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Wednesday, March 10, 1999

Chamber eyes funds for fireworks

Staff Writer

PECOS, March 10, 1999 - Naming a street after a former Pecos Chamber of Commerce Director and the costs of organizing a Fourth of July fireworks display were the topics at the regular noon monthly meeting of the Chamber's Board of Director's on Tuesday.

The group discussed naming a street in Pecos after David Madril who was killed in a car accident in January.

"He had expressed a wish to have a street named after him," said president Linda Gholson.

She told the group that the executive committee had thought of the idea during their meeting. "We still have go to the city council and discuss it with them and get their approval," said Gholson.

She said she had talked to the city's utilities director Octavio Garcia and he had said that he didn't think it would be a problem.

The group also discussed the proposed Fourth of July fireworks display, but decided the chamber would not sponsor it.

"This is something that's very costly and we decided it would be best if we didn't sponsor it," said Gholson. "We will however, help out and back it up."

An exhibition display was held in the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena parking lot last month in hopes of having more businesses and groups interested and willing to help out. "It would cost anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 and we just don't have those funds available right now," Gholson said.

"There's also a real concern if there is a fire ban at the time, and we would be out of that money," added board member Jeannette Alligood. "At this time it is not cost-effective."

The Golden Gloves Tournament didn't fare very well, according to manager of the local boxing team Fred Martin.

He said that the event didn't have a very good turnout, because of several other events happening that weekend. "It didn't help either, that the (Oscar) DelaHoya fight was also on that weekend," said Martin.

Martin said that the boxers weren't able to receive a jacket either, and the group was short of funds. "If we're going to sponsor it again next year, we need to let Fort Worth know, because there are other cities interested in sponsoring it," said Martin.

Martin said that both Lubbock and Odessa have already expressed an interest in sponsoring it. "Odessa used to sponsor it, but they quit doing it for the same reason," said Martin. "Now it's different people in Odessa that want to take it over."

Chamber members decided to wait until April to decide if they would sponsor the event again next year.

A Fall Fair Committee meeting will be held at noon next Tuesday, at Cattleman's Restaurant, according to Gholson. "We need all the help we can get, so if you're interested please come to the meeting," she said.

A new education division for the chamber was created and Larry Sloan spoke to the group about setting out goals for the education of everyone in Pecos.

"We need to form some kind of a worker's group and see what everybody thinks about the education in Pecos and what we can do to improve it," said Sloan. "We want to discuss what impact the chamber has and role it wants to play in education."

Gholson told the group that they would have to start working on ideas and getting workers for the upcoming Night in Old Pecos/Cantaloupe Festival.

"I'm new to the chamber this year and it would help if you would give us a breakdown of all the committees and who is in charge," said Alligood.

Another new board member Dr. John Libbie said that a lot of times there are willing people to help, but that they don't really know what to do. "I'm also new and it would help a great deal to know what all we will be in charge of and what needs to be done," he said.

County seeks to correct burial mistake

Staff Writer

PECOS, March 10, 1999 - Charlie N. Millan cannot rest easy in his grave, because he was buried in the wrong plot. Family members are wondering if his body will have to be moved, and are considering suing Reeves County for their distress.

The problem arose because Felipe Arredondo, commissioner for Precinct 1, staked the wrong plot, he said in an emergency meeting of the court Tuesday afternoon.

Millan's family purchased a space in Section 61, Block 3 of Greenwood Cemetery, which belongs to Reeves County, said Dianne Florez, county clerk. Instead, he was buried in Section 61, Block 4, which is owned by Lupe Garcia.

Arredondo said that he had volunteered to stake the location of graves in the county cemetery, because Florez said her staff is too busy. He said that he either was given the wrong numbers over the telephone, or he wrote it down wrong.

"It was not intentional," he said. "It was just the numbers they gave me. The end result, it was on the wrong plot."

Ironically, Garcia is a former commissioner, whom Arredondo defeated to regain his Precinct 1 seat.

Garcia said this morning that he would hate to think Arredondo's act was intentional, but he believes he should have noticed that Garcia's son was buried in that block.

Michael Garcia, who died Jan. 4, 1998, is buried on a 25'x25' plot where Garcia and his wife planned to be buried beside him.

"Now we can't do that," Garcia said.

Sally Gomez, Millan's daughter, said her family is "all very upset that we may have to move him." But it is her mother's decision, she said.

Given the possibility of a lawsuit, commissioners met Tuesday to try to resolve the situation and possibly reach a settlement with the two families.

