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Archive 2002

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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Wednesday, June 5, 2002

Security State owner to buy Anchor plant

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., June 5, 2002 -- The Anchor Foods onion processing plant in Pecos,  which ended production last Friday after being purchased last year by  McCain Foods, has been sold to a new company owned by the Chairman  of Security State Bank, the two groups announced today.

McCain Foods USA and TransPecos Foods of Texas jointly announced today that they have signed an agreement providing for the sale of McCain's onion ring plant and certain equipment to TransPecos Foods. The closing of the sale is subject to certain conditions including receipt of local, state and federal governmental approvals, which are anticipated within the next few weeks.

McCain is the world's leading manufacturer of high-quality potato products and snack foods. It acquired the plant last summer when it bought the facilities owned by Wisconsin-based Anchor Foods. McCain then announced on Nov. 12 of last year it would shut the Pecos plant and consolidate all of its onion processing operations at its Grand Island, Neb., facility, resulting in the loss of 700 local jobs, representing about 10 percent of Reeves County's labor force.

At the time the sale was made, McCain's senior vice president of operations and supply chain, Steve Prater said the company would work with state and local officials towards finding a buyer for the facility, which began operations under Anchor Foods in 1990 with 200 employees.

TransPecos Foods is a newly organized Texas company, which will specialize in producing high quality onion rings and frozen appetizers. The agreement between the two companies will, among other things, facilitate a smooth transition for some of the plant employees and create an opportunity for growth of the employment base in Pecos. All but about 90 of the plant's workers had been laid off prior to today's announced sale.

"We are pleased and enthusiastic about this agreement, as it represents an opportunity for the people of Pecos to continue to work at a good food manufacturing plant and an opportunity for the City of Pecos to retain an important local business," said Harold Durost, McCain vice president of corporate development in North and South America. "Solidifying this purchase agreement creates a win-win situation for all parties involved and all stakeholders in the Pecos community," he said.

Patrick Kennedy, Jr., Chairman of TransPecos Banks, Security State Bank of Pecos and the purchaser, TransPecos Foods expressed his gratitude to McCain officials for working towards the sale of the plant.

"This acquisition will enable Pecos to rebuild a thriving business which has for the past decade served as a major employment base for this small West Texas community. Our focus at TransPecos Development and our bank group is to bring capital, leadership and business to smaller rural communities," said Kennedy.

"I want to thank Harold Durost and the McCain family for its willingness to engage in a creative transaction," he said, noting that the McCain family started their company in a small rural community in northeastern Canada where they have built a world class French fry and snack food business.

Durost credits TransPecos Development Corp, a locally based community development corporation, owned by Security State Bank of Pecos, for its assistance in negotiating and structuring the agreement between McCain and TransPecos Foods.

He also thanked Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo and the local community leaders for their assistance and efforts during this period of transition.

In the press release today, McCain said after acquiring the Pecos plant it soon realized that other plants in the McCain network could handle its onion ring and snack food production needs.

However, McCain and TransPecos Foods cemented the agreement just in time to allow the plant to begin operations anew after a short period of time. There was no immediate word of when production would resume or how many employees the plant would have once it reopened.

"The agreement to purchase the McCain plant gives us the proven tools to run a successful onion ring and frozen appetizer manufacturing operation and, even more importantly, we get the help of the skilled and dedicated people who have operated this high quality operation for years," said Kennedy. "We are a Texas based company which will primarily use Texas grown products and deliver fresh to Texas and southwest markets."

He went on to discuss the future of TransPecos Foods saying, "We face a number of challenges in obtaining new markets and customers, but I am confident we will get the support of the local market."

Kennedy noted that TransPecos Foods was a strong supporter of Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs and her GO TEXAN program, which seeks to help and encourage Texas based food growers and producers.

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture and its Rural Development office in Texas have been very supportive of TransPecos Foods and this acquisition," said Kennedy.

Both Kennedy and Durost expressed confidence that the transition would go smoothly. "Harold Durost has been most cordial and supportive in reaching this agreement and we appreciate his and McCain's attitude and willingness to help the new company make the transition at the plant," said Kennedy.

Durost noted, "Pat Kennedy and McCain's overriding concern has been for the people of Pecos and we have reached an agreement which will help put people to work as quickly as possible."

Police locate stolen goods, seek owners

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., June 5, 2002 -- If you've lost some equipment lately, chances are officers at  the Criminal Justice Center have them.

