Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Friday, October 18, 2002
Unemployment kept high due to workforce jump
By JENNIFER GALVAN
PECOS, Fri., Oct. 18, 2002 -- Reeves County and the Town of Pecos City's
unemployment rates remain nearly three times above their level of a
year ago, according to figures for September released Thursday by the
Texas Workforce Commission.
But while the sharp jump continues a trend that began following May's
closing of the Anchor Foods plant in Pecos, the increase is based mainly
on a 15 percent rise in the number of workers in the county compared to September
of a year ago.
TransPecos Foods officially reopened the plant last month, after agreeing
to purchase it from McCain Foods in June. Operations resumed in September,
but the number of employees is still well below the 700 that worked at the
facility when McCain bought Anchor Foods in September of 2001.
However, based on the figures released by the TWC, Reeves County has only
59 fewer jobs compared to the same point last year, and has gained 52 jobs
over August's numbers. But the local workforce last month stood at 7,908
workers, which is up 1,016 from September of 2001, and that increase caused
unemployment in Reeves County to soar from 5.2 percent to 18.1 percent in
the past year.
Unemployment in the county is actually down from its peak in August, when
the TWC reported 19.9 percent of the county's workforce was without jobs.
The labor force a month ago stood at 8,015 workers, with 6,423 employed.
In September, 6,475 people in the county had jobs, according to today's report.
The 15 percent increase in the county's labor force comes at the same
time as Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD schools are reporting a drop in enrollment
of about eight percent compared to the same time last year. School officials
said last week that the district has 200 fewer students than last year.
In referring to the 7,908 workers, Employee Service Representative of
the Texas Work Force in Pecos Ascencio Banuelas said, "That is how many people
are available for work,"
According to Banuelas the unemployment rate jumped by 10 percent when
Anchor closed its doors earlier this year.
Though TransPecos Foods has bought the building and has started to create
a new line of produce Banuelas said that the business would not be employing
the large number of employees as Anchor did.
"Though they are hiring in increments, their will hire a full force of
about 300 people," Banuelas said.
Though Banuelas has talked to local employers he said that he has found
that placing people is very slim.
The 7,908 workers in the local labor force for September is not unusually
high for Reeves County compared to recent years. The TWC website showed that
the county had 7,884 workers in September of 1998, when the jobless rate
was 12.1 percent, while in 1999, the county had a labor force of 8,149 workers,
of which 7,325 had jobs, which is 900 more jobs than last month, according
to the agency's figures.
The jobless rate at that time was 10.1 percent, but dropped over the next
year, as an increase in oil and gas drilling activity in the Permian Basin
helped lower unemployment rates.
The Town of Pecos City's numbers are roughly the same as Reeves County's
totals. City unemployment was 20.4 percent last month, down from 22.3 percent
in August but up from 6.0 percent a year ago. The total number of jobs in
the city is only down 45 from September 2001, but the number of people in
the city's workforce has grown by 917 in the past year, according to the
Reeves County's neighbors also had jobless rates above the regional and
state averages. Winkler County (Kermit); had an 11.4 percent unemployment
rate last month, down from 11.8 percent in August but sharply up from the
4.9 percent rate a year ago. An increase in the county's workforce by 240
people offset a slight rise in the number of jobs over the past year.
Ward County's rate this month was 9.5 percent up one-tenth of a percent
from August and up from 6.4 percent last year. The TWC said the county lost
about 50 people from its labor force in the past year but also saw over 150
jobs disappear. Pecos County's total number of jobs remained stable, but
the labor force declined slightly, lowering its unemployment from 7.4 percent
in August to 7.0 percent in September. The county's jobless rate was 4.6
percent a year ago, when there were 85 additional jobs.
Unemployment in the Midland-Odessa area held stable at 6.1 percent in
September, while statewide, the jobless rate was down from 6.3 percent in
August to 6.2 percent last month. The Midland-Odessa unemployment rate was
4.1 percent a year ago, and Texas' jobless rate at that time was 5.2 percent.
About 10 million Texans were working in September, with 662,400 unemployed,
the commission said.
Following are the September unemployment rates for Texas metropolitan
areas, with August rates in parentheses. The local figures were not seasonally
Abilene 4.2 (4.4); Amarillo 3.8 (3.8); Austin-San Marcos 5.5 (5.6); Beaumont-Port
Arthur 8.2 (8.6); Brazoria 7.6 (7.9); Brownsville-Harlingen 10.4 (10.8);
Bryan-College Station 1.8 (2.1); Corpus Christi 6.2 (6.4); Dallas 6.9 (7.0);
El Paso 8.3 (8.5); Fort Worth-Arlington 5.9 (6.0); Galveston-Texas City
7.7 (8.1); Houston 5.9 (6.0); Killeen-Temple 5.0 (5.1); Laredo 6.7 (6.7);
Longview-Marshall 6.7 (6.8); Lubbock 2.8 (3.2); McAllen-Edinburg-Mission
Odessa-Midland 6.1 (6.1); San Angelo 3.8 (3.8); San Antonio 5.1 (5.3);
Sherman-Denison 6.5 (6.8); Texarkana 5.0 (5.2); Tyler 4.4 (4.5); Victoria
5.3 (5.4); Waco 4.4 (4.9); Wichita Falls 5.9 (5.5).
Indictments include theft, drug and assault incidents
PECOS, Fri., Oct. 18, 2002 -- The Reeves County Grand Jury 143rd
Judicial District returned several indictments during August and September,
including several for assault, theft and possession of a controlled substance.
