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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Thursday, July 31, 2003

County studies four options for filling RCDC III


Staff Writers

PECOS, Thurs., July 31, 2003 -- Reeves County Commissioners agreed to investigate four possible options for filling the newly-completed Reeves County Detention Center III unit on Wednesday, in an emergency session at the Reeves County Courthouse.

Commissioners discussed a number of topics related to the ongoing financial crisis at the Reeves County Detention Center, which was opened in March but currently is running at less than 10 percent of capacity.

Commissioners approved the new, lower man-day rate to be paid by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, contracts for legal and consulting services and also possible courses of action to fill the nearly 900 empty beds at RCDC III, which is needed in order to fund bond payments on the $40 million facility.

The county agreed to accept a rate of $47.32, 14 cents lower than the previous interim rate, for the 2,000 BOP inmates house in the RCDC I and II units. The county will also receive an $800,000 one-time lump sum payment from the BOP, according to County Judge Jimmy Galindo.

At the same time, commissioners also approved retaining Washington, D.C. lawyer Joe Summerall and Washington lobbyist Randy DeLay to work with the county in its effort to get the BOP to place new inmates in RCDC III, which can house up to 960 prisoners. Summerall is being contracted by the county at a rate of $250 per hour, while DeLay will be paid a minimum of $120,000 under a one-year consulting contract.

Summerall is an attorney with Barnes and Thornberg Law Firm and a former lawyer for the Bureau of Prisons while DeLay is employed by Public-Private Strategies and is the brother of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Sugar Land), who is considered one of the most powerful members of Congress.

Reeves County is facing a $950,000 bond payment on Sept. 1 for construction of RCDC III. The $800,000 lump sum payment, along with an additional $140,000 of cuts to be made in the operational expenses of the facility, would just about equal the amount of initial bond payment, but the county would still have to come up with the money for the second bond payment, due at the end of December.

Galindo presented four possible courses of action for the county in its quest to fill the beds of RCDC III before payments on the new construction overtake revenues, which would force the county to default on the construction bonds and possibly relinquish control of the prison.

Galindo told commissioners that he was seeking their approval to pursue all four possibilities at the same time.

"We have to move forward aggressively and knock on every door under the circumstances," Galindo said.

The four possibilities include presenting a new proposal to BOP, the possibility of housing illegal foreign nationals incarcerated by the Department of Homeland Security, taking on more United States Marshall Service Prisoners and a possible contract with the state of Arizona that possibly would fill RCDC III for the next few years.

RCDC Warden Rudy Franco told the court that before the war with Iraq the prison had been contacted by the Department of Homeland Security about housing foreign nationals illegally in the United States.

Franco said that there was a real possibility that there would be an increase in federal prisoners with the increased emphasis on picking up illegal aliens.

Galindo also said that it was economical for the U. S. Marshals Service to use RCDC and that while so far RCDC III had only housed about 80 such inmates there was a potential for as many as 300.

Commissioners spent the most time discussing the possible contract with Arizona.

Galindo said that the county had hosted a team from Arizona earlier in the month that had inspected RCDC III as well as other prison facilities in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

"Two weeks ago the contract officer called and said RCDC III was number one on their list," Galindo said.

Galindo said that he told the officials that the rate for housing the prisoners would be between $50 and $55 per day and that the court had a draft copy of a contract before it.

Galindo said that there were pros and cons to the Arizona deal.

On the good side the contract contains a clause guaranteeing the county 90 percent occupancy.

On the down side the county would be faced with making RCDC III a totally separate facility, both physically and in terms of staff and inmates, to satisfy Arizona and BOP requirements.

"Operationally the warden has assured me the staff can handle whatever they bring," Galindo said.

One of the major obstacles to the deal is the smaller guard-to-inmate ratio required by Arizona compared to BOP.

Arizona will require a 1 to 48 ratio, Galindo said.

"By clearly separating one and two (from RCDC III) we can keep from having to operate all three facilities to Arizona standards," Galindo said.

Commissioners voted to give Galindo the green light to pursue all four possibilities.

Board to discuss handbooks, vending machine

PECOS, Thurs., July 31, 2003 -- Student handbooks and Student Code of Conduct will be the topic of discussion at a special Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board meeting scheduled for this evening.

Board members will meet at 6 p.m., today at the Technology Center, 1301 S. Eddy and the public is invited to attend the open portion of the meeting.

Board members will consider and take possible action on vending machine beverages agreement for the 2003-2004 school year.

The group will meet in closed session as authorized by the Texas Open Meetings Act, Texas Government Code, Section 551.101 et. Seq., Section 551.074: discuss personnel or hear complaints against personnel.

They will return to open session and consider and take possible action on professional personnel: resignations, retirements, change of contract, appointments.

A budget workshop for the board will be held following the special meeting.

Jurors convict Jordan in Oak Street arson case

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., July 31, 2003 -- A 35-year-old Pecos man is awaiting sentencing after being found guilty of arson Tuesday, by a jury in the 143rd District Court in Pecos.

Kacey Lynn Jordan was found guilty of arson, an incident that occurred on Aug. 21, 2002, after the home that his girlfriend and her children were living in was heavily damaged in an overnight fire.

Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez said the following day that his deputies arrested Jordan for terroristic threats on his girlfriend, Crissy Florez. He was arrested at 906 S. Walnut St. by deputies, about 10 hours after the fire broke out at the Florez' Oak Street home.

Jordan was later indicted for arson and his trial was held this week in district court.

At the time of the incident he threatened to burn the house according to Gomez. "He also threatened to kill her and her kids."

Flores' two children are from a previous relationship.

