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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
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Wednesday, February 20, 2002

First inmates taken in by city's new jail

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Feb. 20, 2002 -- During the second day of holding U.S. Marshal Service inmates  the staff of the new Pecos Municipal Criminal Justice Center are  adjusting well to the new facility.

Police Chief Clay McKinney and Jail Administrator Tony Dawdy both said that things have been running smoothly since the dedication of the new facility two weeks ago, and the first inmates arrived at the facility on Interstate 20 on Tuesday.

"It went real smooth," Dawdy said.

The Town of Pecos City along with McKinney and the Pecos Police Department decided to build the jail to specifically hold U.S. Marshal's Service inmates awaiting trial at the Lucius D. Bunton Federal Courthouse in Pecos.

The city determined that building the jail would bring in thousands of dollars in revenue each year.

The bold move to build the new facility got McKinney and the city recognition by the Texas Police Association in the Texas Police Journal.

The Journal published an article recognizing the city and local police department for recognizing Pecos' financial hardships and deciding to bring a jail facility as a source of revenue.

McKinney explained what the city did to come to the realization that the facility would help.

"The city administration got together and formed a team into looking in the economic development aspect of a detention center and how it would be an asset to the city," he said.

Building a jail facility for financial purposes is something that few cities have done before.

"For a city to do this is treading new ground," McKinney said. "The City of Pecos is definitely out in the for front and taking the lead by committing to a venture like this."

"I've always thought all along that this was going to be a viable venture to pursue," he continued.

The police department began training last week for the 18 new employees hired to help run the new facility, as part of a week-long orientation.

"Everything went real well," McKinney said of the training. "We had a good orientation."

The new employees were trained in policy and procedures, transporting prisoners, operating the control room, firearms and use of force procedures along with many other things.

McKinney and Dawdy both are pleased with the staff that has come in to run the facility.

Dawdy explained that most of the new employees have had experience working in other detention facilities.

"We've got a good staff," he said. "They have good experience and good training."

However there are a few that Dawdy said were rookies, which he is also pleased with.

"There's a few rookies but they're learning and eager to get in there and work."

A total of 20 inmates came into the facility yesterday — 10 female and 10 male. According to McKinney all of them are awaiting trial in Pecos.

He said that the smooth transition into starting operations of the facility is due to the months of preparing and planning that the police department and the city made.

"We'd had many meetings and planning session so everything is going as scheduled," he said.

McKinney hopes to move the police department into the new facility within the next few weeks.

He said that they are waiting for furniture to be delivered as well as moving the communications tower and the 911 equipment over from the Police Department's Oak Street headquarters before the PD can officially move in.

The communications tower, which is located at the current police station, would be moved to a spot just outside of the facility.

McKinney said that he decided to move the tower because building a new tower would cost $24,000 and moving the current one would only cost approximately $2,000.

The public should not have any worries when the 911 system is transferred to the new facility, according to McKinney. Any 911 calls made during that time would be "rolled over" to the Department of Public Safety.

He also said that the actual moving and re-installation of the equipment should not take long to complete.

"I've been told that we'll be back online in less than 30 minutes," he said.

McKinney said that he is pleased with the facility and thanks the community and city administration for their support.

"I'm very pleased with the support we've received from the city manager (Carlos Yerena), Mayor (Ray Ortega) and City Council," he said.

He is also appreciative of his staff, old and new, for helping in the move to the new facility.

"I'm very pleased with the way our staff has stepped up to the plate to get this thing going," he said. "They're doing a great job."

Candidates rush to seek election to City Council

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Feb. 20, 2002 -- The race for the Town of Pecos City Council is already assured  of being a contested election this May, after only three days of filing for  this year's city elections, and two other races have gotten their  first candidates for the May 4 election, according to local officials.

Along with the Pecos city elections, voters will be casting ballots for the Pecos-Barstow-ISD board and the Reeves County Hospital board. Other city and school races will take place in Barstow, Balmorhea and Toyah.

In the city elections, incumbent Mayor Raymond Ortega has filed for another two-year term on the city council, as has incumbent Danny Rodriguez. Ortega is currently unopposed, but Angelica Valenzuela and Michael Benavides will be vying for positions on the council against Rodriguez, according city secretary Connie Levario.

Only two city council seats are up for election this year. Ricky Herrera, who has not yet filed for a new two-year term, currently holds the other seat.

Individuals wanting to file for a position in the Town of Pecos City election can pick up an application at city hall with Levario. The deadline to file in the election is March 20, to do so, according to Levario.

The other candidate filing so far is Billie Sadler, in the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board elections. She is seeking a new three-year term on the school board.

Two of the seven seats will be voted on in the May 4 election, with the other seat currently held by Michele Galindo. She was elected last year to fill out an unexpired term on the board.

In the Reeves County Hospital District election, all county voters will go to the polls to cast ballots for the at-large seat, currently held by Leo Hung, while voters in Precinct 1 will cast ballots for the seat currently held by Chel Flores, and Precinct 3 voters will be voting on the two-year term where Jesse Prieto is the incumbent.

March 5 is the first day to accept applications to vote by mail and March 17 if a candidate dies on or before this date, his or her name is not placed on the ballot.

On March 20, at 5 p.m., will be the deadline to file an application for a place on the ballot.

The last day a person may register to vote in the May 4, election is April 4.

Early voting by personal appearance begins on April 17, at the Pecos Community Center, 508 S. Oak and April 26, is the last day to receive applications for early voting ballots to be voted by mail.

The last day to vote early by personal appearance is April 30.

Bears' playoff game versus Ira scheduled for Friday

PECOS, Wed., Feb. 20, 2002 -- The Balmorhea Bears basketball team will face the Ira Bulldogs in the area round of the Class A-Division II playoffs at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Odessa Permian High School gym.

Balmorhea is the District 9-A champion and won their bi-district playoff game over Marathon on Monday in Alpine by an 89-27 final score. The Bears were ranked 10th in the final regular season boys basketball poll and will face the Bulldogs, who are ranked No. 6 but had to rally from a 13-point to defeat Blackwell in their bi-district game on Tuesday, 60-51.


PECOS, Wed., Feb. 20, 2002 -- High Tuesday 67. Low this morning 40. Forecast for  tonight: Mostly clear. Lows 35 to 40. West winds 5 to 15 mph:  Becoming northwest late. Thursday: Mostly sunny. Highs in the lower 60s.  North winds 10 to 20 mph. Thursday night: Mostly clear. Lows 25 to 30.  Friday: Mostly sunny. Highs in the upper 60s.


Ramon Nunez and Hazel Stephens

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