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Economic Development


Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Workman promoted to VP and WTNB

A longtime employee at West Texas National Bank is now assisting customers in a different capacity.

The bank recent announced the promotion of Emma Workman to Retail Bank Manager and Assistant Vice President. Workman’s 30 years of service at the Bank is a key component of the success West Texas National Bank enjoys in Pecos, according to bank president John Grant.

Not only is she a valued member of the Pecos Bank, Workman has duties and responsibilities throughout the nine-bank network that is West Texas National Bank. “Emma embodies West Texas National Bank's commitment to our communities,” said Grant.

She is a tireless volunteer in her community, and is active in the Lions Club. She is the grandmother of five, and a life­long supporter of the Pecos Eagles, he added.

Grant, Regional President, wants everyone to join him in wishing Workman success in her new position.

Commissioners OK Balmorhea construction bids

Bids totaling over $300,000 for the construction of the Balmorhea Community Center were “tentatively” approved Monday, at the regular Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting.

Lorraine Dailey, architect with Daily, Rabke and Gondeck, was on hand for the meeting to explain the bids that the county received for the construction of the facility.

“We will award each and give each one a separate contract,” said Dailey.

Commissioners had approved the project in February and funds to build it had been approved during last year’s budget meetings.

“A few weeks ago, we got bids for the Balmorhea Center and most were bid by the construction manager, GBC, out of Seminole,” said Dailey, while J&S Contracting was awarded bids on five projects totaling just over $131,000.

“This J&S Contracting is from where,” asked Reeves County Judge Sam Contreras.

“He’s originally from Pecos and is now in Odessa,” said Dailey. Dailey told commissioners that the construction manager had put together a list of the bidders that they could review. She said that they had 18 bid packages and that there were just a few items not covered in the packages.

Total bid awards came to $328,111.

The bid for excavation and dirt work went to J&S Contracting for $9,980; as did their bid for $49,900 for foundation and sidewalks, and their bid for framing, for $49,000; and their bid for cornice and siding, for $25,275.

Other bids approved included, plumbing, TMI Mechanical, $20,994; electrical, Ivy Electric, $33,062; HVAC, TMI Mechanical, $36,100; insulation, drywall and TB&T, J&S Contracting, $22,800; roofing, GBC, $7,700; millwork and cabinetry, GBC, $8,850; trimwork, GBC, $7,000; hardware, GBC, $8,000; painting and caulking, GBC, $13,500; floor covering, GBC, $12,500; ceramic tile walls, GBC, $4,500; fire shutters and millwork, GBC, $4,500; temporary restrooms and cleanup, GBC, $3,750; gutters, downspouts, and splash blocks, GBC, $3,000; HVAC EQ protection, GBC, $2,500 and stone columns, GBC, $5,200.

“The total came in at $311,000, which is still within the guaranteed maximum price, so you still have some contingency left, if something else is needed, and if you don’t use it goes back to the county,” said Dailey. “This includes the construction manager’s fee.”

Dailey said she would prepare the contracts as soon as the court approved the bids.

“We’ll get the contract to you this week, so that they can start construction right away,” said Dailey.

Dailey said that the budgeted amount for the project was $429,800 and that the county still had some contingency left.

“The construction manager already talked to the ones he recommended and they are all ready to start the project,” said Dailey.

Reeves County Auditor Lynn Owens said that it was supposed to be sealed bids, but that most of them didn’t even bring them in sealed. “They just brought them in folders, or on a computer disk or whatever,” said Owens. “It’s up to the court if they want to accept the bids like that.”

Dailey said that this is the third time that they have actually bid this project out. “We need to ignore all the irregularities, because Balmorhea is far away and we really need to build it this time,” she said.

“Can we do that, accept them even though they didn’t bring them in properly?” asked Contreras.

“It’s up to the court if they want to do that,” said Owens.

Dailey told commissioners that they could take it to Reeves County Attorney Alva Alvarez and let her see the bids herself.

“You can approve them and then I can go talk to her and let her know what is happening,” she said. “We can go from there, depending on what she says.”

Dailey said that she didn’t think anybody would protest about the bids, but that it was up to the court.

“I think we should let Ms. Alvarez look at this,” said Contreras.

Dailey said that the group had the right to waive the irregularities, but that it would be a good idea to have the county attorney look at it.

The commissioners agreed to approve the bids and seek input from Alvarez before beginning construction.

“If we re-bid this thing again, I don’t see things turning out any differently,” said Dailey. “We just need to get this thing done.”

Group to aid Pecos River stakeholders sought

The second organizational meeting for a proposed Pecos River watershed coalition has been scheduled for May10 in Iraan, according to a local official with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The meeting for landowners and other stakeholders in the Pecos River watershed is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 10 at the Iraan Civic Center. According to Greg Huber with the Pecos Valley Resource and Conservation District Council in Monahans, the meeting is to the organization of a landowner-led group to address issues in the Pecos River watershed.

