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January 29, 1999

Laney promotes Walker, demotes Craddick

From Staff and Wire Reports

While one West Texas Republican has lost his committee chairmanship in the Texas Legislature, State Representative Gary L. Walker has been given one of his own by House Speaker Pete Laney.

The Hale Center Democrat appointed Walker (R-Plains) to serve as chair of the Land and Resource Management Committee. Walker also retains his membership on the Natural Resources Committee under Laney's new assignments.

Walker, was first elected as District 80 representative in 1994, was the only third-term member to receive a chairmanship. His district includes Reeves County and other counties along the Texas-New Mexico border stretching up into the South Plains.

"I am honored by these appointments," said Walker. "I appreciate Speaker Laney showing such confidence in me. I intend to work hard, not only to prove his confidence is appreciated, but to show that West Texas know the value of hard work," he said.

he House Committee on Land and Resource Management has oversight of: the management of public lands, the power of eminent domain, and annexation, zoning and other governmental regulation of land use.

The House Committee on Natural Resources has oversight: land and water conservation, water usage, irrigation, reclamation and water supply districts, and the control and development of land and water resources.

"It also has jurisdiction over a few state agencies, including the General Land Office," said Walker.

"Honestly, I didn't anticipate the honor of becoming a committee chairman, but I am excited about the opportunity to work closely with the other eight committee members as well as the House leadership. Serving on Natural Resources will allow me to continue to work hard for the issues that are important to the citizens of my district, I know that water issues are important, and promise to represent your interests well," he said.

While Walker was elevated by Laney in his appointments on Thursday, state Republican leaders are crying foul over other committee assignments, including those given to Midland Republican Tom Craddick.

Rep. Rene Oliviera, D-Brownsville, will replace Craddick, R-Midland, as the head of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

"He (Laney) has invoked partisanship on to the House floor today," Craddick, who had headed the committee for six years, said of Laney.

Craddick attributed the demotion to his work to get more Republicans elected. He also has been considered a leading contender to replace Laney as speaker if the GOP gains a House majority in the future.

Committee chairpersons wield extensive power over legislation assigned to their committee and are instrumental in deciding whether a bill lives or dies.

Laney didn't specifically address whether partisanship influenced his decisions. But he said some committee heads had been replaced "with talented members who have shown the kind of leadership that I believe is needed in the House Ï leadership that is committed to working with all members of the House and the Senate and the governor _ leadership that brings people together for the best interests of all of our citizens."

Democrats, who hold a 78-72 edge in the 150-seat chamber, now lead 23 of the House's 36 permanent committees. A nine-member select committee appointed to consider a constitutional rewrite will be headed by Rep. Joe Driver, R-Garland.

"I have tried to accommodate the requests made by each member as much as possible and to apply the talents and interests of each member to their best use," said Laney, of Hale Center.

"The major objective of any speaker is to ensure that the work of the House gets done in an orderly manner while giving every member an opportunity to contribute to the process."

"Pete Laney and the Democratic Party seem intent on bring Washington D.C. style partisan politics to the Texas Legislature," said Susan Weddington, Republican Party chair.

She pointed to the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee, where Republicans hold only eight of 27 seats, and the Calendars Committee, where they have four of 11 seats. The Calendars Committee decides which bills reach the House floor for debate.

On the Public Education Committee, only two of the nine members are Republican.

"The political season apparently did not end on Nov. 3 for Speaker Laney," Ms. Weddington said. "The Speaker's politically motivated committee assignments ran contrary to Republican hopes of having a bipartisan session."

Walker stated that a priority for this session should be for members to work together in a bipartisan manner. "Gov. Bush had it right when he pointed out that the national spotlight is on Texas now, and that we have a chance to show the rest of the United States what government in our state is all about," said Walker, referring to Wednesday's State of the State address by the governor.

Texas is unique because of our limited government, which meets only 140 days every two years, Walker said. "It is our job this session to put partisan politics aside and show the rest of the country that we have something bigger that unites us - we're all Texans," he added.

Walker noted that one of the issues Bush is focusing on is education, and helping Texas school children gain the tools they will need to be successful.

"I agree with Gov. Bush that education should be a top priority for the legislature this year," said Walker.

Psychiatric testing ordered for Bigham

See Photo Bigham
Staff Writer

PECOS, Jan. 29, 1999 - District Judge Bob Parks this morning ordered a psychiatric examination for murder defendant Christopher John Bigham.

Bigham is charged with shooting his girlfriend, Lora Ann Brooks, on Dec. 1, 1997. His attorney, Adrian Chavez, filed notice that he may raise the insanity defense at trial and requested the exam.

Judge Parks said the Fort Worth psychiatrist would determine only whether Bigham was sane at the time of the alleged offense. He warned Bigham that if he does raise the insanity defense, the psychiatrist may testify about her conversations with him, and the written report may be made part of the evidence.

"Unless you raise the insanity defense, the results of the examination would not be admitted at trial," Judge Parks told Bigham.

