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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Census shows further drop in city's population

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., July 17, 2003 -- The Town of Pecos City suffered a drop of over five percent in its population between July 1, 2000 and July 1, 2002, according to figures released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The drop comes as other medium-sized cities in the Permian Basin also reported declines in their populations, a pattern that has continued over the past 30 years. However, Pecos' drop was steeper than other cities' totals, according to the new Census numbers.

The city's population, which fell from just over 12,000 to 9,501 between 1990 and 2000, dropped to 8,945 as of July 1, 2002, the Census Bureau said. That represents a drop of 5.8 percent over the two-year period.

The closing of the Anchor Foods plant, which was Pecos' single largest employer, occurred just at the end of the latest period measured by the Census Bureau. The plant employed 700 workers, which was 13 percent of the city's workforce at the time. It has since reopened under the Trans Pecos Foods banner, but with a workforce far smaller than what the plant employed prior to its buyout and shutdown by McCain Foods in 2001.

During the 1990s, the city lost two other major employers, the Freeport McMoRan sulphur mine in Culberson County, and the Smithers Tire Testing Center in eastern Reeves County. Currently, the city and county's largest single employer is the Reeves County Detention Center, which has just under 500 workers. However, the county-run detention facility is currently involved in a dispute with U.S. Bureau of Prison officials over the man-day rate paid to the county by the BOP for housing 2,000 inmates at the prison, and the BOP has balked at supplying Reeves County with any additional inmates for its just-completed RCDC III addition.

A bond payment on the new 960-bed addition is due by Sept. 1, and was to be made with funds from the man-day rate given to Reeves County by the BOP. County officials are scheduled to meet with the BOP in Washington next Thursday, and while County Judge Jimmy Galindo and Warden Rudy Franco said the prison is not in danger of closing, it's future status remains unsettled until the current dispute is settled.

West Texas cities have been suffering from population declines since the 1970s, and the drop also affected other nearby towns of similar populations. Monahans population slipped from 6,821 in 2000 to 6,541 as of July 1 a year ago; Fort Stockton's population fell from 7,846 to 7,588 over the same period, and Andrews fell from 9,652 to 9,576 over that span.

The Census Bureau also reported declines in the area's smaller cities. Balmorhea fell from a population of 527 in 2000 to 503 residents last July; Barstow dropped from 406 to 390 residents, and Toyah's population was down from 100 to 95 over the past two years.

While Permian Basin small towns continued to lose population, the numbers are better in the Midland-Odessa area, and for some towns in the Big Bend.

Alpine and Presidio reported population increases over the past two years. Presidio's population jumped 10 percent, from 4,167 to 4,555, though the city's unemployment remains among the highest in the state. Alpine, which has one of the state's lowest unemployment rates, saw its population climb from 5,786 residents in 2002 to 5,934 as of July 1, 2002.

Marfa, the other Big Bend city on the Census list, saw virtually no change in its population, which was 2,121 in 2000 and 2,104 in July of last year.

Midland's population was up slightly over that span, from 94,996 people to 95,829 residents. It remains the largest city in the Permian Basin, while Odessa's population remained stable, going from 90,943 people in 2000 to 90,961 people last year.

Technical difficulties scrub KWES' telecast

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., July 17, 2003 -- A week after the Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce was notified that they would be featured on News West 9's "Under West Texas Skies" tour on July 21, they were told that they would have to wait another year due to technique issues and equipment problems that will prevent the station from broadcasting from Pecos on Monday.

"We are not getting a good signal," KWES 9's News Director Jay Hendricks said this morning, explaining the reason for the cancellation.

Hendricks said that they believe the problem comes after one of their towers was hit by lighting a month ago.

Though they will be able to transmit from other sites, Hendricks added that the reason for the bad signals is due to Pecos' location, which is about 500 feet lower than the station's tower site northwest of Odessa. The lower elevation makes it harder to beam a signal from the city back to the tower, which is located about 50 miles northeast of Pecos.

"We did it last year and we were hoping to do it again this year," Hendricks said.

In last year's visit, KWES was able to broadcast a live feed back to their station due to a satellite truck.

"Our sister station in Amarillo has the truck," Hendricks said. "They picked the same week we did do to something similar."

He added that the problem was a little frustrating for them and they are working on fixing it.

Though there would not be any live remotes out of Pecos, Hendricks added that they would continue to feature Pecos during their news broadcasts.

"The people of Pecos are nice and treat us so well," Hendricks said. "It is disappointing for us too."

Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Linda Gholson said that KWES was scheduled to host a live remote during their evening news. During the breaks they would have events such as the Hot Dog Eating Contest, Ugly Dog Contest and an Ice Cream Eating Contest.

"They (KWES) was also going to bring with them the Red Cross, the Blood Mobile and Gandy's Ice Cream," Gholson said.

She added that though they would not be featured in this year's 'Under West Texas Skies,' tour they were not going to give.

"We are not giving up," Gholson said. "However, we understand that conflicts do arise and that it might not work out. If that is the case then we will just look forward to next year."

She added that if the event does not work out, they would be hard at work on the planning for this year's Hawaiian Beach Party scheduled for the 29th of August.

Vacation Bible School adds receation to summer course

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., July 17, 2003 -- A recreational Vacation Bible School involving members of a Midland church has been going on this week at the East Side Community Center in Pecos.

The school is being hosted by the Baptist Alliance of Pecos, and pastor Greer Willis of First Baptist Church in Pecos, said that they were contacted by First Baptist Church of Midland about the recreational VBS.

"They told us about the recreation team that they have at their church," Willis said.

Willis said that the rec team has a full summer, working 10 weeks putting on recreational vacation bible schools.

"They have been to Fort Stockton, Alpine, and many other churches. From here, they'll leave to Camp Paisano (located between Alpine and Marfa). I believe that they will have about 150 kids there," Willis said.

The team of three, Aron Kahler, Ember Rogers, and Jason Matthews, have also held recreational VBS' in their own church, Willis said.

This summer, this VBS is being held in the place of the traditional VBS.

"Many churches have a theme and are really structured. This is good because children need structure, but sometimes it's nice for energetic kids if things are informal," Willis said.

There has been an average of about 17 kids attending the VBS this week. The kids participate in funny songs, competitive games, and scripture and bible stories.

"The spiritual message is not lost. The kids learn team work and share bible stories and scripture," Willis said.

The children are also given a word of the day and a bible verse of the day.

According to Willis, there is very little sitting is involved with this VBS.

"Kids need something like this during the summer," Willis said.

Tomorrow is the last day of this year's recreational VBS.

Willis said, that he is not sure whether they will have this event again next year.

"We'll just have to wait and see next year. The Baptist Planning Committee will get together and discuss this," Willis said.

Amendment election voting times, sites set

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., July 17, 2003 -- Applications to vote by mail in the Sept. 13 proposition elections can now be requested at the Reeves County Clerk's Office.

The election will be on the 22 constitutional amendments that were passed by the Texas Legislature this spring and which now must be approved by voters before they can become law.

"Individuals who want can request an application for a ballot to vote early by mail," said county clerk Dianne Florez.

The first day to vote by personal appearance is Aug. 28, and will be held at the Reeves County Courthouse. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., on Election Day for all in-town boxes at the Reeves County Civic Center.

Box 4, which is Toyah, will vote at the Toyah City Hall; Box 5, Balmorhea, will vote at the Balmorhea Fire Hall and Box 6 will vote at the Multi-Purpose Center in Saragosa.

"Anybody that wants a ballot needs to request one," said Florez. "We don't have a list to go by of individuals who have requested a ballot in past elections, to go by, so therefore they always need to request one, during every election," she said.

Florez said that this was an important election and encouraged everyone to come out and vote.

Early voting judge and alternate judges: include Nora Briceno, judge; Ester Alvarez, alternate judge; Patsy Rogers, assistant alternate; Estella Nichols, mail out ballot clerk and Martha Palomino, mail out ballot clerk.

Consolidated boxes (1,2,3,7,8,9,10,11&12) Nora Briceno, judge and Marianne Clark, alternate judge.

Box 4- Toyah: Elpidia Valdez, judge and Sue Gibson, alternate judge.

Box 5- Balmorhea: Susie Carrasco, judge and Elida Rodriguez, alternate judge.

Box 6- Saragosa: Elodia Garcia, judge and Linda Briceno, alternate judge.

Anyone who has questions about the upcoming elections, or who wants to request a ballot by mail, can contact the County Clerk's office at 445-5467.

The propositions on the ballot are listed below:

Prop. 1 would authorize the Veterans' Land Board to use excess receipts in the Veterans' Land and Veterans' Housing Assistance funds for payment of revenue bonds, and use excess assets in those funds to provide veterans homes.

Prop. 2 would expand from six months to two years the period in which the former owner of a mineral interest that was sold for unpaid property taxes may buy back the mineral interest.

