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Friday, September 21, 2001

Delay finally over for Earhart flight re-creation

PECOS, Friday, Sept. 21, 2001 --  (AP) - A California woman recreating Amelia Earhart's  1928 cross-country flight landed safely at Pecos Municipal Airport  this morning.

Carlene Mendieta, a 47-year-old periodontist from Sonoma, Calif., left from Rye, N.Y., on Sept. 5 intending to recreate Earhart's 5,500-mile record-breaking round trip of the United States.

Her plan: fly to the same 24 cities where Earhart stopped on a trip that made her the first woman to fly across the United States.

The quest was delayed because of last week's terrorist attacks. The Federal Aviation Administration lifted its restrictions on Wednesday, allowing Mendieta to resume flying the 1927 Avro Avian airplane.

Friday's trip took her from Hobbs' Lea County Regional Airport in New Mexico to Pecos, where she was greeted shortly before noon by local residents at Pecos Municipal Airport, before being driven to an early afternoon reception at the West of the Pecos Museum.

A proclamation declaring today "Amelia Earhart Day" in the city was signed at the museum, and Mendieta was to be given a tour early this afternoon of the home where Earhart stayed in Pecos while her plane awaited a new part in 1928. Following that, she was scheduled to continue her trip west to El Paso.

El Paso was only recently added after the flight's sponsor, Greg Herrick, learned that Earhart has also stopped there.

In light of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Mendieta said she wants to show terrorists they have failed to intimidate and to remind Americans that their freedom should remain.

"I think it's a bad message if all of sudden we all stop everything," said Mendieta, a 47-year-old periodontist from Sonoma, Calif. "That's what they want. We can't stop doing what we plan to do. We can't let them usurp our freedoms out of fear."

Mendieta said the 100-mile trip from Hobbs "was a short one and the weather was beautiful." This afternoon's flight to El Paso will cover a distance of about 200 miles.

The plane never flies above 1,000 feet and must refuel every 3 ½ hours or so. Her trip should finish Oct. 2.

Earhart and her plane disappeared over the Pacific Ocean in 1937.

Mendieta was grounded when the FAA halted all air traffic in the hours after the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked.

The FAA continued to ground planes using visual flight rules, like Mindieta's. On Wednesday, the FAA lifted its restriction on those planes.

Original plans for the recreation called for Mendieta to fly from New York to the West Coast, take a week off to attend to her dental practice, then resume the eastward leg of the trip during a third week. The week off has turned out to be the time she was grounded and the flight should still finish Oct. 2, Herrick said.

The plan for the re-enactment was hatched even before Herrick bought the 1927 Avro Avian airplane in Australia in March. It had been built in England three weeks before Earhart's.

In January, he started looking for someone who was interested in recreating Earhart's flight.

He asked people who they would recommend and one name kept popping up.

Mendieta, who has been flying for about three years, has logged about 300 hours - about the same number that Earhart had when she began her cross-country flight - all in antique planes.

It is pure coincidence that Mendieta is the same height and weight as Earhart and wears her hair cropped short as did her famous predecessor.

"She was perfect for it," Herrick said about Mendieta.

Mendieta has relied on diary entries and photographs from the original 1928 trip to replicate Earhart's clothing, accommodations and meals. The plane even has the same silver and blue colors, decals and registration numbers.

The plane never flies above 1,000 feet and must refuel every 3 ½ hours or so. As much fun as Mendieta is having, she said she realizes flying antique planes isn't for everyone.

"There's no creature comforts," she said. "The wind, the sun and sucking up some exhaust, but that's the joy of flying an open cockpit. It's such a wonderful freeing feeling."

Herrick, who is president of, a St. Paul, Minn.,-based international publisher and reseller of thousands of aviation items, and Mendieta said generations of Americans remember Earhart solely for her disappearance in July 1937 when she attempted to circumnavigate the world by airplane.

"But people don't realize she was a very kind, caring, motivating type of person," Herrick said.

Herrick said Earhart left college to work in a hospital, tending to returning World War II veterans. She also was a social worker in a settlement house in Boston where she helped Chinese and Middle Eastern immigrants adapt to America.

"She was an example for women, for anyone who would like to be more independent," Herrick said.

Local unemployment continuing to decline

From Staff and Wire Reports
PECOS, Friday, Sept. 21, 2001 -- The number of workers in Reeves County's labor force was down  slightly in August, while the number of jobs locally was slightly higher, leading  to another drop in the county's unemployment rate.

The Texas Workforce Commission reported on Thursday that Reeves County's unemployment dropped four-tenths of a percent, from 6.1 to 5.7 percent. The TWC said there were 7,771 people in the local labor force last month, 19 fewer than in July, but there were a dozen more people with jobs last month _ 7,730 overall _ with 441 out of work.

The improved numbers continued a two-year decline in joblessness in Reeves County, with the August numbers representing the lowest total for the county since the oil boom years of the 1980s. The summer cantaloupe and onion harvests have helped to swell the local labor force and increase the number of jobs, both of which generally fall off beginning in September.

