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Economic Development


Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, November 4, 2003

County, Wackenhut sign 10-year RCDC deal

Firm to fund December bond payment, eliminate 91 jobs at prison

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., Nov. 4, 2003 -- After a lengthy discussion Monday evening, Reeves County Commissioners signed a 10-year contract with Wackenhut Corrections Corporation for the management/lease of the $89 million Reeves County Detention Center, which will call for a 21 percent reduction in staff.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo said that the county had done everything they could to bring in inmates in to the facility, which the contract states is licensed for 3,025 beds, but that now it was time to make a decision. The county has been able to fill only about 15 percent of the beds in the new RCDC III unit, which left it short of funds to meet bond payments on the prison.

"We appreciate Wackenhut Corrections Corporation entering in to a partnership with Reeves County," said Galindo. "In order to survive, we need to seek help from outside sources and Wackenhut Corrections Corporation has definitely stepped up to the plate."

The new deal will result in the loss of about 91 jobs at the prison, based on job numbers provided by Reeves County Treasurer Linda Clark. There are currently 435 employees at the facility and the contract calls for 344.

However, under the terms of the contract those workers laid off in Reeves County will be given employment opportunities at other Wackenhut-managed prison facilities in Texas.

Galindo read out the three-part contract which included the Intergovernmental Assistance Agreement between Reeves County and Wackenhut Corrections Corporation (WCC); the Management Services Agreement between Reeves County and Wackenhut Corrections Corporation and the R3 Utilization Availability Agreement between Reeves County and Wackenhut Corrections Corporation.

The Reeves County Detention Center was defined in the agreement as a correctional facility consisting of three housing areas and associated support service areas with a total capacity of approximately 3,025 beds, comprised as follows: R1 (1,105 beds); R2 (960 beds) and R3 (960 beds) and is collectively referred to as the RCDC.

Under the contract, the initial term of this agreement is either retroactive to last Saturday, on Nov. 1, 2003, or takes effect on the first day following the day that the number of employees employed (or under contract) at the RCDC has been reduced to a total of not more than 344 RCDC employees. The contract shall continue for a period of 10 years, subject to earlier termination as set forth under Article VI.

Also under the contract, Wackenhut shall provide a list of all vacant positions that currently exist at WCC-operated facilities in the state of Texas to those RCDC employees who are laid off by the county immediately prior to the initial term of this agreement. Wackenhut shall offer employment to those laid-off RCDC employees who choose to relocate to any such WCC-operated facility in the state of Texas and who meet WCC-established qualifications for the relevant vacant positions upon the same terms and conditions of employment that are then applicable to such vacant positions.

In the event additional staff are required at the RCDC during the first two years of the initial term of this agreement, WCC shall immediately offer positions to those employed prior to the initial term of this agreement and who meet the then current minimum qualifications for such employment.

"They'll offer these displaced employees a position at another of their facilities in Texas," said Galindo. "When things stabilize, they will also notify these employees of any position that is open."

After much deliberation, another change to the contract made, that Wackenhut had agreed to pay $411,117 for the third installment of the certificate payment that is due on Dec. 1.

"Our partner is willing to make the third installment of this certificate," said Galindo. "This will keep us from defaulting."

Commissioners discussed the contract and made further changes that they said would benefit the county.

Reeves County Auditor Lynn Owens made several suggestions before the changes were approved. "This will keep us in compliance, because private companies don't have to abide by the same rules as counties," he said.

Commissioners met last Friday afternoon to discuss bids for the lease and/or management of the minimum security prison, and while the county had received several inquires during the one-month period the solicitation was open, Wackenhut was the only company to formally submit a proposal to commissioners by the 2 p.m. deadline on Friday.

Don Houston, Central Region Vice-President for the Boca Raton, Fla.-based company, discussed Wackenhut's proposal with commissioners during the meeting.

Houston was again on hand Monday evening to go over the contract with the commissioners and make any changes that he said were appropriate and in the best interest of both Reeves County and Wackenhut.

The county completed work on the $40 million RCDC III addition in March, which holds 960 inmates. County officials built the facility believing that they would be able to fill the facility with U.S. Bureau of Prisons inmates, after the BOP quickly filled RCDC II prison when it was completed in 2001.

But the BOP has balked at placing any new prisoners in the facility, which has left the county short of money to make bond payments on the latest addition. The BOP said during the summer it had no need of any addition bed space in Texas, but on Oct. 24 posted a notice on its website seeking an addition 1,000 to 1,500 beds for low-security inmates by the summer of 2004. No specific location for the prison is listed on the BOP website, but formal information is due in to the agency by Friday.

Houston said Wackenhut is the second largest privately owned prison management company in the United States, with 30,000 prisoners and 10,000 employees in 15 states. That includes 11 sites in Texas, and a regional headquarters in New Braunfels.

