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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

County seeks extension agent,

but state funding is uncertain

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., June 25, 2003 -- Steps are being taken by Reeves County Commissioners to recruit a new county extension agent for the county, but the status of state funding for the department remains in doubt, commissioners were told during their regular meeting on Monday morning.

"I understand that they send you a letter and you have to sign it and return it, and the position will be funded," said Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 1 Felipe Arredondo, referring to the formal request by the county to fill the post that has been vacant since the start of the year.

Funding for the position is done through the state and the letter would be sent to Texas A&M Extension Service. "But the state comptroller hasn't approved the budget and she did not send it to the governor to sign," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo. "The state is $180 million short and the legislature will have to cut that amount."

Galindo said that he didn't know if the position would be funded once the legislature cut the amount needed.

"We'll still submit the letter and hope that the position will be funded and we'll get a new county extension agent," he said.

"One of the things that we have to communicate to the extension service is that we want to provide input and be a part of the hiring procedure," said Galindo. "We've always been at odds with the extension agent, they either didn't provide enough ag or 4-H, and we really need to be involved."

Arredondo said that even though the office has continued to be open, there hasn't been an agent since Terry Holder resigned the job at the end of 2002. "And come October, when they have that big lamb show, they'll need one for sure," said Arredondo. "People from all over West Texas participate in that show and that's something we have to keep going," he said.

County auditor Lynn Owens said that the budget for the extension agent's office, including the office secretary's position and office supplies, came to about $50,000.

Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce Director Linda Gholson told the group that she hoped that they would keep the position. "The 4-H program is mainly run by volunteers, or so it has been in the past," said Gholson.

The program has lost participants over the past several years, but Gholson said that it would be something beneficial for the youth in the community.

In other action, commissioners approved bids for several kitchen items; dental equipment bid and approved to declare a Pitney Bowles Co. Mailing Machine as surplus.

"The man who replaced it said that a bank in Van Horn might be interested in purchasing this machine, we just have to declare it of no use to the county," said Owens.

Bond and oath was approved for Suzanna Natividad who is currently working in the Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 office and for Kevin Lee Roberts, as a Reeves County Sheriff's Deputy.

Consolidation of all polling places for the Sept. 13 constitutional amendment elections was approved.

"They moved it up from November and I have to notify Washington that the polls will be consolidated," said county clerk Dianne Florez.

Galindo seeking help from Bush on RCDC crisis

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., June 25, 2003 -- Facing a bond payment of nearly $1 million next week for the new 960-bed addition to the Reeves County Detention Center, and without enough prisoners to meet the payment and the facility's payroll needs, Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo has sent a letter to President George W. Bush in hopes of receiving his support in a conflict involving the county and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

RCDC III was opened earlier this year and was expected to house inmates from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, which has placed 2,000 inmates in the prison's other two sections. However, Galnido told county commissioners during their meeting on Monday that BOP officials have balked at both sending the county additional prisoners and at paying the county its requested $54.74 per-day rate for housing inmates at the facility.

Galindo said the rate is 10 percent above the current man-day rate of $47.47 being paid by BOP, but 10 percent below the average rate the agency pays other private prisons for housing inmates.

During Monday's meeting, Galindo said a legal opinion by the U.S. Department of Justice said that Reeves County is entitled to an element of profit under the fixed-price intergovernmental agreement for detention services.

"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.

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.

Galindo has written to officials at the BOP, along with Congressman Henry Bonilla and Senator John Cornyn about the problem. In his letter to Bush, Galindo wrote:

"I do not wish to press upon your time, but the matter I am addressing means the difference between the life and death of our community. As you know, we live in a poor county in a harsh and desolate area of Texas. We have endured drought, the ups and downs of the oil and gas industry and the closing of the Pennzoil/Freeport McMoran sulfur mine. Our local economy has been in a severe depression for years even though the rest of the country has enjoyed prosperity.

"Nevertheless, we have persevered and in 1988 Reeves County embarked on a prison project seeking to form a working relationship with the Bureau of Prisons. Our relationship with the Bureau of Prisons gave us the opportunity to expand our prison and become the largest employer in Reeves County. The prison has become the center of our economy employing over 500 people. We are the lowest cost provider in the Nation and we provide high quality detention services. Over the years, the Bureau of Prisons has held our per diem rate to a minimum and our employees have been receiving less than Department of Labor Wage Standards to which they are entitled.