Chavez, who has also filed a motion to suppress Bigham's confession, stipulated that the written transcription of the taped statement is accurate.

Judge Parks said the question of whether the statement is admissible is one of law and, to a large extent, interpretation of the code of criminal procedure. Chavez and District Attorney Randy Reynolds are to submit briefs on the law by Feb. 12. Trial is set for March.

Bigham left his ranchette north of Pecos after Brooks disappeared, moving with her daughters to Washington state. District Attorney Randy Reynolds obtained a murder indictment against Bigham and had him extradited from Washington. He has been in Reeves County Jail since September, 1998.

Chavez also filed a motion to suppress a statement made by Bigham that he shot Brooks after she stuck a pistol in his back and threatened to shoot him. He said he burned her body in a barrel, then disposed of the remains in a dumpster in Pecos.

A Texas Department of Public Safety dive team found a barrel in the Pecos River where Bigham said he put the burn barrel. Analysis of its contents supported Bigham's story, Reynolds said.

Texas Ranger Jerry Villalobos said

Suspects jailed on fugitive warrants

Staff Writer

U.S. Magistrate Judge Stuart Platt on Thursday held an identity hearing for Jesus Rodriguez, 43, of Odessa, and ordered him returned to Abilene on federal fugitive warrants.

Rodriguez was arrested Wednesday when Department of Public Safety Trooper Darren Storer of Monahans stopped his pickup on Interstate 20 for defective equipment and expired tags.

When a license check turned up the warrants, Rodriguez was arrested and taken to Ward County Jail. Further search of the vehicle turned up two semi automatic rifles hidden under the vehicle, Storer said. Rodriguez was searched and officers found an alleged user amount of cocaine on his person.

Judge Platt revoked bail for Felicitas Gonzales de Castillo, 39, of Fort Worth. Gonzales was also arrested on a fugitive warrant after violating terms of her pre-trial release a year ago.

She is charged with importing and possessing marijuana with intent to distribute; conspiracy to import and possess marijuana and to cause and attempt entry by an alien at a place not designated a port of entry; to elude examination and to defraud the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Gonzales was arrested Nov. 21, 1996 when she drove a pickup containing marijuana from Mexico into the Presidio Port of Entry. She claimed she did not know the marijuana was in the pickup, and that she was taking the truck to Marfa to a man she had been living with for nine years — Arturo Pena.

Pena has no citizenship papers, she said. They were to travel to Fort Worth together, and he had given her $1,100 to travel to Fort Worth.

Gonzales had posted $1,500 in cash on her $15,000 bail set by U.S. Magistrate Judge Katherine Baker of Alpine.

Judge Platt revoked that bail and ordered Gonzales held for trial.

Cold front drops snow north, west of Pecos

Staff Writer

Snow fell to the north and west of Pecos this morning, but a low temperature of 35 degrees produced only misting rain here and to the east.

A reported whiteout at Loving, N.M. closed roads in the area, and reports were that numerous roads around Carlsbad, N.M. were closed early today.

Gary Ingram said Toyah had received about an inch of snow by 5:30 a.m., when he left for Pecos. A thunderstorm at 4:30 a.m. contained some sleet, he said, and the snow followed.

The cold front kicked up dust Thursday night, after a high of 60 was recorded for the day.

Jodi McElroy said this morning that snow was falling in the mountains south and west of Balmorhea, but none fell in Balmorhea. Fort Davis also reported no snow and no rain.

Greg Harmon said he drove from Odessa to Pecos this morning in a steady drizzle.

Further to the Eagles, The Associated Press reported that thunderstorms produced an inch or two of rain per hour in parts of Texas early today, resulting in flooding that closed some roads and washed out at least one bridge.

Several streets in Crockett, 140 miles southeast of Dallas, were under six inches of water, and a 20-foot gap washed out of the Lake Creek Bridge on U.S. 287 in Anderson County, 10 miles northwest of Palestine. Crockett is in Houston County, which adjoins Anderson County on the south.

High water also was reported on Highway 21 southwest of Crockett.

U.S. Highway 84 was closed at the railroad tracks west of Teague in Freestone County, to the west of Anderson and Houston counties.

A flash flood warning was issued for Hunt and Delta counties, about 60 miles northeast of Dallas. Others were issued for counties from Denton to Fort Worth, Corsicana, Mexia and Marlin. Others covered southeast Texas areas from Palestine to Crockett, Lake Livingston and Huntsville.

Freezing rain and snow were reported in the Panhandle, along with winds that gusted to 20 mph and above.

A mixed bag of weather was noted along with some icy roads in the Panhandle, northern South Plains and the low Rolling Plains. Freezing rain with embedded thunderstorms was reported across the Panhandle.

Temperatures across West Texas at 4 a.m. ranged from 31 at Amarillo to 41 at El Paso.

