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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Monday, November 10, 2003

Split Court gives Weinacht RCDC monitor's job

Staff Writer

PECOS, Mon., Nov. 10, 2003 -- After a very heated discussion, both behind closed doors and during open session this morning, Reeves County Commissioners approved a "monitor" for the Reeves County Detention Center.

The commissioners met behind closed doors to discuss the position and came back to the court to discuss it further and vote on the item.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Herman Tarin made a motion to eliminate the position, which led to further discussion on the issue. The motion was seconded by Precinct 2 Commissioner Norman Hill, however, the motion died, with Precinct 1 Commissioner Felipe Arredondo and Precinct 4 Commissioner Hivi Rayos voting against it. Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo then cast the deciding vote.

"There is just no money in the budget right now for that position," said Tarin. "I have to answer to my constituents and when you have to cut the budget by $1.8 million dollars, there is just no money left for that."

The position had already been approved by Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez, who sat in on the discussion held behind closed doors. Gomez had approved the hiring of special counsel Bill Weinacht for the position at an annual cost of $61,800 per year.

"The sheriff is already over-budgeted in his department and we'll need to make $1.5 million in cuts, possibly in salaries, about 75 percent of it," said Tarin. "We haven't had a monitor for the past 11 years, so why do we even need one now," he said.

"The sheriff can apply, request anything he wants to, but we don't have to approve it," said Tarin. "Wackenhut and BOP have not requested a monitor and I don't want to sit here in December and wonder how we're going to fund it, because the salary will have to come out of the General Fund."

Tarin said that the position would mean $618,000 for the next 10 years, which is the number of years the group has agreed to lease out RCDC to Wackenhut Corrections Corporation.

Galindo told the group that without the cooperation of the sheriff, they would not have gotten anything done. "He's stepped up to the plate every time we've asked him to," said Galindo. "Without his cooperation it would have made things very difficult."

"We're thinking of saving people's jobs, their families, and for us to micro-manage his office and his position, is just not right," said Galindo.

Tarin said that he was not trying to "micro-manage" the sheriff's job.

"There's no question that you want to micro-manage his job," said Galindo. "I just don't think it's in our position to micro-manage the sheriff's job."

"That's just a lot of money for one position, when we could be helping out by saving different jobs out at the prison, putting food on families tables," said Tarin.

"How are you going to pay for this position?" asked Tarin.

"BOP has to pay for this position," said Arredondo. "I'm in agreement that we need someone to monitor the facility that knows about contracts and that wants to do it in the better interest of the county."

Gomez told the court that he was on nobody's political agenda. "I'm just here in the best interest of the county, regardless of what the court says," he said.

Gomez told the group that regardless of who was managing the facility, they were still county employees, and they needed someone to look out for their best interests.

"You're right, commissioner Tarin, we didn't have a monitor, because we didn't need one, it was our prison," said Gomez. "But now we need someone out there that will take care of our interests and do what is in the best interest of the county."

"I think it's important to see that the court makes rules as a majority," said Galindo.

"Well my motion is not to fund this position, or eliminate it, however, you want to put it," said Tarin. "The money is coming from indirect costs, from the General Fund and we already have to make $1.8 million in cuts."

"You should have thought about that when you voted for the prison," said Rayos. "Now, all we have to think about is saving it, I always wanted to wait before building it, but it's already been done and we have to go on," he said.

"To eliminate the position is your motion, but I think funding it is another thing," said Galindo.

"Just come up with a motion that will suit you," said Tarin. "But I'm very opposed to this position," he said.

The group then went on to discuss the contract with the "new monitor."

Galindo read out the monitor's "duties."

"It's already in the contract, this is just modified," said Galindo.

Under section 3.11 of the contract Galindo read: The county shall provide regular, on-site monitoring of the RCDC, and, in the performance of his/her monitoring duties, the county monitor shall have access at all times, with or without notice, to all areas of the RCDC, to inspect all documents and records relating to inmates housed pursuant to this Agreement and WCC's performance hereunder, including employee records not otherwise protected by applicable privacy laws, records relating to serious incidents and security breaches and reports kept by WCC concerning the management of the RCDC.