"We have several pieces of equipment that we believe are stolen items," said Pecos Police Department Investigator Paul Deishler, who added that the equipment was bought by an individual known to buy stolen property.

"There's always these individuals out on the street that steal items from homeowners and then sell them at a lower price to whoever will buy them," said Deishler. "They sell them for almost nothing, sometimes just to support their drug habit."

Some of the items that are in storage at the new Criminal Justice Center include an air compressor, a weed eater, a chain saw, a tool box with assorted tools inside, a cordless drill and a car stereo.

"If anybody has lost some item recently, they can come by and identify it, by telling us the color of the item, bringing a receipt for the item or in some way identify it, so that we know for sure that it is theirs," said Deishler.

"We're almost positive that all these items are stolen items," said Deishler.

The items can be identified at the new Criminal Justice Center, 172 Raul Florez Blvd.

"We'd like to get these items back to the rightful owners," said Deishler.

School board sets special meeting

PECOS, Wed., June 5, 2002 -- Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board will meet at 6 p.m., Thursday, June 6, at the Technology Center, 1301 S. Eddy St.

The group will meet in closed session _ Parent Level III Complaint(s) against Jim Workman and consultation with attorney under Section 551.071 and 551.074, Texas Government Code.

Board members will return to open session to take possible action on items discussed in closed session regarding complaint(s).

Rifle Club hosts match Saturday

PECOS, Wed., June 5, 2002 -- Pecos Rifle and Pistol Club will hold a John C. Garand and a Highpower/Service Rifle match this Saturday beginning 8 a.m. at the Club range.

The Garand match resembles a Service Rifle match in form but is limited to "as-issued" M-1 Garands, M-1 Carbines, 1903 Springfields and 1917 Enfields. The Club will issue ammunition for the match. The Service Rifle match is scheduled to begin after the Garand match.

Competitors do not have to be club members. For more information contact Smokey Briggs at 445-5475.

Odessa golf tourney to benefit ex-Pecosite shot

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., June 5, 2002 -- A golf tournament being held at the Ratliff Ranch Golf Course this  Saturday will go to help the family of a former Pecos resident who was shot  while working for the Odessa Police Department this past January.

Cpl. Greg Travland, of the Odessa Police Department, will be the beneficiary of the tournament, which is being hosted by the Mexican-American Network of Odessa (MANO). Proceeds from the tournament will be given to Travland, according to MANO Staff Member, Kimberly Perez.

Travland suffered a single gunshot wound to the upper area of his left thigh in a shootout while he was investigating a domestic dispute on Jan. 18 in downtown Odessa.

Estela Cadena Ramon, 36, was shot and killed by her estranged husband, Joe Albert Ramon, at her place of employment in downtown Odessa while she was giving a statement to Travland. Joe Ramon then got into a shootout with the officer, who shot Ramon several times in the chest while being wounded in the leg by Ramon.

Ramon spent over a month in the hospital before being released to police custody, while Travland has yet to return to his job with the Odessa PD.

"We want to do our part to help him and his family," Chairman of MANO, Greg Maes said. "The community has done a lot of things to help and we just want to do our part."

Registration time is set to begin at 7:15 am with a tee off time set for 8 a.m.

The registration fee is set at $400 per team of four players or $100 per person.

"The cost is set for $400 a team or $100 per person. If they are not on a team we can get them on one," Maes said.

However, people wanting to sign-up as a team must call ahead of time and let Kimberly know, Maes said.

The last count made a total of 16 teams had signed up but a goal of 36 teams has been set.

"As of several days ago we had 16 teams, we would like to get 36 but I do not think we are going to make it," Maes said.

Prizes that will be given to the winners of the tournament will be gift certificates of $800 for first place, $600 for second place and $400 for third place. The gift certificates can be used at the Ratliff Ranch Golf Course and at the Ratliff Ranch Gift Shop. Prices for longest drive and closest to pin will also be given.

La Margarita Restaurant will provide a lunch for participants of the golf tournament.

Travland is the son of former Pecos Postal Service worker J.E. Travland and the stepson of former Reeves County Clerk Catherine Ashley-Travland. He was the first of three law enforcement officers from Pecos to be shot in a four-month period this year.