The National Weather Service said an upper-level low front would move across the Panhandle today, spreading a band of heavy snow. A wintry mix of precipitation is expected over the Permian Basin, Big Country, Concho Valley and northern Edwards Plateau.

Highs today were expected to be in the 30s over most of the Panhandle and South Plains with lows tonight and Saturday in the 20s and 30s and highs Saturday in the 30s and 40s north and 40s and 50s south.

Sleet or freezing rain was expected for much of the region today, changing to snow by mid or late morning. Snow could be heavy at times, with heavy accumulations at times. Total snow accumulations of 3 to 5 inches are possible, with locally higher amounts possible.

A chance of light snow continues on Saturday with snow ending by mid-afternoon.

Warm temperatures and cloudy skies persisted over south Texas overnight. A few showers and thunderstorms were moving across northern sections. The southeast winds kept temperatures in the 60s and low 70s at most locations except for a few 50s and upper 40s over the hill country. Patchy fog was also reported.

Temperatures at 4 a.m. ranged from 48 at Junction to 72 at Corpus Christi and Port Isabel.

Eagles' games in El Paso area still scheduled

The Pecos Eagles' boys and girls basketball teams were still planning to make their trip as scheduled to El Paso for tonight's games against the Canutillo Eagles. The varsity games are set for 7 and 8:30 p.m. CST.

Interstates 20 and 10 are open between western Reeves County and El Paso, though snow was reported in the mountains around Balmorhea early this morning. However, fans planning to drive back to Pecos tonight should be aware of possible icing on roads, especially between Van Horn and the I-10/I-20 junction 40 miles west of Pecos. Up to an inch of snow is in the forecast for the Trans-Pecos area tonight.

Police Report

EDITOR'S NOTE: Information contained in the Police Report is obtained from reports filed by the Pecos Police Department, Reeves County Sheriff's Office, 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.

*** Gary Goode, 41, was arrested at 2:35 p.m., on January 19, at the Adult Probation Office, on a warrant for a motion to revoke (burglary of a building). He was transported to Reeves County Jail.

*** Sergio Saenz, 22, was arrested at 4:46 p.m., on January 21, in the 100 block of Pecan Street, for no proof of insurance and tampering with I.D. numbers. He was transported to Reeves County Jail.

*** Christopher G. Zermeno, 22, was arrested at 2:42 a.m., on January 24, in the 2400 block of Sage Street, for assault under the Family Violence Act. He was transported to Reeves County Hospital, then Reeves County Jail. ***

Brian S. Rodriguez, 28, was arrested at 7:37 a.m., on January 24, at the Reeves County Hospital emergency room, for public intoxication. He was transported to Reeves County Jail. ***

Teresa Matta Morales, 35, was arrested at 12:27 a.m., on January 24, at the Riverside Ballroom, for assault. She was transported to Reeves County Jail. ***

Jesus Ortega Jr., 20, was arrested at 4:24 p.m., on January 24, at Beall's, for theft under class B. He was transported to Reeves County Jail. ***

Guadalupe Becky Ybarra, 32, was arrested at 11:51 p.m., on January 24, in the 1000 block of South Ash Street, for assault under the Family Violence Act. She was transported to Reeves County Jail.

*** Lucas Ruiz, 20, was arrested at 9:49 a.m., on January 26, on a warrant for possession of marijuana (over 2 ounces). He was transported to Reeves County Jail.

*** Eric Garay, 21, was arrested at 9:40 p.m., on January 26, at the Sheriff's Office, on a warrant for a Motion To Revoke (resisting arrest). He was transported to Reeves County Jail.

*** Concepcion Jasso, 45, was arrested at 4:31 a.m., on January 28, on Capias Pro Fine warrants. He was transported to Reeves County Jail.

*** Maria Escontrias, 37, was arrested at 11:23 a.m., on January 28, on a warrant for assault under Class C. She was transported to Reeves County Jail. ***

Antonia Caldera Palacios, 42, was arrested at 12:10 a.m., on January 28, at Reeves County Jail, on a warrant for allowing a child under four to ride unrestrained. She was transported to Reeves County Jail. ***

Hector M. Rey, 40, was arrested at 5:07 p.m., on January 28, at the Circle M Bar, for public intoxication. He was transported to Reeves County Jail.

*** Rodolfo T. Orona, 23, was arrested at 2:09 a.m., on January 29, in the 600 block of West Fourth Street, for driving while license suspended. He was transported to Reeves County Jail.


Louis Thorp

Louis Jack Odom Thorp, 6, died Wednesday, Jan. 27, 1999, in Columbia Medical Center in El Paso, following a lengthy illness.

Viewing is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 30, Sunday, Jan. 31 and Monday, Feb. 1, at Martinez Funeral Home Chapel.

Graveside services will be held at 2:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 1 at Mount Evergreen Cemetery.

He was born June 17, 1992, in Tulsa, Okla. and was a longtime Pecos resident.

Survivors include his mother, Vicky Thorp of Pecos and one sister, Casey Thorp of Pecos.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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