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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Weinacht, Tarin continue fight over RCDC job

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Nov. 12, 2003 -- Controversy over the "monitoring" position at the Reeves County Detention Center continues, with local attorney Bill Weinacht offering to forgo his salary as County Monitor for now, while Reeves County Commissioner Herman repeated his charge that the county can't afford to fund the position.

Tarin objected on Monday to the appointment of Weinacht as County Monitor for the RCDC, a position created after the county contracted last week with Wackenhut Corrections Corp. to operate the RCDC I and II units, and to help the county find inmates for the recently-completed RCDC III unit.

The county faces $40 million in bond payments on RCDC III that were to be met with funds from housing inmates at the facility. The contract with Wackenhut was signed when Reeves County was unable on its own to fill the 960-bed facility.

Among the items Tarin objected to was a 10-year agreement with Weinacht at a cost he put at $618,000. Weinacht said on Tuesday his salary would be $50,000, the same as in the past when he served as the county's attorney for RCDC issues.

"Some of us have been struggling every day to try and overcome the problems we are facing at the prison," said Bill Weinacht in a letter to the Enterprise today. "I cannot recall a struggle so crucial to the future of our county.

"I believe that the outcome of this crisis will, for the most part, determine the fate of our community. It may get a little worse, before it gets better," Weinacht wrote. "Some people will lose their jobs until we can get RCDC III up and running. Instead of calling for a march on Washington, the Enterprise has called for a march on each other.

"In spite of these attacks, we have continued to pursue every conceivable means to keep the prison going. It is not all bad, we are very fortunate to have a partner like Wackenhut to help us through these hard times. The jobs that will be lost are the result of our failure to procure inmates for RCDC III. In order to accept responsibility, I will donate all of my salary to the county until we have inmates in RCDC III," said Weinacht.

"Unfortunately, this will not save a single job, but it may help us focus on the task at hand instead of fighting amongst ourselves," he said.

Tarin, who represents Precinct 3 in Reeves County, issued his own statement this morning:

"Yesterday, Mr. Weinacht defended his new position as RCDC Monitor by making the comment that 'he would have taken the position as legal counsel with Wackenhut as offered to him, but elected not to because he would have been prohibited from representing the county, and felt uneasy about it,'" Tarin said. "He also went on to say that, 'he would have taken the job if he had known ahead of time that I was going to be upset about it.' Well, he did know ahead of time that this position was going to be discussed and possibly eliminated, so one has to ask, 'Why did he refuse to take the other position?'"

"Maybe because he is so interested in, 'the county's best interest' or his own? The people of Reeves County need to be aware of the truth, so here it is: Mr. Weinacht made a comment stating that 'he wishes that he could have helped me out with regard to the community center in Balmorhea, and also said that he and others told me not to promise the community center unless I was going to get it done.

"In response, the Balmorhea Community Center was only a proposal, never a promise, and was only to be built in the event that funds were available to do so. In fact, $150,000 had been budgeted for the building, but when I realized that current situations within the county were not occurring as planned, I requested that the commissioner's court delay the construction of the community center until the county's financial status improved.

"What I do know is that Mr. Weinacht's help never comes without a price. When he offers to help someone, he really means he is willing to "negotiate." You know what I mean, 'You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours!' His negotiations never benefit you, me, or anyone other than himself. The simple truth is that the Reeves County community cannot afford to fund this position when there are no funds to do so.

"According to the report submitted by the Fitch Corporation (who issues bond ratings for bonds held by Reeves County) on Nov. 10, 2003, the Reeves County general fund resources have already been depleted, and downsizing of the RCDC workforce is in process and is a severe economic concern for the county. Fitch Corporation has already downgraded the bond rating for Reeves County for the second time in the past three months, which signals a red flag.

"The county is also facing possible budget and salary cuts for the upcoming year due to a huge deficit in revenue funds that have not been generated by a few departments as budgeted previously. Mr. Weinacht quoted in the article as well that, "his position as 'monitor' changed only with regard to his job title and duties, with his salary remaining the same."

"This may be true, but what the people of Reeves County need to know is that before, the 'legal counsel' position that Mr. Weinacht held was being funded by BOP which includes: $50,000 salary, along with fringe benefits to include retirement, health insurance, and let's just say, 'the whole package' for a part-time position. Now, this new position that he will be holding as 'monitor' will no longer be funded by the BOP, but by you the taxpayers of Reeves County.

"I believe that Mr. Weinacht holds a big interest in the county, not because he cares, but because he is a major shareholder for the company that provides inmate-telephone services to the Reeves County Detention Center as well.

"The bottom line is: As we all know, Reeves County is in a fragile position. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that when funds are depleted, creating new positions will only worsen the situation. We have maintained a good relationship for the past 11 years with the Bureau of Prisons, and I have faith that they will continue to help Reeves County and protect the interest of the people whose jobs are at stake as best as they can."

Tarin went on to say that "This is not about fighting amongst ourselves, but doing what is in the best interest of the county. "Don't think that by donating his salary, things will get better.

"All this could have been avoided if that position would have never come up because there's no money to fund this position," he said.

Weinacht denied Tarin's claim about having personal financial incentives to keep the prison in operation.

"I no longer have any financial interest in the company that provides inmate telephone services to the prison," said Weinacht.

Plasencia bond set at $1 million in weekend deaths

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Nov. 12, 2003 -- One of two former Pecos residents charged with a weekend double murder in Hobbs, N.M. was arraigned this morning in a Lea County, N.M. court, while the second is awaiting transport to Pecos for a hearing on a probation violation charge in connection with an earlier incident.

