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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ex-Monahans resident sought after disappearing at reservoir

Family, friends and law enforcement officials are looking for a man who was reported missing on June 9 from a lake north of San Angelo.

Former Monahans resident, John Paul Shadden, 36, was last seen at E.V. Spence Reservoir Saturday morning, June 9. He was listed officially as a missing person on Thursday, June 14 by area law enforcement personnel.

Authorities have already had search parties on foot, on horseback, dogs, divers and sonar boat at E.V. Spence Reservoir, located near Robert Lee in Coke County, about 45 miles north of San Angelo.

Shadden, who grew up in Wink, has a wife, Stephanie Maddux Shadden, and three young children.

Anyone with information on the young man should contact the Coke County Sheriff’s Department, at (325) 453-2717, or other area law enforcement authorities.

Tickets sales continue for Golden Girl/Cantaloupe Pageant

Tickets are still on sale for the Annual Golden Girl/Little Miss Cantaloupe Pageant scheduled for this Friday.

The pageant is slated for 7 p.m., Friday, at the Pecos High School Auditorium, and five young ladies are vying for the title of Golden Girl. The five are Maritza Acosta, Osvelia Calderon, Dorothy Lara, Katerine Ramirez and Clarivel Venegas.

Eighteen little girls are also competing for Little Miss Cantaloupe this year. They are Jacqueline Aguilar, Kassandra Anchondo, Julia Castillo, Megan Contreras, Elayna Cotton, Blanca Fuentes, Viviana Guzman, JayLynn Martinez, Clarissa Millan, Madilyn Moon, Yesenia Maria Quinones, Christina Rodriguez, Clarrisa Rodriguez, Maritza Soto, Amanda Strain, Kellie Taylor, Hailey Vasquez, Samantha Villegas.

Tickets are $8 apiece and can be purchased at the Chamber of Commerce Office, 111 S. Cedar.

The pageant will again be the first event of Rodeo Week in Pecos, though there will be no outdoor events on Saturday for the second year in a row, after Night in Old Pecos, was moved to Saturday, July 28 in Downtown Pecos as part of the revived Pecos Cantaloupe Festival.

“This was done last year and it was a huge success,” said Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Linda Gholson. Tickets for the West of the Pecos Rodeo can also be purchased at the chamber office.

Rodeo nights will begin with slack on Sunday, June 24.

Super Sunday Open team roping and pro-am team roping will be held. Cowboy Church is scheduled for 5 p.m., and roping starts after the services.

On Monday and Tuesday, June 25-26, rodeo slack events will start at 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. The official start of the 2007 rodeo will be on Wednesday, June 27, and run through Saturday, June 30 at the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena.

From June 25-July 31, local artists exhibit and sale, will be set up at the West of the Pecos Museum. Admission is free and for more information call 445-5076.

The West of the Pecos Rodeo Parade has been scheduled for 10 a.m., Wednesday, June 27, with an Old Timer’s Reunion to be held at the West of the Pecos Museum, barbecue lunch at the Pecos Senior Citizen’s Center and at the Posse Barn.

Other events are planned for the Fourth of July, including a huge fireworks display to be held at 10 p.m., at the rodeo grounds.

City seeks grant, OKs land deal for I-20 projects

Town of Pecos City Council members agreed to apply for a $435,000 state grant to install infrastructure at the proposed site of a new motel on Interstate 20, along with approving transfer of land in the same area for a new service station and convenience store, during their regular meeting on Thursday at City Hall.The council voted to submit the grant application to the Texas Capital Fund to put in water and sewer lines for a planned Hampton Inn along I-20 south of Reeves County Hospital. The lack of water and sewer lines in the area has held up construction of the project, and the city was unable to submit their application for the quarterly grants before the previous deadline in March.

The council in November accepted a bid for $1,500 on eight acres of land on Interstate 20, located at the State Highway 17 exit, from Dr. Arbind Ghandi, who along with his brother Henry plan to build a Hampton Inn on the interstate, similar to one which opened last year in Fort Stockton.

That site already had water, sewer and electrical lines in place, unlike the location in Pecos, which also will require buried electrical lines due to the site’s location near the end of the runway at Pecos Municipal Airport. The TCF grant is being sought to help fund installation of those services at the site, where the Ghandis also are looking at building a second motel and a restaurant.

The council also agreed to turn over 4.24 acres of land adjacent to the Ghandis’ site to the Pecos Economic Development Corp. to negotiate its sale to another new business planned for the I-20 corridor. Mayor Dick Alligood said the site would be located to the west of the motel location at the Highway 17 exit, with a service station/convenience store proposed for the land.

Council members also approved hiring four high school students for a summer jobs program, out of a total of eight originally considered. The decision to only hire half the proposed number was due to a $38,000 budget shortfall the city is facing during the current fiscal year, due mainly to the increase in fuel prices in recent months. Alligood said employment of the remaining four would be studied, based on the city’s financial situation.

