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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

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Thursday, August 16, 2001

Harvest season cuts unemployment rate

Staff Writer
PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 16, 2001-- An increase in agricultural workers with the beginning of the cantaloupe harvesting season boosted the number of workers in Reeves County in July, but a bigger increase in the number of jobs helped lower the county's unemployment rate by over one percent, according to figures released today by the Texas Workforce Commission.

The jobless rate, which climbed from 5.5 to 7.2 percent in June with the end of the 2000-2001 school year, dropped back down to 6.1 percent, the TWC said. The start of the harvest added 526 people to the county's workforce, bringing it to 7,790 last month, but the number of jobs increased by 578, to 7,318, while the total number of unemployed dropped from 522 to 472.

The local workforce and the number of jobs in Reeves County normally peaks during the summer harvest, but this year's jobless rates have been several percentage points lower than in recent years. May's 5.5 percent rate was the lowest for the county since the 1980s. Both the 7,790 people in the labor force in July and the 7,318 jobs in the county are highs so far in 2001, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

Unemployment for the Town of Pecos City also dropped last month, from 8.2 to 7 percent, today's TWC figures show. The city's workforce grew by 400 people to 6,069, while the number of jobs in Pecos was up 444, to 5,646 in July. There were 423 people unemployed.

Other agriculture-based counties in the Permian Basin also saw sharp jumps in their workforces in July, while almost all counties reported declines in their jobless rate last month.

Unemployment in Ward County dropped from 7.1 to 6.5 percent, as the number of jobs in the county increased while the workforce was virtually unchanged. Pecos County also saw a job increase while its labor force remained stable, which dropped its jobless rate from 5.5 to 4.9 percent, while the area's two largest counties, Ector and Midland, saw their unemployment rates decline as well, Ector by .6 percent to 5.8 percent and Midland by .4 percent, to 4.4 percent.

Overall, joblessness in the Permian Basin dropped from 5.2 to 4.6 percent last month. Among area counties, Presidio continued to have the highest jobless rate, at 23.5 percent, which was also the highest for any county in Texas. But that's still down by 1.6 percent from June, when over a quarter of the county's workforce was without jobs.

Statewide, about 60,000 fewer Texans held jobs in July and unemployment rose to 4.7 percent from 4.6 percent. Much of the increase in unemployment was due to seasonal reductions as school districts continued their annual shedding of jobs during the summer months.

But even when adjusted for seasonal trends, nonfarm employment fell by 18,800 jobs in July - the first such drop in a year _ to 9.64 million, the commission said.

Economists generally believe that seasonally adjusted numbers give a more accurate picture of the job market. The unadjusted figures showed higher but declining unemployment, to 5.2 percent from 5.4 percent in June.

Local and state government recorded job declines, while the number of federal employees in the state rose for the first time in six months, the commission said.

The commission highlighted teaching and nursing as two occupations expected to add the most jobs by 2008. It said there are now many openings for both jobs throughout the state.

Following are the July unemployment rates for Texas metropolitan areas, with June numbers in parentheses. The figures are not seasonally adjusted, with a statewide average of 5.2 percent:

Abilene 4.1 (4.6); Amarillo 3.3 (3.6); Austin-San Marcos 4.3 (4.2); Beaumont-Port Arthur 9.3 (10.0); Brazoria 6.6 (6.9); Brownsville-Harlingen 10.8 (10.2); Bryan-College Station 2.0 (1.9); Corpus Christi 6.3 (6.9); Dallas 5.2 (5.0);

El Paso 8.4 (8.8); Fort Worth-Arlington 4.3 (4.4); Galveston-Texas City 6.6 (6.9); Houston 4.6 (4.9); Killeen-Temple 4.5 (4.8); Laredo 7.3 (8.1); Longview-Marshall 5.7 (5.9); Lubbock 3.2 (3.6); McAllen-Edinburg-Mission 13.6 (13.7);

Odessa-Midland 4.6 (5.1); San Angelo 3.0 (3.1);

San Antonio 4.3 (4.3); Sherman-Denison 5.6 (5.6); Texarkana 4.6 (n/a); Tyler 4.1 (4.1); Victoria 4.5 (4.6); Waco 4.4 (4.5); Wichita Falls 3.8 (4.1).

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Deputes seek info on missing homeless man

Staff Writer
PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 16, 2001-- The whereabouts of an elderly homeless man are unknown one week after his disappearance, and Reeves County Sheriff's deputies are seeking information in the case.

Abdon Luna Ramirez was last seen on Aug. 8, according to sheriff's deputy Israel Campos. "David Reyes called in and said he regularly sees the guy, but he hadn't seen him since then," Campos said.

Campos said because Ramirez is homeless, he has been known to spend time in vacant buildings, mainly around the east side of town near the former Old Mill Café building.

