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Women in Business

October 22, 1997

Ballard keeps on the move

Keeping busy is nothing new to the office manager for both La Tienda and Bob's Thriftway.

Marvon Ballard has worked most of her life and is used to the hectic pace of working and having a family.

She worked for 22 years for Woolworth's, which was located in downtown Pecos, then for Bob's Thriftway and the Pecos Enterprise for a year.

"Right now, I'm in charge of all the accounting, bookkeeping and secretarial duties for both the stores," said Ballard.

Ballard also helps set up offices and train personnel in different stores operated by the owners of La Tienda and Bob's. Some of the offices she has helped set up are located in Plainview and Levelland.

"These stores were bought last year and I helped set up offices in both," said Ballard.

She oversees about six employees in Pecos and states that she doesn't mind the travelling.

"I enjoy going to the other offices and helping out there," she said.

"I love this job, because I enjoy keeping busy, I'm just so used to it," Ballard said.

Even though she works about 40 hours a week, it's not unusual for her to put in some overtime.

Her husband, Ernie, owns the Smokeshop, located on Third Street, after he retired from his longtime job as manager of Bob's.

In her spare time, Ballard enjoys spending time with her grandchildren and her two sisters who live with her and whom she cares for.

She and her husband have three boys, Dennis Thorp, Alan and Marion Ballard. They have a total of eight grandchildren.

"We've lived in Pecos about 30 years, coming here from New Mexico," said Ballard, who is originally from Dallas. The couple moved to New Mexico due to her husband's job.

"We then moved to Pecos, because of his job and have been here ever since," she said.

"Lately, I don't have much spare time, but when I do I like to go to my grandson's football games and my granddaughter's volleyball games," said Ballard.

She enjoys spending time with her family, working out in the yard and doing various craft items.

Mirelez handles lots of dough

Working with dough can be fun, even though it is a lot of hard work, according to Bakery and Deli Manager at La Tienda, Belinda Mirelez.

"I really enjoy this job, it can be tiring and usually help with the decorating," said Mirelez.

Mirelez came to Pecos in February of this year, after being transferred from Carlsbad, where she worked for the Fenn family's Thirftway, in a different department. She started working at La Tienda in May.

"In Carlsbad I did video and floral, for one of the company's stores," said Mirelez.

She and her husband, Gilbert, are both employed at the same store. He is assistant manager at the facility.

"Even though we work in the same store, I rarely see him, since we're both so busy," she said.

Mirelez' day begins before 5 a.m. and usually ends late in the day.

"I come in at 5 a.m., but if all goes well, I usually end the day at around 2 p.m.," said Mirelez.

However, there are some days that Mirelez' day doesn't end until after dark.

"Like recently when it was Boss's Day and I guess everyone forgot until the last minute, and we had so many orders to fill," said Mirelez. "I was here until 9 p.m., still decorating," she said.

Mirelez has four daughters, two of whom are married and two who attend schools in Pecos.

"My daughters really like this school system and have made new friends, they were hesitant at first, but fit right in," said Mirelez.

Valerie is a high school student, while Jennifer attends Zavala Middle School.

In her spare time, when she has any, Mirelez enjoys doing floral arrangements, crafts and reading.

Both the deli and the bakery are open each day from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m.

The day here at the deli and bakery starts at 5 a.m. with donut making. This procedure takes about four hours and the next step is baking all the cookies, cakes, pies and breads, the bakery has to offer.

"We usually start the breakfast menu and have it ready by 7 a.m., and after that we start lunch and have it ready by 10:30 a.m. or 11 a.m. at the latest," said Mirelez.

Both are open seven days a week, even though Mirelez doesn't come in on Sundays, her only day off.

"I really enjoy what I'm doing and stay here until I'm needed, even though it's quite late sometimes," she said.

Mirelez also enjoys spending time with her three-year-old grandson.

"We're also expecting a new addition to our family and are very excited about it," she said.

Business women have long history

National Business Women's Week was first celebrated in 1928 with the announced purpose of dramatizing the contributions of women in industry, government and the professions.

BPW/USA local organizations were asked to participate in daily programs designed to call attention to the purposes and achievements of BPW/USA. From this early effort, NBWW has grown to a nationwide salute to all working women, as well as a spotlight on
Federation programs and objectives. Each year, during the third full week in October, local organizations throughout the Federation focus the attention of their communities on the tremendous contribution made by women in the world today.

The concept of a week recognizing and honoring the many contributions of working women was the brainchild of Emma Dot Partidge, executive secretary of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs from 1924 to 1927.

The first annual observance of NBWW was held April 15-22, 1928, and National President Lena Madesin Phillips opened the first observance with a speech broadcast nationally by radio hook-up. In her provocative address on "Business sand Woman Power" Phill
ips explained that the purpose of National Business Women's Week was "to focus the public attention upon a better business woman for a better business world."

