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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Owners plan to close Bob’s, expand La Tienda

Staff Writer

One of Pecos’ two supermarkets will be closing its doors in the near future, but the store’s owners say they plan to retain all their current workers as part of a plan to make major improvements in their remaining store early next year.

Bob’s Thriftway, 1800 S. Cedar St., is being shut down by Fenn Foods of Artesia, N.M. Fenn is the longtime owner of Bob’s and has also operated La Tienda Thriftway in Pecos since November 1995. C.G. Evans, general manager of Fenn Foods, said the economic conditions in Pecos were responsible for the decision to close the smaller of their two Pecos stores.

“Since Anchor’s closing, we really haven’t had enough volume in town for two stores,” Evans said, referring to the 2002 shutdown of the Anchor West plant in Pecos that resulted in the loss of 700 jobs.

Anchor has since reopened under the TransPecos Foods name, and while company president Patrick Kennedy said on Monday they are looking at increasing the number of businesses regionally for which they supply frozen onion rings and other items, the current workforce at the plant is still several hundred below Anchor’s peak employment levels in 2001.

However, while Bob’s will be shutting down, Evans said, “We plan on a major renovation of La Tienda,” which will include Bob’s current employees.

“All of the personnel at Bob’s will be moved to La Tienda, if they want to go,” he said. “We’ll be doing a complete refurbishing and expansion of the store, which should begin after the first of the year.”

“We want to provide as nice a store as we can for Pecos,” said Evans. “We’re going to upgrade the deli and bakery, and reformat it so it’s much nicer for Pecos.”

Bob’s Thriftway operated for many years at Third and Park streets in Pecos, until its building was destroyed by fire in 1989. Two years later, the store reopened at its current site on Eddy Street when Quality Plus supermarket went out of business. In 1995, Fenn Foods purchased the Furr’s Supermarket at 810 S. Eddy St., when that company began selling off stores as part of bankruptcy reorganization.

At the same time, Fenn Foods purchased the other supermarket in Pecos, Hill’s Thriftway, and closed it down, leaving the two Eddy street stores as the city’s only supermarkets.

Furr’s began operating at La Tienda’s current site in 1988, after Safeway sold off all of its West Texas operations. The building was originally built for Safeway, and has gone through only minor changes since then. Fenn Foods added a delicatessen and bakery after moving into the building, while adding beer and wine sales later after a permit was granted to sell alcohol by the Pecos City Council.

In the past few years, Wal-Mart has expanded the amount of food items it sells in its Pecos store, though it’s stock on most grocery items remains far more limited than at the local supermarkets or at the company’s Supercenter stores. Company officials at Wal-Mart’s district office in Odessa were unavailable to comment on whether or not the company would add any more food items at the local store due to Bob’s closing.

City seeks to avoid cost of fixing broken wells

Staff Writer

Broken water wells at the Town of Pecos City’s new water field, and the responsibility for paying for their repairs, were discussed by council members on Thursday, during their regularly scheduled meeting.

The council went over that item, and a new fire department agreement with Reeves County, getting more money from the U. S. Marshals Service, and selecting a grant administrator to handle the administration duties regarding two new wells in the South Worsham water field as part of their 5:30 meeting at City Hall.

Director of Public Works Edgardo Madrid updated the council on two water wells that have failed recently at the South Worsham field, which was built over the past several years and began sending water to Pecos in 2004.

He said with 23 wells there would always be occasional problems, but that the failures in these two wells were out of the ordinary.

“The pipe broke, which is very unusual,” he said.

Madrid said that both wells were less than two years old and that both suffered a break in the down-hold pipe allowing pipe and pump to drop into the well.

“This is not common and we suspect either a manufacturer’s defect,” he said.

Madrid said that both wells were past the labor warranty period but that he had contacted the manufacturer regarding warranty and a possible defect in the pipe.

“We sent one (broken pipe) to the manufacturer and I sent one to an independent company in Odessa for testing as well,” he said.

Madrid said that in a worst case scenario repairs would cost the city about $4,000 for each well.

The council also approved the selection of Carlos Vargas to administer the grant covering the construction of the two new wells in the South Worsham field.

Madrid told the council that the grant was for $35,000 and that so far $10,000 had been spent for an environmental impact study.

“He has worked on numerous projects for Pecos and he has done excellent work in my opinion,” Madrid said.

Madrid said that Vargas’ salary would come out of the grant money and that it would be paid from the grant.

The Council also approved a new interlocal agreement with Reeves County regarding the county’s contribution toward keeping the Pecos Volunteer Fire Department rolling. Under the new agreement the county will pay $76,300 to help offset the costs of responding to fires outside the city limits.

Mayor Dot Stafford explained that while usually the city sets $20,000 dollars aside each year to put toward the purchase of a new piece of fire fighting equipment the fire department had requested the city spend the money on repairs to the fire hall this year, and the council approved the change.

The agreement still must be signed by Reeves County.

