with clowns and enjoy the games that will be offered at the ballpark
from 6:30 to 9 p.m.
Nearly as many Balmorhea and Saragosa children enjoyed a party Friday in
the final meeting of their youth group. The swim party was held at the
Balmorhea state park by youth sponsors Tim and Mark Gomez of Wichita
Falls, who started the group this summer as a fun way to counsel tornado
The children who survive disasters often suffer as much or more than
their parents, said Fort Davis resident Char Miller.
"In 1972, I worked quite a bit with people after a flood in New York,"
Mrs. Milla said. "Mom and Dad are so busy putting their lives back
together that they don't have much time left over for the kids."
So Mrs. Miller and other citizens and church groups from Fort Davis
organized tonight's carnival as their way of helping.
They plan to have food and game booths of all kinds and a sing-along
with a banjo player. Special gifts, such as friendship pins made by Girl
Scout Brownies, will also be extended to the children.
Many storms have passed since that night when homes, stores, a church a
community center filled with people in tiny Saragosa where raised from
Aid of every kind was rushed to the devastated scene, and the survivors
given comfort as they buried their loved ones.
All this time a Christian couple;" Corsicana, stunned by the news of the
tornado, have pondered, prayed and asked God to reveal to them what they
could do to help.
That couple, Miriam and Odis Kindle, have firsthand knowledge the
devastation and destruction a tornado leaves in its path, and all the
stages and steps families have to endure in coping and recovering when
such a crisis strikes.
As teachers, they also understand the financial strain sometimes
involved in getting children ready for another school year.
Just by the looks of the modest but adequate load of school supplies and
tennis shoes neatly packaged and bound for Saragosa, one might not have
realized the deep love, concern and the purpose behind a mission that
has gone into the purchasing, gathering and delivering of these items
into the hands of children who survived the tornado.
In the early 1980s Mrs. Kindles' sister and brother-in-law were victims
of a tornado that destroyed a residential section in Paris, Texas.
Commuting from Corsicana, the Kindles', were on hand to aid elderly
members of their family in literally picking up the pieces of their
"I remember as a small child growing up in that very neighborhood in
Paris," said Odis Kindle, a retired school teacher. "I know when, way
back, many families bought a lot and built their home there in Paris.
Many of my own childhood memories were swept away with the homes and
landmark trees that lined the streets of that destroyed section of town."
"There are so many things that have to be done, in the aftermath of such
a storm. So many people rush to aid victims and supply their basic
needs, they're almost as desperate to help as the victims are
desperately helpless." said Mrs. Kindle. "We felt drawn to the Saragosa
victims' plight, but were unable to do anything to help them
"Since I still teach, I felt even more led to lend a helping hand. But
what could we do," she said. "I had to begin another year of teaching in
a few weeks, my time was running out and the people of Saragosa had
already received food, clothing and been provided with temporary
"Then it dawned on me an inspiration. School supplies! Those children
will need things to get going in school in September," she said. "It
came back to me how much my sister and brother-in-law needed us or some
caring person to help them with all the 'little things'."
"We wanted to just do this thing, supply a need for those children, not
just throw money at a need, but give of ourselves and get the need met!"
"We started going out to shop for school supplies. We would meet friends
we had known for years while we were in the school supply sections of
stores counting out supplies, making up price comparisons. They'd look
at us funny or make some little joke, then we would tell them what we
were up to. That's when the checkbooks came out, people wanted to help
us help those children. "
"We believe God gave us the inspiration, what those Saragosa children
needed now," he said. "Then he provided the means, the money. Not more
than was needed, but just the right amount to do the job, just as he
always does for his trusting children."
"We're not doing this to glorify ourselves, or for attention but to show
that God knows people's needs and brings his own people into the
situation to supply those needs, " he said. "That is why we Christians
are sometimes put into crisis, led and taught about sorrows, ours and
others, so we'll know how to be servants of God to help others."
"We hope by this publicity that others will be inspired to fill in the
gaps, meet the needs, help with the little things that arise fOr these
people in Saragosa until they can stand on their own," he said.
