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Economic Development


Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Families helped with basic winter needs

By Jennifer Galvan
Staff Writer

Helping with the basic necessities has been the goal of a new program in Reeves County this Christmas season.

With local unemployment rates hovering around the 20 percent level since this summer, due to the closing of the Anchor Foods plant at the end of May, Reeves County Hospital has been leading an "Adopt-A-Family" program this year, according to Director of Program Development/Community Services for the hospital, Nancy Ontiveros, and have received donations both of money and needed items from businesses and individuals in the community.

"We started the `Adopt-A-Family' program because so many families in need have used up their unemployment," she said this morning, while accepting a $150 donation from the Pecos Chamber of Commerce's Women's Division. Overall, the group has raised about $1,200, which Ontiveros said would go "not just for clothes, but for paying for utilities and assistance with heating, along with basic household supplies.

"We're having propane heaters filled and are providing clothes, blankets and other supplies," she said. "Some families requested shoes and clothing, and some families requested basic cleaning assistance, because they didn't have soap for cleaning or bathing."

As of now, the program is helping 30 local families, with deliveries of items scheduled to 20 homes today.

"Several families have been adopted by different organizations, and they take the items directly to the homes," Ontiveros said. "Many other organizations have donated to `Adopt-A-Family" to pay for the many items that have been purchased."

She said the organization has gotten money through fundraisers and local contributions.

"We hope that this assistance will get them through the cold winter months, and at least give them a comfortable Christmas," Ontiveros said. "The project has been a success and we're hoping to be able to continue the program next year."

Rec department registering kids for youth hoops

The Reeves County Community Sports and Recreation Department is signing up boys and girls for the winter Pee Wee basketball program, which will begin in January at the old Pecos High School gym.

Parents can pick up their registration forms at the recreation department office during regular hours now through Saturday, Jan. 4, 2003. Registration is $10 per child and a birth certificate and signatures must accompany registration forms from both parents on the form.

For further information, contact the recreation department at 447-9776.

Jobless rate down, but still above last year

From Staff and Wire Reports

Unemployment in Reeves County and the Town of Pecos City dropped in November, but remains almost 10 percent higher than a year ago in the wake of May's closing of the Anchor Foods plant.

The Texas Workforce Commission released November unemployment numbers today, and they showed the county's jobless rate for the month stood at 16.9 percent. That's down nearly two percent from October, but still 9.9 percent higher than a year ago.

The closing of the Anchor plant, which represented 10 percent of the county's workforce, was the main cause of the increase, which began with the June unemployment numbers. TransPecos Foods purchased the plant from McCain Foods this summer and has resumed operation, but with about 30 percent of the 700 workers the plant employed at this time a year ago.

Even with the reopening, the number of jobs in the county is down by over 10 percent in the past year. The number of workers in Reeves County is only down by 29 from November of 2001, the TWC said, but the number of jobs in the county declined by 655, from 5,910 to 5,255, resulting in the jump in the jobless rate.

Compared to October, the number of jobs declined from 5,338 to 5,255, but the labor force fell even more, dropping from 6,566 to 6,326, leaving 1,071 people without jobs.

For the Town of Pecos City, the number of people in the local workforce is actually up from a year ago, despite the loss of over 500 jobs, the TWC said. Pecos had 5,013 people in the labor force in November, up from 4,958 a year ago, while the total number of jobs in the city dropped from 4,560 to 4,054.

Combined, they caused the jobless rate to soar from 8.0 to 19.1 percent in the past 12 months. However, November's 19.1 percent figure is still down two percent from October, when there were 1,099 people unemployed out of 5,218 in the city's labor pool.

Unemployment in the Permian Basin was unchanged during November and dropped .1 percent overall in Texas, according to the TWC. For the two largest counties in the area, Midland County saw its jobless rate drop from 4.2 to 4.0 percent, while unemployment in Ector County remained unchanged at 7.1 percent.

For other neighboring counties, Ward County jobless rate jumped half a percent, from 8.3 to 8.8 percent, as a decrease in the number of jobs surpassed a decline in the county's workforce. Pecos County reported an increase in jobs, but that was offset by a bigger jump in the county's workforce, which lifted its jobless rate from 6.8 to 7.1 percent, while Winkler County's rate fell three-tenths of a percent, but remains in double-digits at 10.4 percent.

