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Archive 2004

Area Newspapers
Economic Development


Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, November 19, 2004

Unemployment shows increase during October

A drop of 50 jobs offset a loss of 25 people from the Reeves County workforce in October, and bumped the county’s unemployment rate up by half a percent, according to figures released on Thursday by the Texas Workforce Commission.

September’s jobless rate of 5.8 percent was the lowest for the county in 20 years, though that was due both to the rising economy and the loss of 30 percent of the area’s workforce over that period, due to the shutdown of several major employers. For October, unemployment climbed from 5.6 to 6.1 percent, as the county had 5,052 workers and 4,742 employed, according to the TWC.

The numbers were down from September, when there were 5,077 workers in the county and 4,792 employed. Five years ago, the TWC numbers showed the county with a 9.2 percent jobless rate, but with 7,261 workers and 6,590 with jobs.

The jobless rate for October was similar, but slightly higher for the Town of Pecos City. Unemployed was up from 6.5 to 7.1 percent during the past month, as the number of workers in the city dropped from 3,962 to 3,937, while the number of jobs fell from 3,697 to 3,659.

Other area counties reported either stable or declining jobless rates for October, the TWC said. Andrews County saw its rate drop from 3.7 to 3.0 percent, as it added almost 100 jobs to its local labor force. Ward County lost almost 75 jobs but saw its workforce drop by almost 100 people, which cut unemployment there from 5.1 to 4.5 percent. Pecos County also lost both workers and jobs from September to October, but kept its rate stable at 4.4 percent, and Crane County added both a dozen jobs and a dozen workers to its labor force, which kept the jobless rate at 3.3 percent for the second month in a row. To the south, neighboring Brewster and Presidio counties continued to have two of the state’s most divergent jobless rates. Brewster County’s rate fell from 2.0 to 1.7 percent, as the county added 150 jobs and 130 workers to its labor force. Presidio County’s rate also went down but remains among the state’s highest, at 15.8 percent. The jobless rate fell from 19.9 percent in September as the county saw a decline of almost 150 in its workforce while the county’s economy added 30 jobs.

Unemployment also declined in the area’s two largest counties, Ector and Midland. In Ector County, unemployment fell from 5.3 to 5.1 percent, as the county added 550 workers and 650 jobs. Midland County’s rate went from 3.5 to 3.2 percent, as it added 550 workers and almost 700 jobs.

Statewide, unemployment was down two-tenths of a percent in October, falling from 5.5 to 5.3 percent. The October rate is the lowest so far in 2004 for Texas, according to the TWC’s numbers.

Rains leave city, TxDOT facing pothole repairs

Five days of rains have assured Town of Pecos City workers of a lot of potholes to fill as streets dry out over the next few days, and the rains also have slowed down trash collections in alleys around the city.

“After it gets dry, we will go by with crews,” said city maintenance director Edgardo Madrid. “Whenever we notice pot holes we send a crew by to repair them.”

The rains, which began last Friday and continued through Tuesday, created potholes on many streets around town, including one that required construction barrels to be set up around it at Sixth and Eddy Streets, which is one of the state-maintained streets in the city.

The rains also were blamed for one accident related to potholes on Interstate 20 on Monday, and Texas Department of Transportation crews had to close one lane of the highway there and work on two other sites in Reeves County due to pavement erosion caused by the rains.

No one was reported injured in the accident, which occurred on Interstate 20 about 10 miles west of Toyah. According to TxDOT Public Information Officer Glen Larum, about eight potholes were found in the right lane of the road, in the area between mile markers 10 and 12 on I-20. The potholes, which were about two inches deep, were repaired by TxDOT's Balmorhea Maintenance Crew, using special patching material for rain conditions.

The right lane was shut down Monday night for a short distance and traffic was diverted near mile marker 10 onto the passing lane to avoid the potholes.

Balmorhea area TxDOT crews also were patching a section of Interstate 10 on Tuesday near mile markers 203 and 204, just outside the city, while TxDOT crews from Pecos were busy repairing potholes east of Toyah, between the Salt Draw bridge and the FM 869 overpass.

The rains also have delayed work on repaving lanes of I-20 both to the west of Pecos and east of town in Reeves County. Rains earlier this year caused the eastbound bridge over Salt Draw to collapse, and forced TxDOT to replace both interstate bridges over the normally dry draw.

