Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Friday, April 25, 2003
Family, friends welcome Lujan back from Gulf
By JENNIFER GALVAN
PECOS, Friday, April 25, 2003 -- Family and friends greeted again another
local hometown hero early Thursday morning after he returned from Kuwait
for a brief visit with family and friends.
Eddie Lujan, a Member of the United States Marine Fighter Squadron VMFA
- 121 Green Knights Males 11 Unit was sent to Ahmed Al Jaber, Kuwait at
the end of November of last year to serve as support for the war in neighboring
Iraq that began last month.
"We were building munitions," said Lujan, a 28-year old Pecos High School
graduate. "The majority of the munitions that were dropped (on Iraq) came
Like his last deployment to Kandahar in Afghanistan back in September,
Lujan said that living conditions were pretty much the same in the Persian
"There was a lot of sand," Lujan said. "It was a tent city life."
He said that while living in a tent city life they were trying to get
their job done.
However, he added that this deployment was different in regards to them
working around the clock.
"We had day and night crews," Lujan said. "Sometimes we worked 10 to
14 hours a day."
He added that the pace was a lot faster then his last deployment.
"Last time it was only one squadron," Lujan said. "This time we were
working for six different squadrons."
Another difference was that this time there were real alarms for possible
scud missile (chemical) attacks, Lujan added.
"I also had to wear my gas mask everywhere I went," Lujan said. "Even
to the bathroom.'
He said he and his squadron had to work with a lot more people, he said.
"We were four different units," Lujan said. "I would say that there were
at least 200 of us working together.'
While in Kuwait, Lujan said that they received numerous letters from
children ranging from the ages of 6 to 18 and thanking them for protecting
"They would write things like, 'Go get them,' 'Thank you for protecting
our freedom,'" Lujan said. "Young kids would also send drawings."
Lujan said that he felt that all the children were more in tune to what
was going on.
"They knew the enemy was Saddam (Hussein). They would name him like they
knew him. They would also mention Osama (bin Laden)."
While receiving letters from children, Lujan said that it became harder
for him to keep in contact with his family, especially when the war began.
"We had two 15 minute phone calls a week," Lujan said. "But they were
hard to come by because everybody wanted to call."
In regards to the welcoming home he received in the early morning hours
of Thursday, Lujan said that he was not expecting the attention.
"I was taken by surprise," Lujan said. "Especially since I came in on
a late flight. I especially was not expecting a news crew."
He said that he thought that his welcoming was too much and that he did
not deserve as much attention as he had received that night.
"I was over whelmed," Lujan said. "I just kept thinking that we were
waking up half the town with our honking. I am sure I woke up a lot of people
and for those I did, I apologize."
He ended by saying that his heart goes out to the Mata family.
"Their dear son paid the ultimate price," Lujan said. "He deserved what
I got last night. He deserves that and more."
Council briefed on housing plan for prison staff
By JENNIFER GALVAN
PECOS, Friday, April 25, 2003 -- The Town of Pecos City Council opted to
take no action Thursday on approving a tax abatement agreement with TransPecos
Foods during their regular meeting Thursday evening at City Hall.
Council members also heard a proposal to convert a building on Stafford
Boulevard into housing to help attract new employees to the Reeves County
TransPecos Foods is seeking the abatement, which would be used to fund
capital improvements at the facility it purchased from McCain Foods last
year. However, Mayor Dot Stafford asked the council if they could table
the item until all the council members were able to review the agreement.
City Attorney Scott Johnson told the council that he agreed with Stafford
on tabling the item till the next meeting. He also told the council that
it would give them time to evaluate the base value of the facility.
In other action, council members heard from two members of the Pecos
Housing Association, Jesse Stevens and John Grant, who are looking into
creating the old National Guard building on Stafford Boulevard into a dormitory
to help with the city's housing shortage.
"We are a non-profit organization," Stevens said. "We want to assist low
income families. We have six directors and no members."
He added that they have been working with low-income families in filling
out 504 grant forms.
Grant, the president of West Texas National Bank, said that during a
Chamber meeting, Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo stated that it had been
hard to attract qualified applicants to work at the Reeves County Detention
Center due to the lack of affordable housing.
He added that most applicants would not be able to afford commuting based
on their salary.
So with the help of the prison, they surveyed some of the employees about
living in dormitory housing.
"We received 60 positive responses," Grant said. "Some were single individuals
and a married couple with no children."
Grant said that they are looking into creating ten units, eight for single
people costing $350 and two for a couple costing $550.
"The rent cost would cover their electric bill, water bill, one meal per
day and housekeeping once a week," Grand said. "The proposed labor would
be compensated with a renting unit, where the occupant would live for free."
Once the building has been fixed and is being occupied, Grant said that
they would then sell the property to an investor and take the profit.