"At the same time, other private companies have been what the Wall Street Journal in their Nov. 6, 2001, issue described as a "Bonanza" for their own profit. These chosen few have received million dollar performance bonuses and guaranteed contracts at a cost to the government of almost twice what Reeves County charges for the same service.

The Bureau of Prisons is refusing to use our recently completed 960-bed expansion in favor of these more expensive and less efficient prisons. Hundreds of jobs will be lost and our local economy will be destroyed. We are not seeking a "Bonanza" or handout from the Bureau of Prisons. All we are seeking is a chance to serve our government, make a living and survive as a community. I cannot overstate the urgency and importance of this issue to our community and this is why I am seeking your help in this matter."

Beginning on Tuesday, Reeves County is responsible for making monthly lease payments of approximately $950,000, in order to use the RCDC prison complex. Payroll for the prison's employees is scheduled for next Thursday, July 3, and during Monday's meeting, County Auditor Lynn Owens said, "We'll primarily need to transfer $420,000 for payroll on the third."

"We're getting to the point that the general fund won't be able to do this anymore," Owens added. The county already had loaned the RCDC operation over $800,000 to meet payroll, according to a letter Galindo wrote to William Nelson, Chief of the Privatized Corrections Contracting System for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in a June 20 letter.

Willis begins job as Eagles' grid coach, AD

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., June 25, 2003 -- Patrick Willis was settling in this morning to his new office at the Pecos High School Field House, on his first day as the Pecos Eagles' new head football coach and athletic director.

Willis was getting updated on schedules and contacts with other schools this morning by outgoing head coach and AD Bubba Williams, who resigned the position last month for health reasons and to spend more time with his family.

"I'm going to meet with the football coaches first and get my staff assignments together first," Willis said this morning. "I haven't had a chance to sit down with them, but I have met them all."

After that, Willis said he plans to meet with the coaches for the other sports in his job as P-B-T ISD athletic director.

He comes to Pecos after serving for three years as co-defensive coordinator and linebacker coach at Abilene Cooper High School under head coach Randy Quisenberry. Willis previously was defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Rice Consolidated High (Class 3A) for three years; and before that served as varsity linebacker coach for Kerens ISD (class 2A) for one year and one year experience at Munday ISD as varsity defensive end and running back coach.

"A friend called me and told me about it," Willis said about the P-B-T job. He interviewed for the position last Friday and was approved by school board members during a special meeting later that day.

Although Willis has done his coaching outside the Permian Basin, he's familiar with the area, having graduated from Monahans High School, where he played varsity football for the Loboes for three seasons. He then attended Jarvis Christian College in Carthage, Tex., before getting his first coaching job.

He takes over a team that won its first game of the season in 2002 under new head coach Fred Carter, then lost its final eight games on the field, wining only once more by way of forfeit over Presidio. Defense was the main problem, as Pecos surrendered 303 in nine games last season, despite games against Alpine and Brownfield where they surrendered only a combined 23 points. They gave up an average of 40 points in their other seven games and 33.7 points per game overall for the year.

The Eagles also had problems of defense in 2001, despite making the playoffs as a member of District 2-4A for the fourth straight year, so improving the defense and returning to the playoffs are the two main things Willis will try to change during the 2003 season.

"I've been mainly a defensive coach as far as football is concerned, and a strength coach and powerlifting coach," he said, adding that when preseason workouts begin in August, "We're going to run what I'm familiar with, the 1-back offense and the overshifted 4-3 defense.

Moving down from class 5A Cooper to 3A with Pecos, Willis said, "The numbers and the schemes are the main differences. The schemes are a lot more complicated with 5A football than I've learned here so far, but the main thing is the numbers."

With fewer players to work with and with more two-way players likely to be in the lineup, Willis said learning the new systems may take a little time. "The defense is going to come along for us faster for a while. It takes a while for the offense to catch on, it being so late to put it in."

Along with putting in the new offense, Willis also still has some spots to fill in the football coaching staff at the high school level, and will also begin meeting his players this week, while also looking for a new home for he and his wife, Silva.

"I rode around Saturday looking at houses," he said. "My wife will be down sometime in mid-July."

