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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Police arrest suspect in Bealls burglary

Staff Writer

One arrest has been made and more are pending in the January 11 burglary of Bealls Department Store on South Eddy Street.

Christopher Mendoza Marchan, 20, was arrested Monday evening for the offense of burglary of a building.

Pecos Police Department investigator Paul Deishler said that they had found evidence inside the building that they believe linked Marchan to the burglary.

Police responded to an alarm activation at 5:57 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 11, at Bealls, in the 900 block of South Eddy Street. Burglars had broken out a window and stolen 40 men's Guess watches.

No one was spotted leaving the scene according to Captain Kelly Davis of the Pecos Police Department's Criminal Investigations Division.

Store representatives estimate the value of each watch around $85, bringing the total value of the stolen goods to $3,400, Davis said.

"After a lengthy investigation, investigators from the police department recovered two of the watches stolen from the Bealls store," said Deishler. "There are still about 38 Guess watches out there."

Marchan has been charged with burglary of a building, a State Jail Felony. Deishler said that other arrests are pending.

"Some of the people tied to this burglary may be involved in other burglaries that have occurred recently," he said. "Hopefully, we can clear these up and take these people off the street."

Deishler said that the police department hopes to 'round up' the individuals involved in this burglary and others. "We have also had information that these individuals are trying to sell these items," said Deishler.

Deishler said that anyone who has information on this burglary or any of the others should contact the police department, at 445-1792.

"There are still 38 more watches out there that need to be recovered, if anyone tries to sell those, we ask that they contact us," said Deishler.

Commissioners given tax collection report

Staff Writer
Reeves County Commissioners listened to a report and extended a contract with Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson, LLP for the collection of delinquent taxes, during their regular meeting held Monday morning.

Mark Flowers, who represented the company at Monday's meeting, read out the report and said that they began with mass mailings.

"During this reporting period our law firm has continued an extensive mailing program to ensure that delinquent taxpayers are aware that they owe taxes to Reeves County," said Flowers. "We have sent more than 5,625 warning notice letters written in increasing severity of tone to delinquent taxpayers," he said.

Every taxpayer on the delinquent roll with a current address has heard from the collection agency at least once, and others who need reminders have likely received several notices of delinquency. "In addition, to those general mailings, we have mailed 50 special 'notice of intent to sue' letters on property tax accounts targeted for litigation and which involve over $129,010 in delinquent taxes, penalty and interest," said Flowers.

Where requests for payments and all other negotiations have failed, the agency has backed up the notice letters with lawsuits, according to Flowers. "During this reporting period we have filed 47 lawsuits against parcels of property seeking the collection of $97,696 in delinquent taxes, penalties and interest," he said.

"At the same time, we have continued to prosecute any cases that were already pending prior to this reporting period," said Flowers.

Upon filing a suit, the property owner frequently voluntarily pays the taxes after being served with citation. "It is our practice to then dismiss the case, and the litigation comes to an end as to that particular person and property," said Flowers. "During this reporting period, we have dismissed, as paid, a total of one lawsuit that involved in excess of $192 in taxes, penalties and interest," he said.

Courtroom judgments have been taken in 96 lawsuits involving more than $223,373. These judgments include tax foreclosures on 21 tracts of land and one personal judgment against owners of delinquent personal property.

Where all other efforts have failed in collecting judgments, 41 tax sales have been prosecuted involving 77 tracts of real property.

Flowers said that by the use of all their collection tools, including notice letters, specialized demand letters and litigation, they have collected on behalf of Reeves County, just over $207,485 in delinquent taxes, penalty and interest from July 1, 2002 to June 30, 2003.

"We're happy to serve Reeves County and hope to serve the county in the future," said Flowers.

The commissioners agreed to keep Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson as the county's collection agency for the next two years and renewed the contract.

In other action Monday, commissioners approved a contract between Reeves County and Garza County for the placement of juvenile offenders.

"We have had placements with Garza County before, it's pre-adjudication," said county auditor Lynn Owens. "I'm not sure about my figures, but I think there's a slight increase."

Owens said that they did have a substance abuse program that Reeves County can utilize if the court feels they need to.

A juvenile accountability grant application to be submitted to the Criminal Justice Division of the Governor's Office was approved. "It's a fairly small grant, for three to four years, and used for contractual type services," said Owens.

Owens said that it required a 10 percent cash match of $937. The grant is in the amount of $9,373.

Commissioners tabled the Crime Victim's Assistance Grant application to be submitted to the Criminal Justice Division of the Governor's Office.

"I think we need to speak to Randy Reynolds before we approve this application," said county judge Jimmy Galindo. "He might have some funds that can be used for the cash match."

Early voting clerks were approved as presented by the county clerk. The clerks will receive $7 an hour and early voting will be held from Feb. 23 through March 5 for the March 9 primary election.

Clerks will be Marianne Clark, judge; Estella Nichols, alternate judge; Willie Mae Williams and Vanessa Hidalgo, assistant alternates.

Board to study RCH new equipment

The Reeves County Hospital Board will meet tonight to discuss equipment that will be used in the new wing of the hospital and the renewal and possible alteration of the hospital's agreement with the Balmorhea Ambulance Service

Board members will also discuss the sale of assorted foreclosed properties within the hospital district during the meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. in the classroom at Reeves County Hospital.

The board will also be looking into RCH's status as a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center.

FQHC is a designation that makes the hospital eligible for additional federal funds to reimburse the hospital for the poverty level and indigent care given at the facility.

The hospital had previously been awarded a grant in the amount of $55,000 to study whether the FQHC was a better route for the facility to take rather than the originally proposed Rural Heath Clinic.

The programs are similar, with the only caveat being that the FQHC program is currently being strongly backed by the federally government at this time, according to RCH Administrator Robert Vernor.

"The FQHC program is (President) Bush's proposal to take care of the access problems that rurally located Americans face,' he said.

During the Oct. 29 hospital board meeting, money was granted to give the hospital the necessary funds to look into the possible routes, benefits and drawbacks to becoming a FQHC.

The study was also to look into the possibility of reverting back to the Rural Health Clinic if the FQHC program is no longer supported in the future.

"We are actually looking into doing both, if possible," Vernor said.

The equipment for the new wing that the board will be considering tonight will encompass the trauma X-ray center as well as the consideration of bids from various distributors for the dialysis units.

According to Vernor, the dialysis unit will have a total of 15 stations, but the board will review seven or eight bids for the unit itself.

"The bids will cover the equipment itself, service on the machines and installation in the unit itself," Vernor said. Also the board will look into approving the new X-ray machine for the trauma center.

This will allow X-rays to be completed without moving seriously injured patients all the way to radiology, Vernor said.

The new machine will cost the hospital around $90,000.

Vernor added that the construction on the new wing was still under budget and on schedule.

"The state's walk through last month went very well, with the inspectors only have a few verbal suggestions, but no written change orders,' he said.

The 100 percent walkthrough is scheduled for the first week in March.

The Balmorhea Ambulance Service had requested at a previous meeting an increase in the funding it receives from the hospital.

Board members requested that the money that the service receives from the hospital be separate to allow for ease of tracking in case of an audit.

Vernor said the money was accountable and that the agreement between the service and the hospital had been rewritten and updated.

The board will also consider moving next month's meeting, originally planned for the Feb. 24, to one week earlier due to scheduling concerns.

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Pecos Enterprise
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