A sad day: Detention center to open in Pahrump Oct. 1

How sad, a society that has its hopes on a prison for an economic stimulus. Another prison town is born. Prisons cost money and lives. We hope the people who need jobs will find good, worthwhile work elsewhere, and not in a prison setting. Do we really need a prison for our jobs? Wake up, Nevada.

Monday, September 13, 2010
Detention center to open in Pahrump Oct. 1
Business owners hope facility can boost economy
BY TIM O’REILEY
Las Vegas Business Press

PAHRUMP — Business owners hope they have found a stimulus for the town’s battered economy behind barbed wire.

On Oct. 1, the Nevada Southern Detention Center is scheduled to be ready to take its first inmates, mainly defendants awaiting federal trial in Las Vegas. Developer and operator Corrections Corp. of America has nearly finished hiring the full staff of 234 and has worked to entrench a friendly image by staging job fairs and chaperoning tours for chamber of commerce members.

“I think it will help,” said Tim Hafen of Hafen & Hafen Realty. “The people that are going to work there are going to need to find houses. The housing market we’re in can use anybody.”

Corrections Corp. managers push several numbers front and center:

• Nearly half of those hired already live in Pahrump

• Only two out of a sample group of 30 will commute from Las Vegas; for the 28 others, the company estimates their annual spending at about $600,000

• As a for-profit entity, it will pay $810,000 a year in property taxes

“With all the new jobs, I think it gives a little ray of hope to businesses to hang on for a while,” town manager William Kohbarger said.

The town’s $105,000 share of the taxes could mean the difference between maintaining the town’s current work force or instituting layoffs, he said. This year, the town had to cut $564,000 in spending to balance its $4.6 million budget.

Others, however, have yet to see much help on the horizon. About a month ago, Mary Ann Wiberg, owner of Pahrump Valley Roasters, said she received a call from Corrections Corp. asking her for price quotes. She said she couldn’t give any because the company representative did not specify what he wanted, although he promised to call her back.

“Nobody ever got back to me,” said Wiberg, who sells roasted coffee beans. “For me, it’s a wait-and-see thing. I haven’t heard a whole lot about what’s going on there.”

Norma Jean Opatik, who owns Action Realty, thinks it will take at least a year to see whether the detention center — many locals quickly correct people who call it a prison — will affect the economy. For example, she cannot calculate whether the housing occupied by employees will offset the vacancies created by people who moved out because of the facility.

“It’s hard to say what will happen at this stage,” Opatik said. “If, in fact, it does create jobs, it would help because there is no industry here.”

Michelle Phillips, a independent website designer, said she had not heard of any locals getting jobs at the detention center despite Corrections Corp.’s numbers.

“It’s not going to help with the economy any because the people they are hiring are from California,” she said. “The only thing it’s going to bring is unsavory characters.”

Read more here.

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APNewsBreak: Former Idaho prison heads transferred to new federal prison in Pahrump, Nevada

From: Associated Press
By REBECCA BOONE (AP)

BOISE, Idaho — A private prison company being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union amid allegations of extreme violence at an Idaho lockup has shuffled Idaho’s ousted warden and assistant warden to top posts at federal prisons in Kansas and Nevada.

Phillip Valdez, the former warden at the 2,104-bed Idaho Correctional Center near Boise, has been named assistant warden at the Leavenworth Detention Center, a prison CCA runs for the U.S. Marshals Service in Leavenworth, Kan.

The company didn’t have any open warden positions, so Valdez opted to take the assistant warden spot at the 1,033-bed Kansas prison rather than leave the company, said Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Steve Owens.

ICC’s former assistant warden, Dan Prado, has been named assistant warden at the new Nevada Southern Detention Center, a 1,072-bed facility currently being built at Pahrump, Nev., for the Office of Federal Detention Trustee, an agency under the U.S. Department of Justice.

Neither Valdez nor Prado could be reached by The Associated Press.

CCA announced that Valdez and Prado would no longer be leading the Idaho prison after the $155 million lawsuit was filed earlier this year.

The ACLU and inmates at the prison are asking for class-action status, contending the prison is so violent that it’s been dubbed “gladiator school” by prisoners and that guards expose inmates to beatings from other prisoners as a management tool. The lawsuit also contends CCA has denied adequate medical care to injured inmates as a way to reduce the appearance of injuries.

