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October 28, 1997

$2 million awarded for RCDC expansion

Enterprise Editor

PECOS, October 28, 1997 - A bid of $2.085 million was awarded yesterday by Reeves County Commissioners to Banes General Contractors for a building expansion project at the Reeves County Detention Center (RCDC).

Banes did not submit the lowest bid but, calculated on the time of completion - 210 days - as stipulated in bid notices, it was the bid that would end up costing the county the least money due to less lost revenues for boarding prisoners.

RCDC Warden Rudy Franco stressed to commissioners that time is of the essence because the RCDC is bulging at the seams with prisoners - about 780 as of yesterday with an average of 690.

The expansion is expected to increase capacity of the detention center to 1,000 prisoners. An alternate proposal to put in fire walls and life safety measures was not accepted due to the bids that were higher than last time. County Judge Jimmy Galindo noted, as did architect Lorraine Dailey, that once the contractor is on site, and they see what is necessary, the price on the alternate bid should come down.

It is anticipated that the alternate bid can be looked at again within 60 days. Banes had a bid of $367,400 for the alternate bid. That was the highest bid for the alternate.

Lee George Construction of Big Spring, had the bid on the day-room expansion of $1.963 million but anticipated completion was 270 days as compared to the 210 days for Banes. George also had the lowest bid on the alternate of $261,000.

By accepting the lowest number of days in completion the county expects to save $438,000 in anticipated revenue from the increased number of prisoners to be boarded.

Dailey of the San Antonio architectural firm of Dailey, Rabke & Gondeck, reported that eight or nine general contractors had requested plans for the expansion with four bids received. Also bidding were another El Paso firm and an Odessa contractor.

Banes is the largest contractor to submit a bid, having completed on time construction totalling almost $94 million in the past five years.

This is the second times bids have been taken on the project but previously, the bids came in higher than expected. The expansion plans were revised before bids were taken this time.

Before Dailey made her presentation, County Commissioner Bernardo Martinez questioned where the money was going to come from which caused a stir with Galindo who asked him if he just wanted to table it or what? "You're just being difficult today," he told Martinez.

After the presentation, Martinez said he understood where the money would be coming from - prisoner housing - and his question was answered.

Galindo reported that the expansion and bid letting was subject to approval from the attorney general's office and is not expected to be a problem. A representative of Banes said they understood that and would be ready to go at any time.

Galindo also noted that financing has been offered because of the good track record of the RCDC and Reeves County by Barry Friedman who has financed revenue bonds for other RCDC projects.

Commissioner Herman Tarin noted that Franco is doing a good job at the RCDC.

The first matter considered at the meeting involved contracts through the Permian Basin Regional Planning Commission under the Older Americans Act Program which finances operations of the senior centers in Pecos and Balmorhea.

There was some question about the legality of the contracts as Auditor Lynn Owens noted they required guarantees from the county that the county is not set up to handle. There could be the possibility of the county signing the contract and then having a sub-contractor agreement with the senior centers. A contract such as was submitted by PBRP is not the same as in the past, according to Owens as he doesn't have such a contract in his files.

Owens and directors of the senior centers, Donna Woodard of Pecos and Frances Joes of Balmorhea, are to meet with the PBRPC director to iron out details of the contract. The commissioners will consider the contract again in special session later this week or next week.

In other matters, Melissa Orona was named election judge for Box 9 Orla in the upcoming constitutional amendment election. Her husband, Orlando Orona, was named alternate judge.

In considering quotes for drilling water wells for the Balmorhea and Saragosa Cemeteries, Tarin, who has spearheaded this effort, reported on quotes he has received. Owens stopped the consideration of the amounts by saying they might be over the bid limit by the time everything was finished and it wouldn't be fair to those who have given quotes to announce their quotes.

Tarin is to check back on what total costs would be to see if bids need to be taken.

Commissioners also approved a resolution to retain five percent for administrative fees as suggested by Owens under a new state law on civil cases filed in Justice of the Peace, county and district courts and on family matters in county and district courts.

It won't amount to much, Owens said, but it will help.

The county also heard a report from Camilla Blum, director of the 143rd Judicial District community supervision & corrections department covering Reeves, Ward and Loving counties. She noted the annual report is not required but felt she should present the information. (See related story tomorrow.)

Under consideration of maintenance and janitorial personnel reassignments, Galindo noted that Reeves County Civic Center is in need of maintenance and that someone needs to be assigned full-time to look after the center. The measure was approved with Commissioner Felipe Arredondo to take care of the assignment as he has with other janitorial and maintenance functions for the county.

Arredondo is also to help in the re-location of the Community Council of Reeves County to the county annex building. The council has been notified they will be evicted from their present offices next January by the Pecos Housing Authority after disagreements with that group. The council already has some offices in the annex but now will use additional space.

Arredondo will make sure several unused offices are cleared out and painted before the council moves in.

Two matters were tabled as agreements have yet to be worked out with the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school district. One regards lighting at Martinez Field for use in the new girls softball program. The second matter is to provide for a juvenile peace officer at the schools, a program that the county might put in $10,000 to help, Galindo reported. But he said he hoped a cooperative effort can be worked out between the city police and sheriff's office to provide the juvenile officer.

An educational agreement between the RCDC and Odessa College was approved under a federal program that could see the RCDC getting as much as $10,000 by offering courses for prisoners at the detention center. This program was made possible due to the experience Franco has with federal provisions, Galindo said.

Also approved was a chemical dependency counseling program at RCDC with Sandra Yeager being employed on a contract basis to provide such services.

