By Cierra Putman
FORT STOCKTON - Not too long ago things were looking bleak for two Pecos County correctional facilities and the hundreds of people they employed because of staffing issues.
But thanks to a joint effort to bring in new housing to Fort Stockton for jailers those dismal days are hopefully in the past.
They're simple dwellings, but the Pecos County Bachelor Officer's Quarters helped save hundreds of jobs.
"Eighteen months ago at city hall was the regional director TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice) and he was saying he was leaving town and taking all of his inmates with him," Mayor Ruben Falcon said. "We got on the fast track and said we've got to do something."
On Wednesday, city, state and county officials gathered for the grand opening and ribbon cutting for the quarters that are helping staff the Fort Stockton and Lynaugh correctional units.
"We're very grateful to the city of Fort Stockton and the community, because due to them building this new housing area our population for staffing went from nearly 10 percent to 96 to 94 percent in both facilities," Senior Warden Linda Carranza Gonzalez said. "Therefore it gave us the opportunity to repopulate the unit. Now we're back to full staffing and full offender population."
"We said we're going to offer them a hotel type setting for free," Falcon said. "To finally see it open it's a reality to say a dream come true it is, but its part of the bigger picture to see a more diversified economy.".
"A lot of the officers are from El Paso," Gonzalez said. "So it saves them money and doesn't put a burden on the family."
Move in started in December now about 20 officers enjoy the units half of what they can house.
They're equipped with beds showers and for some a short-walk to work and more comforts are on their way.
Even though some of the officers have already moved in there's still work to be done especially in the center common area which is now just dirt. In the future the city hopes to put down some grass, a patio and maybe even a barbeque pit so the officers can relax when they get home from work.
But Gonzalez is most excited about what was her number one concern.
"By us having our staffing up to par it gives us that confidence that we can have our staff there available if an emergency occurs of course we have them housed here," she said.