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Monday, January 2, 2001

City selects Criminal Justice Center site

Staff Writer

PECOS, January 2, 2001 - The Town of Pecos City Council approved the recommendation from City Manager Carlos Yerena for the future site of the new Municipal Law Enforcement Center during a special meeting this morning at City Hall.

President of Corplan Corrections James Parkey presented the preferred site for the new center at today's meeting, which is located east of the Reeves County Hospital.

Parkey was scheduled to make the presentation to the council at their December 14 meeting but was unable to make it due to bad weather in Dallas.

The city began discussing construction of the new facility early last year. It serve as Pecos Police Headquarters and house about 100 inmates for the U.S. Marshal's Service who are awaiting trial at the U.S. District Court in Pecos.

Currently, the Marshal's Service inmates are being housed in out-of-town facilities while they await trial in Pecos. The city houses its inmates at the Reeves County Jail, while police headquarters currently is in the City Hall building, at Sixth and Oak streets.

A council-appointed site selection committee including Police Chief Clay McKinney, Parkey, U.S. Marshal Billy Johnson, Mayor Ray Ortega, City Utilities Director Octavio Garcia and Councilman Johnny Terrazas met late last year to go over three possible sites.

Along with the one off Interstate 20 east of the hospital, the others were on land to the west of the hospital and a site between I-20 and West County Road, were the old Airbase Apartments were located.

McKinney said that the committee continued to look at the site proposals weighing the pros and cons of each site and the site east of the hospital continually came out on top.

"With all our requirements and things we were looking for overall it fit our needs better than anything else," he said.

Therefore, Parkey presented the plans to construct the facility on that site to the council this morning.

"We're very happy with this site," Parkey said.

He told the Council that the building would be on two and a half acres of land with enough room to construct the 96-bed facility and offices for the Pecos Police Department.

The site is big enough to add on another 96-beds in the future if needed and would be located next to the north I-20 access road (Pinehurst Street).

McKinney said he and Parkey have a tentative meeting scheduled with the U.S. Marshal's Service and investors on Friday, January 12.

Parkey requested Ortega and Yerena also attend the meeting and asked any councilmen who are able to attend to also show up next week.

Parkey said the Marshal's Service and investors would need to know from the elected officials that they do have a commitment to construct the new facility.

"The investors want to hear it from the man who has the needs," he said.

He explained that Monahans and Upton County (Rankin) are looking into this type of facility and the Marshal's Service is in great need of beds.

"He's (the U.S. Marsha l) worse off now than he was when we met with him a month ago," Parkey said.

Parkey said that Pecos needs to move forward with the construction in order to be able to fill the facility before Monahans or Upton County are able to move in.

"I can not stress how important it is," he said. "You're eight months ahead of anybody else."

Yerena recommended to the council to move on with the site east of the hospital.

"My recommendation is to move forward with the site," he said.

McKinney said that he has done a 100-person survey in the area around the site with a 100 percent response.

"We had a hundred percent positive response," he said.

With the council's approval McKinney said the next steps are to meet with the Marshal's Service, conduct an environmental impact study as well as another feasibility study and get approval from the Texas Attorney General's office.

With all that's needed to be done, the tentative closing date on the project is set for April 6, according to McKinney.

"Construction would soon begin after that," he said.

Corplan has guaranteed a 12-month completion date making it possible that the facility would be finished in April 2002.

Cold weather, ice blamed for crashes east of Pecos

From Staff and Wire Reports

PECOS, January 2, 2001 - For the second Tuesday in a row Pecos residents awoke to wet streets and temperatures hovering around the freezing mark, though the area again escaped the freezing rain that created a series of accidents on icy roads to the east.

At least 32 passengers were injured near Colorado City this morning when a bus hit a patch of ice and overturned on a stretch of Interstate 20, authorities said.

Meanwhile, sections of Loop 250 in Midland were closed by ice, and at least one weather-related fatality was reported in the Midland-Odessa area this morning.

The passengers in the Colorado City wreck were aboard an Americanos bus which overturned on a hill near the Colorado River. The injured were taken to Scenic Mountain Medical Center in Big Spring, said hospital spokeswoman Amber Rich.

"Most of them are cuts and bruises, lots of lacerations," Rich said. "We don't see any life-threatening injuries at this point."

Rich said one of the passengers was in serious condition.

Forty-two people were on board the Americanos bus. Americanos is a Mexican subsidiary of Greyhound Bus Lines, company spokesman Al Penedo said.

The bus originated in Chihuahua, Mexico, traveled to El Paso, and was on its way to Dallas, Penedo said.

The accident occurred at 5 a.m. about a mile west of Colorado City.

Authorities closed a portion of I-20 while emergency crews from Big Spring, Coahoma, and Colorado City were at the scene.

The winter storm is the latest in a series of cold fronts which have helped ease the seven-year drought the Trans-Pecos has suffered through, but which began creating ice-related weather problems in the region in early October, when ice brought down power lines and damaged homes in the Alpine area.

The final rainfall total for 2000 at the Texas A&M Experiment Station west of Pecos was 8.72 inches. That's below the normal yearly average for the area, but still above the totals for 1998 and 1999.

A final total for 2000 in Pecos was not available today, but the city received only 4.02 inches of rain in 1999 and just 61/2 inches in 1998.

Pecos has escaped any icy weather so far this winter. Temperatures a week ago stayed just warm enough to avoid the hazardous conditions that led to a series of accidents on Interstate 10 to the south of town and on U.S. 285 north of Pecos, while this morning a light mist coated streets but never froze over, as temperatures in town remained just above freezing.

