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Tuesday, July 25, 2000

Sheriff given cool response to pay hike request for staff

Staff Writer

PECOS, July 25, 2000 - Law enforcement is not about making money, but about protecting and serving the public.

That's the statement Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez made during the regular Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting held Monday morning as he asked commissioners to approve a pay hike for all the employees in his department.

After a lengthy discussion on the subject, commissioners agreed to review the numbers and come back Thursday and discuss and take action on this item.

"I had a jail supervisor quit and a couple of deputies leave on me and the rest of them are feeling like step-children," said Gomez. "I think we should have equal pay for equal work."

Gomez was referring to the fact that Reeves County Detention Center employees have received raises while his department has stayed the same.

"I feel like our jailers deserve the same pay, in order to keep qualified people we need to pay them the same," said Gomez. "I feel like something needs to be done."

Gomez outlined a pay schedule for his employees, which would be close with the pay scale at the RCDC.

The total increase for the year that Gomez would be requesting would be $163,878.

"I feel like our employees deserve the same respect and the salary," said Gomez. "We need to do this for their morale," he said.

"What options do you have as far as funding this?" asked Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 2 David Castillo.

"I just wanted to present this to the court and let you as budget analysts come up with an option on funding," said Gomez.

"When you ask for something like this, there should be an option, a plan, outlined by your administrators on how to go about funding it," said Castillo. "That's what the administration should be doing, they should be working for you."

Castillo said the RCDC administration should get together and come up with options on funding and then present it to the court. "This court is not here to come up with options, that responsibility should lie with your administration," said Castillo.

Castillo asked Gomez about possible expansion of the Reeves County Jail and if that had ever been discussed, as a way to fund the raises, bring morale up and bring in revenue.

"I've been asking the commissioners court for an expansion," said Gomez. "You can have all kinds of dreams, but without the funding we can't do anything."

"If you have, I haven't heard it and I've been here for a year and a half," said Castillo.

Gomez said the plan that was introduced to the court included adding 50 to 60 additional beds.

"Expansion would be a good way as an option, and it is something that has been brought before this court before," said Gomez. "It's an issue we brought up and it just died."

"I don't think that it's that it died, it's still there," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo. "The advantage Reeves County has right now, is that we have a general contract with architects that can move from one project to another."

"We talked about expansion and you (Galindo) said that Lorraine Dailey had done the plans and that that was Andy's desire to expand, but I guess the resources have not been there," said Precinct 3 Commissioner Herman Tarin. "We should have moved forward a long time ago, and I hope it's something we can move forward on someday."

"You don't need the resources in pocket, that's the whole idea, use someone else's money," said Castillo. "Four years has been a long time for this project to be on a back burner, it should have been presented yearly."

"Your management team that you have needs to come up with options," said Castillo. "Whether it be man day rates, expansion or looking at cutting costs."

"What are we doing now for the next 10 years? You need a team that does the legwork," said Castillo.

Castillo told Gomez that he needed good solid management to put together a plan.

"The plan has been there," said Gomez.

"If it's not in writing it's not there," said Castillo.

"I think that's something we need to work on, coming up with a financial plan for this year and from this day forward," said Galindo. "And that's something we have been talking about at the budget workshops."

Galindo told Gomez to give him some time to look at the figures and try to figure a way to finance the raises.

The jail is certified by the state to hold 84 prisoners and was threatened with a shutdown earlier this year due to failure to complete repairs and for being over capacity during a Texas Commission on Jail Standard inspection. The TCJS voted to let the jail remain open after the problems were resolved.

"I would like to commend you on making a quick recovery, it has put us right back in a position of generating revenue," said Galindo.

"What if the salaries go up at RCDC in six months, will you want one then too," said Tarin. "We need to think about this too."

"I think it should be the same for our employees," said Gomez.

In other action on Monday, commissioners approved the authorization to sell a machine gun to a dealer and a payment to Banes General Contractors in the amount of $195,798, along with DRG payment #193.

A bid on paint for latex and oil-based was awarded to Gibson True Value, which was the only bidder.

A bid for construction of a walking/running track will be re-bid and other contractors contacted for their bids.

Commissioners approved purchasing two vehicles from Colt Chevrolet in Pecos who was the only bidder.

RCDC vehicle and equipment salvage was approved.

A contract between E.C. Holt and Reeves County was approved. Holt will be working at the Reeves County Detention Center as an internal auditor.

"He will be on hand to make sure all our T's are crossed and our I's dotted," said RCDC Warden Rudy Franco. "I think the citizens deserve the best and this man has a fantastic background."

Franco said the position will be perfect for Holt and that they are pleased to have him come on board.

"He'll be making a good team even better," said Franco.

Holt has an extensive background has a BA from Sul Ross State University and a masters in business. He is a former military man who served many years in the U.S. Marine Corps and was assistant professor at the University of Kansas for three years.

"We wanted to move back to Pecos, my wife is from Pecos and now we're just `nesting,'" he said.

`I think he'll be a tremendous asset and his expertise will certainly be a plus," said Franco.