Florez had recently moved into the Oak Street home with her family. The fire broke out while Florez was working an overnight shift at the Reeves County Detention Center. Her children were not in the house at the time the fire broke out.

Firefighters found the home engulfed in flames when they arrived at the home shortly after 2 a.m. on Aug. 21, 2002. They were able to contain the blaze, and put out most of the flames coming out of the windows shortly after their arrival, but the rooms inside suffered heavy damage.

Town of Pecos City Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire investigated the incident and ruled the fire as arson. Neighbors reported seeing a man flee from the scene at the time the fire began, according to reports that night, and Jordan was arrested later that day.

Local stores getting ready for state sales tax

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., July 31, 2003 -- With less then a day to go, local clothing stores have begun placing sale prices, promotions and an abundance of clothes out in preparation for this weekend's tax-free weekend.

Several of the department stores participating in this weekend's back to school tax-free weekend have also extended their hours of operation in preparation for extra customers expected to take advantage of the annual event.

For the next three days, the state's 81/4 cent sales tax will be suspended on most clothing items, according to State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn's office. The sales tax holiday applies to items of less than $100 in value.

Desiree's Boutique will maintain it regular hours while also opening on Sunday from 1 p.m. till 6 p.m.

Owner Lamberto Herrera said that they would have a lot of sales on items such as Red Wing Boots, children's boots, wranglers and sketchers.

"We will have five types of Red Wings for $99.95," Herrera said.

In addition to the wranglers, Herrera said that there would also be sales on Rocky Mountains, Lamas, Cruel Girl and several other name brand jeans.

"We also have a new item," he said. "We now offer medical scrubs for men and women."

Beall's will also be participating in this tax-free weekend, Manager Delma Arreguy said.

"We will have an additional 33 percent off all our clearance," Arreguy said.

They will also be offering a 'buy one pair get second for half off' on their shoes, Arreguy said.

"We will also have 50 percent off guy's carpenter pants," she added.

Beall's is also heading a promotion for a free X-Treme gel watch with any purchase of $50 or more.

In order to accommodate everyone Beall's will be open from 9 a.m. till 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and from 11 a.m. till 8 p.m. on Sunday.

"We hope that everyone can come out and take advantage of this," Arreguy said. "They can also apply and open up a new account with Bealls."

Wal-Mart Assistant Manager Rene Gomez said that they had plenty of cloth in stock and were ready for this weekend.

"We have a lot of rollback prices, plus our everyday prices," Gomez said. "We have also received a lot of cloth like socks and under wears."

He added that they would be giving away some door prices throughout the day.

"We also have a lot of items on sale that do not pertain to the tax-free weekend," he added. "Like our 12 packs of Pepsis will be $2."

Dawn Taylor owner of Tumbleweeds added that she would also be having a lot of stuff on sale.

"I have items for 25 to 50 percent off," Taylor said. "And if they bring in your ad I will give them and additional 10 percent off."

She said that she would be open from 10 a.m. till 6 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. till 3 p.m. on Saturday and from 1 p.m. till 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Texas is one of the nine states that participate in this tax-free weekend, which begins at 12:01 a.m., Friday, August 1 and ends at midnight on Sunday, August 3. This will be the fifth year Texas participates in this tax holiday, which was first held seven years ago in New York.

The other states that participate are Kentucky, Georgia, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Maryland and Florida have participated in this tax holiday in the past but opted not to do so this year.

What is Tax-Free

Baby clothes; Belts with attached buckles; Boots - cowboy, hiking; Caps/hats - baseball, fishing, golf, knitted; Coats and wraps; Diapers - adult and baby; Dresses; Gloves (generally); Gym suits and uniforms; Hooded shirts and hooded sweatshirts; Hosiery; Jackets; Jeans; Jerseys - baseball and football; Jogging apparel; Neckwear and ties; Pajamas; Pants and trousers; Raincoats and ponchos; Robes; Shirts; Shoes - sandals, slippers, sneakers, tennis, walking; Socks (including athletic); Shorts; Suits, slacks, and jackets; Sweatshirts; Sweat suits; Sweaters; Underclothes; Work clothes and uniforms.

What Isn't

Accessories (generally) - barrettes, elastic ponytail holders, wallets, watches; Backpacks; Baseball cleats and pants; Belt buckles (without belt); Boots - climbing, fishing, rubber work boots, ski, waders; Buttons and zippers; Cloth and lace, knitting yarns, and other fabrics; Dry cleaning services; Football pants; Golf gloves; Handbags and purses; Handkerchiefs; Hard hats; Helmets - bike, baseball, football, hockey, motorcycle, sports; Ice skates; Jewelry; Laundering services; Leather goods - except belts with buckles and wearing apparel; Pads - football, hockey, soccer, elbow, knee, shoulder; Personal flotation devices; Rented clothing (including uniforms, formal wear, and costumes); Roller blades and skates; Safety clothing, glasses; Shoes - bicycle (cleated), bowling, golf.

Brisket plate sale fundraiser Friday

PECOS, Thurs., July 31, 2003 -- A brisket plate fundraiser is planned for 11 a.m., Friday at Saragosa Hall.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will go towards medical expenses for Brenda Fuentes, who is undergoing treatment for cancer.

Plates will be $4 per plate and delivery will be made on four or more plates.

To order on Friday call 445-2552.


PECOS, Thurs., July 31, 2003 -- High Wednesday 101. Low this morning 75. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy with isolated thunderstorms. Lows in the lower 70s. Light and variable winds. Friday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 105. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Friday night: Mostly clear. Lows in the lower 70s. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 106. Sunday: Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 70s. Highs near 104.


Kendall Embry

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York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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