Prop. 3 would authorize the legislature to exempt from taxation land owned by a religious organization that is leased for use as a school or that will be used to expand or construct a place of religious worship that yields no revenue.

Prop. 4 would authorize the legislature to allow conservation and reclamation districts to use taxes to develop and finance certain parks and recreation facilities. Also, the amendment would authorize the legislature to allow local elections for the issuance of bonds to improve and maintain parks and recreational facilities in the Tarrant Regional Water District or a conservation and reclamation district located in whole or in part in Bastrop, Bexar, Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Montgomery, Tarrant, Travis, Waller or Williamson County.

Prop. 5 would authorize the legislature to exempt from all property taxes certain tangible personal property, which could include a travel trailer not substantially affixed to real estate and not used as a residential dwelling.

Prop. 6 would authorize a qualified homeowner to refinance a home equity loan with a reverse mortgage loan.

Prop. 7 would reduce the number of persons who make up the jury in a district court criminal misdemeanor case from twelve to six.

Prop. 8 would authorize the legislature to permit a person to assume office without an election if the person is the only candidate to qualify in an election for that office and the election is required by the Texas Constitution. This proposition applies to state and local political subdivisions, whereas Proposition 18 applies only to local political subdivisions.

Prop. 9 would redefine the composition of the permanent and available school funds by requiring during the next two fiscal years, and authorizing thereafter, annual distributions to the available school fund of a percentage of any increase in the value of the permanent school fund's total investment assets.

Prop. 10 would authorize municipalities to donate surplus fire fighting equipment, supplies, or materials to the Texas Forest Service, which would be authorized to distribute based on need the equipment to rural volunteer fire departments.

Prop. 11 would authorize the legislature to regulate the operation of wineries in Texas, regardless of whether a winery is located in an area in which the sale of wine has been authorized by local option election.

Prop. 12 would immediately authorize the Legislature to limit non-economic damages assessed against a provider of medical or health care and, after January 1, 2005, to limit awards in all other types of cases.

Prop. 13 would authorize a county, city, town, and junior college district to freeze property taxes on a residential homestead of a person who is disabled or aged 65 or older.

Prop. 14 would authorize the Texas Department of Transportation to issue notes or borrow money to fund highway improvement projects. The terms of the notes or loans may not exceed two years.

Prop. 15 would prohibit a local retirement system and the political subdivision that finances the retirement system from reducing or otherwise impairing certain accrued benefits under the local retirement system.

Prop. 16 would amend the Texas Constitution to allow home equity lines of credit and allow refinancing of a home equity loan with a reverse mortgage loan.

Prop. 17 would prohibit an increase in school property taxes on residence homesteads of disabled persons.

Prop. 18 would authorize the legislature to permit a person to assume an office of a political subdivision without an election if the person is the only candidate to qualify in an election for that office and the election is required by the Texas Constitution. This proposition applies only to local political subdivisions, whereas Proposition 8 applies to state and local political subdivisions.

Prop. 19 would repeal the legislature's authority to create rural fire prevention districts. Effective September 1, 2003, all existing rural fire prevention districts will convert to emergency services districts.

Prop. 20 would authorize the issuance of general obligation bonds in a total amount not to exceed $250 million that will be used to provide loans for economic development projects that benefit defense-related communities in Texas.

Prop. 21 would authorize current and retired faculty members of a public institution of higher education to receive compensation for service as a member of the governing body of a water district.

Prop. 22 would authorize the appointment of a temporary replacement officer to serve on behalf of a state, district, or local public officer who is called into active military duty for longer than 30 days.

Appraisal Board to certify figures for 2003 tax rolls

PECOS, Thurs., July 17, 2003 -- The Reeves County Tax Appraisal Review Board will hold a meeting Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. at the Appraisal Office in the 400 block of South Cypress Street.

The meeting is set to approve appraisal rolls for 2003. Chief Appraiser Carol King Markham will certify the rolls for each taxing jurisdiction as part of the meeting. The rolls will then be used to set tax rates and budgets for the 2003-04 fiscal year.

The board will also appraise the final supplementary correction for the 2002 appraisal year.


PECOS, Thurs., July 17, 2003 -- High Wed. 89. Low this morning 71. Rainfall last 24 hours .2 inch. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of evening thunderstorms: Then isolated thunderstorms after midnight. Lows in the upper 60s. East winds 10 to 20 mph. The chance of rain is 20 percent. Fri.: Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 90s. East winds 5 to 15 mph. Fri. night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the upper 60s. Sat.: Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 90s. Sun.: Partly cloudy. Lows in the middle 60s. 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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