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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Friday, May 21, 1999

Officials seek identification of body

Staff Writer

PECOS, May 21, 1999 - Ward County Sheriff Jerry Heflin said this morning that remains found in a grave near Barstow Dam Thursday will be sent to Lubbock for identification by a forensic pathologist.

Texas Rangers Jerry Villalobos and David Duncan joined Ward and Reeves County deputies in the excavation of a shallow grave near the Pecos River on the Ward County side.

Reeves County Sheriff Arnulfo Gomez said he received a tip that a body was buried there, and he and deputy Bobby Jenkins located it Wednesday afternoon before calling in Texas Rangers.

Dr. Robert R. Paine, forensic anthropologist from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, helped with the dig to preserve evidence that could lead to a homicide charge.

Gomez said he would not speculate about the identity of the victim, "because we could be dead wrong."

Three men were reported missing in the Pecos area last year. Remains of one were found last November and were recently identified as Julio Cesar Cantu, who had been missing since April 4, 1997.

His body was found about 2 1/2 miles from where his pickup had been located earlier with a dead dog inside.

Ruben Garcia Tercero disappeared in April, 1998 after going to the home of a friend for a meeting, said his mother, Catalina Garcia. He was under indictment on a heroin possession charge, but Garcia said she didn't think his disappearance was related to drugs. She did suspect foul play, however.

Reeves County Sheriff's Deputy Bobby Jenkins filed a missing persons report in October, 1998, and has been searching for Tercero since.

Villalobos said that a man whose car was located near Farm Road 2119 (Duval Road) in Culberson County last year is still missing.

Manuel and Lydia Chabarria of Fort Worth said their son, Manuel Jr., 25, was last seen April 1, 1997 when he left for work in Arlington. The speculated he may have come to Pecos to search for his grandparents' home, which had been on Farm Road 1216.

Lora Ann Brooks was reported missing Dec. 23, 1997. While no positive identification could be made from the burned remains of what was believed to be her body, Christopher John Bigham was convicted of her murder and sentenced to 75 years in prison.

Bigham told two stories: That Brooks committed suicide and he burned her body to take the ashes back to Washington State; and that he had shot her in self defense, then burned the body and dumped the burn barrel in the Pecos River.

A DPS dive team recovered the barrel, and it was the key piece of evidence presented at trial. No weapon was found.

PHA gets high mark in HUD inspection

Staff Writer

PECOS, May 21, 1999 - Pecos Housing Authority received the highest honor a housing program can receive from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during their most recent inspection, board members were told during their monthly meeting on Thursday.

"We received the rating and we received a `high performer', the highest honor that we can receive," said PHA Board President Frank Perea.

HUD inspectors gave PHA a 96.25 percent rating, and according to the letter received by the board, a housing authority which achieves a total weighted PHMAP score of 90 percent or more with no individual indicator grade less than C shall be designated as a high performer.

"If I get this honor three years in a row, they might take me to Washington to meet with people from HUD and other organizations," said PHA director Nellie Gomez.

"This is the second year we received this honor," she said, and other housing authorities which have received the honor for three years have been awarded this honor.

In other business, the board received an update on CIAP '98 and closed out the CIAP '96 housing rehabilitation program.

"Ed Vaughn, (architect) was here and he hired a lady from the Texas Department of Transportation to help with the landscaping project," said Gomez.

"We want to start doing our landscaping," she said.

Gomez said the person who was hired to help with the landscaping knows about plants, which types will grow in the different areas and suggested different plants that will survive in West Texas. "We'll be using rocks for the landscaping and different desert plants," said Gomez.

A basketball court and picnic area will also be a part of the landscaping project.

A general contractor will be hired by July to start on the project.

A truck bid for $16,773 was awarded to Colt Chevrolet, for the purchase of a Silverado pickup.

Refrigerator bids went to Gibson True Value and Brownlee Hardware, for the purchase of 35 refrigerators.

Gibson was awarded the stoves bid and the water heaters were to be divided between Airlawn Furniture and Desert Rentals. All are local vendors.

In the Farm Labor Housing portion of the meeting, John A. Blakeway was awarded the audit bid.