"We would then use the money for the purchasing of another building,"
He said that they must clean up the city before they can get new businesses
in to Pecos and hopes that this would help by providing affordable housing.
"Maybe the Pecos Housing Authority can take the project once it is completed
or they can lease it from an investor," Grant said. "We do not want to be
He added that they are not here to make money.
Before the council members began with their meeting, they heard from
Urban Planning and Management Consultant Carlos Colinas Vargas out of Austin
during a public hearing.
"We are here to answer any questions you may have on the study," Vargas
said, referring to work being prepared for the Town of Pecos City.
One of which is a study of basic planning activities, which includes
base mapping, housing study and plan, population study and land use study.
Under this item the city is mapped and records of how property is used
in regards to residential area, schools, lodging, churches and other building
Other items that were studied hazardous materials routes and storm drainage
systems, which was conducted by Frank X. Spencer and Associates, Vargas
"The recreation/open space study looks at community centers," Vargas said.
""It looks at the needs of community and the type of recreation. We are
going to include the skateboard park in there."
He added that the development of the land was also a part of their study.
"The information is available to the public," Vargas said. "There will
be some at the school and the library."
Vargas said that the study, if kept up to date, could be used when applying
"Again this is a comprehensive study not a plan," Vargas said. "It was
paid for by a $50,000 grant."
During the public comment portion of the meeting, council members heard
from Gilda Vejil, Russell Johnson and Peggy Carrasco.
Vejil came before the council to tell them how wonderful it was to see
the city and county work together when welcoming home a hero, Johnny V.
"There are good loving people,' Vejil said. "The Sheriff's Department,
Police Department, Fire Department, Knights of Columbus and other organizations
did a wonderful job," Vejil said.
Vejil said that she would like to see the city and county continue to
work together in keeping Pecos clean.
"I would like to see a trash can for bottles only around town," Vejil
said. "I also would like to see all the trash cans that are corroded replaced.
She said that all the burned down homes are dangerous places for children
and would like to see the homeowners responsible for their property.
"I thank Michael Benavides for starting the beautifying of Pecos," Vejil
said. "We need to get behind him."
"We appreciate your interest in our town," Stafford said. "In regards
to the landfill we are just waiting on a final inspection from TNRCC and
they will get to it when they want to get to it. We can't do anything."
Stafford also told Vejil that the corroded trash cans are being replaced.
Johnson came before the council in regards to his sewer bill.
Johnson told the council that he had only two water and sewer bills combined
that were over $50 since May of 2001 but now his sewer bill alone was going
to be $44.
"I came and talked to Sam Contreras and Carols Yerena and they both worked
with me," Johnson said. "They knocked $10 off."
He added that he was worried because both him and his wife are retired
and live on a fixed income.
Peggy Carrasco said she was the mother of a skateboarder and that she
opposed locating a planned skateboarding park at Maxey Park.
"The proposed area is the Maxey Park and we as parents feel very strong
against this area for these reasons," Carrasco said. "One, there is no supervision."
A second reason was that the majority of the children did not live anywhere
near the park and range from the ages of 7 to 16 years of age and have no
form of transportation.
Carrasco said that Stella Ornelas, one of the parents who spoke at an
earlier meeting in opposition to a skateboard park near the Girl Scout Hut
at Sixth and Park Streets because of previous problems with youths in that
area would not have to worry about supervising the children because they
are old enough to take care of themselves.
"Second of all," Carrasco said. "Curfew should be enforced by the police.
If this is her main concern, it can be taken care of."
Carrasco went on to say that she did not feel Ornelas would have to deal
with anybody in any way.
"Last but most important we need to think of the vandalism and vandals
at the Maxey Park, Making it hard for these skaters," Carrasco said.
County's jobs, workforce up,
while unemployment declines
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, Friday, April 25, 2003 -- Unemployment is Reeves County remained in
double digits in March, but the county did see a drop in its jobless while
both the total number of jobs and people in the local workforce increased,
according to the Texas Workforce Commission.
The TWC released its March unemployment figures today, and the jobless
rate was 13 percent, down from 13.7 percent in February and 14.5 percent
in January. It's the ninth straight month the jobless rate has been above
10 percent, since the closing of the Anchor Foods plant at the end of May
Anchor's shut down cost 700 workers their jobs, and while the facility
has reopened under new owners TransPecos Foods, the employment at the plant
is only about 20 percent of its highest total back in 2001. The shutdown
caused the county's jobless rate to climb to as much as 19.9 percent in
August of last year.
The TWC said the county's workforce was up in March to 5,978 workers,
from 5,940 workers in February, but that was offset by an increase in the
jobs, from 5,125 employees in February to 5,201 last month, which allowed
the seven-tenths percent drop in the jobless rate.
