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Tuesday, April 25, 2000

Gomez seeks cash to keep task force afloat

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer
PECOS, April 25, 2000 - Reeves County Commissioners agreed to help Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez in trying to get the cash match for the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force at their regular meeting held Monday morning.

"We're coming to the end of the year and need the cash match for the drug task force," Gomez told commissioners, referring to the deadline at the end of may to secure refunding of the task force.

Gomez told the court that he wanted to be placed on the agenda to ask for their help in getting the cash match that is needed by the drug task force as part of their agreement with the other entities.

"I thought we could draw up some kind of letter or you could help us in finding a way to get the other entities to pay us the cash match," said Gomez.

The sheriff said he knew Reeves County wasn't in great financial shape following the incident earlier this month involving mandated repairs at the Reeves County Jail, but that the cash match was needed as they ended the program year.

"We need to get $13,000 from each entity as part of their cash match and we need your help and support in getting these funds," said Gomez.

The Trans Pecos Drug Task Force was created in 1998 and is based in Pecos. It is led by Gomez with task force commander in charge Gary Richards.

"Reeves County has already spent in the range of $100,000 as the host," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.

"We've been trying to allocate funds in order to keep this going because they aren't paying their share match," he said.

Reeves County was supposed to put in $33,000 but has actually put in $99,000, according to Reeves County Auditor Lynn Owens. "Some of the other officers haven't been paid because we don't have the money," he said.

"The Town of Pecos City has already paid their match," Owens added

"Reeves County has done their share and some of these partners have not," said Galindo. "They have failed to provide for their officers, and instead are riding on the back of Reeves County."

Galindo stated that the first option in financing the task force was by bed space, the second option, through forfeitures and seizures and the third through cash match, from all the entities involved.

"And we're fast approaching the end of the program which is May 31," said Galindo.

Gomez told the court that the task force employs five people locally, has in office in Pecos, pay for the office space, equipment and other materials. "The task force is doing their part, they are working hard," said Gomez.

"Reeves County has been doing everything in the world to keep it going," he said.

Gomez stated that some of the sheriff's from the counties involved don't want to have to ask the commissioners court for the funds. "But if I can stand up here and ask for a lot more, they can ask for a mere $13,000," he said.

"If we only have eight entities, then the cash match should be a lot more than $13,000," said Owens.

Drug Task Force Commander Gary Richards told the court that they have funds from seizures which are slowly coming in. "We haven't been awarded some of these funds, but we will have them," he said.

"They knew what they were getting into," said Gomez. "They're getting a heck of an investment and it isn't that much what they have to put in."

"We need to find out exactly how many of our inmates have been held in other jails and how much we owe each entity," said Galindo.

"Once it's a forfeiture we can use it as a cash match," said Richards. "We've received some, but they haven't been transferred to the county."

"Why do you think they're hesitating in paying the cash match?" asked Galindo.

"They think we're responsible because of the jail space," said Gomez.

"In the resolution it says they're responsible for their cash match at the end of the year," said task force auditor Bruce Salcido. "Maybe that's what they're waiting for."

Reeves County Precinct 2 Commissioner David Castillo questioned whether there was an accurate accountability of where the funds were going. "Maybe they want to know exactly how their funds are being spent and where the money is going," said Castillo.

"I don't think there's an issue of how the money is being spent," said Salcido.

"Is there some kind of outside audit, such as by the state?" asked Castillo.

"We're prepared to give them all the information they request," said Gomez.

"How can it be a good investment if we just spent $100,000," asked Precnict 1 Commissioner Felipe Arredondo.

"It's an investment in your community and we'll be receiving it back," said Salcido.

"I'm not saying we're not on the up-and-up, but we need to have the exact information that they will request," said Castillo.

"The resolution said that those options would be taken and this is the third option," said Galindo.

"I've talked to some of the entities who have stated that $25,000 to them was not that much," said Richards.

Jeff Davis County has the money appropriated, to say that it will be disbursed after January and no later than May 31 and the 113th Judicial District, which is Reagan County wanted to make a $5,000 donation, according to Richards.

"This is good for the community, trying to get the crooks of the street," said Gomez. "It's a good investment."

The sheriff said if they could get the commissioners court to appoint a commissioner to act as liaison and visit each sheriff and county judge and talk to them about what is going on it would help procure the funds.

"We could do that, and maybe include someone from the task force," said Galindo.

The commissioners court will draft a letter requesting to meet with the county judge or commissioners to make a presentation to the court about the grant match in each of the counties, according to Galindo.

Galindo promised to make himself available as well.

"I think we need to go meet with the county judge or commissioners informally before we make a formal presentation," said Galindo.

Commissioners agreed to accompany Galindo and Gomez on their presentations based on an availability factor. "Whoever is available at the time, can go with us," said Galindo.

