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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Friday, May 28, 1999

Freeport confirms mine's final closing


Staff Writer

PECOS May 28, 1999--Well, it's official.

Freeport-McMoran's Culberson County sulphur mine, located 40 miles northwest of Pecos, will cease production the last part of June and its doors will close forever, a year after the closing was first announced.

"At the end of June it will close completely," said Bill Collier, Director of Communications for Freeport McMoRan, speaking from the company's New Orleans headquarters on Thursday.

Rumors had been circulating that the mine had been sold to another company, however, Collier said that that's all it was, rumors.

"It definitely hasn't been sold," said Collier, "even though if someone wants to make an offer they can."

The life of the plant was extended last year, but only temporarily, according to Collier.

A reduced Freeport staff had been working in October of last year, to plug and abnadon the mine's older wells when a shortage in the market created a need for more sulphur. Adding to that, Hurricane George's hampered sulphur production from Freeport-McMoran's mine in the Gulf of Mexico, because crews had to be pulled off the endangered structure during the storm, according to Collier.

"We started the closure part last year and will continue it until the last part of June," said Collier. "We might have extend it a little, but all they will be doing is closing out the plant."

The crew will be busy plugging wells and with reclamation activity that will involve the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission.

"Other than that the property, land and assets, we are still looking at other opportunities presented to us, but there is nothing firm at this time," Collier said.

Sulphur production will cease and reclamation activity will be the only thing going on at the plant.

Mining sulphur has not been as profitable as it had been in the past, because environmental laws now force oil companies to remove sulphur from oil and gas in the refining process, according to Collier.

In 1988, 37 percent of world sulphur was mined, and 63 percent was a by-product of oil and gas. Now only 10 percent comes from mines and 90 percent from oil and gas, he said.

Even before Freeport purchased the mine five years ago from Pennzoil, the employee numbers had been on the decline. When the mine's closing was announced on June 30, 1998, it employed less than half the 400 workers Pennzoil had at the Culberson County side in 1990.

The land and assets are for sale however, and inquiries about the purchase can be made to Phil Tyree at the Culberson mine. "He will be there for a while during all this process and they can contact him," said Collier.

Walker to work through holiday


Staff Writer

PECOS May 28, 1999--Winding up a hectic Legislative session, Rep. Gary Walker (R-Plains) said he will stay until the last minute, working through the Memorial Day holiday Monday.

"I signed up for the job so I think I need to be here," Walker said this morning.

Two bills that would have impacted water in Pecos fizzled at the last minute. One that would have allowed private industry to store nuclear waste died in the House after the Senate changed it drastically, Walker said.

Another that creates temporary underground water conservation districts for two years passed, but directors for the proposed Trans-Pecos district asked Walker to remove their application from the bill before the House vote last Friday.

Walker said the bill as passed by the Senate would create districts with appointed directors.

"Appointment with no election by the people is no way to create a water district," Walker said. "It was their call to pull it out. Everyone had the same chance, and a number of them pulled out."

Nothing happened on the nuclear waste bill in the House, and things will stay the same as they are now, Walker said.

"When the end of the day gets here, Andrews County will still be accepting hazardous waste like they are right now," he said. "Envirocare will not be able to get a permit."

Envirocare of Texas had proposed to store low-level radioactive waste above ground in Ward County.

"Some people are happy and some are sad," Walker said.

Despite those two fizzles, Walker said the session has been productive.

"We did some good things for schools and teachers and tax cuts. The agriculture sector was strengthened through the boll weevil funding bill."

If Gov. George W. Bush signs the speed limit bill, traffic, including trucks, may be subject to an 80-mph speed limit on rural highways in counties with 25,000 or less population.

That doesn't mean that trucks will be speeding through Pecos at 80 miles per hour, he said.

No speed limits will be changed without prior approval by the Texas Department of Public Safety, Walker said.

Attorneys named for duo indicted on drug charges


Staff Writer

PECOS May 28, 1999--District Judge Bob Parks this morning appointed attorneys for two defendants indicted by the Reeves County Grand Jury last week.

Guadalupe Pando, 29, is charged with possession of cocaine on March 22 and with hindering apprehension. His bail is $25,000.

Hector Pando Jr. is charged with possession of a controlled substance.