New drive-by attack results in two arrests

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., June 25, 2003 -- The second drive-by shooting in three days occurred early this morning on the south side of Pecos, and police said the two individuals involved have been arrested.

Pecos Police Department's Lt. Kelly Davis said that a call came in at 3:55 a.m., in reference to a drive by shooting at 2223 Missouri St., in which an attempt also was reportedly made to firebomb the residence.

"As officers responded to the call, Deputy (Israel) Campos noticed a car traveling at a high speed of rate on Highway 17," Davis said. "He was then assisted by Officer (Ricky) Martinez while Sergeant (Armando) Garcia and Officer (Julio) Quinones went to the crime scene."

Davis said that when Garcia and Quinones arrived at the scene it was apparent that there had been an attempt to set the residence on fire and while at the same time shooting into the residence and shooting at Robert Jimenez, who lives at 2223 Missouri St.

"Meanwhile, Campos and Martinez made contact with Miguel Jurado, 17 and Rosalio Carmona, 20, at 5401 Sierra Road out in Lindsay Addition," Davis said. "A search of the residence produced a recently fired shotgun."

At that point, both Jurado and Carmona were both arrested for criminal conspiracy, a state jail felony and for deadly conduct. Carmona was also arrested on a Reeves County Sheriff's warrant for motion to revoke - probation violation.

The gun, a 12-guage shotgun was recovered from the Mata residence out at 5401 Sierra Road.

That was the site of Sunday's early morning drive-by shooting, in which four men were wounded. Reeves County sheriff's deputies said two adults and two juveniles were injured, but none of the injuries was life threatening.

Deputies at the time did not want to say if the shooting was gang related, but Davis said this morning's incident was related to gang activity.

"I can say that it is gang related," Davis said. "Those arrested last night were the victims from Sunday's shooting."

He added that the people inside the home on Missouri Street were Jimenez, his sister and his mother.

"His sister was in the room where the Molotov cocktail was thrown and the shot fired," Davis said.

However, he added that no one was hurt.

"Jimenez was the shooter out on Country Club (Drive)," Davis said, referring to a May 26 shooting incident in which two persons riding in a car were hurt. "And one of the ones we arrested had been shot at by him."

He added that he believes more people are involved and that the case is still under investigation.

"The Sheriff's Department is working on the shooting from Sunday and they will be assisting the Police Department on this case," Davis said.

Pot, weapons found in I-20 stop by cops

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., June 25, 2003 -- Two California residents were arrested for possession of marijuana early this morning, and weapons were also found inside their vehicle following a traffic stop by police on Interstate 20 with assistance from U.S. Border Patrol agents.

Pecos Police K-9 Officer Oscar Machuca said that he stopped the vehicle, with California license plates at the 351/2 mile marker on I-20 westbound, for no front license plate.

"When I made the stop, I saw that there was constant movement coming from the driver," Machuca said. "At that point I asked for backup."

He also added that both occupants of the vehicle had conflicting stories.

"There was also marijuana residue in plain view," Machuca said. "With that we did not need consent to search the vehicle because we had probable cause."

With that the driver, Kevin Lewis Hayles, 20 and passenger JuJuan Desha Doakes, 20 were arrested for possession of marijuana.

Machuca said that they were able to locate about 27.4 grams of marijuana and that upon further investigation they found drug paraphernalia and two handguns.

The handguns that were recovered were a Smith and Wesson 38 semi-automatic and a .38 special revolver.

"I am investigating the handguns," Machuca said. "The Smith and Wesson serial number has been erased."

He added that the revolver had not appeared to be stolen but that if it was stolen it would take days before it would be reported.

"I would like to thank the two Border Patrol officers for their assistance," Machuca said. "Once I saw a lot of movement in the vehicle and I asked for back up they were the first to respond. Sergeant (Cosme) Ortega and Officer (Helen) Vernon arrived after them."

City, County get Homeland Security grants

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., June 25, 2003 -- Reeves County, along with Pecos, Balmorhea, and Toyah, were among 700 local governments to receive funding to help purchase equipment and support training efforts for homeland security.

The local governments will be receiving $84.2 million for anti-terrorism equipment and homeland security planning, Texas Gov. Rick Perry's office announced on Monday.

"These grants will help our communities purchase decontamination equipment and other equipment to support their regional response plans," Perry said.

