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Archive 2001

Area Newspapers
Economic Development


Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

PEDC chairman seeks state help on Anchor plant

Staff Writer
PECOS, Tues., Nov. 13, 2001 -- Frozen food processing will continue in Pecos if the Pecos Economic Development Corporation is successful in their efforts to market the plant being closed down by McCain Foods.

Oscar Saenz, chairman of the PEDC and former plant manager for Anchor Foods, said this morning that they are "on top of the Anchor situation."

McCain Foods, which recently purchased Anchor's Wisconsin and Pecos processing facilities, told Pecos employee on Mondays that they plan to shut down the plant by the middle of next year. The closing, which is scheduled to be done in stages, will leave 700 people, roughly 10 percent of the county's current workforce, without jobs unless a way can be found to keep the plant in operation.

"We are setting up a task force composed of financial institutions, private citizens and the city and county to market this facility or to try to keep it open," he said.

Calling for statewide help, Saenz enlisted Jeff Moseley, executive director of Texas State Economic Development, and he will send someone to Pecos to take data and help market the plant.

"We have already called and put an ad in the Texas Food Processors Association announcing that a frozen food facility here will be available," Saenz said.

Employees who face layoffs should not panic, he said. With their cooperation, PEDC hopes to get the plant back in operation soon.

McCain senior vice president of operations and supply chain Steve Prater said on Monday the company had an excess of onion processing facilities after their August purchase of Anchor's plants in Pecos, along with those in Wisconsin and Mexico. The Pecos plant produces mainly onion rings, while McCain will continue operation of Anchor's plant that processes stuffed jalapeno peppers.

Saenz said he had a feeling McCain would shut down the Pecos plant and had been working for some time to market it to another processor.

"We already have some inquiries about the plant, but have to work out details with McCain while they are still here. If we are successful, the people will keep their jobs or be called back to work."

County OKs payments for prison expansion work

Staff Writer
PECOS, Tues., Nov. 13, 2001 -- Payments for construction work at the Reeves County Detention Center III, approval of a new assistant warden for the facility and the approval of independent auditors for the county topped the agenda during the regular Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting on Monday.

The group met Monday afternoon at the Reeves County Courthouse, despite the fact that employees were not working due to the Veteran's Day holiday.

The RCDC project is the just-started 960-bed expansion of the 2,000-bed prison facility on the southwest side of Pecos. Commissioners approved payments to Carothers Construction, Inc., payment number two in the amount of $462,000; payment to LMD Architect in the amount of $11,608.50; the first payment for Jarratt Dirt Work in the amount of $63,977 and a payment to Frank X. Spencer in the amount of $1,875.

"The one to Spencer has been revised by Lorraine and is recommended that we process and charge it back to the contractors, which were Banes General Contractors," said county auditor Lynn Owens.

Owens told commissioners that he would also like to recommend that they engage in the contract with Smith, Wilson and Rives, independent auditors. "We'd like the consideration to have the same contract for the next two years," he said.

Commissioners approved Reeves County Detention Center Transportation Crew mileage payments and a new assistant warden for RCDC-III. Warden Rudy Franco said that there was opening for the position and recommended the hiring of Tommy Duncan who works for the BOP.

"I talked to him at length and finally convinced him," said Franco.

Franco said that Duncan has an extensive background and several years experience with correctional facilities.

"The timing to come on board with this excellent staff is perfect for me, it will be a great challenge opening up the new facility and I'm looking forward to it," said Duncan.

Duncan will come on board at $70,000 a year on a three-year contract with $6,000 travel allowance.

Commissioners also approved a food service agreement for RCDC III. "There are still three other bid packages that need to be negotiated," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.

"This covers all the major bid packages for the construction," he said.

Work at the construction is coming along great and everything is on schedule, according to Galindo.

Franco gave the group a brief update on the transportation department during reports from various departments.

The new bus has brought in about $909,000 this year and will continue to project revenue, according to Franco.

"Our bus did break down in Albuquerque, outside of Estancia recently," said Franco.

Franco said that alternative measures were taken to bring the inmates in from the Albuquerque area. "We had to send some vans to bring the inmates in, but transportation continues," he said.

The transmission on the bus broke, but is on warranty and the bus was towed in to Albuquerque.

