March 25, 1998
City, school, hospital candidates speak
By RICK L. SMITH
PECOS, March 25, 1998 - Seven local political candidates
spoke to a crowd of about 40 during the Pecos Business and
Professional Women's Club Meet the Candidates forum last
Thirteen candidates are seeking election or re-election to
offices in local city, school and hospital elections to be
held May 2.
Pecos City Mayor Dot Stafford seeks to retain her position
and is opposed by Robert Hernandez.
"I've been in education for 28 years," Hernandez said. "I'm
very interested in my community. I don't own the community
but that's how important it is to me."
Hernandez told the audience that Pecos is in desperate need
of new water fields and the current water line to the city
is in need of repair.
"Infrastructure is very important to any city," he said.
"Without a good water and sewer system we cannot attract new
business to Pecos. The community needs to come together to
bring new business to the city."
Hernandez said the city needs to pursue more grants to help
fund needed projects.
Stafford has been the Pecos mayor for the past four years
and was on the city council for nine years. She has been on
Governor Bush's State Review Committee for the past two
years, is secretary for the 143rd Judicial District
Community Council and is on the Pecos Economic Development
"While I've been mayor we have decreased the tax rate by two
cents to 69 cents," Stafford said. "And in the past four
years we have spent $1 million to improve our water."
Stafford went on to say that the city has completed phase
one in an $8 million water improvement project and has
drilled one water well that has better water than the
"I have retired from First National Bank and will work
full-time as mayor," Stafford said.
City council incumbents Ricky Herrera and Danny Rodriguez
"Pecos City is doing well because of efforts of community
involvement," Rodriguez said. "We need to hear from you
because we are here to serve you."
Herrera said he felt there were five main issues facing the
city: 1. Pecos has one of the highest tax rates in Texas; 2.
The city needs to bring in more business to lower the
unemployment rate; 3. City beautification projects need to
continue; 4. Youth problems need to be addressed; 5. The
infrastructure needs improvement.
Of the five candidates for the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school
board, only two attended the forum, although one of those
absentees sent a representative.
"Louis Matta is highly qualified to serve on the school
board," said Juanita Davila. "Louis is open minded,
dependable and will put the children first."
Davila said Matta had previously served on the school board
and currently owns Desert Rentals and Sales and West Texas
Finance in Pecos.
"Louis' background in finances will help with solving many
of the problems facing the school board," she said.
Brent Shaw said the current PBT school board has taken very
positive actions in the past several months, but may tend to
get too involved in the day-to-day operations of the
Shaw said that the most important issue facing the school
district is that "all the children deserve the best
education we can provide and we cannot let them down."
Frank Rodriguez said if elected to the PBT board he would be
open minded and listen to people's problems. Rodriguez said
teacher pay was an important issue facing the district.
"Why can't we pay our teachers more?" he asked. "I don't
know. Why can't we budget so teachers get more pay? A lot of
good teachers don't come here because they wouldn't get paid
PBT school board candidates Earl Bates and Frank Perea did
not attend the forum or send representatives.
For the three seats up for election on the Reeves County
Hospital District Board, only one candidate attended the
"The current hospital board is doing great," unopposed
incumbent Greg Luna said. "In 1995 the hospital district had
to borrow money to pay employees. Since then we have turned
the situation around. In addition, we have replaced old
equipment and bought an ambulance and pickup. The board has
a vision for Reeves County."
Hospital district Precinct 3 incumbent Jesus Prieto and his
challenger Mike Stallard, along with Precinct 1 unopposed
candidate Chel Flores, did not attend the forum.
Early voting is from April 15 to April 28 at the Pecos
Community Center. Election day is May 2.
Monahans meteorites taken for testing
By ROSIE FLORES
MONAHANS, March 25, 1998 - Two rocks found in Monahans and
believed to be meteorites are now in Houston for testing and
further observation, according to Monahans Police Captain
Officials from both NASA and the Smithsonian Institute
contacted the Monahans Police Department expressing their
interest in the rocks believed to have come from a meteorite
which lit up the sky across West Texas as it fell to earth
Sunday evening, according to Watts.
The first rock was found Sunday evening, while the second
one was found Monday as a deputy was enroute to the site
where the first one was found.
"Dr. Edward Gibson, with NASA, was here and took the
meteorites back to Houston for a 60-day examining and
testing period," said Watts.
After the 60-day period the rocks will be returned to
Monahans, according to Watts.
"Basically, they landed in the roadway, in the city of
Monahans, so they belong to the city," said Watts.
Watts stated that city officials are trying to set up a
display case and will include the names of the youngsters
who found the first rock.
"We want to give them some kind of recognition," said Watts.
