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Economic Development


Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

County seeks public's help with budget shortfall

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., June 24, 2003 -- Reeves County is facing a major cash crunch next month due to a shortage of income being produced by the Reeves County Detention Center, and County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo is asking for the community's help in urging federal officials to provide inmates to fill the RCDC's new 960-bed addition and meet earlier agreements on payments to the county.

County commissioners discussed the matter during the regular meeting of the Commissioners Court, held Monday in the third floor courtroom, while approving an interim transfer from the county's General Fund to the detention center in an effort to meet next week's payroll.

"We've been having a crunch and we need to calculate what we will need," said Galindo, who said a lease payment on the new addition is due next Tuesday, July 1, with payroll scheduled for July 3 for the employees at the detention center.

"We'll primarily need to transfer $420,000 for payroll on the third," said Reeves County Auditor Lynn Owens. "We're getting to the point that the general fund won't be able to do this anymore."

Beginning next month, Reeves County is responsible for making monthly lease payments of approximately $950,000, in order to use the RCDC prison complex, Galindo wrote in a letter to U.S. Bureau of Prisons officials in requesting approval of the additional prisoners and a higher man-day rate for housing the inmates..

Galindo and county commissioners are asking the community to contact Congressman Henry Bonilla, Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison and ask for the cooperation and help in resolving this matter, saying that the rate the BOP is balking at paying Reeves County is 10 percent lower than rates the agency is currently paying to house inmates at other private prisons across the United States.

The RCDC consists of three prison facilities within one perimeter fence. These three facilities have been "cross-collateralized" from the beginning of the expansion in FY 1998. The original 300-bed prison was built in 1986 and has always housed primarily minimum security inmates provided by the BOP. The agency has been keeping about 2,000 inmates at the site since RCDC II opened in 2001.

Galindo asked area residents to call Bonilla, Cornyn and Hutchison and ask them to work with the BOP in trying to resolve the issue. "It is vitally important for Reeves County," said Galindo, who added it could affect the status of the 496 employees at the prison.

As far as job security is concerned, Galindo said, "There's no question that there are more inmates than there are beds in the federal system, as long as Reeves County is providing outstanding services at competitive prices we will provide the services and have the jobs."

Galindo said that he had received notification from the BOP that they had found three areas of concern to them.

One issue was inmate transportation. BOP officials questioned whether or not the staff at RCDC should be paid for transporting inmates from RCDC transportation funds.

"Under the contract, it clearly states that the RCDC will take care of transportation," said Galindo.

The second question involved the administration fees and indirect costs. "BOP questioned the full amount being charged in indirect costs," said Galindo.

The third issue was if Reeves County was entitled to a profit from the RCDC..

"These are very minor issues," said Owens.

The detention center's cost of operations is $47.95 per inmate per day. However, based on a legal opinion by the U.S. Department of Justice, Reeves County is entitled to an element of profit under the fixed-price intergovernmental agreement for detention services.

"We are proposing a fixed-price of $52.74 for FY 2003," said Galindo. "Based on legal opinion there is no question that Reeves County is entitled to an element of profit.

"We are asking the bureau to honor the terms of the contractual modification executed Feb. 21, which would entitle Reeves County to a payment of about $2.8 million extending back to August 2002 as agreed," he said.

Galindo said that the delays on the price re-determination process have caused considerable financial pressures on Reeves County.

The new addition RCDC-III is currently open and 59 U.S. Marshal inmates were moved into the facility last week, which leaves 901 beds still to be filled. At the proposed $52.74 rate, the lack of inmates to fill those beds would be worth $47,519 per day to the county.

In a letter Galindo wrote to the BOP he stated: "The Reeves County General Fund revenue cannot sustain the expenses of the RCDC. We do not have enough money in the General Fund to do so. Over the last five months, the operational costs, including the full regulatory compliance with the Texas Commission on Jail Standards regarding correctional officers to inmate staffing ratios, of RCDC I and II with the effective per diem rate of $41.48, have completely eroded any available working capital to meet expenses between Board Bill payments from the Bureau.

"In order for Reeves County to continue the operation at RCDC, the county needs an average of approximately 575 more inmates for the remainder of the year, beginning this week. This means the full ramp-up of RCDC III at the rate of 40 inmates per week until the facility is to full capacity.

"As a contingency plan, over the last month, we have been working with the Federal Detention Trustee and the United States Marshal's Service (USMS) to possibly begin housing between 150 to 300 USMS inmates from the State of Arizona," according to Galindo. "Additionally, the Detention Trustee had indicated previously that there might be some 300 post-sentenced/pre-designated inmates from El Paso, that could be also designated to RCDC.

