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Archive 2004

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Weekly Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Thursday, July 1, 2004

County, Arizona sign new RCDC prisoner contract

Staff Writer

Reeves County Commissioners approved contract extension agreement with the State of Arizona for housing inmates at the Reeves County Detention Center III unit, during their regular meeting on Monday.

Commissioners met in the third floor courtroom to discuss several items including the contract.

The county and the state of Arizona entered first into a 16-week contract, in March to house inmates in the new $40 million prison. The county completed RCDC III last year, but then discovered the U.S. Bureau of Prisons would not provided inmates to fill the 960 beds. The BOP had provided about 2,000 inmates to fill the beds in RCDC I and II.

The county searched for nine months to find inmates for the prison, which were needed to meet construction bond payments. The crisis depleted Reeves County’s general fund and threatened the entire $89 million prison with default, until the county and the prison’s new management firm, CGI, finally were able to reach a deal with Arizona, which was facing about a 2,000-bed shortage in its state prisons.

The deal called for RCDC III to house up to 864 Arizona inmates, while the others were sent to a prison in Oklahoma. At the time, Arizona officials said the agreement would be only a short-term situation, until the state could construct additional prison space.

The initial contract term with Reeves County ended on June 30, at the end of the current Arizona fiscal year. The new contract with Arizona runs from July 1, 2004 through June 2005.

“This contract is for a year, because the Arizona fiscal year ended on June 30, they went ahead and approved it for a year,” said county auditor Lynn Owens.

In conjunction, commissioners approved lease payments for the correctional facilities. The 1999 RCDC lease payment in the amount of $420,209; the 1999 maintenance reserve payment in the amount of $29,166 and the 2001 RCDC lease payment in the amount of $411,862 were all approved during the regular meeting.

In other action, commissioners approved a professional services contract between Reeves County and Physicians Network Association for RCDC III medical services.

County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo said that there is already a contract between Reeves County and Physicians Network Association for RCDC I and RCDC II medical services. “There are some significant differences in the R-III contract,” said Galindo.

One of the differences is that the cap for RI-II is $5,000 and the cap for R-III is $10,000. “There are also some other issues in regard to medication for Hepatitis C,” said Galindo. “There are also some very strict regulations.”

“All these things need to be ironed out,” said Owens.

Galindo suggested that they set up a meeting with PNA to ratify the contract. “We need to get particular responses to these issues,” he said.

The group approved a Xerox lease agreement for RCDC I and II.

The agreement was fo

r five new network copier/printers at $578.20 a month, per machine. “This is a three year lease,” said Galindo.

County attorney faces charges in altercation

Reeves County Attorney Luis Carrasco was released on bond following a family altercation that occurred at the Quality Inn Motel early Sunday morning.

According to a report filed by Pecos police, officers were called to the motel at 4:17 a.m. on Sunday due to an altercation between Carrasco, 34, and his wife Eban Carrasco, 35, of 1810 Jackson Street. Police investigator Kelly Davis said officers at the scene met with Robert Munoz, 29, of 800 N. Hickory St., who informed them that Carrasco had been confronted by his wife at a room in the Quality Inn, located on U.S. 285 and Interstate 20 and that an argument was currently taking place.

Once there, officers talked with both sides in an attempt to settle the dispute, but ended up placing Carrasco under arrest after his wife said she had been assaulted by her husband, suffering a large bruise on her arm in the incident.

Carrasco was charged with assault causing bodily injury under the Family Violence Act, and was transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center. Police said he was then taken to the Reeves County Jail, but sheriff’s department officials said Carrasco was not booked into the facility.

Carrasco is currently completing his first term as Reeves County Attorney. He is seeking a second four-year term in office this November, and ran unopposed in the March Democratic Party primary election. He is also unopposed in the November general election.

Fireworks stands keeping busy

Firework stands are open in abundance this week, in preparation for the Fourth of July holiday.