County auditor Lynn Owens said that Pecos Funeral Home at one time sold the plots and staked the grave locations themselves. However, after Martinez Funeral Home began operating in Pecos, the books were moved back to the clerk's office.

He said the county should not be responsible for staking the grave location. When the family buys a plot, they should take the information to the funeral home and let them be responsible for digging in the correct location, he said.

County Judge Jimmy Galindo said he would place that question on a future agenda, and called an executive session to discuss potential litigation with District Attorney Randy Reynolds.

Reynolds agreed to do some investigation before anything is done, Florez said.

Pecos hearing set on low-level flights

From Staff and Wire Reports

PECOS, March 10, 1999 - A series of public hearings have been scheduled across West Texas, northern New Mexico and southern Colorado over the next several weeks on plans by the U.S. Air Force to fly B-1 bombers on low-level training flights, just hundreds of feet above

One of the hearings is scheduled for Pecos on April 9, in the Pecos High School cafeteria from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Other area hearings are set in Abilene, Snyder, Big Lake, Alpine and Pecos.

A group of farmers and ranchers in the Trans-Pecos and Jeff Davis Mountains area have already filed one lawsuit over the proposed flights, and members of a group that calls itself the Heritage-Environmental Preservation Association have complained to U.S. Rep. Charles Stenholm. that the flights will poison the ground with jet fuel and cause noise pollution throughout West Texas.

The meetings will come during a 45-day comment period on the plans that begins on March 19, after environmental studies of the Air Force's bomber training flights over West Texas and New Mexico close.

The Air Force's plans to increase flights over the area from out of Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene come at the same time a increase in flights by the German Air Force out of Holloman Air Force Base near Alamogordo, N.M. is being sought. Luftwaffe jets train in over West Texas and Southern New Mexico under an agreement with the United States, and the German Air Force's U.S. headquarters is based at Fort Bliss in El Paso.

Landowners in the Permian Basin, Trans-Pecos and Davis Mountains area filed suit last April in U.S. District Court in Pecos against the U.S. Air Force and the German Luftwaffe, in the hopes of blocking the proposed increase in low-level military flights over the area. Part of that suit against the Luftwaffe was thrown out earlier this year by U.S. District Judge Lucius D. Bunton, but the remaining portions of that lawsuit are scheduled to come to trial in Pecos in early May.

The farmers and ranchers in the Abilene area have not filed suit, but believe that Stenholm, D-Abilene, who for 20 years has represented the district that includes Dyess Air Force Base, has the political clout to pressure the Air Force into rethinking the plan.

Douglas Thompson, executive director of HEPA, said he and other members of the group met this week with Stenholm to test the waters on the issue and complain about the Air Force's decision to hold a public hearing scheduled for April 7 in the lunch/multipurpose room at Snyder High School, which they claim is hard to get to.

The training missions in the Snyder area would fly over a 50-mile by 100-mile stretch of West Texas covering eight counties Lynn, Garza, Kent, Stonewall, Dawson, Borden, Scurry and Fisher covering most of the area between Abilene and Lubbock.

The bombers' run through the Pecos area would include low-level flights over parts of Reeves, Pecos, Jeff Davis, Brewster, Presidio, Culberson and Hudspeth counties. The Federal Aviation Administration must approve airspace for the Air Force's plan, but the Air Force itself can essentially approve all other aspects of the initiative.

Stenholm said people may have jumped to conclusions about how harmful the bomber training would be.

"The proposition will not place flight patterns over areas that will have major activity," Stenholm said. "We have a lot of space in Texas and New Mexico."

Thompson disagrees.

"This training site is not just another little site," Thompson said. "If it goes through over our area, it would be one of the largest bomber training sites in the country, with thousands of flights per year."

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the Realistic Bomber Training Initiative will be sent to local libraries, agencies and citizens in West Texas, northeastern New Mexico, Colorado and Arkansas after it is completed next week. The Air Force said RBTI would improve air crew training by linking existing low-altitude training routes with a military operations area and providing electronic simulations of combat conditions.

Citizens and agencies will be able to comment by speaking at the hearings, writing their comments at the hearings or mailing their comments any time through the end of the 45-day comment period on May 2.

FEMA rep sees no big Y2K problems

Staff Writer

Transition to the Year 2000 is not expected to bring major, national problems with the nation's infrastructure, said Mike Walker, deputy director for the Federal Emergency Management Agency Tuesday.

But he urged local officials and business leaders to make sure their computer systems are ready for Y2K.

