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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Council picks three finalists for city manager job

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., Jan. 13, 2004 -- Town of Pecos City Council members have selected two local residents and one out-of-town hopeful as the three finalists for the vacant city manager's position, following interviews held last Wednesday and Friday at City Hall.

The city council met for the second round of interviews on Friday, during which, the five out-of-town candidates were scheduled to be interviewed for the vacant city manager position. The five local candidates were interviewed last Wednesday.

The interviewing panel, made up of all five council members, narrowed the field from 10 down to three following the interviews, according to Councilman Michael Benavides.

"The meeting went well. Only three of the five applicants scheduled to interview on Friday could attend, but those who could come, interviewed very well, and all in all were very good candidates for the position," Benavides said.

"We have narrowed the field down to, in no particular order, Joseph Torres of Pecos, Georgia Vines of Devine, Tx., and Jimmy Dutchover also of Pecos," he added.

Benavides said that the qualities that he was looking for in a candidate were "experience in running a business, ability to work well with people, be highly motivated and energetic, and someone who will get out there and work in the public eye, talking to the people of Pecos and finding out what their needs are, as well as taking care of the city employees."

"All of the candidates interviewed well and were very qualified, but we must move forward. I would like to see the position filled by the end of the month or even as early as by the next regular council meeting," Benavides said. "We are waiting to give the mayor (Dot Stafford) a chance to meet with the remaining candidates, and have her input on the selection process as well. We really wanted to include her, but she has been ill lately."

According to Benavides, all of the candidates were contacted on Monday, to let them know either way if they were still in the running for the position or not. He said that the panel spent about the same amount of time with each candidate, around half of an hour, and after extensive deliberation, selected the three finalists.

James (Jimmy) Dutchover is currently the Chief Executive Officer for the Reeves County Teachers Credit Union, and has been in that potion for the past four years, according to his resume. Dutchover has past experience in grant writing from his work as the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah Independent School District's Administrator for Alternative Education Programs for the past 10 years. In addition, Dutchover has 17 years managerial experience and holds a Bachelor's degree in chemistry with a minor in business administration from Sul Ross University.

Georgia Vines has been the City Administrator for the city of Devine, located southwest of San Antonio, for the past three year. Previously she worked for the city of Granjeno, as the City Administrator and Chief Financial Officer. Vines holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology, a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, a Master of Public Administration and a Juris Doctor, information provided by her resume submitted to the council for the position.

Joseph Torres is the Workforce Development WIA program manager here in Pecos. He was previously the Superintendent of the Freeport/Pennzoil plant located 40 miles northwest of Pecos, where he was employed for 21 years. He served in the United States Army for six years, and holds a Bachelors of Business Administration from UTPB. According to his resume, he has 25 years of managerial experience.

The city manager's job became vacant in November, when Carlos Yerena resigned after three years in the position to take a similar job with the city of Kingsville. Police Chief Clay McKinney has been serving as interim city manager in the two months since Yerena's resignation.

Commissioners eye Task Force financing grant

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., Jan. 13, 2004 -- A grant application for the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force was approved during the regular Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting, which will help procure money for the multi-county drug interdiction force.

"We're here to ask for a resolution from the court to give us permission to submit the grant application," said task force commander Gary Richards, who explained that the grant was due on Feb. 2 and would begin from June 1 through May 31, 2005.

"This also includes a local match of $172,925," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo. "Any big changes?" he asked.

"The only changes are from CJD, (Criminal Justice Division)," said Richards. "They have increased the salary for the investigators in several of the counties that are partners with us."

Richards said that they are under a contractual agreement and that the Trans Pecos Task Force officers are under the county.

"We're working with the county attorney in getting something in writing, that will state that they will pay their personnel and submit that monthly and get reimbursed from the grant money," said Richards. "We need to get the wording down properly and do interagency agreements to see what each entity will need as far as the cash match."

"How are we doing so far?" asked Galindo.

"We're doing pretty good, we have some cash and vehicle seizures pending and have not needed cash match," said Richards.

"They've been providing enough to keep us on an even keel," said county auditor Lynn Owens. "We did give them an advance of $14,000 last month, but when the check came in, we got reimbursed," he said.

Richards said that they have always come in under what the CJD has given them. "The biggest expense comes from personnel, but we usually don't spend it all," he said.

The grant application is in the amount of $691,698, with a match of $172,925.

In other business on Monday, commissioners approved a payment to Strategic Equipment in the amount of $30,295 for work done at the Reeves County Detention Center III project.

"This is the balance owing and both the architect and the construction company has approved it," said Owens. "It's the final payment to them."

