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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Monday, March 8, 2004

County gets deal on Arizona inmates for RCDC

Staff Writer

Officials for Reeves County announced today that the county has entered into a contract with the state of Arizona for housing inmates at the Reeves County Detention Center III unit.

The county at the state of Arizona will enter first into a 16-week contract, with the initial term ending on June 30, at the end of the current Arizona fiscal year. However, the contract may be renewed by mutual agreement for three consecutive terms of one year each, effective July 1 of each year.

The contract agreement was announced just prior to this afternoon’s meeting of the Reeves County Commissioner’s Court. Commissioners were scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. on the third floor of the Reeves County Courthouse, and the inter-governmental agreement with Arizona will be the main items on today’s agenda.

Under the terms of the IGA, Reeves County will house a minimum of 778 Arizona inmates, and a maximum of 864 inmates, with the additional 86 inmates, in the new Phase III of the Reeves County Detention Complex (RCDC). The county expects to begin the intake of Arizona prisoners in mid-March and to reach a population of 778 prisoners on or before May 28, after which the guaranteed minimum daily occupancy level will apply.

This contract follows the new three-year Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) that Reeves County entered into on Feb. 18, with United States Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for the housing of BOP inmates in Phase I and II of the RCDC Complex. Under that IGA, the BOP agreed to house a minimum average daily population of 2,025 inmates, with an established maximum daily population of 2,200 inmates. The GEO Group currently manages the entire 3,025-bed RCDC Complex under an agreement with Reeves County while the employees remain on the county payroll.

“We have been working hard for some time to find inmates to fill all three phases of the Reeves County Detention Complex. With the assistance of the GEO Group, we have finalized solid agreements with the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the State of Arizona that will allow us to achieve our goals over the coming months for continued economic growth and new jobs in our community,” said Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 1 Felipe Arredondo, who traveled too Washington with Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo during contract negotiations.

The 960-bed RCDC III opened last March, but could not get BOP inmates to fill the facility. With the first in a series of $40 million in bond payments looming last fall, the county entered into an agreement with GEO Group to both manage all three units at the Arizona Corrections Director Dora Schriro said last month that under a proposal given to that state’s legislature, Arizona would send 1,200 prisoners to Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga, Okla., and 864 prisoners to the Reeves County Detention Center in Pecos. Arizona plans to use the two out-of-state prisons for about a year to provide the state with breathing room until facilities in Arizona are expanded, Schriro said.

Arizona’s 31,000-inmate corrections system is currently short 4,200 permanent beds, and the state’s Legislature in January approved a prison-expansion package negotiated by legislative leaders and Gov. Janet Napolitano.

The package authorizes 2,000 new permanent beds - 1,000 at existing public prisons and 1,000 at private ones - and the use of 1,400 to 2,100 "provisional" temporary beds outside the state, most likely at private prisons in Texas or Oklahoma. The Associated Press contributed to this report

Final totals for early voting top 2,250 for Tuesday races

Staff Writer

Voting clerks are getting ready for the big day tomorrow and candidates will be awaiting the results, as local residents join others across Texas in going to the polls in the state primary elections

With no local candidates running in the Republican primary, most of the races for four-year terms in the November general election will be decided in Tuesday’s vote. And with 20 candidates running in five contested local races, over 2,250 people have already voted, either in person at the Reeves County Courthouse or by mail.

The total represented about 30 percent of the county’s registered voters. Two years ago, during the last major county elections, a total of 1,832 persons cast ballots early, either by personal appearance or by mail for entire early voting period in the 2002 primary races.

Early voting ended Friday, with 1,829 individuals casting their ballots early by personal appearance. There were also 444 mail-in ballots, which will still be accepted through Tuesday, according to Reeves County Clerk Dianne Florez.

“We will be accepting mail-in ballots until 7 p.m., tomorrow,” said Florez.

The two-man races for Reeves County sheriff and 143rd District Attorney have been the most hotly contested in the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s vote, while with nine candidates in the race for Precinct 3 commissioner and five others seeking the seat in Precinct 1, those two races will face a runoff in April between the top two finishers, if no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote.

The race for sheriff is the only contested county-wide election. Two-term incumbent Arnulfo “Andy” Gomez is seeking a new four-year term, and is being challenged by former Reeves County sheriff’s deputy Jeffrey P. Baeza. The race for 143rd District Attorney includes all county voters, but also voters from Ward and Loving counties. In that race, two-term incumbent Randall Reynolds faces former district attorney Hal Upchurch.

In the race for Precinct 3 commissioner, two-term incumbent Herman Tarin opted not to run for another four-year term. Nine candidates are seeking to replace Tarin. They are Abel Baeza, Lisa Lopez Boicourt, Rosendo Galindo, Jimmy Gallego, Saul Herrera, Manuel “Manny” Lopez, Joel Madrid, Joseph Peter Rodriguez and Bailey Wheeless. Five individuals are vying for the position of Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 1. including incumbent Felipe Arredondo, who is seeking a fourth term in office. The four challengers are: Rogelio “Roy” Alvarado, “Chel” Florez, Armando “Mondie” Granado and Robert C. Natividad.

Precinct 3 voters will also be casting ballots in a contested race for constable, where Alma Fleenor is challenging incumbent Tomas “Tommy” Martinez. Elections will be held Tuesday, March 9 from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., and all 11 polling places will be open at that time.

Reeves County Polling locations include: Commissioner Pct. #1-Boxes 2&11; Commissioner Pct. #2 Boxes 3,4&12; Commissioner Pct. #3-Boxes 5,6&10 and Commissioner Pct. #4 - Boxes 1,7&8.

Polling places: 1. Community Center, 506 S. Oak; 2. Odessa College, 1000 Eddy St.; 3. Pecos High School Gym, 1300 Iowa St.; 4. Toyah City Hall, Toyah; 5. Balmorhea Fire Hall, 4th and San Antonio, Balmorhea; 6. Saragosa Multi-Purpose Center, Saragosa; 7. Reeves County Library, 505 S. Park; 8. Lamar Elem. School, Rm. 1, Oak & “F” Street; 10. Reeves County Annex Bldg., Community Council Room, 700 Daggett Street; 11. Sadler Haynes Center, 900 Locust St. and 12. Texas-New Mexico Power Reddy Room, 1126 Stafford Blvd.

Florez said that the County Clerk’s Office, will be closed for business all day tomorrow due to the election, and the Reeves County Treasurer-Tax Assessor Office will also be closed all day tomorrow. The two offices will resume their regular business hours on Wednesday.


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