Another contract was also reconsidered, this one being between the county and Golf Course Maintenance Supervisor Royce Cassell. A contract between the two was approved at a meeting earlier this month but Galindo accused Martinez of scuttling that agreement with "premature" disclosure of the contract with Martinez's constituents which resulted in Cassell wanting health insurance in addition to the $18,000 salary.

Martinez disagreed in a bickering session that lasted several minutes before the court approved offering the health insurance to Cassell if he meets the guidelines of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas since he is a contract employee.

Martinez said the contract had been approved by the commissioners before he divulged it but Galindo noted that Cassell had not signed it. The cost of the health insurance, if provided, will exceed the salary paid to the previous golf course manager by the amount the insurance expected to cost, $3,000.

ROT leaders challenge court's authority

Associated Press Writer

ALPINE, Texas (AP) October 28, 1997 - The trial of two Republic of Texas separatists has proved to be every bit as unorthodox as their political philosophies.

Republic leader Richard McLaren and Robert Otto, his top lieutenant, spent the opening day of the trial Monday shuttling in and out of the courtroom as they were each ordered removed eight times.

The men are on trial for their part in a week-long armed standoff with authorities in the Davis Mountains last spring.

Remaining as defiant as they were during the siege, the two refused to follow legal procedures and interrupted proceedings with rambling political statements. Both emphasized their belief that the state courts have no jurisdiction over them because they are foreign nationals.

"I'm not proceeding forward. We will proceed forward in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Congress and the United Nations," said McLaren, the self-styled ambassador for the Republic.

Members of the movement believe Texas was illegally annexed by the United States and remains an independent nation.

Prosecutor Albert Valadez and state District Judge Kenneth DeHart tried to work around the interruptions. DeHart kept bringing the defendants back into the courtroom because, he said, he wants them to participate in the case. Valadez, who frequently had to talk over McLaren's objections, said he knew all along the case would be unorthodox.

"I expected him to be disruptive," Valadez said outside court.

Both McLaren, 44, and Otto, 46, have court-appointed attorneys who were in court, but they have decided to represent themselves.

The case is expected to wrap up Thursday.

The pair is charged with engaging in organized criminal activity for allegedly plotting to kidnap two neighbors in the Davis Mountains Resort, a rural subdivision 175 miles southeast of El Paso.

The April 27 abduction, carried out by McLaren's Republic followers, sparked the standoff with nearly 300 state troopers and Texas Rangers. The siege ended May 3 when the group agreed to lay down its weapons.

Once a jury of seven men and five women was seated, Valadez said in his opening statement that McLaren and Otto were at the core of the kidnapping conspiracy.

The defendants refused to offer rebuttal statements.

Joe Rowe, one of the two hostages allegedly taken by Republic members, later testified that he had seen the group conducting paramilitary operations outside his home the day before the siege started.

Rowe said he and his wife, Margaret Ann, were not surprised when three armed people clad in camouflage showed up at their door.

"Both of us said, 'They're here.' We both knew what we meant," Rowe testified. "It meant the Republic of Texas finally came to do what they said they were going to do."

In the months before the standoff, Rowe said, McLaren had circulated a map identifying the Rowe house as a military target. Rowe has said the group coveted the house's strategic position and accused the Rowes of being government informants.

Rowe was to continue testifying today.

Two other group members will go on trial in December on the same charges. All could face five to 99 years or life in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted.

Spooky events planned all week long

Staff Writer

PECOS, October 28, 1997 - Ghost, goblins, fairies and monsters will be out on Friday, Oct. 31, asking for treats.

Friday night has been declared by city officials as the official date for these little 'ghouls' to go out trick-or-treating. However, several other activities are planned before then.

Pecos Kindergarten will have a Halloween Carnival Thursday, Oct. 30, in the school cafeteria. Events will get underway at 1 p.m. and end at 3 p.m.

Parents will be allowed to bring little brothers or sisters to the special event at the school, regardless of whether they attend the school or not.

Instructional games will be held and goodies sold. Candy bags will be $1 and tickets to purchase other items will be sold at the school for $3.

"The tickets are to purchase items such as popcorn, pickles, cokes, rice crispy treats, Anchor (West) finger foods and cookies," said PTO President Elsa Martinez.

School officials decided to use tickets so that the children will not have to handle money, according to Martinez.

Tickets not used at the carnival can be used the following Friday to purchase pickles and popcorn.

"This coming Friday, we will not be selling popcorn or pickles like usual, because of the carnival," said Martinez.

Costumes can be worn to the event, but face masks will not be allowed.

The candy bags are separate from the tickets, according to Martinez.

Pecos Elementary is planning a community-wide Halloween carnival for Thursday, Oct. 30 at the Reeves County Civic Center.

Each class at the school will have a booth, as will other campuses that wish to participate. Other organizations have also purchased booths at the carnival.

An enchilada dinner will be held in conjunction with the spooky event. The dinner will be from 5 until 9 p.m. and tickets for the event can be purchased beforehand from a parent or student at the school.

The carnival will be open from 6 to 9 p.m., with several games planned along with a jumping balloon

Proceeds from the carnival will go toward new books for the school library, classroom supplies and books and school materials and equipment.


PECOS, October 28, 1997 - High Monday, 72, low, 46. It will be cloudy across extreme West Texas and in the mountains of Southwest Texas and clear to partly cloudy elsewhere across West Texas. Lows tonight will be in the 30s and 40s in West Texas. Highs Wednesday will be in the 60s and 70s.

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