“The (Pecos Valley) RC&D council is an eight-county area that includes Reeves, Loving, Ward, Winkler, Ector, Crane, Pecos and Terrell counties,” said Huber, who will moderate the May 10 meeting. Representatives of other governmental groups, including the NRCC, Texas Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are expected to have representatives at the meeting.

The new group would be made up of landowners, land managers, and other interested individuals, with local resource conservation and development (RC&D) councils, and soil and water conservation districts (SWCD’s) providing assistance, according to Huber. Representatives from the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service will also be on hand to answer technical questions and provide input where needed.

“Basically, we want to provide information to share among landholders along the river,” Huber said, adding that the group wants to include other landholders and stakeholders within the Pecos River Basin, which runs from the Odessa area on the east to the Guadalupe Mountains and the Alpine area of the Big Bend on the west.

Effective stewardship practices have kept ranchers along the Pecos River in the ranching and livestock business for several generations, according to Huber. “Many ranchers along this flowing Texas landmark have applied conservation practices that have helped increase water quality and quantity, as well as improve habitat along the river. State and federal funded cost share programs for brush management, grazing deferment and other conscientious ranch management practices have been implemented by a majority of the ranchers in the Pecos River watershed.

“Now these ranchers are considering taking their stewardship ethics one step further and forming a Pecos River stakeholder’s organization,” he said.

A preliminary meeting was held on March 20, 2007 at the Civic Center in Iraan to determine landowner interest in forming such a group.

“Right now, we’re just looking at information sharing. We’d like to meet quarterly or biannually just for information sharing purposes,” Huber said.v He said landowners at the March meeting saw the value in organizing a landowner led group to increase communication among landowners in the affected area about common issues they face. While landowners present were in favor of forming a locally led stakeholder organization for the Pecos River Watershed, they decided that additional input was needed and that an additional meeting should be held.

“We’d like to see it as a very inclusive organization that all individuals could be part of,” Huber said, while downplaying any advocacy role the new group would have at its outset. “When you get into advocacy, you get into areas some individuals are not comfortable with,” he said. “Dr. (Texas Extension Service range expert Charles) Hart spearheaded a lot of the upper river (salt cedar) spraying with the UPCD (Upper Pecos Soil and Water Conservation District), and it got to the point where when Dr. Hart wants to do anything, there’s a lot of suspicion going around.”

Huber said the goal of the Pecos Valley RC&D Council is to have input from decision makers regarding the formation and leadership of such a group. Decision makers are the people that manage the land on a day-to-day basis either through ownership or leasing. The focus of the group should be to create a partnership of federal, state, local entities, led by private landowners, to focus on issues in the Pecos River Watershed.

All interested parties are encouraged to attend this meeting. For more information, contact the Pecos Valley RC&D at (432)943-3888.

Pecos cable subscribers get new stations, better signals

Suddenlink cable subscribers should be noticing a major improvement in the Fox Network signal on their televisions, while also seeing some other changes in channels on their Pecos cable lineup.

Four channels were relocated last week and one out-of-state channel has been replaced with a local one by the company, thanks to access to a satellite signal that allowed Suddenlink to improve the local ABC station’s signal to Pecos customers last year.

Josh Holland, with Suddenlink, said that the changes were made to better serve the customers in this area.

“The broadcast channels were fuzzy and we got an agreement with Turner to get them via satellite,” said Holland. “To do that, we had to move some around because of programming,” he said.

The changes include receiving KPEJ via satellite instead of off a translator station located on Gomez Peak. Local cable viewers have been receiving the area’s Fox station from that antenna since 1994, but KPEJ was forced to remove that signal earlier this year when a new station in Midland-Odessa, KTLE, began broadcasting on Ch. 20.

The satellite signal should prove more reliable than the former system, which was plagued by weather-related problems and outages in beaming the signal 100 miles west from Midland-Odessa to Gomez Peak, and then 40 miles back east to Pecos.

Last year Suddenlink began picking up KMID by satellite, after the loss of a microwave link to pick up KMID forced cable viewers for several years to receive ABC signals from Nashville, New York and Denver.

KTLE, the new Telemundo station for Midland-Odessa, also has been added to the local system via satellite, replacing the former satellite-only Telemundo station. But the signal has been changed from Ch. 39 to Ch. 97.

Also added was the Midland-Odessa PBS station, KPBT, replacing KRMA out of Denver, Colo. However, that station, to be located on Ch. 13, was off the air over the past weekend.

Holland said that it was “a necessary evil,” but that nothing would be dropped and it would provide a clearer signal.

He added that KTLE and another Midland-Odessa Spanish-language station, KUPB (Univision), have been added to the basic channel.

Univision has been moved from Ch. 72 to Ch. 98 on the local system.

“It’s a more economical package and can be viewed by more people,” said Holland.

While KTLE is new, KPBT has been on the air for 20 years, but Pecos has never been able to receive the signal from its antenna between Midland and Odessa until it was added to satellite service late last year.

“That should give us a better lineup,” said Holland. “And these changes are permanent.”

Along with those changes to the cable lineup Channel 39, will now be Court TV, and in the expanded basic, moving from Channel 64. That channel is now the Hallmark Channel, after previously being on Channel 68.

