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Economic Development


Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

County hires high-priced help to fix RCDC crisis

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., July 30, 2003 -- Reeves County has retained a Washington, D.C. lawyer and the lobbyist brother of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in an effort to help in negotiations with the Bureau of Prisons over the Reeves County Detention Center III project.

The announcement came during a special Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting held this morning to discuss several items pertaining to the Reeves County Detention Center.

The county reached an agreement last Thursday in Washington with the BOP on the man-day rate for the 2,000 inmates housed at the RCDC I and RCDC II units. But the BOP has declined to put any new inmates into the 960-bed RCDC III. That has left the county with a lack of income to meet bond payments on the construction of the $40 million facility, with the first payment due on Sept. 1.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo outlined the modification agreement with the BOP and stated that the new man-day rate had been set at $47.33. The agreement also called for a one-time lump sum payment of $800,000 to Reeves County, according to Galindo.

"I signed the modification agreement yesterday and sent it back," said Galindo.

He also told the group that they have had the privilege of working with a Washington-based lawyer, Joe Summerall, who has been helping with negotiations with BOP.

"He's an attorney with Barnes and Thornberg Law Firm and a former BOP attorney, who worked with them for four years," said Galindo. "Prior to that he worked at the Pentagon."

Galindo said that there are very few people that know the ins and outs of BOP and that Reeves County was fortunate to have him.

Galindo suggested that Reeves County employ Summerall at an hourly rate until the issues with BOP have been completely resolved.

"My understanding of the law is that under an Attorney General's Opinion the commissioners cannot hire outside representation without the approval of the county attorney," said county auditor Lynn Owens.

Owens told the court that under that AG's ruling they would have to seek the approval of the county attorney before formally hiring the outside counsel.

Galindo contacted Luis Carrasco on the phone during the meeting to seek his approval. Carrasco who is currently out of town spoke to the group via telephone and consented to Summerall's hiring.

"If this is what we need to do, I'm all for it," said Carrasco. "I give you my approval," he said, but added that he would like some documentation from Summerall to keep on file.

"We need good competent counsel to help us in Washington," said Galindo.

Commissioners then approved retaining Summerall at the hourly rate of $250 per hour.

Galindo also told the group about another individual they have been working closely with in resolving the problems with the Bureau of Prisons.

Randy DeLay with Public-Private Strategies has also been working with Galindo and the commissioners in their effort to resolve problems. DeLay is the brother of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Sugar Land), the second-highest ranking Republican in the House of Representatives.

"He's a professional that knows the inner working of the congressional process," said Galindo. "He has very important relationships that are important in this process."

Galindo said that he was the best, however, the best "comes at a very steep price."

Galindo said that the fee for the lobbyist was $10,000 a month, with a minimum of 12-month contract, which would be $120,000 for the year.

"I don't think I could bring anyone better," said Galindo.

Galindo said that both men were important to Reeves County and that keeping the RCDC facilities would mean more money coming in to the community.

"I know it's a very steep price, but it will bring in to this community about $40-$50 million," said Galindo. "It's a very small price to pay," he said.

Feds force county to hike pay

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., July 30, 2003 -- Reeves County Commissioners took steps this morning towards meeting the wage standards of the U.S. Department of Labor for at the Reeves County Detention Center, increasing pay scales for many employees at the facility to meet federal guidelines.

The mandatory changes come at the same time the county is struggling to fill the new RCDC III with prisoners, and with a $950,000 bond payment due on Sept. 1. The county has borrowed over $400,000 from the General Fund each of the past two months to meet payroll at the prison, though County Auditor Lynn Owens told Reeves County on Monday that the money borrowed in June has been paid back.

Commissioners met this morning during an emergency meeting to discuss the Department of Labor (DOL) wages and how to go about implementing them at the RCDC.

"The rules have applied since 1988, but for the first time they'll be fully incorporated," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.

Galindo explained that the U.S. Bureau of Prisons outlined the proposal in the modification contract the county agreed to on Thursday. "They had this incorporated into the contract and we had essentially been in compliance," said Galindo.

Currently, Correctional Officers I start at an annual pay rate of $19,000 then receive a pay raise to $24,000 following their first year of employment at the detention center. "During their first year they are trainees, and after that they become full-fledged officers and receive a raise to $24,000 after their first year of employment," said Galindo.