NBWW was moved to the third full week of October in 1938. The change to Fall was initiated so local organizations could use NBWW as a springboard for their new year's programs. Over the years, NBWW has become an event widely recognized by public and pri
vate institutions and local communities. Each U.S. President since Herbert Hoover has opened the first day of NBWW with a letter recognizing the contributions and achievements of working women. In addition, on the state and local levels, governors and ma
yors often issue similar proclamations.

Though women have more business and professional opportunities today than in 1928, the program outlined for the first observance of NBWW is still relevant to our current challenges. Reports tell of many successful observances throughout the country base
d on a national program that included: Legislative Day devoted to national, state and local legislation of interest to women. Education Day devoted to emphasizing the need for equitable educational opportunities; Club Rally Day for prospective new member
s; Community Day honoring leaders in the community; and Goodwill Day devoted to working with other women's organizations.

As BPW/USA has grown, so too has the scope of NBWW. In 1928, BPW/USA had 50,000 members in 874 local organizations. Today, BPW/USA has over 70,000 members in 53 state federations and 2,500 local organizations - the majority of which hold some event to o
bserve NBWW. The celebration of National Business Women's Week has furthered the leadership roles of women and increased opportunities for their advancement professionally and personally.

Gage offers touch of honey

Beverly Gage followed her dream over the past year, and opened her own store in downtown Balmorhea this past Fourth of July.

Gage's store, located at 115 N. Main St. in Balmorhea, is called "A Touch of Honey," does sell homemade honey, plus a whole lot more.

Gage sells homemade honey because her husband, Virgil, is a beekeeper, among other things. She also sells a wide variety of crafts, including clay pot angels and wreaths and wooden products, while offering balloon bouquets, pinatas from Mexico, flower a
rrangements, books, Balmorhea school spirit items and some jewelry.

"Some of the things I make, and some things I have on consignment," Gage said.

"I've done crafts for many years, some of it by necessity," said Gage, adding that she has made outfits for her three children when they were younger, and that she has used her artistic talent to make gifts as well.

Gage really enjoys craft work, and comes from a family of craftspersons. In fact, she said, her mother currently has a craft store at the mall in Marshall, in East Texas, and her husband, daughters, and daughter-in-law all are creative as well. "I guess
we're all crafty people, you might say."

Virgil built the backdrop for a bed that she has a homemade quilt displayed upon. The decorative backdrop separates the store area from her work area, where she makes many of the items that she sells, and where she keeps her supplies. Gage also said tha
t both of her daughters and her daughter-in-law each made something to contribute to her store for the grand opening.

She credits the support of her family highly when talking about her business, and also counts on her faith and talent to help her in her business venture. "If God wants this to work, it will work," Gage said.

She said that when she quit working at the school in Balmorhea in December, where she had been a library aide for 5½ years, she had planned on staying at home and making crafts to sell. Then, she said, the store "just happened." She and her husband foun
d out about the store, which has an apartment in back, being available, so they sold their house, bought the building, and she opened up her shop.

"I've always been the type of person who doesn't want to do what everyone else is doing," Gage said.

"I think we have the best location in town," said Gage. "The city park is our front yard."

Gage stressed that she wants to be of service to the local community. Because of that desire to help her neighbors, she took on the balloon bouquet part of her business, to make it much easier and more convenient to celebrate occasions such as birthdays
in Balmorhea.

Sometimes, local people come in and ask for something that she doesn't have. When that happens, she said, she puts the item on her list of things to try to get in the future. Gage said that she has been learning what works and what doesn't through trial
and error.

Gage truly enjoys her work because she is getting to do something that she has always loved to do. "Sometimes, you make something that you really like, and you miss it when it sells, but you did make it to sell," she said.

In the beginning, Gage said, she had some items that she wondered if would ever sell. Then, "just the right people came in" and bought the items. "I think a lot of people who are travelling are looking for something unique," said the business woman who
prefers to do things her own way.

"It's work, it's fun, it's work, it's rewarding, but I keep emphasizing work because it is a lot of work, Gage said.

Hospital focus is on community

"Our focus is community involvement and education," said Tojia Criss, RN Director of Reeves County Hospital's Home Health Services. The program that opened in April of this year is, until it achieves certification, free to the public.

"We are the only affiliated hospital home health service that provides continuity of care from the hospital to your home," said Josaphine Ingram, LVN. While the program is located at Reeves County Hospital, not all its referrals are from there. Many pat
ients have been referred privately, from area doctors, and other hospitals.

The group provides many educational services that are free and open to the public. This November, which is Diabetes Awareness Month, they will host Monday night meetings. The first Monday lecture will be an introduction to diabetes (about 1 in 3 Hispani
cs are diabetic); the second Monday will cover nutrition and cooking; the third Monday will cover foot care; and the fourth Monday will deal with gestation, eye, and renal (kidney) care. At the meeting there will also be door prizes and refreshments.-

"We participate with Meals on Wheels (a non-profit group that delivers hots meals to the elderly and disabled) and would like to encourage other businesses in town to join also," said Criss.

