Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
Wackenhut assumes control of RCDC, job cuts reduced
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Tues., Nov. 25, 2003 -- Wackenhut Corrections Corporation
officially took over the management of the Reeves County Detention
Center at 8 a.m. this morning, following the approval of an amended
contract between the corporation and Reeves County.
The amendments were approved during the regular Reeves County
Commissioners Court meeting held Monday at the courthouse.
The county had entered into a management service agreement with the
corporation on Nov. 3. However, under the original agreement the
contract would not take effect until Dec. 1 or the first day of the
first month after the staff at the Detention Center had been reduced to
343 workers. The revised deal will cut by 39 the number of layoffs
planned by Reeves County, and leave the prison with 382 employees.
Representatives of Wackenhut and the Federal Bureau of Prisons met
on Nov. 14 to discuss the terms and conditions of the county's
intergovernmental agreement with the BOP, as well as the terms of the
Management Services agreement the county signed with Wackenhut in early
"There are a number of changes in the contract that are mutually
acceptable," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.
The main change was the sum of money the county had to pay Wackenhut
for management services. A reduction from $333,000 to $62,500 per month
was included in the amendments.
The other big change included the number of employees at the RCDC.
The original contract had called for a reduction in staff to 343, and
31 layoffs were announced last week.
The change means that 39 workers who were scheduled to lose their
jobs will be retained by Wackenhut, and allowed the company to managing
the facility this morning.
"This amendment will cease all other lay-offs and instead the
reduction in work force will be done through attrition," said Galindo.
"The prison is currently having separations of anywhere from 10-15 per
month and no other lay-offs are planned."
RCDC Warden Rudy Franco, who was on hand for meeting, said that a
number of separations from the prison occur every month. "For one
reason or another, we have employees that leave their position at the
RCDC," said Franco.
Wackenhut was retained by the county both to manage the prison and
to help the county find new inmates for the 960-bed RCDC III. The $40
million addition to the prison was opened in March, but was unable to
attract enough inmates to meet bond payments on the prison. Under the
financing arrangements, a default on the RCDC III bonds would have
affected the entire $89 million facility.
Most of the prisoners in RCDC I and II are kept under contract with
the BOP. Franco said that the population at the facility is currently
Under the amendment and with current financing obligations, the
county has appropriated funds which when added to interest earnings are
sufficient to make all RCDC sublease payments through Nov. 30,
including but not limited to funds sufficient to make all but $411,117
of the debt service payment of $1.3 million on the Series 2001
Certificates, including one due next Monday.
"Wackenhut Corrections Corporation is willing to make that $415,000
payment on Dec. 1 and one on Jan. 1," said Galindo.
WCC is willing to pay the county a monthly utilization availability
payment in order to ensure the continued availability of the RCDC for
future operation by the county.
"As a result of discussion with the FBOP, the county and WCC believe
that it is in their best interest to amend the terms and conditions of
the Utilization Availability Agreement," said Galindo.
"It can all be captured with the utilization of three and that's
what we are all striving for," said Galindo. "Hopefully, through the
next few months, we'll be working together for that utilization
"I think this is a major commitment from Wackenhut," he said.
Wackenhut's payments will help the company ensure the availability
of all of the RCDC for future utilization by the county and Wackenhut
and to secure the company's exclusive rights to market and manage all
of the RCDC throughout the term of this agreement.
"You've done an outstanding job and I would just like to make a
couple of comments," said Don Houston, vice-president of Wackenhut
"What has happened is that we had a very productive meeting with BOP
and have a number of changes, and we need to look at what is best as
partners," he said.
Houston said that they had agreed to reduce their fee in order to
cease layoffs and ask for exclusive rights to market a very good
"I'm excited about the partnership and feel it will be mutually
beneficial," said Houston.
"I wholeheartedly agree that will be fruitful for the both us," said
"Will you be offering the facility just to BOP?" asked commissioner
precinct 3 Herman Tarin.
"If you read this agreement, we're not limited to just BOP and we
will look at others, but BOP will be the first," said Houston.
Wackenhut will also be looking for employees to join their
"We'll be having a tele-conference tomorrow to discuss positions and
the DOL (U.S. Department of Labor) positions," said Galindo.
