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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide for Reeves County, Trans-Pecos, Big Bend of West Texas

The Pecos Independent and Enterprise

March 1, 1962

Tank transactions soar to $34 million

(Third in a series)

Look for an upsurge in the buying of anhydrous ammonia tanks in West Texas durng March.

That would appear to be the indication if the transactions of 1962 live up to the volume of business done on ammonia tanks in 1961.

In March of 1961, for instance, nearly $2 million worth of chattel mortgates were recorded for tanks in 11 counties of West Texas -- including over $1 million worth in mortgages for ammonia tanks and equipment in Reeves County.

Perhaps that sounds far-fetched, but it held true for January and February of 1961 and 1962.

According to the mortgages filed in the offices of the county clerks in the 11 counties, slightly less than $2 million worth of tanks were mortgaged in January and February, 1961.

And through February 12, 1962, slightly over $1.8 million in chattel mortgages for tanks and equipment were filed in the 11 counties.

The last chattel mortgage of which The Independent has record is in Hudspeth County, where 40 tanks were mortgaged for $54,000.

(Undoubtedly there have been more, but because of the distances and time involved in verifying the recordings it is nearly impossible to keep them exactly current.)

But the month of March is a piker if you compare figures. During June, 1961, over $3.5 million in mortgages for tanks were recorded in the 11 counties.

Since January 1959, approximately $34.5 million worth of tanks have been mortgaged in those 11 West Texas counties, with Reeves leading the pack with nearly $14.5 million in mortgages now filed.

Other counties and the total approximate tank mortgages include:

Hale, $3.6 million.
Hudspeth, $3.3 million.
Lubbock, $2.7 million.
Pecos, $2.1 million.
Lamb, $1.9 million.
Hockley, $1.4 million.
Culberson, $1.4 million.
Dawson, $0.7 million.
Potter, $0.3 million.

In the vast majority of counties, these mortgages are filed against individuals, not companies or corporations.

One of the individuals involved has over $5.7 million in chattel mortgages for tanks, plus nearly a million dollars more mortgages for land and improvements in four counties.

He has tanks mortgages in Reeves (nearly $2 million), Pecos ($1.5 million) and Hale ($2.3 million) counties.

The person resides in Pecos.

The Pecosite also has the earliest chattel mortgage recorded in 1959 for ammonia tanks. The mortgage was for $84,609.

Another Pecosite close behind signed two chattel mortgages on January 21, 1959, totaling nearly $150,000 for more than 220 tanks.

This person has not signed a chattel mortgage for tanks, however, since October 3, 1961, when the total had swelled to over 700 tanks valued at more than half a million dollars.

Just as the tanks in Reeves County are not to be seen, neigher are the number of tanks registered in the 11 counties to be seen. And it would be difficult to miss more than 33,500 tanks in the 11 counties.

Here's the latest approximate number of tanks shown on the chattel mortgages in the 11 counties:

Reeves, 15,880; Hudspeth, 3,350; Lubbock, 2,510; Pecos, 2,280; Lamb, 2,010; Hale, 1,970; Hockley, 1,730; Culberson, 1,500; Deaf Smith, 1,080; Dawson, 820; Potter, 350.

Why have the individuals bought the number of tanks? Apparently for lease purposes, plus a bonus of 10 percent of the total purchase price from the person leasing the tanks.

If all the individuals received a 10 percent bonus -- plus leasing the tanks for enough money to cover the monthly payments -- there has been a considerable amount of money changing hands.

And it's all been for tanks most of the individuals have never seen.

Paymaster plan OKed, directors picked

As the Independent went to press, the meeting concerning the second phase of the equal-ownership plan of Paymaster Oil Mill Co. to sell its Pecos Oil Mill to a separate corporation with most of the gins in the Pecos Area owning half of Paymaster Oil Mill, was approved, extending the "fifty-fifty proposition."

The stockholder gins were each represented and elected five directors and two top officers to share with five directors from Paymaster in managing the business for the new corporation.

The secretary-treasurer will be selected from the five Paymaster directors who include Bob Bickley of Pecos, Bob Montgomery, Wendell Watkins, Roy Mack and Ben Barbee, all of Abilene.

Participating gins include Santa Rosa, A.J. Hoelscher, president; Draw Gin, Hoelscher; City Gin, Marcus Dingler; Sargent Gin, Roy Pearce; Hermosa Gin, Travis Lattner; Tobosa Gin, F.A. Schluter; Verhalen Gin, Frank Bradley; South Gin, J.S. Wofford; Alamo Gin, Loy Kilgore; Flat Top, Billie Sol Estes; and Presidio, Clay Slack.

Either the president or an appointed director from each gin attended the meeting here today to approve the final phase of the program and to elect directors.

Independent gins in the area also were represented.

The Pecos Independent and Enterprise

March 12, 1962


$1 or else

At least one Pecos cotton farmer has been granted a "hardship" exception to use Mexican nationals to operate tractors. But it has been made emphatically clear by Mr. Tracy C. Murrell, regional director of the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Employment Security, that regardless of the resasons for granting the exception, the nationals used for tractor driving will be paid a minimum of $1 an hour.

