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Area Newspapers
Economic Development


Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Thursday, June 20, 2002, PECOS ENTERPRISE

County, city jobless rates

showed big jump in May


Staff Writer

Reeves County's unemployment rate jumped by almost two percent in May, according to figures released today by the Texas Workforce Commission.

The jump, from 7.4 percent in April to 9.3 percent last month, coincided with the first round of layoffs by McCain Foods at its Anchor West plant in Pecos. Most of the remaining workers were laid off by McCain at the end of May, just days before the company announced the proposed sale of the facility to a new company owned by the Chairman of Security State Bank.

The Anchor Foods plant employed over 700 people last year and still had over 600 on staff this year, representing 10 percent of Reeves County's labor force. According to the latest TWC figures, the number of people without jobs in the county jumped from 506 in April to 649 last month, while the number of workers within the county also rose, with the beginning of the onion harvest season.

There were 7,008 people in the local labor force, up from 6,862 last month.

The June 5 announcement by McCain Foods USA and TransPecos Foods of the agreement to sell McCain's onion ring plant and certain equipment to TransPecos Foods is subject to certain conditions including receipt of local, state and federal governmental approvals, which the companies said were anticipated within the next few weeks. At the time of the announcement, there was no word on when the plant would resume operations or how many workers would be employed if production is restarted by TransPecos Foods.

Jobless figures were also up for the Town of Pecos City, which saw its unemployment rate climb back into double digits for the first time in over a year.

The city had 581 people without jobs last month out of a workforce of 5,487 people, for a 10.6 percent jobless rate. That's up from 8.5 percent in April and from 6.9 percent in May of 2001, when the labor force was at 5,496 people _ almost identical to last month _ but only 379 people were without jobs.

Reeves County and the Town of Pecos City were the only Permian Basin reporting areas to show a significant jump in its jobless rate in May.

Other area counties reported unemployment numbers that were virtually unchanged from April.

The Midland-Odessa area's jobless rate held stable at 5.3 percent, while the state unemployment rate was up .1 percent, from 5.7 to 5.8 percent. Both the state and the Midland-Odessa jobless rates are up by slightly more than one percent from a year ago.

Midland, Andrews, Howard, Dawson and Ward counties were among those showing slight drops in their jobless rates, while Ector and Pecos counties reported minor increases.

Crane County's jobless rate dropped by over four percent from April, but at 14.4 percent is still nearly 10 percent higher than a year ago and the second highest in the Permian Basin and Trans-Pecos region, behind only Presidio County, which had an 18.2 percent jobless rate last month.

Wednesday rain, hail bypass Pecos, hit Barstow


Staff Writer

Thunderstorms hovered over part of Pecos on Wednesday, but delivered only more dust to local residents, while residents in Barstow to the east and Flat Top Farms to the south received rain.

"We received some showers," Clay Taylor, owner of Pecos Cantaloupe Shed said of the farms, located about 25 miles southeast of town. "There was no heavy rain."

The strongest storm passed just to the northeast of Pecos and hit Barstow late Wednesday afternoon. Enterprise circulation manager Lorna Navarette, who also lives in Barstow, said this town received some rain as well as golf size hail.

While the National Weather Service has no exact weather information on these areas, severe thunderstorm warnings were issued for Alpine and Terlingua in Brewster County, and a spokesperson for the NWS office in Midland said areas like Johnson Ranch, Carlsbad and into the Big Bend did receive some rainfall.

However, the National Weather Service did say that they did get a report of .08 of an inch of rainfall south of Pecos.

Most of the rain had moved out of the area by midnight. A few showers and thunderstorms were reported in the western Panhandle and South Plains early Thursday morning, but rainfall there was light.

Temperature extremes this morning were Marfa in 66 degrees and 84 degrees in El Paso.

Thursday's forecast was calling for sunny skies in West Texas and partly cloudy conditions in eastern parts of the state.

The northeast and southeast parts of the state could get some afternoon thunderstorms.

Church plans `homecoming'

for current, former members


Staff Writer

A "Country Church Homecoming" is scheduled for Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, June 30, at the First Baptist Church in Pecos.