During their recent budget discussions, city council members and Madrid talked about resuming the seal coating projects on local streets that had been suspended for the past few years in order to save money and avoid property tax increases. The city is still facing budget problems and was forced to raise taxes by 15 percent this year, but Madrid told the council in September seal coating work will resume under the new budget.

However, with the rains coming so late in the year, he said the city will only be able to do patch jobs on potholes instead of a full street resurfacing project, for the next several months.

“Because it’s already cold weather, we can’t work on it. But as soon as we get the first signs of summer, we’re going to be working on that. The city crews will be focusing on it the whole summer,” Madrid said.

He said bids will soon be put out for materials to conduct the seal-coating work in 2005. “We’re trying to get local materials and local bids, especially on the gravel,” he added. Madrid said aside from creating potholes, the rains also have muddied up alleys around the city.

“Due to the rains, Duncan Disposal gets a little bit behind picking up trash in the alleys. We’re collaborating with them to do trash (pick-ups) on Saturday just to keep up to speed,” he said.

“If their dumpster is full and the next dumpster is full, give us a call and we’ll contact Duncan to take care of the situation,” he added.

Madrid said the bad weather also has delayed the pick-up of large items such as refrigerators, stoves and air-conditioners on the north side of Pecos at the start of this week.

“North side customers can call us at the landfill at 447-9133 and we can go by that area and pick up big items in the alleys,” Madrid said. He added that the pick-up by city crews does not include construction debris, which has to be removed by the site owner.

Early voting rises in final days for election

Early voting remained light, but did pick up a bit during the final two days for this coming Monday’s Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD tax rollback election.

Early voting ended at 5 p.m. on Thursday for Monday’s election, in which district voters will decide whether or not to cut the school district’s tax rate from $1.50 to $1.32 per $100 in valuations.

Early voting clerk Debbie Thomas said that about a third of the votes had been cast in the final two days. “It kind of picked up yesterday (Wednesday). We had 61,” she said, while 35 more cast ballots before 1 p.m. on Thursday.

Overall, 265 people had voted early in the election as of the start of Thursday afternoon. The rollback vote is the only item on the ballot, but Thomas said the wording has been confusing to a number of people who have voted early at the Pecos Community Center. “Basically, you’re voting ‘for’ or ‘against’ the ad valorem tax,” she said.

A vote ‘for’ the tax means keeping the current $1.50 tax rate, while those casting a vote ‘against’ are voting to roll the tax rate back to the $1.32 cent level.

The rollback election was triggered automatically in September under state law, when the district’s property and mineral valuations came in $75 million above the 2003 totals. The election was approved by school board members in September and set for the Monday prior to Thanksgiving, at four locations within the district.

On Election Day, voting will take place at the Community Center for Pecos residents, along with the Barstow Community Center, the Saragosa Multi-Purpose Building and at Toyah City Hall.

P-B-T ISD currently has a tax rate set at the maximum state level of $1.50 per $100 in valuations. P-B-T Superintendent Ray Matthews said last month the district needed to maintain that rate in order to continue receiving the maximum amount of state financial aid.

Under law, the rollback is triggered if a school district’s tax rate brings in 15 percent or greater revenues than the previous year. The rollback would bring the rate down to the amount that would net the same amount of tax revenues as last year.

“With the minerals going up $75 million, it would bring us down to $1.32 and budget-wise we need to stay at $1.50,” Matthews said last month.

In 2001, local voters defeated a tax rollback vote that would have cut the district’s rate from $1.50 to $1.19 cents. The additional $2.2 million in funds the district received in taxes that year was used for renovations to several campus buildings, and avoided having to issue construction bonds.

During the past year, the district also has used cash-in-hand funds to pay for construction of a gym for Austin Elementary students, and the installation of artificial turf at Eagle Stadium.

Officials expecting 20 booths at annual flea market , auction

Cars, desks, computers and more will be auctioned off this weekend at the Reeves County Civic Center, during the Pecos Peddlers Flea Market and Auction.

The event will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday on the grounds between the Civic Center and the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena.

“In case of bad weather, we will be moving it to the old part inside the civic center,” said one of the organizers of the even Debbie Thomas. “We’ll move it to the fair barn and we’ll have more vendors.”

Thomas said that they had about 15 booths, but that individuals wait until the last minute to sign up. “We’ll probably end up with close to 20,” she said.