The mayor added that the city is talking with Reeves County and the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD about pooling their fuel purchase contracts in order to save money on their bulk gasoline purchases.

In another agreement with the county, council members approved the concurrent order for the creation of a venue tax board to fund improvements to the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena and the Reeves County Civic Center. City attorney Scott Johnson approved the wording on the deal, which would activate a 2 percent motel tax approved by voters in 2005 to finance repairs to the 70-year-old arena.

Alligood said the agreement was sent to County Judge Sam Contreras’ office for approval by commissioners, and the city and county will conduct a joint meeting when the final agreement is signed.

Tabled again on Thursday was the city’s audit report, after Fort Worth CPA Tracy Tartar told council members that a problem had been found that forced another delay in presentation of the report.

Tartar, who retained along with his brother, Stacey to handle the 2006 audit, told the council back in March he was wrapping up work on it, and had found no major problems with the city’s financial situation.

“The city manager (Joseph Torres) called and told them the audit has to be in by the next meeting,” the mayor said.

The council also presented awards to three of six city employees who worked 16 hours on June 5 and another eight hours on June 6 to repair a water line leak at Eighth and Elm Streets that forced the shutdown of the main water line.

Council members held an executive session, after which they approved a 3 percent salary increase for city secretary Crissy Barraza, following her six-month probationary period. They also approved changes to the employee handbook on disciplinary procedures following the closed-door session.

Council members also approved changing the date of the second regular meeting in June from the 28th to the 26th, at 5:30 p.m., in order to avoid conflict with the West of the Pecos Rodeo. The annual four-night event begins on June 26 and runs through June 30.

County seeks unemployment decline in May

May unemployment figures for Reeves Country showed a tenth of a percent drop in the jobless rate, while both the labor force and the total number of jobs in the county were up slightly, according to figures released on Friday by the Texas Workforce Commission.

The TWC said the county’s unemployment rate last month stood at 4.9 percent, its lowest in over 20 years and down from 5.0 percent in April. But while the TWC in recent months has been showing a drop in the county’s job totals and workforce to go along with a fall in the unemployment rate, May’s figures showed the county with 4,055 workers, up from 4,017 in April, and 3,857 with jobs, an increase of 39 from the previous month.

However, compared with 2006, the TWC continues to show the county having lost both workers and jobs, in contrast to tax collection numbers for the area, with cities in the county reporting sharp increases over in recent years. Reeves County had a 6.5 percent jobless rate in May of 2006, with 4,150 workers, of which 3,882 were employed.

Area-wide, jobless rates for May were generally within one- to two-tenths of a percent of their April numbers, with Permian Basin cities seeing the best results.

Midland County’s unemployment rate fell from 2.7 to 2.6 percent last month. The county had 71,575 workers, down 23 from April while its job total was up by 14. Since May of 2006, Midland County has added 1,589 workers and 2,133 jobs.

Ector County’s unemployment rate was unchanged, at 3.0 percent. The county was up by 223 in its labor force, while the number of jobs increased by 210. Compared to May of 2006, Ector County has seen an increase of 1,585 workers and 2,128 jobs, with a 1 percent drop in unemployment during that time.

Andrews County’s rate fell from 2.8 to 2.7 percent last month, as the number of workers grew by 72 while the job total was up by 81. Compared to a year ago, the TWC says the county has added over 300 workers and 365 jobs. Brewster County’s rate went from 2.7 to 2.8 percent, as the county lost 105 workers and 105 jobs with the end of the school year at Sul Ross State University. However, compared to last May, the county has seen an increase of 224 workers and 253 jobs.

Crane County’s rate was down from 3.8 to 3.6 percent. The county added four workers and six jobs from April. Compared to a year ago, Crane County is up by 26 workers and 45 jobs. Culberson County saw its rate go from 2.8 to 2.5 percent in May. The county added 26 workers and 31 jobs from April and is up by 75 workers and 84 jobs from last year. Dawson County saw its rate drop from 5.6 to 5.4 percent. The county lost 16 workers and six jobs from April, and is down by 138 workers and 54 jobs since May of a year ago.Howard County’s unemployment rate dropped from 4.0 percent in April to 3.9 percent in May. The county added 58 workers in a month, along with 69 jobs. However, its labor force is down by 209 and the job total has fallen by 29 from a year ago. Pecos County’s rate went from 4.0 to 3.9 percent, as the county’s workforce was up by 28 workers while the job total rose by 35. Since May of last year, the county has 38 fewer workers, but has added 45 jobs.

In Ward County, unemployment fell from 3.5 to 3.3 percent, with the number of jobs up by 32 while the workforce increased by 24. The county is up 79 workers and 151 jobs from a year ago. Winkler County’s unemployment rate dropped from 3.2 to 3.1 percent. The county’s workforce dropped by 12 from April while the number of jobs was down by 11. Over the past year, the county has lost three workers but added 29 jobs.