The Texas Department of Public Safety reported no accidents this morning due to weather in the Pecos area, though drivers were warned to be careful traveling east to the Midland-0dessa area.

Today's icy roads in the eastern Permian Basin come after snow and ice caused problems over the New Year's holiday in North and East Texas, and hampered efforts to restore power to customers in far northeastern Texas who have been without electricity since Christmas weekend.

County seeking solution for cramped courthouse

Staff Writer

PECOS, January 2, 2001 - Reeves County Commissioners approved a resolution in support of the Federal Off-System Bridge Program and talked about solutions for workspace for the county auditor's and district clerk's offices.

Commissioners discussed at length finding additional workspace for County Auditor Lynn Owens and his staff and possible storage space for records for both the auditor and the district clerk's office.

"The county auditor is in dire need of workspace and we are in the process of trying to solve that problem and the problem of storage space for valuable records," said County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.

Commissioners talked about several options to the workspace and storage space issue, including finding an empty building to be used for storage.

"There are a lot of buildings that have been struck off through unpaid taxes," said Galindo. "That's one of the options, is to look into possibly purchasing one of these buildings or leasing one," he said.

Galindo said the buildings purchased by the county located on Balmorhea Highway could be used for storage space, but Owens questioned the safety of these buildings.

"They're all the way out there and if someone broke in and destroyed the records or did something to them, we wouldn't find out until we went to look for something," said Owens.

Another possibility was purchasing the old Buster's Barn building located near the courthouse, in the 300 block of South Oak Street.

"You also have to be close by, judge," said Owens. "And the district clerk really needs more space to work in and for storage.

Galindo suggested that the county auditor and his staff move into his office space located on the third floor of the courthouse, leaving the auditor's empty office for the 143rd District Clerk's office.

"That would be killing two birds with one stone," said Galindo.

Galindo and his staff would move into a portable building owned by the county and currently being used at the Reeves County Detention Center, where the facility's 1,000 bed expansion is wrapping up.

"You own that portable building," said Banes General Contractor manager Mark Schumacher.

"If this is enough space for you, we could convert it into office space," said Galindo. "I've already talked to Judge Green and he agreed that when necessary he would use the courtroom on the second floor," he said.

Commissioners also looked at the use of the upper floors of the old United States Federal Courthouse, across the street from the Reeves County Courthouse, but balked at the $70,000 price tag sought by the federal government. The U.S. Postal Service still uses the first of the courthouse, but the top two floors have been vacant since the new federal courthouse was completed in 1995.

Commissioners agreed to move the portable building either in close proximity to the courthouse or into a vacant lot across Fourth Street for use by Galindo and his staff. The county auditor and his staff would move to the third floor, leaving his empty office located right next to the district clerk's office, for the district clerk and her staff.

"This is a temporary solution to the workspace problem," said Galindo.

Galindo and the commissioners also agreed to get together with the individuals needing storage space and talk about the possibility of purchasing a building or finding a permanent solution.

"I think we need to get these people together and possibly go into executive session to discuss particular buildings and come up with a permanent solution to the storage space problem," said Galindo. "We need to make this a team effort."

On the road improvement projects, Galindo said, "In keeping with our previous discussion that we had with road administrator Russ Salcido and the Texas Department of Transportation, we're presenting this resolution," which involves seeking available state funds to help with the work.

The resolution reads in part that the Odessa District of the Texas Department of Transportation has determined that the Salt Draw structure on County Road 223, and the Madera Diversion Canal structure on County Road 326 are presently maintained by the County of Reeves, and may meet the requirements for funding under the Federal Off-System Bridge Program as per the Texas Administrative Code (TAC), Title 43 (43 TAC 15.52 and 15.55(d) and that Reeves County fully supports the Federal Off-System Bridge Program and requests each of these aforementioned structures to be submitted for inclusion in this program.

The county will be responsible for 100 percent of the necessary right-of-way acquisition and utility adjustments, including any necessary hazardous material clean-up and fencing, as well as all local funding requirements the program necessitates for program participation and Reeves County is aware that available funding for rehabilitation/replacement of the structures may not be available until after FY 2004.

"Are these the only two bridges included?" asked Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 3 Herman Tarin.

"At this time they are, but hopefully we'll be able to work on more in the future," said Salcido.

"I think it's great that the Texas Department of Transportation is doing this, because it helps Reeves County tremendously," said Tarin.

"On 231 they're just widening it and putting in guardrails," said Salcido.

Galindo said that the percent match coming from the county could be in-kind services. "There could be other ways for the match, such as guardrails or reflectors, which can be used as in-kind services," he said. "We just have to keep detailed records."

GED, ESOL sign-ups set tonight at Lamar

PECOS, January 2, 2001 - Registration for GED and ESOL will be held from 6-8:30 p.m., today at Lamar Middle School.

Registration at this time is for new students only.

The program is sponsored by Odessa College and the classes are free.

For more information call 445-1146.


Nancy Dean, Rex C. Griffin,Geronimo Lara


PECOS, January 2, 2001 - High Monday 51. Low this morning 32. Forecast for tonight: Mostly cloudy. Low in the mid 20s. North wind 5 to 15 mph. Wednesday: Sunny. High 50 to 55. Northwest wind 5 to 15 mph. Wednesday night: Clear. Low near 30.

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