Reeves County jobless report signals mixed

Unemployment in Reeves County dropped three-tenths of a percent in March, according to figures released Friday by the Texas Workforce Commission. But the TWC numbers say that, despite the continuing energy-drilling boom in West Texas, the county’s job numbers and workforce are down from a year ago.

The total number of jobs in Reeves County did show a slight increase last month, as the TWC said the county’s jobless rate fell from 5.7 percent in February to 5.4 percent in March. The new numbers showed the county added six jobs from February, increasing to a total of 3,850, while the number of workers fell by six, to 4,070.

Compared with March of a year ago, the TWC said Reeves County has 14 fewer jobs, while the county’s workforce has dropped by 77 people from 12 months ago, numbers that continue to be at odds with state government reports that show an improving local economy. Reeves County’s sales tax collections have shown double-digit increases over the past 2 1/2 years with the revival of oil and natural gas exploration in the Trans-Pecos region, according to the Texas Comptroller’s office, while hotel-motel bed tax collections also have risen over the past 18 months. The most recent tax rebate check sent to the Town of Pecos City, for just over $100,000, was 50 percent higher than three years ago at the same time the Workforce Commission’s figures show a continuing decline in both workers and jobs locally.

The TWC’s numbers indicated the county has lost 20 percent of its workforce since March of 2002, prior to the shutdown of the Anchor West onion processing plant, while the number of jobs has fallen by 17 percent in the past five years. Over the past two years, after the start of the current revival of the area’s oil and gas production, the Workforce Commission still shows the county has lost 112 jobs and seen its labor force decline by 247 workers.

The drop reported locally is one of the few reported by counties in the Permian Basin and Trans-Pecos region. Other area counties have seen triple-digit increases in their job and workforce numbers over the past year.

Midland County again had the area’s largest workforce and job totals, while its unemployment rate declined in March, from 3.5 percent to 2.9 percent. The county’s workforce was up by 663 from February and its job total increased by 870 in one month, while it’s up by over 2,500 workers and 2,800 jobs from March of 2006. Ector County’s unemployment rate was down from 3.7 to 3.3 percent, with an increase of 159 workers and 412 jobs from February. The county has added just over 2000 workers and nearly 2,500 jobs in the past year.

Andrews County’s rate fell from 3.4 to 3.2 percent last month, as the number of workers dropped by 11 while the jobs was up by nine. Compared to a year ago, the TWC says the county has added over 400 workers and more than 450 jobs. Brewster County’s rate went from 3.3 to 3.0 percent, as the county added 112 workers and 135 jobs. Since last year, the county has also seen an increase of over 400 workers and 400 jobs.

Crane County’s rate was down from 4.4 to 4.0 percent. The county added one worker and seven jobs from February. Compared to last March, Crane County is up by 67 workers and 78 jobs. Culberson County saw its rate go from 3.3 to 3.1 percent, after rising from 3.1 percent in January. The county added eight workers and 12 jobs, and is up by 142 workers and 1146 jobs from last year. Dawson County saw its rate drop from 6.4 to 5.9 percent. The county lost 73 workers and 45 jobs from February, and is down by 50 workers while gaining nine jobs since March of a year ago.

Howard County’s unemployment rate was at 4.6 percent in March, down from 4.9 percent. The county joins Reeves in reporting a drop in its total number of workers, falling by 57 workers and six jobs from the previous month, and is down172 workers and 76 jobs from a year ago. Pecos County’s rate went from 4.8 to 4.2 percent, as the county’s workforce was down 33 workers while the job total increased by three. Since March of last year, the county has seven fewer workers, but has added 56 jobs.

In Ward County, unemployment fell from 4.3 to 3.9 percent, with the number of jobs down by seven while the workforce fell by 29. However, the county is up 160 workers and 200 jobs from a year ago. Winkler County’s unemployment rate dropped from 4.0 to 3.6 percent. The county’s workforce fell by eight people while the number of jobs was up by nine, and over the past year, the county has added16 workers and 42 jobs.

Presidio County’s jobless rate was down from 9.4 to 8.0 percent. The county’s workforce fell by 40, while the number of jobs was up by six. Since last March, the county has lost 17 workers but added 57 jobs. Loving County’s jobless rate went from 11.1 to 11.4 percent, as the nation’s least-populated county lost one worker and one job. The county has 35 workers, 31 who are employed, the TWC said, a drop of two in both categories from a year ago.

Art Festival Awards set for Thursday

The public is invited to attend the 20th Annual Student Art Festival Awards Program and Reception scheduled for 6 p.m., Thursday, at the West of the Pecos Museum.

The exhibit will be up until May 10.

The Student Art Festival is co-sponsored by the “Friends of the Museum.”

Workforce Network moving to OC site

The Pecos Workforce Network will be moving to a new location next week.

The Workforce Network will be located at the Odessa College Technical Training Center, 1000 S. Eddy St. Planned move date is May 1.

WWW Pecos Enterprise

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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