Wackenhut already runs two facilities similar to the RCDC, a 2,300-bed prison in Taft, Calif., and a 1,200 bed facility in Winton, N.C., according to Houston.

Under the proposed Wackenhut deal, the majority of staff at the RCDC would remain county employees, while the management team from department heads up would become Wackenhut employees.

City manager Yerena quits to accept Kingsville offer

Staff Writers

PECOS, Tues., Nov. 4, 2003 -- Town of Pecos City Manager Carlos Yerena has turned in his resignation and will be leaving Pecos this month to take a city manager's job in southeast Texas.

"He has turned in his resignation and it will be effective Nov. 14," said Town of Pecos City Mayor Dot Stafford.

Yerena has accepted the post of city manager for Kingsville, which is located between Corpus Christi and the Rio Grande Valley in southeast Texas.

Stafford said that Yerena had cited the reason for his leaving was because he was offered a better position in a city that would be closer to his family. "I think that was the main thing, that he will be closer to his family," said Stafford.

Stafford said that she had not seen the agenda for the next city council meeting, but that she wanted to put the item on the agenda.

Yerena was appointed city manager in December of 2000, after serving as the executive director of the El Paso Empowerment Zone Corporation, in Horizon City. Before that, Yerena had served as chief program officer of the Rio Grande Valley Empowerment Zone Corporation.

According to the Kingsville Record, Yerena was named one of the three finalists for the city manager's job there in late August.

While serving as city manager, Yerena helped finalize deals on the construction of the new Criminal Justice Center for the city of Pecos. The 96-bed facility serves as the new home for the Pecos Police Department and houses both city prisoners and federal inmates under a contract with the U.S. Marshal's Service.

Yerena also helped secure funding for construction of 20 new homes in the Airlawn section of Pecos for low and middle-income families. Construction on the first of those 20 homes began in late October.

Yerena was also involved in controversy in 2001 over the construction of new security doors and protective counters and Plexiglas windows in the lobby of City Hall. After complaints from local residents, the new doors were unlocked last summer, and the security windows installed in front of the utility department workers' area were removed earlier this year.

When Yerena was hired three years ago, the council set Yerena's starting salary at $80,750 for the first year with a six percent per annum cost of living increase in base salary for the second and third years of the contract, which would boost his salary to about $90,000.

Under that contract, Yerena was also entitled to a $1,000 moving allowance as well as being entitled to 3.5 percent of the net grant received from new sources that have not been previously awarded to the city. Grants received by the city for water and sewer system improvements lifted his salary the following year above the $100,000 mark.

Yerena received a new contract last November to serve as city manager. It included partial funding of college courses that would allow Yerena to seek a Masters Bachelor of Arts degree. However, Stafford said he later came back and said that he had a change of plans, according to Stafford.

"We never did pay anything for his education," she said.

Christmas for Kids applications forms available

PECOS, Tues., Nov. 4, 2003 -- Applications are being accepted for the Christmas for the Kids Program, a program aimed at making Christmas a happier time for all the children in the community.

Last year, Christmas for Kids helped out 492 children, with 173 families benefiting from the special project.

Applications can be picked up at the Reeves County Sheriff's Office, located behind the Reeves County Courthouse. For more information on the program call the Reeves County Sheriff's Office at 445-4901.

Autopsy ordered in Saragosa shooting death

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., Nov. 4, 2003 -- An autopsy has been ordered on a Saragosa man who was found dead in his home Monday night.

Reeves County Sheriff's deputies responded to a call for gunshot victim in Saragosa at approximately 11 p.m. The call was requesting emergency services to a residence in the town, and emergency medical service personnel were also called to the scene.

The officers were directed to the home of Enrique Abalos' ex-wife by the emergency call. Once inside, deputies found Abalos, 41, dead with a gunshot wound to the head.

The EMS call was canceled and Abalos was pronounced dead by Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Rosendo Carrasco, and the body was then transported to Lubbock for autopsy.

The investigation is still underway, and there have been no other persons reported involved as of this morning.

A full report is to be filed later today, with results from the coroner in Lubbock stating cause of death following in three to four days, sheriff's department officials said.


PECOS, Tues., Nov. 4, 2003 -- High Mon. 89. Low this morning 58. Forecast for tonight: Mostly clear. Lows 45 to 50. West winds near 10 mph in the evening becoming light and variable. Wed.: Sunny. Highs 80 to 85. Light and variable winds becoming south near 10 mph in the afternoon. Wed. night: Clear. Lows in the mid 40s to the lower 50s. South winds near 10 mph shifting to the north after midnight. Thurs.: Increasing cloudiness. Highs in the lower to mid 70s. NE winds near 10 mph.


Enrique Abalos

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