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Thursday, Oct. 23, 1997

Blind man crafts wood memories

By Peggy McCracken
Staff Writer

PECOS, Oct. 23, 1997 - Allen Johnson's woodcraft is truly a product of the heart.

Because he's blind, Johnson relies on childhood memories for the patterns to farm equipment, outhouses, windmills and other reproductions.

"I see things in my mind and then just make it. If I can put my hands on something, I can nearly reproduce it with wood," he said.

When a customer requests something he hasn't seen, Johnson's wife, Lee, draws it on his hand or chest.

He starts with one piece, and everything else fits that piece.
A combine, complete with maize in the hopper, began with the reel, Johnson said.

"On tractors, it is the chassis. On cotton strippers, it is the basket. I start with the fan on a windmill," he said.

Each piece is unique because Johnson can't make two alike.

"I've tried," he said. "The closest I came was to take cedar fencing and shave off the outside edge to make a backdrop. I made a narrow buckboard and had it split with two halves and put a frame around them."

Before completely losing his eyesight 20 years ago, Johnson had been a parts man. He got into the woodworking business on a challenge from a friend who described wooden trains he had seen at a fair.

"They looked like blocks of wood with wheels stuck on them," Johnson said. "I said anybody can make a train, and he told me he wanted to see it. So I made a train, and that was the beginning of it and I have been busy ever since.

"The reason I think the Lord loaned me the talent - we were depressed over problems with our daughter. I think he gave it to me to occupy my mind. When I am working on this, there's nothing else," Johnson said.

In fact, he loses track of time while in the fully-equipped workshop behind his home.

"A lot of times I come to myself and say I am getting tired. I go in the house and it will be 1 or 2 a.m.," he said.

Working fulltime at his craft since 1990, Johnson spends 90 hours on a train, 90-100 on a stagecoach and 80 hours on a covered wagon.

His wife, Lee, uses a band saw and scroll saw to cut out objects such as bird houses, bears and angels. They sell the finished and sometimes painted items from their Lubbock home.

Recently, the couple and their son set up a varied display at the Fall Foliage Festival in Quitaque, where they sold a number of items. They also show their work and give their testimonies at churches in the area.

"It is definitely a labor of love, and I use it to encourage people for the Lord," Johnson said. "Just because you are a little old, you don't have to sit down and wait. There's too many things people can do if they want to do it."

He's even used his shop to encourage people who feel they have a talent.

"I take them to the shop and let them make something. They are a lot more proud of this than something they buy," he said.

Johnson's work has not gone un-noticed. Newspapers around the world and three television stations have featured his work. But he remains humble, offering a smile and an encouraging word for everyone who comes his way.

Escapee caught after nine years

By Peggy McCracken
Staff Writer

MIDLAND, Oct. 23, 1997 - A Mexican national convicted in Pecos of illegal entry enjoyed nearly nine years of freedom after escaping from the Midland City Jail.

Cruz Isabel Muratalla-Magaa, 30, is back in custody awaiting trial in Midland federal court on the escape charge. He also owes the federal prison system some time on his sentence for illegal entry.

The young man escaped from jail along with two or three other inmates who talked the jailer into letting them go unsupervised to the showers. Finding an unguarded back door, the men escaped into the night, said a deputy marshal in the Midland office.

Midland police captured the other inmates that night, but Muratalla eluded capture until his arrest in Chicago on a traffic violation. U.S. Marshals had obtained a fugitive warrant for the escapee, and his name was entered in the National Crime Information Center computer.

Escapees are often caught when they get in trouble with the law again. Not many escape detection for nine years, unless they return to Mexico.

Deputy marshals picked Muratalla up in Chicago and returned him to Texas aboard one of their buses. He was dropped off at the Reeves County Detention Center, then moved to Midland to await trial.

Mexican citizen sentenced in federal court

By Peggy McCracken
Staff Writer

Federal court jurors on Tuesday found a Mexican citizen guilty of importing and possessing with intent to distribute marijuana.

