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Archives 1995

Renovation job at courthouse again fails test

Staff Writers
PECOS, Aug. 29, 1995 - Reeves County Commissioners continued
discussions on problems involving the new elevator and other
renovations done during the past year at the Reeves County

Commissioners also talked about adding on more employees at
the Reeves County Detention Center, to handle the
newly-expanded inmate population.

Several items in non-compliance were noted in the final
inspection of the remodeled building and
wheelchair-accessible elevator commissioners were told
during their Monday morning meeting. The new elevator and
other renovations were installed in order to bring the
courthouse into compliance with the federal Americans with
Disabilities Act.

"We received a notice from the Texas Department of Licensing
and Regulation with regard to some of the non-compliance
issues in reference to the elevator," said County fudge
Jimmy B. Galindo.

"Mr. (architect Bob) Covington and Mr. (Bob) Lackey came to
check off all of these items that were discovered in the
inspection," said Galindo.

"We discovered about four or five items that belonged to the
contractor," said Covington of Covington Associates.

Covington was the architect for the project while Lackey, of
R&R Construction Company, was in charge of the renovations.

"The whole purpose of this contract was to be in compliance
with the ADA," said County Attorney Bill Weinacht "And now
you tell me almost a year later, that we're still not in

Weinacht questioned Covington on who was responsible for the
delays and non-compliance issues.

"Well, I spoke to Lackey and he said he could be in here
Tuesday and Wednesday to correct those items," said

One of the items that is not in compliance are the rest
rooms and a machine room.

"We contracted with you and Mr. Lackey to get these things
done and get them in compliance and they are still not done.
He (Lackey) has already paid us over $11,000 in damages,"
said Weinacht.

Lackey had forfeited over $11,000 in a previous agreement,
said Weinacht for not finishing the elevator in the allotted

Weinacht said renovations have taken almost a year to
complete and the courthouse needs to get those items into
ADA compliance.

"It should have been completed December of 1994," he said.

"The plans I drew up were right, he just didn't complete
it," said Covington. "My responsibility is to see that when
the work is done and it's in compliance with my plans."

"It's not in compliance with the department of licensing,"
said Galindo.

"It's the sorriest project I have ever seen," said Weinacht.

Covington advised the court that he would get back to them
after the next inspection and assured them that Lackey would
work on the noncompliance issues within the next two days.

Also on Monday, Detention Center Warden Joe Trujillo was on
hand to discuss additional positions at the center, which
saw its inmate population rise from 530 to 650 during the
past month.

"We've added 10-line staff positions at the RCDC about a
month ago and there is still a need to adequately staff the
new addition and segregation units," said Galindo.

Trujillo said he initially asked for the creation of 10 new
positions for the 96-bed addition and segregation unit. Part
of the RCDC addition was just recently opened for usage by
U.S. Bureau of Prisons inmates.

Trujillo said due to modifications in construction, the
segregation unit is just now ready to be opened, and two
additional officers will be needed there.

"We're looking at 21 total (new) jobs instead of IS," said

Along with the two segregation unit positions, five other
new employees are currently being sought at RCDC with four
officers and one experienced chef.

There are currently 159 employees at the RCDC, making it one
of the largest individual employers in the county.

"It is going to require budget amendments and we'll have to
make some adjustments in the proposed 1996 budget," said

In other action, commissioners unanimously voted to approve
an eight election and alternate judges for each of the
county's four precincts as recommended by county clerk, who
is also the elections administrator. The judges will serve
during the November 7 elections.

Reeves County Clerk Dianne Florez said that she will notify
the U.S. Justice Department with the approved list and
consolidated voting box plan, which was voted on at the
August 14 meeting.

Judges will be: Precinct 1. Nora Briceno, election judge and
Flo Dominguez, alternate judge; Precinct 2, Joan Capshaw,
election judge and Laverne Williams, alternate; Precinct 3,
Christi Cook, election judge and Raul Machuca, alternate and
Elva Lujan, election judge and Hazel Herrera alternate.

Commissioners also approved minutes from previous meetings;
budget amendments and line-item transfers and reports from
various departments.

County OKs agreements, seeks grant writer

Staff Writers
PECOS, Aug. 29, 1995 - Agreements involving with a variety
of social service concerns were discussed by Reeves County
Commissioners during their Monday meeting, while steps were
also taken to seek funding grants or the County Courthouse.

Commissioners renewed a contract between the county and Big
Spring State Hospital for mental death-related services.

"We met on Aug. 22 for the purpose of renewing the contract
with the hospital and saw no reason to modify it," said
Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.

"I wish we could pay a little more attention to this
problem, keep them there a little longer," aid Weinacht.
"For example, one time an individual was sent there be
released a while later only to come back and hold up a clerk
with a knife."

The Permian Basin coverage area for the mental health and
mental retardation has been combined into a 23-county area
that fill be a stand-alone service.

"They were only limited to provide services for mental
health and now they'll be able to apply for Honey for
substance abuse," Galindo said.

The new multi-county agency will also be able to provide
different services, he added.

Commissioners also reviewed the Title IV-D Program, which is
an interlocal agreement between the Attorney General and
Reeves County for child support collection services.