For more information on the educational meetings, or for 24 hour a day service, call 447-3670. As their slogan says, they "still believe in making house calls."

Cox brings diverse background to council

Caprice Cox is nearing her eighth month as Executive Director of the Community Council of Reeves County, a position she took back in March.

Other positions of responsibility and a husband who works for Anchor Foods led her to Pecos.

"When we got here, I wasn't going to work, I was going to be a full-time mom, but when this position came open, I decided to see what I could give back to the community," Cox said.

Cox earned her bachelors degree in business from San Jose State University.

Before coming to Pecos, Cox was the business manager for the Corpus Christi Zoo. She has also been the director of a spouse abuse center in Baltimore, Md., has operated her own daycare, been the assistant director of a private school and has taught emot
ionally handicapped children.

She oversees the many areas that the Community Council has programs in, and said that "every day is completely different, no two days are the same.'

Some of the things that Cox does are giving information to parents of children enrolled in Head Start, researching grants, contacting local officials, determining client eligibility for programs when a question arises, settling client concerns, helping
department heads to better implement their programs and supervising a staff of 54 employees.

Although she is the boss, she said that "nobody works for me - we all work together at the Community Council."

Cox said that the most rewarding part of her job is "resolving problems in a way that everyone can be happy with the outcome."

Her primary goal is "to increase community awareness of what the community council is, does and has to offer."

"The Community Council of Reeves County is a non-profit organization that currently incorporates the Head Start Program, Meals on Wheels, Medical Transportation, Pecos Day Nursery, Family Services and Weatherization under its umbrella," Cox said.

Cox explained that Family Services assists qualified applicants with utility payments, job referrals, helps people to fill out their income tax returns and operates outreach programs such as the summer food program for children and commodity distributio

She said that the weatherization program is an income-based program in which eligible clients can have their home weatherized to help make it more energy efficient and includes such things as weather stripping, insulation, minor structural repairs and h
eating units.

"It makes people warm in the winter and cool in the summer," Cox said.

"The Community Council is always looking for people to assist in all of our different programs," Cox added.

Moore manages Sonic drive-in

Mary Moore has just been getting back up to speed recently, operating the Sonic Drive Inn on West Third Street she and her husband, Craig, have owned since 1983.

"I just had eye surgery three weeks ago, so I've been having a little trouble getting around," she said just before the start of the drive-inn's lunch hour on Tuesday.

The Moores were already involved with Sonic when they met in Kaplan, La. "That's my hometown. I started out with Sonic there in 1978," Mary said. They ran that town's Sonic for a while, then took over Pecos' drive in 14 years ago.

"My brother at the time was running the Sonic in Kermit, and he said this one was coming up for sale," Craig said.

Mary said her husband, "mainly takes care of the mechanical things," not only at the drive-in but also at the two automatic car washes the couple owns in Pecos, while she works at Sonic.

"I mainly run the business during the day, and let my managers run it at night," she said. "Usually, I'm here by 11 in the morning and stay until 6 or 7 at night."

She said she keeps to that schedule six days a week, while on Sundays, "I'm just in and out of here."

Moore said she handles most of the hiring at the restaurant, which employs about 20 people, who are normally divided into day and evening shifts. She added that one of her employees, "Estella (Pina) does all the ordering and receiving."

"We try to keep as close to a family atmosphere as possible," she said. "We try to make our workers enjoy it."

"Our lunches ad our Tuesday nights are really our busiest times, Tuesday, because it's half-price burgers, is usually a non-stop night.

Other than the Tuesday rush, Moore said Sonic is busiest at night "when there are football games or some other games going on. But we don't complain, we enjoy it."

She added that the couple had talked about possibly moving the drive in to a location with more available area, but decided to stay in the West Third Street location.

"If we moved over to Cedar Street (U.S. 285), we'd probably get some more interstate traffic, but we'd lose a lot of the kids, since we're right along their main drag, and I'd rather keep it the way we have it right now," she said.

Changes are part of RCDC job

Grace Renteria, Business Manager at Reeves County Detention Center says that there have been a whole lot of changes at the facility that she has witnessed.

Renteria, who has been employed at the center since February of 1989, oversees the mail room, commissary, department of records, and business office. The business manager handles all billing and reimbursements for ward bills and inmate performance pay.

Born in Pecos, Renteria hopes to stay for a while.

"We now have an employees club. We've spent two years getting it going and getting the people involved," she said.

The club raises money at food sales, and recently had great success with a hamburger sale. "It was really good," Renteria said. "It turned out better than expected."

She said that the group had held Halloween and Christmas parties in the past, which they "tried to juggle each quarter." The parties are staggered because the center operates on shift work and the officers change every three months.

The group is now in the planning stages with a Valentine's party for February.

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