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Economic Development


Weekly Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

CCRC receives grant for Toyah flooding victims

Staff Writer

Appliances, food and cleaning supplies were just some of the items purchased for Toyah residents with funds from a mini-grant.

Reeves County Community Council was able to request $25,000 for the residents who lost many of these items during the recent flooding in the small community.

“This is a mini-grant, separate from other grants,” Community Council Program Director Velma Dominguez. “This is for emergency situations only, like the flood in Toyah.”

A break in the levee northwest of Toyah in the early morning hours of April 4 sent a wall of water from San Martine Draw racing through the north side of town. Over two dozen homes were damaged, some severely enough they had to be condemned due to water damage.

Dominguez said that through the CSBG grant, the council had the opportunity to purchase items like food, cleaning supplies, bedding items and appliances, such as refrigerators, stoves and heaters.

“We did that for them and in conjunction we also held a barbecue plate fundraiser,” said Dominguez.

Dominguez said that the fundraiser was held to help those individuals that did not qualify for the mini-grant.

“We had two things going on at the same time for those residents,” said Dominguez. Dominguez said that about 29 people benefited from the mini-grant and the fundraiser. “The community council assists people in the community who are need,” said Dominguez. “There was funding available and luckily we were able to get it,” she said. Dominguez said that the council still has a few items that they need to give out. “There are a couple of people that are out of town, while their homes are repaired and we need to give them their items,” she said.

State, local jobless rates show rise during June

The end of the 2003-04 school year meant the arrival of new people into the jobs market across the state, as June unemployment rose both locally and in Texas as a whole, according to figures released last Friday by the Texas Workforce Commission. Reeves County’s unemployment was up half a percent last month, from 7.1 to 7.6 percent, according to the TWC. The beginning of the 2004 harvest season in the area and the addition of those jobs did not offset an even larger rise in the local workforce. There were an additional 78 jobs in the county last month, but the labor force grew by 118 compared with May’s totals.

The TWC said Reeves County had 5,681 workers last month, and 5,247 with jobs. Both totals are the highest of the year in the county.

One year ago, unemployment in Reeves County stood at 10.9 percent, but according to the state figures, the total number of workers and the total number of jobs have declined in the county by about 10 percent in the past year. The TWC said there were 6,236 workers in the county in June of 2003 and 5,554 with jobs. Unemployment last June also was up half a percent from May’s total.

Jobless numbers and the increase in unemployment both were slightly higher in June for the Town of Pecos City than for Reeves County as a whole. The city’s unemployment rate last month was 8.8 percent, up from May’s 8.1 percent, according to the TWC. The local labor force increased from 4,341 people to 4,437, while the number of jobs in the city was up from 3,988 to 4,048 last month.

A year ago, unemployment in the city was put at 12.5 percent, up by .6 percent from May of 2003. The city had 4,896 workers and 4,285 with jobs. That represents about a 10 percent drop in the number of workers and a five percent loss of jobs over the past year. Joblessness in the city and county remain above the statewide average, but closer to the overall levels than anytime in the past two years, since the Anchor Foods plant shutdown eliminated 700 local jobs and sent unemployment surging at one point to over 20 percent. Statewide, unemployment in June was put at 6.5 percent by the TWC, up from 5.7 percent in May. A year ago, the state’s jobless rate was at 7.7 percent in June, up from 6.6 percent in May of 2003.

Other Permian Basin counties also saw their unemployment rates rise in June, with the end of school for high school and college students. For the area’s largest counties, Midland County’s jobless rate rose from 3.7 to 4.1 percent, Ector County (Odessa) went from 5.9 to 6.9 percent. As with Reeves County, both Midland and Ector added jobs last month, but not enough to outpace the increase in their local labor forces.

Other counties in the same situation were Andrews, where unemployment went from 3.7 to 4.2 percent; Crane, which went from 4.4 to 5.4 percent; Culberson, which jumped from 6.6 to 8.1 percent; Howard, which was up from 3.6 to 4.3 percent; Pecos County, from 5.4 to 6 percent; Ward County, up from 6.2 to 7.7 percent; and Winker County, which jumped from 5.7 to 6.2 percent.

Presidio County again had the state’s highest unemployment rate, at 20 percent, up from 18.5 percent, due to the increase in the summer workforce. Neighboring Brewster County lost both jobs and workers last month, and saw its unemployment rate raise from 2.9 to 3.2 percent. Meanwhile, Loving County, the nation’s least-populated county, added two workers and two jobs in June, bringing the total to 54 workers and 49 jobs, after remaining unchanged for the previous four months. That dropped the county’s jobless rate from 9.6 to 9.3 percent.

PEDC director’s appointment on council’s agenda

Town of Pecos City Council will discuss appointment of a director for the Pecos Economic Development Corp. and the duties of the city’s municipal court judge, clerk and public works director, during the council’s regular meeting on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall.

The municipal court and public works discussions are scheduled to be part of an executive session during the meeting, which will also include advertising for bids for work on two water wells at the city’s new South Worsham water field.

Other items on the agenda include discussion and approval of the regular monthly financial, municipal court and juvenile reports; discussion and appointment of an officer to calculate the effective tax rollback rate for 2004; discuss offers to purchase property at 410 E. Third St. and 1321 S. Oak St.; discuss/consider a contract for election services and discuss/consider the city’s future needs.

No specifics were given on the final item. The council will also have a public comments section at the start of Thursday’s meeting.

Ward districts get backing in Red Bluff dispute

Reeves County Water Improvement District No. 2 has filed a petition in 143rd District Court in support of seating representatives from Ward County Water Irrigation Districts 1 and 3 on the Red Bluff Water Power Control District.

Reeves County WID 2 president Alan Zeman filed the petition on July 16 in143rd District Court. Zeman said Judge Bob Parks has scheduled a hearing on Aug. 3 on the lawsuit, which stems from changes in voting status for the two Ward County districts since the previous Red Bluff board election.

Tom Nance was elected to the vacant Ward County District 1 seat and Ava Gerke was elected to replace Teresa Walker as District 3 representative. But both were given only advisory status by the Red Bluff Board, which said their change from water improvement to water irrigation districts meant that rules which governed voter eligibility in those districts no longer applied.

Red Bluff’s attorney, Robert Scogin of Kermit, said during the board’ June meeting that along with a more limited scope of activities, a water irrigation district’s voting rules also are more limited.

“The residents of a district elect the representative for a water improvement district. But, for an irrigation district, only the land owners in the district have a vote,” Scogin said.

Zeman’s response supports the legality of seating Nance and Gerke following the changes under Chapter 58 of the Texas Water Code, claiming the original 1934 Master Contract and the Chapter 58 addition in 1977 do not prevent districts from changing their legal status while remaining voting members of the Red Bluff board. It also says the current voting make-up of the board, with only four of the seven seats filled, affects the interests of RCWID 2 and asks that Parks grant a temporary injunction to seat Nance and Gerke on the board.

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