With regard to using braceros for tractor drivers, the Trans-Pecos Cotton Association has gone on record as setting a maximum wage for such labor at 70 cents an hour.

Before and during the Trans-Pecos Cotton Association's negotiations with the Department of Labor, it has been evident that there is a small group here which is obligated to support the demands of the Department and the national labor organizations that farm labor in the Trans-Pecos area be unionized.

This group, even though it is aware that unionization of farm labor is not in the general interest, has obligated itself and is continually striving to obligate all farmers to accept a contract for Mexican national labor which would double the present wage scale.

The first step toward unionization of farm labor is the setting of illogically high wages for braceros working under contract in this area.

This is demanded even though countless braceros have been able to return to Mexico after working here and purchase their own land with wages earned at the rate of 50 to 60 cents an hour. No consideration has been given the fact that under Mexican wage scales these braceros would probably never in their lifetime have been able to accumulate enough wealth to purchase land.

Unionization is not an issue which would be limited to the farmer alone. Like all other government interference in private enterprise, an inevitable chain reaction would be detonated. Increased productioncosts would certainly lead to increased price supports and increased inflation.

Responsible, unselfish farmer leadership can defeat this continued intrusion upon the rights of the individual farmer.

Pecos farmers have this leadership among their ranks -- and this leadership can be effective -- but will it?

The present threat is a farm problem and the farmers must shoulder the responsibility of its solution, but if complacency allows it to grow, it could become a general threat to the freedoms of all free enterprise.

The Pecos Independent and Enterprise

March 15, 1962

Arson eyed as cause of blaze here

A five-gallon can believed to have contained gasoline was sent to Federal Bureau of Investigation laboratories Wednesday following a fire Tuesday night at the Pecos Independent, 312 S. Cedar St.

"Although we can't say for sure, it certainly looks like arson," Sheriff A.B. Nail said Wednesday.

Gary Ingram, chief deputy for the sheriff, retrieved the can Tuesday night from the rear of the burning building.

The sheriff's office, along with Fire Chief Sammy Caroline, are investigating the blaze.

Damage to the building and the building's contents was slight. Burned were the rear doors and one roll of newsprint. Water damage to newsprint, stored at the rear of the building, also was light.

The blaze was discovered by Pecos Policeman Bobby Goodwin and reported at 9:47 p.m. All units of the Pecos Fire Department answered the alarm.

The can believed to have contained gasoline was found against the rear doors of The Independent.

The offices and composing room of The Independent were vacant at the time of the blaze.

Test track ends first year here

Automotive proving Grounds Inc., operators of the world's longest tire testing track, Monday will begin its second year of operation in Pecos. Since the corporation has begun testing automotive equipment at the circular track, the firm has poured more than a million dollars into the economy of Pecos, Frank Harper, APG president, said.

The money has been spent in Pecos on payrolls and through local purchases.

The company has now added another $50,000 boost to the economy.

An across-the-board 10 cent an hour wage boost has been announced by the company. This brings the average salary of car drivers to $1.50 an hour, while boosting truck drivers to $1.60 an hour, Harper related.

And the labor force of the track has swelled to become one of the largest year-round sources of employment in the area. Harper said the track now employs 170 persons. More than 150 of these, he said, were living in the Pecos area before the track was built.

When the nine-mile oval track was opened 22 miles southeast of Pecos last year, 36 persons were employed.

The 170 persons now working at the track consist mainly of drivers and mechanics. The track's drivers have driven the vehicles more than 15 million miles.

The company's 50 cars and trucks consume approximately 100,000 gallons of fuel a month. The vehicles are driven 200,000 to 500,000 miles before they are retired. Harper said it takes approximately eight months to put 200,000 miles on a vehicle.

Latest addition to the track is a 1.3 mile gravel road, which also will be used to test automotive products.

Some 20 national firms already are testing equipment at the track, including tires, engines, suspension systems, fuels and lubricants.

The Pecos Independent and Enterprise

March 15, 1962

Beet raising hopes rise but refinery needed

Needed: One sugar beet refinery for the Pecos area.

This is the pressing problem now facing prospective sugar beet growers in the area, John Harper, president of the Trans-Pecos Sugar Beet Growers Association, says,

And to bring farmers up to date on latest developments on possible sugar beet legislation and the possibilities of obtaining a refinery for this area, a meeting of farmers and anyone else interested in sugar beet production in this area has been called.

The meeting will be held Monday at 8 p.m. at the community center auditorium.

Among the topics to be discussed at the meeting is the prospects of increased allotments for domestic producers.

Reporter at Large

by...Oscar Griffin

Somebody apparently got tired of the heat being turned on them by The Independent Tuesday and decided to take the paper out of the frying pan and put it into the fire.

Results: a few broken window panes, a burned door and a singed roll of newsprint.

Casualties: Chief Deputy Gary Ingram, who burned a hand on the can that had contained gasoline to start the blaze, and fireman Bobby Bell.

