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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Warden denies jobs in danger over bad credit

A rumor about employment at the Reeves County Detention Center was dispelled during the quarterly community meeting held at the facility on Friday.

Ed Gonzalez, warden for Reeves County Detention Center units I and II, dispelled the rumor that if employees don’t have perfect credit that they would get fired.

“We have been hearing all these rumors around town,” said Town of Pecos City Mayor Dick Alligood.

Alligood said that he had hear that they are doing credit checks out at the facility and that a lot of the employees have the idea that if their credit is not perfect, they are going to lose their jobs.

“All these people are worried about their jobs, because they feel they don’t have good credit and will get fired,” said Alligood.

Gonzalez explained that due to the new BOP contract they are trying to obtain for RCDC I/II, they had to do the credit checks. Reeves County Detention Center III has already entered into a new contract with BOP.

“We came up with a plan and now we are trying to give the employees the heads-up,” he said. “We’re trying to be proactive.” Gonzalez said that they had come up with a plan, put the information in with their paychecks and that the employees have a year to get things corrected.

“A lot of people say that they have bad credit, but BOP came in this year and let us know that this was one of their requirements,” said Gonzalez. “But no, we won’t fire anybody because of this.”

He said that they are looking at individuals, just to make sure they are honoring their commitments.

“As long as they are trying to make some type of payments on what they owe, they’ll be alright,” said Gonzalez. “If someone had a car and they had it repoed (repossessed) and the bank sells it, it’s still their responsibility.”

Gonzalez said that things like this don’t go away until seven to 10 years.

“Lee Ann Lopez (Human Resources Manager) can help them find credit counseling or other alternatives,” said Gonzalez. “One thing we’re doing is to give those employees more time to get their credit corrected.”

“Have you let the public know this?” asked Alligood.

“No, not the public, but we have communicated with the staff,” said Gonzalez. “We let them know this is coming.”

“We have policy and procedure because of BOP standards,” said Gonzalez.

“It’s a federal contract, so there’s really not much more we can say about all this, than what we have already to you,” said Lee Ann Lopez.

The warden said that the quarterly meetings being held at the facility are to update the community on what is going on at both RI&II and R-III.

Gonzalez told the group that BOP officials were in Pecos last week sure the institution was safe and everything running smoothly.

“And it looks like we are doing really well,” said Gonzalez. “Also, GEO audit, one of the biggest audit has been going on, the federal government starts their fiscal year in October.”

Gonzalez said that they hope to get the new government contract, but added that staffing the facilities to house over 3,700 inmates is currently a problem.

“We want to put the word out that there are job opportunities here,” he said.

Gonzalez said that they would be attending a job fair at Fort Bliss in El Paso, go to military bases and will also be attending a job fair at Odessa College here in Pecos.

“If you know of anyone that needs a job, they just need to be 18 years or older,” said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said that their contract ends on Jan. 31, and that the new one will start in February.

“More positions will be needed, with 314 more inmates and a new SHUE Unit,” he said.

As inmate increases, the staff will also increase, according to Gonzalez.

“One of the biggest issues will be housing,” he said. Gonzalez added that those being recruited for RCDC work from out-of-town are seeking rental housing as opposed to buying homes.

“One of the main things will be the need for apartments,” said Gonzalez. “The young people just want to rent an apartment before they settle down.”

He said that if anybody knows about affordable housing to give them a call at the facility.

“We want to keep these people here, once they are hired,” he said.

City expecting construction of apartments to start

Town of Pecos City officials are hoping that construction on new apartments at two sites in Pecos will get underway by the end of this year.

City Council members will discuss a letter of support for construction of apartments south of Interstate 20 at Country Club Drive during their regularly scheduled meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday at City Hall, while the city is awaiting approval on construction of at least 50 apartments at a site originally planned for single family homes in the 700 and 800 blocks of Washington Street.

City manager Joseph Torres said the council and mayor Dick Alligood have been asked to submit a letter of support for the Country Club Apartments, which was drawn up on Aug. 29.

“The City of Pecos has a continuing need for new housing that will support residents and new industry coming to our community,” states the letter, to be sent to Brooke Benton of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. “We support new communities and those that will show affordability and quality in its design standards.”

The city’s zoning board on March 30 agreed to reclassify land located between the Reeves County Golf Course, Pecos Valley Country Club, the Town & Country Food Store on West Palmer Street and Country Club drive for construction of multi-family units. The land was sold by the Pecos Valley Country Club, and club president Bill Oglesby told council in late April that a total of 44 apartments were to be built on the 2.72 acre site.

Paul Holden, who represented the company at the zoning board hearing, said that the apartments are to be for moderate-income families, and are similar to apartments currently being built in Fort Stockton.

“They were doing their environmental due diligence an were asking the city for a letter of support,” Torres said on Monday.

The Washington Street apartments are an alternative plan the city has submitted to the Office of Rural Community Affairs, which the city owes nearly $400,000 as part of a grant the city received in 2002.

