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Archive 2001

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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Monday, November 12, 2001

McCain to close Anchor plant, cut 700 jobs

Staff Writers

PECOS, Mon., Nov. 12, 2001 -- Anchor Foods, Reeves County's largest single employer, will  be closing its doors by the middle of next year, parent company McCain  Foods announced today.

The decision comes just three months after Canadian-based McCain bought the plant, along with other facilities owned by Anchor Foods of Appelton, Wisc. Anchor began operating its plant in Pecos in 1990, and in the past 11 years had expanded operations to over 700 workers at the facility on Interstate 20.

However, with the purchase, Steve Prater, senior vice president of operations and supply chain, said the company found there was an overcapacity in production facilities following an analysis of the company after the August buy-out of Anchor's operations.

"To be the low cost producer we need to close the Pecos facility," said Prater, who arrived in Pecos today along with Kate Burgess of the company's human resources department to deliver the bad news to the company's workers at the Reeves County Civic Center, following meetings with the plant's managers and supervisor Bruce Salcido.

"We wanted them to hear it from us instead of from somewhere else," said Prater, who added that he and Burgess also met today with Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo, Town of Pecos City mayor Ray Ortega and city manager Carlos Yerena to tell them about the planned closing.

"This is very unfortunate news in regards to the McCain plant decision to shut down the facility here, it will have a great impact on the families in the community," said Galindo prior to an afternoon meeting of the Reeves County Commissioners

"We as elected officials and community members will try to do everything in our power to try to keep Anchor in this community," he said.

Over the next few days, Galindo said he would try to have discussion with elected officials, such as city, school, and other county representatives to try to find a solution.

"We will try to put together the best tax abatement package we can for McCain's consideration to try to keep the 500-700 jobs in the community," said Galindo.

He added that they were inviting Bill Raaths, president of the company's appetizers division, to meet with them. "We're going to invite him to meet with us Thursday for a community meeting to see if there's a way to save the jobs and keep McCain as a corporate partner in the community," he said.

Anchor's 700 employees represent about 10 to 12 percent of the entire Reeves County workforce, though officials declined to say how much annual salaries are for its workers in Pecos. The layoffs represent about four percent of McCain Foods workforce within the combined McCain-Anchor Appetizers Group.

"It's certainly going to be a hardship on the community, but we feel by doing it this way we can have as much lead time as possible to get to work finding as many jobs for these people as possible," he said, adding that operations are expected to continue at their current levels through the next three months.

"We expect our operations here to be as normal as can be through the holidays and into January and February. I wouldn't expect us to start ramping off until the first of March," Prater said, while adding that other factors could come into play.

Workers were given information today about the closing plans and Prater said, "Bruce's staff along with our HR staff will be coming with small groups to answer any questions they may have about any outplacement."

Prater said the nearest production operations are in Grand Island, Neb., while there are French fry potato production plants in Idaho, Maine and Wisconsin. "I feel (Pecos workers) can handle similar skill sets," to those plants, he said.

Representatives from those other plants will be brought to Pecos, "to give people as much of an idea about what's out there as possible."

Prater said McCain will work with local officials and with state agencies to try and find a new company that could take over the Pecos plant, while at the same time saying workers would be offered jobs with McCain, though none would be located in Texas or any of the surrounding states.

"There are certainly no guarantees about it, but we are committed to determining if there is any alternative use of the facility," he said.

In a press release, Prather said "We considered a number of factors, including line capabilities, production and transportation costs and capacity utilization across our entire manufacturing system. Based on this, it was clear that closing the Pecos facility was necessary to remain competitive in the extremely tough food industry market."

Expanding on that, he said early this afternoon that the combined McCain-Anchor facilities had an overcapacity of onion production plants, which is what Pecos primarily produces, while McCain was not a major player in jalapeno pepper production before the Anchor merger, but that the pepper operations are done mainly at the company's other plants.

McCain finalized its purchased the operations of Anchor Foods in September, which included its Appleton, Wis. headquarters and Wisconsin operations, along with its plant in Pecos and another operation in Mexico. As part of the deal, H.J. Heinz Company purchased Anchor's branded retail products business. Specific terms of the three-party transaction were not announced.

Anchor had sales of $503 million in 2000. Along with onion rings, and stuffed jalapenos, it produces and markets cheese appetizers and vegetable appetizers, along with rolled and other specialty appetizers.

