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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, December 26, 2003

Tarin says withdrawal decision came early

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., Dec. 26, 2003 -- Reeves County Commissioner Herman Tarin said he made his decision to withdraw his bid for a fourth term in office just after originally deciding to enter his name into the March Democratic primary election race.

"I decided one day after filing," Tarin said Thursday, while helping other volunteers with the Pecos Christian Home's free Christmas dinner event at the Reeves County Civic Center.

Tarin was one of the earliest filers for the March 9 primary election, though his withdrawal was not officially announced until Tuesday by Reeves County Democratic Party chairman Robert C. Dean. "I asked Mr. Bobby Dean to pull out my application because I would not seek the position of County Commissioner for Precinct 3," he said. "I faxed Mr. Dean a letter to honor my request, and he did."

Tarin, who was first elected to the commissioners court in 1992, would have faced three and possibly five or more candidates in the March primary election. Lisa Lopez Boicourt, Rosendo C. Galindo, and Bailey Wheeless, have already filed for the four-term term. A fourth candidate, Manuel "Manny" D. Lopez, has filed his treasurer's designation with the Reeves County Clerk's office, but has not yet filed his petition or paid a filing fee to Dean, while a fifth possible candidate, Joel Madrid, said today he also plans to enter the race before the deadline a week from today.

"One of the most important things when I pulled out my application was to have someone else come in and serve the people," said Tarin, whose current term runs through Dec. 31, 2004. "I wish all the candidates running for Precinct 3 all the best of luck. They can come in and do what they can do. The doors are open to let somebody else take the reins."

"Great things have been accomplished in the time I've been on the commissioner's court. We lowered the tax rate from 58 cents to 42 cents," Tarin said, while also mentioning the expansion over the past 10 years of the Reeves County Detention Center and the creation of jobs there.

However, both Tarin and Precinct 1 Commissioner Felipe Arredondo figured to face challenges in their re-election bids due to problems over the last six months surrounding the $40 million Reeves County Detention Center III project. The 960-bed addition to the prison was completed in March, but the county was unable to get the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to provide inmates for the facility, as they had with the RCDC I and II units, and County Judge Jimmy Galindo was unable to find an alternate source of inmates for the prison.

With no income from housing inmates to meet the facility's bond payments, Reeves County was forced to contract with Wackenhut Correctional Corp., now GEO Corp., to manage the facility and to help the county find inmates for RCDC III. As part of the agreement with GEO, the county was forced to cut 31 jobs at the prison.

"The prison is built to stay and to create jobs, no matter who runs the prison. The jobs will still be there," Tarin said. "And I believe we are just around the corner to where things will be trending up, but it's going to take a lot of work.

"Regardless of how we see it, the BOP is very important for the community," he said. "The BOP has professional people working for them throughout the United States, and I feel they will do their part to help resolve the situation."

Tarin said he plans to continue to work for the citizens of Reeves County during his final year in office.

"There are still a lot of things we need to work on for 2004," he said. "I'm open to any suggestions the people may have. My doors are still open and that's what I will continue to do."

"I would like to thank God for becoming my guide, and I would like to thank all the people of Reeves County, especially the people of Precinct 3," Tarin said. "And of course my wife Diana and my family for all of their support."

Among the official and possible challengers for the Precinct 3 seat, Galindo is a member of the Balmorhea City Council, having last been elected in May of 2002, while Wheeless is a retired Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD teacher and was the longtime agriculture instructor at Pecos High School. Madrid is the owner of both The Bear's Den in Balmorhea and Dairy Mart in Pecos.

While Tarin's Precinct 3 seat has already attracted as many as five hopefuls, Arredondo's Precinct 1 seat on the Commissioner's Court has at least one definite challenger and two others who have taken one step towards running in the Democratic primary.

Both Arredondo and challenger Robert C. Natividad, have filed with Dean. The two others, Armando "Mondie" Granado and Elizer "Chel" Flores have filed their treasurer's designations. Natividad runs Robert's Construction in Pecos, while Granado is the gang investigator for the Pecos Police Department and Flores has is in his fourth term as Precinct 1 representative on the Reeves County Hospital District board.