"This week we received 59 inmates from the U.S. Marshal in Arizona," said Galindo. "However, the 150 to 300 USMS inmates from Arizona will not be enough to avoid additional financial pressures."

"From the inception of the RCDC II expansion, we received outstanding cooperation and a true spirit of teamwork from the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) in Washington and the Dallas Regional Office with regard to making the expansion project a success," said Galindo.

"But, over the last 10 months, we have been met with the opposite attitude from the Privatization Branch of the Bureau with regard to RCDC III," said Galindo.

"We not asking for special treatment," Galindo said. "We're just asking for them to treat us just like private (prison)."

As an intergovernmental partner with the Bureau of Prisons, Reeves County has sought to be the lowest cost provider for the Bureau and to provide the absolute best service we can provide. However, now, Reeves County finds itself in the middle of a "privatization" debate within the Bureau. Irrespective of this philosophical debate, as a service provider, Reeves County is the lowest cost provider under the Privatization Branch of the Bureau.

"Over the last two years, the bureau has moved the management of the West Texas IGA's under the Privatization Branch of BOP," said Galindo.

In this time period, Reeves County has provided BOP inmate detention services for approximately 2,000 inmates at the per diem rate of $41.48, the lowest rate of any major "private" prison facility for the Bureau of Prisons, according to Galindo.

"As the bureau proceeds on its 'privatization' initiative, it is clear that 'privatization' is not going to produce $40 per diem rates for the Bureau of Prisons," said Galindo. "In fact, based on the information published on the BOP website, the 'private' per diem rates were authorized by the bureau at well over $60," he said.

At the current "interim rate" of $47.47, Reeves County is 20 percent below the lowest "private" provider. "However, even though Reeves County has been the lowest cost provider, individuals within the Privatization Branch of the Bureau have deliberately attempted to sabotage the price re-determination process for Reeves County," said Galindo.

Reeves County provides the lowest cost detention services for BOP in the nation. "So why would the Head of the Privatization Branch rather pay over $60 a day, instead of $47.47 per day for the housing of BOP inmates," said Galindo. "It just doesn't make sense."

"We've been dealing with BOP for a number of years and when they say jump we jump," said commissioner precinct 3 Herman Tarin. "We've done everything they have wanted us to do and have tried our best to provide the services they require."

Evening showers cools Pecos after 108-degree high

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., June 24, 2003 -- Monday evening's rain showers gave the Pecos area a much needed break from the heat. The city and other surrounding areas have received rain for the past few days.

Pecos received .20 inches of rain on Monday, after afternoon temperatures reached a high of 108 degrees downtown, according to KIUN radio. This, added to the rain throughout the year, brings our yearly rainfall to 2.98 inches, according to an unofficial report from the radio station's downtown gauge.

The National Weather Service in Midland reported that the area at the Texas A&M Experiment Station eight miles west of town received .38 inches of rain. Winkler County Airport between Kermit and Wink reported .18 inches, and Fort Stockton reported .09 inches.

Balmorhea State Park reported receiving an inch of rain yesterday and two inches for the year.

According to the National Weather Service, there is a possible chance for thunderstorms today and moving into the weekend.

Tired trucker hurt in accident overnight on I-20

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., June 24, 2003 -- The Texas Department of Public Safety and local emergency crews responded to a call at 2:50 a.m. today in reference to vehicle that had run off the road on Interstate 20 just west of Toyah.

According to the DPS report, Juan Hidalgo, 26, of El Paso ran off the road at mile maker 20, two miles west of Toyah, after falling asleep at the wheel.

Hidalgo was traveling eastbound on Interstate 20 when he fell asleep and ran off the left side, hitting a guard fence. The fence runs alongside a drainage channel next to the south side I-20 service road.

Both EMS and fire crews were dispatched to the scene, and the DPS report said Hidalgo was taken to Reeves County Hospital with facial injuries.

Trooper Gordon Schneider in investigating the accident.

Davis added to training en route to Pecos PD job

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., June 24, 2003 -- Pecos Police Lt. Kelly Davis has worked in law enforcement for 31 years and says that it helps him understand cadets going through the police academy.

"It helps to know all the ins and outs," Davis said. "I know that they are going through and I know what they need."

He also believes that his knowledge of the system makes for a good teacher and by making mistakes along the way helps him know what not to do and to let future officers know the same thing.

"I was going to go into the military," Davis said. "But I saw that I could help closer to home. Helping people is what I wanted to do."

Upon graduating from Mathis High School, Davis said that he attended Texas A&I in Kingsville majoring in Electronic Data Processing.