To the south, both Brewster and Jeff Davis County jobless rates remain among the lowest in the area, at 2.4 and 2.3 percent, while Presidio County has the area's highest jobless rate, at 20.7 percent, though that represents a 1.9 percent drop from October's 22.6 percent figure.

Statewide unemployment dropped to 5.6 percent in November as government and construction job growth helped boost the rate from 6.2 percent in October, the TWC said. Overall in Texas, a drop in the state's labor force offset a loss of 700 jobs in November, which compares with a loss of 10,900 jobs the previous month.

The widely cited statewide unemployment rate is adjusted for seasonal hiring and firing patterns, which economists believe gives a better picture of the underlying job market.

There were 671,100 unemployed Texans in November, 500 fewer than in October. The number of working Texans fell to 10.07 million from 10.09 million.

Following are the November unemployment rates for Texas metropolitan areas, with October rates in parentheses. The local figures were not seasonally adjusted.

Abilene 3.9 (3.9); Amarillo 3.5 (3.6); Austin-San Marcos 5.1 (5.1); Beaumont-Port Arthur 7.9 (7.7); Brazoria 6.9 (6.8); Brownsville-Harlingen 10.9 (10.3); Bryan-College Station 1.7 (1.7); Corpus Christi 5.8 (5.7); Dallas 6.6 (6.5);

El Paso 8.7 (8.5); Fort Worth-Arlington 5.8 (5.7); Galveston-Texas City 7.1 (7.1); Houston 5.7 (5.6); Killeen-Temple 5.2 (5.0); Laredo 6.6 (6.5); Longview-Marshall 6.3 (6.2); Lubbock 2.7 (2.6); McAllen-Edinburg-Mission 13.3 (11.8);

Odessa-Midland 5.6 (5.6); San Angelo 3.7 (3.6); San Antonio 5.0 (4.9); Sherman-Denison 6.0 (5.9); Texarkana N/A (4.7); Tyler 4.4 (4.0); Victoria 4.7 (4.8); Waco 4.2 (4.1)

CJC expansion on hold


Staff Writer

Two months shy of it first birthday, the Pecos Police Department Criminal Justice Center has no plan of expanding anytime soon, despite talk of doing so just after to the facility's opening.

City Manager, Carlos Yerena said that they do not plan to expand the jail until they receive some kind of indication from the United States Marshal's Office of some commitment like a long term or permanent contract.

"We are waiting to hear from the U.S. Marshal's Office," Yerena said.

He also added that they are looking to see if there will be more of a demand for the expansion.

The Marshal's Service worked with the Town of Pecos City to build the facility in order to house federal inmates closer to the U.S. District Court in Pecos. The level of cases in Pecos federal court has risen significantly since the new Lucius D. Bunton Federal Courthouse opened seven years ago, and marshals were having to house most prisoners awaiting trial at out-of-town facilities.

So far is 2002, the federal court in Pecos has handled 389 cases, according to federal court clerk Johnny Terrazas. That's down slightly from the past two years.

A total of 443 cases were heard, involving 569 defendants, in 2001, while 460 cases with 640 defendants were handled by the Pecos federal court in 2000.

Dedication ceremonies for the 96-bed facility were held on Feb. 6, and the following week, then-Pecos Mayor Ray Ortega said that the city plans to take a look at possibly expanding again in six months but not before then.

Both Yerena and Finance Director George Bejarano said that they are currently on the learning curb of the project.

"We are getting to the tope of the learning curb," Yerena said.

When the time comes to expand the facilities, Yerena said that they would look at it and see how it had done during its first several years.

Currently the facility is equipped with a large kitchen and laundry room that would with hold the expansion and all that would be added would be the bed space, Yerena said.

Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney was not available for comment at press time.


High Wednesday 61. Low this morning 40. Forecast for tonight: Clear. Lows in the upper 20s. West winds 5 to 10 mph. Friday: Sunny. Highs in the lower 60s. South winds 5 to 10 mph. Friday night: Clear. Lows in the mid 30s. Saturday: Sunny. Highs in the upper 50s. Sunday: Increasing clouds. Lows in the upper 20s. Highs in the mid 50s.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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