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Thursday, January 14, 1999

City Council briefed on 1998 drug  arrests

Staff Writer
Felony convictions of the 43 defendants arrested during 1998 by the local drug task force ran about 90 percent, narcotics investigator Paul Deishler told the Pecos City Council this morning.

The task force, made up of investigators from the Pecos Police Department and Reeves County Sheriff's Office, executed 42 search warrants and made one undercover buy to score 15 heroin arrests, 14 for cocaine, 17 for marijuana and five for drug paraphernalia.

Property and currency seized totaled $15,498, including the Bill Bechtel residence.

Another eight misdemeanor drug cases were filed by the team, for a total of 51 for the year, Deishler said.

Police Chief Clay McKinney said the team began work in January, 1993 and has recorded 264 arrests in the six years of operation.

"When you work drugs, you may be working 8 percent of the crime in our community," he said, noting that burglaries and thefts often are drug related. "We try to work it as hard as we can."

McKinney said that none of the success can be achieved without team efforts. "It starts with you to allow us the money," he told the council.

Deishler said the number of arrests exceeds those in many other communities, noting that the Ector County Sheriff's Office made only three drug arrests last year.

The city's share of forfeited funds amounted to over $5,000 last year, Deishler said.

Teaming with federal officers, the task force hopes to make cases against some big dealers, Deishler said.

"Another concern I have is a lot of dope showing up at the high school. I don't know how to get to the high school people. They have their own cliques."

Dealers that hang out on street corners and park near the school when classes dismiss for the day may be supplying the students, he said.

Heroin dealers are hard to catch because they hold drug-filled balloons in their mouth and swallow it when an officer approaches, Deishler said. One woman arrested recently was given a substance that forced her to vomit the balloon, he said.

He said anti-drug programs in the schools have no effect at the junior high and high school level, but might work in primary grades. No such programs are in effect at present.

Speaking on behalf of the Police Explorers group, Deishler asked council members to attend their law enforcement basketball tournament this weekend in the Pecos High School gym. Proceeds will be used to buy equipment and uniforms, he said.

Explorers direct traffic on the parking lot at rodeo time and help with festivals and other events, he said.

"They are good kids; they want something to do."

City Manager Kenneth Neal reported that 25 cellular telephones are in use, and that the city can save $2,600 by using Cellular One's pooled minute plan, with Plateau's network as a backup. Presently, each phone has a 100-minute per month call plan, but some employees us only a fraction of that, Neal said.

The council approved the plan after questioning whether all the phones are really necessary.

Neal said he likes for key employees to be accessible at any time in case of emergency.

Water department employees who are on call especially need a cellular phone, said finance officer Steve McCormick.

Wednesday's drop in water pressure at the Reeves County Detention Center is one of the emergencies the water department has to address. Utilities director Octavio Garcia said he and other staff worked throughout the night trying to restore pressure after it dropped about 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Garcia said the six-inch line connecting the RCDC's 12-inch line is not big enough for the expanding prison, and the county may step up construction of a new line and loop to address the problem.

Air gets into the 12-inch line that dead-ends at the prison when water is vacuumed through a four-inch line at Winkles Trucking Co.'s water rack that services the oilfield, Garcia said.

That line is used frequently for bulk water hauling because the city closes its rack at the warehouse after 5 p.m. to save payroll costs, Garcia said.

Near-riot conditions existed at the prison today because of the lack of water, said Councilman Johnny Terrazas, who worked alongside city employees early this morning.

However, Garcia said later that pressure was restored by cutting off the building, then gradually re-opening the valve.

Only one firm out of three grant-writer applicants responded to the city's offer of a contract, said Neal. The council put the matter on the next agenda to consider hiring a grant writer or to share one with the hospital district and/or county.

Ambulance service gets OK on billings

Staff Writer

Pecos Ambulance Service has hired a bookkeeper and purchased software to bill Medicare, Chief Bill Cole reported to the Pecos City Council this morning.

Mayor Dot Stafford said the council and Reeves County Hospital CEO Charles Butts and CFO Richard Mathis agreed to allow the ambulance service to continue billing and collecting for their calls.

The council had worked out an agreement with the hospital staff to begin collecting ambulance fees because collections over the past few years have not been adequate.

Cole and about 10 PAS members attended this morning's meeting to discuss the problem in closed session.

Stafford said after the meeting that a task force has been formed within the department to work on collections, and Jo Ann Dawdy has been hired to do the billing.

Cole agreed that a PAS member will attend council meetings in the future to answer any questions the council has.

In two additional executive sessions, the council evaluated the city secretary, utilities director and health department director, then granted their budgeted raises of 1 1/2 percent.

Stafford said the council will evaluate each department head at six-month intervals and either grant or deny the budgeted increase, based on performance.

No action was taken after discussion of the position of shop foreman, held by Doug Cox.

Cox said he will take disability retirement at the end of this month, Stafford said.

Inmates hot  over lack of water

Staff Writer

Water pressure at the Reeves County Detention Center returned this morning, to the delight of the inmates.

Warden Rudy Franco stated that the Reeves County Detention Center activated its Emergency Response Plan at 3:30 a.m. this morning as a precautionary measure.

Inmates from one unit became frustrated and broke out several light fixtures, according to Franco.

Frustration was traced to low water pressure in the institution since about 5 p.m. the previous evening.

