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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Commissioners approve new RCDC contract

Staff Writer

After reviewing the agreement very carefully and making minor changes, Reeves County Commissioners approved the interlocal agreement between the county and the Federal Bureau of Prisons that will increase the payment rate to the county for inmates held at the Reeves County Detention Center.

Commissioners had discussed the agreement last week during their regular meeting and met this morning during an emergency meeting to approve the agreement. At the last meeting, all the commissioners received a copy of the agreement for their review. The management team at the Reeves County Detention Center also reviewed the agreement.

"BOP and us have been working to finalize the wording," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B.Galindo. "What you have before you is the finalized agreement."

Galindo said that the agreement had been signed by BOP on Tuesday. Under the new contract, Reeves County will be allowed over $2.2 million in profit and the recovery of the county's indirect expenses.

"Additionally, the per diem rate will be increased from $47.33 per inmate per day to a fixed-unit price of $48.25 for the first year of the new agreement, $49.70 for the second year and $50.69 for the third year. Furthermore, the Bureau of Prisons has agreed to increase the capacity of the Reeves County Detention Center Phase I and II from 2,065 to 2,300 inmates," he said. The agreement covers only BOP inmates held in the RCDC I and II units. It does not include housing of federal inmates at the 960-bed RCDC III unit.

Reeves County was already housing over 2,000 BOP inmates in RCDC I and II when the $40 million RCDC III unit was completed last March. But the county was unable to get the BOP to provide inmates to fill the facility. Payments for housing the inmates were to have funded the bond payments for construction of RCDC III, for which the county made its first payment last fall.

To deal with the crisis, the county contracted with GEO Group in November to manage the prison and help the county seek inmates for RCDC III. GEO would also help Reeves County make bond payments on the new prison for a limited time, under terms of the contract.

"Through the efforts of our Congressman Henry Bonilla and Senator John Cornyn, this agreement represents the best terms we have ever negotiated for Reeves County," said Galindo. "I want to thank them for all of their support and guidance in this very difficult situation. They deserve tremendous praise and our appreciation for their unwavering support of Reeves County."

With the closing of three of its largest employers over the past decade, the RCDC was the largest single employer in Reeves County at the start of 2003. Under the deal with GEO Group, the county was forced to reduce RCDC staffing by 39 jobs, leaving the prison with 382 employees.

In other action this morning, commissioners approved a change order for the security perimeter fence at the detention center that will separate the Reeves County Detention Centers one and two from the newest facility.

The change order was a reduction in the construction, which was set at $165,000. "This is a considerable savings from the first bid, which was just over $200,000," said Galindo.

In conjunction with the change order for the fence, commissioners agreed to waive the requirement of a performance and payment bond from Foundation Fence for the RCDC security fence addition project. In lieu of a performance and payment bond, Foundation Fence will not draw any money for the base contract until the base contract is complete and accepted by Reeves County and will not draw any money for the change order until it is complete and accepted.

Local sales tax collections fall during holiday season

Staff Writer

There was nothing merry about the sales tax rebate numbers for the Town of Pecos City and other taxing entities in Reeves County, based on the rebate check sent out last Friday by Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn's office.

The February sales tax checks to cities, counties and other taxing entities across Texas are based on sales made during December, which is normally the busiest shopping time of the year. But the numbers for Pecos show a nearly 15 percent drop in this month's tax rebate check, from $86,863 to $73,905.

The totals are based on the city's 11/2-cent share of the state's 81/4-cent sales tax. One sixth of the city's total, of $12,317, will go to the Pecos Economic Development Corp.

The rebate totals were also down in Balmorhea, Toyah and for the Reeves County Hospital District. Balmorhea's $968 check was a 311/2 percent drop from the previous year, when the city got $1,413 back from Austin. Toyah got back $404 this month, almost 71/2 percent below last year's $436 rebate. The hospital district got back $33,744 this month, which was 9.3 percent less than the $37,211 it received a year ago on its 1/2-cent share of the state's sales tax. Statewide, tax rebates based on December sales were up, though the numbers were more mixed in the Permian Basin.

Kermit's check for $31,776 was almost 20 percent higher than last year; Fort Stockton got back $145,000 on its 2 percent sales tax, an 11.3 percent rise from a year ago, Big Spring's check for $439,557 was 111/4 percent above last year's total, and Wink had one of the biggest jumps, getting $4,691 back from Austin, a 58.6 percent increase. For the area's two largest cities, Odessa got a $1.7 million rebate check for February, up 5.3 percent, and Midland received $2.5 million in sales tax rebates, which was 1.3 percent higher than their 2003 rebate check.

Alpine also was virtually unchanged, with an $82,854 rebate check for the month, while Andrews 1 percent tax rebate of $86,850 was down 111/2 percent and Monahans' $87,219 total on their 2 percent sales tax was down 4.3 percent. Statewide rebates totaled $326.5 million, up 7.97 percent from last year.

Winds, dust closes down Highway 17

From Staff and Wire Reports

Drivers headed south out of Pecos towards the Davis Mountains face a detour this afternoon, after State Highway 17 was closed due to high winds sweeping across West Texas.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Highway 17 was closed around noon today due to zero visibility conditions caused by blowing dust in the area. Southbound traffic was being diverted west on Interstate 20, to either FM 869, which connects with Highway 17 about 15 miles south of Pecos, or FM 2903, which connects I-20 and I-10 between Toyah and Balmorhea.

Winds remained calm in the Trans-Pecos until after 10 a.m., but the gusts quickly picked up in the area as the morning went on. The National Weather Service predicted wind gusts of up to 50 mph could hit the Pecos area today, and gusts of up to 80 mph could affect travelers in the mountain areas, especially around Guadalupe Pass.

The heavy winds that began sweeping through Texas this morning were expected to continue throughout the night and into Friday, though the wind is supposed to slow down to under 20 mph tonight.

The Permian Basin can expect to see areas of blowing dust early Thursday, with 20 to 30 mph winds shifting to the northwest to 10 to 15 mph after midnight. Lows near 40 are expected for Thursday, with highs between 60 and 65 on tap for Friday.

There is a slight chance of rain on Thursday night in the Panhandle, with a low around 29 and wind chill values making it feel up to 10 degrees cooler. A high near 50 is expected on Friday.

Workshops planned on school boards

Area school board candidates and interested citizens can learn more about the demands and rewards of school board service at a candidate workshop on Monday, March 1 from 7-9 p.m., at the Region 18 Education Service Center, 2811 LaForce Blvd., Midland.

A second workshop will be held on Thursday, March 4 from 7-9 p.m., at Sul Ross State University's University Center in Alpine.

Topics to be covered include what it's like to be a trustee, key responsibilities of the board, division of authority with staff, how to campaign constructively, and where to find more information.

The workshop is open to anyone. Admission is free. For more information about the workshop, call Brenda Canul at TASB, 512-467-0222 or 1-800-580-8272, extension 6104.


High Tuesday 82. Low this morning 42. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Windy early with areas of blowing dust. Lows near 40. West winds 20 to 30 mph early shifting to the northwest 10 to 15 mph after midnight. Friday: Increasing clouds. Cooler. Highs near 65. Northeast winds near 10 mph. Friday night: Mostly cloudy. Lows in the mid 30s. East winds near 10 mph. Saturday: Mostly cloudy. Highs near 60. Southeast winds 10 to 15 mph. Saturday night: Mostly cloudy. Lows in the mid 30s. Sunday: Mostly cloudy. Highs in the mid 60s to the lower 70s. Sunday night: Mostly cloudy. Lows near 40.

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Pecos Enterprise
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