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Tuesday, December 12, 2000

RCDC payments, insurance contracts approved

Staff Writer

PECOS, December 12, 2000 - Reeves County Commissioners approved requests for payments to construction and architects working on the Reeves County Detention Center's 1,000 bed-addition, along with a new supervisor for the center during their regular meeting held Monday, in the third floor courtroom.

The construction at the facility is nearing completion and new inmates are being transferred in increments to the new sections in increments. The addition will double the capacity of the prison, and in conjunction with that expansion, commissioners approved a contract with a new RCDC Assistant Warden Manuel Gomez.

Commissioners approved request for payment invoice no. 218- support building finish out to DRG Architect in the amount of $1,166; DRG Architect's request for payment invoice no. 219-expense reimbursement in the amount of $4,988; Banes General Contractors request for payment no. 2 _ racquetball court, for $3,783 and Banes General Contractor's request for payment no. 3- support building finish out in the amount of $78,360.

In other business, commissioners approved a letter of intent between Reeves County and Texas Tech Health University Health Sciences Center and FY 2001 Holidays for Reeves County employees.

During the lengthy meeting, several bids were awarded including for general liability insurance to the Texas Association of Counties, the current provider, in the amount of $11,908. TASC was the only bidder and the premiums were almost identical to last year's, according to Reeves County Auditor Lynn Owens. Auto Liability and physical damage insurance proposal was also awarded to the Texas Association of Counties.

"We're paying considerably more than we did last year," said Owens. "We experienced a heavy year of claims, which is probably why it went up."

Victor Uvalle, the TASC's new field representative for Reeves County was on hand during the meeting. He told the court that the large number of claims and the increase in vehicles was the reason for the rise in insurance costs.

"You had twice as many claims, liability is actually down, but there are more vehicles included," he said. "We are insuring more of your vehicles, including the new bus for the RCDC. That's a very expensive vehicle."

Uvalle told the group that the insurance company does offer a simulator. "This is a learning process, not a pass or fail test," he said.

He added that he would get with the TASC safety department and set up a simulator for Reeves County, at the request of Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo. "I think it would be a good idea to set up something," said Galindo.

Insurance will cost $17,000 for physical damage and $14,448 for auto liability.

Real/Personal Property insurance and heavy equipment insurance was also awarded to the Texas Association of Counties. "The contents of our buildings is higher than last year," said Galindo. The bid award was for $101,456.

"Actually, the cost per property has gone down," said Uvalle.

A bid for Asphalt, oils and emulsions went to Coke Materials. "We received two bids, one from Bridges Asphalt and from Coke, and the one from Coke is the best bid," said Owens.

Surface aggregates bid went to Trans Pecos Materials and motor fuel oil bid went to Desert Distributors.

Commissioners agreed to re-bid the discarded food products bid.

"We only received one bid, but this one is a bit different," said Owens.

Owens said the bid came from the current provider, former Reeves County Commissioner Ismael Dutchover. However, Dutchover stated in his bid award that instead of paying the county for the discarded food, he wanted to be paid.

Dutchover requested that he be paid $5 per day for discarded food at the RCDC and $1 per day for discarded food at the Reeves County Sheriff's Office.

"We used to get a token fee, but now he wants to get paid," said Owens. "Since it was a bid for proposals, the court has the discretion to reject it."

Owens said something needs to be done with the discarded food and a contract must be agreed on soon.

"We had put out a bid for proposals, where someone would pay us, so it would be non-responsive," said Galindo.

Galindo suggested re-bidding out for both. "We bid it out to buy it or to haul it off and we might get more participants with the added issue," he said.

Janitor supplies were awarded to the different, lowest bidders. Floor maintenance bid went to Triple I Supply; light bulbs, Gibson True Value; trash bags, AA Chemical Co.; brushes and squeegees, Triple I Supply; paper products, AA Chemical Co.; cleaning supplies, Triple I Supply; miscellaneous to Basco Supply Co. and pre-portioned supply to AA Chemical Co.

RCDC architect Lorraine Dailey said that the ozone people would come up with a product that is suitable for the new laundry at the prison. "We have to come up with the chemical that they will be using, which will eliminate the need for bleach and hot water," she said.