"As leaders in our respective communities, we should as a matter of first priority resolve to encourage those to fix that which has not yet been fixed. For that is the surest way to prepare for Y2K," Walker said.

Walker spoke to emergency management and emergency services officials from Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas in the fifth of 10 regional Y2K workshops sponsored by FEMA.

"Based on current assessments, the sky is not falling," Walker said. "Y2K does not have to be a major problem."

Disruptions in national services do not appear likely, said John Koskinen, chair of the President's Council for Year 2000 Conversion.

"There is no indication that the Y2K problem will cause national failures in basic infrastructures such as electric power, telecommunications, banking and transportation," Koskinen said in the videotaped address.

Other speakers reinforced Koskinen's claim that critical computer systems will be ready for the conversion to the Year 2000.

The Department of Energy reported that its own emergency management system is 100 percent Y2K compliant and, in coordination with the North American Electric Reliability Council, the department is working to erase doubt about the readiness of America's electrical supplies for the Year 2000.

However, Koskinene said emergency managers should be prepared to respond to a larger than average number of localized disruptions.

"We do need to be prepared for the possibility that the Y2K problem could cause temporary disruptions in some services, especially in areas where government and businesses have not devoted appropriate attention to the problem.

"By themselves, such disruptions are manageable. But the unique challenge the Y2K problem presents us with is the potential for numerous disruptions happening all at once, which will place additional burdens on the most well-equipped emergency response mechanisms," Koskinen said.

Pecos City Council on Thursday will discuss Y2K issues and consider appointing a committee to formulate a contingency plan in case of a power failure that could disrupt water, sewer and emergency services.

Council to discuss plans for Y2K

PECOS, March 10, 1999 - Pecos City Council will discuss Y2K problems in their regular meeting at 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

Finance director Steve McCormick has proposed forming a Y2K committee to ensure that city water, sewer and emergency services continue if computers fail to work when the calendar rolls over to Jan 1, 2000.

Other agenda items include quarterly reports on the Reeves County Civic Center operation and advertising/tourism, both from Pecos Chamber of Commerce; tax abatement ordinance with M. Brad Bennett Inc.;

Texas Community Development Program for 1999, landfill committee recommendations, advertisement for a new water well, amended ordinance regarding the Good Friday holiday, bylaws of the Pecos Economic Development Corporation, and amendment with Permian Basin Regional Planning Commission and the Town of Pecos City.

The May election will be ordered, and a central counting station approved for Reeves County Courthouse.

Juvenile faces coke charge after Tuesday evening raid

Staff Writer

PECOS, March 10, 1999 - A drug raid on a central Pecos home Tuesday night turned up cocaine and paraphernalia and landed one youth in the Reeves County Juvenile Detention Center, according to Pecos police.

The raid was conducted about 8:51 p.m., when officers from the Pecos Police Department and the Reeves County Sheriff's Department executed a narcotics search warrant at 915 S. Cherry St.

Once the S.W.A.T. team had executed the warrant and subjects inside were secure officers proceeded to search the premises, according to Pecos Police Investigator Paul Deishler.

He said during the search of one of the bedrooms a powdery substance which tested positive for cocaine and one set of scales commonly used in the weighing of narcotics were found.

Officers completed their search of the premises and one male juvenile was placed under arrest for the possession of a controlled substance (cocaine), within a 1,000 feet of a school (Pecos Elementary). The charge is a third degree felony and possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class C misdemeanor.

The male juvenile was placed under arrest for the offenses and transported to the Reeves County Detention Center.

Ex-Marfa housing boss loses suit

Staff Writer

PECOS, March 10, 1999 - The former executive director of the Marfa Housing Authority lost her federal court bid Tuesday for damages on her claim that she was fired because she was a Mexican citizen.

Manuela Sanchez was employed by the housing authority in January, 1995 and later promoted to executive director.

Sanchez claims that board chairman Raul Lara and co-chairman Sarah Villa told her on July 8, 1996 that she could not work for any housing authority if she was a Mexican citizen.

Then on Nov. 13, 1996, the board told Sanchez in executive session that they had complaints against her, and she was terminated for alleged poor job performance. Her appeal of the termination was denied.

Manuel G. Rubio, a member of the board, testified that Sanchez's citizenship was not an issue to him, and that he did not discuss it with any board member.

He said that the board had complaints about Sanchez, "over and over, yeah, we did. She said she would try to correct them, but she ignored us most of the time."

"She said you fired her because she was not a citizen. Did her citizenship play any role in your decision?" asked defense attorney W. Clark Lea.

