Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Thursday, July 2, 1998
Officials to replace jobs lost from mine
By GREG HARMAN
The closure of Freeport McMoRan Sulphur Inc.'s Frasch
sulphur mine in Culberson County, announced on Tuesday, will
have a dramatic impact on Pecos, where the majority of the
mine's 158 employees live.
The first 60 lay-offs were carried out on Tuesday, leaving
98 workers at the facility. Continuing lay-offs will occur
at varying intervals over the next several months, as the
mine ceases all current production and plugs its 300 wells
with concrete in preparation for final abandonment.
While Reeves County has recently taken up the cause of
economic development, forming the Reeves County Economic
Development Corporation in December of 1997 and hiring
Economic Development Coordinator Gari Ward last month, an
industry safety net to retain these workers and their
families is not yet in place.
Many families, previously employed by Freeport -- the
highest starting wage available for Reeves County residents
-- will inevitably be forced from the area in search of work.
County Judge Jimmy Galindo said he feels confident that the
new, strategic efforts aimed at economic development will
bring new business to the area, but cautioned that it may
require the "retraining and refocusing" of many in Pecos to
work the incoming jobs.
"We are moving in the right direction," said Galindo of the
county, "though we may be a few years behind."
Oscar Saenz, president of the economic development
corporation and manager of Anchor West, Reeves County's
largest private employer, said the board had been hoping
that Freeport would continue to delay the inevitable,
lending them time to set up new employment opportunities for
the mine workers.
"We were kind of hoping the sulphur company would hold off
(with closing the mine)," he said. However, continuing low
prices for sulphur forced Freeport to make the decision to
close the mine. The company said earlier this year it hoped
to keep the site open for its remaining 10-year lifespan.
Gari Ward is in Austin today, working to develop a target
list for potential industries to bring to town.
Mine officials who came to Pecos on Tuesday with the
devastating news, went on to Van Horn on Wednesday, meeting
briefly with Culberson County Chief Appraiser Sally
The meeting, Carrasco said, amounted to a short lesson in
the company's severance policy -- despite the fact that the
mine only employs student summer help from the county. There
are no direct roads from Van Horn to the mine site, and most
workers live in either Pecos or Carlsbad, N.M.
Freeport also pledged to pay the full $18 million in
appraised property value on the mine, although they do not
expect to be operating in Culberson County for the full year.
Carrasco said she understands the mine's situation and how
the price of sulphur would make it difficult for any other
company to try to take over the plant, but that doesn't mean
Culberson County officials aren't worried.
"We're concerned about it, of course, but anything good has
to come to an end eventually," said Carrasco.
She said she had no knowledge of any other companies
interested in the county or in purchasing the Freeport
plant, but said optimistically, "There's a lot of open space
The New Orleans-based company is offering its employees a
severance package that includes two weeks of base pay for
each year of service. Freeport is also taking into account
service under Penzoil's management of the mine, and the
severance package includes a maximum base pay of 12 months.
The company will pay for the first six months of employee's
available 18-month COBRA coverage and outplacement services
that will be available.
Rodeo leaders change in four events
By JON FULBRIGHT
The first official night of the 116th edition of the West of
the Pecos Rodeo produced new leaders in four events, while
three defending National Finals Rodeo champions scheduled to
perform at tonight's show.
Defending NFR team ropers Speed Williams and Rich Skelton
and 1997 NFR All Around and saddle bronc riding champ Dan
Mortenson highlight tonight's competition, which begins at
8:30 p.m. at the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena. Former world
champion ropers Steve Purcella and Steve Northcott, along
with steer wrestler Steve Duhon also are among tonight's
Six-time NFR All Around cowboy champion and current leader
in the world standings, Ty Murray, had a rough return to the
West of the Pecos Rodeo after a two-year absence due to
injuries. Murray's bull, `Strokin', forced him off by
running up against the north stands of the arena just before
the eight second time limit. He also was shaken off by
`Shake Down' in the bareback competition before scoring 69
points on board `Mony Mony' in saddle bronc riding.
South Dakota cowboy Bud Longbrake rode `Smoke' to a 79 point
score and the first day lead in that event, while another
former champ, Craig Latham, scored 72 points on `Guitars and
Cadillacs' for second place in the standings.
In bareback riding, William Pittman of Florence, Miss., took
the lead by scoring 81 points on `No Satisfaction' during
Wednesday's show, six points ahead of Shane Call, who picked
up 75 points for his ride on `Copenhagen Magic'. Aaron Burch
is third, with a 71 point ride on 'Tutti Frutti."