Isaac Lujan with Triple I Supply was on hand to provide information to the court. Jesse Baeza with the Sheriff's Department said that he had some problems with Triple I.
"I think their problem was with the wax," said Lujan. "But they can order the higher-speed wax, it comes with the bid," he said.

Lujan spoke with Baeza at length about his problems and the two came to a solution.

"As soon as you see a problem you need to contact the provider," said Galindo. "I think he's willing to work with us and RCDC has no problems with the provider," he said.

Baeza said he had not seen the list of what could be ordered and did not know exactly what was on the bid award.

Inmate clothing bid was awarded to Robinson Textiles. RCDC employee Adam Rodriguez told the court they were very happy with ICS. "They deliver within a couple of days and we have had no problems with them, while Robinson Textiles takes two weeks to deliver," he said.

Rodriguez added that with the small amount of storage space it was difficult to order in large quantities. But Warden Rudy Franco said, "We won't have a problem with that, though, once the new warehouse is completed."

The employee uniforms bid went to United and dental services to the current provider and only bidder, Dr. David Lovett.

Inmate food and kitchen supplies consisted of eight categories and awards went to the lowest bidders. General food supplies bid went to Ben E. Keith Foods; general kitchen supplies to White Swan Foods; fresh meat, M&M Packing Co.; bread products, El Paso Baking Co.; Dairy Products, Bell Dairy; coffee, tea, spice to DeCoty Coffee Co.; refrigerated/frozen food to White Swan Foods and tortillas to La Nortena Tortilla Factory.

All commissioners approved the bids and Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 2 David Castillo abstained from voting on the last item, due to a conflict of interest as one of the owners of La Nortena.

Physician and medical services went to Dr. James Cam, the current provider for the Reeves County Sheriff's Department, and Dr. Joseph Darpolor for the Reeves County Detention Center.

Medical laboratory services were awarded to Trans Pecos Lab, who was the lowest bidder, according to Owens.

A modification on a bid for inmate restraints was approved. "The bid had already been awarded to GT Distributors, Inc.," said Owens. "However, they called and said there were some numbers transposed and re-submitted it," he said.

The bid was actually $500 less and commissioners gladly accepted the change. "They're honest people," said Owens.

Red Bluff board weighs Malaga Bend decisions

Staff Writer

PECOS, December 12, 2000 - After seemingly having no options a couple of months ago on restarting the Malaga Bend salt alleviation project, Red Bluff Water Power Control Board members were debating what to do about two options for getting the long-delayed project underway on Monday, during their regular monthly meeting in Pecos.

Board members discussed, but took no action, on the alternative proposals, along with a separate proposal for Red Bluff to create its own underground water district. They also put off any action on a request by Conoco, Inc. to run a pipeline from Red Bluff Lake to a planned gas field, after no representatives from the company showed up for the 1 p.m. meeting.

Red Bluff's plan to transfer fresh water upstream to be used by Loving Salt Co. was apparently blocked earlier this year by Interstate Stream Commission officials in New Mexico. Loving Salt needed the water to clean equipment that would be used in pumping brine water from Malaga Bend to man-made ponds from which salt would be mined after the water evaporated. Officials hoped the plan would sharply cut the salt levels of the Pecos River in Texas and improve the water quality for area farmers.

In October, Loving Salt president Albert Wager came up with a new plan in which Red Bluff would pay landowners south of Malaga Bend in New Mexico for their water rights, which would then be used to supply Loving Salt with their water.

But on Monday, both Wagner and Red Bluff general manager Jim Ed Miller said they had talked with Pecos River Compact Commissioner J.W. Thrasher, who said New Mexico officials may now allow the transfer of water upstream by Red Bluff.

Wagner said notice of the alternate plan was posted last month in the Carlsbad Current-Argus. "The Interstate Stream Commission did object, but they said they would rescind if Texas and Red Bluff would apply to the (Pecos River Compact) special master to have the compact redone to specify the move of that water.

"J.W. Thrasher was in Santa Fe last week and struck a deal. He thinks they can get the deal done," Wagner said.

Miller said if New Mexico allowed Red Bluff to transfer its water rights upstream, "it would be a lot cheaper," though board members and Wagner wondered if this might create problems with the water rights holders south of Malaga Bend that could jeopardize the tentative deal made for the sale of their water under a one-year contract.