“I’m staying open 24 hours, since I’m staying here, I just open as soon as I get up and remain open,” said Mingo Mata, with Mr. W Fireworks. “I don’t mind staying open late either and someone is always here,” he said.

His stand is located just north of Wal-Mart, the second stand in that particular area. Jesus Terrazas, with Truckload, the fire works stand directly next to Wal-Mart, said that they have been pretty busy.

His stand is open from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m.

“We’ll probably stay open later on the Fourth of July,” said Terrazas.

Tammy Orona is manning the other stand, which is located directly across the street from Wal-Mart.

“We were really busy yesterday,” said Orona.

This is the fourth year that Orona has been in charge of that stand and said that the Fourth of July was the busiest day for them.

“We have a lot of specials and will try to stay open later on the Fourth,” she said. Her stand is open from 8 a.m. until midnight and on the weekends until 1 a.m.

Fireworks usage in Reeves County have been limited in recent years, thanks to over a decade of drought that had left brush vulnerable to sparks from exploding firecrackers. But with nearly nine inches of rain in the Pecos area during the first six month of 2004, no fireworks bans have been placed into effect for this Fourth of July holiday. However, shooting off fireworks remains against the law inside the Town of Pecos City limits.

Funeral services held for Leos,
after officer’s fatal heart attack

Staff Writer

Funeral services were held on Monday for a long-time Pecos resident and law enforcement office, who died of a heart attack last Thursday.

Services for Danny C. Leos were held Monday afternoon at Santa Rosa Catholic Church, with nearly 100 law enforcement officers from Pecos and surrounding communities bidding farewell to one of their own.

Leos, 43, suffered his heart attack while at his home shortly after 6 p.m. on June 24. Emergency medical services personnel were called to the home, and he was transported to Reeves County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy into the official cause of death was ordered, but results had not returned as of Tuesday, according to police.

Leos was the first Pecos police officer in 20 years to die while serving as a member of the force. Officer Hal Schnellenberger died in 1984 of a heart attack while investigating a fatal accident involving a young child near downtown Pecos.

Leos was born Sept. 13, 1960, in Pecos to Abel and Manuela Leos.

He was born and raised in Pecos and attended Pecos schools. He played football in junior high school and freshman football and graduated from the Odessa College Police Academy on Sept. 2, 1994.

Leos began his law enforcement career at the Law Enforcement Center (now the RCDC), from March 1993 until August 1996. He worked at the Fort Stockton State Prison from August of 1996 until March of 1997, where he was a correctional officer; from March 1997 until Dec. of 2003 he was employed by the Reeves County Sheriff’s Department, starting as a patrolman and leaving the office as a Sergeant Deputy.

He then went to work at the Town of Pecos City Police Department as a patrolman and was a member of the S.W.A.T. Team, while as a deputy and police officer.

His family said Leos enjoyed various sports including football, softball, golf and pool. He was a true-blue Cowboy fan and Braves fan.

Leos had two dreams in his life, which he accomplished: one to have a family of his own and enjoy family outings with family and friends and two, to be a law enforcement officer.

Survivors include his wife, Elizabeth Leos of Pecos; one daughter, Lisa M. Leos and her husband, Cesar Zermeno of Pecos; two brothers, Ynes Leos and wife Gloria of Ivanhoe, Calif., Abel C. Leos Jr. of Garland; four sisters, Felipa C. Leos and Rebecca Leos of San Angelo, Mary Alice Hernandez, Norma Dominguez and husband Oscar Dominguez of Pecos.

He also left behind all his law enforcement brothers including special law enforcement friends, Bobby Jenkins, Richard Natividad, Fernando Valenzuela, Victor Prieto, Ramon Ortiz, Arturo Granado, Andy Gomez, Orlando Orona, Clay McKinney and Tony Dawdy.

