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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Monday, November 5, 2001

County beginning work on new RCDC project

Staff Writer
PECOS, Mon., Nov. 5, 2001 -- About 95 percent of the bid packages have been awarded and construction has already begun on the Reeves County Detention Center III expansion project, designed to add another 960 beds onto the 2,000-bed prison.

Reeves County Commissioners met last week during special meetings to discuss the construction of the facility and to award bid packages to sub-contractors.

Carothers Construction, Inc. is in charge of the project, which is scheduled to be complete by January 2003.

"We've awarded 95 percent of the contracts for the construction of RCDC-III," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.

The project will add about 200 more jobs to the community and filling those positions will not be a problem, according to Galindo.

"I don't think filling those positions will be a problem, because the salaries have become much more competitive," said Galindo. "This project will only enhance the economy in the community and provide a more stable environment."

Architect Lorraine Dailey, with Rabke, Dailey and Gondeck Architects, said that a new concept is being used for the design of the new addition that will help the staff and create a better atmosphere for the inmates. "It's very open and the staff won't have to go through a lot of gates to go where they need to," said Dailey, who was the architect in charge of designing RCDC-II.

"The kitchen and dining area will be fenced off, with the vocational and education building on the northeast end of the facility," said Dailey. "The outdoor recreation area is being placed as far away from the other one, on the northwest corner."

The wardens and associates buildings will be placed in the center, similar to the RCDC-II design that was completed late last year. "These are individuals that have to deal with both staff and inmates on a daily basis, and this makes it easier for them," she said.

The concept was to try and save as much money and time as possible, while still building a facility that will serve both the staff and the inmates the best.

"This concept is to square the buildings, make them rectangular which makes them more cost-effective," Dailey said. "With RCDC-I, we had about 260 inmates on an average, if we square off the buildings, we can have six units with 48 dormitories."

"We'll have a better design and increase the number of inmates in the dormitories," she said.

Dailey said that 14 contractors have already signed up with the owner of the construction company in charge of the addition.

"This is a similar concept to RCDC-II, there will be no blind spots for the officers," said Dailey.

Dailey said that there would be one maid corridor, six day dormitories and six day rooms and in the middle will be an officers station. "They will be able to see the other officers and inmates at all times," said Dailey.

Construction at the facility is on schedule with the completion date set for January 23, according to Galindo.

"There will be a total of 3,000 beds, with the creation of 200 new jobs with average salaries between $28,000-$30,000," said Galindo.

Galindo said that the plans are going well. "We hope that with the creation of these new positions, the economy in our community will prosper," said Galindo.

Few local voters opt to cast ballots on amendments

From Staff and Wire Reports
PECOS, Mon., Nov. 5, 2001 -- Reeves County voters failed to turn out in big numbers for early voting on the 19 amendement proposals to the Texas Constitution, but will get one more chance to cast their ballots on Tuesday, when polls are open in the county from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Fewer than 100 registered voters in Reeves County chose to vote for the 19 different propositions in early voting for the constitutional amendment election over the past two weeks.

Reeves County Clerk Diane Florez said that 95 people voted by personal appearance over the two weeks at the Reeves County Courthouse.

Only four people requested mail-in ballots with three of them already returned, according to Florez.

With mayoral elections on the ballot in Houston and Austin, turnout in those two cities are expected to be heavier than elsewhere in the state. Houston also had a vote on the city's proposed light rail system on Tuesday's ballot, and Harris County voters will also be among those in 14 Texas counties who will be using the same type of punch card ballots that plagued Florida election officials a year ago.

Although punch card voting is being phased out across the state, election officials in 14 Texas counties, including Reeves County, continue to use the old system. It includes the highly criticized butterfly ballots - complete with hanging, dimpled, and pregnant chads.

None of the state's 254 counties has been allowed to buy punch-card voting systems since Sept. 1. But state legislators stopped short earlier this year of outlawing punch-card voting in Texas.

The effort stalled when a price tag of $25 million was presented to replace the systems.

No problems were reported in Reeves County with the punch card ballot system during this past May's city, hospital district and school board elections. The system will again be used on Tuesday, though due to the expected low turnout of voters, several voting precincts have been consolidated.

Florez said that voters in voting boxes one through three, seven, eight, ten through 12 need to go to the Reeves County Civic Center to vote.

Box four voters would vote at Toyah City Hall, box five at Balmorhea Fire Hall, box six at Saragosa Multi-purpose Center and box nine at the Orla Red Bluff Office.

Florez said that anybody interested in looking over sample ballots might contact her at the Reeves County Courthouse or at the voting sites.

