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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Commissioners hear from new RCDC warden

Staff Writer

Reeves County Commissioners heard from the new warden for two of the units at the Reeves County Detention Center, during their meeting Monday morning at the Reeves County Courthouse.

Tony Garcia told commissioners he’s been busy getting settled, visiting with the staff and looking over reports since taking over as warden at the RCDC I and II units earlier this month. Garcia replaced Rudy Franco who retired after serving as warden for the facility since late 1995.

“The staff is pretty low, which means somebody has been dong a good job of running the facility with that amount of staff,” said Garcia. “I understand that there is a good amount of comp time owed to the employees and I’ll be looking at that,” he said.

Garcia said that he would be looking at those numbers.

“One of the main items that we always look at is security,” said Garcia.

Garcia said that he would also look at the shift meetings. “It’s very important that that’s not what’s building up comp time,” he said.

Garcia said that it would be some time before any changes were made. “There’s a lot of things that need to be looked and maybe no changes will be needed,” he said.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo welcomed Garcia in to the community. “We are very glad that you chose to come here,” he said.

Garcia was with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division from 1980 to 2001. He was then appointed to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles by Gov. Rick Perry in 2001 and served as chief commissioner.

He was based in Palestine before taking the job in Pecos.

Garcia, 48, has worked for some of the largest correctional facilities in the state. From 1999 to 2001, he was senior warden at the Coffield Unit, which is a 4,150 maximum-security prison, and was senior warden at the Garcia Units, a 4,460-bed transfer facility, from 1997 to 1990.

RCDC I and II hold 2,100 inmates, under a contract with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. RCDC III operates with different supervisory personnel and houses inmates under a contract with the State of Arizona.

In other action on Monday, commissioners approved the purchasing of a new alarm system for the Reeves County Courthouse and the probation office, from Secure Tech-Wireless Notification System.

Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez introduced the group to Steve Kirby with Secure Tech Wireless.

“We don’t have any security systems in place at the courthouse and the juvenile probation department,” said Gomez. “If someone were to come in here and threaten the employees in one of the offices it would be some time before help would arrive,” he said. Gomez said that with this system, the law enforcement officials would be notified immediately and could respond likewise.

Gomez said that there was money in place for the system and would not have to be budgeted.

Kirby said that they have been installing systems for the past 10 years and have over 40 percent of all the counties in Texas on their system.

“We would install wireless plugs in all the offices in the courthouse,” said Kirby. “If someone in that particular office pushes the button, it will alert the officers, and tell them from which office the signal is coming from,” he said.

A message would then be relayed through the scanners and tell the officers that someone is needed to respond, according to Kirby.

“There’s a lot of ways to set the system up,” he said.

Kirby said that they had identified 25 systems to set up buttons in. “There’s very little work as far as installation,” he said.

Kirby said that he was prepared to install the system at the courthouse Monday. “The probation department will require a second button and we can do that later,” he said.

Cost for the system was $17,806 and had a two-year warranty.

“Once we set up this system there is no maintenance and it rarely has any problems,”said Kirby. “They’ll just have to change the batteries, but the system will alert them that the batteries are running low.”

A button will also be set up the Justice of the Peace office, according to Kirby. “Once the system is up and running there is not a lot that goes wrong,” he said.

Austin area city manager set as speaker

Staff Writer

A guest speaker from a Central Texas town with a longtime involvement in the state’s Main Street program will headline this year’s Pecos Chamber of Commerce Banquet, which will be held the final weekend of February.

The banquet is scheduled for 7 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 26, at the Reeves County Civic Center and guest speaker will be Jim Dunaway, the city manager of Elgin.

Dunaway has worked on the Main Street Program, which the Town of Pecos City officially joined last year, and which Elgin has been a member of since 1990. It also was named a National Main Street Community from 1999 through 2001.

Most recently Dunaway had been the topic of TV’s Dr. Phil show and was featured in the December issue of Texas Monthly.

Dunaway lost 100 pounds as part of his cooperation with Dr. Phil McGraw, who taped a year’s worth of shows in Elgin, which featured Dunaway’s eating habits.

Elgin, located just east of Austin, has invested approximately $7 million in its downtown area in the 14 years since it joined the Main Street program. Most of the buildings there were built between the late 1870s and the years just after World War II, and the Elgin Commercial Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.

Main Street is a national approach to saving our heritage by preserving historic downtown areas. Pecos was one of three cities selected by the Texas Historic Commission, Anice Read Main Street Center to become Main Street Cities in 2004, and is currently working on the first major project for the downtown area, the conversion of the former Missouri-Pacific Railroad Depot into the Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame.

