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Monday, November 4, 1996

Miller granted new trial on tampering allegation

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Staff Writer

PEOCS, November 4, 1996 - District Judge Bob Parks has set aside a
witness tampering conviction against Jim Ed Miller and ordered a new

Miller was convicted Aug. 15 by a 143rd District Court jury, which
recommended the minimum punishment of 180 days in state jail, probated
for two years.

His attorney, Richard Abalos of Odessa, filed a motion for arrest of
judgment and a new trial. Judge Parks heard arguments from Abalos and
District Attorney John Stickels on those motions Oct. 24 and gave
Stickels until Oct. 30 to submit briefs on his position.

Abalos said today that Judge Parks' decision in Miller's favor probably
means "this case probably won't go anywhere from here on because of a
faulty indictment and statute."

In his motion to quash the indictment, Abalos contended that it was
vague and indefinite as to what Miller was charged with.

"The judge ordered John Stickels to amend the indictment to be
specific," Abalos said. "He tried to amend it at trial and the judge
wouldn't allow it."

In his motion for new trial, Abalos filed an affidavit of legislative
intent, which states that the legislation on "tampering with a witness"
has an error that made it impossible for ordinary people to understand
what action is prohibited.

"That statute is fatally defective," Abalos said.

Abalos had not heard this morning that Judge Parks had granted his

"If we get a new trial, I am glad for Jim Ed. He's been punished enough
already. He's been through hell, just going through this whole
indictment and trial on what appears to be a vague and defective statute
and indictment," he said.

Miller is "rich in friends," Abalos said. "They stand by him 100
percent, literally, figuratively and financially."

During the trial and motions hearing, the courtroom was filled with
Miller's friends.

The indictment alleged that Miller attemepted to harm Ed Armstrong's
credit or business reputation when he went to Terry Burkholder's office
on Jan. 12.

Miller admitted asking Burkholder to call his partner, Brad Bennett, and
ask him to influence Armstrong to stop his actions regarding Red Bluff
Water Power Control District, which Miller serves as general manager.

But he denied any intent to coerce Armstrong not to be a witness against
him or Red Bluff.

To coerce a person means to make a threat, "however communicated, to
harm the credit or business reputation of any person," Judge Parks said
in the jury charge.

"A witness means any person who poses a threat to the actor of what they
know," he said.

Miller said he talked to Burkholder on impulse after receiving a
subpoena for Red Bluff audits for the past 10 years.

He said he feared Armstrong would do the same thing to Red Bluff that he
was doing to the Ward County Irrigation District #1, which was under
investigation in Ward County for alleged misuse of public funds.

That district and its directors were found "not guilty" in a bench trial
before Judge Parks in Monahans.

Early voting concludes with 1,700 ballots cast

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Staff Writer

PECOS, November 4, 1996 - The last day for early voting in Reeves County
brought in only 250 more ballots by both personal appearance and
mail-in, the Reeves County Clerk's office said today.

Early voting for Tuesday's general election closed at 5 p.m. on Friday,
and of the total 7,623 registered voters in Reeves County, only 22
percent have exercised their legal right to vote during the 1996 general

Personal appearance totals were tallied at 1,409, which also includes
the 100 brought in during the special Saturday voting on Oct. 26 at La
Tienda Thriftway. A total of 299 mail-in ballots have been received as
of today.

Election judges will report to their designated voting polls by 7 a.m.
tomorrow, at which time ballots boxes will open for the public.

The following will be the election voting precincts:

Box #1 - Pecos Community Center;
Box #2 - Pecos Elementary;
Box #3 - Pecos High School;
Box #4 - Toyah City Hall;
Box #5 - Balmorhea Senior Citizen Center;
Box #6 - Saragosa Multi Purpose Center;
Box #7 - Reeves County Library;
Box #8 - Lamar Middle School 8th Grade, Room 1;
Box #9 - Orla Red Bluff Office;
Box #10 - Reeves County Annex Building, north wing;
Box #11 - Bessie Haynes Elementary and
Box #12 - Texas-New Mexico Power building, on Stafford Boulevard.

The Early Ballot Board will meet to qualify absentee ballots on the
third floor of the Reeves County Courthouse on election day.

Barstow voters can cast their ballots from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the
Barstow Community Center, while all Loving County voting precincts will
be located at the Loving County Courthouse in Mentone.

All area voters will be casting ballots for president, U.S. Senate and
the District 23 race for the House of Representatives. Voters in Ward
and Loving counties, as well as those voting at Box 9 in Reeves County
will also be casting ballots in an open election for the District 28
seat in the Texas Senate. Four Republicans and three Democrats are
seeking that post, and a runoff election is possible next month.

Locally, Reeves County voters have only one contested race, for Pct. 1
commissioner, where incumbent Lupe Garcia is being challenged by
write-in candidates Mickey Vasquez and Felipe Arredondo.

Ex-workers at R&R file mercury suit

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Staff Writer

PECOS, November 4, 1996 - Four former employees of Recovery &
Reclamation Inc. have filed suit for personal injuries they claim
resulted from exposure to mercury and mercury vapors.

William R. Meador, R&R owner, declared bankruptcy in 1995, and the
battery recycling firm was sold last fall to Battery Conservation
Technology Inc.