Others indicted May 20 are:

* Jesus Ortega Jr., 20, theft of over-the-counter medications on April 1. His bail is $7,500.

* Dagoberto Rodriguez, 41, forgery by passing a $36 check to Herrera's Drive Thru. His bail is $7,500.

* Dale Bustamante, 24, theft of a 1999 Chevrolet Monte Carlo from Colt Chevrolet-Buick on Jan. 17. His bail is $50,000. The car was one of three driven off the lot following a break-in.

* Usbaldo Lujan Baeza, 38, theft by check in the amount of $2,232.22. Baeza allegedly gave the check to Kevin Duke for pickup repairs on Dec. 22, 1997, and it was returned for insufficient funds. His bail is $7,500.

* Joey Ortiz Jr., 20, and Jason Abila Barrera, 17, criminal mischief by damaging a 1999 Pontiac Grand Am by hitting it with a bat on Feb. 26. Debbie Salcido owns the vehicle, and damage exceeded $1,500, the indictment alleges. Their bail is $7,500 each.

ROT backer gets 6 1/2 years


Staff Writer

PECOS May 28, 1999--Republic of Texas sympathizer Dudley Edward Vandergriff got two years lopped of his sentence for felon in possession of a firearm when he appeared before U.S. District Judge Walter Smith of Waco this week.

Judge Smith re-sentenced Vandergriff after his successful appeal of a conviction and 8.5-year sentence handed down by Senior Judge Lucius Bunton in 1997.

Vandergriff entered a guilty plea rather than go to trial again, and Judge Smith sentenced him to 78 months (6 1/2 years) in federal prison.

The 31-year-old Dallas resident was arrested in Pecos while enroute to Fort Davis where ROT "ambassador" Rick McLaren was involved in a standoff with law officers on April 30, 1997.

Others sentenced this week were:

* Hermino Carrasco-Armendariz, 41, 84 months for illegal re-entry;

* Jose Angel Mendoza, 39, of Kress, 210 months of each of two counts for conspiracy to possess and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. The prison terms are to run concurrently. Judge Smith also imposed a $5,000 fine.

* Jermaine Tremond Andrus, 26, Warren Eugene McGuire, 24, and Alton Brent Williams, 38, all of Houston, 36, 30 and 48 months, respectively, on each of three counts of conspiracy to possess and possession with intent to possess phencyclidine, and fleeing at a checkpoint operated by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The sentences are to run concurrently. Their fines are $1,500, $1,000 and $1,000, respectively.

* Edmundo Vasquez-Martinez, 36, of Odessa, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, 21 months.

* Jeannie Sena, 21, of Roswell, N.M., importing and possessing marijuana with intent to distribute, 12 months+1 day on each count, to run concurrently. Fine $500.

Alvarez, Lam named top PHS grads


Staff Writer

PECOS May 28, 1999--A Harvard-bound student will be giving the valedictory speech at tonight's Pecos High School graduation ceremonies, while a student bound for Texas A&M will give the salutatorian's address this evening, starting at 8 p.m. at Eagle Stadium.

Alva Alvarez, who ranks first in the 1999 class consisting of 137 students, is the Valedictorian for the Class of 1999, with a local grade point average of 4.45. Jeff Lam, with a local grade point average of 4.39 earned the right to give the Salutatorian address. Both students are very active members at PHS.

"I was really excited to learn that I was valedictorian for this year," said Alvarez. "I've worked really hard and it's paid off."

Alvarez will begin her college career at Harvard University this summer majoring in Government/Philosophy. After she receives her B.A. from Harvard, she plans to attend law school.

"This has been the school of my dreams, ever since I can remember and I feel it's an honor to be accepted," she said.

Throughout her high school years, Alvarez has been very busy.

She was a member of the Gifted and Talented Program; Pecos Chamber of Commerce Student of the Year (1999); Pecos HS Outstanding Gifted Student to Region 18 Visions Conference (1999); National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar (1998-1999); ANGELS-Elementary school mentoring program (1996-1999); Girls Varsity golf Team (1996-1999); National Honor Society (1996, 1997, President 1998-1999); Latin Club (1996, 1997, Secretary 1998-1999) and Mu Alpha Theta (1996-1999).