"Measures were taken to provide the inmates with the proper sanitary and drinking water facilities," said Franco.

Water pressure increased and the RCDC's water supply returned to normal at about 10 a.m. today, according to the warden.

PHS senior accepted to Harvard

Staff Writer
A Pecos High School student has achieved a lifelong dream, after she received news that she had been accepted into an Ivy League school.

Alva Alvarez, a senior at Pecos High School, was notified recently that she had been accepted into Harvard under the early action program.

"I was so excited to hear that I had been accepted, it was something I have always dreamed of," said Alvarez.

The early action program is a process in which exceptional students are submitted prior to the selection of the remainder of the class.

"I am really excited about being accepted into Harvard and I hope I will have the chance to go to school there if my family and I can find a way to pay for it," said Alvarez. "It will cost about $33,000 per year for me to go, so I will have to find some way to help pay for my tuition, room and board."

Alvarez has been busy throughout her high school years. She was an ANGEL, (an elementary school mentoring program); a member of the National Honor Society, which she is the president this year; the Gifted and Talented Program; Latin Club, Mu Alpha Theta; debate team; Junior Engineering Technical Society third place Team State Winner in 1998; National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar and the Student Council, serving as vice-president her junior year.

Alvarez is also a member of the Pecos Youth Advisory Commission and a member of St. Catherine's Catholic Church and Youth group. She also has been a member of the Pecos Eagles' varsity golf team the past four years, earning all-district honors and a regional berth in 1998 by placing fourth in the District 4-4A Tournament.

She is the daughter of Alvaro G. and Luz Alvarez of Pecos and has one sister, Jenny, a sophomore at Pecos High School.

Alvarez stated that she believes in giving her all, 100 percent.

"I've always believed that in everything you do, you should give everything of yourself and that's what I plan to do," said Alvarez, who plans to enter law school after graduation from college.

Jury gives woman no salvation for story

Staff Writer
Stephanie Ann Carrasco's account of a trip to Mexico in November to celebrate All Soul's Day at the grave of her husband's grandmother made a federal court jury think twice Wednesday before convicting her of importing and possessing marijuana.

The 32-year-old Amarillo resident said she went to Mexico at the request of her estranged husband to visit his family near Ojinaga and to go to his grandmother's grave on Nov. 2.

Taking their 3-year-old daughter, "so she could know her grandparents," Carrasco drove to Ojinaga on Nov. 1 and stayed overnight in a hotel. The next day, she contacted his relatives, and a man named Sergio came over and told her to follow him to the ranch where her husband had grown up.

Leaving her Blazer for Sergio to use, Carrasco went to the gravesite on the ranch with her in-laws and spent the day. At dark, they returned to the ranch house, where Sergio directed her to a "shorter" route home via a low-water crossing over the Rio Grande near El Mulato, downstream from Ojinaga.

Traveling north on Texas Highway 118, Carrasco was stopped for an immigration check at a Border Patrol checkpoint 13 miles south of Alpine.

There officers found bundles of marijuana inside the back seat, which had been cut open, and near the tailgate. The gross weight was 91.84 pounds.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Brigman prosecuted for the government, and Eva Marie Leahy represented Carrasco.

Jurors deliberated for almost three hours before returning a guilty verdict on both counts just before 7 p.m.

In an unrelated trial that began this morning, Emma Torres-Sandoval, 35, of Carlsbad, N.M. is accused of possessing 143.8 pounds of marijuana on Nov. 8, 1998. Her attorney is public defender Kurt Mayer.

Poison  murder story airing Saturday

Former Enterprise publisher Mac McKinnon has gained some fame with his non-fiction book, "Poison for Profit."

"The New Detectives" series on the Discovery Channel (Cable Ch. 31 in Pecos) will air a piece on forensic sciences this Saturday that includes information from the book. The show first was broadcast Jan. 1 and will air on Saturday at 10 p.m. CST.

In the book, McKinnon writes about a murder trial he covered in San Angelo as a young reporter, detailing the lives of numerous people involved with both the victim and the accused murderer.

Classic planning for changes, rate hike

Staff Writer
Ben Hernandez, operations manager for Classic Cable, told the Pecos City Council this morning that some changes will be made in the system over the coming months to improve service.

"Additional technology has become available, and we want to put it into place in Pecos," Hernandez said. "And the preview guide will be updated to show all channels."

"Will this affect our rates?" asked councilman Ricky Herrera.

Hernandez said the driving force behind rates is not technology, but operating costs such insurance rates for employees, maintaining vehicles.

"Yes, channel additions do have some impact, but it doesn't coincide with rate increases," he said. "We are looking at some rate increases for this year. The council should be getting some information pretty quick."

Councilman Gerald Tellez asked if Pecos would expect better reception on Fox Channel 8, which carries the Dallas Cowboy football games.

"You guys put me on the spot every time I come down here about Channel 8," Hernandez said. "I just wish you would tell me to take it off. Gomez Peak shuts down, and we get shut down."

He said that a national feed of the Fox network might carry the Cowboys games occasionally, but the local Fox station (KPEJ) would still have the right to block national programming for most of the day.


High Wednesday 62; low last night 32. Tonight, mostly clear. Low 25-30. Light wind. Friday, mostly sunny and warmer. High near 70. Southwest wind 10-20 mph.

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