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November 25, 1997
RCDC expansion moves closer to start
By RICK SMITH
PECOS, November 25, 1997 - Dirt should be turned over in early December to begin the $2.8 million expansion of the Reeves County Detention Center (RCDC). County commissioners yesterday approved a notice for Banes General Contractors Inc., of El Paso, to proceed with the construction of the RCDC day room addition project.
The project is expected to be completed by June 22. The contract with Banes includes a penalty of $1,500 a day for delays past the completion date.
"In its first year, the expansion will bring in an additional $4 million of revenue for the RCDC, on top of what is already coming in," according to Commissioner Herman Tarin. "And it will create another 30 jobs at the facility."
Current capacity of the RCDC is 700 inmates. The expansion will make room for an additional 300 beds at the facility, Tarin said.
Commissioners approved the contract for the expansion with Banes after performing a background check on the company and at the recommendation of Dailey, Rabke &Gondeck, PLLC, the architectural company overseeing the project.
"Every project they did, that I checked on, they came in under the deadline," said Lorraine Dailey, representative of the architectural company.
"I think the reputation of Banes General Contractors speaks for itself," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo.
Construction on the project requires the removal of a section of security fence around the detention center. In explaining the project to county commissioners RCDC Warden Rudy Franco explained that the gap in the fence is near an armed guard tower and poses no threat to security at the site. In addition, a construction fence has been built around the work area, Franco explained.
Commissioners considered a proposal by Raba-Kistner Consultants (SW), Inc., of El Paso, to provide construction materials testing for the project for an estimated fee of $23,500. Dailey told the commissioners yesterday that Raba-Kistner originally quoted their services for the project at $40,000, but she told Raba-Kistner that price was too high and negotiated the price down to its current level.
However, the commissioners decided to advertise for a materials testing company to see if one could be found locally.
Financing for the project will be at a 5.5 percent interest rate if the project qualifies for tax exempt status, or about 8 percent if it does not, Barry Friedman told commissioners. Friedman represents Friedman, Luzatto and Company that will handle financing for the project. Friedman is examining recent changes in tax laws to determine the tax exempt status of the project.
The RCDC expansion will be paid for by revenue generated by the detention center itself and is not supported by the county tax base, Friedman said. Pay off for the debt is expected to be in seven years.
Friedman said his company was encouraged to help with financial backing on the project by the strong support the state has shown for the expansion.
Jack Crump, Executive Director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, has expressed his approval of the project.
"The Reeves County Detention Center is a facility of long standing and has proven its reliability as an instrument of incarceration," Crump wrote in a letter to the Texas Attorney General. "The Commission supports the current proposal which enhances the operation by creating a more secure environment compartmentalizing the unit as well as effecting a more programmatic oriented facility."
"The state is behind this project 100 percent," Friedman said. "We are comfortable underwriting this project."
In addition to expanding the day room facility, commissioners are also planning to add a support building at a total cost of about $454,000, according to Daily.
Commissioners approve recreation pact
By MAC McKINNON
PECOS, November 25, 1997 - Reeves County Commissioners had a busy morning as they moved through a long agenda quickly during their regular meeting Monday, one that was moved to the morning rather than the afternoon due to the schedule of architects and financial consultants (see RCDC expansion story).
A discussion over inter-local agreements with schools for recreation took up much of the morning session. Commissioner Dr. W. J. Bang said he believed the inter-local agreements were premature because details and an overall plan had not been worked out.
Dr. Bang noted he still favored the original plan whereby the county would apply for a Texas Parks & Wildlife grant for $500,000 to be matched by the county to build a separate facility. County Judge Jimmy Galindo pointed out that the grant was not applied for because the application called for a master recreation plan for the county and that does not exist.
He contended that by using part of the county's money now, the seed money for the future on such a proposition would be used. Plus, Dr. Bang wanted it in writing that the Bureau of Prisons approved using money from an RCDC special fund. Galindo said they have verbally approved the expenditure but he would get it in writing.
Galindo noted that the schools offer far more than anything the county could hope to build on its own and the inter-local agreements would be a win-win situation, costing the county far less and benefitting all county residents as well as helping out the schools to add to their facilities.
The issue came up over an inter-local agreement with Balmorhea to go with the inter-local agreement with Pecos schools passed in a meeting earlier this month. Dr. Bang made a motion to table the item for further study. The motion died for lack of a second.
Galindo then made a motion to pass the inter-local agreement with Balmorhea. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Herman Tarin and it passed.
Tarin had met with the Balmorhea school board last week and presented the proposal. He said the board members were excited about the prospects of a recreation program for the public.
Galindo noted it would take about $10,000 to work out the program for public access to Balmorhea school facilities and purchase equipment that is needed to improve what is available such as weights and to have someone on hand during hours when the public wants to use the facilities.
Tarin also reported on costs for drilling water wells and getting pumps for the Saragosa and Balmorhea cemeteries. He said David Bynum of Armadillo Drilling in Alpine will do the work for $2,500 per well.
Road Administrator Russ Salcido noted the wells are needed as it takes a lot of time to haul water to the Saragosa Cemetery. The proposal was approved.
Commissioners also approved a contract with DFD Architects of Austin to design a 120x40 foot addition to the recreation room at the Reeves County Detention Center. The fee would be $6,000. The architects have proposed getting the building constructed for $30 a square foot, about $150,000. That includes slab, metal walls, wiring and heating and air conditioning. This would be used as a support facility in which vocational classes could be held as well as for other uses.