She also was a member of the Debate Team (1997-1998 and 1998-1999); Junior Engineering Technical Society 3rd place Team State Winner (1998); Junior Engineering Technical Society 2nd place Team State Winner (1999); Outstanding Student Achievement Awards including Latin II (1997-1998), Latin I (1996-1997 and Advanced U.S. History (1995-1996).

Alvarez was also a member of the Student Council (1995-1996, 1996-1997), Vice-President 1997-1998); Hugh O'Brien Youth Leadership World Leadership Congress (1997) and Rotary Club Student of the Month (1996).

Alvarez was a member of the Pecos Youth Advisory Commission (1996-1999); participated in the Golden Girl Pageant (1998); is a member of the St. Catherine's Catholic Church and Youth Group; St. Catherine's Catholic Church 2nd grade Catechism Teacher and was the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership Seminar Spirit Leader (1998, 1999).

Alvarez is also an avid golfer who has won numerous awards including being a member of the North Texas Professional Golf Association, Jr.; NTPGA, Jr. Tour 1st place medalist (1998); District 4-4A Regional Qualifer (1998); District 2-4A Regional Qualifier (1999); District 2-4A All-District 1st team (1999) and District 2-4A 2nd place medalist (1999).

She is the daughter of Alvaro G. and Luz Alvarez and has a sister, Jenny, who is a sophomore at PHS.

PHS Salutatorian Jeff Lam, is the son of Stan and Florine Lam. He has two sisters Sarah and Jessica and one brother, David.

Throughout high school, he participated in many UIL events such as Science, Number Sense, Math, and Current Events, in which he received numerous accolades.

Starting his sophomore year, he earned regional berths in at least one of these events.

He was a member of the 1999 District 2-4A champion tennis team and advanced to regionals his junior and senior years in doubles.

An active member of the Student Council for three years, he served as chairperson of the Energy and Environment Committee which received State Honors.

Lam participated in JETS (Junior Engineering Technical Society) and was a member of the 1998 team which won regionals and placed third at state.

He was also involved in various clubs at PHS - Latin Club President for two years, National Honor Society Secretary and Mu Alpha Theta.

In the fall, Lam plans to attend Texas A&M University at College Station where he will major in Chemical Engineering.

Businesses closing for Memorial Day

PECOS May 28, 1999--Monday is a holiday for federal, state, county and city offices as the nation pauses to memorialize veterans of military service.

Most businesses will also close for Memorial Day, including the Pecos Enterprise, which will not publish a paper on Monday.

Both First National Bank and Security State Bank will close in honor of those who have served our country.

City set to open pool on Saturday

PECOS May 28, 1999--Swimmers can get their feet wet Saturday, when the Maxey Park pool operated by the city of Pecos opens for the season at 2 p.m.

And it will be open Monday for the Memorial Day holiday.

Pool hours will be 2-6 p.m. daily except Monday throughout the summer months.

Rental for special occasions is available through Al Tillman Jr., pool manager.


AUSTIN (AP) Results of the Cash 5 drawing Thursday night:

Winning numbers drawn: 2-8-17-18-35. Number matching five of five: 2. Prize per winner: $42,976. Winning tickets sold in: Houston 2. Matching four of five: 247. Prize: $521.

AUSTIN (AP) The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Thursday by the Texas Lottery, in order:

2-0-0 (two, zero, zero)


Opal Gertrude Wofford

Opal Gertrude Wofford, 72, died Thursday, May 27, 1999, in Fort Stockton. Graveside services will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at Mount Evergreen Cemetery in Pecos, with Rev. Dr. Jim Miles officiating.

She was born May 16, 1927 in Fulsom, Okla., and had moved to Saragosa Jan. 25. She was a Baptist.

Survivors include three sons, Johnny Wofford of Fort Davis, Jimmy Wofford of Fort Stockton and Jerry Wofford of Saragosa; and six grandchildren.


PECOS May 28, 1999--High Thursday 89. Low this morning 64. Forecast for tonight: Mostly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms. Low near 60. Southeast wind 10-15 mph. Saturday, partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms. High in the mid 80s. Rest of Memorial Day weekend, partly cloudy with a slight chance of thunderstorms Sunday. Lows in the 60s. Highs around 90.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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