Friday the couple met in Balmorhea with Elizabeth Cook, Balmorhea school
principal and delivered the "love packages" they prepared for the
PECOS, AUG. 20, 1987 - Some people in Saragosa are dissatisfied with the
new homes they're getting and Red Cross policies for providing the
Two houses are now complete, and two others are nearing completion to
replace the 61 homes that were destroyed in the May 22 tornado.
The Red Cross is building homes for 24 families who had clear title to
their property, said Manuel Galindo, assistant disaster coordinator to
county judge Bill Pigman.
Galindo conceded that several homeowners are dissatisfied with the way
Red Cross is rebuilding. As he put it, it is the "nature of the beast"
the Red Cross requires any government funds people may have been given,
such as whatever is left of the average $5,000 grant each family
received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, go toward the
Moreover, Red Cross determines the size of the home based on the
family's need. For example, a man and woman who may have lived in a four
bedroom house before the tornado would perhaps be entitled to only a two
But Galindo noted that the homes are structured to facilitate later
Furthermore, families have the option of foregoing Red Cross aid
altogether and using their ant money to supplement their own rebuilding
They may use the allocated amount of materials that have been donated to
the community, and volunteer labor would also be provided, Galindo said.
But many people don't have any money to invest in building, and some
feel intimidated in the Red Cross rebuilding process, and Baulia
Natividad, treasurer of the Saragosa Foundation.
"They're upset because they feel they don't have a say-so on their own
homes, " Mrs . Natividad said.
Art Getty, a construction business owner from Baird who as been in
Saragosa since the early weeks, went further to say that the homes are
being "forced" on the people. He also cited several construction
problems he observed in one of the completed homes.
Galindo said Getty has been asked to work with his department, under the
Permian Basin Regional Planning Commition and the federal Job Training
Partnership Act, in training and overseeing Saragosans who will soon be
put to work in rebuilding efforts. "His help would be really
appreciated," Galindo said.
Getty's only help financially in his work at Saragosa came from the
Reeves County sheriff's office formerly located there. That office
provided his food and drink, he said.
He said he would consider working with JTPA, as his main goal is to help
Saragosans help themselves.
"I care about these people, and I feel they don't care about
themselves," Getty said. "They re being taken advantage of."
He said every person in Saragosa is entitled to "walk up and take" from
the pile of donated materials laying in the renter of the community.
An elaborate structure of organizations has been established to see that
donated materials are equally distributed according to need, Galindo
One new organization that has located in Saragosa is the Texas
Department of Community Affairs, which granted $449,000 to the
rebuilding of the 37 homes that did not qualify for Red Cross aid.
TDCA will base size of homes on income and may also consider size of
family. But TDCA will not require that people give part of their grant
money, Galindo said.
Those who qualify for Red Cross aid will not be eligible for the TDCA
assistance in rebuilding their homes.
To coordinate all these efforts Galindo meets each Monday morning with
representatives of organizations that have funds and people working in
Saragosa. These include TDCA, the Texas Baptist Men's Convention,
Inter-faith, Red Cross, The Saragosa Building Committee, congressman Ron
Coleman's area office, and Catholic Charities.
The newly founded Saragosa Foundation has members that are also on the
building committee, which works with other organizations and the
Saragosa Community Council in tracking construction of all building
there, said foundation president Tony Gallego.
The Texas Baptist Men's Convention, with which Galindo first came to
Saragosa, coordinates volunteer workers, Galindo said.
Getty has nearly completed the community building near the ballpark,
where a play ground is also going up.
The Meadows Foundation in Dallas recently gave official approval for a
$386,000, 10,00 square foot brick community center that will be located
on 4.9 acres where the post office now stands.
Construction is expected to start in mid-September and should be
completed by January, according to Reeves County Community Council
director Mary Mitchell, who is coordinating that effort.
The "Handbook of Texas" says: "Saragosa, in south central Reeves County,
was originally located on Toyah Creek four miles east of the present
Headquarters of the Antonio Matta horse ranch, it was a traveler's stop
with a hotel, restaurant, saloon and post office by 1900.
