Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
RCDC cuts 31 jobs, 39 more layoffs pending
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Wed., Nov. 19, 2003 -- Reeves County Detention Center employees
who lost their jobs last week or are facing the loss of their jobs in
the near future will have an option to go to another facility owned by
the company that is taking over management of the local prison.
Wackenhut Corrections Corporation will be overseeing the RCDC once
the number of employees decreases at both units currently being
utilized to a level listed in the contract between Wackenhut and the
county. The reduction requires the elimination of 70 jobs at the
facility, according to county officials.
Of that total, 31 workers were dismissed last Friday and another 39
are due to be let go in the near future.
Wackenhut signed a 10-year management contract with Reeves County on
Monday to operate the detention center. The move was made after Reeves
County was unable to find prisoners to fill the new 960-bed RCDC III
unit, and was faced with a possible default on bonds for the $40
County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo said in July that because the three
units are cross collateralized, a default on RCDC III's bonds would
affect the entire $89 million facility.
While the prison currently has only a little over 2,000 inmates,
according to terms of the contract, the three units contain
approximately 3,025 beds, with 1,105 beds in RCDC I and 960 each in the
RCDC II and III units.
Galindo said that there are currently 382 employees at the local
facility and that number needs to be reduced to 343, which would mean
39 more employees need to be let go before Wackenhut assumes control.
"The 31 employees that were laid off Friday, were officers that had
not passed the jail certification test," said Galindo.
RCDC Warden Rudy Franco said that a meeting with Wackenhut
Corrections Corporation is pending. "But they are prepared to offer
each of the employees an employment opportunity," said Franco.
There is no timetable as to when the next group of employees will be
laid off and when Wackenhut Corrections Corporation will take over. "We
don't have a timetable set up and the employees will be the first to
know," he said.
However, under the terms of the agreement, Wackenhut is now
responsible for finding inmates to fill RCDC III. The contract calls
for the company to pay Reeves County a total of $430,000 each month
RCDC III remains un-utilized over a one-year period, money the county
would use to meet bond payments on the facility until inmates are
That part of the contract will go into effect either on Dec. 1, or
at the start of the first month after Reeves County reduces the
workforce at the prison to no more than 343 employees. That means that
if the 39 layoffs don't occur within the next 11 days, Wackenhut will
not have to make a $430,000 payment until January 1.
There will be a number of resources available to the displaced
employees, according to Franco.
RCDC Personnel Director Donna James said that they are currently
working on several "projects" to help these employees.
"We will be having a Benefit Fair on Friday, from 8 a.m. until 5
p.m.," she said.
The Texas Workforce Commission, the Department of Human Services,
Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, Odessa College, Edward Jones and a
representative from AFLAC will all be on hand at the Benefit Fair to be
held at the Reeves County Detention Center.
"They will all be on hand to talk to the employees that were laid
off and any potential others," said James.
The entities and agencies will be there to offer their assistance
and help all the employees, according to James.
Galindo said that Franco was trying to put together the employees so
that they could speak to Wackenhut officials. "Even though those 31
didn't pass the test, they are still being offered positions at the
other facilities being managed by Wackenhut Corrections Corporation,"
Galindo said that Wackenhut is offering all the displaced employees
an employment opportunity at one of their other facilities in Texas.
The company manages correctional facilities in Del Rio, Raymondville,
San Antonio and Carnes City.
"They have a number of facilities in Texas and are willing to offer
every one of these displaced employees an opportunity," said Galindo.
Jury told probe in Pecos sparked child sex arrest
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Wed., Nov. 19, 2003 -- A former Pecos pastor is facing
aggravated sexual assault of a child charges in Odessa and testimony is
to continue today in that trial.
Tuesday marked the first day of testimony in the trial of
32-year-old Raul Puente Jr., in 358th District Court.
"I expect it to continue until late tomorrow," said Ector County
District Attorney John Smith.
Testimony began with three witnesses yesterday, including his former
mother-in-law, his ex-wife and Reeves County Sheriff's Department Lt.
Puente is a former Pecos and San Antonio resident, but the incident
in question occurred in Ector County.
"The grandmother is the one who contacted me and made allegations of
sexual assault to a child," said Reeves County Sheriff Lt. Mike
Dominguez. "We investigated the incident and determined that the
offense had occurred in Ector County."
Dominguez said that he then contacted Paul Shepherd a detective with
the Odessa Police Department. "Paul said bring them down here, I did
and that's how the ball got rolling on this case," he said. "I also got
the Child Protective Services involved."
Dominguez said that the mother-in-law, who had moved to Pecos from
San Antonio, didn't know any policemen in Pecos, so she took her
complaints to her church's preacher. That preacher then took the woman,
Rebecca Maria Santos Alviso, to Dominguez' house to discuss the
problem. "I then took them to the sheriff's department, to write up a
report," he said.
"I really don't know which church Puente used to preach in, but we
were told he was a substitute teacher here at one time," said
Alviso testified yesterday during the trial that her 10-year-old
granddaughter had confided in her that Puente had been sexually
Also testifying yesterday, was Puente's ex-wife, Monica Hernandez.
The couple have four children, a five-year-old girl that is Puente's;
boys 6 and 8 years old and the 10-year-old girl.
"The only incident being tried involves the 10-year-old," said
Smith. "We haven't received any other complaints from the other
children or from anyone else in Pecos," he said.
Hernandez married Puente in San Antonio in 2000, and the couple and
their four children moved from Pecos to Odessa in May 2002. The charge
stems from an incident between January and October last year.
Puente has been held at Ector County Law Enforcement Center since
his Oct. 6, 2002, arrest in lieu of a $60,000 bond for aggravated
sexual assault of a child. He also was denied bond on three counts of
indecency with a child and one count of injury to a child.
Puente is only being tried on the aggravated sexual assault of a
child charge, according to Smith. The other charges will be addressed
at a later date.
Whether anyone else from Pecos will testify is not known, according
to Smith. "We're not privy to see who the defense will call to
testify," said Smith.
Cancer Society "Smokeout" set for Thursday
PECOS, Wed., Nov. 19, 2003 -- The American Cancer Society's 27th
annual Great American Smokeout is scheduled for Thursday across the
The ACS asks smokers to put down their cigarettes for one day each
year, as part of an effort to get all smokers to quit cigarette use.
According to the ACS, approximately 32 million of the nation's 46
million smokers want to quit smoking completely, and smoking rates
nationally have declined from 25 percent in 1993 to 22.8 percent in
Smokers who are ready to kick the habit can find help through the
American Cancer Society's Quitline, at 1-877-YES-QUIT. The Quitline is
funded by the Texas Department of Health using Tobacco Settlement
funds, and offers free telephone counseling services, advice and
cessation materials to smokers age 13 and older.
PECOS, Wed., Nov. 19, 2003 -- High Tuesday 65. Low this morning 29.
Forecast for tonight: Clear. Lows 35 to 40. South winds near 10 mph.
Thursday: Partly cloudy. Highs 75 to 80. Southwest winds 10 to 15 mph.
Thursday night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower to mid 40s. Southwest
winds near 10 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 70s to the
lower 80s. Southwest winds 10 to 15 mph increasing to 15 to 25 mph in
the afternoon. Friday night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 40s.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 2003 by Pecos Enterprise