Perea told the group that apartments at the Farm Labor Housing projects were in bad disrepair and were in need of a lot of attention. "All the ones that are closed down right now are in really bad shape," said Perea.

"We'll have to get them fixed or just close them down," he said.

Twenty-five units are rented year-round, but the other 32 are reserved for migrant employees who come to Pecos during the summer months.

"I've been talking to a lady in El Paso, but she told me all the grants for this type project have all been awarded," said Gomez. "However, sometimes these agencies don't use all the monies awarded and are returned, so she told me to keep in touch with her to see if there's anything left over she can award us," said Gomez.

Rodriguez earns MIT acceptance, national post

Staff Writer

PECOS, May 21, 1999 - Being accepted into one of the nation's top schools and being elected to one of the top posts of a national high school service organization are two of the many accomplishments a Pecos High School senior has achieved this year.

Efrain Rodriguez, who will be one of the top graduates at next Friday's Pecos High School commencement ceremony, will be leaving Pecos for greener pastures.

Rodriguez has been accepted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in Cambridge, Mass. and will start college there in the fall.

He has been active in many organizations and extracurricular activities throughout his high school years, but one of the biggest honors came about recently when he was named National Treasurer for Business Professionals of America.

"We went to regionals and then I started campaigning at state competition in Corpus Christi," said Rodriguez, who competed against others wanting to represent Texas, and was one of three chosen to go to the national convention in Philadelphia, where they vied with students from other states for the top national offices.

"I was really nervous, but I didn't want my nerves to get the best of me," he said of waiting to find out he won the race for treasurer.

Rodriguez will attend officer training in Columbus, Ohio in June and will serve as National Treasurer of that organization during his freshman year at MIT.

Rodriguez explained how he was elected for the prestigious honor.

"The candidates who compete have speeches and choose a theme for the whole campaign," he said. "We set up a campaign rally, complete with buttons and other items, meet the people and try to answer their questions as best we can."

Fourteen students competed for the national office. "All the campaigns were really aggressive and some had really creative campaigns," said Rodriguez.

He chose Pecos Bill as his theme and did an item on taming the tornado. "I thought this would identify myself, from where I came from, Texas," said Rodriguez. "They really liked it up there, it was different."

Rodriguez said he made an analogy with Pecos Bill taming the tornado and taking on future challenges of the organization.

Rodriguez will again be challenged as he takes on the task of attending the prestigious New England university.

"This has always been my dream, to attend MIT," he said. "I've always been interested in science and I feel it's a big honor."

"I just couldn't believe it when they told me I had been accepted," said Rodriguez.

He said his parents, Hector and Yolanda Rodriguez, have been very supportive of him. "I finally reached my goal, my parents knew that this was very important to me and they tried to help out as much as they could."

Rodriguez has participated in BPA and served president of the local organization before being elected National Treasurer. He was also a member of the Latin Club, vice president; National Honor Society; school newspaper staff, chief editor; Mu Alpha Theta and was a University Interscholastic League Academic competitor.

He was a state qualifier for BPA in spreadsheet applications competition; regional qualifier for UIL computer applications competition and regional qualifier for UIL science competition and math competition.

In addition, he was named Student of the Year by the Pecos Chamber of Commerce and was a One-Act play participant his sophomore and junior year and won honorable mention his junior year.

Rodriguez plans to double major in mechanical engineering and business marketing to secure a position as a marketing director with expertise in engineering at MIT.

"You just have to stay positive all the time if you really want to do well," said Rodriguez.

County eyes track repair agreement

PECOS, May 21, 1999 - An interlocal cooperation agreement between Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD/Reeves County and the Town of Pecos City for demolition and construction of the Pecos High school track will be the topic of discussion at the regular Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting.

The group will meet at 9:30 a.m., Monday, on the third floor of the Reeves County Courthouse. The public is invited to attend the open meeting.

In addition, commissioners will discuss a resolution with Reeves County/Town of Pecos City/ and the Texas Department of Transportation for a community landscaping project and an interlocal cooperation agreement with the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force.