With construction of the Pecos Valley Southern Railroad in 1911, the
town moved to the railroad to become a station and a shipping point for
alfalfa, cotton and fruits. Population was 25 in 1920; in 1940 four
businesses and a population of 60 was reported."
Some of the above is incorrect. The location was about two miles east
instead of four, and was some ways south of Toyah Creek. We find no
record of a post office having been at the Matta place. It came later.
The Matta place was never called "Saragosa" although it could be
referred to as the original Saragosa.
In 1882 the "go west" fever had spread and a group of young people in
Kimble County organized a party to head west in search of new homes,
their first goal being New Mexico.
The covered wagon train left Kimble County on September 19, 1882. The
party included, among others, Mr. and Mrs. Lance Duncan and their three
children, Edna, Josie and Arkie; Mr. and Mrs. C.C. Kountz and baby son,
Hez; Doug Coalson and A.J. Hart.
The wagon train traveled by way of Fort Concho, Fort Lancaster,
Horsehead Crossing on the Pecos River, and on to the Rancho de Matta in
what is now Reeves County.
The ranch headquarters was then in Pecos County, Reeves County not
having been created until 1883 and organized in 1884. The party was
headed by A.J. Hutchinson.
The little community was the headquarters for the Antonio horse ranch
and was a traveler's stop with a hotel of sorts, a mercantile store, a
saloon, a restaurant and was an Indian trading post.
Antonio Matta married an Indian princess which made for an easier
rapport with the Indians. Matta bought horses from the Indians and in
turn sold them to the army at Ft. Davis and Ft. Stockton.
There was no mail service in the area at that time but someone had built
a telegraph line into the Matta headquarters with a telegraph key at the
place. It was the only telegraph key within an area of many miles and
was used frequently by the soldiers at Ft. Davis.
We do not know who built the line nor where it went, although we believe
it probably went to El Paso or possibly Fort Concho.
After staying overnight at the Matta headquarters, the Hutchinson party
continued their journey westward, ostensibly to New Mexico.
The following night they camped at a small spring about seven miles
north of the present town of Balmorhea on the Don Garcia land grant. We
believe this spring was, or is, where the home of Cora Moore was later
Winter was approaching and the party arranged for a winter lease on the
Don Garcia place. We do not know how Garcia got this property.
While on this location, some of the party members explored the mountains
and valleys around Balmorhea and decided this was as good a place to
settle down as they would find in New Mexico.
They started a search for locations, and established homesteads. Lace
Duncan located in the Ft. Davis area. Kountz located in the mountains
south of Balmorhea, and Doug Coalson went to Toyah as did A.J. Hart.
Reliable information on the Rancho de Matta is very scarce. We have no
idea what prompted Antonio Matta to settle here. There was no
communication and no public roads other than cattle trails.
We believe the Matta head quarters was established in the early 1860's,
some time after Ft. Davis was established in 1854. For the next 16
years, Ft. Davis was the focal point of warfare with Comanche and Apache
The fort was vacated in mid-1861 when the Civil War started and the
troops did not return until June 29, 1867 after the war was over. The
Fort was disbanded on July 31, 1891.
There is no evidence, documentary or otherwise, to show when the Matta
headquarters was established, but we believe it was during the period
after 1867, probably in the early 1870's.
The Matta Ranch covered many sections of land, to what extend we do not
know, nor do we know whether the land was owned or just "occupied."
There is no record in the Reeves County files of any acquisition or
transfer of land by Antonio Matta.
Distribution is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon behind the Saragosa
Building Committee trailer.
Mary Mitchell, coordinator of the Saragosa Relief Fund, said persons
unable to attend the distribution may receive their designated portion
at a later date "as all funds are held for each individual deemed
In addition, she noted that persons who have or are in the process of
obtaining guardianship of children who lost both parents in the tornado
need to provide the committee with a copy of their documents before
funds can be released for minors.
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