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Archive 2003

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Economic Development


Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Commissioners make payment on water project

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., Oct. 14, 2003 -- Town of Pecos City will receive their $422,320 payment from Reeves County as promised this week, while a contract with Washington lobbyist Randy DeLay and the county has been modified by Reeves County Commissioners.

Both items were topic of discussion during the regular Commissioners Court meeting, held Monday in the third floor courtroom at Reeves County Courthouse.

Commissioners agreed to pay the $422,320 owed to the city as part of a water agreement signed two years ago in connection with the construction of the South Worsham Water Field. The commissioners had voted during a meeting held in September to postpone the payment until Oct. 15, because the city did not need to forward the money to the Texas Water Development Board until the end of October.

Pecos is developing a new water field to replace the Worsham and Ward County water fields, which are only expected to last through 2008. The county agreed to make the initial payments on the project in exchange for access by the $90 million prison facility to the city's water system.

"We're submitting some reimbursables for a number of items and we plan to move forward on that," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo. "We need those by the end of the week."

Galindo told the group that he had already spoken to Barry Friedman of Carlisle Capital Markets, financiers for the Reeves County Detention Centers, about the reimbursable items.

Commissioners are dealing with budget problems linked to the shortfall of funds from the lack of inmates to fill the new 960-bed Reeves County Detention Center III project. The county faces a series of bond payments during the upcoming fiscal year on the new $40 million addition, along with the payment to the Town of Pecos City as their share of the South Worsham Water Field construction project.

In connection with the effort to acquire new inmates for RCDC III, commissioners also approved the ratification of professional service contract between Public/Private Strategies Consult Inc. and Reeves County.

"I got back the contract with the language we had discussed previously with Mr. DeLay," said Galindo.

One of the things that the group had cut out was the reimbursement for expenses, according to Galindo.

County Auditor Lynn Owens told the group that he had already received an invoice from Mr. DeLay and that the bill amount so far was for $36,871. "I haven't paid it yet, because I was not authorized to pay the reimbursed expenses," said Owens.

"But I spoke to Mr. DeLay and he told me that these costs would be divided between different clients, not just one customer," said Galindo. "He assured me that those costs would not amount to very much."

"In talking with him, I thought that would be reasonable," he added. "It's important that we have all of our team members on board."

"Do we really need him, if we're about to lease out the prison?" asked Precinct 4 Commissioner Hivi Rayos.

After seeking ways for three months to find inmates to fill the RCDC III, proposals are now being accepted by Reeves County from private vendors for the operation, management and/or lease of all three units of the 2,960 bed prison or each unit individually.

A public notice was officially posted on Sept. 30 by the Reeves County Commissioners Court as a request for proposals, with a deadline of Oct. 31 for the proposals to be submitted.

The management/lease offer would take away some control of the prison from county commissioners, but would allow the county to maintain its ownership of the facility.

Most of the 2,000-plus inmates currently in the facility come from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. But the BOP has refused to send any more inmates to fill RCDC III, saying it currently has no need for the extra bed space in Texas. Contracting with DeLay, the brother of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Sugarland, was part of the county's effort to find inmates for the new prison.

"What I say to you, is as a partnership it doesn't relieve us of how to deal with Washington," said Galindo. "Yes, we do need him, for the judicial process and other reasons."

"It won't be our obligation anymore to look for prisoners," said Rayos.

"We're not through," said Galindo. "We're not throwing in the towel and walking away from this situation."

"It says here in the contract, that if he's not doing his job, we'll have to sue him, we just can't get rid of him," said Rayos.

Rayos read item #5 of the contract, which stated: To terminate the agreement, the terminating party must so notify the other party, in writing, thirty days prior to the termination date. The termination date must be at the end of a calendar month. This agreement shall be irrevocable and noncancellable.

"It says here that the agreement is irrevocable and noncancellable," said Rayos.

"You have the perception that we'll throw in the towel and just walk away," said Galindo. "It's imperative we be involved in the process," he said.

"We can work on the wording, because I do think it's based on performance," said Galindo.

"Have you paid him anything yet?" asked commissioner precinct 3 Herman Tarin.

"We received a list of charges for October and the total amount due so far is $36,871," said auditor Lynn Owens. "This covers August, September and October, we did receive an invoice from him," he said.

Owens said that the lobbyist had been budgeted in the 2004 budget. "We budgeted it in to pay him, but we have to amend this year's to pay him for this year," said Owens.

RCDC I was built in 1986 to house 300 inmates and over the next 12 years was expanded to hold 1,000 inmates. During that time, several disputes broke out between then-Reeves County Sheriff Raul Florez and county commissioners over which group would oversee the prison, and as a compromise in 1989 the prison operations were turned over to Correction Corporation of America.

CCA ran the prison for three years, until the contract was terminated and the sheriff's department regained control. However, after several prison escapes and two riots over the next three years which led the BOP to remove some prisoners from RCDC I, county commissioners took over supervision of the facility and hired former La Tuna Federal Prison Warden Rudy Franco to be in charge of the prison in late 1995.

Following the questioning of Galindo by Rayos, commissioners broke for lunch before coming back in the afternoon to discuss the issue and take a vote.

Rayos told the group that if they could change the wording in the contract to read that it could be cancelable and revocable.

Galindo told the group that he had a teleconference with DeLay with regards to his work with Reeves County. "I believe it went really well," said Galindo.