Along with the appearance by Dunaway as guest speaker, the annual awards for community service will be given out during the Chamber of Commerce banquet, which Chamber Executive Director Linda Gholson said would be held for the first time on a Saturday in 2005.

December unemployment

Staff Writer

Reeves County’s workforce grew slightly faster than the increase in jobs in the county during the Christmas shopping season, and the result was a one-tenth of a percent rise in the county’s unemployment rate last month.

The Texas Workforce Commission reported on Friday that unemployment in Reeves County was up from 6.6 percent in November to 6.7 percent last month. The county had 5,231 people in its workforce in December, 91 more than a month earlier, while there were 79 additional jobs in the county, with 4,881 people employed.

The number of jobs and the number of workers usually rises in December due in part to pre-holiday increases in workers. The total number of jobs normally falls in January following the Christmas season, while unemployment rises in the county.

The TWC said for all of 2004, unemployment in Reeves County averaged 7.4 percent, while the total number of workers in December was about 90 below the average for the year, and the number of jobs was 60 under the yearly average. The county’s workforce and total number of jobs fell during the summer, while unemployment was down from a high of 9.7 percent last January. The TWC reported at that time there were 4,966 jobs in Reeves County while the local workforce totaled 5,500 people.

The Town of Pecos City’s jobless rate for December was slightly higher than the county as a whole, and was also up .1 percent from November. The TWC said the city’s rate was 7.7 percent, with 4079 workers and 3766 with jobs. That’s an increase of 71 workers and 61 jobs over November.

For the full 12 months of 2004, the city averaged an 8.5 percent jobless rate. The average number of workers in the labor force for the year was 4,169, while there were 3,815 jobs on average during the same period. As with the county, both those numbers were lower than earlier in the year, while the jobless rate was down from its 2004 high of 11.1 percent in January.

Other area counties also saw their jobless rates remain virtually unchanged in Decmeber, while adding jobs and workers in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Pecos County’s job rate fell from 4.2 to 4.1 percent, as the number of workers increased by almost 150 while the number of jobs rose by the same amount. Winkler County saw its rate fall from 5 to 4.8 percent, as the local labor force and the total number of jobs were both up by about 30 for the month.

Andrews County saw a small rise in its rate, from 3.1 to 3.3 percent, as the county gained only one job last month, while the labor force was up by 15 from November. Ward County’s rate was up a little more than other counties, from 4.7 to 5.1 percent, as it had three fewer jobs in December while the workforce grew by 15 people, while Brewster County continued to have one of the state’s lowest unemployment rates, at 1.9 percent. That’s up a tenth of a percent from November, as the county saw both its workforce and total number of workers fall with the end of the fall semester at Sul Ross State University in Alpine.

Neighboring Presidio county’s rate continued to be the highest in the state, at 18.2 percent, up 1.8 percent from November, as it added 80 workers to its December labor force but only seven jobs. The area’s two largest counties, and the two where most of the holiday shopping season hires occur, Midland and Ector, both saw drops of .3 percent in their unemployment rates. Midland’s rate fell from 3.3 to 3.1 percent, as it added nearly 200 jobs while the labor force grew by less than 100. Ector’s was down from 4.9 to 4.6 percent,as it added 189 jobs while the workforce actually declined by 50 from November.

Heroin found by sheriff, deputy following struggle with suspect

A warrant search led to discovery of half a dozen packets of heroin and several other drug-related items by Reeves County Sheriff’s Department officers.

Sheriff Andy Gomez and deputy Christina Winfrey conducted the initial search, which occurred on Jan. 14 at 2:25 p.m. when they said Don Barton, 413 S. Mulberry St., was spotted outside his home. According to Winfrey’s report, Barton was wanted on a grand jury warrant and went she and the sheriff approached his house, they smelled marijuana coming from inside.

She said Barton attempted to resist arrest and was seen putting an orange balloon in his mouth. Gomez was able to get the balloon out of his mouth, and Winfrey said inside wee six small packets believed to contain heroin. A search of the home also turned up a marijuana cigarette and a syringe with three plungers.

In addition, Winfrey said after deputy Ruben Dominguez and Pecos Police officers Cosme Ortega and Mundie Granado were called to the home, Barton was observed reaching for something between the sofa cushions, which was found to be a black handle fix blade knife and a small club.

Barton was transported to the Reeves County Jail, where he was charged with possession of a controlled substance, and resisting arrest.