A maintenance proposal from Western Office System was approved for copiers and other office equipment, despite the fact that two of the commissioners voted against it, stating that there was no money for this type of expenditure at this time.

"We had the same agreement with them last year and in the same amount of $900," said Owens.

Reeves County Commissioners Herman Tarin of Precinct 3 and Hivi Rayos of Precinct 4 said that the county was in a terrible financial situation at this time and this expenditure was unnecessary.

"I know I won't be here, but I want to help you guys out, because the county is not doing well financially right now," said Tarin, who decided not to seek re-election this year. "If those machines have not broken in all these years, why do we want to pay money for them to just come out and see them."

"You said that the district clerk had that machine for 12 years and it's never broken down, so why do we want to pay for them to just come out here," said Rayos.

"We call it preventative maintenance," said Galindo. "There's a lot of weight put on those machines and it's better to pay $300 per office right now, than $125 per hour when it breaks down."

"We just can't afford to do things like that anymore," said Tarin.

"Things require preventative maintenance and upkeep," said Galindo. "Those machines are used every day."

Reeves County Clerk Dianne Florez said that the money spent on the agreement was well worth it, because the machines were overused every day and required some upkeep. "It's better to spend that money, than for them to have to come in and charge so much when they do," she said.

Both Tarin and Rayos voted against the agreement, but commissioner precinct 1 Felipe Arredondo and commissioner precinct 2 Norman Hill voted for the agreement, with Galindo breaking the tie and voting for the agreement.

Early voting clerks were approved by the commissioners and include: Estella Nichols, Marta Palomino and Michael Chavez.

The group selected 15 names, which will be narrowed down to nine to serve on the Salary Grievance Committee. "You just need nine names, so we'll take these 15 and see which nine would like to serve," said Galindo.

Property bids for property located in Toyah and at 100 S. Elm St. were approved during the regular meeting.

Inmate transportation crew mileage payments for the month of December in the amount of $2,605 were approved.

"I contacted BOP last week and they stated that they are trying to move forward with this," said RCDC transportation director Tommy Duncan. "It just takes time and it needs one more signature from Washington."

Personnel and salary changes included: Brian Fuentes as a jailer at the Reeves County Sheriff's Department at $19,000 per year and Javier Contreras as a full-time deputy at $28,000 a year.

Year In Review

RCDC management deal signed in November

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the 11th in a series of stories recapping major news events in the Pecos area during 2003. Today's story covers the month of November.


Nov. 3, 2003 Reeves County Commissioners met this afternoon to decide on a proposal from Wackenhut Correctional Corp., to manage the 3,025 bed Reeves County Detention Center. The management offer comes after County Judge Jimmy Galindo and other county officials were unable to reach agreements to find new inmates for the newlay-built RCDC III or get a higher man/day rate on the BOP inmates housed at RCDC I and II. The county ended up agreeing to a man/day rate of $47.32 for those two prisons.


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

Nov. 5, 2003 Staff at the Reeves County Detention Center will be the first to know of any layoffs or transfers now that Wackenhut Corrections Corporation will be taking over, according to Reeves County officials. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) houses about 2,000 inmates at the two oldest units of the detention center.

The county and Wackenhut agreed on Monday to turn over operations of all three units of the RCDC to the Boca Raton, Fla.-based company. But under the 10-year deal a total of 91 jobs at the prison have to be cut by Reeves County before the contract with Wackenhut goes into effect.


Nov. 6, 2003 The Reeves County Detention Center is not the largest facility that Wackenhut Corrections Corporation will be managing - at least as of now - but the group is happy to be coming to Pecos to help out the county and plans no immediate changes in the prison's top management.

Nov. 6, 2003 The new owners of the Amigos Texaco stores in Pecos have shut down one store and are weighing a possible remodeling of the remaining store, along with a pending brand name change that already has taken place in other parts of Texas. The sale of the Amigos Texaco stations on South Cedar Street, at Interstate 20 and East 14th Street, were finalized between the former owner, Rio Grande Distributing and the new owner, Bohica Investment LTD of Del Rio, this past Saturday.


Nov. 10, 2003 After a very heated discussion, both behind closed doors and during open session this morning, Reeves County Commissioners approved a "monitor" for the Reeves County Detention Center. The position had already been approved by Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez, who sat in on the discussion held behind closed doors. Gomez had approved the hiring of special counsel Bill Weinacht for the position at an annual cost of $61,800 per year.


Nov. 11, 2003 The town of Pecos City Council appointed Police Chief Clay McKinney to serve as interim city manager, following a special executive session this morning at City Hall. McKinney will replace outgoing City Manager, Carlos Yerena, and will earn an additional salary of $800 per month. The motion passed on a split vote, with Councilman Gerald Tellez and Councilman Michael Benavides dissenting.


