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Monday, January 8, 2001

RCDC inmate injured in fight in prison yard

Staff Writer

PECOS, January 8, 2001 - A Reeves County Detention Center inmate remains hospitalized after suffering a stab wound, and several other guards and inmates were hurt Saturday after a fight broke out in the recreation yard.

The incident happened at 12:45 p.m., on Saturday when a fight erupted between two rival inmate groups in the recreation yard of the RCDC.

Of the approximate 1,000 inmates at the prison, 36 inmates were involved in the fight, according to a press release from the RCDC.

Warden Rudy Franco said all the prison staff responded to the altercation quickly and professionally including the newer employees.

"All the staff did an outstanding job," he said. "We were able to contain the situation before it escalated into something bigger."

Franco said the staff was able to calm the situation by removing all the fighting inmates.

"We removed all the people involved in the fight," he said. "The fight was contained very shortly after it started."

Three staff members were slightly injured in response to the fight, Franco said. One was kicked in the leg while protecting an inmate who was being attacked and two others suffered minor injuries while responding.

Ten of the 36 inmates were injured and eight were sent to the Emergency Room at Reeves County Hospital.

Seven were treated and released, while one inmate was admitted for observation after suffering from a puncture wound. He was in good condition today, according to RCDC officials.

After the 36 inmates were taken from the recreation yard, the remaining 939 inmates refused to move to their housing units, according to the press release.

Reeves County Sheriff's Deputies and Pecos Police Officers assisted the RCDC staff by guarding the perimeter of the prison grounds until the incident was over.

The remaining inmates indicated to the staff that they were ready to go back in at approximately 6 p.m.

They were then searched and locked down in their housing units, according to the press release.

The 36 inmates were placed in the Special Housing Unit as a result of their participation in the incident.

Franco said that this weekend's incident would not be considered a riot because the altercation was between the inmates with no assault directly on the staff members.

"I don't think we can term this as a riot," he said. "This was a fight between two groups with no property damage."

The last incident at the RCDC happened 18 months ago that included a fight and some property damage.

Franco said an investigation into the fight is continuing and the staff will continue to work to "make sure it doesn't happen again."

Trailer homes suffer heavy damage in fires

Staff Writer

PECOS, January 8, 2001 - Two local families are trying to clean up and move on with their lives after fire swept through their homes in separate incidents this weekend.

Pecos Volunteer Firemen responded to the first incident at 8:30 p.m. Friday, when a trailer house caught at the corner of Sixth and Mesquite Streets.

Pecos Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire said the fire started with a kerosene heater the family was trying to light.

"Whenever they lit the kerosene heater it just started blowing fire," he said.

The family was able to get out of the house safely before the entire trailer was engulfed in flames.

"It didn't take long or it to become fully involved," Brookshire said.

Despite the quick response of the fire units, the trailer home was lost.

Firefighters were called back to the scene about an hour after they left to put out a small fire that rekindled from some embers of the first fire, according to Brookshire.

"In the front of the mobile home, the fire was still burning," he said.

Brookshire did not have the name of the family available.

The second fire erupted around 7:45 p.m. Sunday at another trailer house, just off old FM 1216 near the old Boulder Motel east of Cedar Street.

Brookshire said a gas water heater in the west end of the home started this fire.

He said the fire "ignited under the water heater," and then moved up and then through the wall into the bathroom and bedroom.

The home belongs to Rhonda Wade. Both she and her family were able to escape safely from the house.

Brookshire said Wade was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation but no other injuries were reported.

Most of the major damage was in the west bedroom and bathroom with heavy smoke damage in the rest of the house, according to Brookshire.

Commissioners question delay in finishing RCDC buildings

Staff Writer

PECOS, January 8, 2001 - Finishing touches on the 1,000-bed addition at the Reeves County Detention Center will be completed over the next few weeks, and Reeves County Commissioners approved payments to both the architect and the construction company at this morning's regular Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting.

Architect Lorraine Dailey told commissioners that completion to the point that the entire new section was usable had been accomplished on Dec. 18, but some final touches still needed to be done. Daily said she would continue to come to Reeves County once a week until all the finishing touches had been made.

Storage and support buildings are the only things that need to be completed, according to Dailey.

"Essentially, what we need to happen is have the proper size water-line installed for the new laundry," said Dailey, which is located in one of the buildings that still needs some work done to it.

Part of the problem is the ozone system that is being installed to be used at the facility. "They can still wash and dry their clothes out there for the 500 inmates in that area, but the new system has some glitches," said Dailey.

She said both she and construction manage for Banes General Contractors, Mark Schumacher, had been out at the location trying to find a solution.

"Mark will stay here and do whatever it takes to finish it out," said Dailey.

The laundry area is designed to handle the needs of all 2,000 inmates, according to Dailey.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Herman Tarin asked both Schumacher and Dailey, why the storage buildings were behind schedule.

"Why aren't they fixed by now?" asked Tarin.

"The laundry system construction was a little bit more complicated than what we thought," said Dailey.

"It's more of a construction coordinating issue," said Schumacher.

"I don't see any excuse for this, every time you come to court to ask for money, we've granted it," said Tarin.

"The issue hasn't been money, it's been more of a construction issue," said Schumacher. "It's getting everybody together and working together."

"All the subcontractors are under you aren't they?" asked Tarin.

Schumacher, stated that yes, the sub-contractors were under him, but that the issue is coordination.

"We had focused on getting things ready for the Texas Jail Commission (which visited the prison on Dec. 18) and making sure that part would pass, and everything did," said Schumacher. "Now, we'll re-focus on these remaining buildings."

