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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Monday, May 24, 1999

Commissioners told by golfers to keep Cassell

Staff Writer
PECOS, May 24, 1999 -- Citizens concerned about the fate of the Reeves County Golf Course and its supervisor, Royce Cassell preempted the regular agenda of the Reeves County Commissioners this morning.

More than 35 people packed into the court room to voice their concerns to the commissioners.

The concerns centered around the contract between Cassell and the county for running the pro shop and renting golf carts.

A letter of resignation from Cassell to the court instigated the gathering.

According Jo Cooksey, a partner in Fonville Jewelers of Pecos, the resignation was prompted by the prolonged lapse in the contract.

The contract expired at the end of 1998 and has not been renewed.

Along with running the pro shop concession Cassell is also employed by the county as greenskeeper.

The general consensus among the crowd was that the court should not accept Cassell's resignation and that his contract needed to be renewed as soon as possible.

Although many stated that they wanted the court to act on the matter today, Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo stated that legally the court could not do so since the matter had not been placed on the court's agenda.

It was also Galindo's opinion that the contract would have to be open for bids.

Reeves County Auditor Lynn Owens stated that since the contract concerned the occupation and use of county property it should go through a bidding process.

Owens said that only a contract for professional services could be made without going through the bidding process.

"I advised Judge (former County Judge Mike) Harrison of this and he chose to ignore that advice," Owens said. "This court can choose to do the same, but legally, I think this has to be open to bids,"

"Then let's get it on the court's agenda and get the process started," said Beau Jack Hendrick, the tournament chairman for the Men's Golf Association.

Galindo said that for today, the only thing that could be considered was a proposal for the matter to be on the court's next agenda.

The proposal was made and the contract will be on the June 14 agenda.

Galindo also tore up Cassell's letter of resignation to general applause from the crowd.

Balmorhea grads told to have character

Contributing Writer
PECOS, May 24, 1999 -- "Have character - don't be one!" was the final admonition of the commencement speaker to the Balmorhea High School graduating seniors on Friday night.

Marching to "Pomp and Circumstance", 26 seniors bore the hallowed robes of high school graduation for the Commencement Exercises which began at 8 p.m. Friday in the Balmorhea High School gymnasium.

The invocation was given by Rosario Arredondo. In succession, the Pledges of Allegiance to the American Flag, and the Texas Flag, were led by Patrick Craven.

The Salutatory and Valedictory addresses were given by Rebecca Orozco and Nathian Rodriguez, respectively.

Dr. Carl Hoffmeyer, Superintendent of Schools for the Balmorhea Independent School District, made introductory remarks in presenting the Commencement speaker, Sue Toone, a former teacher who taught the Class of '99 in kindergarten 13 years ago.

In delivering the Commencement address, Toone reminisced of the straight lines and ringing bells which marked time in the lives of the graduates.

"The ringing of a bell and standing in a straight line were tools which taught us discipline," said Toone. "Throughout your lives you will be faced with beginnings and endings. When you complete your accomplishment in one line, you must hear the bell and move on to the next...."

Toone continued, "Whether you choose college or an early career, you will discover that there will be no bell to tell you when to get up in the morning unless you set it yourself. There will be no bell to tell you when to go from having fun to working and achieving. No bell will ring to warn you of danger. ...Another part of your education adventure requires you to take the initiative..."

Drawing on the New Testament for illustration, Toone challenged the graduates to embark on a journey of personal faith. Using the teachings of the Apostle Paul, Toone projected a journey as going to the harbor and boarding a sailing ship. The destination is out over the horizon, not in sight.

"Yet, the Apostle had every confidence that he would reach his destination safely and on time," said Toone, "...because he knew the Captain and knew Him to be completely reliable."

"So you, too, must be willing to take the journey of faith," Toone challenged. "It is not always possible to see the destination, but it is possible to determine whose ship you get on."

Special awards were presented by High School Principal, Mrs. Elizabeth Cook. Recipients were: Nathian Rodriguez - Valedictorian Award, and UIL Scholar Award; Rebecca Orozco - Salutatorian Award, and University of Texas Scholarship; Stephanie Dominguez - C.T. Gray Scholarship; and Amanda Lozano - Floyd Estrada Scholarship.

Dr. Hoffmeyer also presented the GED certificate to Elizabeth Lozano, Mother of graduating senior, Amanda Lozano.

The Class of '99 were presented diplomas by Mr. Michael Barrandey, Assistant Principal.

Serving their senior year as class officers were: President, Brenda Dutchover; Vice President, Arturo Miranda; and Secretary/Treasurer, Stephanie Dominguez.

