Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Friday, January 21, 2000
County gets doubledose of bad job news
Brunswick to shut plant in Balmorhea
By ROSIE FLORES
BALMORHEA, Jan. 21, 2000 -- Employees at the Brunswick Roadmaster warehouse
in Balmorhea are sad and depressed, after hearing the bad news that the
plant will cease its maquildora plant operations in Balmorhea and Ojinaga,
Mex., later this year.
The plants are being closed by the company in favor of lower-cost bicycle
manufacturing operations in China.
"As soon as I received the newsletter from Brunswick Corporation, I
held a meeting with all the employees and made them aware of what was going
on," said Distribution Manager for the company, Armando Mondragon.
The plant employed 27 people in the Balmorhea area, and four other workers
from Pecos. "We had 31 employees during the holiday, some of them were
temps and we had to let them go after the holidays, since it slowed down,"
The company is going to be buying bicycles in China and not produce
them in the United States and Mexico, according to Mondragon.
"They'll be shutting down two plants in Ojinaga, Mexico, which employs
about 800 people, and if Ojinaga shuts down, we will too," he said.
The plant in Illinois, also owned by the Brunswick Corporation, will
be operated until April. It will be distributing bicycles, but will not
be involved in the manufacturing operations. "They have 300 and something
people at that plant," said Mondragon.
The Balmorhea and Ojinaga plants were opened just five years ago, and
were among of the first maquiladora plants operating in the area. West
Texas Utilities, which helped attract the company to the area, said at
the time Balmorhea was chosen as the site for the distribution warehouse
due to its access to Interstate 10.
In Mexico, operations are expected to wind down in June and the same
will be considered here, according to Mondragon. "The distribution will
remain open in Fairfield, Calif., and that's going to be operated, and
will be receiving bikes from China."
Mondragon was offered the opportunity to move with the company to California,
but opted to turn them down. "My wife and I have a lot of friends and family
here and this is where we want to live," he said. "So, I decided to pass
on that, there's just too many close ties here."
Mondragon stated that the moral at the Balmorhea plant is really low
right now and everyone is feeling down. "And the bad part is we still have
to operate as if nothing is wrong."
"I'm just hoping all the employees will stick with me to the end. I
haven't had anyone leave yet, like in Ojinaga," he said.
Some employees at the plants in Ojinaga have already quit to look for
other jobs. "Some of them have already left, knowing they'll be competing
for jobs," said Mondragon. "There's another plant there, Algiers and the
employees are already applying there."
"The morale here is really down, but I'm hoping we can all work together
until the end," he said.
Mondragon said that even though they've received bad news, they are
already getting things together to move forward.
"We're getting an employee profile for any other corporation and investors,
that might want to look at the facility," he said. "We want to see if any
other company wants to buy the plant in both Mexico and in Balmorhea."
Mondragon stated that keeping only one of these facilities open is not
feasible, which is why they would have to buy both plants. "Just keeping
one of them open wouldn't work, that's why they're just keeping the facilities
in Fairfield and Illinois."
The Brunswick Corporation sent out a newsletter, which said it planned
simplify the business of its bicycle division. It said it would streamline
its product offerings to provide for more effective supply chain management
which would allow it to focus on building the Mongoose brand. As part of
this new approach, the company said it is planning to cease manufacturing
bicycles in North America.
Commenting on the decision, Brunswick Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Peter N. Larson said, "Since 1997, we have aggressively marketed and expanded
distribution of our Mongoose brand, leading to double-digit top-line growth
for the division in each of the past three years. Over this same period,
per unit manufacturing costs have been reduced by more than 30 percent.
These actions were successful in building awareness, increasing market
share and helping to offset the impact of continuous pricing pressures
from Asian imports."
The company said that a combination of excess Asian bike manufacturing
capacity and low U.S. import duties relative to other countries has made
the United States an attractive market for imported bikes. In the past
three years, Chinese imports alone have increased 175 percent.
"The availability of low-cost imports also affects retail prices, which
have declined by more than 35 percent since 1997, with much of that decline
coming in the last six months. As a result, we are no longer able to make
an adequate profit manufacturing bicycles in North America," said Larson.