In order to meet the requirements for funding, local jurisdiction had to complete an assessment of risks and needs. The assessments were used by TEEX, The Texas Engineering Extension Service, and the regional councils of government to help determine the distribution of grant funds.

Emergency Management Coordinator, Ricky Herrera, was on the advisory committee that helped allocate the funds, the Domestic Preparedness Advisory Committee. Herrera said that the deadline for the assessment was April 11, they began working on it in late February, and the Permian Basin Regional Planning Commission approved the proposal on June 11.

"The assessment had to be done for each jurisdiction. It had to be done for Reeves County, Pecos, Balmorhea, and Toyah," Herrera said.

Herrera said that the assessment required that each jurisdiction identify potential threats in the community. They also had to identify the capabilities and limitations of local emergency response teams, and identify the needs in equipment and training to respond to weapons of mass destruction.

"In our region there are 46 jurisdictions, of these jurisdictions, 39 participated. That is about 85 percent participation. Compared to the state's 54 or 55 percent, we did very well. Here in Reeves County we participated 100 percent," Herrera said.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office of Domestic Preparedness sets guidelines for the program and must approve all equipment purchases made with the grants.

"The guidelines are very broad," Herrera said.

Herrera said the categories included communications equipment, decontamination equipment, respirators, self-contained breathing apparatus, and detection equipment. Herrera said that the number one thing that emergency response teams lack is communication.

The total allocated funds for our region came to $2,049,961.87. Herrera said that this money was split in half, and the money was distributed based on population.

"Initially, based on the first distribution of funds, Pecos received $31,473, Reeves County received $14,861, Balmorhea received $11,990, and Toyah received $7,961," Herrera said.

The way the other half was distributed was through the Domestic Preparedness Advisory Committee.

"We looked at emergency responses on a regional basis and that is where the committee came together and put together an emergency response team," Herrera said.

Herrera said that they got this work group together in order to find out the needs of each group. People from emergency units and medical responses were on the team. This group gathered information and did evaluations on potential threats and targets. This assessment had to be done for each jurisdiction.

"We have one hazmat team in Odessa and a search and heavy rescue team and bomb squad in Midland. These units will respond to emergencies anywhere in the region," Herrera said.

For this reason, the Committee decided to purchase a brand new truck for both the hazmat team and the search and heavy rescue team.

"We had to prioritize the funds, and the equipment plus the training is very expensive," Herrera said.

Herrera also said that these teams would involve full time firefighters. This is something that most rural communities do not have.

After this money was distributed the rest of the money was distributed to areas in the region. This brought the totals up for Reeves County and the city of Pecos. The total for Reeves County came up to $19,861, and the city of Pecos came up to $45, 473. The amount for Balmorhea and Toyah remained the same.

"Pecos received an additional $14,000 because it is what we called a major regional responder. The county seats in each county received more because they are more likely to respond across county lines," Herrera said.

These grant funds are for 2002-2003, Herrera said. Things have to be updated for 2004.

"Needs should be met this year, so next year we should just be making sure that things are up to date and going well," Herrera said.

Herrera said that these funds were good for rural communities that would probably not have the funds to purchase this type of equipment otherwise.

Herrera also said that county judges and mayors from different jurisdictions would be receiving a package program explaining how the purchasing will take place. They should be receiving these packages soon.

Summer gym sites changed due to repairs

PECOS, Wed., June 25, 2003 -- Summer open gym for volleyball and basketball, normally held in the new Pecos High School gym, has been relocated to either the Crockett Middle School gym or the old PHS gym until further notice while floor refurbishing work is underway.

The floor of the 20-year-old gym has been stripped and is being repainted and resurfaced this week. The gym is expected to reopen sometime next month.

Volleyball and basketball open gym is held on alternate nights during June and July under the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD summer recreation program.


PECOS, Wed., June 25, 2003 -- High Tuesday 103. Low this morning 75. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of evening thunderstorms: Then a chance of thunderstorms after midnight. Lows near 70. SE winds 5 to 15 mph. The chance of rain is 40 percent. Thurs.: Partly cloudy with isolated thunderstorms in the morning: Then a slight chance of afternoon thunderstorms. Highs in the mid 80s. NE winds 10 to 20 mph. The chance of rain is 20 percent. Thurs. night: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms. Lows near 60. Friday: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms. Highs in the mid 80s.

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Pecos Enterprise
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