Soon after, Davis said he was asked to come and work for the Mathis Police Department in 1972.

"The PD in my hometown asked me to work for them," Davis said. "And since then I liked it."

While working for the Mathis Police Department, Davis said that they provided him with on-the-job training exercises.

"Back then the police academy was only about 86 hours long," Davis said. "Now it involves about a thousand basic hours."

Davis said he worked as a patrolman for 21/2 years while with the Mathis Police Department.

"I also ran the volunteer ambulance service," Davis said.

Pursuing his education, Davis said that he would attend Dal Mar College during the day while working in the afternoons.

"I received a degree in Police Administration from Dal Mar College," Davis said.

After receiving his degree, Davis said that he then attended the University of Corpus Christi were he was studying Police Science.

Before completing his degree in police science, Davis said that he was offered a job in Alpine with its police department.

"I was only getting paid $3.50 an hour at Mathis," Davis said. "In Alpine I was going to be making $600 a month."

In Alpine, Davis also pursued further education in law enforcement, attending Sul Ross University, where he obtained a degree in criminal justice.

"The Sheriff's Office in Alpine offered me a job where I would be getting a $100 raise," Davis said. "However, I was also offered a job as Chief Deputy that paid $800 a month in Sierra Blanca."

Davis added that he had some fun times while working for the Hudspeth County Sheriff's Department, and that every year they came across at least 150 stolen cars.

"There was always high speed chases," Davis said. "The year that the movie 'Smokey and the Bandit' came out, we chased three Trans Ams."

In 1978, Davis married his then girlfriend, Dona, who was teaching in Pecos at the time.

Davis said that he met his wife through a friend he had gone to high school with, then had attended Sul Ross to study law enforcement and where his friend met his wife.

"We married sisters," Davis said.

He added that the couple had agreed to move to the town in which either one of them found a job where the other was working at.

"I found a job working for the Sheriff Raul Flores," Davis said. "I was stationed in Balmorhea with Floyd Estrada for 10 years."

After that, Davis said he went to work for them as a reserve officer while running his own business, Howard's Studio, a camera shop and photo service establishment he bought in Pecos.

"I then went to work for the police department in 1992 as a patrol officer," Davis said. "I was a patrol officer for four years and I then became a criminal investigator."

For the past three years, Davis has served as the Lieutenant in charge of criminal investigations, the SWAT Team and training of the officers.

"I am doing everything I like to do," Davis said. "There is nothing else I would rather do."

Like with any other job, Davis said that the worst part of his is seeing the anguish on those injured.

"I do not like seeing people in emotional or physical pain," Davis said. "Especially kids getting hurt."

He added that becoming a police officer is not like any other job.

"Law enforcement is a way of living," Davis said. "It is not just a job. Those seeking a career in law enforcement must be good and must be looking to help somebody even when off duty."

Law enforcement is a public service and people must have a belief in doing the right thing, Davis said.

Davis is certified as a Criminal Scenes Analysis, second level; as a Blood Stain Analysist, along with fracture reconstruction, handwriting composition, fingerprinting expert. He also teaches at Odessa College in Pecos and Sul Ross University.

"I have also been trained by the FBI as a sniper," he added.

Though Davis is certified in may areas that are a part of his career, he says that he enjoys analyzing bloodstains.

"I enjoy blood splatter because of the ability to tell what happened after the event at the scene using math and logic," Davis said.

Davis added that math, like geometry, trigonometry and physics, are very important in his line of work.

He said that he also enjoys his job because he never knows whether he will be behind a desk in his office or hiding behind a bush in Presidio.

Davis said that faith has helped him handle and cope with the difficult times in his career.

"Faith is important," Davis said. "If you do not have a strong belief you will go crazy if you think about it."

Davis added that a morbid sense of humor help as well.

Barbeque plates to be sold Friday

PECOS, Tues., June 24, 2003 -- A barbeque plate sale will be held Friday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Saragosa Hall on East Sixth Street.

Plates will be sold at $4 apiece to help with the medical expenses for Arianne Orona. Persons wishing to place orders in advance can call 445-5225 Friday morning, and can have the plates delivered to their home or office.


PECOS, Tues., June 24, 2003 -- High Monday 108. Low this morning 74. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms. Lows in the mid 70s. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Wednesday: Partly cloudy with isolated afternoon thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 90s. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms. Lows near 70. Thursday: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms. Highs in the mid 90s. Friday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of thunderstorms. Lows in the mid 60s. Highs in the upper 80s.

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Pecos Enterprise
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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