In addition, commissioners approved a resolution for the task force with each of the counties and cities, which have agreed to join the task force.

The interagency agreement states that each of the counties and cities have agreed to contribute the total of $175,666 in matching funds is said application is approved.

As consideration for this agreement, counties and cities agree to contribute a total of $175,666 in matching funds for the enhancement of the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force in the amount of $25,095 from each participating entity including, Reeves County, Jeff Davis County, Andrews County, Midland County, Reagan County, Town of Pecos City and City of Andrews.

RCH gets $146,000 from tobacco deal

By JON FULBRIGHT
Staff Writer
PECOS, April 25, 2000 - Reeves County Hospital District Board members will have a little more money to work with when they meet this afternoon for their regular monthly meeting but not as much as Pecos County has for it's hospitals, according to figures released Monday by Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander's office.

The comptroller released a list of the division of Texas' $100 million share of this year's federal settlement with tobacco companies, for smoking-related illnesses over the years. According to Rylander's list, the Reeves County Hospital District will receive nearly $146,000 as its share of the settlement.

"That's a nice little amount," said RCH comptroller Richard Mathis. "At this point in time that amount will be helpful to us, and with the board meeting this evening we'll bring it to their attention."

The board will meet starting at 4:30 p.m. in the RCH classroom, and among the items on the agenda is giving administrator Charles Butts the authority to proceed with bids for the planned expansion of the hospital's emergency room.

"We'll most likely put it towards the expansion we're going through right now plus the charity care and indigent care," Mathis said. "It will go mainly to the non-funded population of the community and the expansion of the emergency room department."

While Mathis was happy to have the extra money, he added he wishes the hospital could have gotten the amount Rylander's office sent down to Pecos County, which has two hospitals, in Fort Stockton and Iraan. It received one of the biggest payments in the state, $812,861, which surpassed the amount received by Midland County, Galveston County or McLennan County (Waco).

Mathis said the formula in part based the disbursements on the taxes collected either by the counties or by hospital districts within the counties. But he was at a loss to explain Pecos County's windfall.

"It sounds pretty much like an anomaly to me," he said. "Ward County should have gotten about the same distribution as Pecos County and they only got $76,000 back."

Rylander's office said the check amounts were determined by a formula established by the Texas Department of Health, based on the amount spent on un-reimbursed health care in the previous year. The state sent out $300 million in funds in 1999 and will send out $50 million next year, as part of the $450 million total set aside for the three-year period from 1999-2001.

The remaining $1.8 billion of the state's $2.28 billion share of the tobacco settlement was set aside in an untouchable fund, with interest to be distributed annually beginning after the final $50 million distribution next April, according to the comptroller's office.

Aside from the discussion about the emergency room bids and the cash from the tobacco settlement, hospital board members were also scheduled to discuss/take action on budget amendments, payment of bills and hold an executive session to discuss the administrator's evaluation.

The board will also hear the administrator's report from Butts, along with the medical staff report and tax collection report during today's meeting.

Census worker job testing set at TWC office

PECOS, April 25, 2000 - U.S. Census 2000 Job Testing will be held at the Texas Workforce Commission, 215 W. Second Street.

Job testing will be held on Wednesdays at 10 a.m., also at 1:30 p.m., and on Saturdays, at 9 a.m.

For more information call 445-5418.

Pecos' Junior, Senior leagues hunting players

PECOS, April 25, 2000 - The Pecos Junior and Senior Leagues will be signing up players this Thursday, starting at 6 p.m. at the league's Maxey Park Field.

Registration is open to boys and girls ages 13-16, and the league is also in need of coaches for several of the teams.

Obituary

Richard Ortiz

Richard Ortiz, 48, died Saturday, April 22, 2000, at Memorial Hospital and Medical Center of Midland, following a long illness.

Services will be held at 2 p.m., Wednesday, April 26, at Nueva Vida Baptist Church with burial in Greenwood Cemetery.

He was born Nov. 3, 1951, in Pecos and was a lifetime Pecos resident.

Survivors include his wife, Petra Ortiz of Pecos; two sons, Ricky Ortiz and Christopher Ornelas of Pecos; two brothers, Manuel Ortiz of Pecos and Gilbert Ortiz of Coleman; four sisters, Linda Garcia of Cherry Creek, Rachel Natividad and Becky Ortiz of Pecos and Sylvia Ortiz of El Monte, Calif;. and three grandchildren.

Martinez Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Weather

PECOS, April 25, 2000 - High Monday 90. Low this morning 54. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of evening thunderstorms. Low near 60. Southeast wind 5-15 mph. Chance of rain 20 percent. Wednesday: Mostly sunny. High 90-95. Southeast wind 10-20 mph. Wednesday night: Fair. Low near 60.



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Pecos Enterprise
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