In an effort to get more money for the housing of Marshal’s Service prisoners at the Pecos Criminal Justice Center, the council authorized City Manager Joseph Torres, Finance Director Sam Contreras, Police Chief Clay McKinney and Jail Administrator Tony Dowdy to negotiate a new inter-governmental agreement with the Marshal’s Service.

Torres said that a higher rate was necessary to cover increased salary costs recently mandated by the U. S. Department of Labor (DOL).

Since the jailhouses federal prisoners the jailers come under DOL pay guidelines and that forced to the city to raise pay above the budgeted amounts.

That pay raise pushed the jailers’ pay above $31,000, and above the total paid to most of the city’s police officers, which forced the council to raise police officers’ base pay this past fall, to bring it in line with the jailers’ salaries.

Torres said that the city had retained Rick Reyes who operates Innovative Government Strategies to help negotiate the new contract.

“Reyes is an expert in negotiating these kind of contracts,” Torres said.

In other business the council also approved the sale of 12 pieces of property that have been stricken from the tax rolls and recognized six city employees for completing a four-hour course for supervisors.

Recognized were Pecos police officers Mike Balog, Juan Vasquez, and Paul Deishler; Tony Dowdy who is the jail administrator, City Secretary Connie Levario, and city warehouse employee Estella Munoz.

Torres said that the city was requiring all supervisors to complete the course.

RCDC’s construction bonds lifted above junk
bond status in new ratings service report

Staff Writer

Reeves County received some good news financially in the form of an improved credit rating report that will enable the county to bring more stability to the Reeves County Detention Center.

“We received our new rating from Standard and Poors, which is really good news,” said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.

Standard and Poors’ Ratings Services raised its underlying rating (SPUR) on Reeves County, lease-rental certificates of participation debt outstanding two notches to ‘BBB’- from ‘BB’ based on improved coverage levels that should result from the county’s debt service restructuring. The outlook is stable, according to the new rating, which lifted the county’s certificates out of junk bond status.

The county saw its bond ratings drop two years ago, when it was unable to find inmates to fill its new $40 million RCDC III unit.

“They raised our rating back to investment grade rating,” said Galindo. “This is a very positive decision for Reeves County and the Reeves County Detention Center,” he said. Standard and Poors’ also assigned its ‘BBB’-standard long-term rating, and stable outlook, to the county’s series 2005 taxable additional lease-rental revenue refunding certificates of participation.

Wayne Calabrese, chief operating officer for the GEO Group, praised Galindo for his efforts in raising the credit rating.

“The facility is running very well at this time and we think it will continue to do so,” said Calabrese. “Our company is delighted to be associated with Reeves County,” he said.

GEO was hired in late 2003 to manage all three units at the RCDC, after the county was unable to find inmates to house in the RCDC III unit. Part of the agreement included efforts by GEO to local prisoners for the new facility.

Calabrese said that GEO has a good relationship with the county and a great deal of confidence.

“It has been an ideal relationship for a facility of this kind,” said Calabrese.

“It is a real pleasure to work with Judge Galindo, he has worked very hard with the investors to insure successful restructuring of the leases,” he said. “As a result we’re very close to achieving our goal of making rent payments at the facility.”

The county will use certificate proceeds from the improved bond rating to refund a portion of its certificates outstanding to lower the annual rental payment on the RCDC. The restructuring’s effect will be an extension of the maturity schedule and a lowering of the rental payment from 2005 through 2011, according to a press release by Standard and Poors’

The upgrade to ‘BBB’ is contingent on management’s refunding of the debt outstanding identified in the offering memorandum. Should the refunding not occur, the rating on the debt outstanding would revert back to the previous ‘BB’ rating, the company said.

In 2004, Reeves County and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons finalized an agreement in which the bureau will continue to use only Reeves County Detention Center’s sections I and II. Management used the most recent certificates of participation to finance the construction of RCDC III, but could not get the BOP to provide inmates for the 960-bed facility. The BOP did agree to a new per diem has been set at $48.25 for a minimum of 2,025 federal inmates. The new agreement will extend to Jan. 31, 2007, with annual per diem adjustments. The bureau has placed inmates at the facility since 1986.

With the BOP using only space available in RCDC I and II, the county negotiated an agreement with Arizona Department of Corrections last February to house a minimum of 778 of the state’s inmates in RCDC III of the facility at a per diem of $44.80. Inmates began arriving at Reeves County Detention Center in March 2004. The contract was extended later that year to June 30, 2005.

Either party can terminate the annual contract with 30 days notice, but county officials expect the agreement to be extended by the state of Arizona for another year.

Calabrese that the raising of the bond rating to investment grade status will help with the restructuring. “It will be very beneficial now and in the coming years,” he said.

Calabrese said the change is beneficial if the prison can keep fixed costs. “It will allow us to move forward,” said Calabrese.

“This falls in place at a level where they were last year and should be very, very good results for the county,” said Calabrese.