The Recessional was to the strains of "The River", which flowed with excitement as the tassels were turned from candidates to graduates.

Ward County's dump plans nuked

Staff Writer
PECOS, May 24, 1999 -- State Sen. Robert Duncan of Lubbock didn't make himself popular with Ward County leaders Friday when his amendment to the nuclear waste bill passed, designating only Andrews County as an approved storage site for nuclear waste.

Ward County is working with Envirocare of Texas to establish an above-ground storage facility, said Monahans Mayor David Cutbirth.

Cutbirth said that Duncan's amendment upset him.

"It is nothing that we have done a lot of lobbying for," Cutbirth said of the nuclear waste bill. "We have good interest in Monahans in the business community and economic development people.

"A few ranchers in the area were unhappy with it. It wasn't anything we wanted to fight about until we saw how the bill came out, whether the site would be submitted."

Cutbirth believes Ward County's economy would benefit from waste storage. An up-front cash payment, 10 percent of revenues and about 150 jobs are at stake.

Duncan said that he wanted to limit storage to Andrews County because they already have a radioactive waste site. Both Envirocare and Waste Control Specialists, Inc. own land in far western Andrews County they were hoping to use as radioactive waste storage sites.

"He has other areas in the Panhandle that would probably be interested in this and was probably thinking the less hazardous waste coming through Lubbock the better," Cutbirth said.

"I am just real shocked that he did that without checking with Ward County. This is a representative democracy," he said.

Cutbirth said that Duncan told him he didn't want hazardous waste disposal to be an economic project, but that is what it is.

"Every rancher out here fought the oil and gas industry coming in, but they came because there were jobs to be created and money to be made. No one wants radioactive waste. If it was going to come here, and if it is safe, I think it is very unfair we were excluded," he said.

In fact, radioactive material is already present in the oil field, and workers deal with it routinely, he said.

And radioactive waste is being transported through Monahans now to Eunice, N.M., which adjoins Andrews County, and is less than five miles from the WCS site.

"Six trainloads stopped in Monahans 10 days last month," he said.

The Senate bill must pass the house and be signed by Gov. George W. Bush before it can become law. Cutbirth said he talked to Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, the author of the House bill, this morning.

"He thinks he has a good chance of working on it and getting it back close to what he had originally proposed," Cutbirth said.

Bigham's new attorney wants verdict overturned

Staff Writer
PECOS, May 24, 1999 -- Jurors were seen talking to witnesses and other non-jurors during the Christopher John Bigham murder trial, claims his new attorney, Jesse Gonzales Jr. of Fort Stockton.

Gonzales was appointed to represent Bigham after a 143rd District Court jury last month found him guilty of murder and sentenced him to 75 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for the Dec. 1, 1997 shooting death of Lora Ann Brooks.

He has filed a motion for new trial based in part on a statement by Patricia Burns of Renton, Wash.

Burns said in her affidavit that on April 26 she had seen jurors conversing with non-jurors during a break in the trial. She also said that jurors were seen talking for an extended period of time to an African-American female with blonde hair, whom she later learned was a witness in the trial.

Gonzales also said that Tony Garcia, who worked as an investigator for defense attorney Adrian Chavez during the trial, was also employed by a narcotics task force under the district attorney. That was a conflict of interest, he said.

Bigham's 75-year prison sentence is an unusual term, said Texas Ranger Jerry Villalobos, who investigated the unusual murder case that was prosecuted without a body or a weapon.

Jury foreman Clyde McDaniel said that jurors relied on Bigham's own confession and the presence of human bones in the "burn barrel" that was entered as evidence.

Bigham changed his story several times, saying in a statement that he shot Brooks, his live-in girlfriend, in self defense. He testified during the trial that she shot herself. But in both versions, Bigham said he burned the body in a barrel, then threw the barrel in the Pecos River.

A DPS dive team found the barrel in the river, and scrapings produced bones of two human toes, a pathologist testified.

McDaniel said the barrel was a key piece of evidence.

"It looked like it had been real hot to me. The human bone that was stuck to the bottom of it - we couldn't tell it was a human bone, but the scientist did."

Although the bones were too badly burned to yield DNA that would positively identify the bones as those of Brooks, jurors had no problem making the connection, McDaniel said.

As to the weapon, "Bigham testified that he disassembled it as much as he could and threw the pieces out at different places when he went down the road," McDaniel said.

"He changed his story so many times in different ways, but part of it I think you could believe," he said. "That there was a dead body, and it was his responsibility it got dead."

Jurors found the testimony believable, McDaniel said, and "there was pretty much agreement. There was no haggling at all on the guilty part.