City budget facing new hit over water tank repair cost

Staff Writer

The Town of Pecos City is keeping better track of their finances, a Texas Water Development Board official told council members last Thursday, but faces a choice between raising water fees or property tax rates this year to pay for loans taken out on recent water projects.

Meanwhile, the council was also told they will have to finance another major water project in the near future, after major rusting problems were found inside one of the city’s 3 million-gallon water tanks.

The council will meet again at 7 a.m. on Thursday, but City Manager Joseph Torres said the tanks will not be on the agenda because final cost totals are not yet available. An ambulance contract with Reeves County Hospital and appointment of members to the Pecos Economic Development Corp. board are the main items on the July 1 agenda.

Dick Maddern, with the Texas Water Development Board, talked to the council about repayment said the board has an $8.8 million loan with the city for water and sewer projects. Those include the recently completed South Worsham Water Field project and the planned installation of sewer lines in sections of north and east Pecos. In addition, the TWDB also has loaned the city $300,000 for wastewater improvements.

“For the last two years our auditors have had comments on (Pecos’) record accounting,” Maddern said following the meeting. “My agency is concerned about that.”

He said the concerns were due to discrepancies in monthly financial numbers given to the TWDB by the city. The shifting numbers caused concerns that Pecos might not be able to repay the loans, but Maddern said recent changes in accounting have made TWDB officials feel better about the city’s financial situation.

“It’s very important for them (auditors) to know where we stand,” Maddern said. “This way we have reliable figures on where they want to pay for city services.”

Those changes will require some sort of increase in fees or taxes by the city when the council draws up its 2005 fiscal year budget. Maddern cited some areas in connection with water rates where fee increases could be implemented to help with the loan repayments.

“The city is not in the position to give free services to customers. You don’t have that money,” he said, adding that the additional fees were “not a lot at one time, but over a year they can amount to a significant amount of revenue.”

Councilman Danny Rodriguez asked about the differences between the city’s water rate and those of other area communities. Maddern said those could be based on whether a city is using water fees or property taxes to pay off debts, along with the cost of importing and treating the water.

City engineer Frank X. Spencer told the council the water sources for Pecos also affect local rates, since the city doesn’t have any high-output water wells. “In our case our wells produce anywhere from 100 to 300 gallons (per minute). Instead of one well or two wells, we have 23 wells.”

Spencer later delivered the bad news to the council about the 3 million gallon tank, after the council approved a motion to allow Spencer’s company to sent specifications for restoration of Pecos’ 500,000 elevated water tank to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Spencer said the problem involved the older of the two 3 million gallon tanks, which was put in 24 years ago. “Once the contractor got inside and started sandblasting, he found extensive deterioration on the floor of the tank,” he said. “Probably 50 percent of the floor will be in a situation where it will have to be replaced.”

Engineer Eduardo Madrid said the tank is 103-feet across with support posts 28 feet from the outside of the tank. “From there out, every plate has a hole,” he said. Spencer said either welds on the tank floor had separated, or in one case no weld was found in an area where rusting occurred.

He said the walls of the tank are in good shape, but told council members after talking to a contractor in Ward County, he estimated the cost of replacing the floor at $250,000. In addition, he said because the contractor cannot complete his work right now, the city faces a $22,000 demobilization and remobilization fee, and added that another $25,000 should be set aside for annual inspections of both 3 million gallon tanks.

Inspections had been done in the past, but were stopped at some undetermined time.

“Possibly with the money situation, you may just want to look at patching some holes,” Spencer said, estimating that would give the city a 5 to 10-year fix. However, he had no exact estimate on how much that work would cost.

Spencer said the city may still have some money left in the TWDB grant for the South Worsham project. “My recollection is we saved about $100,000 in the acquisition budget,” said city attorney Scott Johnson, though Madrid said there was about $200,000 left in the TWDB loan.

“My position was if we wanted to limit the cost we could do the patch job. Depending on what the Water Development Board goes for, I’m ready to go for that,” said Torres.