"Under the employment assignment agreement, it is one of the tools
that we are going to use to assign managers of the facility to our
management team and they will agree to work under the supervision of
Wackenhut," said Houston.
During the interim 90-day period, Wackenhut will look at those
positions and if there are vacancies put them in there to see if they
are right for the position, according to Houston.
Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez, who under the rules of operation
for the prison had to sign off on any agreement between Wackenhut and
the county, said that he was pleased with the amended agreements and
that he looked forward to working with Wackenhut.
"I'm glad everything is working out and the agreement is a good deal
for both the county and the corporation," said Gomez. "I would just
like our monitor to look it over once more."
Council updated on water, sewer projects
By BRENDEN BRIGGS
PECOS, Tues., Nov. 25, 2003 -- The Town of Pecos City Council were
updated on current and future projects involving the city's water and
sewer systems, during their regular meeting Monday night at City Hall.
Edgardo Madrid of Frank Spencer and Associates updated council
members on the various construction projects, which included the city's
new water field and plans to repair the aging water tanks and towers in
Madrid said that the firm was ready to send the final plans for the
South Worsham Water Field to the Texas Commission for Environmental
Quality and the Texas Water Development Board for final approval.
This will allow the two agencies to send comments on the project, or
items they see that need fixing, then the engineers can return to the
council for the approval to remedy any problems with the construction,
The council gave approval for the sending of the final plans
unanimously on a motion by Councilman Frank Sanchez and a second by
Councilman Michael Benavides.
Madrid also addressed the possible application for a U.S. Department
of Agriculture grant to repair problems Pecos is facing with its sewer
"The total grant amount is $9 million, with 55 percent being loan
and 45 percent grant," he said. "Due to the USDA's qualification
system, the Town of Pecos only qualifies for a limited amount of grant
Madrid explained that the median income for Pecos falls above 80
percent of the median income the USDA uses as a guide for determination
of how much money should be granted to a particular city.
Councilman Danny Rodriguez asked whether Madrid thought that those
figures were accurate. Madrid said no but the only other means to get
the USDA to go by another number is to commission a study by
questionnaire as to the population density and income of the residents
of the city. He added that this is typically tough to accomplish due to
the low reply rate these studies receive here in Pecos.
Madrid assured the council that this was only a preliminary step,
and that the initial application only qualified the town to ask for the
money. The amount they asked for was up to the town depending on what
aspects of the sewage system needed the most repair.
"If the town were to qualify for the full $9 million, the life of
the loan would be around 40 years, with a variable interest rate. I
know this is a very tough decision for the council, but the cost of
maintaining our current system is getting higher," Madrid said.
The firm presented pictures to the council of the various areas of
the sewer collection system that have cracked pipes or simply areas of
pipe that are completely missing. The council also saw pictures which
pointed out areas of the lagoon holding tank system that were
constructed out of clay over 10 years ago that are starting to leak.
Benavides asked Madrid which of the three aspects of the sewage;
collection, main collection and lift stations, or peripheral
collection, was in most dire need of fixing first. He said that the
treatment aspect needed to be fixed and upgraded first.
"The number of holding tanks for the treatment system needs to be
expanded to three from the current one. The run off from any rain that
we receive increases the volume of contaminated water that we must
hold. Currently we are supposed to keep at least two foot of levy above
the water level and currently we have just under one," Madrid added.
"It is possible to put in a mechanical treatment plant in with the
funds received from the grant. Alpine has installed one and it is
working very well. A small amount of bacteria is added up stream from
the plant and by the time the effluent reaches the plant, all that has
to be done is a small amount of aeration before the water can be
released into the environment," Madrid said.
Madrid also talked the council about the status of the water holding
towers and tanks around town.
"It has come to our attention that the water tanks in Pecos are
approaching the need for refurbishment or replacement, especially the
elevated tank on the east side of town," Madrid said.
The engineering firm stated that the city had earmarked funds for
the repair of the multiple tanks around town and it might be possible
to combine the different funds to fix one of the tanks now, divert the
majority of the water to it and fix the others in the near future.
