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Archive 2004

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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, April 30, 2004

RCDC reports hunger strike at prison over

Staff Writer

A hunger strike that resulted in a lockdown at Reeves County Detention Center units I and II this week has ended, prison officials announced this morning.

A press release from the prison said that inmates in RCDC I and II have resumed normal participation in the food service eating schedule.

The document goes on to state that the administration has “implemented a plan for the return to normal operations.” However , comments from neither RCDC Warden Rudy Franco nor County Judge Jimmy Galindo were available today in seeking details of the settlement. Calls to both offices have not been returned all week.

In a press release issued on Tuesday, RCDC officials said that the inmates began refusing to eat meals on Monday, and the protest spread to all inmates in units I and II. The original reason for the hunger strike and subsequent lockdown was because of recently instituted security measures, officials said, but they did not explain what these security measures might have been, and did not say this morning if those measures are still in place.

Today’s press release does go on to state that no serious incidents have been associated with the hunger strike and that the facility is “calm.”

The two units, which house over 2,100 U.S. Bureau of Prisons inmates, has undergone some changes in recent months, since Reeves County entered into a contract with GEO Group to manage both units and the new RCDC III unit, completed last year.

The county entered into the agreement due to budget problems centering on the inability of the prison to acquire BOP inmates to fill the 960-bed facility. In February, Reeves Country and GEO signed an agreement to house inmates for the State of Arizona. Under the rules, the BOP and Arizona inmates have to be kept segregated, and the RCDC III unit also has different staffing and facilities from RCDC I and II.

Rumors circulated early Monday morning about riots and gang fights in RCDC III, and a hunger strike in RCDC I and II. Confirmation of the hunger strike came Tuesday at noon with the first press release, but there has been no official comment on any problems in RCDC III, and inmates from that facility were seen in the prison yard on Tuesday.

Neither officials with the BOP nor the Arizona Department of Corrections have commented on any problems connected with the facility.

Former Pecos resident jailed after major drug bust

Staff Writer

A former Pecos resident was one of two persons arrested on Monday in a major drug bust in Ector County that took over $900,000 of illegal substances off the streets.

“This as a major drug bust, it’s a substantial amount,” said West Texas Narcotics Task Force Assistant Commander Javier Leyva, about the arrest, which involved the Odessa-based task force and the Texas Department of Public Safety Narcotics Service.

Leyva said after a month-long investigation, utilizing undercover officers, the two men, identified as Victor Romo, 43, of Odessa and formerly of Pecos, and Dennis Rodney Rakowitz, 32, were both arrested for possession of marijuana, approximately 500 pounds (a second degree felony) at 2708 Northstar in western Ector County.

As part of the investigation, officers also located six pounds of cocaine at Romo’s residence, located at 3043 Mercury, also in western Ector County.

“He used to live in Pecos and is now residing in Odessa,” said Leyva.

He added that even though this isn’t the biggest bust the task force has made, it’s a really big one.

The two made their first appearance in Federal Court in Midland and are being held by the U.S. Marshals, according to Leyva.

“No bond has been set and are being held until the judge decides what to do,” said Leyva. “Federal prosecutors in Midland are working on this case.”

The marijuana has an estimated street value of approximately $680,400 and the cocaine has an estimated street value of $244,944.

Leyva said that this is an ongoing investigation and that more arrests are pending. “This was a drug ring we are continuing to investigate and there are a lot more people involved,” he said.

“It’s significant to have this amount of drugs off the streets,” said Leyva. “It’s thanks to the cooperation of the different agencies, we all work well together and everyone cooperates,” he said.

Leyva said that it’s the cooperation between the agencies that makes these types of investigations so successful.

Participating agencies included: the Texas DPS Narcotics; Ector County Sheriff’s Office “TRT”; Odessa Police Department Narcotics; Trans Pecos Drug Task Force and the Ector County District Attorney’s Office.

Suspect sought on stolen item, drug charges

Staff Writer

Pecos police are seeking an arrest warrant is for an occupant of an east side residence, after drugs and stolen items were found during a drug rain this morning.

Police said the raid was staged on the narcotics search warrant at 10:37 a.m., today. The warrant was for a residence at 1105 S. Orange Street, Apartment B.

“Once the premises were secured, officers proceeded to search and during the search of the residence, officers found inside the master bedroom, a substance believed to be marijuana,” said Pecos Police Investigator Paul Deishler.

