Dec. 24, 1997
Council prepares for 1998
By GREG HARMAN
In preparation for the new year, the City Council of the Town of Pecos City approved several agreements at yesterday's meeting that will provide for needed services in the upcoming year.
The council adopted an interlocal agreement with the county and fire department for fire protection services. According to the agreement, the city and county agree to provide the volunteer fire department with vehicles and equipment; and the city and county will split the total operating costs of the fire department, $93,280, to be paid on a quarterly basis.
An interlocal agreement with the Pecos Ambulance Service, city and ambulance service - in which the city promises to provide all emergency vehicles and the hospital district agrees to provide the city with $64,305, payable in monthly installments, for the ambulance service - was also approved, ensuring that ambulance service will still be available for the city.
Also, a contract between the city and Reeves County Jail was approved by the council. The agreement provides that the city is to furnish all emergency dispatch services for the county in return for the county's commitment to incarcerate municipal prisoners.
The council was updated on the progress of Texas-New Mexico Power's transition to competition plan by TNMP customer relations coordinator Mya Suratt, who said that a recent agreement between TNMP and staff at the Public Utility Commission of Texas should ease the passage of an agreement with PUC (see accompanying article, TNMP may bring further savings).
An agreement with the state for airport maintenance was also passed by the council. The state grant provides for half of the expenses necessary for the upkeep of Pecos Municipal Airport. The grant allows for the state to provide (depending on availability) fifty percent of the total project costs or $10,000, whichever is less. A weed sterilization program, which will cost about $13,000, will only cost the city half that amount due to the grant.
Mayor Dot Stafford asked that a letter be drafted to encourage those renting property at the airport - including the police department and the city zoo - to house only aeronautical equipment in their facilities. Non-aeronautical use of the airport facilities without prior state approval violates the terms of the grant.
The city's accounts payable, financials and tax collectors report were all approved at yesterday's meeting.
TNMP may bring further savings
By GREG HARMAN
After months of mediation, Texas-New Mexico Power Company and staff members of the Public Utility Commission of Texas have reached an agreement regarding TNMP's transition to competition plan.
According to company officials, should the proposal be approved by the Public Utility Commission, residential customers can expect a nine percent reduction in rates by the end of the five-year transition period. At the end of the transition period, the transition to competition plan states, customers of TNMP will be able to choose their individual energy supplier.
Commercial customers may expect the same three percent reduction as stated in the original transition to competition plan, during the transition period which begins in January of 1998. The previous plan called for a reduction of six percent for residential customers and three percent for commercial customers.
"This agreement is a huge step toward final approval of a plan that has both immediate and long-term benefits for customers,' says Kevin Joyce, TNMP chairman, president and CEO. "The broad base of support it received should go a long way toward demonstrating to the PUC that this proposal offers a workable, balanced plan for customers and shareholders.
The agreement between TNMP and PUC staff, TNMP officials said, would allow potentially strandable costs to be recovered by using additional depreciation on TNP One, the company's lignite-fueled power plant. Officials also stated that the new proposal includes provisions that could provide annual refunds to customers and that will provide for TNMP to retain any savings in purchased power costs.
"Because the agreement with the PUC staff is even more favorable than the initial plan," said Joyce, "we are confident of . . . continued support for the improved version."
Turkey dinner on tap Thursday
By ROSIE FLORES
Turkey and all the trimmings will be part of the Christmas Dinner planned for Christmas Day at the Reeves County Civic Center.
The dinner will be held for anyone wishing to share the holidays with others.
"We do this every year and we encourage anyone who would like, to come join us," said Bruce Dury of the Christian Home.
Dury and his "crew" had a Thanksgiving dinner and fed about 160 individuals at that time.
"We didn't have as good a turnout as we expected, but maybe it's because we changed the location we usually have it at," said Dury.
This year's Thanksgiving and now the Christmas Dinner will be held beginning at 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., on Christmas Day at the Reeves County Civic Center, located at 1600 S. Cedar Street.
Last year, the group fed about 200 people during the Christmas holiday and are expecting the same number this year.
"We're pretty well set as far as the food goes," said Dury. "Even though, we always need more desserts," said Dury.
Dury stated that he expected people to show up at the last minute with desserts for those that will be sharing the dinner.
"Volunteers are always appreciated during this time of the year," said Dury.