"We thought this would be a good time to schedule it," said First Baptist Church Pastor Greer Willis. The event will be held during the time West of the Pecos Rodeo activities are underway.

Special events will begin with a men's breakfast scheduled for 8:30 a.m on June. A registration reception will be held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and women's tea will take place from 2-4 p.m. All events will be held at the church located at 423 Hickory St.

Saturday evening an ice cream social will be held at the church beginning at 7 p.m.

On Sunday, the church will feature a special expanded worship service, which will begin at 10 a.m.

"A lunch is scheduled tentatively for noon," said Willis, who added that they are planning for 200 guests.

"Everybody's welcome, that would like to join us with the celebration and homecoming," he said.

During the worship service a color guard with the Marine Corps will kick off activities. "We'll sing the national anthem, recognize people from out-of-town, have patriotic music and at least three instrumental specials," said Willis.

There are four living pastors of the church, three past pastors and a current one. Leslie Smith, Dudley Bragg and Willis will be on hand during the celebration. Past pastor Gary Boyd will not be able to make the special event, according to Willis.

One past music minister, Ed Whittener will also join the group during that weekend.

Gilda Vejil will be decorating in a special red, white and blue theme and the Reeves County Sheriff's Posse will be cooking the beans and potato salad.

Tables will have memorabilia from five decades of the church, according to Willis.

"We'll do a large group picture at the end of the service, which can also be a souvenir for those who attend," said Willis.

Willis said that other give-away souvenirs will be handed out including, the church celebration centennial plates from 1985.

"We had some history done at that centennial, which we'll be giving out and we'll also be giving out bookmarkers as souvenirs for everyone," he said.

"We've tried to contact as many people as possible," said Willis. "We've also tried to contact members of the church that have moved away, to come join us," he said.

Anybody who is interested or would like to know more about the special church celebration can call 445-4921.

"We're very excited about this event and welcome everyone to join us for one or all of the events," said Willis.

Feds jail Alpine man following anthrax letter hoax

An Alpine man has been arrested in connection with a false report of anthrax at Sul Ross State University and may be facing punishment of jail time as a result of the Halloween day hoax.

The West Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Sul Ross University Police Department said that Richard Villalba Portillo, 43, of Alpine had been arrested as the result of an arrest warrant based upon a complaint alleging that he violated Title 18, United States Code, Sections 35 and 1001.

These statutes relate to conveying false information about a crime and making false statements about a matter within the jurisdiction of the government.

Each statute carries a maximum punishment of five years imprisonment.

According to a report released by the FBI, Portillo's arrest arises out of an investigation of an anthrax hoax at Sul Ross University on Oct. 31, 2001.

On that date an envelope containing a powdery substance was found in a mail slot at the University resulting in the deployment of emergency response equipment and personnel.

The incident was one of several false anthrax reports that occurred in late October and early November last year, after anthrax sent through the mail resulted in the deaths of one person in Florida, one in Connecticut and two others in Washington, D.C.

The FBI said the Alpine case reflects the previously stated position of law enforcement that hoaxes, threats and similar actions regarding weapons of mass destruction will not be tolerated, but will instead be fully investigated and prosecuted.

Balmorhea library

hosting Monopoly

tourney next week

The Balmorhea library is sponsoring the First Annual Balmorhea Library Monopoly Tournament scheduled for 8 a.m. until noon, Saturday, June 29, at the library building in Balmorhea.

Kids ages 10 to 18 are invited to participate in this three round tournament to determine the Balmorhea Monopoly Champion.

Entry is free, but limited to 25 competitors.

First, second and third place trophies will be awarded. Drawings for prizes after the champions is crowned, will be held.

Refreshments will be served.

Come by the library to register and remember seats are limited. Each competitor will have a sponsor and proceeds will be used by the library for programs and materials.

High Wednesday 108. Low this morning 77. Forecast for tonight: Clear. Lows around 70. Southeast winds 10 to 20 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. Highs around 100. Southeast winds 10 to 20 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy. Lows around 70. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Highs 95 to 100. Sunday: Partly cloudy. Lows around 70. Highs 95 to 100.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.

324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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Copyright 2002 by Pecos Enterprise