Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Thursday, November 20, 2003
Unemployment shows increase for county, city
From Staff and Wire Reports
Reeves County's unemployment rate climbed in October, while
employment within the county plunged by over 400 from September,
according to figures released today by the Texas Workforce Commission.
Unemployment within the county increased by six-tenths of a percent,
from 10.4 to 11 percent last month. That came as the total number of
jobs within the county fell from 5,009 to 4,571, while the number of
people in the workforce dropped from 5,593 to 5,136, the TWC said.
The workforce and job numbers are the lowest in years in Reeves
County, as the loss of several major businesses has cut the county's
population by over 20 percent in the past 13 years. Part of the October
decline is also due to the end of seasonal jobs related to the area's
Last year, the number of jobs dropped by 370 from September to
October, but the total number of jobs at that time was 500 higher than
reported by the TWC last month, while the county's workforce has fallen
by 1,300 people in the past year. Two years ago, the number of workers
and the number of jobs within the county fell by over 800 between
September and October, when the local labor force stood at 6,295
workers and the jobless rate in October of 2001 was 5.6 percent.
Unemployment in October of 2002 stood at 19.8 percent in the wake of
the Anchor Foods plant closing, which cost 700 workers their jobs. The
plant has since reopened as TransPecos Foods, but with much lower
staffing levels than before the shutdown.
The unemployment rate was high, and the workforce numbers lower, for
the Town of Pecos City in October. The TWC said unemployment in the
city last month rose from 11.9 to 12.5 percent. The city had 4,033
people in its workforce and 506 unemployed, compared with 4,388 workers
and 523 without jobs in September.
In October of 2003, unemployment was at 22.2 percent in Pecos, with
1,144 people without jobs out of a workforce of 5,145 people.
While local unemployment increased, the jobless rates for other area
counties declined from September to October, according to the TWC's
numbers. Ector County's jobless rate fell from 6.9 to 6.2 percent, and
Midland County, with the area's largest workforce, saw its unemployment
fall from 4.4 to 4 percent. Both counties' workforces were virtually
unchanged between September and October.
For the area counties with similar populations as Reeves County,
Andrews' unemployment rate fell from 5.5 to 4.8 percent last month,
Brewster County fell from 2.7 to 2.4 percent, Pecos County's rate held
steady at 4.7 percent, Ward County's rate dropped from 7.7 to 7.4
percent, and Winkler County's jobless rate fell from 8.1 to 7.2
The total number of jobs and the number of workers increased in
Andrews and Brewster counties, while the workforce totals fell from
September to October in the other counties, according to the TWC.
Statewide, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Texas
dropped to 6.5 percent for October from a revised 6.6 percent in
"The Texas labor market continues to show signs of growth," said
commission chairwoman Diane Rath. "Our state is on the right track, and
Texas employers are proving resilient following the recent economic
Company profits are improving and businesses are beginning to
invest in new equipment, said Ron Lehman, the commissioner representing
Still, the decline in the unemployment rate was possible only
because the September jobless rate, first estimated at 6.5 percent, was
The following are the preliminary October unemployment rates and
September rates in parentheses for Texas metropolitan areas. The
figures are not seasonally adjusted.
Bryan-College Station 2.1 (2.3); San Angelo 3.6 (3.8); Amarillo 3.6
(4.0); Abilene 3.9 (4.2); Lubbock 3.0 (3.4); Victoria 4.7 (5.2);
Wichita Falls 4.5 (5.2); Tyler 4.3 (4.6); Waco 4.7 (5.1); Austin-San
Marcos 5.0 (5.6); Killeen-Temple 5.2 (5.5);
San Antonio 5.1 (5.5); Odessa-Midland 5.1 (5.6); Fort
Worth-Arlington 5.7 (6.3); Longview-Marshall 5.8 (6.3); Corpus Christi
5.9 (6.5); Houston 6.3 (6.9); Dallas 6.4 (7.0); Laredo 6.3 (6.7);
Sherman-Denison 7.0 (7.4); Galveston-Texas City 7.8 (8.6);
Brazoria 8.1 (8.9); El Paso 8.9 (9.8); Beaumont-Port Arthur 8.8
(9.5); Brownsville-Harlingen 10.1 (10.3); McAllen-Edinburg-Mission 12.0
(13.2); Texarkana 4.8 (5.3).
Air Force offers update on area B-1 flights
By BRENDEN BRIGGS
PECOS, Thurs., Nov. 20, 2003 -- Air Force officials explained the
importance of the B-1 training missions often seen in the skies
locally, during a meeting at the Odessa College Technical Training
RBTI, or Realistic Bomber Training Initiative, was brought to the
Reeves County area in the spring of 2001. The program utilizes an
electronic scoring system facility located south of town; this allows
Air Force pilots to train on low-level flying missions here in the
Trans-Pecos and Big Bend regions, said Col. Jeffery Beene, 7th
Operations Group Commander.
Pilots flying B-1 bombing sorties in Operation Iraqi Freedom
benefited from the low-level terrain that they saw in the Trans-Pecos
region. The training missions flown here provided them with familiarity
on the type of terrain that the crews would experience in their
missions over Iraq, Beene said.
The RBTI includes a 700 nautical mile long training route that
starts near Sierra Blanca and runs all the way to the high altitude
training area located near Snyder, including a loop that encircles
In total, the air space designated for the training missions along
this route is 25,000 square miles. The bombers fly along a
predetermined path and simulate the deployment of munitions at specific
The simulation program, known as "Lone Star," includes the scoring
site 17 miles southwest of Pecos, along with the high altitude scoring
site west of Snyder. Both sites act in concert with emitter sites
placed at random locations along the bombing path. The scoring sites
evaluate the accuracy of the pilots as they pass over the remote
emitting sites, according to Beene.