Calabrese said that the facility is located in an ideal location and that they are very pleased to be associated with Reeves County.

With the restructuring of the rental payments and the assumption that RCDC I and II will continue to be used only by the BOP, Standard and Poors’ said the facility should generate sufficient revenues to cover expenses and debt service by roughly 1.3 times the projected payment. When revenue from Arizona is added from its use of RCDC III, coverage remains roughly the same, especially given the contract structure with GEO to manage the facility.

Coverage improves as more inmates are added to sections I and II, according to the S&P report. Management will use up-front savings resulting from the restructuring to provide a cushion against possible inmate population fluctuations and reimburse the county’s general fund for previous extraordinary transfers that were made to cover facility operating costs during the period when RCDC III was not being used.

The stable outlook reflects the expectation that the BOP will continue to use the facility and that revenues derived from the facility’s operation will continue to provide sufficient coverage of all operating costs and associated debt service, Standard and Poors’ report said. It added that the stable outlook rating also reflects Reeves County’s willingness to provide some level of financial assistance should the need arise.

Workman, Alyea wed in Pilot Point’s Lantana Lodge

Lindley Rene Workman and Steven Christopher Alyea were married on March 19, in a sunset ceremony at Lantana Lodge in Pilot Point, overlooking Lake Ray Roberts. Workman is the daughter of Emma and Jerry Workman of Pecos.

The groom is the son of Kreis and Carol Alyea of Gonzales.

Dr. Jeff Williams, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in Denton, officiated the ceremony.

Given away by her father, the bride wore a strapless A-line gown with a heavily beaded sweetheart neckline. A wide, satin band that matches the neckline continues to the back of the bodice to form an elegant collar-like flap. Beads and clear sequins above the hemline complimented the beaded swirl design at the back of the design at the back of the bodice. Hand beaded buttons were attached from the invisible zipper all the way down the train.

Her veil of sheer illusion had an embroidered trim and clear diamantes were scattered along the edge.

The bride’s bouquet consisted of white Casablanca lilies, and Eskimo roses surrounded by Gerber daisies, hydrangeas, Indiana tulips, and phlox with a touch of hypericum and monkey tails for accent. The bouquet was hand tied with black ribbon.

Karen Schroeder Davis served as matron of honor. Katy Goolsby, maid of honor and Rebecca Alyea, sister of the groom, served as bridesmaids. All three wore black, tea and floor length strapless gowns. Each carried a bouquet of orange unique roses, yellow mini callas and red Gerber daisies. Red hypericum berries added a splash of additional color to the hand tied bouquets.

Amanda Pruett, cousin of the groom and Brynn Workman, niece of the bride, served as flower girls. They wore white tea length dresses with a satin top and white pearls. The Cinderella style skirt made of white tulle tied in black with a wide satin sash. Both flower girls wore a head pieces made of baby’s breath and carried miniature bouquets to match the bridesmaids.

The groom wore a black Torino self-top collar with a shirt-Jacket look satin notch lapels with satin covered buttons and slanted welt lower pockets. A formal shirt and Matissa full-black white vest and matching cravat.

Ben Terry served as best man. Cayce Williams and Kent Pruett, uncle of the groom, served as groomsmen.

Brothers of the bride, Jim, Michael and Jerry Workman Jr. served as ushers and escorted their sister with their father as he walked her down the aisle. All wore Torino tuxedos with black vest and matching cravats. Nephews of the bride, Justin and Phillip Michael Workman assisted as junior ushers and escorted their grandmother.

They wore boutonnieres of orange unique roses with ivy leaves and hypericum and black ribbon.

The bride’s mother wore a blue, floor-length gown with traces of silver threads that accented the flare skirt and sequined top with matching jacket.

The groom’s mother wore a plum colored tea length dress and accented it with black and white strands of pearls. Both wore corsages of yellow sweetheart roses accented with hypericum and black ribbon.

The gazebo where the ceremony took place was decorated with a large floral arrangement in a silver urn. The flowers were gladiolas, orange unique roses, gerbera daisies, hypericum, snap dragons, gold strike roses, solidago, ruckus, Indiana tulips, godetia, and enchantment lilies. The aisle was marked with eight Tiki torches adorned in greenery and white miniature roses and white bows.

The tables were covered with black and white linen tablecloths and featured hurricane globes with pillar candles surrounded by arrangements of Gerber daisies in the bride’s colors of orange, red and yellow.

After dinner, the guests enjoyed music by Mariachi Sola Seca from Ft. Worth and danced on the outside patio decorated with Tiki torches and clear lights.

The couple was honored with several parties in Denton and Pecos.

On Friday, a rehearsal dinner was hosted by the groom’s parents for the wedding party and family. A Saturday morning brunch for the groom and his attendants was hosted by the groom’s grandmother Genelda Pruett.

After a wedding trip to Jamiaca, the couple will be at home in Seguin.

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