However, both numbers are still down from a year ago. In March of 2002,
the TWC said Reeves County had 6,416 people in the labor force and 5,956
with jobs, for an unemployment rate of 7.2 percent. The change represents
a loss of 476 workers in the county and 755 jobs compared with 12 months
The numbers were similar for the Town of Pecos City, where the jobless
rate went as high as 22.4 percent last August. Unemployment in March fell
from 15.6 to 14.8 percent, as the city added 25 people to their workforce
while the number of jobs went up by 59. The city had 4,709 workers in March
and 4,013 with jobs, according to the TWC.
Prior to Anchor's shutdown, in March of 2002, the TWC put the city's
unemployment rate at 8.2 percent, with 5,007 people in the workforce and
Across the Permian Basin, the jobless rate dropped by one-tenth of a
percent, from 6.1 to 6.0 percent, while unemployment in the Midland-Odessa
area also was down a tenth of a percent, from 5.8 to 5.7 percent. Andrews
County saw its jobless rate rise from 5.5 to 5.9 percent, Pecos County's
jobless rate remained at 6.1 percent for the third month in a row, Ward
County's rate dropped from 8.6 to 8.5 percent and Winkler County fell from
9.2 to 8.2 percent.
As with Reeves County, Pecos County and Ward County both added jobs and
workers to its labor force in March, while Andrews and Winkler counties
lost people from their labor force while seeing their total number of jobs
To the south, Brewster County continued to have one of the area's lowest
unemployment rates, at 2.0 percent. The TWC said only 124 people were unemployed
out of 6,169 people in the workforce. Meanwhile, neighboring Presidio County
continued to have the area's highest unemployment rate, at 21.5 percent,
with 792 people unemployed out of its workforce of 3,676.
Loving County, meanwhile, also had a double-digit jobless rate, though
as the nation's least populated county, the addition of one job was able
to cut the unemployment rate from 10.9 to 10.6 percent. The county had 47
people in its workforce last month, and 42 of those had jobs, according
to the TWC.
Commissioners set to close out RCDC III work
PECOS, Friday, April 25, 2003 -- Construction close-out on the Reeves
County Detention Center III project is one of the items on the agenda for
Reeves County Commissioners when they meet at 9:30 a.m., Monday, April 28,
in the third floor courtroom.
Commissioners will discuss and take action on several items related to
the 960-bed RCDC III addition, including LMD Architect request for payment
invoice No. 284-RCDC III; LMD Architect request for payment invoice No.
285-RCDC III; Jarratt Dirt Work and Paving request for payment No. 5-RCDC
III; Carothers Construction, Inc. request for payment No. 18-RCDC III; Carothers
Construction, Inc., request for payment No. 19-RCDC III; change order no.
4 for ACME Electric Company for RCDC III; change order no. 9 for Carothers
Construction, Inc. for RCDC III; and change order No. 5 for ISI Detention
Contracting Group Inc., for RCDC III.
Other items on Monday's agenda include a request for Pitney Bowes to
replace existing mailing postage meter with new model under State of Texas
Procurement polity; bid for property located at 812 S. Plum; interagency
agreement between Reeves County Juvenile Probation Department and the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah
ISD and interagency agreement between Reeves County Juvenile Probation Department
and the Balmorhea Independent School District.
Commissioners will discuss and take action to declare Reeves County equipment
as surplus/salvage to be sold at public auction or scraped; deputation and
oath on Jerry Guerra Millan for Reeves County Sheriff's Department; reports
from various departments; budget amendments and line-item transfers; personnel
and salary changes (RCDC); minutes from previous meetings and semi-monthly
Class of '93 holding Saturday garage sale
PECOS, Friday, April 25, 2003 -- The Class of 1993 is planning a fundraising
garage sale, beginning at 9 a.m., Saturday at 801 S. Oak St.
All proceeds will go towards the 10-year class reunion the group is planning.
League tryouts set for 13-16 year olds
PECOS, Friday, April 25, 2003 -- Tryouts for Junior and Senior Baseball
Leagues will be held at 9 a.m., Saturday at the Senior League Field in Maxey
All boys ages 13-16 are eligible to try out. Individuals also have a
chance to register to play.
PECOS, Friday, April 25, 2003 -- High Thurday 87. Low this morning 50.
Forecast for tonight: Clear. Lows in the lower 50s. Southeast winds 5 to
15 mph. Saturday: Sunny. Highs in the lower 90s. Southwest winds 5 to 15
mph. Saturday night: Mostly clear. Lows in the mid 50s. Sunday: Partly
cloudy. Highs in the lower 90s. Monday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance
of showers and Thunderstorms. Lows in the mid 50s. Highs in the lower 80s.
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 2003 by Pecos Enterprise