McCain Foods USA is a major manufacturer of frozen French fries, appetizers and pizzas. It is part of McCain Foods Limited on Nova Scotia, Can., with operations in 13 countries on five continents and sales of about $4 billion.

Wal-Mart eyes small expansion

Staff Writer

PECOS, Mon., Nov. 12, 2001 -- Plans are in the works for an expansion of the Pecos  Wal-Mart, with more space being sought for food products. However, there are  no plans at this time to expand the store to the size of one of the  company's Supercenters which have full grocery departments

"We're due for remodeling next year and we have applied for an expansion," said Wal-Mart Assistant Manager Rene Gomez.

Gomez said that the store had applied for expansion and that two weeks ago regional directors for the store had come in. "We have to receive approval from them and they have to talk to their bosses," he said.

Gomez said the store is looking to improve and expand their food section. "We're looking to get more groceries in here," said Gomez.

There have been rumors that the local Wal-Mart will become a Supercenter, complete with groceries and other items, but Gomez said that won't be happening any time soon.

"We have to have a good volume and that's where the community comes in," said Gomez. "We have to have the support of the community in order to do that."

The more volume, the more sales, the better the chances are that the store will become a Supercenter, according to Gomez.

Gomez said that Fort Stockton has also been asking for an expansion. "They're in the same situation that we're in, they're asking for an expansion," said Gomez.

Both the Pecos and Fort Stockton Wal-Mart stores were among the first ones to open in the Permian Basin, back in 1986. Other stores opened in the area after that, and Supercenters were built in Midland, Odessa Big Spring and Carlsbad, N.M. during the past decade.

Driver blamed for gas leak on west side of town

Staff Writer

PECOS, Mon., Nov. 12, 2001 -- Southern Union Gas Company and the Pecos Volunteer Fire  Department were called out to a gas leak Sunday night on Highway 17 that was  caused by an unknown driver.

"We had a run-over meter," said Johnny King, Permian Area Operations Manager for Southern Union Gas. He added that it is unknown at this time who ran over the meter.

The gas meter is connected to Eagle Tire Service building on Highway 17 and Veterans Boulevard, on the west side of Pecos.

The PVFD was called to the scene at approximately 7 p.m., last night, and helped plug up the gas leak.

King said that the firefighters were already plugging up the leak when Southern Union Gas employees arrived at the scene.

"They plugged off the blowing gas," he said.

King said that the Gas Company and the PVFD work together whenever a gas leak occurs.

"We've had a real good working relationship with the fire department," he said.

King explained that when a gas leak occurs a citizen usually contacts an emergency number and the fire department.

"Once a meter is hit usually a citizen calls an emergency number to contact us and the fire department," he said.

Southern Union and the PVFD did not have any problems last night plugging up the leak, which is now under contro,l until the break could be fixed.

King said that the gas company would fix the meter, located just outside Eagle Tire on the east side of Highway 17.

King also said that when the meter was run over it caused the connection inside Eagle Tire to break, which now has to be fixed by a plumber.

"Then we can get them back in business," he said.

Southern Union workers should finish repairing the meter by late Tuesday afternoon.

Most of the gas meters are located in the alleyways behind each home and business, according to King.

Citizens can report a gas leak by calling the emergency number at 1-800-959-5325.

PHS senior class gap, gown sizings planned Tuesday

PECOS, Mon., Nov. 12, 2001 -- Pecos High School Seniors are required to attend a meeting with Dick Jacks of the Herff Jones Company to place an order for graduation announcements to be measured for their caps and gowns at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday in the high school cafeteria.

Parents of seniors are welcome to attend this meeting. Students are asked to bring the order packets they received in their English IV classes, a ball-point pen and a calculator.

Any student who does not have an English IV class or who has not yet received an order packet may pick up one in the Student Services office at the high school prior to attending the meeting.


PECOS, Mon., Nov. 12, 2001 -- High Sunday 76. Low this morning 45. Forecast for tonight:   Partly cloudy. Lows near 50. Southeast winds 5 to 15  mph. Tuesday:  Increasing cloudiness. Highs near 75. South winds 10 to  20 mph. Tuesday night:  Mostly cloudy with a 20 percent chance  of showers. Lows around 50. Wednesday:  Cloudy with a  30 percent chance of showers. Highs near 65. Thursday:  Cloudy with  a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Lows 45 to  50. Highs near 65. Saturday and sunday.

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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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