“The auction is going to be for Reeves County Hospital,” Thomas added. She added that the hospital will have a variety of items including desks, hospital beds and other miscellaneous equipment.

Thomas said that the cost for a booth will be $50. “At the end of day, if they leave their area clean, they get $25 back,” she said.

There will be a charge of $1 per person to enter the grounds. “The concession stand will be open and refreshments available,” said Thomas.

The auction part of the flea market will take place at 1 p.m.

“TransPecos Banks will have some automobiles that will be auctioned,” said Thomas. This is the third year they’ve had the November flea market, and Thomas said that each year they have had the event at least 20 booths are occupied by vendors.

“We’re hoping to get more booths, everybody waits until the last minute, but that’s alright,” she said.

Thomas said that they had just received numerous items that will be auctioned off during the annual event. “Some items are coming in at the last minute,” said Thomas.

The group received a stock trailer, mountain bike, tractors and even live turkeys for Thanksgiving will be auctioned.

Both TransPecos Banks and West Texas National Bank and Lindsay Western Construction will be participating in the event.

The hospital will have doors, chairs, televisions and more.

“We will also have a 22 foot Pontoon Party Boat and a fishing boat at the auction,” said Thomas. “It looks like it’s going to be really exciting, with a lot of items,” she said.

Local group plans video shoot of band’s show

A new band featuring a group of former Pecos residents will be in town this weekend to perform at the Reeves County Sheriff’s Posse Barn and to shoot a video, before moving on to perform in Odessa.

Ground Up records is in the process of wrapping up MVP’s sophomore album, “Illego-Alien.” The album is not your typical hip-hop album in that the group fused so many musical styles with the elements of hip-hop to create this musical classic. The album contains different styles from Latin, reggae, soul, funk, rhythm and blues.

The group said that RAP stands for rhythm and poetry and that ís what it’s all about. “We are very excited about this album and it’s release,” said MVP member Ruben Ramirez.

A big contributor to the production of the project was Sofa King Loco (Aldo Ramon) a former Pecos native.

Ramon is so multitalented, he enhanced the record significantly by bringing the live instrumental element that is rarely found in hip-hop, according to Ramirez. Sofa King Loco has also established the Illego Alien band to accompany the Ground Up artists.

“We are releasing the first single of the album “Grindin’. This is the song that we feel will best embrace our culture,” said Ramirez.

The music video will also be shot at the show in Pecos by the Visual Vagos production company, which was created by former Pecos native, Robert Chavez. Ground Up records and Visual Vagos continue working together as well as maintaining their friendship that began in Pecos when they all were attending Pecos Elementary.

“We would like to thank everybody back home that has supported the music since day one,” said Manny Ramirez. “Our way of showing Thanks is by returning home to preview the album here first and uphold the tradition,” he said. “No matter how successful we have become we will always come home to our roots and give back to the community that helped mold who we are today,” said member Aldo Ramon.

The group will be performing at the Sheriff’s Posse Barn on Saturday, beginning at 9 p.m.

“We have a lineup of acts from the surrounding areas who will also be performing,” said Ramirez.

Strezz Free (Angel Garcia) and Buda (Kingsley Nwaka), fellow Ground up artists will also perform and showcase their hit singles from their albums which are in the works. Strezz Free(Angel Garcia) is also a former Pecos resident who is currently working on his own album entitled Slo-Mo.

“We would also like to tell all the kids in Pecos to never stop dreaming and creating,” said Angel Garcia.

“When we lived here it seemed that the town revolved around baseball. You don’t have to be an All-Star or a top athlete to be accepted,” said Garcia. “This town is full of artists such as ourselves, and we just never had an outlet so we would look for adventure and get into trouble,” he said.

“Who knows where we’d be had we been exposed to a video camera and keyboards at an earlier age,” said band member Robert Chavez.

“We are always looking for upcoming talent who are passionate and will continue to express themselves and not scared to dream the impossible,” he said. Ground Up is also in the process of setting up a scholarship for Pecos High School Seniors who are pursuing the arts, such as music, songwriting, poetry, film, graphic design, etc.

“Just another way for us to give back to our community and recognize the fresh minds in Pecos to pursue another route,” said Chavez.

The group has released two underground albums. One last year entitled, "Encounters of the Brown Kind" and the "Mex-Files Area 512".