Residents across the area reported hearing a `boom' which
lasted for about five seconds, and others saw a streak of
light travel from southeast to northwest about 7 p.m. Sunday.
A four-inch piece of rock, believed to be a meteorite,
landed about 30 yards from a group of youngsters playing
basketball on the north side of Monahans, while a second,
slightly larger rock, was found by a Ward County Sheriff's
Deputy at a nearby site.
The first rock was brought into the police station shortly
after it was discovered. The second rock was found about 800
feet away, embedded in the roadway. "It's a little bit
larger than the first one, but other than that, it looks
about the same," said Watts.
Watts said the department was called out to the scene after
a group of youngsters reported something falling from the
These rocks are actually not that valuable except for
"Dr. Gibson told us that had we waited to have these rocks
The freshness of the rocks, since they had just fallen from
"He said since they were so fresh we could get more
According to Gibson, both rocks could be valued up to
"Titanic" inspires three students
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, March 25, 1998 - Three Zavala Middle School students
were so inspired by the Oscar winning movie and ship
"Titanic" that they made a model of the sea-going vessel as
a school project.
"They're assignment was to build something with easily
obtainable materials," said middle school teacher Kim
McBride stated that the idea of the project stemmed from a
book the class had been reading titled, Keplik, the Match
"In the book, Keplik makes things out of match sticks, he
even made (a model of) the Brooklyn bridge," said McBride.
Phillip Salcido, Lara Weinacht and Kimberly Olivas, decided
that they wanted to make a model of the Titanic after seeing
the movie and liking it so much.
"We wanted to make a project that was really nice and we all
really like the movie," said Salcido.
Salcido and Weinacht have worked on other projects together
and all three say they plan other projects together in the
It took about four days to complete the huge model ship,
which looks remarkably like the ship depicted in the movie.
"The last day we didn't finish until 12:45 a.m., but we
wanted to finish it that day," said Salcido.
The students used chicken wire for the base of the ship,
paper mache, cardboard boxes, a panel of wood, paper towel
rolls and construction paper to make up the body. Cotton
balls were used as smoke coming out from the stacks and a
plastic blue curtain represents the ocean.
"These classes give you projects right and left, but we
enjoy doing them," said Salcido.
All three students are honor students at the school and
involved in extracurricular activities.
Salcido is also a member of the band, where he plays the
coronet. He also runs track and likes sports and music.
"I also like to play Nintendo," said Salcido.
Weinacht is a member of the band, where she plays the
"I love school and I like getting involved," said Weinacht.
"I just like a little bit of everything," she said.
After her school activities she stated that she doesn't have
much spare time left and when she does she enjoys spending
time with her friends.
Olivas is also a member of the band and plays the clarinet.
She enjoys getting involved in all aspects of school
activities and stated that she enjoys, "hanging out with
"I also enjoy playing in sports," said Olivas.
More than 500 pounds of marijuana seized
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, March 25, 1998 - One individual transporting more
than 500 pounds of marijuana didn't bother to conceal it
very well, according to Permian Basing Drug Task Force
Commander Tom Finley.
Javier Rodriguez, 20 years old, of Hagerman, N.M. was
arrested for possession of more than 50 pounds of marijuana
but less than 2,000 pounds and was transported to the Ward
County Jail in Monahans yesterday.
Rodriguez was pulled over after drug task force officer
Robert Martin noticed his Chevy Suburban weave off the road.
"I don't know if he was weaving because he spotted Martin or
because the smell had gotten to him," said Finley.
Finley stated that the marijuana was stored loosely in the
back of the Suburban.
"Martin walked up to the suburban and was asking for his
driver's license and insurance when he smelled it, and
spotted the marijuana in the back," said Finley. "Part of it
was covered with a blanket, but most of it could be seen,
just by standing by the vehicle," he said.
"Martin said he could smell it as soon as the driver opened
his window," said Finley.
During the search, about 500 pounds of suspected marijuana
valued at $332,000 was seized.
Rodriguez was stopped just four miles outside of Monahans,
at mile marker 86.
"This is the second largest drug bust this year (in the
Permian Basin), the first one was in February, where 700
pounds were confiscated," said Finley.
This makes 990 pounds of marijuana confiscated so far this
month, according to Finley.
"I know this shipment was enroute to Odessa, but to where or
who we don't know," said Finley.
Dogs make effective tool for U.S. Border Patrol
BY PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, March 25, 1998 - Leo the drug-sniffing dog circled
the jury assembly room in the federal courthouse Tuesday,
alerting to the scent of marijuana hidden underneath one of
Passing a table laden with cake and cookies, Leo searched
the room for the "toy" he believed he was smelling.