The deadline to file for the March primary ballot in both the Democratic and Republican elections is Jan. 2, but almost all candidates in Reeves County run in the Democratic primary.

Outside of the two races for commissioner, only incumbent have filed for the other Reeves County primary election races. Dean is posting the list of candidates who have either paid the filing fee or returned a filing petition to his office.

In the other local races, the incumbents who have officially filed with Dean include: for Reeves County Sheriff, Arnulfo "Andy" Gomez; Tax Assessor-Collector, Elfida Zuniga; for constable, precinct #2 Jerry Matta and for constable, precinct #3, Tomas "Tommy" Martinez.

Along with the county positions, other local offices that will be up for election on March 9, are Reeves County Attorney; 143rd District Attorney and 143rd District Court Judge.

Judge Bob Parks filed in Austin to retain his position as 143rd District Court Judge, while former 143rd District Attorney Hal Upchurch announced in November he planned to run for that seat again, after a 12-year absence. Pecos attorney Randall W. Reynolds currently holds the position, and was first elected too office in 1996.

Upchurch has already filed in Austin for the District Attorney's position. He had stated that he would keep his office in Monahans if elected to the post.

The District Attorney and District Judge positions cover Reeves, Ward and Loving Counties.

Both the District Attorney and the District Judge candidates will file their petitions or pay a filing fee in Austin.

Filing for the Reeves County primary elections in March began on Dec. 3 and will continue through Friday, Jan. 2.

Commissioners to again discuss bids, payments

PECOS, Fri., Dec. 26, 2003 -- The Reeves County Commissioners Court is scheduled to review bids for inmate clothing-linen supply and inmate food-kitchen supply, during a special meeting on Monday.

Commissioners will also discuss the November payment for RCDC's management and professional services to GEO Group Inc., the former Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, during the meeting, scheduled for 10 a.m. on the third floor of the Reeves County Courthouse.

The payment to GEO is part of the deal struck with the correctional company in return for a payment by the company to RCDC's bondholders for the construction of the facility.

GEO's name change occurred this month, and was approved by its stockholders in a meeting in November, though this is the first use of it on the official agenda by commissioners.

The consideration of the bids follows the approval of some items for the everyday operation of the RCDC's facilities, but the tabling of others that occurred at the past two commissioners court meetings, on Dec. 8 and this past Monday.

The court tabled the items to give Wackenhut as much flexibility as possible with the bidding process, according to County Judge Jimmy Galindo. "Maybe we can begin to save money on some of those items" by allowing Wackenhut's vendors to bid, Galindo said during Monday's meeting.

The court is also scheduled to review the contract between Reeves County and Tommy Duncan for the position of transportation director.

County to discuss applicants for city manager

PECOS, Fri., Dec. 26, 2003 -- The Town of Pecos City Council will hold a special meeting on Monday at noon, to discuss the applicants for the city manager position, vacated in November when Carlos Yerena left to take a similar job in Kingsville.

According to the city's financial director, Sam Contreras, about 25 applications have been received for the position. However, Contreras said he was unable to access an exact list of candidates on Wednesday, with city secretary Connie Levario, acting city manager Clay McKinney and City Attorney Scott Johnson all out of the office.

McKinney, the Town of Pecos City Police Chief, has filled the city manager's job since Yerena left on Nov. 15. All city employees are off today, as part of a four-day Christmas holiday weekend.

The council will go into executive session to screen and review the applications. They will also discuss the duties of the water superintendent during the closed-door meeting at City Hall, an issue that has been previously discussed in executive session.

The council decided back in November to keep the job requirements the same as they were before Yerena was hired, with the only addition that a master's degree was preferred.

Dinner for 400 leaves Polzin ready for break

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., Dec. 26, 2003 -- Mark Polzin plans to take a cue from Santa Claus and take a little post-Christmas break, after doing a lot of work in the seven weeks leading up to the holiday.