During the search, officers located inside the storage room of the apartment, property believed to be stolen, according to Deishler.

“A check was conducted on some of the property and the check revealed that some of the property had been reported stolen,” he added.

Officers completed their search of the premises and warrants are pending at this time for one of the occupants of the residence for the offense of possession of a controlled substance (marijuana) and possession of stolen property, according to Deishler.

PHS claims Crane, Dallas band awards

Staff Writer

Pecos High School’s Concert Band received a Division I rating last week as part of a University Interscholastic League competition involving t three Eagle band in Crane, while the school’s Symphonic Band took top honors last Saturday during competition in Dallas.

The bands participated in the Region 6 UIL Concert and Sight-reading Contest held in Crane on April 21-22. The PHS Concert Band received a first division rating of “Superior” and the Symphonic Band received a second division rating of “Excellent.” The Crockett Middle School Symphonic Band received a third division rating of “Good”, according to Eagle Band Director Merle Lenfest, who added that the judging panels for this year’s contest were very strict.

Greenwood was the only band whose high school and junior high both received first division ratings.

“Many schools whose bands consistently receive first division ratings did not this year,” said Lenfest.

He added that he was very proud of his students, who worked hard and long to be able to perform at this level. “I’m especially proud of Mr. Goff (Bill) and the concert band,” he said.

“Most of the 3A schools in our area do not have enough students in band to have two concert bands compete,” said Lenfest. “Our concert band was one of only eight first divisions given last week,” he said.

Lenfest said the PHS band rated higher than Monahans Concert Band and is the first concert group from Pecos to earn the highest rating since the late 1980’s.

The Crockett Symphonic Band played much better than last year’s group, but did not receive a higher rating because of the difficulty of this year’s judging panel, Lenfest added.

Following the Crane competition, the high school bands again competed at the Sandy Lake Music Festival in Dallas this past Saturday. Both groups received a first division superior rating and the symphonic band was awarded the best in class 3A award.

“I would like to thank my staff, Mr. Goff, Mr. Bostwick, and Mrs. Lenfest for all their help this year,” said Lenfest. “In addition, I would like to thank the faculty, administration of P-B-T ISD for their support of the Eagle Band,” he said.

“Life would also be much harder without the help of our transportation department, maintenance department, business office and secretarial staff,” said Lenfest. “Thank you for being so helpful and especially understanding of my shortcomings,” he said. Lenfest also thanked all the sponsors for the Spring Trip.

“Pecos, your students performed and behaved wonderfully last week,” said Lenfest. “Their behavior reflected on our community in a very positive way to everyone who came in contact with us,” said Lenfest.

The credit for all this success rests first and foremost on the parents of these students. “Thank you for loaning your students and their talent to the Mighty Eagle Band,” said Lenfest.

The Eagle Band will have their Spring Concert at 6:30 p.m., Monday at the Pecos High School auditorium.

Credit by Exam registration due Tuesday

Sign-up deadline for Credit by Examination is Tuesday, May 4, in the counselor’s office with Eva Arriola or Pat Cobos.

Test dates are May 19-21, at the Pecos High School.

Credit by Examination for acceleration allows students enrolled in grades nine through 12th to be awarded credit toward high school graduation through credit by examination for acceleration.

Students who wish to obtain credit for any class that counts toward graduation may apply to take the examination for acceleration. The student may not have been previously enrolled in the class. Applications are available in the Pecos High School Guidance and Counseling Office.

Credit is granted to students who score 90 percent or above mastery on the examination for accleration. The test will only be administered once in the fall and spring semesters. A copy of the testing schedule and application deadlines are available in the counseling office.

Clinic offers rabies shots on Saturday

The Pecos Animal Clinic will sponsor a Rabies Shot clinic from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., Saturday, in the clinic parking lot.

Rabies shots will be $10, (free dog dipping with the rabies shot) and all other vaccinations will be available at the regular price.

The group will also be in Balmorhea, at the Balmorhea Fire Hall, from 9 a.m. until noon, Saturday, May 15.

Youth basball camp planned at PHS Sunday

A Total Development Baseball Camp has been set from 9:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., Sunday, at the Pecos Eagle Baseball Field.

This camp is for anyone ages 12 and under.

An Advanced Camp will be held from 2-4:30 p.m., for ages 18 and under.

Cost for the camps is $30 and Boston Red Sox scout Gerald Fernandez will be on hand to coordinate the event.

For more information call 505-302-9961.

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