Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Commissioners, GEO sign new pacts for RCDC
By BRENDEN BRIGGS
Reeves County Commissioner’s Court met this morning to continue their regular meeting from Monday, and approved the new hires and transfers to staff the newly occupied RCDC III prison unit.
Commissioners also discussed concerns with resignations at the prison over pay scale differences, agreed to paying the semi-monthly bills and approved the privatization of the commissary services to RCDC III during this morning’s session, and will continue their meeting this afternoon on the third floor of the Reeves County Courthouse.
Commissioners met Monday morning and afternoon, and approved two new agreements between Reeves County and the GEO Group for the management of all three phases of the prison during the afternoon session.
The agreements were split, with one covering RCDC I and II only and the other agreement covering RCDC III. The first two units handle over 2,000 inmates from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, while the county just recently contracted with the State of Arizona to house up to 864 inmates at the 960-bed RCDC III, which was completed in March of 2003.
GEO vice chairman and president, Wayne Calabreze, was on hand to explain the particulars of the two contracts and to answer any questions the court might have.
“The first group of inmates arrived last week, and we are going to work diligently to make sure this project is a success,” Calabreze said of the RCDC III prisoners.
Commissioner Herman Tarin said that he hoped that this new relationship between Reeves County and GEO would be a long lasting one and their help in this matter “is greatly appreciated.
County judge, Jimmy Galindo added, “we currently have 70 inmates from Arizona in place and we are looking to have 180 eventually.”
Galindo added that it was necessary to separate the two agreements due to the difference in the IGA, or intergovernmental agreements governing the different phases.
The court also approved a separate escrow account to partition the GEO management fees from the rest of the county’s money, at the request of the group itself.
County Auditor Lynn Owens said that he did not want to separate the money to allow the county to be more flexible in its payment of bills.
“In light of our current financial problems, I would prefer you keep the money available, but it shouldn’t be a problem to create the account,” Owens said.
The commissioners then tabled the personnel and salary changes, and the payment of the semi-monthly bills till this morning’s meeting.
The bills were approved with little discussion, after which Tarin requested the utilities at the county annex building on Highway 17 be turned off. The county had been discussing several uses for the facility, but Tarin said as of now, “If it is not going to be in used, we shouldn’t keep paying to kept the building going.”
The court then moved on to the personnel and salary changes that are necessary to staff the newly used phase of the detention center.
The court agreed to meet every Monday over the next few weeks to discuss and approve the new hires/transfers to expedite the payment of the new RCDC III staff.
“These meetings will allow for promotions and demotions to be paid accordingly,” Galindo said.
“In have no problems with the meetings. I am just glad to be creating jobs here in the county,” Tarin added.
Commissioner Felipe Arredondo asked the court how many resignations they had received due to the transfers. Guards working at the first two phases of the detention center were making approximately $31,000 annually, under a federal requirement using U.S. Department of Labor guidelines that the county agreed to last year. However, recently many of those guards had been asked to move over to RCDC III and accept an annual salary of approximately $21,000. The lower salaries are due to the fact that RCDC III will not handle federal inmates.
County Treasurer Linda Clark stated that there have been 14 resignations over the past two weeks.
“We are trying to put the right people in the right places,” Galindo said. “These resignations have opened up 14 opportunities for citizens of this county.”
“I believe that we need to really try and treat people as fairly as possible,” Tarin said. “You hear people talking, I just want everyone to know that the county employees are being treated fairly.”
“I think that a lot of these rumors are coming because some of the phase I and II employees have gotten raises, while others have been asked to move to phase III and work for less money,” Clark said. “What these people have to understand is that those employees that received raises also received more responsibility, a lot more.”
The court approved the new hires and transfers, but tabled the appropriations to make room for the salary additions until this afternoon at 1:30 p.m.
The commissioners also looked into the contracting out of commissary services to RCDC III. Galindo said that he had spoken with the private food company, Swanson, and the GEO Group had recommended the subcontracting based on their relations with the company in previous facilities.
“Instead of RCDC III having to keep an inventory on hand, Swanson would take the orders from the inmates, the orders would then be filled in Big Spring, and Swanson would then deliver to the facility,” Galindo said. “Swanson will also provide the inmate banking software, to simplify the process.”
“I prefer this type of situation,” Owens said. “However I would like to see the sheriff sign off on this. I know he has already signed off on the GEO/Reeves County agreement, but I think that we should err on the side of caution, and make sure everything is correct.”