Grand jurors met on Aug. 22 and returned indictments on:
Billy Ray Box, 67, was indicted for aggravated assault. The indictment
stated that on May 30, Box did intentionally threaten Donald William Shield
with imminent bodily injury and did exhibit a deadly weapon.
Other indictments include: Ricardo Barrera for criminal non-support; Jaime
Ortiz Natividad, unauthorized use of a vehicle; Camillo Salcido, assault;
Jesus Levario Gochicoa, possession of a controlled substance; Jose Luis Garcia,
possession of a controlled substance; Efrin Rodriguez, possession of a controlled
substance; Myron Nigiel Jenkins, theft; Guillermo Rayos, possession of a
controlled substance; Gilberto Rayos Ortega, possession of a controlled substance;
Wilhelm Newstater Neufeld, possession of marijuana; Rodolfo Carrasco Renteria,
drug possession and Frank Matta Rivera, burglary.
On Sept. 11, grand jurors returned indictments on: Juan Manuel Aguilar,
assault; Kacye Lynn Jordan, arson; Sonia Rodriguez, forgery; Fabian Orona,
assault and Patricia Soto, delivery of a controlled substance.
Fire department holds terrorism response course
PECOS, Fri., Oct. 18, 2002 -- The Pecos Volunteer Fire Department and
Dallas Renfrew will be holding an Emergency Response to Terrorism course
beginning Monday, October 21 through Thursday, October 24.
The classes will be held at the Reeves County Civic Center from 6 p.m.
till 10 p.m.
The registration fee is free and applications may be pick up by contacting
Noel Ybarra or Javier Contreras at the Pecos Volunteer Fire Hall.
Early voting opens Saturday for November election
From Staff and Wire Reports
With the candidates for governor, U.S. Senate and other state offices
still on the campaign trail, some Texas voters are getting an early start
casting their ballots.
Early voting for the Nov. 5 general election began Saturday in some Texas
counties and will open in every county by Monday. In Reeves County, early
voting will begin Saturday in the first floor lobby of the Reeves County
Courthouse. Voting booths will be open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., and will
continue Monday through Saturday at those times until Nov. 2. Voters in
Barstow can cast their ballots early for the next two weeks between 8 a.m.
and 5 p.m. at the Ward County Courthouse in Monahans.
"I have always opened on a Saturday," said Beverly Kaufman, county clerk
for Harris County, the state's most populous county with 1.9 million registered
voters. "In an urban community like this, people need the weekends."
Unofficial voter figures from the secretary of state's office show slightly
more than 12.8 million registered voters in Texas, about 450,000 more than
the 2000 presidential election.
Ann McGeehan, director of elections, wouldn't give a precise prediction
on turnout but said she expects it will fall between the 32.5 percent for
the 1998 election, when then-Gov. George W. Bush was elected to second term,
and the approximate 50 percent turnout in 2000.
"I think (1998) was especially low because it was not a real competitive
(governor's) race," McGeehan said. "I would think we would beat that."
This year's ballot features several hotly contested races, with Republican
John Cornyn and Democrat Ron Kirk squaring off in the campaign for U.S. Senate
and Republican Gov. Rick Perry and Democrat Tony Sanchez locked in a vitriolic
challenge for the governor's office.
Perry and Sanchez have scheduled Saturday appearances to encourage early
Kaufman, however, predicted the caustic campaigns will drive some voters
away, which means low turnout.
"This is not going to a high-turnout election," Kaufman said. "There's
been so much negative campaigning. I'm afraid it's going to be a turnoff
rather than a turn-on."
Schools hold events as part of "Red Ribbon Week"
PECOS, Fri., Oct. 18, 2002 -- Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD schools will be
holding "Red Ribbon Week" next Monday through Friday, which will conclude
with an anti-drug rally for district students at Eagle Stadium.
The rally, which has been held each October for the past several years,
will be from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 25 at Eagle Stadium. Students from
the P-B-T campuses will be bussed to the stadium for the rally, which is
sponsored by the P-B-T ISD guidance counselors with the assistance of the
Pecos High School Student Council, PHS cheerleaders, district administrators
and teachers and local law enforcement agencies.
Other events for students as part of Red Ribbon Week include:
Monday _ United We Stand for a Drug-Free Land (wear red, white and blue)
Tuesday _ We're a Team and Can Say `No' to Drugs (students should wear
their jerseys and bring a canned good to school)
Wednesday _ Follow Your Dreams; Don't Do Drugs (wear pajamas)
Thursday _ Put a Cap on Drugs (wear a cap)
Friday _ Put a Stop to Drugs (wear red).
All schools will also be decorating with red to support the fight against
drugs, and a drawing will be held at each campus for students who have perfect
PECOS, Fri., Oct. 18, 2002 -- High Thurs. 71. Low this morning 58. Rainfall
last 24 hours at Texas A&M Experiment Station .18 inch. Forecast
for tonight: Mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers and
thunderstorms. Lows 50 to 55. SW winds 10 to 20 mph. Sat,: Partly cloudy.
Highs around 70. West winds 5 to 15 mph, becoming north 10 to 20 mph
in the afternoon. Sat, night: Partly cloudy. Lows 45 to 50. Sun,: Increasing
clouds. Highs around 70. Monday: Partly cloudy. Lows 45 to 50. Highs
Jim Tom Kelton and Maria Miramontes
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