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Archive 2002

Area Newspapers
Economic Development


Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

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 six weeks.

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 grow.

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 the weather.

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

Staff Writer

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

Staff Writer

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 injuries.

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..

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Pecos Enterprise
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