Daily Newspaper for Reeves County, Trans Pecos, Big Bend, Far West Texas

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July 22, 1996

County facing tax funds drop in 1997 budget

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Staff Writer

A shortfall ÷of some $50,000 for the fiscal 1997 budget was reported to
commissioners during this mornings presentation of a preliminary tax
rate report and approval of the 1996 tax appraisal roll.

County Auditory Lynn Owens told commissioners that number was based on
$346,971,280 in valuation for Reeves County, which includes a $9,138,770
loss in value per last year's totals. Owens said adding a conservative
sum of $2 million for the railroad rolling stock and at the current tax
rate of .57916 cents per $100 per valuation, 100 percent collections
would bring in a total of $2,021,102.07.

Using a projected tax collection rate of 92 percent, $1,850,413.90 would
be generated. With 4 cents going to the Road and Bridge Department and
.53916 to the general fund, total collections for the county were put at

At the effective rate of .59494 the estimated net tax rate would fall at
$1,910,075.43, a $50,661.53 shortfall.

There was no discussion about the 1997 tax rate, but Reeves County Judge
Jimmy Galindo said that a deficit ranging between $110,000 and $140,000
would be accurate to assume after Reeves County Court-at-Law Judge Lee
Green's salary and expenses related to setting it were calculated. The
county is still calculating Judge Green's salary at zero, but a jury
ordered the county in April to pay the court-at-law judge a reasonable

Green had been paid $53,000 before his salary was cut out by
commissioners last year.

Commissioners voted to give employees of the Reeves County Tax
Assessor/Collector's office raises totalling $11,000 in funds allocated
for the vacant deputy's position, causing much discord among the court.

Reeves County Tax Assessor/Collector Elfida Zuniga submitted her
proposal for the salary increases this morning giving Chief Deputy
Jeannette Herrera, whose been with the county for 12 years, a $3,500
increase; two-year county veteran, Deputy Sylvia Garcia a $2,500
increase; Deputy Vicki Hannsz, hired two weeks ago, a $2,000 increase
and Deputy Tax Collector Rosemary Chabarria, who has been with the
department for four years, a $3,000 raise.

Commissioner Precinct 4 Bernardo Martinez said that Zuniga needed to
cooperate with the county's conservative efforts instead of proposing
the salary increases.

On Zunga's behalf, Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo told Martinez that
she was doing what she was asked, "doing more with less."

"This will cause friction among county employees," said Martinez and
added that clerk salaries should be kept on par with other workers.

Galindo noted that the proposed changed will not increase tax office
expenses and require no adjustments to the department.

Zuniga told the court that the vacant deputy's position was advertised
at a salary of $12,000, leaving a savings of $1,000, including almost
$4,000 in fringe benefits.

Other personnel and salary changes include the hiring of three part-time
employees by the Road and Bridge Department for the Reeves County
Detention Center's perimeter security fencing project. Salaries were set
at $12 per hour for Juan H. Guerrero and $7 per hour for the remaining
two labor workers; Rosie Poitevint was hired for a county judge's office
post at an annual salary of $15,000; Isela Lujan was hired to serve as a
Reeves County Juvenile Probation Clerk at an hourly salary of $5.50;
Daniel Reyna Machuca was hired as a juvenile detention officer on a
part-time basis at an hourly rate of $5.50 per hour; Ramon Saldana was
hired as a correctional officer at the RCDC for $15,000 per year; Juan
R. Prieto, correctional officer, RCDC, $15,000 per year and Hilda
Mondragon was hired to work for the Reeves County Justice of the Peace
J.T. Marsh at $8.80 per hour.

In other business, commissioners approved a drug testing policy and a
contract with Compliance Plus for random drug and alcohol testing for
county Commercial Driver's License (CDL) holders. The motion also
included a 90-day time period for all current Road and Bridge who do not
have a CDL to get one.

This was done in accordance with state regulation put into effect
earlier this year.

Edward Lazcano, who was requested by Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez to
be approved for reserve deputization was approved by commissioners. A
conflict with Randy Lozano's current employment was noted by the court
and commissioners disallowed him for approval.