Reeves County Detention Center issues for discussion include: Issuance of notice to proceed to Banes General Contractors to start work on the RCDC 1,000-bed addition; Payment No. 1 to Banes General Contractors; Change order No. 1 for support services and recreation addition projects; Change order No. 3 for RCDC dayroom project; Award bids for RCDC 1,000 bed addition site work-proposal package 0201 and security fence-proposal package 0203.

Commissioner approved starting the $40 million project at a meeting earlier this week. On Monday, they'll discuss Banes General Contractors' general conditions and the RCDC addition's "ramp-up" cost budget amendments and payment invoice no. 2 for RCDC Civil Engineering Services.

Other items on the agenda include:

* Discuss/take action on Dawson Geophysical Permit to conduct 3-D vibroseis survey.

* Discuss/take action on food items and kitchen supplies bids.

* Discuss/take appointment of veteran services advisory committee.

* Discuss/take action on reports from various departments.

* Discuss/take action on budget amendments and line-item transfers.

* Discuss/take action on personnel and salary changes (RCDC, Sheriff's Office, community sports, recreation department and county clerk's office).

* Discuss/take action on minutes from previous meetings.

* Discuss/take action on semi-monthly bills.

Love optimistic about teacher pay hike

Staff Writer

PECOS, May 21, 1999 - Pecos-Barstow-Toyah superintendent Don Love updated Pecos Rotary Club members on the school district's financial situation during the weekly club meeting on Thursday.

"We haven't received the numbers on state funding yet, so nothing is set in stone but I will tell you what I think right now, " Love said, explaining that pending legislation before the state legislature is reason for optimism.

"The key in my mind is teacher pay," he said. "Teachers deserve a raise. Under the House concept (the legislation is still in committee in the drafting stages) teachers, librarians, nurses and counselors would receive a $3,000 raise that would be fully funded by the state."

"This is a big improvement over a lot of what we've seen out of Austin in previous years, where the state has mandated something and then failed to fully fund the mandate. That kind of legislation leaves us in a bad position," Love said.

Love said that another concern is administrator and staff pay.

"Comparatively, pay for administrators, and staff members has risen very little since 1995," he said.

Another issue before the legislature this session is social promotion.

"From what I understand the legislature is not leaving Austin until its done with social promotion," Love said. "From what I understand the new law will require kids to pass the TASS test or stay in the same grade, period."

Love said that he didn't expect for there to be any exceptions to the rule.

"Kids that don't pass will go to summer school but they will have to pass the test during the summer session to be promoted," he said.

"We'll know a lot more when the legislative session is over and the final bills are passed," he said.

"Until then we will be working on our priorities and waiting to see what we have to work with."

The Rotary Club meets every Thursday at twelve noon at the Pecos Valley Country Club.

Balmorhea names top HS graduates



BALMORHEA, May 21, 1999 - Nathian Rodriguez will give the Valdectorian speech in Balmorhea at 8 p.m. today, as the 1999 Balmorhea High School class prepares to graduate.

Salutatorian for this year is Rebecca Orozco.

Twenty-six graduates will receive their diplomas from Balmorhea High School this evening. Graduation for Pecos High School students is scheduled for 7 p.m. next Friday night.

Area water board to receive update

A legislative update on water conservation districts is among agenda items on the Region F Regional Water Planning program to be held Monday at Odessa College.

Before the business meeting, the group will participate in a technical workshop on surface water issues and survey responses; projections of trends in Region F, population and municipal use, manufacturing and irrigation; upcoming activities and schedule and budget.

In the business meeting, the board will consider Region F non-voting members, the Texas Department of Agriculture non-voting member and the financial report.

The meeting begins at 10:30 a.m. in the Community Room of the Electronics Technology Building, 201 W. University, Odessa.

AG thinks waste dump bill unconstitutional

AUSTIN (AP) A nuclear waste disposal bill pending in the Texas Senate could violate the U.S. Constitution, the state attorney general's office says.

According to the opinion released Tuesday, the measure proposing to privatize a radioactive waste dump would be unconstitutional if it also prohibits the state from accepting waste from other states.

Gov. George W. Bush voiced concern Wednesday about legislation to allow private companies to store and bury low-level radioactive waste, saying he doesn't want Texas to be the nation's nuclear dump.

A Texas Senate committee last week approved a bill that would allow private companies, not a state agency, to store or bury low-level waste.