Air Force officials estimate the economic benefit to Pecos-Reeves
County at $1.5 million per year, and the savings to the government at
over $30 million per year.
The income to the area stems from the salaries of those employees
who man the station, the local purchasing of supplies, and the
servicing of the facilities' vehicles at local businesses.
In addition, the savings to the government comes from the decrease
in mileage that the bombers must cross in order to reach an electronic
range. Previously pilots would have to fly to Utah or Montana to
utilize a similar facility.
"The RBTI allows B-1 crews to be 40 minutes from leaving Dyess to
entering the training ground, and 15 minutes from exit of the route
till arrival back at the base," Beene said at the presentation.
"The simulated bombing runs near here and in the Rio Grande section
of the route allow the pilots to get low-level training in the
mountains," he added, "and with the electronic equipment we have here,
we can simulate multiple types of threats, truly giving our pilots a
much more realistic view of how combat mission are."
Beene then elaborated on the three most common questions people have
over the program.
Low-level flights from Dyess AFB, along with Holloman AFB near
Alamogordo, N.M., have been conducted over the area for years, leading
to complaints from area ranchers about the high-speed jets startling
livestock and shaking buildings as they passed overhead.
The Air Force and area ranchers, landowners and residents of
Southern Reeves County worked out an agreement on the flight path and
the number of flights per day through U.S. Congressman Henry Bonilla's
office in 2001, and other complaints about the flights lessened both in
the Trans-Pecos and South Plains areas following the terrorist attack
on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.
As to the Air Force's choice of location, Beene said that Pecos was
a prime spot for its remoteness, low population density, its proximity
to Dyess AFB and the variable terrain that can encounter throughout the
He added that people are also curious as to where the bombers
take-off and land. "All of our planes come out of and return to Dyess,
but in an emergency a plane could land in Odessa if it had to."
And finally Beene said that people also wanted to know what they
should do in case of an accident. "Like any emergency situation, we ask
people to contact their local law enforcement agency."
The only major accident involving a B-1 training flight in the area
occurred in December 1992, when a bomber crashed into the side of a
mountain south of Valentine, killing all four crewmen on board.
Land and other requirements for the RTBI program was originally
located and facilitated by the Pecos Economic Development Corporation.
The PEDC provided temporary office space for the transition manager
setting up the site, found and brokered the land deal for the site,
aided facility employees in locating suitable housing for them and
their families, and helped in the location of emitter sites around the
region, according to Gari Ward, PEDC President.
The electronic bombing range is utilized by both B-1 crews from
Dyess and B-52 crews out of Barksdale AFB, located in Shreveport, only
the B-52 do not fly at the lower altitudes that the B-1's do.
Former 143rd DA Upchurch
announces new bid for post
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Thurs., Nov. 20, 2003 -- A Monahans attorney has announced his
candidacy for the office of 143rd Judicial District Attorney, a
position he last held 13 years ago.
Hal Upchurch, who served as D.A. for this district from 1987 until
1990, will seek a new four-year term representing the 143rd District in
next spring's Democratic Primary election.
"There are a lot of reasons why I decided to run for District
Attorney again," said Upchurch. "I think I can do a better job, that is
presently being done."
Upchurch currently has his private practice in Monahans.
"For the past 18 years, I have practiced law extensively in Reeves
County," said Upchurch, who has been a lawyer for the past 30 years.
Upchurch moved to southeast Texas after leaving his post as 143rd
District Attorney, but said that he decided to move back to West Texas
a few years later because of the climate. "I was really sick when I was
in Houston, because of the weather," said Upchurch. "I was also tired
of the big city," he said.
"Seeking this office will require that I campaign in Loving, Reeves
and Ward Counties, for this reason, it will be a physical impossibility
for me to go door to door to personally ask for your support," said
Upchurch. "Nonetheless, I will be spending a substantial amount of time
in Reeves County during the campaign."
Pecos attorney Randy Reynolds has held the District Attorney's
position for the past seven years. Reynolds has not yet announced
whether or not he will seek a third four-year term in 2004.
Plate sale to benefit Sadler scheduled
PECOS, Thurs., Nov. 20, 2003 -- An Enchilada Plate Sale will be held
Friday beginning at 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., at the Santa Rosa Church
Plates will consist of red enchiladas, beans, rice and salad.
Desserts will be for sale as well. A slice of cake or pie will be $1
and other whole cakes and pies will be available for different prices.
All proceeds will go towards medical bills for Sylvia Sadler, a
long-time and very popular kindergarten teacher at Pecos Kindergarten.
Sadler is the daughter of educators Sidney and Billie Sadler. Billie
Sadler is currently the president of the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board.
PECOS, Thurs., Nov. 20, 2003 -- High Wednesday 75. Low this morning
35. Forecast for tonight: Clear. Lows near 45. Southwest winds 10 to 15
mph. Friday: Sunny. Highs 80 to 85. Southwest winds 15 to 20 mph.
Friday night: Clear. Lows in the mid 40s. South winds 10 to 15 mph.
Saturday: Sunny. Highs in the mid 70s to the lower 80s. Southwest winds
15 to 25 mph. Saturday night: Clear. Lows in the lower to mid 40s.
Sunday: Sunny: Windy: Colder. Highs near 50. Sunday night: Clear. Lows
in the mid 20s to the lower 30s.
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