Chris Littlejohn's 83-point effort during Tuesday's
pre-rodeo bull riding session held up Wednesday night. Ross
Coleman of Motalia, Ore., had the night's best score, a 77
point effort on board `La Grange' to close out the first
section of bull riding. Corey Navarre had the next best ride
of the night, scoring 73 points on `Locomotion,' though that
still left him behind Gilbert Carrillo, Jim Bryant and Mike
White, who had 76, 75 and 75 point rides Tuesday.
The other new leader Wednesday came in the ladies' barrel
race, where Dena Kirkpatrick of Post came within .03 seconds
of the arena record with a 17.24 second time. She displaced
Tuesday's leader, Corley Cox, who had a 17.65 time, while
Debbie Kirby of Hubbard and Carissa Allred of Stephenville
took over the third and fourth spots, with 17.89 and 17.91
There were fewer changes among the leaders in the roping
«MDNM»J.D. Yates had a pair of firsts during Wednesday's
rodeo. His 12.7 time was tops among steer ropers and left in
fourth for the average, with a 26 flat time, while he and
Jay Wadhams tied Beau Compton and Fred Davis for first in
team roping, at 8.8 seconds. They're sixth and fifth,
respectively, in the overall, where Brett Boatright and Kory
Koontz lead with a 15.6 combined time, and Rowdy Rieken and
Shawn Darnell are .4 behind in second place.
Trevor Brazile leads the overall in steer roping, with a
23.2 time, while 12-time NFR champ Guy Allen is just behind,
at 23.4 seconds.
Casey Callahan did take the lead in steer wrestling, with a
4.6 time to go 8.7 seconds for the average. D.L.
Funderburgh's and Ted York's 4.2 times still lead the second
go, while Keith Webster is second in the overall, at 8.9
In calf roping, five-time world's champion Roy Cooper holds
the lead midway through the second go-round, while first
go-round winner Chad Hagen is tied for second place after
Wednesday's show. Cooper has a combined 21.6 time, while
Hagen is at 23.3 seconds combined. Stran Smith also has 23.3
on two goes.
Marty Jones holds the fourth-place spot with 24.4 seconds.
Fifth is Jim Brown of Waco who competed Wednesday. He totals
World Champion Herbert Theriot had fastest time at 11.2 to
move to sixth place at 24.9 seconds on two goes.
Wednesday's show had some of the best weather in recent
years for the opening night of the rodeo, with cloudy skies
holding the temperature down to the mid-90s at starting
time. The final three nights of the West of the Pecos Rodeo
will also begin at 8:30 p.m., with the average leaders in
the roping events returning for the finals on Saturday.
Ricochet performing at Civic Center
Schedule gives Byants brief visit to Pecos
By ROSIE FLORES
Two ex-Pecos residents, now popular country music stars, are
returning to their hometown with "mixed emotions."
"We're very excited to be returning to our hometown, but a
little disappointed that we won't be able to spend very much
time with our friends," said Jeff Bryant, who with his
brother, Junior are members of the band Ricochet, which
broke into the national spotlight two years ago.
The group will be in Pecos during the West of the Pecos
Rodeo and will perform at the Reeves County Civic Center on
Saturday, July 4.
"I sure wish we could visit longer, but since we're on tour
it's just not possible this time," he said.
Ricochet just finished a new project, another album which
will be coming out in early fall, though Jeff said music
from it will be available in just over a week.
"Our first single will debut on July 13," said Bryant, who
added that several radio stations around the country have
already been playing the single, entitled, "Honky Tonk
"What they do is they have a contest between a couple of new
songs and see which one listeners like the best and so far
our song is doing really well, it's been the number one song
every night of the contest," explained Bryant.
For the past week the group has won every night and Bryant
stated that they are very excited about both the new song
and the album as a whole.
"It features more country music, which is something we
wanted to get back to," said Bryant. "That's what we started
playing was country and the last album, even though we were
very excited and proud of it, didn't contain as much country
The group has been together for close to five years and have
received numerous awards.
"We weren't going in the direction that we wanted to go, but
this next album is headed in the right direction with a lot
more of our type of music," said Bryant.
"We're really enjoying ourselves, this is what we've always
wanted to do," said Bryant, speaking for his brother as well.
Both Jeff, the band's drummer, and Junior, who plays fiddle,
began performing at a very early age with their father,
Jimmy Bryant. He started a group called "The Lariat Band"
which performed at numerous rodeo events in the mid-1980s
through the early 1990s.