Jose Rafael Grajeda-Castillo, 53, of Esperanza, Chihuahua, Mex., was arrested July 30 with 110.46 pounds of marijuana in his possession. Jurors returned a "guilty" verdict to both counts.

Two other defendants who had trials scheduled pleaded guilty, and a third failed to appear for trial.

U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson presided for the trial and also sentenced numerous defendants during the week.

Michael Timothy Matta, 25, of 1419 S. Plum St., drew five years probation for importing and possessing flunitrazepam, known as the date rape drug.

Judge Furgeson found Matta guilty following a motion to suppress evidence and a bench trial August 15.

Others sentenced were:

* Rosario Hernandez-Velasco of Mexico, 15 months in prison and one year supervised release for re-entry after deportation.

* Dariusz Roman Kaminski, 32, of Clifton, N.J., time served plus three years supervised release for transporting a stolen vehicle across state lines.

* Brenda Ingo Rodriguez, 39, of Alpine, five years probation for importing heroin. She successfully completed a stay in the Clover House treatment center.

* Jorge Saldana-Lara, 28, of Camargo, Mex., time served, transporting illegal aliens.

* Octavio Hernandez-Banuelo, 43, of Camargo, Mex., 19 months plus two years supervised release for transporting illegal aliens.

* Oralia Trevino, 47, and Irene Luna, 54, both of Seminole, two years probation for transporting illegal aliens.

* Pedro Orona Carbajal of Odessa, 12 months plus one day and three years supervised release for possession of 15.6 grams of heroin.

* Juan Guillermina Gatto-Gonzales, 38, of Midland, possession with intent to distribuge 38.38 pounds of marijuana, 12 months plus 1 day and two years supervised release.

* Haley Sue Appleton, 30, of Oklahoma City, Ok., 60 months plus five years supervised release for possession with intent to distribuge cocaine.

* Hector M. Marquez-Aguirre, 29, of Namequipa, Chih., Mex., two years for importing marijuana.

* Juan Manuel Venegas, 25, of Van Horn, 18 months plus three years supervised release for importing marijuana.

Collections plague ambulance chief

Staff Writer

PECOS, Oct. 23, 1997 - Chief of Pecos Ambulance Service Bill Cole stormed out of this morning's City Council meeting in apparent protest over having his picture taken by the press. Cole was present at the 7:30 meeting to present a proposed collections agreement, for the approval of the council, he had drafted with City Attorney Scott W. Johnson in the hopes of facilitating past due ambulance collections.

An introductory letter from Johnson, who was in Austin today learning about new statewide comprehensive water legislation, states that "nothing is being done on delinquent accounts and maybe we can improve collections."

The contract for collections makes Johnson the collector on accounts, as referred by Cole, delinquent for more than 120 days. The fee for collection services will be 33.33 percent on all money collected on the accounts unless the case is appealed. In the case of an appeal the fee becomes 50 percent of the amount collected.

The council voted to approve the contract subject to the termination of the original collection contract Cole had entered into with Concepts Collection Agency.

Pat Wein of Wein Electric Heating and Air Conditioning Service was at the meeting in order to make the council aware of an issue needing "urgent attention." Wein said that much had to be done, including the issuance of more citations, to encourage that heating, air, and all electrical work be performed up to state and city codes. Arguing that most fires are electrical fires, Wein said that inadequate installation of these components may lead to property damage, injury and death. He distributed photographs of shoddy workmanship performed in residences and businesses that amounted to dangerous examples of non-compliance.

Fire Marshall Jack Brookshire said that there was a problem in Pecos of people wiring their own homes without permits and licenses. He also said that it was difficult to catch the out-of-town companies performing the sub-standard work while they are actually in Pecos. According to Brookshire, these out-of-town companies (several of which he has filed complaints on) often "act as if they don't know what the ordinances are. . .and try to sneak in out (of town)."

Mayor Dot Stafford asked that City Manager Kenneth Neal, Wein, and Brookshire all get together to examine the issue.

