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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Friday, January 15, 1999

Hearing delay approved in Bigham murder case

Staff Writer
District Judge Bob Parks' docket moved quickly this morning, with several defendants pleading not guilty, two failing to show up, and a murder suspect opting for more time to prepare for trial.

Christopher John Bigham, 36, is charged with murdering his girlfriend, Lora Ann Brooks, on Dec. 1, 1997, by shooting her with a gun on their ranchette north of Pecos. He was extradited from Washington State in September to stand trial.

Defense attorney Adrian Chavez of Odessa had filed a motion for bond reduction, and Texas Ranger Jerry Villalobos was on hand today to testify for the state. However, after discussions between Chavez and District Attorney Randy Reynolds, and then between Chavez and Bigham, they put off the hearing to give Chavez time to seek a psychological evaluation of his client.

Trial was set for Feb. 1, but has been postponed until March.

Hector Pando Jr. and Eva Franco Lozano failed to appear for court on charges of selling drugs. Judge Parks issued a capias for their arrest and increased the amount of bond.

Across the street in federal court, visiting judge Sam Sparks of Austin completed a week of trials when the jury found Emma Torres-Sandoval guilty of importing and possessing marijuana for distribution.

Torres, 35, of Carlsbad, N.M., was tried in absentia when she failed to appear for court. Her attorney, public defender Kurt Mayer, offered no defense testimony.

Jeff Parras called several witnesses for the government, and both sides closed at 1:40 p.m. After final arguments and the charge, the jury deliberated a short time before returning a guilty verdict at 4:09 p.m.

PHA OKs deal on day care window repair

Contributing Writer
Pecos Housing Authority board members discussed repair work needed on the Pecos Day Care Center building and co-payment of new windows for it during their regular monthly meeting Thursday afternoon.

The board also studied an increase in the maintenance wage rate, and turning over collection losses to Tenant Tracker for fiscal year 1998 during the meeting.

The Day Care Center repairs discussed by the board focused on 20 windows needed to be replaced at a cost of about $1,000. The East 10th Street building formally housed a day care center run by the Community Council of Reeves County, and the PHA was at odds over which group would pair for the window repairs.

Under the compromise agreement the PHA made with the community council representative, each group will pay half of the $1,000 amount.

The PHA decided to turn over all collections of all delinquent rent payments to Tenant Tracker. "The thing is, they (renters) sign an agreement," said PHA chairman Frank Perea about the need to collect unpaid rents.

Nellie Gomez, PHA executive director, said that the eviction process is used if the non-payers are still not out after 30 days. Board member Ken Winkles added that the housing authority will get good results from Tenant Tracker.

The board also went over their monthly income and expense report, accounts payable, and occupancy report for December and January.

The income and expense report, dated Jan.14, showed PHA revenues exceeded the expenses by $121,602. Accounts payable showed the PHA's total expenses last month were $11,324,67, while the vacancy report showed that there are nine assigned apartments in that group and 23 other vacant apartments.

In addition, the board approved the minutes of the previous meeting, reviewed the CIAP 96 update, approved the audit report for fiscal year 1998, and approved the CIAP 98 scope of work.

Board members said they may hold a special meeting on Tuesday to discuss how they are going to spend the latest grant money PHA has received. Fencing of area around the apartments is being considered by board members.

"I'd like to see us fence the east side (apartments) first," said Perea, "We have a lot of traffic out there. Those people have no privacy at all."

Stock show judging set to begin

Weigh-ins were held Thursday and judging will begin this afternoon for the annual Reeves-Loving County Junior Livestock Show and Sale at the Reeves County Civic Center.

Goats will be the first shown at the Civic Center today, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Steers will then be shown at 5:30 and lambs at 6:30 p.m.

Saturday is hog show day, with the first class entering the ring at 8:30 a.m. After the show, a barbecue will be offered at $5 per adult plate from 5 to 6:45 p.m. The premium sale will follow, starting at 7 p.m. in the Civic Center, with Dallas Upton as auctioneer, courtesy of Lovington Livestock.

With 109 4-H and FFA members showing 286 animals, the show promises to be one of the best.

Steve Armstrong will announce the show, and judges are Chad Thomas of San Angelo, goat and lamb; Greg Jones of Levelland, steer; and Geoff Cooper of Denver City, hog.

Hugh and Gail Box, with Herb Stewart & Company, will prepare the barbecue. They also offer homemade cobblers for dessert. Children 10 and under may eat for $3 each.

Sale chairman Ray Owen has asked that anyone who has not been asked to buy an animal or to contribute to a pool to help buy an animal to talk with any livestock committee member.

"Every dollar you pledge helps support the animal projects of these young people," Owen said. "We take pledges of any amount."

Last year, the sale was able to purchase animals for 80 youth. Security State Bank paid the top price of $2,200 for Courtney Clark's grand champion steer. The sale total was $53,000.

Bailey Wheeless and Rick Bracy of Pecos, and Bob Bagley of Balmorhea, are FFA advisers. C.W. Roberts is 4-H adviser.