The sponsor of the proposal, Sen. Buster Brown, R-Lake Jackson, said it would provide for a limitation on the amount of waste the private companies could receive. He said Bush's concerns are addressed in the bill, and that he shares the position that Texas shouldn't be a dumping ground.

However, tbe AG's opinion suggests that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the state to privatize a waste site without also losing control over the sources of shipments.

The opinion concluded that a law barring private companies from accepting low-level waste from the Department of Energy would unconstitutionally interfere with interstate commerce and federal activities.

Two private companies, Envirocare of Texas and Waste Control Specialists, are lobbying for the low-level waste site and regard the Energy Department as a lucrative source to supplement smaller quantities that would be shipped from generators in Texas, Maine and Vermont under an interstate compact.

Texas Lotto

AUSTIN (AP) Results of the Cash 5 drawing Thursday night: Winning numbers drawn: 11-15-21-24-32. Number matching five of five: 1. Prize per winner: $87,120. Winning ticket sold in: El Paso. Matching four of five: 250. Prize: $523.


AUSTIN (AP) The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Thursday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 9-6-5 (nine, six, five)


Gail Jackson

Gail B. Jackson, 80, died Wednesday, May 19, 1999 at Odessa Medical Center.

Graveside services will be held at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 22, at Mt. Evergreen Cemetery with J.T. Wooden officiating.

He was born Jan. 27, 1919, in Willford, Ark., was retired, was a World War II Army veteran, and a Baptist.

He was proceeded in death by one daughter, Lorene Bierman.

Survivors include his wife, Cora Jackson of Pecos; five daughters, Charlene Shaw of Phoenix, Ariz., Carolyn Agee of Odessa, Margie Windham of Pecos, Maxine Garrett of Beaumont and Elaine Gray of Big Spring; one son, Tommy Jackson of Pecos; 19 grandchildren and 33 great-grandchildren.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Clarence Rochen

Clarence C. Rochen, 76, died Wednesday, May 19, 1999, at Reeves County Hospital.

Services were held at 9 a.m. today at the Pecos Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Mike Fickenscher of St. Paul Lutherans in Monahans officiating.

A graveside service is scheduled for 3 p.m., at Greenlawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Rosenburg with Pastor Adler of Rosenburg officiating.

He was born March 24, 1923, in Orchard, Tx., was a retired plant foreman for Pennzoil Sulphur Company, an Air Force and a World War II veteran. He had lived in Pecos since 1971, and was a Lutheran.

Survivors include his wife, Dora Rochen of Pecos; one son, Ken Rochen of Lubbock; two daughters, Jackie Warren of Pecos, Brenda Archie of Clarksville, Tenn.; one sister, Delores Matel of Orchard; six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Anita Ramirez

Anita Ramirez, 83, of Merced, Calif., died Sunday, May 16, at her residence.

A rosary was held at 6:30 p.m., Thursday at Sacred Heart Church in Merced.

A memorial service was held at 9 a.m., today at Sacred Heart Church in Merced with Father Jose M. Montiel officiating. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery.

She was born May 24, 1915 in Ruidosa, Tx., where she grew up and attended school. She moved to California in 1963. She was a member of Sacred Heart Church where she was active in choir and played the guitar. She was also a member of Sociedad Guadalupana and Sociedad Edad De Oro.

Survivors include one daughter, Elena Pleasant of Italy; three sons, Alfredo, Luis and Michael Ramirez of Merced, Calif.; two sisters, Cruz Ugarte of Laredo and Helen Orvis of Cleveland, Ohio; five brothers, Jose Vasquez of Carlsbad, N.M., John Vasquez of San Diego, George Vasquez of Pecos and Pedro and Epifanio Vasquez of El Paso; 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Whitton Family Funeral Home in Merced, Calif., is in charge of arrangements.


PECOS, May 21, 1999 - High Thursday 98; low last night 65. Today, morning low clouds, otherwise mostly sunny and warm. High 90 95. Southeast wind 5-15 mph this morning increasing to 10-20 mph by noon. Saturday, partly cloudy and breezy. High near 95. South to southeast wind increasing to 15-25 mph and gusty.

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