Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Monday, July 15, 2002
Weather slowing harvest of area cantaloupe crop
From Staff and Wire Reports
PECOS, Monday, July 15, 2002 -- Cooler weather in June and July than in recent
years in the Trans-Pecos region may be welcome by most local residents,
but supermarket shoppers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have found the
change, along with last week's area thunderstorms, have meant an absence
of Pecos Cantaloupes in area stores.
A grocery store chain recently displayed the bad news to loyal melon fans
in Dallas: No Pecos cantaloupes, due to recent rains, the sign read.
Citing everything from the weather to a declining number of farmers, Pecos
area growers acknowledge they have not been able to meet demand for their
cantaloupes so far this summer.
"It's nice to have a product everybody wants, but bad when you can't furnish
all they want," A.B. Foster, 81, retired owner of the Pecos Cantaloupe Co.,
said Sunday night.
"It's a sad deal. All we can do is ship what we grow," said Foster, who
remains close to the business in Pecos, in Reeves County.
July rains effectively stopped the cantaloupe, watermelon and the end
of the onion harvest in southwest Texas, the Texas Cooperative Extension
reported last week.
Rains in the main growing regions of Southern Reeves and northern Pecos
counties hampered harvesting over the Fourth of July holiday period. A little
over one inch fell around Pecos, but rainfall totals of as much as 5½
inches were reported in the Girvin area of northeastern Pecos County. And
temperatures have generally remained in the low- to mid-90s over the past
Clay Taylor, sales manager of the Pecos Cantaloupe Shed, Inc., said that
recent rains and cool weather have slowed the harvest.
"The cool weather has hurt us and we're not harvesting a whole lot of
cantaloupes," he said.
Gaston Tarango, an employee at the local company, explained why the cooler
weather and rain has hurt the growers.
"The cantaloupes are growing instead of ripening," he said.
Normally the temperature in July is over 100 degrees, which is just right
for harvesting, however, the recent rains have caused the cantaloupes to
Owner of Pecos Cantaloupe Randy Taylor agreed with Clay Taylor that the
unusual weather, including lower temperatures, has contributed to problems
for his cantaloupes.
"Our crop is less than 50 percent what it usually is," he said. "We've
got a lot of people wanting them, and we can't supply them right now."
Hopefully, however, the demand will be met once temperatures start to
pick up again.
"Mother Nature has got us stalled right now," Clay Taylor said.
The good news: Eighteen-wheelers filled with cantaloupes are leaving Pecos
every day, and production is expected to grow.
"They are packing cantaloupes, and there will be increased volume in the
next weeks," Foster said. "There's big demand for them, and we have to get
to them the best we can."
The salty, sandy soil in Pecos, Reeves, and Presidio counties produces
the moist melons known for their sweetness.
The arrival of the Texas and Pacific Railroad in 1881 helped propel the
melons to fame when they began being served in dining cars.
Today consumers literally can't get enough of them, and some farmers blame
A cantaloupe farmer near Saragosa lost his entire crop to hail about two
weeks ago, just as he was about to begin harvesting.
Foster, who grew cantaloupes for 40 years, said the biggest problem is
a declining number of growers.
"We just don't have the acreage this year that we used to have," he said.
"I've been in this business when we had five packing sheds running at a time.
Now we have one packing shed, and next week we'll have a second one."
He said the economy forced a number of growers, who must pump in water
to farm in the hot, desert-dry country, to quit the business.
All is not lost.
Pecos producers said they expect to provide hungry connoisseurs with plenty
of lucious melons before the season ends in September.
Foster expects production to ramp up shortly, and Taylor is equally confident.
"The crop will pick up the further we get into the season," he said.
City tax rebates decline; Toyah, Balmorhea up
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, Monday, July 15, 2002 -- Sales tax revenues in Pecos during May were
down slightly, while Toyah and Balmorhea showed sharp increases, according
to tax rebate check figures released Thursday by State Comptroller
Carole Keeton Rylander's office.
The comptroller's office sent out checks to cities, counties and special
purpose districts this week, and overall the results for West Texas were
mixed, with several cities reporting sharp increases while others joined
Pecos in showing small drops compared with checks sent out in July of 2001.
Pecos' check for this month was $54,062, based on the city's 1½-cent
share of the state's 8¼-cent sales tax. That represented a 4.59 percent
decline from the same month last year, while for the first seven months of
2002 overall, the city has gotten $438,415 back from Austin, which is 3.14
percent higher than a year ago.