Commissioners agreed to name the 4-H facility after Wynn Hamilton and Howard Collier, with Commissioner Felipe Arredondo noting the two men have worked long and hard and invested money as well as time in developing those facilities. Naming the barns for the two long time residents was first suggested several months ago by Tarin.
Galindo noted he wants to get a design for naming the facility made to be presented to commissioners at a later date.
Also approved was a resolution to establish a regional water planning group as outlined by recently passed Senate Bill 1 and an inter-local agreement between the county and Reeves County Community Council on use of space at the County Annex. Arredondo has been working to get the space painted and ready for occupancy by the group.
An Americans With Disability Act self-evaluation as prepared by the extension service was approved with Galindo saying he was going to ask the extension service to conduct the evaluation on all other county facilities.
In addition to paying bills, approving minutes from the last meeting and approving budget amendments and line item transfers, the commissioners approved declaring an old copy machine in the county clerk's office as surplus. County Auditor Lynn Owens said it is still workable but will not hold up to the clerk's workload.
Convicted ROT member issues warning
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, November 25, 1997 - Losing his appeal for a dismissal and suspension of a 8.5 year prison sentence, Republic of Texas "citizen" Dudley Vandergriff of Dallas turned to spectators in federal court yesterday to issue a warning.
"As we can see, it has been evident today I have been denied my constitutional rights in a U.S. courtroom. There will come a day when you will pray that somebody like me was standing beside you.
"You will wish there was a militia to protect you because so-called law enforcement is not going to do it. They are making plans right now to lock everybody up," he said before hugging his mother goodbye.
Vandergriff had asked Senior Judge Lucius Bunton to allow him to be released pending appeal of his conviction for possession of a firearm by a felon so he could spend the holidays with his family.
His mother, Elizabeth Vandergriff, thanked Judge Bunton for allowing her to see her son stand up for his constitutional rights.
"God is in control," she said. "He's ruling your heart. He rules everybody's hearts. He rules the hearts of kings."
"You are absolutely right when you said God is in control," Judge Bunton said.
He had earlier agreed with Vandergriff that wearing a black robe doesn't make a judge wiser than anyone else. But Bunton firmly denied Vandergriff's claim that punishing him for bearing arms violates his constitutional right to bear arms.
"When you commit felonies, you give up your rights in a lot of ways because you have proved you can't live within the bounds of society and obey the laws," Judge Bunton said, noting Vandergriff's conviction in Dallas County for marijuana possession. "You have given up the right to bear arms. I will continue to enforce the law as best I know how."
Odessa attorney Robert Leahy said he would file a appeal, despite the fact that Vandergriff said he was not pleased with Leahy's representation and made his own oral motions to Judge Bunton.
Leahy asked Judge Bunton to impose the minimum sentence of 85 months, noting Vandergriff has not been convicted of an assaultive offense and had no direct role in the Fort Davis standoff of ROT "ambassador" Richard McLaren.
Leahy claimed that Vandergriff and his six companions were not en route to Fort Davis when they were arrested at the Flying J Travel Plaza in Pecos April 30, but were en route to a "staging area" at Balmorhea, with "no present intent to break any law."
"The biggest problem is, those prisons seem to be the birthplace of these militia movements," he said. "That is where he met Howard to begin with."
Jeffrey William Howard, 32, of Dallas, was convicted of possession of a firearm by a felon in a federal court trial earlier this year.
Businesses, organizations close for holiday
By ROSIE FLORES
Christian Home preparing Thanksgiving meal
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, November 25, 1997 - Individuals who have no place to spend Thanksgiving Day and enjoy a turkey and all the trimmings are invited to the Reeves County Civic Center.
Bruce Drury, of the Pecos Christian Home, is inviting all those who would like to enjoy a nice Thanksgiving Dinner to join them sometime Thursday, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
"We do this every year, provide a dinner for those less fortunate and will again be doing it," said Drury.
Drury stated that the group has enough turkeys, but is in need of desserts, stuffing and dressing.
"We're thankful that we have enough turkeys right now, but we do need other items and of course volunteers," said Drury.
There are never enough volunteers, Drury said, and he is encouraging the community to come join them and help out during this holiday season. The group will also be delivering the meals for Meals on Wheels.
About 200 people enjoyed a dinner last year thanks to Drury and his crew and many more are expected this year.
"This number includes the Meals on Wheels participants," said Drury. "The only thing we ask is that if you have the name of another individual that needs his meal delivered to his home, that you let us know a bit in advance, so that we can add them to the list of deliveries," he said.
There are more than 100 people on the Meals on Wheels list, according to Drury.
"We coordinate this effort with Hilda Mendoza, who is in charge of Meals on Wheels," said Drury. "We'll know exactly how many home deliveries we'll have to make when she gives us the list," he said.
Anyone wishing to donate a dessert or anything else or to be a volunteer can go to the Christian Home, 1201 S. Elm or contact Drury at 445-2049.
"We appreciate all the help we get," said Drury.
PECOS, November 25, 1997 - High Monday, 76, low this morning, 33. A new cold front threatens to dampen Thanksgiving in parts of Texas, but temperatures should remain on the moderate side. Low clouds and fog continued to advance northward across most of the Permian Basin into the southern South Plains. It was already raining in the Rio Grande Valley, the National Weather Service said. Early-morning lows ranged from the upper 20s in the northwestern Texas Panhandle to the middle 50s in sections of the Permian Basin and near 70 in the far south and Rio Grande Valley. It was near 30 degrees in the Panhandle. It could be continued foggy in the Permian Basin. Daytime highs were expected to range from the 60s to 70s, with some lower 80s in the deep south and near 90 along the Big Bend of the Rio Grande. Overnight lows will range from the low 30s to near 60 degrees.
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