Polzin, director of the Pecos Christian Home, oversaw the home's annual Christmas dinner on Thursday at the Reeves County Civic Center, four weeks after serving over 360 people free turkey dinners for Thanksgiving. It was his first time supervising the holiday meals, after taking over as director from Bruce Dury last January.

"I'm just going to go off and take a walk for a couple of days," said Polzin, who estimated that 400 people were served dinners for Christmas, either at the Civic Center or through home deliveries to local Meals on Wheels customers Thursday morning.

"It's been non-stop," he said, adding that the work began with preparation for the Thanksgiving dinner around Nov. 1. For Christmas, he said, "We started December 1st getting things ready. We've been cooking for days and days.

"Once you cook it, then you freeze it and bring it down here. I got down here at 5 to heat it up, and then it's ready," he said.

Other volunteers began working to prepare the Meals on Wheels dinners around 8 a.m., and others went to the homes on the list to provide Christmas dinners to customers, since the regular Meals program takes Christmas Day off. At 10 a.m., workers began preparing the meals for people to take home in boxes or to eat in the main room of the Civic Center.

"This is the best way to celebrate Christmas," said Velma Bradley, one of several people who have been longtime volunteers in preparing the Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

Bradley was one of the servers, while others, including Polzin, helped prepare the other items to go along with the turkey. Others brought in desserts that were available on a separate table next to the kitchen area.

"We used up 30 pounds of dressing and a good 25 turkeys, five or six cases of green beans and sweet potatoes and numerous cans of cranberry sauce and gravy," Polzin said. "It's all good stuff."

While the holiday dinner season is over for another year, the Christian Home is always looking for donations of food and money to allow the home to stay open and aid people year round.

The Christian Home is located at 1201 S. Elm St. For more information the home can be reached at 445-2049.

Social Security scheduled 2003 visits

PECOS, Fri., Dec. 26, 2003 -- The U.S. Social Security Administration has released its schedule of visitation days to Pecos, for persons needing to discuss any business connected to Social Security-related qualifications and/or payments.

A representative will be in Pecos the first Tuesday of every month, from 10:30 a.m. until 12 noon at the Pecos Community Center, 505 S. Oak St. The first visit of 2004 is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 6.

Information and help with Social Security problems is also available over the phone by calling (800) 772-1213. The regional Social Security office is located at Building C 200, 2015 E. 37th St., Odessa, Tx., 79762.

Jaso receives 2003 TxDOT award

PECOS, Fri., Dec. 26, 2003 -- The Vehicle Titles and Registration Division (VTR) of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has named Midland/Odessa and San Angelo Regional Manager David Jaso was selected as the regional representative for the 2003 Star Award winners.

The special award that recognizes exceptional service to VTR and its customers.

"David's dedication and his management style are commendable," said VTR Director Jerry Dike. "It is comforting to know that our operations in the SanAngelo and Midland-Odessa regions are in his capable hands."

Originally from Pecos, David commutes between the Midland/Odessa and San Angelo regions to ensure that both VTR offices there are running smoothly. He first started managing the Midland/Odessa regional office in 1996 and began managing the San Angelo office earlier this year.

"What is most gratifying for me in this position is to solve registration and title problems and to be there for the people with whom I am in constant contact, including my employees," David said. "I told my employees in San Angelo and Odessa that I wouldn't have received the Star Award if it wasn't for the work they do."

David's career with TxDOT began when he was a summer employee at the Pecos resident engineer's office. He has been with VTR for 15 years and has worked in a variety of areas including customer service. In one nomination a co-worker complimented David's willingness to directly assist VTR customers with patience and understanding. The Star Award is given annually to a VTR regional employee.


PECOS, Fri., Dec. 26, 2003 -- High Christmas Day 69. Low this morning 39. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows near 40. Southwest winds 10 to 20 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 60. West winds 10 to 20 mph. Saturday night: Partly cloudy. Lows near 30. Northwest winds 10 to 20 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 50s. Northwest winds 10 to 20 mph. Sunday night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 20s to the lower 30s. Monday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 50s to the lower 60s. Monday night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 20s to the lower 30s.


Alvina Hinojos Flores, Diane Mendoza and Dennis Rasberry

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