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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Friday, August 21, 1998

Jobs, jobless show sharp jumps during July

From Staff and Wire Reports
Unemployment numbers are up this July compared to last year's totals in
Reeves County despite a three percent increase in the number of jobs in
the county, according to figures provided by the Texas Workforce

Figures showed last month's unemployment number as 930, compared to last
year's July figure of 689. The number of unemployed in June was set at
799, lower than in July, but still higher than last year's total.

Reeves County's unemployment rate for July was 11.5 percent, while last
July's rate was 2½ percent lower, at an even 9 percent. The rate was up
nine-tenths of a percent from June's 10.6 percent rate.

While the number of jobless in July was up -- and was compounded by the
June 30 layoffs of 60 workers at the Freeport McMoran sulphur mine --
the total number of people employed in Reeves County actually increased
last month by nearly 200 compared to the same period a year ago.

TWC reported there were 7,171 in the country during July, compared with
6,979 a year ago and 6,761 reported in June. The rise in the jobless
rate was due to an even sharper increase in the county's civilian labor
force in July. It climbed to 8,101, people, while last July's figure was
7,668 and there were just 7,560 in the county's labor force this past

Statewide, the unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in July, down from 5.7
percent in June, the TWC reported Thursday.

The commission said the decline was expected as more summer job seekers
found work.

The Bryan-College Station area again had the state's lowest rate, 2.1
percent. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission had the highest, at 16.8 percent.

Rates of unemployment in the urban areas of Texas as announced by the
commissioner for July, compared with revised June figures (in
parentheses) were:

Abilene 3.9 (4.3); Amarillo 4.2 (4.4); Austin-San Marcos 2.9 (3.1);
Beaumont-Port Arthur 7.7 (8.4); Brazoria 6.9 (7.5);
Brownsville-Harlingen 13.7 (14.3); Bryan-College Station 2.1 (2.3);
Corpus Christi 7.5 (8.2); Dallas 3.5 (3.9);
El Paso 11.0 (11.1); Fort Worth-Arlington 4.1 (3.9); Galveston-Texas
City 7.1 (7.9); Houston 4.5 (5.0); Killeen-Temple 4.5 (5.2); Laredo 9.8
(10.7); Longview-Marshall 7.5 (7.9); Lubbock 4.4 (4.9);
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission 16.8 (18.2);

Odessa-Midland 5.8 (6.2); San Angelo 5.4 (4.0); San Antonio 4.1 (4.6);
Sherman-Denison 6.2 (5.2); Texarkana 7.4 (8.2); Tyler 5.6 (5.9);
Victoria 5.1 (5.8); Waco 4.9 (5.5); Wichita Falls 5.3 (5.6).

Repairs finally planned on TWC's homes

Staff Writer
Texas Workforce Commission employees, who track how many people in
Reeves County have jobs, are still waiting to find out when they'll have
their regular home back in Pecos.

The West Second Street building that normally houses the TWC will begin
getting renovated next week, four months after it was damaged when a car
went through the front of the structure.

TWC operations were moved to a portable building brought to the site,
following the April 22 accident. Part of the wall on the southwest
corner of the building was knocked in, after a car hit a second vehicle,
sending it crashing through the side wall.

Employees have been working in the portable building, located across the
street from the TWC building, since the incident.

"Right now, they're looking to begin renovations on that building early
next week," said Texas Workforce Commission Area Manager Odell Crawford.

The architects have been out at the site this week, along with local
Texas Workforce Commission employees.

"They plan to complete the renovations in about 30 days, but it depends
on a lot of things," said Crawford. "That's what we're hoping for, the
completed building within 30 days and we hope it will be ready to so
that the employees can move back in by then."

Fishing weekend scheduled at Balmorhea Lake

Staff Writer
The draining of Balmorhea Lake in preparation for a fish kill is
scheduled for this weekend by the Texas Department of Parks and
Wildlife, and fishing regulations there have been lifted from now
through Monday.

The lake is being drained in order to protect an endangered pupfish,
which has been threatened by the introduction of the sheepshead minnow
to the lake over the past several years. The lake will be restocked with
fish after it is refilled, and as part of that project anglers will be
allowed to keep unlimited numbers and sizes of fish obtained by legal
means today through Monday.

To receive your exemption, check in at the lakes store at Lake Balmorhea.