Consequences: A stepped-up effort by The Independent to bring its readers the news of the town in which they live, in addition to whatever action may be taken by law enforcement agencies.

Conclusions: "Somebody around here doesn't like us, or our efforts to bring our readers the news of the town and the other events which affect our town."

The Pecos Independent and Enterprise

March 18, 1962

Reeves County losing $81,000 in taxation

Reeves County is losing out on one of its most lucrative sources of revenue -- the personal property tax.

This was revealed with a check of the tax rolls of the county tax assessor-collector.

According to the records, some of the largest owners of anhydrous ammonia tanks in the county have not rendered the tanks for taxation.

Therefore, the county is losing approximately $81,000 a year in revenue from this source.

Records show that chattel mortgages covering nearly 16,000 tanks are filed in Reeves County to persons who live here. These tanks have a mortgage value of nearly $15,000,000.

If these tanks were rendered for taxation as personal property -- as automotilbes are -- they would be valued at 60 percent of their real value.

This means that the valuation of these tanks would be approximately $9 million. With a tax rate of 90 cents per $100 valuation, this means that there is $81,000 which the county is not receiving.

It seems certain that the tanks are not being rendered by the owners.

One of the largest owners of anhydrous ammonia tanks in the county has only $60,650 worth of personal property rendered for himself and his companies.

Yet the valuation on his tanks alone should come to over $1.2 million.

This man has over 2,400 tanks registered in his name in Reeves County with an actual value of nearly $1 million.

Other examples:

--A man with nearly $500,000 worth of ammonia tanks has only $14,300 worth of personal property rendered for taxation. If the tanks were included in the rendition, his total personal property would be valued at nearly $300,000 for tax purposes.

--Another man has nearly $1 million worth of tanks. His rendition of personal property shows a value of only $6,300. If he had all his tanks rendered for taxation, the taxes alone would cost him over $5,000.

--A man with over 230 tanks, with an actual value of over $180,000, has personal property valued at $3,100 on the rolls.

-- A company with over $1.5 million worth of tanks has rendered its personal property at a value of $22,170. The valuation of the tanks alone should be over $1 million.

The people who own the mortgages claim to have the tanks leased. But apparently that lease does not cover the taxes for the tanks.

Whether or not the tanks, as represented by the existing chattel mortgages, are actauly in Reeves County, it seems that they should be rendered for taxation purposes in Reeves County.

If the individuals involved derive all or a portion of their income from operations in the Pecos area, why shouldn't Reeves County benefit from the taxation?

Why should the residents of Reeves County -- who are paying their fair share of taxes -- be penalized or have to pick up the tax burden for that which is due but not rendered and collected?

The Pecos Independent and Enterprise

March 29, 1962

Pecos still on edge over tank transactions

Representatives of 12 finance and insurance firms meeting among themselves in Dallas have suspended the sessions, leaving much of Pecos on tenterhooks this afternoon.

A spokesman for the 12 firms investigating unusual anhydrous ammonia tank transactions said the meeting have been suspended for further study.

The officials gathered Tuesday to discuss unusual transactions of anhydrous ammonia tanks in Reeves and at least 10 other West Texas counties.

Details of the talks have not been revealed, but it is generally conceded that 32 officers and 10 attorneys for finance companies met in secret sessions in Dallas to discuss the transactions.

One Pecosite, Billie Sol Estes, spent two hours with representatives Tuesday, first day of the meeting. Estes has signed leases for a large number of anhydrous ammonia tanks, mainly from farmers who signed the mortgages on the tanks.

Finance company representatives have been guarded in their statements to a contingent of news reporters covering the meeting.

Hardin Bishop, spokesman for Pacific Finance Company of California, said none of the mortgages of the tanks is in default, except in isolated instances.

"The thing that is worrying everybody," he said, "is the validity of the collateral for the mortgages."

Bishop was asked if the lending companies were seeking to determine the location of the tanks on which they hold mortgages.

He said spot checking of collateral "is the standard method of operation for any installment transaction where collateral is involved."

Bishop added that a lot of general verification is being conducted.

"This is a meeting," he said, "of a group of companies involved with a group of individuals and it is not all the same," - explaining that a number of varying mortgages exist.

"They are comparing notes on the joint extension of credit, evaluating their position," Bishop said.

News reports from Dallas indicate that only Estes was called before the group.

It was learned today, however, that agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation also met with finance company representatives yesterday.

The Dallas Morning News said in its Thursday edition that it had learned that the mortgage loans are being checked by the FBI.

In a series of special articles, The Pecos Independent brought to light the unusual number and financing of the tanks.

In The Independent's third article on the transactions, it was pointed out that approximately $34.5 million worth of the fertilizer containers had been mortgaged in 11 counties since 1959.

Mortgages covering more than 33,500 tanks were discovered in the counties.

Bishop said Wednesday that an estimate of $22 million would be a reasonable figure of the amount of money the finance companies now have invested in the tanks.

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Pecos Enterprise
Mac McKinnon, 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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