The county's jobless rate, which was in the low double-digits back in 1998 and 1999, has now dropped into the range of most other Permian Basin counties, according to the TWC numbers. The 5.7 percent rate for August was only one-tenth of a percent higher than Ector County, and was nearly a full percentage point lower than neighboring Ward County, though still eight-tenths of a percent above the statewide jobless rate last month.

The Town of Pecos City also saw a drop in its unemployment rate, from 6.9 to 6.5 percent. The TWC said there were 6,050 people in Pecos' labor force in August, and 395 without jobs, which is also a sharp decline from two years ago, when unemployment at one point was over 14 percent in Pecos.

Most area counties also showed only minor changes in unemployment, with the only except being Presidio County. The jobless rate there, already the highest of any of Texas' 254 counties, rose from 23.5 to 29.6 percent

Next month's numbers will be the first to be affected by last week's terrorist attacks on New York's World Trade Center and on the Pentagon in Washington. The attacks have resulted in major layoffs in some industries like airlines, which will affect Texas cities such as Dallas and Houston. However, the effect on rural Texas areas remains unknown.

Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday he was worried that last week's terror attacks will hurt the three major Texas-based airlines - American, Continental and Southwest- and their local suppliers in several Texas cities.

Perry has called for federal aid to the airlines. He said the state Workforce Commission would also study retraining of aviation-industry employees if the travel downturn lasts a long time.

Statewide, the TWC said unemployment rose slightly to 4.9 percent in August, as nearly 42,000 fewer people held jobs. The commission said Texas employers added 37,400 jobs during the month but that was more than offset by large layoffs.

The jobless rate, adjusted for seasonal hiring practices, rose one-tenth of a percentage point from 4.8 percent in July.

The jobless numbers came on the heels of a report this week by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas that found declines throughout the region in manufacturing, construction and real estate activity during August and early September. The bank said Texas retail sales gained but from very low levels.

The unemployment report showed that, before adjusting for seasonal hiring trends, unemployment fell to 5.2 percent from 5.1 percent in July. Most economists believe that seasonally adjusted numbers give a more accurate picture of the job market.

Local job markets were mixed. Unemployment rose slightly in Austin, Dallas and Galveston but fell slightly in Houston, Fort Worth and San Antonio.

Following are the August unemployment rates for Texas metropolitan areas, with July numbers in parentheses. The figures are not seasonally adjusted, with a statewide average of 5.1 percent:

Abilene 3.9 (4.0); Amarillo 3.1 (3.3); Austin-San Marcos 4.5 (4.3); Beaumont-Port Arthur 8.8 (9.3); Brazoria 6.4 (6.6); Brownsville-Harlingen 8.7 (10.8); Bryan-College Station 1.9 (2.0); Corpus Christi 5.8 (6.3); Dallas 5.2 (5.0);

El Paso 8.2 (8.4); Fort Worth-Arlington 4.2 (4.3); Galveston-Texas City 6.8 (6.7); Houston 4.6 (4.7); Killeen-Temple 4.4 (4.5); Laredo 6.5 (7.4); Longview-Marshall 5.5 (5.7); Lubbock 2.7 (3.2); McAllen-Edinburg-Mission 12.8 (13.6);

Odessa-Midland 4.4 (4.6); San Angelo 2.9 (3.0); San Antonio 4.2 (4.3); Sherman-Denison 6.3 (5.6); Texarkana 4.4 (4.6); Tyler 4.3 (4.2); Victoria 4.5 (4.5); Waco 4.0 (4.4); Wichita Falls 3.6 (3.9).

Group brings anti-drug message to PHS

Staff Writer

PECOS, Friday, Sept. 21, 2001 -- Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD students received encouragement  to stay away from drugs, alcohol and other negative choices that  could change their lives from a group of teens and young adults that  have personally seen the effects of those choices during a drug assembly  this morning at Pecos High School.

The group called StraightWay Drug Prevention that is composed of approximately 10 teenagers and young adults informed students from Pecos High School and Zavala Elementary School of possible effects of alcohol and drugs through music, dancing and drama.

The group includes numerous families and friends who have all had to deal with a hard life as a direct result of alcohol and drugs.

PHS counselors Eva Arriola and Pat Cobos said that they wanted to bring in the group so that their message might help students who might be having problems in their personal lives.

"The counseling department is wanting to help the students in more ways than just scheduling," Arriola said. "We want to help with the other problems that students are facing."

Arriola said she believes that the students are able to relate to the group better than if they were to just talk with the students about staying away from drugs.

The students listen to the stories from the members of the group about their lives and how some of them have lost parents, family and friends to and because of drugs and alcohol.

Arriola said that the group is made up of volunteers and travels all across the state trying to reach students.

She said that they are always booked and always on the go. The group even had to be in Fort Stockton by 1 p.m. today after they performed twice in Pecos.