Council members were told in February that two local individuals, Armando Hinojos and Ram Kunwar, to build eight- and 48-unit apartments in the 800 and 900 blocks between Washington and Adams streets. The 56 apartments would be in place of 19 single-unit homes that were scheduled to be built as part of the original grant. Only one home has been built on the two-block site.

“I know ORCA visited the site last week,” Torres said on Monday. “On Aug. 31 we submitted a letter to ORCA on the state of the project.”

He said that currently, only the larger of the two development projects is still in the works. “On Aug. 24 we provided a deed of the property to the investor, with restrictions. If it doesn’t go through, the property goes back to the city,” Torres said.

Madrid said financing for the project is expected to take up to two months. “Depending on how soon we can get the information (from the financer), then we’ll send that to ORCA,” he said.

“I don’t think it will take 60 days. It should take 30-45 days to get the information to ORCA, and then two to three weeks to respond. Then after that they can start construction,” Madrid said.

The city was supposed to start paying the ORCA loan back in 2005, but received a one-year extension after only one family could qualify to receive loans for the low and moderate-income homes. Eleven of the planned 20 homes had to be in that category, but the city was not able to find buyers who could qualify for loans in the $55,000-$60,000 range.

Madrid said the site is set up for up to 58 apartments, but that currently only 50 apartments are planned as part of the proposal awaiting approval.

Council to weigh new fiscal year’s budget, tax rates

Town of Pecos City Council members will run through all the letters of the alphabet Wednesday evening, as part of a long agenda that includes budget issues for the city, West of the Pecos Museum, Pecos Economic Development Corp. and the Pecos Municipal Airport.

The council will hear the first reading of an ordinance for the fiscal year 2007 tax rates and budget among the 26 items on the 5:30 p.m. agenda, along with approving budgets for the museum, PEDC, and the Pecos Chamber of Commerce/Convention Bureau’s advertising and tourism budget. The council is also scheduled to discuss/consider the airport’s fixed based operator contract, which was the topic of an earlier council discussion.

Council members will also consider appointments to the Pecos Airport Board, the transfer of property in the downtown area to the West of the Pecos Museum, and will hear a presentation of the 4A/4B sales tax by the Texas Historical Commission

Other items include approval of a resolution for submitting an application to the Office of Rural Community Affairs for grant assistance from the Texas Community Development Fund for 2007-08; a resolution authorizing signators for the city’s 2006 TDCF grant; discussion of the city’s leave of absence policy or police, along with a patrol officer position; discussion on an audit contract with the city, and discussion of closing streets around Santa Rosa Catholic Church this weekend for the 16th of September Fiestas.

Council members will also be updated on the plans to improve safety zone markings around schools, and will consider improvements on the traffic islands on Jackson Boulevard. Both items were discussed by council members at previous meetings.

Ortega twins celebrate fifth birthday

Amber Ann and Audria Ann Ortega celebrated their fifth birthday on Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Barstow Community Center.

Amber and Audria were born on Sept. 11, 2001, in Odessa.

They are the daughters of Angela Ortega.

Amber and Audria enjoyed their patriotic and Bratz party with refreshments, games, Bratz piñata, and gifts.

Their party was hosted by their mother and grandparents.

Grandparents are Armando and Angelina Ortega of Barstow and Ismael and Gloria Valeriano of Pecos.

Lucas named to ASU Honors Program

Thirty-nine high-achieving freshmen have been named to the Honors Program at Angelo State University, effective with the fall 2006 semester.

The program is designed for academically exceptional students seeking an enriched educational program, according to Honors Program Director Dr. Nick E. Flynn. Participants take special course and must meet additional academic requirements to earn an honors degree.

Students are selected for this program based upon a completed application and two references as well as SAT/ACT scores of 1200/27 or more and a high school class rank in the top 10 percent.

Extracurricular activities are also taken into account.

Students participating in the program by hometown include from Pecos: Ashley Lucas.

Pena, De Pablo announce November wedding

Claudia B. Evaro of Pecos and Mr. and Mrs. Emilio Pena of Wickett, formerly of Barstow, are pleased to announce the engagement and approaching marriage of their granddaughter, Jennifer Pena to Hector De Pablo.

Jennifer is the daughter of Robert and Linda Pena of Austin and Daniel and Elsa Rendon of Littlefield. Hector is the son of Francisco and Reyna De Pablo of Los Angeles, Calif.

The couple will be married on Nov. 11, at the Texas Baptist Children’s Home Chapel in Austin, with a reception immediately following at the Wingate Inn.

The bride to be is a 2001 graduate of Littlefield High School in Littlefield. She attended Texas Tech University and graduated August 2006 with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies.

The future groom is a 2000 graduate of Venice High School in Los Angeles, Calif. He is a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps where he has served for over five years. He is currently serving his second tour of duty in Iraq.

After their November wedding, the couple will be stationed at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

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