The "Mex Files" is the new underground album which is set to release at the show on Saturday.

“Underground albums are albums that most hip-hop D.J.'s sell in the streets. It is more of a promotional tool,” said Ramirez. “The undergrounds contain current beats that you hear on the radio and MTV with a new twist on the lyrics and chorus lines done by many independent artists and major artists,” he said.

The Illego Alien album is in the mixing and mastering phases.

KOL group eyes efforts for clean-up

Cleanups around the community are planned for the upcoming months, along with other projects that will enhance Pecos, according to a local group of community leaders. The KOL (Key Opinion Leaders) met Tuesday to discuss several issues including an interlocal agreement to utilize inmates from the Reeves County Detention Center III, to help with city-wide cleanups.

“Only state inmates can be lent out,” said Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce Director Linda Gholson. RCDC III houses inmates from the Stare of Arizona, while the RCDC I and II units are home to federal prisoners.

The KOL event was sponsored by the Town of Pecos City and Reeves County, and Gholson said that the group will continue to work on items that have been addressed at previous KOL meetings.

“We feel we’ve come a long way, there is more communication and working together,” she said.

“I thought it was a very good meeting,” said Gholson.

“Cleanup will begin next week,” she said, adding that with the new landfill open, individuals can now take everything to be dumped out there.

The city and chamber also will work hand in hand on the Christmas Lights project, which seeks to repair the city’s existing lights and improve the coverage area within the city. “Hopefully, the whole town will be lit up,” said Gholson. “We’ve got 4,000 feet of new lights and 4,000 new bulbs.”

She said that Edgardo Madrid, city utilities director, would be helping out with this project, and city crews with a bucket truck will be used to hang the Christmas decorations.

The Annual Christmas Tree Lighting at Maxey Park will be held Dec. 2 and the Annual Christmas Parade is scheduled for Dec. 3. Theme for this year’s event is “Rodeo Christmas.”

“This is the fourth annual event and the Rotary Club is in charge of this, but it is a community-wide event,” said Gholson.

The group saw a presentation on the Town of Pecos City’s Main Street during their quarterly meeting.

“The sheriff, Drug Task Force, Edgardo with the city, Chief of Police and city finance director Sam Contreras, all spoke during the meeting,” said Gholson.

Maria Urias with the Pecos Network Workforce, was on hand. “She mentioned some on-line items that could be of interest and benefit to employers and to those looking for employment,” said Gholson.

Bill Conder, administrator for Reeves County Hospital, spoke about the improvements to the hospital and the new dialysis center.

Debbie Thomas told the group about the upcoming Pecos Peddlers and Flea Market scheduled for Saturday.

“There will be a lot of visitors in Pecos this weekend,” said Gholson.

American Home Health will sponsor the next quarterly KOL meeting, in January; Odessa College will be the hosts in April; the Pecos Police Department and Reeves County Sheriff’s Department will sponsor the event in July and Town of Pecos City will do the October meeting.

Donations sought for Thanksgiving meal

Employees and volunteers are already busy cooking the main course for the Annual Thanksgiving Dinner, scheduled for next Thursday at the Reeves County Civic Center. “We have already started cooking the turkeys and the dressing,” said Christian Home Director Bob Lindsay.

The home has been sponsoring both Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners at the civic center for the past several years and each year several hundred people either eat dinner at the center or go there to take meals home.

“We expect to feed at least 300 people,” said Lindsay. “That’s approximately what we fed last year.”

Lindsay said that the group is in need of a few side dishes for the Nov. 25 dinner. “We need lots of desserts and cranberry sauce, that’s something we don’t have much of right now,” he said.

Lindsay said that they would appreciate yams or anything else the pubic would like to help them with.

“We also need a lot of volunteers to help us with this annual event,” said Lindsay. “It takes quite a few people for this dinner to be a success,” he said. Lindsay said that they have been trying to increase the number of people that eat at the civic center. “We welcome everyone, those that don’t have a place to go or share the holiday meal with,” he said.

“The other items we will start cooking on Nov. 22,” said Lindsay. “We’ll be cooking all week long.”

Lindsay said that more turkeys are always welcome. “If they are not going to cook it and de-bone it, but want to donate a turkey, they need to get it to us by Nov. 22,” he said. The Thanksgiving meal will be served from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.

If anyone wants to help the group during the holidays they can contact the Christian Home at 445-2049 or show up at the civic center on Thursday.