The company said that over the next six months it plans to phase out
of manufacturing bicycles in the United States and Mexico and to source
bikes from Asia. In addition the company will dispose of its wagons, sleds
and bicycle parts and accessories businesses. As a result, the company
will record approximately $185 million of charges related to its bicycle
These charges include approximately $134 million to write down the goodwill
associated with the 1996 acquisition of Roadmaster as continued pricing
pressure has substantially reduced the expected profitability of this business.
Also included is an approximately $27 million inventory write-down resulting
from the previously mentioned price declines and the effect of the planned
phase out of manufacturing.
The remainder of the charge consists of asset write-downs, lease termination
expense and estimated severance. Approximately $178 million of charges
will be recorded in the fourth quarter of 1999, with the balance recorded
in the first quarter of 2000 to coincide with the implementation of the
"We believe this new structure will allow us to reduce costs, to offer
a more focused product line and to more effectively compete with Asian
imports. Further, an orderly transition will enable us to continue to provide
our customers with the biking products and service they have come to expect
from Brunswick's leadership," said Larson.
The company said that its bicycle division workforce would be reduced
by 80 percent. Implementation of these plans would affect approximately
750 employees at its two plants in Mexico and up to 325 employees at its
plant in Olney, Ill.
Aside from its lines of bicycles, Lake Forest, Ill.-based Brunswick
also produces Zebco and Quantum fishing equipment: Igloo; American Camper
and Remington camping gear; Igloo coolers and ice chests, Brunswick bowling
centers, equipment and consumer products; Brunswick billiards tables; Life
Fitness, Hammer Strength and ParaBody fitness equipment; Sea Ray, Bayliner
and Maxum pleasure boats; Baja high-performance boats; Boston Whaler and
Trophy offshore fishing boats; Mercury and Mariner outboard engines and
Mercury MerCruiser sterndrives and inboard engines.
Unemployment up after mine closing
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, Jan. 21, 2000 - The final shutdown of the Freeport McMoRan sulphur
mine northwest of Pecos helped increase Reeves County's unemployment rate
by nearly two percent in December, according to figures released today
by the Texas Workforce Commission.
The county's jobless rate, which already stood at 10.5 percent in November,
jumped to 12.3 percent last month, despite a drop of 100 people in the
local labor force. The number of people without jobs in the county climbed
from 646 to 751 at the same time most other area counties were showing
jobless rates that were either lower or unchanged from November's figures.
Freeport announced in June of 1998 it would close the sulphur mine,
located in northeastern Culberson County. However, work there continued
at a decreased level through this past fall, when mining activity finally
"That was one of the reasons," for the unemployment increase, said Joe
Garcia, Workforce Development Specialist for the TWC in Pecos. "They closed
Freeport down at the end of November, and that would have a little impact
for the area."
He said those laid off would show up on last month's jobless figures.
"We probably picked them up in December," Garcia said, while adding, "Most
of the guys who have come up here are going into retraining. That's a positive
output in that they're staying in the area. Hopefully, they'll be retrained
in a different area."
The jobless numbers for Pecos were even worse. The city's unemployment
rate went from 12 to 14 percent, the highest it's been since June, when
the jobless level stood at 15.7 percent. The TWC said there were 4,808
people in Pecos' workforce, with 672 unemployed. In November, the workforce
stood at 4,876, but only 584 people were without jobs.
The high unemployment rates earlier this year were due in part to the
depressed oil prices that affected virtually every town in the Permian
Basin. Now, with the price of oil hovering around $27 for most of December,
other cities have seen their jobless rates drop back into the 5- to 7-percent
Ector County's December rate of 7.2 percent was down by one-tenth of
a percent from November, while Midland County had a 5.2 percent jobless
rate last month, down one-half percent from the previous month. Andrews
County, which saw joblessness in its oil-based economy climb as high as
13.8 percent earlier this year, was at 6.6 percent last month a .6 drop
Pecos County gained jobs last month, while its unemployment level dropped
from 7 to 6.9 percent. Ward County's rate, which bumped up in November
from 8 to 8.4 percent, was back down to 8 percent in December, and in Winkler
County, where the jobless rate stood at 18.8 percent last February, unemployment
was down to 7 percent in December. The county has added 100 jobs since
that high point in February, while losing 340 people from its labor force.