"I didn't even know she was not a citizen," Rubio said. "I never heard anything."

Marilee H. Brisbin, who was hired as executive director on Jan. 6, 1997, testified that she found numerous problems, including low occupancy, uncollected rent, residents not certified, poor maintenance and a lack of organization.

Several residents had to be evicted because of drug problems, she said.

Brisben said she had to ask the Department of Housing and Urban Development for rules to govern the authority, since there were none on file.

Others testifying were JoAnna Sanchez, Raul Lara, Anselma Hernandez Jr., Avilia Prieto and Oliver Catano.

Sanchez, through her attorney, Allen R. Stroder, asked the jury to find the Marfa Housing Authority discriminated against her and to award her lost wages plus compensatory and punitive damages.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Stuart Platt charged the jury to decide whether Sanchez's non-U.S. citizenship was a motivating factor in the termination of her employment.

Their answer was "no," and Sanchez will receive nothing.

Laredo was hottest place to be in 1998

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON _ Laredo edged past Lake Havasu City, Ariz., to claim the title as the nation's most consistently hot city last year, while Stanley, Idaho, dethroned West Yellowstone, Mont., as the chilliest.

Laredo was the hottest place in the 48 contiguous states on 34 days in 1998, while Lake Havasu City _ No. 1 a year earlier _ topped the nation on 33 days.

Close behind was Lajitas, Texas, with 32 days as the hottest, according to the annual compilation of warmest and coolest places published in Weatherwise magazine.

For the long term, Lake Havasu City maintains a giant lead over the competition, scoring the top temperature some 511 days in this decade. Bullhead City, Ariz., is a distant second at 202.

West Yellowstone, which had the most cold readings in 1997, slipped to a tie for second in 1998 with Gunnison, Colo. Each had 29 days as the cold spot, compared to 49 for Stanley.

Following the top three was Truckee, Calif., which was the coldest place in the 48 contiguous states on 20 days. Then came Jackson, Wyo., with 19 days, and Alamosa, Colo., with 18.

But it was West Yellowstone that recorded the lowest reading in the 48 contiguous states last year, at 41 degrees below zero Fahrenheit on Dec. 21. The daily average low reading for the year was 12.5 degrees.

So far in the 1990s, though, Truckee has recorded the most days as the coldest place, with 200, while Wisdom, Mont., is second at 172 and Stanley is third at 171, based on a review of the annual rankings put together by David Hickcox, director of environmental studies at Ohio Wesleyan University.

On the hot side of the ledger, fourth ranking in 1998 went to Coolidge, Ariz., and Presidio, tied at 29 days as hot point, followed by Thermal, Calif., with 23 days.

Hickcox does not include Death Valley, Calif., in his totals because it so often records extreme temperatures.

As if to prove his point, Death Valley recorded the year's hottest temperature, 129 degrees on July 17, and managed 125 degrees on Aug. 5, 6 and 7. The average daily high for the year was 97.6.

Last year was the hottest on record worldwide, according to analyses released earlier by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Communities that have been the coldest spot 20 or more times this decade are:

Truckee, 200 days; Wisdom, 172; Stanley, 171; Fraser, Colo., 160; West Yellowstone, 112; Pinedale, Wyo., 96; Alamosa, 71; Leadville, Colo., 65; Gunnison, 48; Winter Park, Colo., 38; Jackson, 36; and Creede, Colo., 29.

Places that have been the hottest 20 or more days are:

Lake Havasu City, 511; Bullhead City, 202; Coolidge, 189; Lajitas, 144; Borrego Springs, Calif., 136; Palm Springs, Calif., 132; Laredo, 127; Fort Myers, Fla., 108; Thermal, Calif., 104; Presidio, 102; McAllen, 72; and Yuma, Ariz., 22.

Texas Lotto

AUSTIN (AP) _ Results of the Cash 5 drawing Tuesday night: Winning numbers drawn: 9-11-16-21-30. Number matching five of five: 2. Prize per winner: $45,971. Winning tickets sold in: Irving, Rosharon. Matching four of five: 283. Prize: $487.


AUSTIN (AP) _ The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Tuesday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 1-1-1 (one, one, one)


PECOS, March 10, 1999 - High Tuesday 81; low last night 42. Tonight, becoming cloudy. Low in the upper 40s. South wind 5-10 mph, shifting to east after midnight. Thursday, cloudy early, becoming partly cloudy. High in the mid 70s. Southeast wind 5-15 mph, increasing to 10-20 mph by mid morning.

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