"The only thing we had any problem with at all was whether to charge him with murder or reckless homicide.

"We did talk about the sentence some," he said. "There was not a terrible lot of discussion. Everyone wanted to give him a pretty stiff sentence."

Not knowing how long he would have to serve before being eligible for parole, they decided on 75 years because they wanted to ensure that Bigham stayed in prison for a long time, he said.

"I believe he is capable of doing it again, in my mind. He just seemed kind of cold to me."

Jurors hold crash victim responsible for accident

Staff Writer
PECOS, May 24, 1999 -- James Ogden was 75 percent responsible for the accident that claimed his life, a 143rd District Court jury found on Thursday.

Ogden's survivors had filed suit against his employer, Agri-West Inc., and Colt Chevrolet-Buick, who sold the used pickup Ogden was driving at the time of the rollover near Barstow.

They claimed that the pickup's seatbelt was defective when Agri-West purchased it, but the jury found the seatbelt was not defective.

Colt Chevrolet was found to be 20 percent responsible for the wreck, and Agri-West 5 percent. No damage amount was listed in the verdict as due to Brianna Youngman, Gene Ogden and Linda Ogden.

District Judge Bob Parks has not yet entered a judgment in the case.


AUSTIN (AP) _ Results of the Lotto Texas drawing Saturday night: Winning numbers drawn: 11-19-21-22-39-41. Estimated jackpot: $4 million. Number matching six of six: none Matching five of six: 87. Prize: $1,273. Matching four of six: 4,360. Prize: $91.


AUSTIN (AP) _ Results of the Cash 5 drawing Friday night: Winning numbers drawn: 5-11-23-25-38. Number matching five of five: 1. Prize per winner: $91,118. Winning ticket sold in: North Richland Hills. Matching four of five: 303. Prize: $451.


AUSTIN (AP) _ Results of the Texas Millions drawing Friday night: Winning numbers: 37-40-73-79. Number of tickets matching 4 of 4 Group 1: 0. Group 2: 1. Ticket was worth $25,000. Group 3: 0. Number of tickets matching 3 of 4: 468. Each ticket was worth $300.


Ygnacio Chavez

Ygnacio Chavez, 85, of Wink, died Thursday, May 20, 1999 at his residence.

Mass was held at 2 p.m., Saturday, May 22, at St. Thomas Catholic Church in Kermit, with Father John Lucido officiating. Burial was in Kermit Cemetery.

He was born Aug. 31, 1913, in Presidio, was a retired laborer from Texas-New Mexico Railroad, had served in the United States Army and was a Catholic.

Survivors include his wife, Laurencia Chavez of Wink; one son, Jesse Chavez of Lubbock, three daughters, Ramona Hernandez of Wink, Ermalinda Chavez of Pecos and Gloria Gantz of Odessa; two brothers, Petroneelo and Marcos Mendoza of Pecos; 12 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandson.

Cooper Funeral Home Chapel, Inc. of Kermit is in charge of arrangements.

Carlos Fierro

Carlos C. Fierro, 82, died Saturday, May 22, 1999, at Reeves County Hospital.

A rosary is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. today at the Pecos Funeral Home Chapel.

Mass will be held at 2 p.m., Tuesday, May 25, at Santa Rosa Catholic Church, with burial in Barstow Cemetery.

He was born July 5, 1916, in Pecos, was retied, a lifelong resident and a Catholic.

Survivors include his wife, Reynalda D. Fierro of Pecos; two sons, Manuel and Victor Fierro of Odessa; three daughters, Mary Brown of Tucson, Ariz., Elena Fierro of Pecos and Vickey Munoz of Odessa; 13 grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Alene Smith

Alene Smith, 71, of Pecos, died Thursday, May 20, 1999, at Reeves County Hospital.

Services were held at 2:30 p.m., today at the Pecos Funeral Home Chapel with Elder William Ephriam officiating. Burial was in Eastside Cemetery.

She was born Feb. 28, 1928, in Nacogdoches County, was a Baptist, lifelong Pecos resident and retired.

Survivors include one son, Jesse Lee Ephriam of Pecos; one daughter, Lawanda Lamb of Kennard; two brothers, Robert Lee Walker of Stafford, Preston Wilkins of Lubbock; two sisters, Una Faye Terry of Pecos, Velma Jane Hundley of Killeen; three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


PECOS, May 24, 1999 -- High Sunday 92; low last night 66. Rainfall Friday .12 inch. May rainfall .12. Year-to-date .59 inch. Tonight, mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms. low 60 65. Southeast wind near 10 mph. Tuesday, partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms. high in the upper 80s. Southeast wind 10-20 mph.

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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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