According to a biography of the group, StraightWay is a researched-based program that calculates the overall effectiveness of the project throughout Texas and is funded by a grant from the Criminal Justice Division of the state.

Over the last year, more than 300,000 public school students have seen the StraigtWay Drug Prevention assembly.

Cobos said that she and Arriola are excited to see the response from the students to the group.

"It's exciting to see the kids so excited and enjoying the assembly," she said.

"They react so well," Arriola said. "They are able to relate to those performers."

Arriola and Cobos said that they are trying to get more programs into the school that would help the students and are very glad that they were able to get StraightWay to perform today.

T-storm brings clouds of rain, dust into town

Staff Writer

PECOS, Friday, Sept. 21, 2001 -- Gusty winds, mingled with a little bit of rain and dust blew  through Pecos Thursday afternoon, but no major damage was reported.

Winds reached about 63 miles an hour at Pecos Municipal Airport and rainfall in town was recorded at .63.

"We had various scattered outages," said Tommy Terry, Texas-New Mexico Power Company Operations Coordinator. "There was nothing serious, at one time we had a couple of hundred customers that had outages due to the lightning, but no major damage to poles."

Terry said that Pecos had experienced some hail and high winds west of the city. "We didn't lose anything because of high winds," he said.

Terry said that 98 percent of the calls made were outages from lightning. "Our crews worked until about midnight, but we were lucky that there were no major problems," said Terry.

Reeves County Sheriff's Department officers spotted a something that at first glance appeared to be a tornado. However, the National Weather Service reported no severe weather warnings for the county and it was later decided that the swirling cloud was a dust devil on the south side of the thunderstorm, in an area where blowing dust problems are common.

"It wasn't a tornado, it was a funnel cloud with a lot of dirt, but it was big, " said Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez.

Gomez said that no reports of damage were made by local residents. However, officers were out in case of an emergency. "We're lucky that it was just a lot of wind and dirt and nothing major," said Gomez.

Commissioners to discuss 2002 budget Monday

PECOS, Friday, Sept. 21, 2001 -- Reeves County Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the proposed Reeves County Budget for FY 2002 during their regular meeting schedule for Monday at the Reeves County Courthouse.

The group will meet at 9:30 a.m., in the third floor courtroom and the public is invited to attend.

During the meeting commissioners will discuss and take action on adoption of the Reeves County Budget for FY 2002 and setting of tax rate.

The group will discuss and take action on Reeves County Golf Course Equipment Lease contract; tax abatement agreement assignment from Anchor West, Inc. to McCain USA, Inc.; LMD Architect request for payment Invoice No. 205, professional fees; Frank X. Spencer and Associates request for payment Invoice No. 478 engineering fees; RCDC contract between Reeves County and Fernando Romero and Justice Court Technology Fund.

Commissioners will discuss and take action on county clerk's office software and hardware maintenance contract; election judges and clerks for Nov. 6 election; early voting for Nov. 6 election and bond and oath for Josie Flores.

Under regular agenda items the group will discuss and take action on:

Reports from various departments.

Budget amendments and line-item transfers.

Personnel and salary changes (RCDC, recreation department, county judge's office).

Minutes from previous meetings.

Semi-monthly bills.

Spread on the minutes: Order of Nov. 6, election.

Tax rollback vote for P-B-T schools set for Saturday

PECOS, Friday, Sept. 21, 2001 -- Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD voters will go to the polls on Saturday, to decide whether or not to approve the district's $1.50 tax rate or vote for a rollback of local taxes to $1.18 per $100 valuation.

There will be five voting polls open on Saturday, including the Pecos Community Center, located next to the Pecos Police Department. Other polling sites will be the Barstow Community Center, Red Bluff Lake Office north of Orla, Toyah City Hall and in Saragosa at the Multi-Purpose Center. All polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Increases in oil and gas valuations last year led to the rollback election under state law, since the $1.50 cent rate will bring in about $2 million more for P-B-T ISD than a year ago. However, under the Texas school funding plan, the district will lose that same $2 million amount in state aid for the 2002-2003 school year, and can only increase taxes by six cents per year if there is a budget shortfall.

A total of 235 people voted early in the rollback election, which is one of 17 being held across the state over the next three months. Voters in the Monahans-Wickett-Pyote ISD opted against rolling back their tax rate last Saturday, and several other districts also have rejected rollback votes since the elections began the first week of September.


PECOS, Friday, Sept. 21, 2001 -- High Thurs. 101. Low this morning 64. Rainfall last 24 hours at Texas  A&M Experiment Station .8 inch. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy with a 40  percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. Lows near 65. SE winds 5 to 15  mph. Sat.: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of showers or  thunderstorms. Highs 85 to 90. Southeast winds 5 to  15 mph. Saturday night: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of showers  or thunderstorms. Lows in the lower 60s. Sunday: Partly cloudy with a 20  percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. Highs in the mid 80s. Monday:  Mostly cloudy and cooler. Lows 55 to 60. Highs in the 70s.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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