The monthly financial report was approved with brief discussion the animal control budget and clean-up needed at the Pecos Airport. The September tax collector's report, ambulance report, and accounts payable were all approved.

Computers in long-range plan

Staff Writer

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD is not very far from a long-range technology plan the state has composed, according to Career and Technology Director Jodi Exum.

"The state has a long-range plan in which by the year 2002, they want every eductor to have a work station and a ratio of three students to every computer," said Exum.

Exum explained that this school system is not very far from that goal, and that every campus is currently trying to put all their extra money into technology.

"Granted some of these computers are `dinosaur' computers, which are way out-dated, but as soon as we can we are planning to replace these with state of the art equipment," she said.

Forty-one percent of faculty at Pecos High School currently have access to a computer, this is not counting the lab computers. "This is just educators who have access to a computer in their own rooms," said Exum.

Sixty-seven percent of professional staff have access to a computer at Crockett Middle School; 92 percent of professional staff have access to a computer at Zavala and 94 percent at Lamar.

Bessie Haynes has 31 percent of professional staff which have access to a computer; Pecos Elementary, 41 percent; Austin Elementary 80 percent; Pecos Kindergarten 41 percent and Barstow Elementary has 100 percent.

In the school statistics, students have access to computer in a four to one ratio.

"That means that we currently have four students to a computer," said Exum. "We're not very far away from the long-range plan of three to one," she said.

Exum said Pecos personnel are excited that this school system is not far off from the state long-range plan.

Exum is a part of a technology committee which has been working on a new technology plan since last year and will present their proposal to the school board on Nov. 13.

"I will present this plan on behalf of the committee and hopefully they will go for it," she said.

Each campus has their own technology plan that closely follows the district plan and hopefully the board will approve each plan.

The committee is composed of at least one representative from each campus, according to Exum.

"We're not very far from our goal and hopefully the board will help us out by approving this long-range plan in which the `dinosaur' computers will be replaced along with purchasing new equipment," said Exum.


EDITOR'S NOTE: Information contained in the Police Report is obtained from reports filed by the Pecos Police Department, Reeves County Sheriff's Office, Texas Department of Public Safety, or other officers of those agencies. The serving of warrants by an officer for outstanding fines of either traffic citations, animal control violations or other court costs are considered arrests and will be printed as such unless indicated that the fines were paid. In such instances we will indicate payment and release.

Luciano Lerma, Jr., 32, Odessa, was arrested at 1:30 a.m. Oct. 11 for public intoxication and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Sally Minjarez, 32, 2213 Limpia Rd., was arrested at 1:30 a.m. Oct. 11 for public intoxication and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The theft of an am-fm/cassette car stereo from a vehicle parked on E. 11th St. was reported at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 16.

Eric Carrasco, 24, was arrested at 2:20 p.m. Sept. 13 at the corner of 15th and Walnut for resisting arrest and public intoxication.

The burglary of a pickup parked on the 500 block of Bois D'Arc was reported at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 18. A cassette/radio car stereo was taken.

Jore Armendariz, 20, 621 S. Pine St., was arrested at 7:40 p.m. Oct. 19 on the 600 block of W. 3rd for public intoxication and minor in possession of alcohol.

Ruben Pando, 22, Monahans, was arrested at 7:40 p.m. Oct. 19 on the 600 block of W. 3rd for public intoxication.

Jerry Alan Benson, 54, Charlotte, NC, was arrested at 6:20 p.m. Oct. 20 at Motel 6 for indecent exposure.

Bobby Joe Harrison was arrested at 4:18 p.m. Oct. 21 about one mile west of Toyah on I-20 for theft over $50 from the Flying J convenience store.


PECOS, Oct. 23, 1997 - High Wednesday 70, low 52, rainfall .36 inch. October total .53 inch, year-to-date 8.83 inches.

Funnel clouds developed in West Texas today as a cold front collided with warm, moist gulf air. But no damage or injuries were reported.

Doppler radar identified one developing tornado southwest of Roby. Another funnel was reported by the National Weather Service south of Colorado City and southwest of Sweetwater.

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