Personnel and salary changes included at the Reeves County Detention Center, Jose Martinez was promoted to Correctional Officer III at a salary of $26,000; Ruben Salinas as a Correctional Officer I at $19,000 per year; Andres Machuca as Correctional Officer II at $24,000; Frank Mendoza as Correctional Officer II, $24,000; Hector Rodriguez, Jr. as Correctional Officer II at $24,000; Ernest Salcido as a Sports Specialist III at $26,000 per year; Rodolfo DeAnda as Food Service II at $24,000 per year; Frank Garcia as Correctional Officer II at $24,000; Charles Howard as Correctional Officer II at $24,000; Eric Holt as Quality Assurance Officer at $34,000; Ernest Bustillos as Correctional Officer II at $24,000; Joel Garcia as Correctional Officer I at $19,000; Alvian Venegas as Correctional Officer I at $19,000; Mary Evaro as Correctional Officer I at $19,000; Richard Dominguez as Correctional Officer I at $19,000; Jesse Contreras promoted to Case Manager at a salary of $28,000; Isela Ortiz promoted to Personnel Clerk II at a salary of $24,000; Moises Castillo promoted to the position of Maintenance II at $24,000 per year and Cindy Barragan promoted to the position of Maintenance Clerk II at $24,000;

At the Reeves County Sheriff's Office, Joseph Ortiz, was promoted at an annual salary of $21,000; Pamela Bustillos to RCDC/Sheriff's Office Liason at $22,000 per year; Israel Campos as deputy sheriff at $20,000 per year; Danny Leos was promoted to sergeant at an annual salary of $25,100.

Cynthia Garcia will be part-time employee at the Justice of the Peace #1 office and Randall Webb Reynolds was hired as a lifeguard/concession stand operator at the Northside Swimming Pool on a part-time temporary basis at $6 and $5.15 an hour, respectively.

Commissioners view RCDC expansion

Staff Writer

PECOS, July 25, 2000 - Walls are going up, electricity installed and a sewer is being built at the site of the new 1,000-bed addition at the Reeves County Detention Center.

"Things are coming along well," said Banes General Contractor Supervisor Mark Schumacher while leading Reeves County Commissioners on a special tour of the ongoing construction work during lunch Monday.

"We'll be ready by Sept. 1, to bring in 100 new inmates," said RCDC Warden Rudy Franco.

Along with doubling the size of the facility, the new buildings will include administration offices for the employees, a new cafeteria, which will be adjacent to the old one, a small gym for the employees wellness program and an additional dayroom.

"There will be 48 inmates in each dormitory," said Schumacher, who explained that the new design concept includes upper and lower dormitories.

"This is a new design that is being used and one of the dormitories will meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards," said Schumacher.

"The sewer system is coming together and we should have electricity installed soon," said Schumacher.

"Everything looks really good and is coming together fast," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo. "We're pleased with the work you're doing here."

The new reception area will place RCDC front office employees behind a glassed partition. Restrooms will be available in that area as well.

"We'll have a lot of visibility area, that will enable the guards to see everything from their posts," said Schumacher.

Security was also a big issue in the planning of the facility. "We want to make sure the guards are safe and can respond quickly, while providing a secure and comfortable setting for the inmates as well," said Schumacher.

The on-going construction began last year, which will expand the prison capacity to 2,000 inmates and will add over 100 new employees to the staff.

The projected plans are to bring in 100 new inmates by Sept. 1. After that, 200 additional inmates will then be transported to the renovated facility with 400 more in November and 800 in December. By January of 2001, it will be up to the full capacity of 2,000 inmates.

The new addition is located on the north side of the current facility. Water towers for the new addition are up, with one located in the front of the facility and the second located in the back.

The new addition will house prisoners under contract with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, which has provided most of the inmates for the RCDC since it opened as a 300-bed prison in 1986.

City asked to toughen rules on plumbing, electrical work

Staff Writer

PECOS, July 25, 2000 - Town of Pecos City Council discussed code enforcement of plumbing and electrical construction today in their regular meeting.

Manuel Rubio, licensed plumber, approached the board with a complaint that too many construction projects in Pecos are illegally built. He said unlicensed plumbers are doing most of the plumbing work for commercial customers and that is against the law.

Rubio said he understands citizens working on their own plumbing in a residence but not on commercial businesses.

Audience member Louis Matta expressed his feeling about the current codes and enforcement to council members after Rubio spoke.

"I really don't think the code works anymore," Matta said. "Maybe it's time to look at that policy and redesign it."

The Council discussed the city's duty to inspect all plumbing and electrical work. The Council agreed that more inspections should be done and all construction, plumbing and electrical work must have permits.

Mayor Ray Ortega said Fire Marshall Jack Brookshire is responsible for all inspections and code enforcements.

Steve McCormick, finance director, said if any city employee sees a violation that they should report it.

"All of us need to be aware of what's going on and let Jack know," McCormick said.

Brookshire did not attend this morning's meeting due to some recent surgery.

The Council agreed to table the subject until he could be present.

The Council also agreed to table the consideration of condemning the residence at 1607 S. Eddy St. until Brookshire returns.

