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Archive 2001

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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Baskets given to 600 locally by Food Bank

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Nov. 14, 2001 -- Approximately 600 families will be having a better Thanksgiving  after receiving various food products from the West Texas Food Bank  and numerous local charities this morning at Winkles Trucking  on Highway 17.

The Food Bank, along with North Temple Baptist Church, Santa Rosa Catholic Church, Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida and Compassionate Care, handed out 150 pounds of food, including turkey, to needy families in Pecos between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., today

Executive Director of West Texas Food Bank Dolly Neff said that this is the first year that the Food Bank has joined efforts with local charities in the 22 counties the Food Bank serves for the holiday season.

According to Neff, there are 211 America's Second Harvest Food Banks across the United States with the West Texas Food Bank being one of them along with 18 other food banks in Texas.

"We all serve multiple counties," she said. "The West Texas Food Bank served 22 counties in rural West Texas, covering 45,000 square miles."

Neff and a crew of Food Bank employees, truck drivers and volunteers have spent the past week boxing up and delivery food to needy families across West Texas and delivered 42 tons of food in Pecos today.

Stops along the way to Pecos have included Midland, Big Spring, Fort Stockton and Presidio with upcoming stops in El Paso and Odessa.

Neff said that at each stop, the Food Bank delivers food to at least 300 families.

In 1985, Neff began working for the West Texas Food Bank when it was a small operation.

She began the work when her youngest child was in high school.

"I started working with the Food Bank because I wanted to help people," she said.

Neff explained that there was a need for food banks in 1985, but when she began working there she expected the need to go away.

"We never thought we would be needed past a few years," she said.

However, Neff now believes that food banks across America are a major infrastructure for the people.

She compares the importance of having food banks to having utility companies and government.

"You've got to keep this one strong," she said. "We've got to stay healthy and contribution is what makes you healthy."

Neff encourages people to donate money or food to local charities in order to help stifle hunger in America.

She said that families in need go to the charities all year long but that they can only give so much.

"They can only do what they can do when people support them," she said. "So they need your support."

Neff said that a donation as small as five dollars would help and that the donations are tax deductible.

Proof of what donations could do was seen today at Winkles Trucking when many people received food that would last them a month to six weeks.

However, being a non-profit organization does have costs involved, according to Neff.

She said that the Food Bank would not be able to help so many people across West Texas without hiring truck drivers and purchasing use of tractor-trailers to deliver all the food.

Neff said that the Food Bank uses a small portion of donations to enable them to do so but recently received a generous donation of a tractor-trailer.

She said that Ford Motor Company and Abell-Hanger donated the tractor and trailer separately, which is now known as the West Texas Food Bank truck.

Neff refers to Ford and Abell-Hanger, along with the many companies that donate food and the numerous volunteers and organizations as "West Texas Heros."

"Without them none of this could happen," she said.

Kenneth Winkles, owner of Winkles Trucking and member of the North Temple Baptist Church, said that Neff does a lot for the people of West Texas.

"She is a very wonderful lady," he said. "Her heart is dedicated to giving these people a wonderful Thanksgiving."

Neff explained that many people only think that hunger happens in the next town or the next country and does not realize that people need help locally.

"When you ask someone if there is hunger it's always `in the next town'," she said. "But it's right next door to you."

Winkles said that he never realized how many local people need help until this morning but does understand the number of elderly people, widows and widowers and single parent homes that would need help.

"We sometimes forget that there's a lot of people not as fortunate as you or me," he said.

Neff said that the beauty of America is the willingness to help and the idea that no one should go hungry and with the help of the charities in West Texas and donations there might not be hunger during the holiday.

"In America, we don't think anybody should go hungry," said. "Nobody has to go hungry in West Texas if we work together."

Neff said that she appreciates the help that the local citizens and organizations have done to help the Food Bank deliver the food today and hopes that people would help by donating directly to the local charities.

Donations to the Food Bank, either independently or on behalf of local charities, may be mailed to West Texas Food Bank; P.O. Box 4242; Odessa, TX 79760.

Local officials seek ideas to help Anchor's workers

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Nov. 14, 2001 -- Community members and elected officials came together this  morning in a special meeting to talk about solutions to the pending  shutdown of Reeves County's largest employer.