Gilbert Plasencia, 21, and Alex Plasencia, 19, are each currently being charged with open counts of murder in the shooting deaths of two New Mexico youths.

According to the Lea County Sheriff's Office, the two were at a party in Hobbs early Saturday morning when they encountered Marcos Palma, 19, and Mark Olivas, 18, both of Hobbs, N.M. The four reportedly got into an argument at the party and took the disagreement outside.

Later, partygoers heard shots from the parking lot, where Olivas and Palma were found shot. They were transported to Lea County Hospital, but died shortly after being treated for their wounds.

Sheriff's officers questioned witnesses and warrants were issued for both Plasencia brothers.

According to Pecos Police Department investigator Kelly Davis, the Lea County Sheriff's office requested Pecos' help on Saturday morning in locating a vehicle that was apparently used to transport the brothers back to Texas. The vehicle was located and the owner was questioned.

Pecos police told Lea County authorities that the Plasencia brothers had moved out of Pecos approximately eight months ago and were currently residing in Kermit.

Cooperating law enforcement agencies in Winkler County served the warrants for the youths at their mother's house late Saturday night and both were taken into custody at that time.

Alex was arraigned this morning in Hobbs for the murder charge; bail was officially set at $1 million. Gilbert is awaiting extradition to New Mexico due to a warrant based out of Reeves County. The warrant is on a motion to adjudicate guilt for an original charge aggravated assault with a $100,000 bail.

Once that is resolved the extradition process to New Mexico for the murder charge can begin.

New Mexico is a death penalty state but the exact charge depends on the circumstances of the incident and is to be decided by the prosecuting district attorney.

Police here said both men are know gang members here in Pecos, where Gilbert is one of the higher ranking leaders of the BPG, or Brown Pride Gang. The brothers have faced many charges in recent years in Pecos.

According to Davis the most serious of which have been aggravated assault charges involving weapons up to this point.

Local vets treat outbreak of parvo virus

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Nov. 12, 2003 -- The Trans-Pecos Region is currently seeing an outbreak of canine parvo cases coming into local veterinary clinics.

Pecos is reporting around four to six dogs a day coming in with the symptoms associated with a parvo infection. Monahans hasn't seen much, but Kermit has seen a rise to two to three a week, and Fort Stockton has reported up to two to three a day, but on average maybe seven a week.

The parvo virus refers to a family of viruses that infect a range of species, with a common symptom of infection being lethargy in the early stages followed by vomiting and loose-watery stool, usually with blood associated with the latter. The virus affects all but the youngest dogs.

"The animal receives antibodies from the mother's milk or colostreum that is released in the earliest stages of lactation," Dr. Charles Sanders from the Sandhills Veterinary Clinic said, "These antibodies protect the animal for the first three to four months of life."

The recent spike in infection can typically be attributed to the higher moisture and lower temperatures that fall brings with it. The virus lives in the grass and soil of areas that have been exposed to a parvo infected animal in the past three years.

The only way to prevent the infection is a regimen of vaccinations, beginning at six weeks for dogs, and continuing for the extent of the animals' life. At the start of the vaccination schedule the animal receives a modified virus that cannot cause infection but will still present itself to the immune system as being parvo.

The shots are given at six weeks, nine weeks, 12 weeks and a booster once a year after that. According to Marty Haws, the veterinary technician at the Pecos Animal Clinic, most of the cases stem from people not having puppies vaccinated or stopping the vaccination regimen before the whole set is complete.

"Once a dog does get parvo the only thing one can do is fight the symptoms, the animal must receive fluids to counteract the loss from the constant diarrhea and vomiting," Haws said.

Typically this requires hospitalization due to the smell and constant vigil that must be kept for the dog to monitor and supply fluids. The cost of hospitalization can vary but on the average, for an average of five days the cost is approximately $300. This can be avoided by the $100 vaccine cost that covers the shots that a puppy should get once nursing has ceased.

"We typically see the parvo cases run in cycles," Dr. Sanders said. "We will have a very light year with few reported infections, but the cases will sharply spike in other years, and this looks like one of those years; we have already had more cases this year than we saw all of last year."

The virus in not airborne but is extremely prevalent in the environment. All an animal has to do to contract is walk over an exposed piece of ground and lick its paws. Once inside the animal, the virus follows the natural path through the digestive system and attaches to the cells lining the small intestine. From there, the cell is attacked from the inside and the cell bursts. These cells are the ones responsible for the uptake of minerals and nutrients from the food and water the animal ingests.

Once these cells die, the animal will have difficulty absorbing and keeping down anything until the virus has run its course.

Basketball refs needed for HS, Jr. high games

PECOS, Wed., Nov. 12, 2003 -- Referees are being sought for junior high and sub-varsity high school basketball games, which begin next week and continue through early February.

Anyone interesting in officiating boys or girls games should call coach Joe Flores, daytime at 447-7220 and evenings at 445-2721.


PECOS, Wed., Nov. 12, 2003 -- High Tues. 89. Low this morning 52. Forecast for tonight: Cloudy with a 30 percent chance of rain. Lows 40 to 45. NE winds 10 to 20 mph. Thurs.: Mostly cloudy with a 40 percent chance of rain. Cooler. Highs 45 to 50. East winds 10 to 20 mph. Thurs. night: Cloudy with a 30 percent chance of rain. Lows in the mid 30s to the lower 40s. SE winds 10 to 15 mph. Fri.: Mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of rain. Highs in the mid 50s. South winds near 10 mph in the morning becoming light and variable. Fri. night: Mostly cloudy. Lows in the mid 40s. Sat.: Partly cloudy. Highs in the lower to mid 60s. Sat. night: Lows in the mid 40s.


Mary Rayos and Elvira Rodriguez

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