Four bids submitted by Tony Sharon were awarded and Raul Tarin was
awarded two of the several bids he turned in for salvage material of the

Commissioners unanimously voted to engage the county in the Prevent
Blindness Golf Fore Sight Program. Robin Frerick, director of Prevent
Blindness in Midland, said that the program would allow golf enthusiasts
to purchase a membership card for $15, which will in turn allow them to
golf a round at one of the program member golf courses, plus other
purchase discounts.

Galindo asked Frerick if Prevent Blindness services Reeves County
residents. She commented that she and her executive director were in
town to visit with local health care facilities for that purpose.

The Toyah City Hall was designated by the court as the official polling
place for Toyah, Precinct 4. It was recently discovered that the Toyah
Baptist Church Annex, formerly the Precinct 4 voting box, did not meet
regulations according to U.S. Department of Justice guidelines.

Also, the court approved the data processing contract between the Reeves
County tax office and Pritchard and Abbott. Zuniga said that the
contract was the same as last year's with the exception that the old
jury summons cards, which were recently changed by the state, will still
be provided at no cost.

Banks are Republic's latest targets

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The anti-government group known as the Republic of Texas is setting its
sights on Texas banks, and bankers aren't quite sure what to make of the

In the past year, the secessionist movement has ordered Gov. George W.
Bush to leave office, formed its own ``defense forces'' and asked county
sheriffs to go to work for them.

Now, in an official-looking legal notice mailed to banks across the
state, movement leaders have declared that all Texas banks must apply to
the Republic treasurer within 30 days for bank charters or shut down.

``This fellow appears to be a couple enchiladas short of a combination
plate,'' says John Heasley of Austin, general counsel of the Texas
Bankers Association.

Darrell Dean Franks of Shiner, Republic of Texas treasurer, isn't amused
by jokes about the group, he says.

Republic followers are not cranks, but serious-minded citizens who want
to return power to average people, Franks said.

``They can say anything they want to. Just let them read the law and see
who wins.''

Republic leaders say that they are nonviolent. They say that ``arrest
warrants'' sent to a federal judge and prosecutor recently were the
actions of a president they later impeached.

The movement contends that the 1845 annexation of the Republic of Texas
by the United States was illegal and invalid, that Texas remains an
independent nation and that movement leaders constitute the legitimate

Texas Banking Commissioner Cathy Ghiglieri says the Republic notice to
bankers is no joke.

``This is not something we're taking lightly because of the threats that
have been made against judges and other state officials,'' Ms. Ghiglieri
told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The recent bank notice angered Jack Bean, chairman of Hurst-based Surety
Bank, which has seven branches, $175 million in assets and 100

``We turned it over to our attorney,'' Bean said. ``I've come across
nuts before, and they're dangerous.''

Bean said he doubts that his bank will file suit, but he is worried
about Republic of Texas followers who operate a weekly ``common-law
court'' in Arlington.

Filings from Republic followers have clogged courts and played havoc
with personal credit ratings of public officials and law enforcement
officers. The bogus debts have also prompted calls for new laws.

``They've done things to hurt people and ruined people's credit,'' Bean
said. ``I tell you, if you jack around with every bank in the state,
you've got some turmoil. If they can stop the banking process, I don't
know what it would do.''

Ms. Ghiglieri said she is referring complaints to Attorney General Dan
Morales, who has obtained a court order against some Republic members
for filing debt notices at courthouses around the state.

Morales said Republic actions have no legal basis ``except in the
minds'' of followers. He has also told Republic of Texas leaders that
they will be prosecuted if they break state law.

Franks said banks are the ones breaking the law. He said the banking
system is illegal because it is not tied to gold or silver as required
by the U.S founders.

He regularly refers to bankers as ``slavemasters'' and ``banksters.''

``We're just giving them the opportunity for them to come aboard to a
lawful banking system,'' Franks told the Star-Telegram.

Copyright 1996 Pecos Enterprise. All rights reserved. AP contributed to
this report.