Police investigate shooting of PHS freshman at home
A Pecos High School freshman student was scheduled to be flown to Lubbock today after he was found shot inside his family home early this morning.
Pecos Police Investigator Capt. Kelly Davis said officers received a call at 7:21 a.m. this morning from the teen’s father, about a medical problem at the house, located at 1009 E. Ninth St. When they arrived Davis said they found the 14-year-old male juvenile lying on the bathroom floor unresponsive, with a possible gunshot wound.
“No weapon was recovered at the scene,” said Davis, adding that the case remains under investigation.
Pecos EMT crews were also called to the home, and transferred the teen to Reeves County Hospital, from where he was scheduled to be flown by AeroCare to Covenant Medical Center in Lubbock. “My understanding was he would be flown to Lubbock when he stabilizes,” Davis said.
The case is being handled by Davis and Pecos PD Investigator Mundie Granado. Davis declined to comment on any possible motive for the shooting.
City schedules dedication for water field Wednesday
By JON FULBRIGHT
Town of Pecos City officials, along with other local representatives, will be on hand Wednesday afternoon southeast of Pecos to officially dedicate the city’s new South Worsham Water Field.
The event will be held at the site of the new storage tanks on the north end of the field at about 5 p.m. Officials are scheduled to leave for the site at 4:30 p.m. from City Hall, according to City Manage Joseph Torres.
“Once we get there, we’ll have a dedication ceremony by the mayor (Dot Stafford),” Torres said. “The Chamber will be there, along with people from the City of Fort Stockton, and the engineering consultants from Frank Spencer and Associated will be there.”
The city began work on developing a new water field 10 years ago, after engineering studies showed that the existing Worsham and Ward County water fields would only be able too supply Pecos with adequate water supplies through the year 2008. Several sites were studied, and after the South Worsham area was selected the city secured grants and loans through the Texas Water Development Board and elsewhere to fund the $8.9 million project.
Work at the South Worsham site began four years ago and earlier this month thee city was given preliminary approval by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to begin pumping water from the site into Pecos. Wednesday’s ceremony will include turning on the pumps to begin sending water into town.
Torres said in addition to giving local residents a look at the new water field and the storage tanks built for South Worsham, the city would also show off the field’s new telemetry system.
“It monitors the wells’ water system; how much usage and how much pumping in the system,” Torres said. “It monitors every well and the tank system 24/7,” with a remote console for the system locate at the city warehouse on Walthall Street.
The field was built has 15 wells, though Torres said “We’ve got three additional wells being planned,” as some of the older wells at the Worsham and Ward County fields are no longer usable.
The Worsham Field was developed by the Town of Pecos City 65 years ago, while the Ward County Field has been in use for a little over 40 years. Torres said the South Worsham Field should provide Pecos with an average of 3.9 million gallons of water a day, with a peak capacity of 8.3 million gallons a day, and is expected to give the city adequate water supplies through the middle of the 21st Century.
RCH renovations, bank loan proposal on board’s agenda
Reeves County Hospital Board members will consider approval of a loan from West Texas National Bank for purchase of new equipment for the hospital’s new addition tonight, and discuss plans for renovation of the existing hospital building, during the board’s regular monthly meeting, at 6 p.m. in the hospital classroom.
The board is also scheduled to ratify organizational structure, operation policies and procedures for the RCH Home Heath program; approve bids on a dialysis water system; approve employee health insurance and order the cancellation of the May 15 board election due to the lack of contested races.
Other items include several property sales, monthly tax and financial reports, a report from the hospital auxiliary and from administrator Robert Vernor. The board will also consider a resolution for applying for the Healthy Community Access Program grant during this evening’s meeting.
High Monday 69. Low this morning 53. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy with isolated showers and thunderstorms. Lows in the mid 50s. South winds 10 to 15 mph. Areal coverage of rain 20 percent. Wednesday: Mostly sunny. Highs in the mid 90s. Southwest winds 10 to 15 mph. Wednesday night: Mostly clear. Lows near 60. South winds 10 to 15 mph. Thursday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 90s. South winds 10 to 15 mph. Thursday night: Partly cloudy. Lows near 60. Friday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs near 90. Friday night: Partly cloudy. A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms in the evening. Lows in the mid 50s.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321
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Copyright 2003 by Pecos Enterprise