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March 9, 2001

Jail given passing grades after inspection by TCJS

Staff Writer

PECOS, March 9, 2001 - Reeves County Jail and its staff finally received some good news Thursday, following an inspection by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

The jail passed inspection with flying colors, a year after a controversy over uncorrected deficiencies almost resulted into closing of the facility.

"We finally passed on the first inspection, something that hasn't happened in many years," said Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez. "We were very excited and happy about the outcome."

Texas Commission on Jail Standards Inspector Shannon J. Herklotz was very impressed with everything that had been accomplished at the jail, according to Gomez.

"Our staff put a lot of work into it and some of the jail staff did a lot of work on their own time," said Gomez.

Gomez added that everyone was happy with the outcome. "The morale of the staff is up and everybody is happy with their jobs and the jail itself," he said.

Some of the items that were improved upon included the doors, toilets, showers, ceiling, windows, lighting and plumbing in the kitchen.

"This is also thanks to the commissioners court that approved the funding for the improvements," said Gomez.

"The new doors can be operated from outside of the single occupancy cells," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.

There are still a few minor details that the sheriff would like to see improved, but other than that everything is complete.

Last year after the jail failed TCJS inspection and repairs were not made following a second visit, the commission threatened to shut down the jail unless emergency corrective measures were made.

"It was unfortunate that it got to the point that it did, but Reeves County personnel showed a lot of character in getting the personnel together to note and fix all the deficiencies through teamwork and dedication to bring the jail up to standard," said Galindo. "Everybody did their part."

"We have been able to go through a bad situation to the best condition this jail has ever been in," said Galindo.

"One of the things that the jail commission does not look at is employee's salaries," said Galindo. "However, one of the things that the commissioners court is most proud of is being able to raise the salaries of Reeves County Jail personnel and deputies."

The salaries are in line with those at the Reeves County Detention Center and everybody seems really pleased with the improvements and the atmosphere at the facility, according to Gomez.

The facility will undergo another inspection next year. "This inspection is held every year, but now we feel confident," said Gomez.

Postal Service cuts may halt plan for new Pecos building

From Staff and Wire Reports

PECOS, March 9, 2001 - The United States Post Office in Pecos, located at Fourth and Oak Streets for the past 65 years, may be staying in its current location for quite a while longer following an announcement Thursday by the U.S. Postal Service.

Moving to block massive losses as costs rise and business slips, the Postal Service is freezing hundreds of new construction and leasing projects across the country.

And the agency's governing board issued a warning Thursday that unless there are changes in the laws that regulate how the post office operates, universal service to every home, every day, could be in danger.

Postal officials didn't provide a dollar estimate for the savings they expect in the cutbacks, but they said more than 800 planned projects in all states will be affected.

The move comes just two months after the price of first class mail went up a penny to 34 cents.

Many other rates rose also, but several price increases in other types of mail that had been sought by the agency were rejected or trimmed by the independent Postal Rate Commission.

The Postal Service has replaced hundreds of buildings around Texas and the United States over the past decade with new facilities that provide more parking spaces and are compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. In January 1999, the Postal Service announced it planned to replace the Pecos facility with a similar new building, which was to be located in the 800 block of South Cedar Street.

A lack of parking at the current three-story Post Office was cited as a reason for the move. The Postal Service has occupied the first floor of the building since 1935, while the upper floors have been unoccupied since 1995, when federal offices moved to the new Lucius D. Bunton II Federal Courthouse.

Local Postmaster Herman Armendariz said that the new post office project has been put on hold for quite sometime but he has not been contacted on any cancellation.

"They haven't notified us yet," he said.

With rising costs, postal officials now say they face a $2 billion to $3 billion loss this fiscal year. After five years in the black, the post office had a $199 million loss last fiscal year.

Postal managers are preparing to apply this summer for another rate increase, to take effect next year.

Among the problems cited by the Postal Service are wage rate increases larger than the rate of inflation, rising fuel costs, changes in the type of mail being processed, increased competition and forecasts calling for the diversion of some first-class mail to electronic alternatives.

The construction and leasing freeze affects facilities that the agency has made commitments to but where construction has not yet begun.

"All new construction, new leasing and expansion planned for 2001 is frozen," postal spokeswoman Judy de Torok said.

The projects already under way won't be halted, she added, and a few planned projects will continue if needed for health and safety reasons.

Meanwhile, the universal service that Americans take for granted could be in jeopardy unless laws regulating operations are changed, said the postal governing board.

"Regrettably, our call for an additional rate increase, following so soon after the last one, reflects the fact that the 30-year-old statutory model that governs the Postal Service is in need of change to protect universal service at affordable rates," board chairman Robert F. Rider said.

Armendariz said that he has not been notified on any possible changes on delivery days.

"The only rumor going around is the Saturday delivery being cut off," he said.

For the past several years postal leaders have sought changes in the law to give them more flexibility in changing rates and services to cope with rising costs and changes in competition. Under current rules it takes nearly a year to change rates.

Long negotiations and hearings produced a bill they felt would solve many of their problems last year, but the measure never came up for a vote and died with the end of the last Congress.

The postal governors this week asked the Rate Commission to reconsider the changes it made in their request. They also sent a letter to President Bush seeking his assistance in getting legislation to provide them more freedom.

Universal service to every address at uniform rates has been a requirement since the nation's founding. For years Congress subsidized the service, but when the current system was created in the 1970s the subsidies were phased out. The post office no longer receives taxpayer money for its operations.

Madera Valley's new water lines undergo flushing

PECOS, March 9, 2001 - Madera Valley Water is flushing out their new lines in the Green Acres section southwest of Pecos and is warning their customers that there is not a leak in the system.

"This is something we have to do, we fill the line with chlorinated water, flush it and get samples to sent back to the state," said Wes Jones.

Jones said the crew has been doing the flushing since yesterday and will continue to do so until Monday.

The affected area is in Green Acres only and residents should be aware that it is not a leak.


Manuel Flores and Charles Towler


PECOS, March 9, 2001 - High Thursday 62. Low this morning 47. Forecast for onight: Mostly cloudy. Low around 40. Southeast wind 5 to 15 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High 75 to 80. Southwest wind 10 to 20 mph and gusty. Saturday night: Partly cloudy. Low 40 to 45. Sunday and Monday: Partly cloudy. Lows 40 to 45. Highs around 65.

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Pecos Enterprise
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