Anglers will receive an exemption permit and a certificate for
possession of the fish. These permits will be issued at two separate
times. The first permit will be for permission to fish and the second
will be for permission to have unlimited numbers and sizes in your
possession. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will need for each
angler to report the fish caught when they pick up their possession

What remains of the lake will be closed for fishing next Tuesday and
Wednesday, while rotenone is applied to the water to kill off the
remaining fish. At the same time the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
will accept a limited number of volunteers to help pick up dead fish on
Tuesday. In order to serve as a volunteer, individuals must be at the
Balmorhea State Park on Monday, Aug. 24, at 3 p.m. for an orientation

Along with the draining and refilling of Balmorhea Lake, work is
underway to build three islands in the lake which will serve as wildlife
refuges. Bird experts told the Balmorhea group in charge of the
renovation project that Tuesday, Aug. 25, was the most desirable time
for minimizing impacts on bird populations. In fact, they anticipate
virtually no impact.

The renovation will take place well before the annual migrations and
after the majority of nesting activity by summer inhabitants. Those few
birds that feed on fish in the lake will still have nearby alternate
sites available at San Solomon Cienega, Giffin Springs, Phantom Springs,
Sandia Springs and Toyah Creek.

Within two to three weeks of rotenone application they will begin
restocking the lake. The initial stocking will be with small forage
fishes and channel catfish. The catfish stocking will consist of 29,000
10 inch fish, 2,000 18 inch fish and 150 large catfish up to 15 pounds.
In the spring of 1999 the group will begin the remainder of the stocking
program which will include largemouth bass (native and triploid
Florida), bluegil, more channel catfish, white crappie and gizzard shad.

The new islands, in addition to serving as a bird habitat, also are
expected to benefits the Reeves County Water Improvement District No. 1,
in that they will increases shortage capacity of the lake.

These islands will be for the benefit of migratory and nesting birds as
well as provide enhanced opportunities for bird watchers.

Officials offer WIPP truck route route

Staff Writer
Radioactive, transuranic waste generated by the United States defense
industry over the past 50 years will soon be hauled through Pecos en
route for burial at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M.

State officials met Thursday morning with emergency personnel who would
be relied upon should locally an accident occur along the Pecos
corridor. They were joined by a handful of interested residents for an
information session, held at Quality Inn.

James Ogden, an emergency planner with the Texas Department of Health,
identified trans-uranic waste, detailed the composition of the waste,
and explained the difference between alpha, beta and gamma radiation for
the group of emergency personnel.

Trans-uranic, he said, is a broad classification including all elements
that are heavier than uranium. This includes plutonium, americium,
neptunium and californium -- man-made materials developed by the defense
industry. Much of this currently sits idling in temporary above-ground
storage facilities where it is subject to the elements, Ogden said, when
the safest place for it is far below ground, "where it came from."

The waste is composed mainly of polluted tools and equipment, said
Ogden, flashing an image of rendered barrels of waste on the wall.

The polluted materials, said Ogden, are not as dangerous as many of the
materials on the road. "I work with it. I'm not afraid of it, but we
respect it," he said speaking of radiation.

The shipments are scheduled to pass through Pecos at first at a rate of
1-2 times per month, and would later increase to 1-2 times per week.
They would be carried on specially marked and modified flatbed trailers.

These trailers, he assured the group, would be inspected every 100
miles, or each two hours. "Something as small as a light bulb will put
it out of service until it is repaired," said Ogden.

The vessels containing the waste will give off about 200 millirem on its
outer shell, he said. The federal limit for exposure is 5000 millirem (5
rem) per person each year.

While, statistically speaking, accidents involving fatalities are
expected in relation with the shipments during their 20-35 year
lifespan, none would involve leakage of radioactive material, said Ogden.

Extensive training for local "first responders" is available through the
state, said Ogden, and drivers are provided with "everything but a
welding kit and a 20 ton crane" for patching any damage to the TRUPAK-II
containers, engineered with four metal shells and a good amount of foam.

Ogden said that, as far as he knew, there were no other towns in the
state, besides Orla, where the WIPP route went directly through the
center of town, as it does in Pecos.

RCDC bonds, contracts top county agenda

Payment and performance bonds for the Reeves County Detention Center's
Support Services Shell Building and Recreation Building Addition will be
discussed at Monday morning's regular Reeves County Commissioners
Meeting, scheduled for 9:45 a.m. on the third floor at the courthouse.

