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September 5, 1995

Extension pay restored; no $$ for Green

Staff Writer
The abolishment of the salary of Reeves County Court-at-Law judge, and the re-instatement of pay for two employees at the Reeves County Extension Agency took up most of the morning session at a budget hearing held by county commissioners today.

The public hearing on the proposed fiscal 1996 budget, which took place in a crowded room on the third floor of the Reeves County Courthouse, resumed at 1 p.m. after a 75 minute break for lunch.

Interested and concerned individuals crowded into the courtroom to voice their opinions and get some input into the changes and revisions being done on the proposed budget.

Proposed revenue has been set at $3.66 million, according to County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.

Salaries for extension agent Carol Mowery and secretary Regina Armstrong were cut in Galindo's initial budget, but this morning, he said, "The budget has been amended."

"There are certain things that's amended to the proposal that will restore additional funds and additional cuts in regards to recreation staff and other cuts that will have to be made," he told those in the courtroom.

"During the past couple of weeks, Commissioner (Precinct 3) Herman Tarin has made me change my mind about the services at the county extension," Galindo said. "And I can't tell you enough about what Herman has told me about the extension service and all the services that they provide, and at home with my wife being a former participant, so there are some changes in regards to the extension service."

Galindo asked spectators to be cordial and professional when speaking to the court, but urged them to participate in the public hearing.

"This is a public hearing and everyone is welcome to voice their opinion," he said.

Both employees at the Reeves County Extension Program were reinstated. however, their budget was cut from $50,564 to $40,120 for fiscal year 1996.

One of the concessions made was that $3,500 formerly budgeted into the 4-H Barn, utilities, repairs and replacements will be moved to cover travel expenses for the agents.

The up-keep of the 4-H Barn will be handled by the 4-H Adult Leaders through user fees.

"We'd like to thank Herman for all that he has done in his efforts to keep the extension service," said Greg Mitchell a spokesman for the group. "You've done right by keeping this program for the children and everyone concerned."

Tarin spent many hours reviewing the extension service and talking to the judge about all the programs it provides to the community, according to Mitchell.

"A lot of people don't know about all the things it provides," said Mitchell. "The program brings in income to the community and provides the children with something to do."

Texas Agriculture Experiment Station technician Paul Ward also expressed his gratitude to the court for keeping the extension service. "We appreciate your support for this infrastructure and the way we worked things out, coming to an understanding," he said.

Meanwhile, the county court-at-law budget was cut to only $10,000, with that total designated for a reporter in that position. The salary of County Court-at-Law Judge Lee Green was cut from $53,000 to zero by Galindo, who unsuccessfully sought to have the court abolished earlier this year.

If the proposal is accepted, Galindo said he will be in charge of trying all juvenile cases referred to that court and 143rd District Court Judge Bob Parks would handle all other cases in that court, such as civil matters, criminal and probate.

"In the event that there is any litigation following this decision, Roddy Harrison has agreed to represent the county," said County Attorney Bill Weinacht. "He has offered his services free of charge, because he believes there is no need in this position, he truly believes it's not necessary and that's why he has made this offer."

"this commissioners court passed a resolution in January, 1995 asking the Legislature to abolish that court, it was unanimously passed, and our legislators refused to act on it," said Galindo. "In the resolution we clearly stated that we would not be funding that particular position, this is the proposal."

"Shouldn't he be allowed to finish out his term," asked Emily Fernandes.

"That is certainly something for discussion," said Galindo.

"He was elected by the people," said Fernandes.

"I spoke to Mr. Green on Sunday and asked him why he hasn't been at the commissioners court meetings to give us his side of the story, and he said he didn't know his position was being discussed," said Tarin.

"I hesitated in voting for that the first time, to see if he could give us his side and he never showed up," said Tarin. "If he'll just show up for court and tell his side, I thought, we won't sign the resolution, but he never did.

"Another thing he told me was that he won't take a cut in pay unless everyone else, all elected officials do," Tarin said. "He also told me that he didn't want to be mistreated in this court, because he had seen how former County Judge (Mike) Harrison was mistreated.

"But that's just how things are, when you come in here you have to be prepared," he said.

"Wasn't the revenue from that court, $96,000," asked Ellen Weinacht.

"I think it was more like $8,000," replied Galindo.

"And you have $104,000, so that leaves only $24,000 as expenditures," Ms. Weinacht said.

"I would rather have a positive $65,000 as opposed to a negative $24,000," said Galindo.

"Isn't it true that commissioners court can't do away with the position, since it was created by the legislature," said Linda Gholson. "You can do away with the funding, but not the position."

"My position is that if the state is going to mandate that court then they can fund it," said Galindo. "We voted not to fund it."

"What I said is that you can't do away with the position, but you can do away with the funding, but the position is still there," said Gholson.

"I really don't want to get in the middle of this, because I have to work with Green everyday," said Bill Weinacht. "He's just coming in here a couple of hours a day and Judge Galindo will have to make time for covering this court with no pay raise."

Galindo also pointed out that Green's $53,000 salary is for only a couple of hours work each day, when other employees and elected officials receive less pay and put in many hours.

"Is there any way that elected officials can all get a 10 percent cut to save this court," said Ellen Weinacht.

"Why should we penalize good employees just to keep an office that's not even necessary," said Galindo.

"We made an effort to let the people decide but the representatives wouldn't consider it," said Galindo.

"Here's what I see happening, he's supposed to be handling the docket and what does he do all the work," said Bill Weinacht. "I have to do everything and he just sits there."

"We don't need this office anymore and that's the bottom line," Weinacht added.

When the budget hearing continued this afternoon several other offices were scheduled to be the subject of discussion.

Driver killed in accident near Verhalen

A Pecos man died early Saturday after he was ejected from his vehicle in an early morning rollover while traveling towards Pecos from Balmorhea.

Wesley Dixon, Jr., 25, was reportedly northbound in a 1978 Chevrolet on Texas Highway 17, near the curve at Farm Road 2448 south of Verhalen, when he left the roadway on the right side and over corrected before pulling back on the pavement, according to investigating Department of Public Safety Trooper, Valentin Ceniceros.

Ceniceros said that he got back on the road, Dixon lost control of his vehicle and began a broadside skid to the right, going off the road on the east side and overturning 3 1/2 times, during which he was ejected from the car.

Dixon was transported by ambulance to Reeves County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead by Dr. Ricardo B. Tan at 5:49 a.m. Saturday.

Ceniceros did not indicate if alcohol was involved but did report that Dixon was not wearing a seat belt.

The accident was the only highway fatality in the Trans-Pecos area over the Labor Day weekend, and one of two that occurred in the Permian Basin.

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