P-B-T studying consolidation of elementaries

Staff Writer
Seven months after closing its Barstow Elementary campus as a cost-saving measure, a preliminary study is being considered by Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board members on closing Pecos Elementary and consolidating its third grade students at Austin Elementary.

"This is just a preliminary report, something we're looking into and nothing definite," said P-B-T ISD superintendent Don Love, at Tuesday's regular school board meeting.

Joe Coody, maintenance supervisor for the district updated board members on the study, which involved getting quotes on portable buildings that would have to be put at Austin Elementary to handle the new students.

All first and second graders in P-B-T currently attend Austin Elementary, while Pecos Elementary the district's oldest school building with the closing of Barstow Elementary is used by third graders.

"I have reviewed the quotes I received for portable class rooms, these quotes were compiled from three companies and were given to me between June 1998 and October 1998, Love said, while Coody explained that these quotes were standard 30-day quotes and are no longer binding. However, these quotes should still be effective for budgetary purposes, he added.

"I have visited with Mr. (Austin principal Beau Jack) Hendrick and he feels that he would need a total of eight new classrooms to house all needs, if Pecos Elementary was consolidated with Austin Elementary," said Coody. "He would also need two small offices (portable building) for the counselor and PIP, and would like to have one small portable for the P.E. coach."

"I have not addressed the needs for the offices per se at this time, I will investigate those needs at a later date if consolidation becomes eminent," said Coody.

Coody explained in detail the portable buildings, size, shape and cost to board members.

Coody also outlined the estimated cost savings on utilities. "My estimated actual savings on utilities if consolidation takes place is $18,500," he said.

"It is obvious that there would be cost savings involving utilities if consolidation did occur. However, of course some of these funds would still have to be used at Austin Elementary," said Coody.

Barstow Elementary was closed in June 1997, and its first through fifth grade students are now being bused to Austin, Pecos and Bessie Haynes elementaries. School board members voted four months later to allow Head Start classes to use the Barstow facility.

Buyer sought for Alpine-Presidio rail link

South Orient Railway Co., which announced plans last year to abandon its line west of Coleman, will attempt to sell the section between Alpine and the Rio Grande crossing at Presidio, the company announced Wednesday.

Brownwood-based South Orient, which was formed after the Santa Fe Railroad decided to abandon its line from Fort Worth to Presidio in the late 1980s, said in a press release it intends to sell its United States-Mexico rail gateway at Presidio, consisting of 83.7 miles of line from the middle of the international rail bridge, at Presidio, to the Union Pacific Railroad interchange at Alpine.

The 83.7 mile total includes 11.4 miles of track assignment to South Orient of line operated by Union Pacific. South Orient went to court to gain trackage rights to the line from its former owner, Southern Pacific Railroad, back in 1991. But after winning the suit South Orient was never able to attract other railroad companies to use the line, which parallels U.S. 67 from Presidio between the border and Coleman, near Brownwood.

The company was able to sell the Coleman-Fort Worth section of it's line last year.

Union Pacific acquired Southern Pacific's New Orleans-to-Los Angeles line through a merger three years ago, adding it to the company's other east-west route that runs through Pecos. UP also acquired connections to Mexico through Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley with the Southern Pacific merger.

South Orient had hoped to attract Burlington Northern Railroad to use its route between Fort Worth and Mexico in the early 1990s, but that fell through when Burlington bought the Santa Fe, giving the company a connection into Mexico at El Paso.

South Orient filed a notice last year to abandon the line running from Coleman southwest through San Angelo and Fort Stockton to Presidio, but the move was rejected and the company was told to continue to seek a buyer for the remaining sections of the route.

South Orient officials said its Presidio crossing connects with a line operated, as of February 1998, by Ferrocarril Mexicano, S.A. de C.V. ("Ferromex"), which is a newly privatized Mexican railroad owned and controlled by Grupo Ferroviario Mexicano, S.A. de C.V. ("GFM").

GFM entered into an agreement with the Government of the United Mexican States in August, 1997 to buy out the state-run rail line that includes a route from Ojinaga, Mexico through Chihuaha and on to the Port of Topolobampo on the west coast of Mexico. West Texas and Mexican officials have sought to create an international highway along the same route, in an effort to create a shorter route from Mexico's west coast to the Central and Eastern United States.

South Orient officials said their gateway at Presidio is one of only seven rail gateways along the entire United States-Mexico border, and the only gateway not controlled by a United States Class 1 railroad. They added that anyone interested in buying the line should contact General Manager Roy D. Williams (915-643-6476) by Monday, February 1, to register to receive an information memorandum when it is released.

A hi-rail trip for all registered bidders will be conducted in early February.

King birthday closings set by local offices

Monday is a federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King's birthday, which is today.

Both banks, federal state, county and city offices will close Monday. Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD schools, which were off today due to the Reeves-Loving Livestock Show, will also be closed on Monday.

The Enterprise will publish as usual on Monday.


High Thursday 54; low last night 21. Tonight, clear. Low in the lower 30s. Southwest wind 5-15 mph. Saturday, partly cloudy and warm. High in the mid 70s. West to northwest wind 10-20 mph.

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