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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Jail Commission tours completed RCDC site

Staff Writer

PECOS, Jan. 30, 2003 - Everything is substantially complete and the Texas Jail Commission is in Pecos today to inspect the newest addition to the Reeves County Detention Center.

"Today is the final date and we need to have everything substantially complete at the facility," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo of the RCDC III addition, a 960-bed expansion to the facility.

Commissioners were told earlier this month that today would be the completion date on the building's interior. Galindo said that there was a lot of cleanup to do at the site and minor touchups, but that the work was "substantially" complete.

"There will be some testing and balancing of some of the various systems there, but everything is coming along great," said Galindo.

The Texas Jail Commission was in Pecos Wednesday and again today to test those systems and inspect the facility. "As soon as they do all that, they will issue the certification for the facility," said Galindo.

Galindo said that it was hard to determine when inmates would be transported to their new "home," because of the minor touchups and testing that needs to be done.

"We want to get through the inspection and everything first before we can determine when inmates will be housed at the new facility," he said.

"We've got two weeks to a month of logistical acquisition," said Galindo. "It will be early March before we began to open that part of the facility."

Galindo said today was the last day of contractual price and that there was a lot of cleanup to do and some touchups.

Kurt Nissen, on-site construction manager for Carothers Construction, had told Reeves County Commissioners Court during a mid-January meeting that things were going along smoothly.

Nissen, who is in charge of the construction at the facility, told commissioners that he was asking for a one-day extension, to Jan. 30, due to inclement weather. He added that like cosmetic-wise, (construction) would probably run over a little bit more than one day.

"I call it cosmetics, because it's mostly painting and things like that, but it will run over from the Jan. 30 date," said Nissen, who told commissioners that call would be made by the architect, owners and Carothers.

The new complex will consist of a 189,000 square campus-style facility designed to house 960 inmates with three bed general housing units, a 96 bed special housing unit, independent central control, visitation and administration, separate kitchen and dining, support services unit, health administration, education and vocational facilities, recreational building and recreational yard, AW complex, central warehouse and motor pool.

The addition will bring capacity of the minimum-security facility to just under 3,000 inmates.

Golden Girl signups scheduled February 8

PECOS, Jan. 30, 2003 - Signups for the Annual Golden Girl Pageant are scheduled for 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 8, at the West of the Pecos Museum.

Girls must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

For more information contact Golden Girl Pageant chairman Robin LeBeouf at 447-2003 or 238-7466 or 445-6834.

RCH board OKs property sales, ambulance funds

Staff Writer

PECOS, Jan. 30, 2003 - The Reeves County Hospital Board of Directors met Tuesday to discuss the selling of some properties on which back property taxes were owed, Administrator Robert Vernor said today.

The board also discussed a request for financial aid from the city of Balmorhea to fund ambulance services in southern Reeves County.

The property sold by the directors were located at 1602 S. Alamo, 718 S. Locust 233 S. Oak, 1407 E. 2nd Street, 602 S. Palm, 2212 S. Alamo, 2018 Balmorhea Hwy block 15 and 16, 320 S. Walnut St., 411 Sunset St., 122 N. Alamo St. and 2028 S. Eddy St.

"We also did the request from the City of Balmorhea for the ambulance," Vernor said.

In a letter from the City of Balmorhea to Vernor, the city asks for $5,000 for the year to help fund the ambulance service. The request for funding was approved by the hospital board members.

The directors also heard a report of the monthly tax report, financial statements and budget amendments and the payment of bills. They also heard the Rural Health Clinic's 2002 Annual Report.

Other items discussed and taken action on were on the Investment Policy, Quarterly Investment Report and Investment Plan, Bond Project Funding Presentation and the approval of additional HGA charges.

Junell given hearing on judge nomination

From Staff and Wire Reports

Nearly 11 months after being recommended for the position of federal judge for the Western District of Texas, a hearing was held on Wednesday for former State Rep. Rob Junell before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C.