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the program.

Also approved unanimously following review was the Adult
Protective Services/Emergency Client Services program.
Galindo said the program provides care for needy elderly.

"For instance, in cases where an elderly person doesn't have
an air conditioner," the program will intervene, Galindo
said. He added it provides other adult protective services
needed in our community.

Commissioners also discussed and approved to advertise for a
grant administrator position and develop a pool of
applicants for the position. The court will be presented
with the pool list at the next court meeting.

Galindo suggested to the court that a local person be
responsible for administering $850,000 in funds granted to
the county for community development, which have been
available for the past month and a half.

Carlos Colinas-Vargas, the grant administrator employed by
an Austin based urban planning and management consulting
firm, has been in charge of this duty in the past, at a cost
of $60,000 from the grant administrative monies.

Galindo said a local administrator would keep the county's
best interest at heart. "I would like to keep that interest
here for the county and the schools and hopefully the
program would self perpetuate," he said.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Herman Tarin said, "I don't have any
problem with that (Galindo's proposal)," just as long as it
doesn't interfere with the septic tank development scheduled
for homes in his precinct.

Out of the $850,000 total, $500,000 was obtained from the
Texas Community Development Colonias Program for septic tank
improvement, with $35,000 of that set aside for
administration purposes. The remaining $350,000 in funds is
for housing rehabilitation granted through the Texas
Community Development Program, with $25,000 of that
designated for administration costs.

Galindo said this morning that the point here is "this is
not local tax money. This is grant money from the federal
government through the state."

Galindo told the court he had some persons in mind for the
position, but Precinct 2 Commissioner WJ. Bang said it would
be wiser to get a pool of qualified applicants before
assigning anyone to the position.

Arson probable cause of Airbase fire

Staff Writer
PECOS, Aug. 29, 1995 - A Saturday morning fire that damaged
the center portion of the former Administration Building to
the Pecos Airbase Apartments has been ruled an apparent
arson by Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire.

The fire marshal said this morning that the site, "had some
indication that something was poured on the near," and set

Brookshire noted that holes found on the wooden floor showed
something had seeped through the cracks between the boards.
He added that there was no electricity or gas running into
the building that could have caused the fire.

The center portion of the three-section building was the
only one to have suffered any damage from the smoke and
flames. Fire Chief Doug Cox said Monday morning that the
fire took about two hours to extinguish after their initial
dispatch to Teague Street and Meadowbrook Drive about 2:30
a.m. Saturday.

Problems arose after the flames reached into the ceiling and
attic, making it difficult for firefighters to get into the

Wood samples and burnt clothes that were near the area,
believed to have been the place of ignition, will be sent
for lab testing in Austin, said Brookshire. He expects
results from the lab tests will take about two weeks.

The three large windows on the west side of the room that
caught fire had been broken out for about two weeks, noted
Brookshire. He said that it could have been easy for someone
to pour something in there and light it.

Brookshire said the building is not in any danger of
collapse and will not be condemned. "The other two building
(rooms) can still be used," he said.

The building is one of only two that remain standing from
the original Airbase apartment site, which was built to
house soldiers stationed in Pecos during World War 11.

Group given quick lesson on mercury

An expert in mercury addressed a group of local civic
leaders, elected officials and Pecos volunteer firemen
Monday night, to provide information on the properties of

Dr. Robert C. Burton, of Boise, Idaho, is an industrial
consultant to a number of countries around the world, along
with mining companies concerned with the presence of mercury
in mines.

There is a misconception of mercury's toxicity, Burton said
during the informational meeting hosted by Recovery &
Reclamation of Pecos. The session was held in an effort to
address concerns over mercury in batteries recycled by the

When talking about mercury, the most common problem is to
lump all discussions in one category, Dr. Burton said.

He explained there are three distinct types of mercury to be
considered, including organic mercury, which attacks the
nervous system; mercury salts which was used by the Chinese
for hundreds of years as a laxative but can be fatal; and
elemental mercury which is found in batteries and is not a

Handling of elemental mercury, which is inert, will not
result in it being absorbed into the skin. However, mercury
vaporizes some with heat and completely at 640 degrees (f),
and does enter the blood stream.

However, the body seems to have been constructed to get rid
of mercury, Dr. Burton noted.

Although levels of mercury in the blood can be increased,
without continued exposure it will exit the body through the
kidneys within a few weeks. Continued exposure will increase
the levels, but he said those levels have been considered
normal now in industry with no long term effects. Dr. Burton
added the levels will return to normal levels when exposure
is no longer present.

Bill Meador, chief executive officer of R&R, noted that
levels of mercury in the air are constantly monitored at R&R
and all safeguards noted by Dr. Burton are adhered to,
including masks.

Meador said that acceptable levels of mercury as stated by
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is .1
percent, while the plant operates under half that much
tolerance at .05. If it gets to that point, he said, work
comes to a halt and everything is checked.

Meador added that all mercury batteries are disassembled
under a vacuum to keep the mercury out of the air and away
from workers. Filters on workers' masks are also constantly
monitored to make sure they are working.

Burton has been meeting also with workers at the plant to
explain medical tests on mercury levels and proper safety
measures, including hygiene.

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