The group agreed to the agreement with the new wording inserted into the contract.

"In the long run it's cheaper, instead of sending someone from here," said Precinct 1 Commissioner Felipe Arredondo. "I don't think anyone else can do it," he said.

"There's a lot at stake," said Galindo.

Another prison related issue taken up by commissioners Monday was rescinding an inmate clothing bid from ICS, after that company began demanding payment up-front for delivery of the clothing.

"It's been about three to four weeks ago, that according to staff members we have not received any clothing from ICS," said Reeves County Detention Center employee Adam Rodriguez.

He said that the company began sending them the clothes as COD (Cash on Delivery).

"They told me that their legal adviser told them that the clothes would have to be delivered that way," said Rodriguez. "They told me that they won't deliver anymore unless it is COD."

Owens told the group that he had spoken to them as well only to get the same answer. "She told me that it was because of legal counsel, who told them to do this, because of our financial troubles," said Owens.

Owens said that he told them Reeves County would be purchasing their inmate clothing elsewhere. ""She told me that she was going to advise whoever we get it from next, why they had to change our contract to COD," said Owens. "We don't owe them anything."

Galindo said that because it was a bid that had been awarded their hands were tied. "We need to rescind the bid to be able to purchase from the open market," he said.

Commissioners agreed to rescind the bid and let the prison facility order the clothing from the open market. "That will give you the authority to purchase from the open market, without violating anything," said Galindo.

Event held to boost domestic violence awareness

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., Oct. 14, 2003 -- A ceremony was held in front of the Reeves County Courthouse this morning to increase awareness about the problem of domestic violence within the community.

October was proclaimed as Domestic Violence Month in Reeves County during the 10:30 a.m. ceremony. City and county law enforcement officials were on hand at the courthouse along with local victim's assistance volunteers to tie purple ribbons onto law enforcement vehicles

The campaign is to remind people to be aware of domestic violence around them and to recognize the efforts of staff and volunteers to reduce domestic violence through public education.

The area Center for Crisis Advocacy, a volunteer organization located in Midland, has sponsored a shelter to care for the victims of domestic violence. The Angel House is a dedicated facility that provides shelter, food, transportation, support and community referrals to those individuals that have experienced abuse.

In 1998, 824,790 women reported being physically assaulted by an intimate partner. The Center for Crisis Advocacy, through the Angel House, works to help victims though the rough time and to help them get back on their feet.

Sue Arrington, executive director of the Center for Crisis Advocacy, Stacey Hollingshead, Victim Services Advocate with the CCA, and Susie Saenz, Reeves County Victim Advocate met with Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney and Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez to acknowledge the dedication of the month.

Driver awareness program at PHS to stage accident

PECOS, Tues., Oct. 14, 2003 -- Local authorities will be putting together drunk driving awareness program at the high school this week.

Organizers have scheduled a mock crash to be held at the school on Thursday morning as part of the program entitled, "Shattered Dreams," which was also held at the school two years ago.

Certain students will be designated as the deceased of the crash and will have their faces painted white and have to wear black for the rest of the day. Other students will not be allowed to talk to these "deceased" for the entirety of the event.

Helicopters, ambulances, fire trucks and other emergency vehicles will be on hand to lend to the realism of the event. Crisis volunteers will be on-hand Friday for an assembly at 2 p.m. for debriefing of the "victims."

Reward offered for information on missing teenager

PECOS, Tues., Oct. 14, 2003 -- A reward of $1,000 has now been offered for information assisting officers in locating a missing Balmorhea teen, who disappeared from her home two weeks ago.

Midland Crime Stoppers has offered the reward into the disappearance of Monica Cassandra Carrasco, and is soliciting any information that might be helpful in the case. Carrasco disappeared sometime between the late evening of Oct. 1 and the early morning of Oct. 2.

She is described as 110 pounds, black hair with red streaks, brown eyes and 5-foot-5 in height. She has a small mole on her cheek and a chicken pox scar near her hairline on her forehead.

Law enforcement officials have been looking for the 16 year-old since the morning of her disappearance. Representatives from the Reeves County Sheriff's Office, the Border Patrol, the Fort Stockton-Lynell Unit and the Department of Public Safety have all contributed to the search for the girl.

"We have no new leads at this time," Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez said, "but we are still searching and we are now working and coordinating our efforts with the Special Investigations Unit of the DPS, out of Midland."

At the time she disappeared, officials said they suspected Carrasco just walked out of her home. They also said 16-year-old is believed to be taking anti-depressants.

"She's on medication right now and we want to locate her right away," said Gomez.

People are urged to call the Midland Crime Stoppers at 432-694-TIPS or 1-800-7-LOCKUP or any local law enforcement agency with any information that might be beneficial to the investigation. Crime Stoppers would like to stress that callers will remain anonymous and that no caller ID is ever used on a call.


PECOS, Tues., Oct. 14, 2003 -- High Monday 92. Low this morning 53. Forecast for tonight: Mostly clear. Lows near 50. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Wednesday: Mostly sunny. Highs near 85. South winds 10 to 15 mph. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 50s. Southwest winds 10 to 15 mph. Thursday: Partly cloudy. Highs 85 to 90. West winds 10 to 15 mph. Thursday night: Mostly clear. Lows in the mid 50s. Friday: Mostly sunny. Highs in the mid 70s. Friday night: Mostly clear. Lows near 50.

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Pecos Enterprise
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