"If you want copies of samples you can go to the voting boxes or at my office," she said.

The County Clerk's Office in the Courthouse would close for regular business at 1 p.m. Tuesday, according to Florez.

She said that the office would only be conducting business pertaining to the election.

For more information on election times or proposed amendments, contact Florez at 445-5467.

Constitutional amendment list for election ballot

PECOS, Mon., Nov. 5, 2001 -- Here is a list of the 19 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution which voters will be casting ballots for or against on Tuesday. The summaries of the amendments, along with the arguments for and against each were provided by the Plano-based Free Market Foundation:

Amendment 1
Settles land-title dispute between private landowners in Bastrop County and the state.

Arguments For: Enables innocent landowners, who have legally purchase and paid taxes on the land, to have a clear title and to sell it. Saves state money in anticipated court fights. State retains mineral rights (e.g. oil). Increases private property ownership.

Arguments Against: Texas loses $383,000 (the value of Bastrop County strip of land. Courts, not voters, should settle land-title disputes.

Amendment 2
Creates a roadway bond program for 2000 miles of road to colonias (rural residential subdivisions) along the Texas-Mexico border.

Arguments For: Invests in an impoverished area with high infrastructure needs by allowing state to build roads on private property. Provides access for school buses. Addresses a problem expected to worsen due to growing border population and NAFTA.

Arguments Against: Since colonias are on private property, regrettable, it isn't the state's responsibility. Half a billion dollars over 12 years has already been spent to address colonias problems. No study has been done to give taxpayers an idea of how many roads are needed and who pays long-term maintenance, especially for this flood-prone area.

Amendment 3
Authorizes tax exemptions for raw coca and green coffee held in Harris County so the NY Board of Trade can designate it as an official exchange port.

Arguments For: Brings global recognition and marketing power to Houston by making it 1 of only 4 coffee ports in nation. Creates jobs through estimate 5 to 10 new warehouses needed. Increases property taxes through new residents and construction. Doesn't import to West Africa or condone human-rights violations in that area.

Arguments Against: Reduces tax revenue for local government and schools. Sets bad precedent by favoring one industry. Overlooks human-rights records of these industries. Doesn't give other ports in Texas special tax breaks.

Amendment 4
Increases the Fire Fighters' Pension Commissioner term from 2 to 4 years.

Arguments For: Ensures continuity and experience in position oversight of pension fund administration.

Arguments Against: Appointment process not cumbersome or disruptive, especially if reappointed. Position needs to be abolished altogether; state has shifted oversight to other agencies. Expanding the term gives the impression it is more important than it really is.

Amendment 5
Authorizes municipalities to donate outdated or surplus firefighting equipment, supplies or other materials to an underdeveloped country.

Arguments For: Opportunity for good willing gestures to Mexico. Protects Texas borders cities vulnerable from Mexicans fires. Municipalities paid for it; they should be able to dispose of it as they see fit.

Arguments Against: Texas fire departments that need equipment (paid for by taxpayers) should get first priority, not foreign governments. No state oversight once it was donated (i.e. Mexico could donate it to Cuba). Denies opportunity to sell at reduced cost. Questionable whether Mexico could afford the maintenance.

Amendment 6
Requires Governor to call a special session to appoint presidential electors if election could not be determines by the certification deadline.

Arguments For: Eliminates confusion caused by 2000 presidential election. Ensures that Texas electoral votes would not be lost. Boosts confidence among voters.

Arguments Against: Language requires the governor to call a special session. Could open the door to similar bills that take away from the governor his constitutional right of sole discretion to call a special session. Partisan legislature could circumvent the will of the voters and appoint electors pledged to the candidate who didn't win Texas.

Amendment 7
Authorizes $500 million in bond for Veterans' Housing Loans and Cemeteries.

Arguments For: Supports increasing demand for veterans' home mortgage loans. Veterans' loan programs are self-sufficient, and Texans would not be responsible for paying default loans. Gives flexibility to develop a state veterans' cemetery program.

Arguments Against: Increases state debt. Grants special status to one group of people. Veterans are already eligible for vast amounts of aid available through other means. Doesn't authorize funds for increasing veteran's housing services that are needed more.

Amendment 8
Authorizes $850 million in bonds for construction, repair projects and needed equipment for 13 government agencies.

Arguments For: Significant unbudgeted repair needs exist, such as construction and repair; waiting will cause them to get worse, costing the state even more. Legislature retains flexibility of how to use funds and maintains oversight of agencies spending. Legislature has a good record in its use of bonds.