Ricochet is currently on tour and won't spend very much time
in Pecos, but both brothers said they are looking forward to
short visits with friends.
"We'll never forget our friends in Pecos, they were very
good to us and we want them to know that they'll always be
in our hearts," said Bryant.
He added that everyone in Pecos has been very supportive of
them and the direction their career has taken.
"Everybody thinks this is a glamour job, but it's hard work
and dedication, and it helps that we love what we're doing,"
Bryant credits his dad for inspiring them to become who they
are today. "He always told me, son, it doesn't matter what
you do or where you work, you're a success if you really
enjoy what you're doing. As long as you love what you are
doing, it doesn't matter where you work," Bryant said.
"This is our job, it might be a little different than
others, but this is what we do," Bryant fondly recalled. "He
inspired us, but he didn't tell us this is what you have to
The Bryants come from a musical family, with father Jimmy, a
maestro on the keyboards. It was Jimmy who first got the
boys interested in music, and later formed the Lariat Band
"Everybody has to have a job and this is our job, it may
seem a little glamorous to some people and some have the
wrong idea about the music industry and the people in it,"
said Bryant. "But we're all basically the same, we put on
our pants one leg at a time just like everybody else."
"Sometimes we get caught up in the special treatment that we
receive, but the family really keeps you grounded," said
Bryant, who is accompanied this summer by his children, who
keep him "down to earth."
"They're really something because they get so excited about
everything," he said.
The group toured with Travis Tritt last year and Bryant
stated that his daughter couldn't believe that he even knew
the famous country singer. "She kept telling me, daddy, look
who it is, and I said I know, baby, we toured together last
"They're just so impressed with all the other performers and
to them I'm just their dad," he said.
And really, Bryant stated, everyone they have worked with is
like that, down to earth, friendly and helpful.
Junior Bryant finally got to meet his idol, Roy Rogers.
"They're really taken with each other and Roy has been
giving some items to Junior who is thrilled about it," said
According to Jeff, Junior's dream had always been to meet
Rogers, the movie cowboy legend, and it has finally come
true. "He became very good friends with his grandson,
Dustin, and now with him, and Roy says that Junior reminds
him of himself and even looks a little like him, I just
think it's great those two get along," he said.
The group also finished another project recently. They did a
radio commercial for Monte Carlo and have been asked to do a
video commercial for the company.
"We also perform at NASCAR and are the official spokesperson
for a museum in Nashville," said Bryant.
Ricochet are the official spokesperson for Cumberland Signs
Museum, a big museum in Nashville.
"We're very proud of that, also and since the museum is huge
and has a lot of exhibits for the children we feel great
about it," said Bryant.
The group did 256 shows last year, but have decided to cut
back a little this year to do some more promotional work and
work on other projects.
"That's a lot of days on the road and a lot of hard work,"
They have also performed for several sports teams, such as
the Washington Redskins, Green Bay Packers and Texas Rangers.
"It's funny because we think of them as sports heroes and
then they're over there asking us for autographs, when we
want to ask them for theirs," said Bryant.
"I like to collect a lot of that stuff for the kids and I
enjoy meeting all those people," said Bryant.
Other members of the group are, Teddy Carr, who plays steel
guitar; Greg Cook, bass guitar; Eddie Kilgallon, keyboards;
and Heath Wright, lead vocalist/lead guitar.
Underaged driver blamed for rupture
An underage driver ruptured a gas line while driving a
pickup Thursday afternoon in the alley behind the GTE
building, in the 300 block of South Cypress Street.
The young driver was behind the wheel of a white Chevrolet
pickup at 12:50 yesterday when he hit a gas meter, causing
the line to break. A representative of Southern Union Gas
Co. arrived at the scene at 1 p.m., but was unable to reach
the line until a wrecker arrived to lift the truck out of
The Pecos Fire Department was first on the scene, in case of
an explosion, but the line was plugged by 1:20 p.m., and
there were no injures.
Repairman Dirk Torsy said he had repaired a similar accident
last week, and urged area drivers, "If you don't know how to
drive in an alley - don't. Or better yet, back into the
alley and drive out."
High Wednesday 90. Low this morning 74. Rain total last 24
hours, .01 inch. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy with a
less than 20 percent chance of thunderstorms. Low in the
lower 70s. Southeast wind 5-15 mph. Friday, partly cloudy.
High in the upper 90s. Southeast wind 10-20 mph. Fourth of
July weekend forecast, partly cloudy with a slight chance of
thunderstorms. Lows in the mid 70s. Highs in the upper 90s
to around 102.
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