Overall in the Permian Basin, the jobless rate stood at 6.3 percent
last month. Reeves County's jobless rate was ahead of only Presidio County,
where December jobless rates jumped from 26.3 to 28.6 percent. Presidio's
unemployment rate dipped below 26 percent only once during 1999.
Work for county helps bid for commissioner
PECOS, Jan. 21, 2000 - Anita Baeza, who has been involved in Reeves County
government for the past few years, is hoping to add to her role by seeking
the nomination for Commissioner Precinct 1 in the upcoming Democratic Primary
Election to be held March 14.
"Over the last three years, I have dedicated myself to serving the people
of Reeves County," said Baeza. "As an Administrative Assistant in the County
Judge's Office, I have met and assisted many people with a multitude of
issues and concerns. My job is to help people resolve their problems."
"As your county commissioner, I will do nothing less. I will be a full-time
commissioner with regular office hours and at your service seven days a
week," she said.
Baeza, who is running against incumbent Felipe Arredondo and challengers
Jesse Baeza and Roy Pena for the Democratic nomination, said she believes
we can make Pecos and Reeves County a better place to live.
"For years, I have encouraged local officials to run for office. Now,
after seeing and understanding the functions of the Commissioners Court,
I know that I can be instrumental in improving the conditions of Precinct
1 and Reeves County," said Baeza.
"There are so many needs in Precinct 1, such as, housing, neighborhood
parks, infrastructure, senior services, juvenile delinquency, jobs, community
development, to name a few," she said. "But, the most important aspects
of being a commissioner are serving your constituents and properly managing
the budget of the county."
"As a former small business owner, I know what it takes to operate a
business in Pecos," Baeza said. "When the economy slumps, you have to tighten
your belt to make ends meet."
Over the last few years, Reeves County has made some very good investments,
like the expansion of the Detention Center and the establishment of a Community
Recreation Center, according to Baeza. "But, in order to maintain those
investments, Reeves County must be operated as a business," said Baeza.
"As a businesswoman and investor in this community, I know how to manage
a budget and budget to make future investments."
"To me, serving as county commissioner is all about the future investments
of our community," she said. "Pecos will become what we make it. Therefore,
the future of our community is in our hands."
"If given the opportunity to serve as your county commissioner, I will
support law enforcement to rid our community of drugs and drug dealers,"
"Secondly, I will develop a plan to build a major community park on
the eastside of town in Precinct 1. Thirdly, I will continue to help my
constituents and people of Reeves County resolve any problems they may
be encountering. And lastly, as a businesswoman and taxpayer, I will work
hard to streamline county government and eliminate wasteful spending,"
Drug task force grant on county's agenda
PECOS, Jan. 21, 2000 - A Trans-Pecos Drug Task Force Grant Application
FY 2000-2001 and a cooperative agreement and resolution for the force will
be topics of discussion at the regular Reeves County Commissioners Court
The group will meet at 9:45 a.m., Monday, on the third floor of the
courthouse. The public is invited to attend.
Commissioners will also discuss the purchase of a patrol car for the
Reeves County Sheriff's Office; Knights of Columbus request for golf tournament
approval; county on-site sewage facilities regulations amendment and Pitney
Bowes Contract for the Reeves County Detention Center.
In other business, commissioners will discuss Banes General Contractors
Request for Payment Number 9 for the RCDC expansion project and KTTK, Inc.
Software System Contract and Frank X. Spencer and Associates request for
payment Invoice No. 5.
Commissioners will also discuss and approve:
· New hires for Primary Early Voting Election FY 2000.
· Deputation and Oath for Debbie Millan.
· Reports from various departments.
· Budget amendments and line-item transfers.
· Personnel and salary changes (RCDC, Road and Bridge, Task Force,
· