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Tuesday, April 24, 2001

County studies RCDC 960-bed expansion

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., April 24, 2001 -- A preliminary architectural design and a presentation by Carothers  for the construction of a Reeves County Detention Center III were topics  of discussion at a lengthy meeting held by the Reeves  County Commissioners Court Monday morning.

The group met on the third floor of the courthouse Monday to discuss several items, including the construction of an addition to the Reeves County Detention Center that would increase the 2,000-bed prison's capacity by nearly 33 percent.

Architect Lorraine Dailey, with Dailey, Rabke and Gondeck Architects/Planners, was on hand at the afternoon session of the court to show the group a preliminary design for RCDC III.

Dailey told the group that the design was at the 50 percent level and went over some of the concepts and a timeline for the project, which would bring capacity at the prison to just under 3,000 inmates.

"The drawing has been sent to the Texas Jail Commission and it has been approved, except for our health services," said Dailey.

Dailey told the group that the Texas Jail Commission had questioned the infirmary layout and the lack of beds. "BOP has a hospital that we send the inmates to and we have sent the jail commission our response," she said.

The 960-bed addition will include 11 new buildings and room for additional beds, according to Dailey.

"It will have a central warehouse, where all the goods will be delivered and stored here," said Dailey. "The items will be transported by RCDC staff into the institution and a motor pool will be included in the design," she said.

Dailey told the group that the design has some similarities with the just-completed RCDC II and that she had spoken at length with the staff about new ideas and ways to make the facility more efficient.

Commissioners opted to put the architectural design on hold, but approved a resolution to authorize Barry Friedman, President of Carlyle Capitol Markets, who financed the original prison in 1986, to move forward to secure the financing for the additional 960-bed facility.

"We authorized Barry to begin the process of financing, getting credit ratings and credit enhancements for the project along with letting the investors of RCDC II know that we are considering an RCDC III," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.

Galindo said that this was the preliminary step in that direction, but that first they had to talk to the Town of Pecos City about where or not they can provide water or the facility has to secure their own source of water.

"We have to talk to them first about securing drinking water and sewage disposal services," said Galindo. The problem of building a new water line to the prison was one of the main problems encountered last year during construction of RCDC II.

Commissioners also tabled any action on securing the business of Carothers Construction, Inc., out of Water Valley, Mississippi, who provided a construction management at-risk presentation on building the latest addition to the facility.

Steve Hartsuff, marketing director for Carothers, did the presentation, while other members of the company sat in the audience and answered questions for the commissioners, including company president Sean Carothers.

Banes General Construction handled the work on RCDC II and on previous smaller expansions of the detention center, but Hartsuff told the group that if they did hire Carothers, John Wood, onsite construction manager would move to Pecos while the construction was on-going.

"We will also include a full-time on-site logging control manager," said Hartsuff.

Hartsuff told the group that they had performed a number of functions already for the RCDC III and realized that the main concerns were cost, schedule, quality and safety.

"And we can assure you that we can provide all of these," he said.

Hartsuff gave an overview of the company's history and what it had to offer.

"Even though we work out of Mississippi, we are used to traveling and working in different parts of the country," he said.

"How many projects are you working on right now," asked Precinct 1 Commissioner Felipe Arredondo.

"Right now, we have about 20-25, but that's typical for us," said Hartsuff. "I'm in daily contact with all our projects."

The company also talked about the bidding process, project planning phase and assured commissioners that if they chose their company to work on the project, it would be completed in time.

"We assure you that this project will be complete within the time frame," said Hartsuff.

Galindo said that the county still needed to talk to the city about the water issue and proceed from there.

Redistricting plan would shift county into Gallego's district

From Staff and Wire Reports
PECOS, Tues., April 24, 2001 -- Representative Pete Gallego of Alpine would become  Reeves County's legislator in the Texas House of Representatives under  a plan announced Tuesday by the chairman of the House  Redistricting Committee.

House members were given a basic plan on redistricting that creates new districts in the Rio Grande Valley, Central Texas and the Houston and Dallas areas while cutting the number of districts in West Texas, to reflect the population shift away from western sections of the state.

The proposal immediately drew criticism from the Republican Party of Texas, which said the plan unfairly protects Democratic leaders.

The plan presented by Rep. Delwin Jones, chairman of the House Redistricting Committee, places nine new districts where Jones said Texas has experienced most of its population growth over the past decade.

"Our basic goal from the start was to produce a fair and a legal plan for you members of this House," Jones, R-Lubbock, said during the House session. "This we have done."

"I hope that all interested parties recognize that everyone included in this process - myself, my committee members, our legislative leaders and all of our staff people - have kept fairness, integrity, legality and compassion (utmost) in our mind as we developed a plan," he said.

"The House redistricting plan released today is a thinly veiled attempt to protect the careers of Speaker Pete Laney and incumbent politicians," said Susan Weddington, GOP chairwoman.

One of the districts most heavily affected by Jones' plan will be District 80, represented by Republican Gary Walker of Plains, who will lose over half the counties from his current district, including Reeves, Loving and Winkler counties, under Jones' plan.

"There are four counties, including my home county (Yoakum) which are attatched to Lubbock to make a district," Walker said. "I do not have Andrews, Winkler, Loving, Reeves, Hockley, Martin or Dawson."

Walker said under the plan Reeves, Loving and Winkler counties will be moved into District 74, which is represented by Gallego, who is considered one of the most influential Democrats in the Texas House. Andrews County will be paired in a district with Ector County, while Martin County will be in with Midland County and Dawson will be moved to a district stretching towards the Abilene area.

Walker said the plan isn't final and Reeves County could end up remaining in District 80 when the new redistricting map is finally approved, but Walker said with the gains in population along the I-35/I-45 corridors and the losses in West Texas, "We knew this was coming."