Arguments Against: Acts as a blank check for Legislature. Penalizes agencies that budget predictable costs such as repairs. Some agencies have questionable histories of managing their finances, budgets and construction projects.

Amendment 9
Authorizes Legislature to fill a vacancy without an election if the candidate is running unopposed.

Arguments For: Spares states and countries unnecessary expenses and administrative burden. Ample time already exists for write-in candidates; therefore, would not discourage anyone running for office or interfere with voting right.

Arguments Against: Denies principle that leaders are elected by the people, not appointed. Deprives voters' privileges to vote and to know who their elected leaders are. Opens the door to pass legislation eliminating write-in candidates after the official filing date. Deprives candidates of opportunity to gain visibility by campaigning. Denies voters chance to write in candidates at the voting booth.

Amendment 10
Exempts goods property tax or products stored temporarily en route to another location in Texas.

Arguments For: Reduces taxes. Helps Texas regain its share of lucrative warehousing and distribution markets. Currently, taxes loses an estimated 27, 000 manufacturing jobs, many to border states that don't have this tax. School districts and local governments can opt out of tax exemption. Fixes lack of uniformity in current tax policy.

Arguments Against: Businesses could just relocate to areas that provide the tax exemptions, this could hurt small and rural communities that depend primarily on a few large businesses and the taxes they provide. Estimate losses to state would be $36 million in fiscal year of 2004. Easy to cheat and claim exemptions for goods not meant for shipment.

Amendment 11
Allow schoolteachers to receive pay for serving on local government boards.

Arguments For: urrent policy discourages well-educated members of society from being active in community. These positions generally pay low anyway and require a second job to make a living. Since most current board members have another full-time job, current policy discriminates against teachers.

Arguments Against: Texas voters rejected a similar proposition in 1999. Creates a conflict of interest, when taxpayers pay a person's salary, they expect total commitment to the job. Better alternative would be to eliminate restrictions on all state employees, not just teachers.

Amendment 12
Eliminates obsolete, archaic, redundant and necessary provisions from the Constitution.

Arguments For: Deletes obsolete provisions-revising outdated voting practices; reallocating "dead" funds sitting in defunct agencies to appropriate existing agencies, etc. All changes are minor and not controversial (i.e. spelling, grammar). None warrant their own proposition.

Arguments Against: Changes a large number of provisions; some may not have been examined fully. Makes more sense to overhaul the entire Constitution to make it appropriate for new century.

Amendment 13
Allows school districts to donate old schoolhouses for historic prevention.

Arguments For: Gives schoolhouses to community organizations that already maintain the old buildings and pay for all operating costs. No taxpayer funds have been used on these old schoolhouses for 50 years, and they have no realistic value for future educational purposes.

Arguments Against: "Historical" status should be determined on a case-by-case basis. Historical Commission gains strength; could force districts to donate buildings prematurely.

Amendment 14
Grants a personal property tax exemption to travel trailers that are not held or used for the production of income.

Arguments For: Promotes tourism in sagging industry. People will visit the state more often for longer periods of time. Saves state money; current tax policy has led to class-action lawsuits. Proposition would not exempt trailers from school property taxes.

Arguments Against: Semi-permanent residents should pay fair share to taxes. Unfair to tax poor families in substandard homes in nearly colonias while exempting affluent retires living in trailers that cost as much as $40,000. Doesn't dive much relief; owners still have to pay school property taxes, while is the bulk of bill.

Amendment 15
Creates a Highway Bond Fund, allowing state spending on toll roads and other mobility projects.

Arguments For: Innovative new way to fund projects. Build highways sooner instead of current method of paying-as-you-go; lost time results in missed entomic opportunities and reduced quality of life. The fund must contain 110% of money necessary to pay principal and interest. Legislatures have no access to the fund; can't raid it for unrelated spending projects.

Arguments Against: Money raised through tolls is not required to repay state highways fund; could be used to fund unrelated spending projects. Hidden tax for big city drivers; toll collected in 1 city would pay for toll roads in other cities. Borrowing money makes highways more highways more expensive in long run due to debt service. Undermines legislative oversight; it loses control over how money is spent or allocated. Toll roads represent double taxation (gas taxes, vehicle registration taxes, auto supply retailers); shouldn't encourage building more.

Amendment 16
Shortens the waiting period for a home equality loan from 12 days to 5 days.

Arguments For: Home equity loans are only the only type that requires a waiting period. Current waiting periods is too long to wait for urgent repairs. Encourages applying for there types of loans. Which lave lower interest rates. The 3-day right to repeal remains intact.