Read more here

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Correctional officer arrested in Pahrump armed robberies

Oct. 08, 2009
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

Correctional officer arrested in Pahrump armed robberies

By HENRY BREAN
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

Police in Nye County have arrested a Nevada corrections officer in connection with a pair of armed robberies at a Pahrump convenience store.

Pahrump resident Vincent Matthew Czechorosky, 24, was taken into custody by the Nye County sheriff’s office early Wednesday morning after a car chase that ended with a deputy firing shots at the suspect’s vehicle.

Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo said deputies found Czechorosky’s Department of Corrections badge in the vehicle along with a handgun and money from the most recent robbery.

Corrections spokeswoman Suzanne Pardee confirmed on Thursday that Czechorosky worked at High Desert State Prison in Indian Springs, where he was in his third year with the department.

“That’s ‘was,’” Pardee said. “Let’s just say he’s been terminated as of yesterday.”

Read more here

Correctional officer arrested in Pahrump armed robberies

Oct. 08, 2009
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

Correctional officer arrested in Pahrump armed robberies

By HENRY BREAN
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

Police in Nye County have arrested a Nevada corrections officer in connection with a pair of armed robberies at a Pahrump convenience store.

Pahrump resident Vincent Matthew Czechorosky, 24, was taken into custody by the Nye County sheriff’s office early Wednesday morning after a car chase that ended with a deputy firing shots at the suspect’s vehicle.

Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo said deputies found Czechorosky’s Department of Corrections badge in the vehicle along with a handgun and money from the most recent robbery.

Corrections spokeswoman Suzanne Pardee confirmed on Thursday that Czechorosky worked at High Desert State Prison in Indian Springs, where he was in his third year with the department.

“That’s ‘was,’” Pardee said. “Let’s just say he’s been terminated as of yesterday.”

Read more here

Pahrump: fight continues against detention center

From the Pahrump Valley Times:

Sep. 18, 2009

Proposed distance from ‘prison’ was redlined by staff
By MARK WAITE and MARK SMITH
PVT

It all began a long time ago.

Jan. 24, 2007 — more than two and a half years ago — the PVT printed on its front page a story titled “Town has no lock on fed prison plan.”

And so what has become a major issue regarding development, revenue, jobs and political viability, got under way.

Over the intervening months, the PVT has been riddled with stories about the detention center, many on the front page and for which it won a number of Nevada Press Association awards in 2008.

But one issue has persisted as a burr under the saddle — the reduction in the minimum distance between a prison, as many insist the detention center is, and the nearest residences.

Nye County commissioners long ago, on April 18, 2007, passed what remains a controversial motion to change the county zoning code and eliminate the minimum distance requirement of 50,000 feet between a correctional institution and residences.

At the time, there was no group like Concerned Citizens for a Safe Community, no anti-prison privatization consultants like Frank Smith of the Private Corrections Institute, and only a couple residents who attended the relevant meetings and spoke up.

Despite ongoing publicity about the detention center, it was a year later, during the summer of 2008, before the code change began to attract significant public attention.

The idea of revising the zoning to allow a correctional facility first came up during a March 9, 2007, county commission meeting held via a conference call, when then County Manager Ron Williams told commissioners a provision in the county code would have to be changed.

At the time, Nye County Code allowed only for a lockup for people already convicted, he said. Williams said the code also required such facilities be at least 50,000 feet, about 9.5 miles, from the nearest residence.

That minimum distance in the county code was enacted after the Pahrump Regional Planning Commission in the late 1990s decided it didn’t want a correctional facility in Pahrump.

At that time, there had been talk of building a prison somewhere in Southern Nevada, Williams told commissioners. Pahrump Valley was sufficiently expansive to include areas where a correctional facility could be built 10 miles from homes, he said.

Williams said if the ordinance wasn’t changed, Nye County could catch flack from some of the companies spending money on surveying land for possible detention center sites.

Commissioner Butch Borasky expressed concerns over the increasing size of the privately-built, federal detention center, which was originally going to be 350 beds, but at the time, there was talk of boosting it to 1,000 beds.

Former Commissioner Peter Liakopoulos and Borasky both talked about trying to situate the facility as far away from town as possible.

The county commission had just backed off from a suggestion to submit Nye County’s own bid to build a federal detention center, after former Commissioner Roberta “Midge” Carver raised concerns over liability.