"I've never been through a redistricting session, but even if I had this one is a lot different from the past," said Walker. He explained that a more evenly-divided legislature and better map drawing techniques are reasons for the differences.

The Texas Legislature must come up with new political boundaries once a decade after new census figures are released. The redistricting covers the state House and Senate, the Texas congressional delegation and the State Board of Education.

Jones presented the first copy of the map and accompanying material to Laney, a Democrat from Hale Center.

Though he did not discuss in the House chamber which of the state's regions will lose the most representation under his plan, in the past Jones has said rural West Texas and East Texas were expected to lose out to fast-growing suburban areas around big cities.

Two of the new districts in his proposal would be located in the suburban Dallas-Fort Worth area, Jones said.

Another would be a predominantly Hispanic district in the Rio Grande Valley; three would be in the Harris County area; and three would be in Central Texas in Williamson, Travis and Bell counties.

Rep. Fred Bosse, D-Houston, submitted the local plan and admits it was designed to protect the county's 14 incumbent Democrats. Harris County Republican members have not yet submitted an alternative countywide plan to the House Redistricting Committee.

Harris County's House delegation chairwoman, Rep. Peggy Hamric, said a Republican plan for the district will include 25 seats and will have more of a Republican tilt.

"There's a little bit of creative drawing going on here," Hamric, R-Houston, told the Houston Chronicle in Tuesday's editions. "This is a partisan process and I'm partisan, but for the good of the county, regardless of whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, we need to maintain our 25."

Jones said his plan attempts to keep as many current districts intact as possible. He said the plan follows all federal laws regarding redistricting and keeps court mandates in mind.

A public hearing on the proposal was scheduled for Wednesday.

State senators already have received a proposed Senate redistricting plan.

A congressional plan, which will be developed by the Texas Legislature, has yet to be made public.

First group of grads happy with Welfare to Work class

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., April 24, 2001 -- Local residents who completed a new training program recently  are ready to go out and find jobs, and are quick to recommend the program  to others looking for employment.

The Welfare to Work program is a relatively new program, which began this past January, according to Elva Arreguy, manager of the Texas Workforce Commission.

The Texas Workforce Center and Odessa College are offering the program to the Reeves County welfare recipients. The three-week class focuses on "Job Readiness" and is offered at the Pecos Technical Training Center (Odessa College Pecos Extension) on an ongoing basis.

The class activities include personal discovery, career exploration, communication skills, money management, health and nutrition, family and childcare, education and culture.

Arreguy added those enrolled also are trained in "resume writing, completing work applications and job search."

Supportive services are provided to those participants in need of transportation, daycare, or clothing to enable them to attend class or job interviews and/or jobs.

"The participants are also offered incentive payments for completing class with a perfect attendance and satisfactory class participation," said WTW case manager Elsa Velasquez.

The first class of four participants began on March 5 and ended on March 30, and Mary Lou Arenivas was the first to receive an incentive award of $100 for excellent participation and attendance.

"I really recommend this program," said Arenivas. "I enjoyed it very much and felt I got a lot out of it."

The WTW program is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Labor. These funds assist states and local communities in the creation of additional job opportunities for welfare (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families — TANF), recipients by providing job placement services, transitional employment and supportive services needed to make a successful progression into long-term employment.

In turn, businesses have the opportunity to train recipients for up to three months with subsidized employment and may be eligible for Work Opportunity Tax Credit, (WOTC).

Michelle Workman, OC Technical Center Director, and Zane Windham, instructor, have been of great assistance in implementing this program, according to Arreguy.

She and Velasquez oversee the program and welcome any TANF/Welfare recipients who are interested.

Other members of the group who completed the program include, Maria Elena Luna, Jose Hernandez and Antonio Gonzales.

Maria Elena Luna said that her desire is to further her education and possibly go into nursing or teaching. "I'd like to be a teacher's assistant or a nurse someday," said Luna.

"I really recommend this program, I've already recommended it to my daughter," said Luna.

Jose Hernandez said that he was currently looking for a job. "I hope to get a good job someday, study more and go into politics," he said. "I really like politics."

Antonio Gonzales said that his first step in the right direction would be to find a job. "I'll take it from there," he said.

For more information on this or other programs, contact Velasquez at the TWC office, 215 W. Second St., or call 445-9664.

Giving privileges to new docs part of RCH's agenda

PECOS, Tues., April 24, 2001 -- The Reeves County Hospital Board of Directors is scheduled  to consider appointing active staff and clinical privileges for a  surgical doctor as well as an emergency doctor during their regular  monthly meeting, at 6 p.m., tonight in the classroom at Reeves  County Hospital.

Akbar Ali, MD, a surgical doctor and Michael Woollends, MD, an emergency room doctor, have asked the Board to consider appointing the staff privileges to them.

The Board will also discuss the attending the Texas Hospital Trustees meeting to be held on June 2 as well as the Texas Hospital Association Convention on June 3-5.

During Executive Session the Board will meet with the Hospital Attorney.

Linda Gholsen is scheduled to give the Board a report on the recent Reeves County Health Fair.

The Board will also receive reports from the Hospital Auxiliary, the Joint Conference Committee and RCH Administrator Richard Murphy.


PECOS, Tues., April 24, 2001 -- High Monday 77. Low this morning 44. Forecast for  tonight: Mostly clear. Low in the mid 40s. Southeast wind 5 to 15 mph.   Wednesday: Mostly sunny. High near 80. Southeast wind 10 to  20 mph. Wednesday night: Mostly clear. Low in the mid 40s.  Thursday and Friday: Mostly clear. Lows from the upper 40s to the mid 50s.  Highs from the mid 80s to near 90.

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