Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Wednesday, May 6, 1998
Freeport layoffs continue; mine could close
By GREG HARMAN
The second layoff at Freeport McMoRan Sulphur Inc.'s
Culberson sulphur mine in eight days has resulted in
16 full-time workers losing their jobs.
The layoffs, which took place last Friday, come at a
time of reduced production levels that, according to
one mine official, may result in the closure of the
mine by the end of the year.
A company official in Louisiana had no comment on the
possibility of closing the mine, saying only it was
something they would "like to avoid."
The recent layoffs are a response to weak domestic sul-
phur prices, said Freeport spokesperson Bill Collier,
coupled with an overall change in the nature of sulphur
"Sulphur used to be mainly mined," he said,
"but now the nature of the industry has changed.
Eighty-five percent of the sulphur consumed is a by-
product of oil and gas exploration."
Friday's layoff, which follows on the heals of the April
24 dismissal of 12 contractual employees supplied through
Pecos Valley Field Service in Pecos, was termed "un-
fortunate" by Collier.
"It's not something we look forward to doing, but as a
company we need to look to other ways to reduce costs to
remain profitable," said Collier.
One employee who found himself on the losing end of the lay-
off said only that he had been told the company needed to"
tighten its belt" or it would not make it.
"They said they can't operate in the red for long,"
said the former Freeport employee, who asked to remain anony-
mous. "They said they had to take steps."
The recent layoffs follow a 20 percent reduction in production
at the Culberson County mine enacted in January, 1998. Freeport
officials claimed at that time that the reduced production of
22 percent, or 200,000 long tons of annual product, would not
result in any layoffs.
The Frasch sulphur mine, located about 40 miles northwest of
Pecos, now employs roughly 160 workers from the Pecos and Carls-
bad, N.M., area. The mine has reduced production by 550 long
tons per day.
Freeport McMoRan Sulphur Inc. is the largest producer of Frasch
sulphur in the world. It is involved in mining, purchasing,
transporting, terminaling and marketing of sulphur, and is
committed to the production of related oil and gas reserves.
Unemployed workers offered help
Workers of Freeport McMoRan Sulphur Company, including leased
workers of Pecos Valley Field Services, who lost their jobs
at the mine on or after October 24, 1996, are eligible for
AFTA-Transitional Adjustment Assistance (TAA).
According to officials at the Texas Workforce Commission, work-
ers who were only partially separated from employment with
Freeport also qualify for assistance under petition number
NAFTA-2046. The petition was certified February 17, 1998, and
will expire February 17, 2000.
Assistance is available to workers who lose their jobs or have
work hours or wages reduced as a result of increased imports.
TAA holds a variety of benefits and reemployment services to
place the newly-unemployed in suitable jobs.
PHA receives high marks from feds
By ROSIE FLORES
Pecos Housing Authority received some excellent news recently
from the regional director of the federal department Housing
and Urban Development, after the local agency was named a high
"We've had two goals that we had not been able to accom-
plish during the last three years: to be high performer and
for the executive director to get certified," said PHA
director Nellie Gomez.
Both things were accomplished this year, thanks to cooperation
and hard work, she added.
Pecos Housing Authority Chairman, Frank Perea, and Town of Pecos
City Mayor Dot Stafford received notification from HUD Director
Eileen Rogers of the Public Housing Management Assessment Pro-
gram (PHMAP) of score and status for fiscal year ending Dec. 3,
The total weighted score for the assessment period is 93.44 and
is hereby designated a high performer and 100 percent in mo-
dernization which designates PHA as a mod-high performer.
"Each year when we established our goals for the new year,
these two appeared at the top of the list," said Gomez.
"Within the last few months, these two goals have fi-
nally been achieved."
"In order to reach these goals many changes, organization
and team work is required," said Gomez.
In the West Texas area, there are 35 housing authorities and only
five are high performers, according to Gomez, "So this is
really a big honor."
Gomez stated that HUD's operational policies have been imple-
mented by the local agency.
"Keeping the residents and the community informed of what
is going on, their desires, cooperation and participation in
making the PHA a decent and safe place to live are the basic
ingredients," said Gomez. "The basic formula is a
supporting board of commissioners and a dedicated staff."
In addition, Gomez received her Pecos Housing Authority Manager
She has been the PHA manager for the past three years and has
been working diligently in procuring CIAP funds for upgrading
"We are nearing completion of the current CIAP project and
will be applying for a new CIAP," said Gomez. It it is
granted, she plans to improve the community buildings owned by PHA.
"Next week, the high school students will be planting more
trees in the park, located across the street from the admini-
stration building," said Gomez, referring to the PHA
offices on Meadowbrook Drive. Other plans include a basketball
court and other recreational facilities for the former airbase
Paula O. Sanchez, 80, died Tuesday, May 5, at Reeves County
A rosary will be held at 7:30 p.m., today, at Martinez Funeral
Mass is scheduled for 2 p.m., Thursday, May 7, at St. Emily
Catholic Church in Toyah with Father Antonio Mena officiating.
Burial will be in Toyah Catholic Cemetery.
She was born Nov. 22, 1917, in Presidio, was a lifetime resi-
dent of Toyah, a housewife and a Catholic.
Survivors include her husband, Bartolo L. Sanchez of Toyah; four
sons, Jesus and Bartolo Sanchez, Jr. of Toyah, Daniel and
Domingo Sanchez of Odessa; three daughters, Paula Sanchez and
Elpidia S. Valdez of Toyah, Delma Machuca of Midland; one bro-
ther, Jesus Ornelas of Pecos; two sisters, Carmen Sanchez of
Balmorhea and Virginia Carrasco of Barstow; 25 grandchildren
and seven great-grandchildren.
Martinez Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Mary Virginia Underwood, 91, died Monday, May 4, 1998 at her
home in Honey Grove.
Graveside services will be held at 11 a.m., Friday, May 8, at
Oakwood Cemetery in Dallas.
She was born Oct. 28, 1906, in Houston and graduated from Rice
University in 1927. She had been active in community affairs,
was a member of the Honey Grove Garden Club, the Bertha Voyer
Memorial Library and Oakwood Cemetery Association and a member
of the Episcopalian church.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Wash Underwood in 1971.
Survivors include two daughters, Emily Fernandes of Pecos, Martha
Blevins of Killeen; one son, John Underwood of Dallas; one sister,
Lois Bissonnet of Houston; seven grandchildren and six great-
The family suggests, that in lieu of flowers memorials be made to
the Bertha Voyer Memorial Library in Honey Grove or to a charity
of their choice.
High Tuesday 95. Low this morning 55. Forecast for tonight: Clear
tonight, and sunny on Thursday, with the best chance of thunder-
storms in West Texas in the northeastern sections of the Panhandle
tonight. Lows tonight will be in the 40s in the mountains of
Southwest Texas and in the 50s and 60s elsewhere in West Texas.
Highs Thursday will be mostly in the 80s and 90s, ranging upward
to near 104 in the Big Bend area.
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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Copyright 1998 by Pecos Enterprise