Brito family members convicted in drug case

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Staff Writer

Pablo Salinas Brito of Midland faces possible life in prison for his
part in organizing and directing a drug-smuggling ring that imported
tons of marijuana into the United States.

Brito was convicted Friday by a federal court jury, along with four of
his brothers and one other member of his "gang." A car dealer indicted
for conspiracy to import and possess marijuana and conspiracy to launder
drug money was acquitted.

Vicente Adame of Midland allegedly sold vehicles to the Brito
organization, accepting cash but placing a lien on the vehicles so he
could retrieve them if they were seized by law enforcement officers, and
using means to disguise their use.

The jury found Adame not guilty on all three counts.

Pablo Brito was found guilty of 15 counts, including continuing criminal
enterprise, conspiracy to import and possess marijuana for distribution,
importing and possessing marijuana for distribution, and money

Adrana Brito, Jesus Salinas Brito, Adan Brito and Ignacio Berumez Brito
were found guilty of conspiracy to import and possess marijuana for
distribution and with possession of marijuana for distribution.

Benjamin Hernandez Rodriguez was found guilty of conspiracy to import
and posses marijuana for distribution, possession of marijuana for
distribution and money laundering.

Senior Judge Lucius Bunton set sentencing for Sept. 17 and ordered all
defendants held without bail. He will consider a pre-trial report on
Ignacio Brito and Rodriguez Tuesday to determine whether they should be
released on bail until sentencing.

An eighth defendant in the week-long trial was acquitted Thursday after
46 government witnesses completed their testimony. Richard Lewis Strack,
aka Robert Howard "Doc" Stevenson, was charged with conspiracy and
possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

Judge Bunton granted a motion for acquittal filed by his attorney, Abe
Factor, based on insufficient evidence to convict.

Because the transactions involved large amounts of marijuana, each
defendant faces a possible long prison term. Family members who had
watched the proceedings left the courthouse in tears shortly after the
5:15 p.m. verdict Friday.

Eight co-defendants in the 20-count indictment have pleaded guilty.
Several testified that they received reduced charges in exchange for
their cooperation with the government.

Family, officials hunt Andrews teen, minister

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A teen-age girl and the married youth minister who admitted having sex
with her are missing.

Her parents assume they are traveling together.

Kenneth Nix Jr., 36, was free on $25,000 bond on charges of sexually
assaulting Kimberly Ward, 15, when they vanished on June 18.

Her parents, Bill and Vivian Ward, have identified her publicly in the
hope that the disclosure will help locate her.

``The longer she's with him, the more damage this man is doing to her,''
Mrs. Ward told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

Nix, who has three children, had taken the girl in in December while
Bill Ward cared full-time for his terminally ill father.

The Wards say their daughter, who is diagnosed with learning
disabilities and attention deficit disorder, became close to Nix through
a youth group at the families' church when she was 13.

``Kimberly went over to his house one Thanksgiving to help his wife with
the cooking, and then she started spending more and more time over
there,'' Mrs. Ward remembered. ``I felt like I knew him, that I could
trust him.''

Kimberly came home in April and the next month, Nix told her parents
he'd been having sex with her, Ward said.

On May 9, after Nix gave a statement to the Andrews County Sheriff's
Department, he was charged with sexually assaulting a child and released
on bond.

``It broke my heart,'' Ward said. ``I just broke down and cried and
cried. It took everything out of me. I couldn't understand how he could
do that.''

The Wards said their daughter then underwent intensive counseling.

But later, Mrs. Ward said, she and her husband learned that Nix was
sending Kimberly notes in summer school and meeting her secretly.

They notified local authorities, and District Attorney Dennis Cadra
asked for Nix's bond to be revoked. Instead, Judge James Rex issued a
protective order prohibiting Nix from contacting Kimberly.

Days later, the two disappeared. No leads in the case have panned out
thus far, and Cadra said he asked that the FBI join the search.

Conviction of sexual assault could bring up to 20 years in prison.