"I went around and looked in his regular places and talked to some of his friends, and they said they hadn't seen him either," the deputy said. "They said he received his SSI check about the first or second of the month and cashed it at the Tellez' place (Popular Thriftway)."

After Reyes reported Ramirez missing on Aug. 8, officers waited a week to see if he would turn up on his own, which is the standard procedure in missing person cases. "Yesterday I came back and they said he hadn't popped back up. Nobody had seen him since then, so I entered his name in the computer as missing."

Reyes is described as about 80 years old, 5-foot-6 and 145 pound with gray hair and brown eyes. "Nobody remembers what he was wearing last," Campos said, so a description of his clothing was unavailable.

Anyone with information on Ramirez' whereabouts is asked to call the Reeves County Sheriff's Department at 445-4901.

Galindo says county looks to cut tax rate

PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 16, 2001-- Reeves County Commissioners appointed Elfida Zuniga to calculate the tax rate for the 2002 fiscal year during the regular meeting on Monday in the third floor courtroom at the Reeves County Courthouse.

The current tax rate for the county is set at 54 cents and Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo said that he hopes to lower this year's taxes, after mineral valuations for the county increased sharply this year.

"What we look to do is lower the taxes," he said.

The Commissioners also agreed to allow Transportation Lieutenants for Reeves County Detention Center to receive compensation time for each hour over the maximum 160 hours of work.

Galindo said that the Commissioners thought that the transportation lieutenants deserved the compensation time because of the long hours that they are asked to work while driving inmates from all over Texas.

"It's a tough, tough duty," he said.

Danny Reynolds of Balmorhea thanked the Commissioners for their approval of the agreement between the Reeves County Library and the Balmorhea Library Association.

Galindo said that the agreement is to allow Balmorhea to open an extension of the Reeves County Library and use books purchased by the Pecos library.

Task force helps in meth lab bust of Wickett men

Staff Writer
PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 16, 2001-- Area law enforcement agencies, including the Trans-Pecos Drug Task Force, arrested two Wickett men after executing a search warrant Wednesday night in Wickett in connection with a Methamphetamine manufacturing lab.

Investigators for the Task Force assisted Ward County and Andrews County Sheriff's deputies, along with the Wickett City Marshall, with the narcotic search warrant at 10:16 p.m., last night at a residence at 300 W. Second St. in Wickett.

Larry Richard Wilkes, Sr., 42 and Larry Richard Wilkes, Jr., 20, both of Wickett were arrested as a result of the search warrant, according to a press release by the task force.

Wilkes, Sr., was arrested and charged with felon in possession of a firearm and manufacture of a penalty group two (methanphetamine) over four grams.

Wilkes, Jr., was arrested for manufacture of a penalty group (methamphetamine) over four grams.

Upon arriving at the residence, officers discovered a medium sized methamphetamine lab capable of producing seven ounces of methamphetamine a day.

Officers secured the chemicals and equipment at the scene while Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officers were called from Midland and Dallas.

The DEA handle the disposal and cleaning of the lab. Both Wilkes' were transported to Ward County Jail.

Ward County Sheriff Mikel Strickland said that he would not tolerate any drug labs in the area.

"We will not tolerate the manufacturing of methamphetamine in this county," he said. "These illegal labs are dangerous to our community. We are committed to helping the Task Force find these labs."

The search was a result of an eight-month investigation in the Monahans and Andrews area of methanphetamine manufacturing and selling.

Trans-Pecos Drug Task Force is a multi-county task force working under a grant from the office of the Governor Criminal Justice Division.

The Task Force includes the counties and cities of Reeves, Ward, Loving, Culberson, Jeff Davis, Winkler, Andrews and Midland.

Fund established to help Brantleys after fatal crash

PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 16, 2001-- A benevolence fund has been established for Sherry Brantley who died in an automobile accident recently.

The fund is to help the family with hospital and funeral bills. Brantley was killed and her 14-year-old son injured in the accident near Mason last Saturday.

An account has been set up at Security State Bank and the account number is 13-925-4.

For more information contact Cornelia Brantley at 445-1049 or Leeta Lewis Fernandes at 447-9630 or 389-5705.

Assignments Friday for Crockett lockers

PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 16, 2001-- Crockett Middle School, seventh and eighth graders, will have a schedule pickup and lockers assignment date Friday.

All students with their last names beginning with A through C will pick up their schedules and locker assignments from 8-9 a.m., on Friday; students with last names ending with a D-F, from 9-10 a.m.; G-J, from 10 to 11 a.m.; K-M, from 11-noon; N-Q, at 1 p.m.; R-T, from 2-3 p.m. and students with last names ending with U-Z, from 3-4 p.m.


PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 16, 2001-- High Wednesday 97. Low this morning 71. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. Low in the upper 60s. East wind 5 to 15 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. High near 95. Southeast wind 5 to 15 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. Low around 70. Saturday and Sunday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of showers or thunderstorms. Lows around 70. Highs 90 to 95.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.

324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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