"The county monitor shall receive a copy of any correspondence between the county and WCC and any sending authority. WCC acknowledges that the county and county sheriff have selected the current RCDC Special Counsel to serve as the county monitor throughout the term of this agreement and that an amendment to the RCDC Special Counsel's contract is required to confirm this selection," said Galindo.

"It's already been approved in the contract, this is just an amendment," said Galindo.

Tarin and Hill voted against the amendment, while Galindo, Rayos and Arredondo voted for it, making the special counsel the new monitor for the facility.

"So actually the action has already been taken, by approving the contract," said Galindo. "The monitor will be the special counsel and that was on the condition of the approval of the sheriff," he said.

Weinacht told the group he wanted a decision made that morning. "The amendment has already been done, it's just a ratification of that," said Weinacht. "It's redundant, but I'm just looking to do it, so that commissioner Tarin can quit raving about it."

Outside the meeting, Weinacht said that Tarin was opposed to his being the monitor, because he wanted the position himself

"He doesn't think he'll win in this next election and he wants this position for himself," said Weinacht. The position of Tarin and Arredondo will be up for election in the 2004 primary races.

Ex-Pecos residents jailed in slaying of Hobbs teens

Staff Writer

PECOS, Mon., Nov. 10, 2003 -- Two former residents of Pecos have been arrested in connection with the murders of two teenagers in a Hobbs, N.M. over the weekend.

According to police sources, Gilbert Plasencia, 22, and Alex Plasencia, 21, were arrested on warrants stemming from a shooting that occurred in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The report states that the two were at a party in Hobbs when they encountered Marcos Palma, 19, and Mark Olivas, 18, both of Hobbs, N.M. The four reportedly got into an argument at the party and took the disagreement outside.

Later, partygoers heard shots from the parking lot, where Olivas and Palma were found shot. They were transported to Lea County Hospital, but died shortly after being treated for their wounds.

Both Plasencia brothers were picked up later that day at their mother's house in Kermit. Gilbert Plasencia attempted to flee when Winkler County Sheriff's Deputies ordered the residents of the house to exit. Officers subdued him at the back door as he tried to escape. Alex was arrested without incident.

Both men are known gang members here in Pecos, where Gilbert reportedly is the leader of the BPG, or Brown Pride Gang.

Both men have been arrested in Pecos for assorted crimes ranging from evading arrest, minor in possession of alcohol, aggravated assault, unlawfully carrying a weapon, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, criminal activity, terroristic threats and public intoxication.

The last arrest reported by police came less than a month ago, on Oct. 5, when Alex Plasencia, was arrested on warrants for no drivers license, no liability insurance and a violation of a promise to appear.

The most serious arrest involving either of the two occurred in January of 2001, when Alex Plasencia was arrested for involvement in a gang-related altercation involving a gun in Midland.

Midland Police Gang Unit Detective Chad Bullard said at the time that members of the Pecos BPG had gathered at a fellow gang member's house when hostilities erupted with Midland gang members.

The fight started in the middle of the street and a Midland gang member threw a pipe through the window of the BPG member's house, according to Bullard.

"A Pecos gang member then retaliated by pulling out a handgun," said Bullard. He said at least four shots were fired, but no injuries were reported.

Local law enforcement officials said both Gilbert and Alex Plasencia apparently moved to Kermit with their mother eight months ago.

Breakfast, lunch events for veterans

PECOS, Mon., Nov. 10, 2003 -- Veterans Day breakfast and lunches to honor former military members have been scheduled for Tuesday in Pecos.

Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a Veterans' Day Appreciation breakfast at the Reeves County Civic Center, beginning about 7:45 a.m. The event will open with a flag raising ceremony at 7:30 a.m., with a full breakfast to be served afterward.

At lunchtime, the Pecos High School Student Council is inviting all military veterans to join them on Tuesday at the Pecos High School cafeteria. Veterans are invited to join the students for lunch and share a few words of wisdom with the PHS student body.

Lunches will start at 11 a.m. and run through 1 p.m.


PECOS, Mon., Nov. 10, 2003 -- High Sun. 57. Low Sun. 53. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows near 55. South winds 10 to 15 mph.Veterans Day: Partly cloudy. Highs near 80. South winds 10 to 15 mph. Tues. night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower to mid 50s. SW winds 15 to 20 mph. Wed.: Mostly cloudy. A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the lower to mid 60s. Wed. night: Lows in the lower to mid 40s.


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