Alpine fugitive caught after gun battle

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Special to the Enterprise

ALPINE - The search for Alvaro Hernandez, which began Thursday morning,
ended early today at his mother's residence in Alpine.

Following a gun battle with authorities, Hernandez surrendered at
around 12:45 a.m. today. Despite several shots being fired, no one was
seriously hurt.

Hernandez's capture came after the Brewster County Sheriff's Department
received a tip that Hernandez was holed up at his mother's residence in
the 700 Block of South Harrison. On Sunday, Hernandez was believed to
have stolen a Suburban from a ranch between Alpine and Marathon, and
returned to Alpine.

The sheriff's department summoned assistance from other law enforcement
agencies, and, led by Alpine Police, authorities staked out the
residence and established roadblocks and checkpoints around the city.

Several shots rang out in the vicinity of the residence shortly before
midnight. Authorities shot out street lights to avoid being targets,
while gunfire erupted from inside the trailer.

About a half hour later, Hernandez called the police dispatcher and
said he had plenty of firepower and that he would not be taken. A few
minutes later, he called the dispatcher again. He spoke with police
dispatcher Marybell Castro, with his sister, Irma, with city manager
Jerry Carvajal, and with sheriff Jack McDaniel, all of whom urged him to
give up.

Moments later, Hernandez stepped out of the trailer and was immediately
cuffed and whisked away to the Brewster County Jail.

Authorities also arrested his mother, Josefina, who was in the trailer
at the time. Other than a hand wound suffered by city policeman Curtis
Hines, no one was injured.

Hines was taken to the Big Bend Regional Medical Center, where he was
treated and released.

Hernandez is now facing a multitude of charges, in addition to the
aggravated robbery charge for which he was indicted earlier this month
by a Brewster County Grand Jury.

Hernandez was freed after serving 15 years of a life prison term on a
capital murder conviction which occurred in the mid-1970s. Last week
officials with the state agency which handles paroles and pardons told
Alpine's KVLF radio that Hernandez's release from the TDC was predicated
by the federal order to ease prison overcrowding, and by Hernandez's
record as a model prisoner.

The agency acknowledged that sometimes things don't work out as well as
they hope when prisoners are paroled. The agency also acknowledged that
part of the parole file on Hernandez is missing.

He was paroled from prison in 1991, 15½ years after the execution-style
shooting of motel clerk Robert Anthony Heard in a holdup at the Highland

Captured a short time later, Hernandez was later transferred to the
Pecos County Jail in Fort Stockton after a change of venue was granted
by state district judge Bill Earney. While held in Fort Stockton, he
overpowered a sheriff's deputy, took a vehicle, and escaped to Castalon
along the banks of the Rio Grande.

He was captured by Brewster County sheriff Jim Skinner following a gun
battle that involved Hernandez, U.S., and Mexican authorities.

This morning's standoff was the second time in two days authorities
have tried to apprehend Hernandez at a local residence. Another
residence on East Avenue G was staked out Saturday as authorities acted
on information that Hernandez was holed up at that residence.

Editor's Note: Hernandez has used several names, including the last name
Luna, which is believed to be his father's name. A story in Friday's
Enterprise used the name Luna.


Carl Johnson

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Carl Johnson, 72, died Friday, July 19, 1996 at his residence in
Stephenville. Services were at 1 p.m. today in First Baptist Church,
Stephenville, with burial in White Point Cemetery in Comanche County.

He was born June 26, 1924 in Comanche County and was a retired regional
manager from Texas-New Mexico Power Co.

Survivors include his wife, Nita Johnson of Stephenville; two sons,
Garry Johnson of Fort Worth and Wayne Johnson of Quinlan; three sisters,
Inez Fails of Comanche, Odell Kirksey of Temple and Lavell Baker of
Comanche; and six grandchildren.


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High Sunday 102, low last night 76. Tonight, fair. Low in the mid 70s.
Southeast wind 5-15 mph. Tuesday, mostly sunny. High around 101.
Southeast wind 5-15 mph.

Pecos Enterprise
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 1996 by Pecos Enterprise
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
This page prepared in askSam