Anyone wanting to volunteer or donate anything can contact Dury at the Christian Home at 445-2049, or take the items to 1201 S. Elm.
The group will be delivering the meals on wheels to the elderly and the homebound and anyone who knows of someone who is homebound and will require a meal delivered to them is encouraged to contact the home early and let them know.
"I'm just thankful we have had so much help from the community in getting this dinner together for those who would otherwise not enjoy Christmas," said Dury. "It is the time for sharing," he said.
Postal carriers honored
Tony C. Ramirez, Interim Pecos Postmaster, honored two carriers at the Pecos Post Office with the Million Mile Award.
James Thomas started his postal carrier in Pecos in 1966 and Santiago "Jimmy" Martinez began his postal career in 1965.
Ramirez stated, "This award is to recognize a letter carrier for outstanding performance in driving a million miles or 30 years without a preventable accident and is presented in conjunction with the National Safety Council.
"I am privileged to have on our staff these individuals who no doubt also provide excellent customer service," said Ramirez.
To all the other postal carriers, he said, "The rest of you hang in there, and you'll get rewarded soon, also."
Mergers and transfers at Freeport
By GREG HARMAN
Freeport-McMoRan Inc. announced earlier in the week that stockholders have approved the merger of Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (NYSE:FTX) and IMC Global Inc. (NYSE:IGL), with IGL as the surviving entity.
The merger went into effect on Monday, December 22, and FTX ceased all trading on the New York Stock Exchange that evening. The provisions of the merger allow for each FTX stockholder to receive .9 of a share of IGL common stock and one-third of a warrant to purchase IGL common stock for each share of their FTX stock.
Prior to the merger, all sulphur businesses of IGL and Freeport McMoRan Resource Partners, Limited Partnership, were transferred to Freeport McMoRan Sulphur Inc.
Freeport McMoRan Sulphur Inc. (NYSE:FSC) began as a new public company on Tuesday, December 23. That same day Robert M. Wohleber, who joined the company in 1986 as director of corporate finance, was named president, chief executive officer and a director of the company.
Unemployment still on the way down
By GREG HARMAN
Unemployment in Reeves County and Pecos City has decreased over the past year, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.
The county unemployment rate has dropped, from its year-ago level of 9.7 percent, to 7.6 percent as of November, 1997. Despite the drop in the civilian labor force over the year, employment levels have improved. In November of last year, 5,904 people were employed in the county. As of November this year, 6,015 people are employed in the county.
In Pecos itself, the unemployment rate has dropped from its year-ago level of 11.1 percent to a recorded 8.8 percent in November of this year. The labor force in Pecos City declined slightly over the past year, from 5,121 in November of 1996, to 5,087 in November of this year.
This is representative of a general trend of decreasing unemployment rates in the area.
Ector County reports a drop from 6.1 percent unemployment in November of 1996, to 5.1 percent unemployment recorded in November of this year; Ward County dropped one-tenth of a percentage point during the past year; and Pecos County witnessed a drop of half a percentage point.
The unemployment rate for the Odessa-Midland Metropolitan Statistical Area, declined by two-tenths of a percentage point over the month (from 4.5 percent to 4.3 percent) and by seven-tenths of a percentage point during the past year (from 5 percent to 4.3 percent).
The Odessa-Midland MSA currently ranks 14th in the state in terms of unemployment levels.
As of November of this year, Bryan-College Station MSA has the lowest unemployment rate (1.8 percent), Austin-San Marcos MSA ranks second (2.9 percent), and San Angelo MSA ranks third (3.1 percent).
The national unemployment level decreased between November of '96 and November of '97 - from 5 percent to 4.3 percent. And Texas unemployment levels dropped from 5.3 percent to 4.9 percent during the same period.
PECOS, Dec. 24, 1997 - High Tuesday, 62, low this morning, 41. Tonight skies will become partly cloudy with a low of 25 to 30 expected. Winds will be variable at 5-15 mph. Chrtistmas Day will be mostly cloudy with a high around 45 ad winds from the ortheast at 5 to 15 mph.
Highs were forecast in the 30s and 40s over most of the country; in the teens and 20s in parts of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado; in the 50s and 60s from the mid-Atlantic states to the Gulf Coast and in Southern California and southern Arizona; and in the 70s and 80s in Florida.
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