Commissioners approved a payment of $481,431 to Banes General Contractors. "The total includes $88,000 for general conditions," said Dailey.

"But it doesn't exceed the Guaranteed Maximum Price?" asked Precinct 1 Commissioner Felipe Arredondo.

"We're still under the Guaranteed Maximum Price and last week I gave the court a breakdown by accounts and we can go over those again," said Schumacher.

Another payment of $45,260 was approved for Banes.

"When do you think the four other buildings will be totally completed?" asked Tarin, who chaired the meeting in place of Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo, who was unable to attend.

"We approved all your payments, now we need to know for sure that you're going to complete those buildings as soon as possible," said Tarin.

Schumacher told the court that the laundry, freezer and coolers would definitely be completed by this Friday.

"There's still some shelving and finish out of restroom and offices that need to be done, along with some light fixtures," said Schumacher.

"The tool rooms and secure areas, with chain link fence also need to be completed and that will be taken care of soon also," said Dailey.

The facility will be 98 percent completed by the first week in February with just a few minor details to be ironed out after that.

"Mark understands the urgency and we talked and he said he plans to work faster and complete it as soon as possible," said Dailey.

"It won't be a problem as long as they get their subs out to do the work," she said.

In other action during the morning portion of the meeting, commissioners approved transferring funds from Precinct 2 Commissioner David Castillo's line-item to the Toyah Senior Citizens Center.

"When we talked you told me that you needed about $500 more for the center," said Castillo.

Castillo suggested taking not $500, but $1,000 to help with extra expenses from his out-of-county travel expense budget.

Virginia Gibson and Kay Patterson of Toyah were on hand for the meeting and updated the court on what the center has to offer.

"The senior center is the only thing designated for seniors in Toyah," said Patterson. "Within the building we have a helping hand room and that helps support the program."

Patterson told the group that they serve meals at the center four times a week and employ one person who gets paid, a cook.

"We do have people depending on this program," said Patterson.

Patterson said that individuals use the center for companionship, noon meals and just to find out what's going on in town.

"It's getting harder and harder to find volunteers, because everybody is just getting older," said Patterson.

Patterson said the county does help out some and that they have fundraisers. "We try very hard to hold up our end of it," she said.

"Do you know how many you serve daily?" asked Castillo.

"We usually serve from 4-5 individuals, but we also have a lot of take-outs," said Patterson.

Those individuals that do take-outs include shut-ins and people off the highway that come in and get a meal to go, according to Patterson.

"We have the facilities to package these meals, so they will be hot and safe," said Patterson. "The cook is willing to make as much as is necessary," she said.

The center averages serving over 200 meals a month, and the extra funds are needed to pay the cook.

"I always emphasize how important it is to provide service to the seniors," said Tarin. "I commend Mr. Castillo for donating from his funds to this worthy cause."

"We do appreciate you and everything you do," said Castillo.

Failed drug test sends local man to state prison

Staff Writer

PECOS, January 8, 2001 - A Pecos man will be serving time in state prison, following court proceedings to revoke his probation on Friday in 143rd District Court.

Queston Nabi Barton will be serving seven years in an institutional division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, after District Judge Bob Parks revoked his probation.

Barton violated his probation after he tested positive for cocaine, according to court records.

Judge Parks had originally sentenced Barton to 10 years in prison, probated for 10 years, assessed a $3,000 fine and ordered him to pay $490.18 to Sunday House (Swiss Clock Inn) for a robbery on Nov. 17, 1995.

Barton was convicted by a 143rd District Court jury of robbery, which carried a penalty of 2-to-20 years in prison.

During the 1995 trial, then-District Attorney John Stickels abandoned the state's claim that Barton used a deadly weapon, which constitutes aggravated robbery and carries a penalty of up to 99 years in prison.

The jury found that Barton had not been previously convicted of a felony and recommended probation, which Judge Parks granted, allowing 117 days credit for time that Barton spent in jail since his arrest.

However, at that time, as one of the terms of 10-year probation, Judge Parks ordered Barton to serve six months in county jail, with no credit for time served, perform
250 hours of community service and reimburse Reeves County for $1,000 in
attorney fees, plus $206.50 in court costs.

Cookie sales by Girl Scouts get underway

PECOS, January 8, 2001 - That great American tradition _ the Girl Scout Cookie Sale _ is underway.

Girl Scouts throughout the community will be offering eight different varieties of cookies and girls will be taking orders for cookies from Jan. 6 through Jan. 21 for $3 a box. Cookies will be delivered Feb. 3 through March 4.

Girls Scouts in the Permian Basin have been selling cookies for more than 50 years. In 2000, nearly 265,000 boxes of cookies were sold. Each girl who participates in the cookie sale learns how to set sales goals and how to work to achieve them. They also learn sales techniques, record-keeping, and public relations. Through the cookie sale, girls gain experience and self-confidence.

Proceeds from the cookie sale are used by troops to help fund community service projects, field and camping trips, and to help provide more program opportunities for their troop.

If the Girl Scouts miss you, call the Cookie Hotline at 550-2688.


PECOS, January 8, 2001 - High Sunday 58. Low this morning 28. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Low 25 to 30. Southeast wind 5 to 10 mph. Tuesday: Partly cloudy. High in the mid 50s. Light southeast wind increasing to 10 to 20 mph. Tuesday night: Increasing clouds with a 20 percent chance of showers. Low 35 to 40. Wednesday: Cloudy and cool with a chance of showers. Highs in the1ower 50s. Thursday: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 30s. Highs in the lower 60s.

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