Junell, a San Angelo Democrat who supported President Bush in the 2000 presidential campaign, is scheduled to replaced Judge Royal Furgeson as U.S. District Judge for the Pecos and Midland Divisions of the Western District. Furgeson, who has served as the area's federal judge since 1994, will move to San Antonio to replace the late U.S. District Judge Hipolito F. "Hippo" Garcia, who took senior judge status last year.

Junell's hearing was one of a number involving federal judiciary nominations that was delayed last year due to disputes between Bush and Senate Democrats who controlled the Judiciary Committee. Following the November general election, Republican regains control of the Senate, and have begun holding hearings on Bush's nominees. The president has also suggested a timetable to speed up judicial nominations.

Junell's nomination hearing was one of four held on Wednesday, along with those of Deborah Cook and Jeffrey Sutton to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, and John Roberts to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Junell was recommended last March for the vacant federal judge position in the Pecos and Midland Divisions of U.S. District Court by Texas Senators Phil Gramm and Kay Bailey Hutchison. Gramm retired from the Senate in December and was replaced by Republican John Cornyn, who has served as Texas Attorney General for the past four years.

Cornyn was named to the Judiciary Committee, and in a statement released on Wednesday, said, "As a new member, I hope the Judiciary Committee can have a fresh start. I don't think it serves the interests of the American people for us to point fingers across the aisle.

"While I have reservations, under separations of powers - a provision of our Constitution - about the President's proposal for a timetable, and I don't think it should be imposed, I do think it would be worthwhile for this committee to consider on a bipartisan basis devising a rule that would guide the committee in terms of the manner in which we consider the President's nominees, no matter who happens to be in power," Cornyn said.

Currently, the most controversial nomination looming before the Senate is the vote Bush's nomination of Miguel Estrada to become the first Hispanic judge on an influential appeals court.

Democrats were hoping for enough support to possibly block a vote Thursday by the Judiciary Committee on the choice to join the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

That court has provided three of the current Supreme Court justices, and Estrada is considered a potential high court nominee should a vacancy occurs while Bush is in the White House.

Estrada is a member of the law firm that represented Bush in his successful Supreme Court fight for the presidency in 2000.

Bush and Republicans, who now have a 10-9 edge in the committee, have sought Estrada's confirmation since he was nominated in May 2001. They contend Democrats have mistreated him because he is a conservative.

The committee chairman, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has said he would use his one-vote committee majority advantage to try and push nominees quickly to the Senate, where Republicans hold a two-vote advantage.

But Democrats complained about the expedited schedule. "It seems part of a headlong effort to pack the courts," said Patrick Lahey, who headed the committee until the end of 2002.

Democrats spent most of Wednesday questioning Sutton, nominated for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. They said he attempted to limit federal civil rights protections and gut or weaken protections for state employees with disabilities and older workers.

Junell, 56, is originally from El Paso and has served in the Legislature from 1988 through 2002, representing a district that included San Angelo. He was passed over for a spot on the federal bench by President Clinton.

During his legislative tenure, Junell rose to be one of the most powerful lawmakers in Texas as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Junell announced in November 2001 that he would not seek re-election.

Ferguson announced a year ago he plans to take Garcia's federal judge's position in San Antonio once the vacancy in the Midland and Pecos Divisions are filled. Garcia took senior status on Jan. 15, 2002.

President Clinton appointed Ferguson to the federal court in 1993 after Judge Lucius D. Bunton III took senior judge status and was confirmed in 1994. He was based in Midland, but in recent years has handled more cases in the Pecos Division of U.S. District Court.

High Wednesday 61. Low this morning 28. Forecast for tonight: Mostly clear.

Lows in the upper 30s. South winds 5 to 15 mph shifting to the west after midnight. Friday: Mostly sunny. Highs in the lower 70s. Northwest winds 5 to15 mph shifting to the northeast in the afternoon.


PECOS, Jan. 30, 2003 - Friday night: Clear. Lows in the upper 30s. Saturday: Mostly sunny. Highs in the upper 70s.

Sunday: Partly cloudy. Windy. Lows near 40. Highs in the upper 70s.

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