Commissioners will also discuss a contract between Reeves County and the
Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, an interlocal
cooperation contract between RCDC and West Texas Centers for MHMR and a
contract modification between Reeves County and U.S. Bureau of Prisons
for inmate transportation services.

They will also discuss and take action on payment for Villareal
Contracting on Housing Rehabilitation Contract #71460 - Molinar Project.

Other items on the agenda include:

* Discuss/take action on Pecos Senior Citizen Contract.

* Discuss/take action on issuing official bond and oath on Elodia Garcia
and Marybell Guerrero (JP#1 and JP#2 Offices).

* Discuss/take action on reports from various departments.

* Discuss/take action on budget amendments and line-item transfers

* Discuss/take action on personnel and salary changes (RCDC).

* Discuss/take action on minutes from previous meetings.

* Discuss/take action on semi-monthly bills.

* Spread on minutes: Notice of over-axle, over-gross weight permit;
order setting 1999 salary of official court reporter; order setting 1999
salaries for county auditor and auditor's assistants' and RCDC
employment contract between Reeves County and Guadalupe Regalado.

HUD ups grant proposal for PHA

Pecos Housing Authority board members were told Thursday that a $1.5
million CIAP 98 grant proposal for apartment rehabilitation was
increased by nearly 50 percent by federal Housing and Urban Development
officials from Fort Worth.

"The CIAP applied for a new $1.5 million grant to continue with
renovation and landscaping of the PHA units, but when the Fort Worth
office (HUD official Ethel Montague) visited last week, she saw some
things she thought were left out," said PHA board president Frank Perea.
"They upped the amount from $1.5 to $2.2 million."

While HUD increased the grant, there is no guarantee yet it will be
approved. "We should know something between now and the last day of
September," Perea said. He added that board members approved a new CIAP
budget that included the addition $700,000 in the revised grant.

In other action, PHA board members listened to presentations by life
insurance and retirement plan representatives during their regular
monthly meeting. They also reaffirmed the policy on maintenance of
apartments by tenants and went over their monthly occupancy report.

The first presentation was for a Lincoln Life retirement plan. This
proposal, having no annual administration fee, offered 17 different
investment options.

The second representative, from the Mutual Omaha Company, described the
company's medical/life insurance policy in an effort to persuade board
members to remain with their company. Perea said the PHA's contract with
Mutual of Omaha expired on July 28, but is being extended on a
month-to-month basis.

"We discussed different plans, and decided to get more information,"
Perea said. "We want to see what the employees want as far as a
retirement plan goes."

Perea said PHA currently does not provide employees with a retirement

The board's resolution on maintenance stated that PHA would strictly
enforce lease agreements, as far as housekeeping and safety are

"We had some tenants move out who left their apartments really trashed
and infested with cockroaches," Perea said. "That's a violation of the
lease agreement, and the board just wanted to enforce that we will not
tolerate unsanitary conditions by any tenants.

"The executive director (Nellie Gomez) and staff members will monitor
the situation more closely and will make more inspections to make sure
tenants are complying with their lease," Perea said.

According to the PHA occupancy status report, out of the 130 total
apartments, 95 are occupied, 35 are vacant, and 31 are reserved for CIAP
96 renovation.


Gabina Renteria

Gabina J. Renteria, 89, died Thursday, Aug. 20, 1998, at Reeves County
Hospital after a lengthy illness.

A rosary is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., today at Martinez Funeral Home

Mass will be held at 10 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 22, at Our Lady of Refuge
Catholic Church in Barstow, with Father Ben Florez officiating. Burial
will be Barstow Cemetery.

She was born April 6, 1909, in Presidio, was a homemaker, a lifetime
Barstow resident and a Catholic.

Survivors include one son, Isaias "Chayenne" Renteria of Pecos; one
daughter, Maria Luz R. Diaz of Wickett; 11 grandchildren; 17
great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren.

Martinez Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


High Thursday 89. Low this morning 70. Forecast for tonight: Partly
cloudy. Low 65-70. East to southeast wind 5-10 mph. Saturday, partly
cloudy with a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms. high around 90.
Southeast wind 10-15 mph.

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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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Copyright 1998 by Pecos Enterprise