“We’re not here to get an answer today, but we need to get moving along on it,” said Spencer, and mayor Dot Stafford asked him if he could come up with an estimate for patching the holes before the July 1 council meeting.

Torres said on Monday the item could not be included on the agenda because the cost estimate for the patching option was not yet available. “We’re going to wait because this is a major cost,” he said. “I’m still waiting to hear back from Mr. Spencer on the estimate for the patching job.”

Maddern told city officials they could ask the TWDB engineer in Austin involved in the project to visit Pecos and look at the problem. He added that the engineer would also have the numbers on how much of the $8.8 million loan remains available for the tank repair work.

RCH holds reception today for departing CEO Vernor

Reeves County Hospital will be holding a going away reception for administrator Richard Vernor from 2 to 6 p.m. on Thursday at the hospital.

Vernor has served as Chief Executive Officer for the hospital for the past three years. He announced at the end of May he would retire from his position effective July 2. Reeves County Hospital Board members selected chief financial officer Bill Conder as interim CEO during their June 22 meeting.

July is also scheduled to be the opening of the hospital’s new kidney dialysis center, and Venetta Seals, Director Public Relations and Marketing for the hospital said that work on both the hospital’s new addition and the existing wing is ongoing.

“Dr. K.M.L.S.T. Moorthi, a specialist in kidney disease, is scheduled to arrive in Pecos July 16th from the Chicago area. Dr. Moorthi and his family will be living in Pecos and his full time practice will also be located in Pecos enabling Dr. Moorthi to be available to his patients seven days a week, 365 days a year,” she said. “Reeves County Hospital is pleased that we are able to offer such a beautiful state of the art facility to the dialysis patients in our area and the valuable services of a local and full-time Nephrologist.” Rockwork at the front entrance of the hospital has been completed and the scaffolding has all been removed . “The rock work is very impressive and for those of you who have passed through the front lobby you have noticed a continuation of the stunning rock work inside as well.”

“For anyone who has ventured into the outpatient, lab, and/or x-ray vicinity, you have noticed a lot of renovations in progress. The renovations to the surgery suites and the new surgery waiting area are about 90 percent complete,” Seals said. “The Texas Department of Health (TDH) completed the 80% inspection for the surgery suites on June 15.”

She said in the Dialysis Center, the new water treatment system has been installed, and recliners for each of the 15 stations have arrived, along with of the brand new state of the art dialysis machines.

She added the intensive training for the dialysis staff began on June 21 and will continue until all of the stringent guidelines required by TDH are completed.

Seals said June 21 also was the date Dr. Ziad Anotine Abdo, a board certified general surgeon who arrived in Pecos. Board president Linda Gholson said Abdo was busy setting up his office last week, and a reception for both new doctors will be held sometime in the near future.

Officials report good turnout for Night in Old Pecos

The number of participants was up, the temperatures stayed down and the rain stayed away for the annual Night in Old Pecos celebration, held downtown this past Saturday night.

The event was extended to seven hours this year, and a number of new events were added, including a car show, Ferris wheel, pony rides, mechanical bull ride and paintball game.

“It went really well. The crowds were as big as I think we ever have had,” said Pecos Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Linda Gholson. “I’m not a numbers person, but I would guess we had at least 3,000 people out there.”

“I wish we could count with certainty, but I’d say with a guesstimate that 3,000 would be about right,” said event chairwoman Debbie Thomas. “All the vendors I visited were very, very pleased with the crowd,” she said, though Gholson said some of the vendors not near the center of the activity on Oak Street did voice some complaints.

Thomas said Night in Old Pecos had 45 vendors this year. “That’s a few more than we had last year,” while the band Gunslinger performed on the Oak Street stage until the event ended at 1 a.m.

A youth talent show and other events were held on the Windmill Square stage, with KIUN’s Cody West serving as DJ, while the rides were set up at the north end of Oak and on Second Street. The Golden Girl nominees also performed on the Windmill Square stage earlier in the evening.