"The officers on the bus utilized the emergency plan, by bringing in sheriff's deputies and police officers to help out while they waited," said Franco. "The group on the bus is very experienced and know what they are doing," he said.

"We hope to get it back as soon as possible," he said. "We will continue and proceed at the same rate," he said.

The group approved the rental of Ward County rental property located in Reeves County.

"This woman, Laura Nickelson, bid $25 and wants to use the place as storage, for a minimum of 12 months," said Owens. "It's in our right to inspect the property before and after, we don't want to clean up a lot of debris after them."

Owens said that the county might as well make $300 out of the unused property.

Deputation and oath for Ramon Ortiz, Jr., as a sheriff's deputy was also approved.

Officials set meeting to discuss plant's future

Staff Writer
PECOS, Tues., Nov. 13, 2001 -- With their biggest employer announcing its plans to close some time next year, Town of Pecos City and Reeves County officials plan to push forward for more economic development, according to Pecos City Manager Carlos Yerena.

"We're looking ahead," Yerena said.

McCain Foods, new owner of Anchor Foods, informed over 700 employees that the company would be closing its Pecos plant by the middle of next year. The total represents about 10 percent of Reeves County's workforce and about 12 percent of the Town of Pecos City's labor force.

McCain announced the closing just three months after the Canadian-based company bought the local plant and other facilities owned by Anchor Foods of Appelton, Wis. The company, which is best-known for its Ore-Ida brand of potatoes and also markets frozen onion rings nationwide, said it did not need Pecos' onion processing facility to go along with plants it already operates elsewhere in the United States.

The company said layoffs would probably not begin until after March 1, although Elva Arreguy, manager of the Texas Workforce Commission's Pecos office, said some Anchor workers were already at her office when it opened this morning after the Veteran's Day holiday looking for other possible jobs.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo is organizing a meeting with numerous elected officials and public figures in Pecos to discuss McCain's announcement and try to organize and make plans for the future.

Galindo said that he would be calling up officials and inviting them to meet in the Reeves County Courthouse Third Floor Courtroom sometime tomorrow morning.

"I'll call a majority of the elected officials and some community members and invite them to meet in order for us to sit down and talk about what we can do to help in this transition," he said.

Galindo, along with Precinct 1 Commissioner Felipe Arredondo, said that the impact of Anchor closing would be great on the community.

"This is going to have a deep impact on the community," Galindo said.

"Indirectly, it is going to hurt a lot of people," Arredondo said.

However, Galindo is hopeful that Anchor employees and the community would have a better transition if everyone can organize and devise a plan to deal with the loss of plant.

Galindo hopes to cover many topics in tomorrow's meeting that would help the employees and community with the news of the closing.

He said that his objective in having the meeting is to discuss what can be done to keep McCain Foods here, what can be done as a community to help and to put together a plan, as a team, on how to make the transition and take care of the employees.

"I think that we can meet locally, discuss and develop a plan to move forward," he said.

Yerena said that he understands the impact the closing would have on the community but the city it looking to the future.

"It's going to impact the community tremendously but our intent is to move forward and continue with our economic development initiative," he said.

Emergency response training session set next week

PECOS, Tues., Nov. 13, 2001 -- Local emergency responders and elected officials are scheduled to meet for an Emergency Preparedness Workshop from 8:30 a.m. to noon, on Nov. 20, in the Quality Inn Meeting Room.

Emergency Management Coordinator Armando Gil has organized the meeting to discuss emergency operations plan, standard operation procedures, terrorist threat response procedures, and training.


PECOS, Tues., Nov. 13, 2001 -- High Mon. 80. Low this morning 49. Forecast for tonight: Mostly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. Lows in the mid 50s. SE winds 10 to 20 mph. Wed.: Mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. Highs in the mid 60s. SE winds 10 to 20 mph. Wed. night: Rain likely. Thunderstorms also possible. Lows near 50. The chance of precipitation is 60 percent. Thurs.: Rain likely. Thunderstorms also possible. Highs 60 to 65. The chance of precipitation is 60 percent. Fri.: Cloudy with a chance of showers or thunderstorms. Lows 45 to 50. Highs in the lower 60s.


Lencho Abila

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