"Why don't we go with J.W. and move the water upstream, and see if we can still go along with this other plan," board president Randall Hartman said, and Miller said he would talk with New Mexico attorney Tom Merrick about either getting a new contract drawn up or reinstituting a contract for water rights transfer drawn up several years ago.

One other problem mentioned by Miller was questions the Bureau of Reclamation had about Loving Salt's environmental procedures. "Tom Bowles and Tim (Brown, lawyers for the district) called and they think the first thing we need to do before we get involved with anything else is to get this thing resolved with the BRC, or we're going to be in a lot of trouble," Miller said.

Miller said the lawyers feared Red Bluff could be held liable for any clean-up once a new agreement with Loving Salt was signed, but Wagner said the two problems cited, batteries left out in the open and leaking hydraulic waste oil, could be cleaned up quickly.

"I do know they will harp on it unless you have a container to contain the oil drip," Hartman said, and Wagner replied the problem could be corrected by today.

Board members were divided on the need to act on an underground water district. The need to create a district was mandated in 1997's Senate Bill 1, but in a letter to the board Brown said Red Bluff would have to go through the procedure of securing sponsors in the Texas House and Senate to create a water district.

"If we want to (create) a district, we do need to go before the legislature, but we can't get it done for this year," Hartman said, meaning any district would have to wait for approval from the 2003 Texas Legislature.

"I think we need to do it, or else somebody else is going to do it," said board member Lloyd Goodrich, while board member and former state legislator Dick Slack said he was "not quite ready to do it yet," because the district could end up as a new taxing entity.

"If we form one under our own boundaries, we don't need to do that," Hartman said, though Goodrich added the district "would still have the ability to tax" and any action on its creation would have to go before the voters.

In other action, cash disbursements, accounts payable and the investment committee report were all approved quickly at the outset of the meeting, and the board was given an update on the Red Bluff Dam gate and tunnel repair project.

Miller said workers for Orion Construction have cut the valves out of the tubes and have burned out the underwater gouges so far. They workers will be taking a break beginning on Thursday, and then will return after Christmas to insert the new stainless steel tubes in the tunnels.

Board members also discussed placing purple "No Hunting" signs around Red Bluff Lake and putting up road signs to direct drivers to the Sandy Beach area at the lake.

Law academy graduates first class from new center

Staff Writer

PECOS, December 12, 2000 - The Pecos Technical Training Center of Odessa College held a graduation ceremony and reception for seven graduates of the 2000 Law Enforcement Academy Friday night at the Reeves County Civic Center

"Odessa College has always had a Law Enforcement Academy in Pecos," Director of OC Pecos Michelle Workman, but this was the first one to utilize the new Pecos Technical Training Center, which was completed in late May.

The graduates included Valedictorian Frank Sanchez, Salutatorian Christopher Derrick, Corey Davis, Jesse Jones, Homar Lopez, Bart Sanchez and Randall Wilson.

Workman said Pecos Police Investigator Paul Deishler has always been in charge of the Academy so her staff didn't have to worry about a thing as far as the Academy went, because Deishler handled everything from the instructors to the graduation ceremony.

"He keeps a good eye on it," she said.

All seven graduates began their studies in the Spring of 2000 and continued for 10 months.

Workman said they would meet from 6 p.m.-10 p.m., Monday-Friday in the spring and fall and from 6 p.m.-10 p.m., Monday-Thursday in the summer.

"It was a long time commitment for them and their families," Workman said.

She said the graduates' families, Deishler, Mayor Ray Ortega, Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney and OC Law Enforcement Department Chair Jim McKown joined the graduates.

"He was very impressed with how hard they worked," Workman said of McKown.

She said Derrick gave a very emotional speech on behalf of the class.

"They've been together for so long that they've become like family," she said.

McKinney gave a speech as guest speaker and Ortega awarded the graduates their diplomas.

Workman said the staff and instructors of OC Pecos are pleased to award all the diplomas to the graduates.

"Overall, we're very proud of these men," she said.

The next session of the Law Enforcement Academy begins in January and would last until December.

Registration for the Law Enforcement Academy as well as all classes for the Spring 2001 semester is the week of January 8.