"The city could authorize the commission of a third party to come in
a do studies as to the viability of refurbishment, the cost of which we
don't expect go beyond $300,000. The cost of a new elevated tank we
have been quoted for a 1 million gallon tank is a half a million,"
Madrid said. "Some of those funds could be drawn from the TWDB grant
for water improvements."
The council unanimously approved having Frank Spencer and Associates
secure a third party to study the two tanks on a motion by Councilman
Gerald Tellez and a second by Benavides.
In other business, the council voted not to approve the Pecos
Economic Development Corporation 2004 budget due to issues surrounding
the car allowance paid to PEDC President Gari Ward. Council members
again expressed their confusion over what seemed to be a double payment
for the same item.
"I don't see why we are paying Mr. Ward both gas-mileage allowance
and a car allowance," Councilman Sanchez said.
John Grant, the only PEDC representative present at the meeting,
said that the original question had arisen during the PEDC's budget
meeting in September. Grant said that the item was originally in Ward's
contract at hiring.
"The way I understand it is that the $7,200 was essentially salary,
but was not called that for tax reasons. It was in the budget before I
came on board to the PEDC, but to rectify the situation, the item has
been moved to the administrative column on the budget, but it is still
called car expense," Grant said.
"I would also like to add that I am both ashamed and embarrassed
that I am the only board member here today. I just think that it goes
to show the lack of accountability that the PEDC really has," Grant
Helpers sought to deliver Thanksgiving meals
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Tues., Nov. 25, 2003 -- Just a few more items are needed to
complete the Annual Thanksgiving Dinner sponsored by the Pecos
Christian Home and scheduled for this Thursday. But volunteers to help
prepare and deliver some of the meals are the biggest request to the
community right now.
"We've got everything under control, but we still need a few
things," said Christian Home Director Mark Polzin. "The biggest thing
right now, is volunteers."
More cranberry sauce, desserts and Kool-Aid packets and sugar are
needed to complete the meal. "We just need more people to show up and
help us, especially delivering the Meals on Wheels," he said.
There are currently 120 people on the Meals on Wheels list. The food
program for the elderly and disabled does not operate on Thanksgiving,
but those individuals will start receiving their meals from the
Christian Home volunteers at 9 a.m.
"If they want to help us with Meals on Wheels, we're asking that
they be here by 9 a.m.," said Polzin. "Other volunteers can come in
between 8 and 8:30 a.m."
Polzin said that his crew would be out at the Reeves County Civic
Center early to set up.
"We will start serving everyone else at 10 a.m. and continue until
all the food is gone," said Polzin. "We had said that the meals would
be served until 2 p.m., but we'll continue until it is all gone."
"If they want to bring drinks, we're asking that they bring those
big packets of Kool-Aid and sugar," said Polzin. "We usually get a lot
of children in here and that's what they like to drink," he said.
More families and individuals are expected this year for the annual
"We usually serve anywhere from 200-300 people, but we expect more
this year," he said. Last year, the Christian Home served meals to
about 325 people on Thanksgiving Day.
"We want to thank the community for coming through for us once more
and welcome all volunteers," said Polzin.
Donations can be taken to the Christian Home, located at 1201 S. Elm
St., or by calling 445-2049 and someone will pick up the items.
P-B-T schools take 5-day break
PECOS, Tues., Nov. 25, 2003 -- Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD students will
start their holiday on Wednesday, a day before most other businesses
and government offices take off for Thanksgiving
Students will be off on Wednesday and will also have the day after
Thanksgiving off this week.
School will resume on Monday, Dec. 1 and school officials wish
everyone a safe and happy holiday.
PECOS, Tues., Nov. 25, 2003 -- High Monday 61. Low this morning 39.
Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows near 40. West winds 10 to 20
mph. Wednesday: Mostly sunny. Windy. Highs near 70. West winds 10 to 20
mph increasing to 20 to 30 mph in the afternoon. Wednesday night:
Clear. Lows in the lower to mid 30s. West winds 10 to 15 mph.
Thanksgiving day: Mostly sunny. Highs in the mid 50s to the lower 60s.
Northwest winds 10 to 15 mph. Thursday night: Mostly clear. Lows in the
mid 20s to the lower 30s. Friday: Mostly sunny. Highs in the mid 50s to
the lower 60s. Friday night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower to mid
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