Also during the daylight portion of Saturday’s event, the local Double Diamond Car Club held its first-ever car show just to the south of the Oak Street stage. Donnie Smith said the event drew a total of 38 entries in six different divisions.

“We had a parade at 7 o’clock down from the old Showtime building next to OC (on Eddy Street) down Third Street to Oak,” said Smith, who added the show had been planned for the past 2 1/2 months.

“This was the first show, and we were not sure how it would go. We weren’t sure if Pecos would accept it, but they were very enthusiastic about it,” he said.

Winners in the divisions were Jim Breese in the Import Car division, with Joe Coody second; Mark Zungia in the Import Bike division, with Junior Zuniga second; Jeremy Sanders in the American Bike division, with Joel Martinez second; Lee Castaneda in the American Car division, with Savlador Hinojos second; Reyes Rubio in the Low Rider division, with Ishmael Pena second; and Dr. Orville Cerna first in the Truck and Van division, with Cindy Gabb second.

Smith said Castaneda won Best in Show for the automobile divisions, and Sanders won top honors in the bike division.

“We got some good feedback from this car show, and people are talking about having another one,” Smith said. They group was tentatively looking at around the time of the Reeves County Fall Fair in October.

Breese served as one of the judges, but did not judge his own division, Smith said. He added that Breese, George Gabb and Tom Rivera helped with efforts to put on the show, while Butch Renshaw, Doug Hathorn, Al Gomez and area club president Danny Morris were also involved with the staging.

“We also want to thank Linda Gholson with the Chamber and (Pecos Police officer) Mike Balog, who helped with traffic control,” he added.

Police Report

Pecos Police arrested Carlos Ramos, 28, of Houston, on June 20 at 2:15 a.m. in the 1800 block of South Cedar Street on a charge of public intoxication. Police said Ramos admitted to having had six beers after being stopped by officers while driving northbound on Cedar Street. ***

Pecos police arrested Jesus Salmon, 23, at 11:53 p.m. on June 26 in the 200 block of South Oak Street on a warrant service for expired registration. ***

Dulces Abila, Jr., 21, was arrested by police outside the Riverside Ballroom at 22:26 a.m. on June 27 on a charge of possession of a controlled substance. Police said they were called to the Riverside on a report of a fight, and after breaking it up and talking to Abila outside the building, an officer said Abila threw a packet containing a substance believed to be cocaine under a vehicle parked outside. He was taken to the Criminal Justice Center on the charge and then to Reeves County Jail, before being released on a $5,000 bond. Police also arrested Jonathan Matta, 21, at the Riverside Ballroom and charged him with public intoxication. Police said the arrest came after Matta refused to leave the scene after the fight involving Abila had ended. ***

Pecos police arrested Omar Luna, 21, on June 27 at 2:35 a.m. on a warrant for minor in possession. Police said the warrant was for a violation that occurred before Luna’s 21st birthday and was part of an investigation into an earlier fight involving Luna in the 500 block of Lincoln Street. ***

Rogoberto Perez, 27, was arrested by Pecos police on a warrant charging him with possession of a controlled substance (cocaine). The arrest was made at 4:38 p.m. on June 26 in the 1200 block of East Second St., and resulted from an investigation of a possible drug overdose that occurred in the same area on June 11. Perez was taken to the CJC and then to Reeves County Jail, before being freed on $4,500 bond. ***

Larry Garcia, 40, was arrested by Pecos police on warrant charges of public intoxication and deadly conduct, resulting from an incident at Eighth and Willow Streets at 7:51 p.m. on June 25. Officers said they were called there due to a report of a man with a gun. Garcia was later arrested, and police said a 20-gauge shotgun was found in a barbeque pit at his home, at 718 S. Willow St., along with a camouflage shotgun case and shotgun shells. He was taken to the CJC and to Reeves County Jail, before being released on a $4,500 bond.


Bobbie Jo Johnson

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