Ward County Judge Vows to Fight for Facility

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

MONAHANS- The fate of the West Texas State School in Pyote is once again up in the air, after a report calls for it's closure. Last year the school came under scrutiny when two officials were charged with abusing inmates. The scandal turned the Texas Youth Commission inside out but the facility stayed open.

"Whatever the government funds, the government can stop funding at any time," Ward County Judge Greg Holly, said.

Last month, the Sunset Advisory Commission, called for "major restructuring of the TYC," including the closure of the West Texas State School. The report said the school was too remote and too difficult to keep staffed.

Tim Savoy, a spokesperson for the Texas Youth Commission says the West Texas State School is open and will stay open until they hear otherwise from Lawmakers.

The uncertainty is all too familiar for Judge Holly.

"We hear the school is going to be open for a long period of time and then we turn around and hear it is in danger of closing," he said.

In March of 2007, Judge Holly and other local leaders held a rally in Monahans to keep the facility open.

"We fought real hard a year and a half ago to keep the school open and were successful in doing that in the last session," Judge Holly is hopeful they can do it again.

Every 12 years, the Sunset Advisory Commission searches for government waste within some 150 agencies in Texas.

The West Texas State School in Pyote is currently budgeted for 96 beds, but the report says it can house up to 240 inmates. The report says staffing issues are a problem at the facility but Judge Holly disagrees. He says the West Texas State School has been under a hiring freeze and that's why they don't have more staff members.

Savoy says about 150 people currently work at the facility.

"You're talking about 150 families that live and work in the area," Judge Holly said.

Crude Oil closed at $36.22 Thursday, another factor Judge Holly says that outlines the need for the jobs.

"As oil prices go down it means that jobs are even more important," Judge Holly, said.

Judge Holly says he'll continue his fight because he says the school does a good job and it's the only facility in the area that is able to serve troubled youth from West Texas.