Pecos to miss worst of winter storm's effects

Staff Writer

PECOS, December 12, 2000 - While Texas may be facing its coldest weather in two years over the next few days, the odds of Pecos seeing any significant snow today and Wednesday has declined from earlier forecasts.

Meteorologist Dan Cook from the National Weather Service in Midland said Pecos has a slight chance of snow today but not much of a chance of freezing rain.

"We're looking for a little bit of snow today," he said.

Cook said the Pecos area was originally expected to see a significant amount of snow but now he believes that there would not be more than one inch of snow.

"I'd be surprised if there's a half-inch," he said.

Cook said that with the little chance of snow there is even a smaller chance of freezing rain, which is good for travelers.

Most of the snow is falling in the Lubbock and Big Bend area with some more further to the south in Mexico.

"Some stuff is kind of coming up from Mexico," Cook said.

But as always the cold weather is not expected to last long.

Temperatures are expected to rise back up in the 40s tomorrow and continue rising later this week.

"It will probably be even warmer the day after," Cook said.

The Panhandle is expected to feel t he worst effects of the Arctic blast's collision with Pacific moisture streaming from Mexico and New Mexico. It is expected to trigger a band of snow and freezing rain across the Panhandle eastward toward northern and central Texas, forecasters say. Temperatures were in the single digits in some parts of the Panhandle.

"Sleet and snow, you can kind-of get around on," National Weather Service meteorologist Skip Ely said. "Freezing rain, that is just miserable."

Snow was also expected in the northwestern half of North Texas, with a mix of freezing rain, sleet and snow by early Wednesday. In the Hill Country and along the Rio Grande, freezing rain and sleet will cause dangerous driving conditions.

The stage was set for the storm on Monday, when the front brought the chilliest conditions in years to parts of Texas. Temperatures dropped to a teeth-chattering 13 degrees in Dalhart, while Amarillo and Borger tumbled to 15 degrees.

Ely said the Panhandle will only see about an inch of snow, but as much as four inches of snow could blanket areas along the Red River as the moisture moves eastward. Freezing rain and sleet could glaze an area from Dallas eastward to Louisiana.

"I don't like it; I don't like cold weather. I like summertime, but I don't like winter," said Mae Frost, 77, a resident of Amarillo for 53 years. "It is not too bad, the sun is out, but the wind chill is terrible. You can't be out too long or you'll freeze."

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Border Patrol agents uncover 88 pounds of cocaine Monday

PECOS, December 12, 2000 - U.S. Border Patrol Agents report making the second major cocaine seizure in just over a week at the Interstate 10 Border Patrol Checkpoint in Sierra Blanca.

The arrest occurred Monday and involved over 88 lbs of cocaine worth an estimated $2.8 million. According to a Border Patrol press release, agents manning the checkpoint also seized $27,000 of currency and two pistols in the incident.

Two people, both United States citizens, were placed under arrest as a result of the seizure. The two subjects, who were not identified, were turned over to Drug Enforcement Agency officials and taken to El Paso.

The arrest took place a week after agents at Sierra Blanca arrested two other people who were traveling on a bus headed from California to Tennessee, after 14 pounds of cocaine was found inside a bag belonging to them, located in the bus' luggage compartment.

Total value of the drugs seized in that incident was put at $448,000.

Entries sought for Christmas Lighting Contest

PECOS, December 12, 2000 - The Christmas Lighting Contest is underway, and the Women's Division of the Pecos Chamber of Commerce is seeking homes for nomination.

Homes can be nominated and called in to the Pecos Chamber of Commerce at 445-2406.

Winning homes will win a prize and a plaque will be placed in the front yard.

Deadline for nominations are at 5 p.m., on Thursdays and a home will be selected each week. Winners will be announced on Fridays.


PECOS, December 12, 2000 - High Monday 66. Low this morning 23. Forecast for tonight: Cloudy and cold with a slight chance of snow. Low around 20. Southeast wind 5 to 14 mph. Chance of snow 20 percent. Little or no additional snow accumulation. Wednesday: Cloudy. High 40 to 45. Southwest wind 10 to 20 mph. Wednesday night: Decreasing cloudiness. Low in the upper 20s. Thursday: Partly cloudy. Lows in the 20s. Highs in the 40s.

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