Williams added Nye County didn’t have the experience to compete with private contractors already established in the industry. It also wouldn’t be a good idea to revise the solicitation for bids by the U.S. Department of Justice to include beds for the county’s own inmates, he said.

On March 23, 2007, county commissioners voted to set an April 18 hearing date for what had become bill 2007-07 that would establish a new community facilities zone that would allow a federal detention center in the zoning code.

It would also dump the minimum distance requirement.

County commissioners were being urged to take action as contractors were required to submit phase one environmental surveys on proposed locations for the detention center by April 30, 2007.

Former Pahrump Town Board Chairman Laurayne Murray talked about the tremendous financial impact from a detention center requiring 200 to 250 jobs, an annual payroll of $9 million and tax payments of $800,000 per year.

She urged commissioners to move quickly in light of competition from other communities for the project. There were 11 original sites proposed.

The Pahrump Regional Planning Commission recommended approval of the bill April 11, 2007.

At the April 18, 2007, public hearing by the Nye County Commission, Borasky suggested a minimum distance remain between correctional facilities and residences.

“I would really like to see some distance between residential housing and that type of facility — a mile and a half — and also be on a paved road as well,” Borasky said.

The proposed bill, 2007-07, had five special conditions at the end, one of which was a requirement that “the facility must be located at least five miles from any established residential use.”

Those special conditions, however, were deleted sometime between March 23, 2007, when the bill was first scheduled for a hearing, and the RPC April 11 meeting with a red line through them. No one objected to the red line deletion — no one took credit for the deletions at the time, and who actually redlined them is unclear even today — but Williams told commissioners the county was supposed to be removing the 50,000-foot setback.

“Again, I’ll make the same statement: Are we going to add a mileage requirement or not?” Borasky asked.

“The way we’re drafting this ordinance, there is no distance or mileage requirement from the residents to the facility,” Nye County Planning Director Jack Lohman said.

Borasky, in a front page April 25, 2007, PVT story titled “Released detainees concern town board member,” said he felt satisfied the county would have enough control over where the detention center was to be located when it came to approving the conditional use permit.

The story specified that the minimum distance had been removed from the special conditions.

But when it came to the rezoning of the Mesquite Avenue property in July 2007, Williams said the county would vote on a development agreement instead of a conditional use permit.

“Would planning approve a correctional facility within a residential neighborhood?” Commissioner Gary Hollis asked at the April 2007 hearing.

“Well, not without a general plan amendment,” said Lohman, “and it would be up to you folks to decide where to put it.”

Hollis, then the county commission chairman, mistakenly called for the vote on the bill before the public comment period.

When public comment was reopened, however, only a couple of people spoke up.

Pahrump resident John Koenig, a regular attendee at county commission meetings, said, if the county set a minimum distance from residences, “it will make it a lot easier at decision time to say that’s a good site.”

Pahrump Town Board member John McDonald had concerns over detainees being released onto the streets of Pahrump.

Attorney Tony Celeste, representing the Geo Group, one of the two contractors bidding on a detention center project, said, placing a minimum separation distance would preclude the county commission from evaluating a potentially viable site for consideration.

Liakopoulos made the motion to approve bill 2007-07. It passed on a 4-1 vote. Carver cast the sole vote in opposition without explaining her objection.

There was an attempt shortly afterward to build a separate Nye County detention facility.

In May 2007, county commissioners voted 3-1 to negotiate with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on a 500-bed detention facility to be built and operated by the county.

Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo said he met with Mike Webb, a supervisory agent for ICE, about the proposal, which would allow the county to house its own prisoners and lease bed space to other agencies.

Somehow that plan became mingled in the minds of some with the federal detention center.

On July 11, 2007, the RPC voted to recommend a site farther north on Parque Avenue, almost into Johnnie, for the detention center, while reviewing five zoning applications.

A week later, the county commission passed a motion by Borasky to approve a non-conforming zoning change for 160 acres at the 2250 E. Mesquite Ave., detention center site from open use-general commercial to a community facilities zone, overruling the RPC denial of that site.

County planner Rick Osborne said the nearest residence was 600 feet away.

Find this article at:
http://www.pahrumpvalleytimes.com/2009/Sep-18-Fri-2009/news/31275071.html