The current hourly rate for a CO-1 is $9.14, but that rate would go up to $14.99 under the DOL wage scales.

Galindo handed out copies of the wage scales, with each employee's current title and pay rate and the new BOP proposed pay rate and title.

"The federal agencies are required to pay these wages if they are providing services to the federal government," said Galindo.

Galindo said that BOP does not distinguish between CO-I's, CO-II's or CO-III's. "That means that they will all be getting paid $31,179 per year," he said.

Nobody would lose any money, but some individuals out at the facility will be seeing a bigger pay check.

"Originally they had said we weren't entitled to DOL wages, because we were a local government and that it only applied to private contracts," said Galindo.

Galindo told the group that RCDC Warden Rudy Franco and his staff have already drawn up job descriptions and those will be sent to BOP and the Department of Labor.

"They are the ones that will determine the wages," said Galindo. "We won't be arguing about wages anymore."

"I can see a big problem because not everybody will be making the $14.99 an hour and if they won't they'll be upset," said Precinct 3 Commissioner Herman Tarin.

"BOP proposes that they have established an entry level wage and they will conform every position to the appropriate wage level," said Galindo.

He said that they would have to go through a conformation process. "They will determine the appropriate wage for that position," said Galindo.

Transportation panel holds meeting in Midland

PECOS, Wed., July 30, 2003 -- Town of Pecos City Manager Carlos Yerena is scheduled to be in attendance on Thursday, when the Texas Transportation Commission holds its July monthly meeting in the Midland-Odessa area.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo and Pecos Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Linda Gholson said following Tuesday's meeting with Texas Department of Transportation officials in Pecos they would consider attendance or sending a representative to Thursday's meeting.

The commission normally meets in Austin, but will convene at 9 a.m. Thursday at the University of Texas Center for Energy and Economic Diversification Auditorium, located at the intersection of State Highway 191 and FM 1788, north of Midland International Airport.

No items specifically affecting the Pecos area are on the commission's agenda, but the meeting will end with an open comment period of up to one hour, in which speakers who have signed up prior to the start of the comment period will be allowed to comment for up to three minutes on any other matter that is under the jurisdiction of the commission. No action will be taken on any of the items discussed during public comments.

Items on the board's agenda include generally routine monthly business, along with an executive session scheduled just prior to the public comment section of the meeting.

The main items on the agenda deal with construction projects in the Austin area, along with other projects in North Central and Southeast Texas.

The only item affecting the Permian Basin is the designation of SH 349 north of the city of Midland in Midland and Martin counties along a proposed new location that would be part of the La Entrada al Pacifico route proposed between Lubbock and Presidio.

The proposed section would connect the existing SH 349 north of Midland with FM 1788 north of Midland International Airport. The new section, along with sections of the existing FM 1788 and Interstate 20 will receive the addition SH 349 designation, while the current route through Midland will be re-designated as Business SH 349.

The proposed La Entrada al Pacifico route would run from the Midland airport west along I-20 to Odessa, and from there south on U.S. 385 to Fort Stockton and then south on U.S. 67 to Presidio. From there, it would connect with a new Mexican highway from Ojinaga through Chihuahua City to the Pacific coast of Mexico. However, last year truckers and other drivers currently using the Presidio Port of Entry were opting for more direct routes to Interstate 20, either through Fort Davis to Pecos or through Alpine and Coyanosa to Monahans.

Council to review accounting software bids

PECOS, Wed., July 30, 2003 -- The Town of Pecos City will hold a special meeting at 11:30 a.m. Thursday in the Council Chambers to discuss and consider the awarding the purchase of accounting software.

The awarding of the purchase of the accounting software was tabled from the council's meeting held last Thursday, after Councilman Danny Rodriguez requested that the two other companies involved provide an informative package for the council.

The three companies being considered by the council are New World Systems out of Troy, Michigan, Incode out of Lubbock and Springbrook out of Portland, Oregon.


PECOS, Wed., July 30, 2003 -- High Tuesday 97. Low this morning 67. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms. Lows in the upper 60s. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Thursday: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 90s. South winds 5 to 15 mph. Thursday night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 70s. Friday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 100. Saturday: Mostly clear. Lows in the lower 70s. Highs near 101.

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Pecos Enterprise
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