Air-conditioning vents wafted the scent around the room,
making it difficult to pinpoint its source.
Passing down one aisle, Leo sniffed his way past court
support personnel gathered to watch the performance they had
so often heard described in trial testimony.
After several passes, Leo homed in on the baggie, settling
back on his hindquarters and barking when he knew he had
found his toy. Luis Barrera, who held his Belgian Shepherd's
leash and observed his every move during the search, leaned
close to the bench and let a chewable toy slip out of his
coat sleeve for Leo to gnaw on as a reward.
Barrera explained before the search that he has to be
careful not to let the dog see him taking the toy out of his
sleeve so he will believe it was the source of the odor he
Such dogs find marijuana, heroin, cocaine and people hidden
inside false compartments, gas tanks, truck trailers,
vehicle tires and any number of locations, said Barrera.
Sometimes the contraband is packaged so tightly and masked
by another odor that the agents are unable to smell it. But
the dogs usually can, except in rare cases, said Barrera's
partner, Loraine Hollenbeck.
The duo are stationed in Alpine, and often are called to
check suspicious vehicles and other locations for contraband.
Barrera said he watches Leo's ears and nose as he searches.
"You think of it as a gun," Barrera said. "When a vehicle
comes up and he sniffs up in the air, you know the
contraband is high. If he sniffs down, it is low."
The scent spreads in a cone shape from the target location,
he said. If the wind is blowing, the dog may alert with his
ears at the rear of a vehicle when the contraband is under
the hood. But when he locates the source, he will indicate
the location by sitting still. Some will bark, as Leo does,
while others will scratch or bite at the source of the scent.
Barrera said the dog is only a tool, and the handler must
interpret his actions to determine where the contraband is
"Too many people depend on the dog," he said.
Agents have a new laser scope they can put inside a gas tank
to view the interior and find sealed packets that dogs
cannot detect, Hollenbeck said.
"It lights up the area, and you can see packages when the
dogs miss it," she said.
INS Inspector Henry Gamboa of El Paso said that he becomes
suspicious of a traveler who arrives at the port of entry
sweating in cold weather or dressed in a coat when it is
"super hot" outside.
Suspected smugglers are sent to a secondary area where their
vehicles may be inspected thoroughly for contraband. Customs
uses smaller dogs than the Belgian Shepherd so they can get
into smaller places, and they do not frighten people, Gamboa
Barrera said the dogs are aggressive with people only when
they see their master attacked.
"We want them to be aggressive toward the toy, but not with
people," he said.
To test a young dog for suitability before training begins,
the agent will throw a toy and have the dog fetch it. After
numerous throws, when the dog is tired and thirsty, the
trainer will throw the toy past water. If the dog stops to
get a drink, he is sent back to the contractor who provided
him, Barrera said.
Leo lives with Barrera and his family. Despite his $10,000
price tag, the dog would be retired if his handler were
transferred to another position.
Hollenbeck said she has applied for a dog, and is in line to
receive the next one that becomes available.
Hollenbeck and Barrera often take Leo to area schools to
acquaint students with his work.
City council meets tomorrow
PECOS, March 25, 1998 - The City Council of the Town of
Pecos City will meet at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow in the City
Council Chambers to discuss problems with Classic Cable
outages; leasing of the service station on US 285, south of
I20, to Wes Tex Waste Services, Inc.; and to proclaim March
28 "Leadership Awareness Day" in recognition of Saturday's
John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Student Forum.
Also on the agenda are the monthly reports from the tax
collector's office, municipal court, Pecos Ambulance
Service, and city financials and accounts payable.
Community Council meets Thursday
PECOS, March 25, 1998 - The Community Council of Reeves
County will hold its regular monthly meeting of the board of
directors at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 26, at the Pyote
After approval of the minutes of the Feb. 26 meeting, five
items of old business will be discussed -a Head Start
update, a board vacancy for the private sector, indigent
care, day care and the Pecos Housing Authority.
There will be two closed sessions during the meeting, one
for an executive director evaluation and one to discuss a
Personnel policy, program reports, and a financial report
from Card, Graham & Co. are the other items on the agenda
Members of the public are encouraged to attend the meeting
and address the board on any of the agenda items.
PECOS, March 25, 1998 - High Tuesday, 94, low this morning,
51. The pleasant weather will continue across Texas tonight
and Thursday, but most areas will have windy conditions. It
will be partly cloudy and breezy with pleasant temperatures
forecast across all of Texas tonight and Thursday. It will
be partly cloudy in West Texas tonight and partly cloudy and
windy on Thursday. Lows tonight will be in the 40s and 50s
in West Texas, highs Thursday will be in the 70s and 80s
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