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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Census reports area continued population loss

From Staff and Wire Report
Reeves County's population decline during the 1990s continued into 2002, according to figures released on Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The bureau released its 2002 census report for Texas counties, and they showed Reeves County as one of the 20 fastest shrinking counties along with Loving, Terrell, Winkler and Jeff Davis Counties in the Trans-Pecos region. The county lost 2558 residents during 2002, according to the government's figures.

Nolan County (Sweetwater) and Dawson County (Lamesa) were also similar sized West Texas counties in terms of population that reported losses, the Census Bureau said.

According to the census report Reeves County had shrunk by 2 percent between 2001 and 2002. Loving had a percentage loss of three percent, while Winkler had a percentage loss of 1.8 percent and Jeff Davis had a loss of 1.5 percent.

The county's estimated population in 2001 was 12,736, while the 2002 population was 12,478, according to the numbers released on Wednesday.

The decline coincided with the closing at the end of May 2001 of the Anchor Foods plant in Pecos, which employed 10 percent of Reeves County's workforce. The plant has since reopened after being purchased by TransPecos Foods, but the number of workers is still about 500 below the level employed by Anchor at the start of 2002.

Town of Pecos City Mayor Dot Stafford said that she was not surprised by the results.

"I had realized that Town of Pecos City had shrunk, but I was not aware of the percentage," Stafford said.

However, she said that she believed that the kidney dialysis center at the Reeves County Hospital would build up the community.

"We will improve," Stafford said. "I see it (kidney dialysis) as an asset."

Stafford added that she did not accredit the total loss of population to the closing of Anchor.

"The closing of Anchor was just on contribution," Stafford said. "Other reasons are that older people are retiring and moving closer to their children and some of them are just being transferred to other places."

Along with the kidney dialysis, Stafford said that Trans Pecos would also help revive the town.

Statewide, the Census Bureau said Texas' population growth is slowing, but sharp gains were still reported in some suburban counties in Central and East Texas.

"If you look at the raw numbers, you see Texas growing as it did in the past," said state demographer Steve Murdock, head of the Texas State Data Center in College Station. "If you annualize (growth) just from the numbers of 387,000 per year in the 1990s and 415,000 annualized from 2000-2002, it doesn't look like much change.

"If you start looking at the rates, you begin to see what I would call dark demographic clouds gathering."

The annual growth rate since the census was taken in April 2000 through July 1, 2002, was 1.9 percent. That's a 17 percent plunge from the 2.3-percent annual growth rate in the 1990s, thus the dark clouds.

Still, Texas grew to an estimated population of 21.8 million as of last summer, adding 928,000 persons since Census 2000.

"In 25 of the 27 metropolitan areas growth was slower annualized," Murdock said, adding that the Brazoria County and Tyler areas barely bucked the trend with essentially flat growth.

The estimates show 197 Texas counties grew more slowly, or shrank more quickly, in the early part of this decade than they did during the 1990s. Nearly half the counties, 114, have lost population since 2000, including metropolitan counties like Jefferson, Wichita and Tom Green.

Despite all that, Rockwall County just east of Dallas managed to become the nation's fastest-growing county, bulging by 7.9 percent over one year's time to nearly 51,000 residents. It grew by an even more robust 11.4 percent the previous year, but the emerging suburb continues to boom by any measure.

At the other end, three of the of the 20 fastest-shrinking counties also were in Texas, including Stonewall County, which ranked fourth from the bottom among 3,141 U.S. counties with a -5.6 percent growth rate. Nearby Cochran and Foard counties, all three set in the long-stagnant region between Fort Worth and Lubbock christened "The Big Empty" by late author and area native Jim Corder, also were among the nation's fastest-shrinking.

Reeves County's 2 percent drop put it 11th on the list of the 20 counties with the greated population loss. Loving County was sixth on the list, but as the nation's least-populated county, the loss of two residents was all it took to cause a 3 percent drop in the county's population.

Special services for Easter starting tonight

PECOS, Thurs., April 17, 2003 --  Local Catholic Churches will be having special services throughout this week.

Services for tonight include the Christ the King Parish in Balmorhea at 6 p.m.; St. Catherine Catholic Church in Pecos, 6 p.m. and Santa Rosa Parish, 7 p.m.

Service schedules for Good Friday include Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Saragosa, 11 a.m.; Our Lady of Refuge Parish, Barstow, noon; Santa Rosa Parish, Pecos, 3 p.m.; St. Catherine Parish, Pecos, 6 p.m. and Santa Rosa Parish, 7 p.m.

Times for Easter Vigil on Saturday are: Christ the King Parish, Balmorhea 6 p.m.; Our Lady of Refuge Parish, Barstow, 8 p.m.; St. Catherine Parish, Pecos, 9 p.m. and Santa Rosa Parish, Pecos, 9 p.m.

Easter Sunday services include: Santa Rosa Parish, Pecos, 7:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and noon; St. Catherine Parish, Pecos, 10:30 a.m. and Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Saragosa, noon.

Special services also have been scheduled today and Friday by First United Methodist Church. It will observe Holy Thursday, at 7 p.m., today and on Good Friday the church will have a 'come and go' service from noon until 3 p.m.

Second motel getting fix-up

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., April 17, 2003 --  A second motel located on Third Street in Pecos is being fixed up for opening up some time in the next month or so.

Owner/General Contractor from California, who gave his name as Nick G,. said that he hopes to open his motel next month.

Nick said that he has been working on making the improvements to his building since last month.

"I am completely remodeling," Nick said. "There will be new windows, new doors, new carpet, new everything."

He also said that there would be a swimming pool and a restaurant but was not sure on how the restaurant would work.

While the motel will have some new items, he added that he would be keeping something old from the building.

The motel, which was known as the Roper's Motel would now be known as the Sunset Roper's Motel, he said.

"I want people to associate the old name with the new name," Nick said.

Nick said that his motel would consist of 30 rooms, five or six of them being apartments.

"Most rooms will have one bed," Nick said. "Some will have two."

The apartments would be located on the west wing of the building, he added.

He said that he also had a parking lot big enough for truckers to park their trucks in. and had a paving machine out last week working on the parking area around the motel.

The work on the motel comes after another Third Street motel, the Pecos Inn, was reopened last month on the west side of town. That motel had been closed for about 15 years, and is being operated by Richard Hayes, for owner Jack Patel of Hartford, Calif.

Rec department signs up players for 3-on-3 league

PECOS, Thurs., April 17, 2003 --  The Reeves County Community Sports and Recreation Department is signing up incoming seventh, eighth and ninth graders for its 3-on-3 basketball league.

Sign-ups will run through May 9 and are open to boys and girls entering seventh through ninth grades in August. Registration fee is $10 and students can pick up enrollment forms during regular office hours.

Report cards, birth certificates and parental signatures are required when returning the completed forms. For further information, call the recreation department at 447-9776.


PECOS, Thurs., April 17, 2003 --  High Wednesday 90. Low this morning 53. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 50s. Southwest winds 10 to 20 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the upper 80s. West winds 10 to 20 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the upper 40s. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 80. Sunday: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 40s. Highs in the mid 70s.


Eligio Acosta

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