The meeting was held on the third floor of the courthouse to discuss the planned closing of Anchor Food's plant in Pecos, with Judge Jimmy B. Galindo presiding over the informal gathering.

Representatives from different entities were on hand to discuss possibilities and offer their help to the 700 employees who face the loss of their jobs by the middle of next year unless a buyer is found for the facility.

Parent company McCain Foods announced its plan to close the plant on Monday, three months after acquiring the facility in a buy-out of Anchor's operations. Appleton, Wis.-based Anchor began their Pecos operations in 1990 processing batter dipped onion rings locally, but McCain Foods officials said they had an overcapacity in onion ring processing plants following the August purchase.

McCain plans to continue regular operations at the facility for the next 3½ months, before closing down lines and laying off workers starting around March 1. Steve Prater, senior vice president of operations and supply chain, said the shutdown would be completed by the middle of 2002, but added the company would help out in trying to find a buyer for the plant.

Galindo said that three main points came out of this morning's gathering. One was to coordinate a job/information fair for employees of McCain's Foods, which would be held the last part of November. "The advantage we have, is that we have put together two different job fair and all team member are experienced in putting on the job fair," said Galindo.

The second, he said, is the consensus, the commitment to sit down as elected officials, city, county, and school, to discuss the tax abatement policy. "We want to have a discussion on tax abatement and achieve a consensus to have a uniform policy for all small businesses," said Galindo. "A small business retainment policy for existing business and to use the revolving loan fund and private bank loans, both Security and West Texas National to expand or retain business here."

He added that they hope to have that meeting next month.

The third was to coordinate a plan to organize GED classes in English and Spanish for the employees out there that may not have their GED's to give them an opportunity as they approach the transition, according to Galindo.

Odessa College-Pecos Training Center Director Michelle Workman said that the college was offering their help. "The president of OC called and was very concerned and wanted the community to know that he would help in any way that he could," said Workman.

Workman said that some of the displaced employees were worried about getting another job because they did not have their GED's. "We only have one instructor for that class and that class is already full," said Workman.

She said she had surveyed the students at the OC campus to find out how they felt about Anchor's closing and how it would impact the community. Out of the 67 surveys, a lot of the students wrote down that they were the sons or daughters of parents who worked at Anchor and were helping them out, some said their spouse worked there and other students were employees at the plant themselves, according to Workman.

"It will have a major impact on everybody," said Workman. "If we can try to find some people to help us out with the GED's that would really help," she said.

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD School Board President Crissy Martinez said that she saw no problem with that and would address the teachers and the board about the problem. "I think we can recruit some teachers to help out with the GED's, beginning with my mother," she said.

"We have to provide immediate help," said Galindo.

Alfredo Gomez, of Alfredo's Restaurant said that he had already received about five applications from Anchor employees. "We need to keep the people in Pecos, instead of relocating," he said.

Gomez told the group that we really don't have an effective economic plan in place. "As a small business owner, we tend to think sales and the main thing is to keep the people in Pecos," he said.

Gomez suggested getting together with the city, county and chamber and coming up with an effective economic plan.

"At the moment we have a crisis and it's almost Christmas," Gomez said. "Maybe we can educate some of these employees and send them to work at the prison," he said.

"We're trying damage control," said Galindo. "On a short term basis we need to do everything we can as far as offering some incentive to new businesses, but there are certain aspects to that."

Galindo said that the government didn't own the building, it was locally owned and that the owner might not want to sell or lease. McCain Foods owns the machinery inside the building, but the facility itself on West Pinehurst Street is being leased from A.B. Foster of Pecos Cantaloupe Company, which had their operations there before moving to their current site on Highway 17 in 1990.

"I think we should have stayed in touch with Anchor more," said Gomez.

"When Anchor asked for something we always gave it to them," said Galindo. "When it changed ownership, we held a special meeting so that McCain's could get the tax abatement that had been granted to Anchor."

Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 2 David Castillo told the group that the former manager at Anchor, Steve Cordova, had been his neighbor. "I talked to him every evening and he assured me that Anchor was not closing, that it would generate 20 percent to their bottom line," said Castillo. "So this took all of us by surprise."

Galindo told the group that the county had created 300 new jobs at the prison and with the new addition would create 200 more.

"That's what we can do as elected officials," said Galindo.