One-sixth of the city's rebate total goes to the Pecos Economic Development
Corp. each month. The PEDC's share of July's check came to $9,010.
Also down for the month but up for the year is the Reeves County Hospital
District. It's tax rebate check, based on the district's ½-cent sales
tax, was $24,952 this month, down 6.4 percent from last July's $26,659. For
the full year, the hospital has gotten $210,478 from sales tax collections
in the county, up 21.83 percent from the first seven months of 2001.
Balmorhea's rebate check for July was up by over two-thirds from a year
ago, and for the entire year the city's sales tax receipts are higher by
nearly that same amount.
The comptroller's office sent the city a $761 check this week, up 67.25
percent from the $454 check a year ago, and Balmorhea has gotten $7,043 back
from Austin so far this year, up 62.36 cents from the $4,338 total last year.
Toyah saw its sales tax rebate check for July soar compared with a year
ago. The city got back $1,724, which is 625 percent higher than the 238 check
it received in 2001. But Toyah's rebate checks for the first six months this
year were down from last year, so even with this month's jump, the city's
tax rebates are down 5.48 percent for 2002, at $4,249.
Monahans and Andrews were two larger cities also reporting sharp jumps
in their tax rebate checks. Andrews, which has been up sharply for the past
several months, got back $112,506 this month, an increase of 85 percent from
a year ago. Monahans' rebate check was $94,738, which was up 53.13 percent
from July of 2001.
Big Spring, Van Horn, Wink and Crane saw smaller double-digit increases,
while other results were mixed. Midland received the largest rebate check
in the area this month, $1.46 million, which was 14¼ percent up from
last year, but nearby Odessa saw its rebate check drop 4.82 percent this
month, to $1.03 million.
Alpine, Fort Stockton, Kermit and Presidio saw their tax rebate checks
decline this month, between 3.4 and 12.6 percent. Statewide, tax rebates
for July were virtually unchanged from a year ago, at $202.7 million. Houston's
check for $25.4 million was the single largest sent out by Rylander's office,
and was up 4.42 percent, while Dallas' check was $13.9 million represented
a drop of 9.47 percent from last July.
San Antonio teen killed in I-10 Sunday rollover
By JENNIFER GALVAN
PECOS, Monday, July 15, 2002 -- One person was killed and two others were
injured in a one-vehicle rollover Sunday morning on Interstate 10 in
southeastern Reeves County.
The accident occurred at 7:34 a.m., on I-10, 14 miles east of Balmorhea.
Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace J.T. Marsh of Toyah pronounced Roger Rodriguez
Jr., 16, of San Antonio, dead at the scene at 8:45 a.m., and his body was
taken to Pecos Funeral Home.
Antonia Romero, 38, and Jeanette Rodriguez, 14, both of San Antonio were
taken to Reeves County Hospital and listed under good conditions with minor
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety report, Roger Rodriguez
and Romero were wearing their seat belts, while Jeanette Rodriguez was not.
According to the DPS report, the accident occurred when the 2002 Isuzu
they were in veered off on the north side of I-10 and into the center medium
while eastbound. At which point the driver, Romero, overcorrected to the
right attempting to bring the vehicle back onto the road.
The vehicle then rolled over left over top several times ejecting Roger
Rodriguez, the right side front passenger, before coming to a rest up right
position in the south bar ditch facing southwest.
DPS trooper Andy Anthony of Van Horn investigated the accident.
West Park sets Bible School for next week
PECOS, Monday, July 15, 2002 -- West Park Baptist Church will hold its
Vacation Bible School from 8:30-11:30 a.m., beginning Monday, July 22 until
Friday, July 26 at the church, located at Sixth and Eddy Streets.
Bible school will be held for all children in Pre-K through middle school.
An early bird video will be shown at 8 a.m.
PECOS, Monday, July 15, 2002 -- High Sunday 96. Low this morning 71. Forecast
for tonight: Partly cloudy with isolated thunderstorms. Lows 65 to
70. SE winds 5 to 10 mph. Tues.: Partly cloudy with a slight chance
of thunderstorms. Highs in the mid 90s. SE winds 10 to 15 mph. The
chance of rain is 20 percent. Tues. night: Partly cloudy with a slight
chance of thunderstorms. Lows near 70. The chance of rain is 20 percent.
Wed.: Partly cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms. Highs in the mid
90s. The chance of rain is 30 percent. Thurs.: Partly cloudy with a
slight chance of thunderstorms. Lows near 70. Highs in the mid 90s..
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