Study club takes field trip to Midland

The Modern Study Club and their guests gathered at the First Baptist Church parking lot recently to carpool and journey to Midland to tour the facilities of Safe Place of the Permian Basin with Catherine Travland, Home Life chairman, in charge.

The thought-quote for the meeting was taken from the NIV Bible, Ephesians 6:4 - “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

When the tourers arrived they were greeted by Nancy Betts, Development Director who told them particulars about the Safe Place and of their mission to end domestic violence; provide education, counseling and shelter; present alternatives; and promote hope and dignity.

Ms. Betts passed out brochures and information describing how “Safe Place” is making a difference in the lives of victims of family violence covering a 15 county area that includes Reeves County. The facility has a 24-hour crisis hotline, state of the art emergency shelter, victim advocacy, counseling and support groups, children’s programs, education and prevention, and batterer’s intervention and prevention program. She told they operate from grants, donations and a “Style Show” fund raiser.

After a tour of the facility that includes: 15 bedrooms, 12 bathrooms, nursery for babies and toddlers, playrooms for older children, large outdoor play area with a covered patio, library equipped with computers, commercial kitchen, two dining areas, laundry room, large living room, meeting room and offices for advocates and licenses professional counselors, the guests were served a wonderful meal of chicken and rice, salad, roll, berry pie and ice tea.

During our meal we were introduced to and welcomed by Carole Wayland, the Executive Director.

The Safe Place was very appreciative of our donations. Nine members and guests attended.

Police Report

EDITOR’S NOTE: Information contained in the Police Report is obtained from reports filed by the Pecos Police Department, Reeves County Sheriff’s Office, or other officers of those agencies. The serving of warrants by an officer for outstanding fines of either traffic citations, animal control violations or other court costs are considered arrests and will be printed as such unless indicated that the fines were paid. In such instances we will indicate payment and release.

*** Six teens were arrested by police on Nov. 13 on charges of possession of marijuana under two ounces, while one was charged with possession of a prohibited weapon. Police said the six teens, two of whom were 15-year-old juveniles, were arrested following a traffic stop in the 800 block of Meadowbrook Drive. The four teens identified by police were Adam Garcia, 17, 1207 E. Fourth St., Mario Rico Jasso, 18, 616 S. Eddy St., Adrian Abila Medrano, 19, of Barstow, and Jeremy Don Stroup, 19, of 1615 Hackberry St., who also was charged with the weapons violation after police found him carrying an illegal knife during a search.

The four were taken to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center while the two others were turned over to Juvenile Detention Center officials.

*** Genivive Mendoza Wright, 36, was arrested by police on Nov. 9 and charged with public intoxication. The arrest occurred at the Suvacito Club at Ninth and Cedar streets.

*** Marco H. Galindo, Jr., 51, 801 S. Pecan St., was arrested by police on Nov. 9 at Fourth and Sycamore streets on a charge of public intoxication, other than alcohol. Police said the arrest was made after Galndo was found lying on the ground at Fourth and Sycamore. He was arrested on the charge after refusing transport by ambulance to Reeves County Hospital.

*** Carlos Bolivar Medrano Vengas, 24, and Samuel Morales Castillo, 21, were arrested by police on Oct. 27 at 3:08 p.m. on a charge of driving a vehicle with fictitious license plates. The arrest occurred on Interstate 20 at mile marker 25, west of Pecos.

*** Guadalupe Rodriguez, 33, of 1521 Alamo St., was arrested by police at his home on Oct. 30 and charged with terroristic threat under the Family Violence Act. Police said the arrest was made at his home over threats made to his stepdaughters.

*** Nicholas Gallegos Baltazar, 78, 2405 Sage St., Apt. ‘A’, was arrested by police on Oct. 30 and charged with public intoxication. The arrest occurred in the 700 block of West County Road.

*** Christopher Allen Barron, 2302 Country Club Drive, was arrested by police on Oct. 30 at 10:43 p.m. on a warrant charging him with theft by check. Police said the arrest was made in the 700 block of South Cedar Street.

*** Jose Alejandro Martinez, 18, 1101 S. Orange St., was arrested by police on Oct. 29 on a warrant charging him with evading arrest-fleeing a police officer. Police said the arrest took place at 1109 E. 11th St., Apt. ‘A’.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321

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