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Area Newspapers
Economic Development


Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Unemployment for city, county at 12-year high

Staff Writer
PECOS, Aug. 15, 2002 - Reeves County's unemployment rate climbed to near the 20 percent level, and the rate for the Town of Pecos City soared over 22 percent for July, as the closing on the Anchor Foods plant combined with the seasonal influx of workers sent the jobless rate to its highest levels in over a dozen years.

The closing of Anchor's Pecos plant at the end of May by McCain Foods shut down the single largest employer for both the city and county, representing over 10 percent of the area's workforce.

The company employed 700 people when McCain Foods bought it a year ago.

McCain sold the plant a week after its final closing to the newly-created TransPecos Foods, which is hoping to have the onion processing plant back in operation by the end of the year, though the workforce will probably be lower than in recent years.

But according to figures released by the Texas Workforce Commission, the jump in the local jobless rate far exceeded the number of jobs lost due to Anchor's closure, as the number of people in the county's labor force increased to over 8,000, mainly due to the summer onion and cantaloupe harvest seasons in the county.

The TWC said there were 1,607 people without jobs in Reeves County last month, out of a workforce of 8,102 people.

There were 6,495 people employed, according to the numbers released today by the TWC.

All three totals are up from June, when the local labor force at 7,881 workers, with 6,366 jobs and 1,515 unemployed, for a rate of 19.2 percent. At the same time, the number of jobs in Reeves County is down by 113 from July of 2001, while the local labor force a year ago was put at only 7,069 people, leaving the county with a jobless rate of 6.5 percent.

The county's labor force is at its highest level since September of 1999, when there were 8,149 people in the county's workforce, and an unemployment rate of 10.1 percent.

The greatest number of workers in the labor force for Reeves County since January of 1990 came the previous month, when there were 8,258 people listed by the TWC locally and a jobless rate of 10.5 percent.

The numbers for the Town of Pecos City were similar, with a sharp jump in the city's labor force from a year ago combining with a slight drop in the number of jobs to create a major increase in the unemployment rate.

The city had 6,450 workers last month and 1,439 unemployed, for a 22.3 percent jobless rate. A year ago, Pecos had 5,511 workers, with only 413 of those unemployed, for a jobless rate of 7.5 percent.

Most other counties in the Permian Basin also reported decreases in their jobless rates for July, and overall the TWC said unemployment for the area declined last month from 6.6 percent in June to 6.2 percent.

Ector County saw its jobless rate fall by .3 percent and Midland County's rate dropped by .4 percent. Andrews and Pecos counties also reported declines in their jobless rates, though both those counties also saw their local labor forces and their total number of jobs decrease.

Ward County's unemployment rate went up from 9.1 to 9.6 percent, and Presidio County's rate went up from 25.4 to 26.9 percent, the highest in the state of Texas.

The jobless rate across Texas was down from 6.9 percent in June to 6.5 percent last month, according to today's TWC numbers.

That's still up from the 5.4 percent figure a year ago, as the growth in jobs has not kept up with the increase in the state's labor force.

Cantaloupe harvest over for growers

Staff Writer
PECOS, Aug. 15, 2002 - People interested in buying more Pecos cantaloupes this year will have till the end of this week to purchase them by the box from the Pecos Farmers Produce Shed.

According to owner, Roger Jones, his shed still has 40 pound box for sale for $6. He also added that after this week people would have to go to the stores to buy cantaloupes, but was unsure on whether they would be Pecos-grown.

"We are the last ones with Pecos cantaloupes," Jones said.

Cantaloupe processing at the Pecos Cantaloupe Shed was closed last week, sales manager Clay Taylor said.

"We were done last Thursday," he said.

According to Taylor this year's crop was good and they plan on having about the same size of crop next year.

Pecos Cantaloupe grows most of its crop to the south and east of Pecos, while Jones' cantaloupes are all grown on the north side of the railroad tracks of Reeves County.

According to Jones, their last day of harvest was last Friday, August 9.

He went on to say that this year's crop was excellent but did add that the July and early August rains did not help.

"The rain hurts the crop. It is not good for it to rain," Jones said. "The rain lowers the sugar content for a few days."

Jones also said that when California started to ship off their crop in late June, also hurt their market. With the California shipment the market as well as the price started to decline.