Galindo said that there were a number of discussions outside of this one. "We also have the revolving loan fund that new businesses can use, there's about a half million dollars in there," he said.

Galindo said that despite past problems with the fund the money could be used to help establish a business in the community.

Texas Department of Human Services Director Rey Carreon told the group that the agency wanted to help. "We've called Anchor and told them that we're willing to go out there and talk to the employees," he said.

Carreon said that they would be talking to the individuals as well. "The first thing we tell them is to not panic, don't quit your jobs, but let's see what we can do for you," he said.

Chamber discusses banquet, fundraisers

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Nov. 14, 2001 -- Plans for the Annual Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce Banquet  and other fundraisers were discussed during the regular meeting of  the board of directors of the chamber of commerce held Tuesday at noon  at the Pecos Senior Center.

Executive director for the chamber told the group that the speaker for the annual chamber banquet would be Ray Stone, who hosts the daily Dallas Cowboys update on radio stations across Texas and surrounding states.

"We're very excited that he is going to be here," said Rivera. "His fee is $1,000 and we will pay for one night's stay."

Rivera said that Stone would also donate a photo of Bob Lilly, Troy Aikman and Tom Landry, along with a football. "We'll have these items on display at both banks and then auction them off, as a fundraiser for the chamber," he said.

The banquet is scheduled for Jan. 25 at the Reeves County Civic Center and tickets will be priced the same as last year, according to Rivera.

"We'll be looking for a caterer, we've already sent out letters to all the restaurants in the area," said Rivera.

Chamber members also discussed contracts with the Harlem Entertainers basketball team and the San Antonio-based musical group Wayanay Inka as possible fundraisers.

"The group which was here last year, the Wayanay Inka Band wants to come back and do another concert," said Rivera. "But this time they want to have a seminar for the Pecos High School band students."

Rivera told the group that if they decided to go with this fundraiser he would negotiate with them. "We can make some money out of this, now that they've been here, I think we can get more people to attend," he said.

Rivera said that Harlem Entertainers had also said they would like to come put on a performance in Pecos. "We would get 40 percent of the ticket sales," he said.

"We'll put a local team together, of officials and others, to play against them," he said. "If you missed the Wayanay concert it was a good concert and the next one should be better."

Kevin Duke, filling in for president Barbara Creager, said that tickets are on sale for the Pecos Eagle football playoff game against El Paso Parkland, scheduled for Friday. "We need to go out and support the Eagles," he said.

Duke also invited everyone to the community-wide pep rally which will be held at 7 p.m., today in the new gym.

Rivera told the group that they had received a copy of the new bed tax agreement from the city. "They came up with a new contract and they're giving a portion of the bed tax to the Main Street program," he said.

Rivera said that this would mean less money for the chamber, including $8,000 less for the office. "We'll just have to tighten our belts and find ways to economize, but I think we'll be alright," he said.

Rivera said there were still some questions that needed to be resolved on the contract.

Grid playoff tickets for Friday on sale at business office

PECOS, Wed., Nov. 14, 2001 -- Football tickets are still available for the Pecos Eagles' playoff game, scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Friday at Eagle Stadium.

The Eagles will be playing the El Paso Parkland Matadors in the bi-district round of the Class 4A Division II playoffs for the second year in a row. The winner will face either Hereford or Frenship in the area round of the playoffs Thanksgiving weekend.

Tickets for students are $3 and $5 for adults and can be purchased at the school's business office, 1302 S. Park St., located across the street from Pecos High School.


PECOS, Wed., Nov. 14, 2001 -- High Tues. 80. Low this morning 56. Rainfall last 24 hours at Texas  A&M Experiment station .02 inch. Forecast for tonight: Showers likely with a  few thunderstorms. Lows in the lower 50s. SE winds 10 to 20 mph. Chance of  rain 60 percent. Thurs.: Cloudy with a 60 percent chance of showers  or thunderstorms. Highs 60 to 65. SE winds 10 to 20 mph. Thurs.  night: Cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. Lows in  the mid 40s. Fri.: Cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers or  thunderstorms. Highs in the mid 60s. Sat.: Cloudy  with a chance of showers or thunderstorms. Lows 45 to 50. Highs in the lower 60s.

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Pecos Enterprise
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