One of the other two shootings also occurred in Odessa. On April 11, Robert Diaz a member of the Ector County Sheriffs Department and a former Pecos police officer and Reeves County sheriff's deputy, was also shot in the upper arm back in April while also responding to a domestic disturbance.

Diaz, 54, was shot in the upper arm after struggling with the Efren Olivas Gonzales, 40, during a family disturbance call. Diaz was attempting to handcuff the suspect when Gonzales began to resist arrest, and in the struggle that followed shots were fired from the officer's gun, with one hitting Diaz in the upper arm.

On April 16, Jaime Rodriguez, 38, a member of the Trans-Pecos Task Force, was shot and killed during a routine bus check three week ago. Rodriguez died about 6 ½ hours after the shooting, while the Austin man who fired the fatal shot at Rodriguez was also shot and killed by another drug task-force officer.

Rodriguez was the first officer in 18 years to die while on duty in Pecos. He was a former Reeves County Sheriff's Department deputy and was assigned to the task force out of Midland at the time of his death.

Suspect arrested in Monahans PD firebombing

By The Monahans News
Monahans Police Chief Charles Sebastian confirmed that a  man arrested Monday is a suspect in the firebombing of the Monahans  Police Station.

Sebastian said the man, identified as 22-year-old Travis James Harris of Monahans, was arrested on a charge of obstruction or retaliation, a Felony 3, in connection with a case involving Monahans K-9 Officer Mark Ward.

Harris was arrested in Odessa on Monday and transferred to Ward County Jail on Tuesday.

Sebastian also indicated the police department's desire to find the individual or individuals responsible for the firebombing as quickly as possible.

Two investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and a representative of the State Fire Marshal's office joined the investigation into the firebombing early Monday.

A police department spokesman said an incendiary device was thrown through a west side window of the Monahans City Hall building about 3:30 a.m. Monday, starting a fire that burned the mail room and the surrounding area in the police department.

The spokesman said Neil Davis, a dispatcher who was on duty at the time, heard a window break and an explosion. Davis attempted to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher, but there was too much smoke and he was forced to get out of the building.

The window through which the "Molotov cocktail" was thrown was in a small room that formerly housed the dispatcher office in the police department. On Tuesday, Dispatcher Ginger Boren noted that if Davis had been in the small office when the incident occurred he might have been seriously injured or killed.

Although police officials refused to speculate on the possible identity of the firebomber or a reason for the firebombing, Police Chief Charles Sebastian admitted he was already thinking of possible suspects early Monday.

Interestingly, Harris was one of the first individuals law enforcement officials questioned but did not arrest following the Monday firebombing.

City Manager David Mills said, "You make a lot of enemies in this business."

Fire sirens activated when the blaze at the police department set them off could not be silenced until the fire completely consumed the wires, officials said.

Following the incident, the police department and other city offices housed in Monahans City Hall were moved to a City Annex building at 114 S. Bruce St. "I sure hope so. Water reading is scheduled to begin Monday. Monthly water bills are going to be at least a week late. The initial investigation was being conducted by Texas Ranger Gerry Villalobos. All 911 calls were immediately rerouted to the Kermit Police Department.

Although Rex Thee, public works director, told one publication that the fire destroyed about $350,000 worth of equipment, other officials indicated the total cost of the destruction to both equipment and the building would be much higher.

Mills agreed that the $350,000 estimate was "on the low side," noting that a few years back when the city was considering remodeling an estimate was given of $280,000 to remodel less than the area the firebombing damaged. That in addition to the extra space that will be involved in this project and the cost of moving to the annex building likely will boost the estimate above the initial figure, Mills said.

The computer dispatch console alone is $20,000, Mills said, and city officials are still uncertain as to how extensively it was damaged in the fire. Mills added that computer equipment can mount up quickly in cost.

Although the city had hoped to be able to move some offices back to the damaged building by Wednesday Mills said it would likely be Monday before the offices are restored at city hall. "I sure hope so," Mills said. "Water reading is scheduled to begin Monday. Monthly water bills are going to be at least a week late."


PECOS, Wed., June 5, 2002 -- High Tues. 102. Low this morning 67. Forecast for tonight: Mostly  cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Lows near 60.  East winds 5 to 15 mph. Thurs.: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of  showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 80s. SE winds 5 to 15 mph. Thurs.  night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 60s. Fri.: Partly cloudy. Highs in the  lower 90s. Sat.: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 60s. Highs 95 to 100.


Lisa Willborn

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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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