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 Tarin 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.


Nov. 13, 2003 The Town of Pecos City Council discussed issues surrounding the Pecos Economic Development Corp. budget. The council tabled the PEDC budget last meeting due to the short amount of time that had been allowed for members to look over the figures. The PEDC receives one sixth of the city's 11/2-cent sales tax rebate each month. For November, that total came to $11,055.

Councilwoman Angelica Valenzuela voiced her concern over the lack of explanation behind the expense report provided to the council.


Nov. 14, 2003 Artificial turf for Pecos' high school football, baseball and softball fields will not be added any time soon, following a decision made by the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board last evening. A large group of community individuals were on hand for the regular Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board meeting, held in the Technology Center, which focused on plans to install artificial turf on one or more fields at the high school.


Nov. 17, 2003 The Town of Pecos City Council continued their discussion from last Thursday on the Pecos Economic Development Corp., during a meeting this morning in council chambers at City Hall. Council members questioned PEDC President Gari Ward on the co-operation with other local entities and the existing businesses in-town, and the availability of the public money funded institution


Nov. 19, 2003 Reeves County Detention Center employees who lost their jobs last week or are facing the loss of their jobs in the near future will have an option to go to another facility owned by the company that is taking over management of the local prison. Wackenhut Corrections Corporation will be overseeing the RCDC once the number of employees decreases at both units currently being utilized to a level listed in the contract between Wackenhut and the county.

The reduction requires the elimination of 70 jobs at the facility, according to county officials. Of that total, 31 workers were dismissed last Friday and another 39 are due to be let go in the near future.


Nov. 21, 2003 Representatives of the state's General Land Office heard criticism of a plan to pump underground water out of West Texas to other parts of the state, during a meeting of the the Far West Regional Water Planning Group in Van Horn. Land office policy director, Trace Finley explained their plan to enter into a contract with the Midland based company, Rio Nuevo, to a crowd of hundreds, at the Van Horn Convention Center. Finley told the crowd that Rio Nuevo had proposed to pay $4 million for the scientific studies and to give an undetermined amount of bonus money to the Permanent School Fund in exchange for the sole right to apply to the various ground water districts for the permits necessary to extract water from the area.


Nov. 25, 2003 Wackenhut Corrections Corporation officially took over the management of the Reeves County Detention Center at 8 a.m. this morning, following the approval of an amended contract between the corporation and Reeves County. The county had entered into a management service agreement with the corporation on Nov. 3. However, under the original agreement the contract would not take effect until Dec. 1 or the first day of the first month after the staff at the Detention Center had been reduced to 343 workers. The revised deal will cut by 39 the number of layoffs planned by Reeves County, and leave the prison with 382 employees.


Nov. 26, 2003 A fire caused major damage to a home on the north side of city this morning, but only minor injuries were reported. Four fire units were dispatched to 219 N. Ash St., a little before 10 a.m. in response to a house fire, which is being blamed on a portable electric heater in use in the bedroom of the home.

Planning commission to consider approval of grant

PECOS, Tues., Jan. 13, 2004 -- The Permian Basin Regional Planning Commission Board of Directors will consider approving the FY 2004/2005 Regional Solid Waste Grant Program Funding Plan when they meet at 1:30 p.m., Wednesday at the PBRPC Offices, 2910 La Force Blvd., Midland.

The group will also consider a recommendation of the Regional Development Review Committee regarding the Ector County Hospital District's application to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for funding to start a Family Health Center, and the recommendation of the Regional Development Review Committee regarding the Texas Department of Transportation's project to construct entrance and exit ramps on Interstate 20 at FM 307 in Midland County.

Board members will receive an update on PBRPC Homeland Security Program from Barney Welch and consider any questions regarding the check register of the PBRPC for the period ending December, 2003.


PECOS, Tues., Jan. 13, 2004 -- High Monday 69. Low this morning 38. Forecast for tonight: Mostly cloudy. Lows near 40. South winds near 10 mph. Wednesday: Mostly cloudy. Highs near 70. Light and variable winds becoming east near 10 mph in the afternoon. Wednesday night: Mostly cloudy. Lows near 40. East winds near 10 mph. Thursday: Mostly cloudy. Highs near 60. East winds 10 to 15 mph. Thursday night: Mostly cloudy with isolated showers. Lows in the lower to mid 40s. Friday: Mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of rain. Highs near 60. Friday night: Mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of rain. Lows in the mid 30s to the lower 40s.

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