Presidio County’s jobless rate fell from 8.3 to 8.2 percent, and is down from the 11.5 percent rate of a year ago. The county’s workforce increased by 36 in May, while the number of jobs was up by 38 from, April. Compared to a year ago, the county has lost 102 workers but added 15 jobs. Loving County’s jobless rate went from 9.1 to 11.4 percent in May, the same as its March number. The nation’s least-populated county added back the two workers and one job it lost in April. The county has 35 workers, 31 who are employed, the TWC said, a drop of one workers and one job from a year ago, when the jobless rate was 11.1 percent.

Pecos’ tax rebate check for June rises 79 percent

Town of Pecos City’s sales tax rebate check for June shot up again, as compared to a year ago, according to figures released by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs’ office. Toyah and Balmorhea also saw significant jumps in their tax rebate checks for the month, and overall, sales taxes checks for the first five months of the year almost one third higher than a year ago.

Pecos’ check for June totaled $131,166, which was an increase of just under 79 percent from a year earlier, when the city received a check for $73,287. For all of 2007 so far, the city has gotten back $631,247, up 30.2 percent from last year’s $484,826. The total for the first half of 2007 is only $125,000 less than the city received in sales tax rebates on its 1 1/2-cent tax for all of 2003, just prior to the start of the current oil and natural gas drilling boom.

The city had seen gradual drops in its sales tax totals during the first years of the decade, as several major businesses outside of the energy industry shut down. With the rise in business activity, the city received just under $1 million in sales tax rebates for all of 2006.

One-sixth of Pecos’ 1 1/2-cent share of the state’s 8 1/4-cent sales tax rebate, based on sales made during April, goes to the Pecos Economic Development Corp., for its operations. The PEDC’s June check, based on the latest rebate total, came to $21,861.

Rebate checks also are up sharply in Balmorhea, where the city received a June check for $2,370, a 34.73 percent increase from last year’s $1,759, based on its 1 1/2-cent tax rate. For the year, Balmorhea has gotten $15,041 back from the comptroller’s office, an 80.88 percent increase over last year’s $8,315 total. Toyah’s 1 1/2-cent sales tax netted $501 for the month, up 81.24 percent from last June’s $277 total. Overall, Toyah has gotten $3,848 back this year, up 50.45 percent from the six-month total of $2,557 in 2006.

Tax rebates for the Reeves County Hospital District, based on its 1/2-cent sales tax, were $57,751 for June, up 74.5 percent from last year’s $33,095. The year-to-date tax rebates for the hospital district came to $289,594; up 14.97 percent from the $251,883 it received for the first half of 2006.

Almost all cities in the Permian Basin also reported increases in their tax rebate totals this month, mainly due to the improving energy industry. However, in the Big Bend region, where tourism plays a bigger role in the local economy, the sharp jump in gas prices this spring may have cut down on visitors, as sales tax totals were either lower or virtually unchanged from 2006’s figures.

Midland had the region’s single largest check, for $2.38 million on its 1 1/2-cent sales tax, which was up 4.75 percent from a year ago. Midland’s 2007 rebates are up just under 10.87 percent from a year ago. Odessa’s 1 1/4-cent sales tax brought the city $1.57 million for the month, a 5.69 percent rise from last June’s total. For the first half of 2007, Odessa’s tax rebates are up by just over 14 percent.

For other cities collecting the 1 1/2-cent sales tax, Alpine received a $72,702 check, which was down 10.6 percent from last year. Crane received a check for $47,606 and was up by 42.17 percent from 2006’s total; Lamesa got $78,687 back this month, which was up 14.89 percent; while Seminole received a check for $80,692, which was up 19.43 percent.Among cities collecting a one-cent sales tax Kermit received $40,597 in their check, up 39.69 percent; Wickett received a $9,027 check, up 25.95 percent, Wink received a check for $3,376, down 7.56 percent, and Pyote, received an $2,502 check this month after getting no check from Austin in June of a year ago.

For area cities collecting a 1 3/4-cent sales tax, Andrews received a check for $235,282, an 18.43 percent increase. Marfa got a check for $16,679, which was down 19.78 percent; while Van Horn got a check for $26,861, which was down 4.54 percent from last year.

For cities collecting the maximum two-cent sales tax, Big Spring received $402,149, an increase of 11.1 percent; Fort Stockton received $153,538, up 16.17 percent; Monahans received a check for $107,213, which was up 21.97 percent from last June; Grandfalls got a $2,115 check, up 35.35 percent; and Presidio received $30,993, up 5.85 percent.Statewide, Combs’ office sent out rebate checks totaling $283.7 million, up 4.96 percent from $270.2 million last June. Houston’s check of just over $35 million was up 4.15 percent from last June. Dallas’ check was next, at $16.7 million, which was up 4.92 percent from their rebate check a year ago.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321

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