Jenaro Machuca, Alvaro S. Natividad, Ramon Gonzales and Elisa F.
Carrasco filed suit Thursday in 143rd District Court seeking damages
from Meador.

They claim bodily impairment, loss of earnings and loss of earning
capacity in the future, but specify no damage amount.

Trial is set for Nov. 18 on another mercury damage claim, but the
plaintiff's attorney has asked for a continuance because he will be in
court in Midland that day.

Michael Wyles, president of BCTI, said the company has no ties to R&R
and is not responsible for any of the claims against the former owner.

He said that batteries recycled at the plant do contain traces of
mercury, but that a mercury expert had told company officials and the
medical community that mercury, in its elemental state, causes no

"It is when you change its elemental state that it becomes a problem,"
Wyles said. "We have a system to test it, and we come in well under the
regulatory limits of everything. People are buying our product, and they
run tests, too. They come in under all the guidelines."

Armando Gil said that an unrelated mercury spill in the 700-800 blocks
of Oak Street in August caused some concern, but he has no reports of
ill effects on those exposed to the mercury.

He said that County Health Officer Dr. W.J. Bang recommended cleaning up
the spill because the mercury could vaporize if the temperature reached
98 degrees, and the vapor could be harmful if inhaled.

Two families whose houses had been contaminated by children playing with
the mercury were housed at Swiss Clock Inn temporarily while Ecological
Environmental Services of Midland removed carpet from the houses and
picked up all the drops of mercury.

Gil said he recommended that all those exposed to the mercury go to a
doctor for a precautionary checkup.

"I haven't heard from them," he said.

Commissioners OK changes in pact with BOP

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Staff Writer

PECOS, November 4, 1996 - A modified Statement of Work between the
Bureau of Prisons and Reeves County was approved in a special meeting
held this morning.

"There are a number of provisions that have changed," said Reeves County
Judge Jimmy B. Galindo of the agreement between the BOP and the county
for housing federal inmates the Reeves County Detention Center.

He said there are two main provisions in the modification of the
Statement of Work, with the first involving the medical health care
provided to inmates.

"RCDC will now pay the first $5,000 of all care to inmates," said
Galindo, and tuberculosis testing will be done to all inmates coming in
to the facility and upon leaving the facility, according to the

The other provision is to provide better pay for employees at the
detention center.

"We have gone through several steps in providing better pay to the
employees out there and BOP is in agreement with that objective," said

Other minor provisions included in the Statement of Work included adding
an additional San Antonio position, which was implemented over a year

"Another minor provision is to provide more hobbies, crafts," said

Changes in the shower stalls at the facility need to be made and in
inmate clothing.

"Staff pay and medical health were the two main ones," said Galindo.

Commissioners praised Galindo's good work and his efforts in
establishing an excellent relationship with the BOP.

"I highly commend the judge in all his good work, especially with the
BOP, who is our client," said Commissioner Precinct #1 Lupe Garcia.

He said he realizes how hard the judge works and is
especially pleased with his cooperative efforts with the BOP.

Galindo stated that none of this could be accomplished without teamwork.

"It's a team effort and we as a team have really come together for this
community," said Galindo. "We have focused on our target and headed
toward it, now it's time to focus on new levels."

"There are still modifications that need to be made in the budget in
regard to pay," said Galindo.

Galindo told the court that new CEO Rodolfo "Rudy" Franco, who is
scheduled to be in Pecos on Nov. 12, had suggested that there be a pay
differential for staff that works at night.

"We'll discuss that when he comes in next week," said Galindo.

The new man-day rate price redetermination were also approved at this
morning's meeting.

In the price redetermination $43 will be paid for housing between 0-399
inmates; $38 for 400-499 and $36.50 for any population over 500.

"This will be effective Dec. 1," said Galindo.


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Due to misinformation received, a story in Friday's Enterprise
incorrectly stated that Niomi Tarango was treated and released from the
Reeves County Hospital after she was struck by an egg.

Tarango was hurt and taken to the local hospital after she fell out of
the back of a pickup. The vehicle she was in, carrying only female
passengers, was being egged by a group of teenage boys in a second car.

The vehicle she was in was also involved in the Thursday night egg
throwing frenzy.


D.L. Atchison

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D. L. Atchison, 68, died Saturday, Nov. 2 at Medical Center Hospital in

Services are scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 2 p.m. at Hubbard-Kelly
Funeral Home Chapel in Odessa with Rex. Clayton officiating. Burial will
be in Sunset Memorial Gardens.

He was born Feb. 22, 1928 in Hollis, Okla., owned and operated property
damage appraisers and was an avid bass fisherman.

Survivors include his wife, Laura Atchison of Odessa; one son, Danny
Atchison of Odessa; one daughter, Diana Atchison Rhinehart of
Carrollton; his mother, Ann Atchison of Spearman and two grandchildren.


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PECOS, Nov. 4, 1996 - High Sunday 74, low last night 48. Tonight, fair.
Low in the lower 40s. Light wind. Tuesday, partly cloudy. High in the
upper 70s. South wind increasing to 10-20 mph and gusty by afternoon.
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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
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