Cindy Jones brought forth a complaint that the residence is a hazard to the community because of 12-13 abandoned vehicles and automobile parts laying in the front and back yards.

"I thought the city would be concerned about the look of Pecos," Jones said.

Jones said the owner of the property has been given citations for the vehicles but believes that it is not working.

"They think it's cheaper to pay a $20 fine than clean up the property," Jones said.

City Attorney Scott Johnson said there is really only two options the city could do, give the owner a citation everyday the property is not cleaned or condemn the property.

"It can be condemned, that's the only way the city can go clean it up," Johnson said.

Abidur Khan, engineer for Frank X. Spencer and Associates reported to the Council on the invoice on additional work for the trench closure at the Pecos Sanitary Landfill.

McCormick showed concern on the amount owed to Raba-Kistner Consultants, Inc., for the additional work is not a reasonable situation. He reported to the Council that Raba-Kistner raised their fee from the original $2,800 to over $11,000.

Khan said the rise in budget was due to new regulations put in by the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission.

"They did have to do quite a bit of work to cover the new TNRCC regulations," Khan said.

Ortega asked if the company is required to let the city know of any additional work, and Johnson requested the opportunity to look over the contracts with the contractor.

The Council tabled this item until Johnson could review the contracts.

Khan also reported on Spencer and Associates' recommendation for the Town of Pecos City's 2000 Street Seal Coat Project.

Khan said several companies bid on the 84,000 square yard project and Jones Brothers Dirt and Paving Contractor, Inc., turned in the lowest bid of $68,776.34.

Ortega questioned Khan on how this bid was turned in when the city's budget only allows for $60,000.

Khan said the price could be lowered after the Council awarded Jones Brothers with the project.

"We can have a change order to bring down the price within budget," he said.

With the motion from Councilman Ricky Herrera and the second by Councilman Larry Levario, the Council approved the awarding of the seal coat project to Jones Brothers.

The Council then went back to Khan for a report on the final change order for the trench closure that was recently completed.

He said the liner that was installed was slightly over the estimated cost, but added the project was completed way ahead of schedule despite some modifications.

The project cost a little over $2,000 extra due to the modifications to the anchor trench in order to make it more effective.

The Council also tabled this subject in order to give Johnson a chance to go over contracts.

Lydia Prieto, Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Tax Assessor Collector, reported to the Council the estimated worth of the old Billy Sol Estes building on Balmorhea Highway, which the Reeves County Extension Offices is requesting to use as its new offices.

Prieto said the current building appraisal is $169,000 not including possible tax requirements.

"Whoever buys the property might have to pay part of the back taxes," she said.

The property includes a few barns behind and beside the office building. Herrera said the city should consider trying to get one the buildings for storage.

Prieto said the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school district is in charge of the property and the Council tabled the item until the school board takes action.

The Council also considered the renaming of the Eastside Community Center to Sydney L. Sadler, Jr. Community Center.

City Manager Kenneth Neal said he spoke to school superintendent Don Love, who said the school board had tabled the decision until the city did something. Love also said since the community center is on school property, the school board would like to donate the building to the city.

The Council discussed whether or not the Dean family, who originally owned all the land in that area, had any stipulation on the property.

The subject was tabled allowing Johnson to look further into it.

Items the Council also approved where to consider a rent agreement with Texas Department of Transportation for land at the city airport which is to be used for a new Pecos office, the leasing of the miniature golf course at Maxey Park to Pilar Contreras and granting the Koch Midstream Services Company the right of way to place a gas line in the city's field in Ward County.

Council members also heard the second readings of the ordinance on plumbing inspection fees, the amended ordinance for animal control and the amended ordinance regarding the regulation of food establishments. The Council approved all readings.

Members also approved the reports for the juvenile court, municipal court, the tax collector and the Reeves County Civic Center quarterly report as well as the minutes from the last meeting.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Lillian Creasy thanked the Council for passing the application process for the Main Street Project. Creasy's husband, Richard, also thanked the Council for their support in the opening of the State Theater. Mr. Creasy said all the comments he's received from the public have been very positive.

PHA board to get CIAP 98 update as part of meeting

PECOS, July 25, 2000 - The Pecos Housing Authority will receive an update on the 1998 CIAP project at their regular monthly meeting, set for Thursday.

They will meet at 5 p.m., at the PHA/FLH New Administration Office at 2320 Teague Drive.

The board will tour the new office facility and discuss the landscaping, fencing and parking for the new building.

They will also discuss administration training and go over a letter from the Director of the U.S. Department of HUD regarding the application to process PHA's 2000 Capital Fund Program.


PECOS, July 25, 2000 - High Monday 107. Low this morning 69. Forecast for tonight: partly cloudy. low in the lower 70s. south wind 10-20 mph. Wednesday: Partly cloudy. high 104-107. south wind 10-20 mph. Wednesday night: Mostly cloudy with a slight chance of thunderstorms. low in the lower 70s. Thursday: Mostly sunny and fair at night. Low 70-75. High 103-106.

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