Arguments Against: Voters approved 12-day waiting period in 1997. These loans are risk since homeowners must use their most valuable asset-their house-as collateral. If they can't make loan payments, they lose their house to foreclosure. Shortening the waiting period would also make it easier for unscrupulous solicitors to push expensive repair contracts.

Amendment 17
Settles land-title disputes between the state and private landowner without needing a Constitutional Amendment.

Arguments For: Authorizes Legislatures to relinquish claim to certain land, except for mineral rights, and to clear title defects for the private homeowners of that land. Saves the expense and trouble of constitutional amendment every election (see Amendment 10. As many as 1,000 claims remain to be resolve.

Arguments Against: The Legislature and voters should settle and land title disputes on a case-by case basis; the land could be valuable (e. g. oil) and the state's interest should be protected. The exact number of future claims cannot be known because a complete survey of all public school lands in Texas is expensive.

Amendment 18
Consolidates and standardizes court fees.

Arguments For: Minimize complexity in court fee administration. Spears state and countries unnecessary expenses and administrative burden. Reduces appeals and larger caseloads in the courts. Fees can be added necessary in future.

Arguments Against: Could invalidate courts fees that don't follow the new system; state losses money. Long wait to add new fees since the Legislature; whish must approve them, only meets every 2 years. Enables legislation not in place yet; won't take effect for 2 years.

Amendment 19
Authorizes $2 billion in water projects Bonds.

Arguments For: Bonds would back state loans to local governments for water supply projects such as floods control and water quality. The loans offer a lower interest rate than other institutions. Helps cities address and anticipate water needs due to growing population. Promotes economic development and better living conditions throughout Texas.

Arguments Against: The $490 million remaining in the Texas Water Development Boards should be sufficient through next 50 years. Many projects have not been through a rigorous cost-benefit analysis. Projects could create environmental problems. Water conservation management programs are better investment.

Christmas for Kids BBQ sale collects over $1,300

Staff Writer
PECOS, Mon., Nov. 5, 2001 -- Members of the Reeves County Sheriff's Posse as well as many other volunteers were able to raise approximately $1,300 during the barbecue plate sale that benefits Christmas for Kids on Saturday at the Posse Barn.

Christmas for Kids Co-Coordinator Sophia Baeza said that the barbecue sale went well and raised more money than last year.

"We raised about $200 more than we did last year," she said.

Christmas for Kids is the organization that raises money to be used to buy gifts for children in Pecos who otherwise would not receive gifts for Christmas.

Baeza said that the money goes toward buying clothes, shoes and jackets for the children "to keep them warm and keep them in school."

The organization, which started in 1996 helping 186 children, was able to give gifts to 511 children last Christmas.

Baeza said that the barbecue sale was so successful that the volunteers ran out of food by 2 p.m.

"We did sell out before two," she said. "We want to apologize for that because we advertised that we'd be open until three."

Baeza said that she and Co-Coordinator Linda Clark are proud of the many people who helped out with the sale.

"We want to thank everybody that participated," she said.

Baeza said that the organization has a goal set that they hope to achieve for benefit of the children.

"We're trying to make a goal of $6,000 to keep helping these kids have a Merry Christmas," she said.

The next fund-raiser for the organization is this weekend, when members of the organization along with junior high and high school students go door-to-door taking donations for the children.

Baeza said that they will also be set up at the intersections of Seventh and Eddy as well as Third and Cedar Streets.

Kindergarten planning turkey drawing benefit

PECOS, Mon., Nov. 5, 2001 -- Pecos Kindergarten is holding a fundraiser in the weeks leading up to the Thanksgiving holidays.

Tickets for a Turkey-giveaway can be purchased at the school for $1, beginning today.

County Clerk's office closing early Tuesday

PECOS, Mon., Nov. 5, 2001 -- The Reeves County Clerk's Office will be closed beginning at 1 p.m., on Tuesday, Nov., due to the Constitutional Amendment Election.

The office will re-open at 8 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 7.


PECOS, Mon., Nov. 5, 2001 -- High Sun. 77. Low this morning 49. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy with isolated showers. Lows 50 to 55. SE winds 5 to 15 mph. Tues., Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 70s. South winds 5 to 15 mph. Tues. night: Partly cloudy. Lows near 50. Wed.: Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 70s. Thurs.: Partly cloudy: Windy: And cooler with a slight chance of showers or thunderstorms. Lows near 50. Highs in the 60s.


Manuela Chavez and Angel Gonzales

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