Faulty heater causes smoky south side fire

A hard-to-reach fire on Saturday had Pecos volunteer firemen out at the Lindsey addition on the south side of town for almost four hours, though smoke and water damage reportedly were the main problems suffered by the house in the incident.

The fire was reported shortly before 8:30 p.m. at 2409 Sacatan Road, on the south side of the Lindsey addition. Both fire and ambulance personnel were called to the site, but no one was injured by the fire, according to Town of Pecos City Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire.

“The reason it took so long was the house is an old house and had a solid wood ceiling,” Brookshire said. “Plus the roof was a shingle roof, but it also had a metal roof on top of it, so that made it hard to get to from the top or the bottom.”

Brookshire said firemen eventually had to cut holes in the ceiling in order to get to the fire, which started along a wall of the home and spread to the attic. “Most of the damage was done in the attic, and most of it was heavy smoke and water damage,” Brookshire said.

He added that the cause of the fire has been ruled as being accidental, and was caused by an improperly installed homemade wood stove.

“They had it right up against a 2-by-4 stud, and it got hot enough to ignite the 2-by-4 and it spread up into the attic from there,” Brookshire said.

Aragon celebrates first birthday

Myrik Aragon celebrated his first birthday on Jan. 15, with a birthday party in Midland at the home of his uncle and aunt, Scott and Cheryl Stapleton.

Theme for the special event was “Noah’s Ark.”

His sisters Zandria and Tabitha were on hand to help celebrate his birthday along with family and friends.

Everyone was served hamburgers and hot dogs as well as birthday cake. Myrik is the son of Stephen Aragon and Rebecca Rich.

Maternal grandparents are Roy and Debra Rich and Billie Rich.

Maternal great-grandparents are H.E. and Edna Stanton and Bill and Jean Shanklin. Paternal grandparents are Velma Dominguez and the late Osbaldo Aragon.

Paternal great-grandparents are Fred and Vera Dominguez and Alicia Herrera.

Gil deployed to Iraq with National Guard

Sgt. David S. Gil, who serves with the Texas Army National Guard, was deployed Jan. 2, from Ft. Hood, to serve in Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sgt. Gil has served proudly with the Texas Army National Guard for 12 years.

His wife, Victoria L. Gil, of Odessa, mother Senaida S. Sutton of Pecos and father, Armando Gil Jr. of Killeen, would like to wish him all their love and pray for his safe return home, along with all those who are serving with him.

He is the grandson of the Eugenia Sanchez and Benino Sanchez of Toyah and Armando and Paz Gil of El Paso.

Orona joins war in Iraq with U.S. Army

Joshua Joseph Orona, with the U.S. Army, has been deployed to Iraq. Orona is with the 5th Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division and will participate in Operation Iraqi Freedom for a minimum of one year.

A deployment ceremony was held Jan. 1, in Waco.

He is the son of Saul Orona of Pecos and Lisa Orona of Odessa. Grandparents are Sauldiego and Manuela Orona.

The 56th was organized as the 1st Texas Cavalry Brigade in 1919. Re-designated the 56th Brigade of the 23rd Cavalry Division in 1921, the 56th was the only brigade of horse cavalry activated for World War II, serving stateside with the southern defense command. In 1944, it traded in its horses and was reorganized as the 56th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop - Mechanized. Its regiments, the 112th Cavalry, fought in the Pacific and Asia until 1945.

The 56th was re-designated as Combat Command “A” of the 49th Armored Division in 1946 and served on stateside active duty during the Berlin Crisis in 1961. During the Cold War the unit had various designations, including 2nd Brigade 49th Armored Division, 49th Armored Group, the 49th Armored Brigade, and, again, the 2nd Brigade of the 49th Armored Division.

With the re-flagging of the 49th Armored to the 36th Infantry Division, it regained is previous name as the 56th Brigade.

The motto of the 56th Brigade Combat Team is: “Thunderbolt - Strike Hard!”

Rodriguez celebrates fourth birthday

Jazlyn Imari Rodriguez celebrated her fourth birthday on Jan. 2, with a party held in her honor in Midland.

Family and friends were on hand to help celebrate the special occasion. Greenie the Clown paid a visit to the party to entertain the kids.

Jazlyn is the daughter of Dephanie O. Rodriguez of Midland and David Rodriguez of Monahans, formerly of Pecos.

She is the granddaughter of Joe and Diana Ortega and Frank and Elida Rodriguez, all of Pecos


James Osborn

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