"The market started off good this year but then it started to decline around June 21," Jones said.

"California ships a lot of cantaloupes," Jones said. "It is hard to compete."

Jones added that he hopes that next year's crop does better in the market and that they have an earlier crop as well.

Jones said that they are now preparing to plant their fall cabbage crop.

"We will be planting our fall cabbage in a couple of weeks," Jones said.

"We will then harvest the cabbage around October 15 through November 15," Jones said. "Somewhere in that window.

Pecos cantaloupes are known for their sweet taste and local residents as well as residents from across the country look forward to the cantaloupes each year.

Pair arrested on pot charges following search

Staff Writer
PECOS, Aug. 15, 2002 - A narcotics search warrant that was executed Wednesday evening landed two people in the Criminal Justice Center, according to Pecos police

At 8:29 p.m., Wednesday evening, officers with the police department, the Reeves County Sheriff's Office and the 143rd District Attorney's office executed a narcotics search warrant at 1217 S. Elm St.

"During the search of the premises, a substance believed to be marijuana was found inside the residence and a substance believed to be marijuana was found inside a vehicle that was parked outside the residence," said Pecos Police Investigator Paul Deishler.

He added that officers also found paraphernalia commonly used with the smoking of marijuana inside the residence.

"Officers completed their search of the premises and two individuals were arrested," said Deishler.

Arrested during the incident were Javier Vela, 32 and Juan Ramirez, 51 and both were transported to the Criminal Justice Center.

Bond for the individuals had not been set yet this morning, pending a court hearing.

Vela was charged with the offense of possession of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school (Pecos Kindergarten) and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Ramirez was charged with possession of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school (Pecos Kindergarten).

McKinnon buys paper in former hometown

PECOS, Aug. 15, 2002 - A former Pecos Enterprise editor and publisher during the 1990s has purchased the newspaper in his original hometown.

Mac B. McKinnon has purchased the Dublin Citizen, which was sold by Karen Wright on Aug. 1. Dublin is located midway between Abilene and Waco.

Wright had established the paper in 1990, and at the time there was a long established weekly which an out-of-town chain had purchased. Her paper was the only one in town at the time of the sale.

McKinnon spent nine years as editor of the Enterprise, from 1989 to 1998, before moving to Colorado, where he was publisher of the Fort Morgan Times from late 1998 until last month.

McKinnon, who is a 1961 graduate of Dublin High School, served in the U.S. Air Force, and published a weekly paper for the service, as well as writing several unit histories. Later he worked as state editor for the Fort Worth Star Telegram, and then purchased the Colorado City Record, in Texas, where he lived from 1971 to 1980. He then moved to Midland as news director for KMID, the NBC-TV affiliate at the time.

Returning to the newspaper business, he bought the Burnet Bulletin-Marble Falls Messenger-Bertram Enterprise, which he operated from 1983 to 1988. After selling that operation, he wrote a book about a serial killer, which was published in 1991.

Bill Berger of Associated Texas Newspapers helped him sell the Burnet newspaper in 1988 and then helped in the sale from Karen Wright to McKinnon in 2002.

Hearing on Friday on proposed brush program changes

PECOS, Aug. 15, 2002 - The Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board will hold a public hearing at 9 a.m. Friday at the Pecos Community Center.

The public hearing will focus on proposed rule changes to the Brush Control Program.

The proposed changes are to ensure the rules more accurately reflect the actual administration of the program. The recommended changes will reflect the way the brush program works in the fields and will in no way impact any other TSSWCB programs.

Anyone having questions or concerns regarding the proposed changes is encouraged to appear and offer comments or statements, either in writing or verbally, on the issue.

Garage sale, BBQ to benefit Explorer post

PECOS, Aug. 15, 2002 - A garage sale and barbecue plate sale will be held beginning at 8 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 17, at the Reeves County Sheriff's Posse Barn.

Everyone is invited to come out and browse and enjoy the good food.

Proceeds will benefit the Reeves County Sheriff's Explorer Post #600.


Minnie Curb

PECOS, Aug. 15, 2002 - High Wednesday 98. Low this morning 74. Forecast for tonight: Clear. Lows 70 to 75. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 102. Southeast winds 10 to 20 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy. Lows 70 to 75. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 102. Sunday: Partly cloudy with isolated thunderstorms. Lows 70 to 75. Highs near 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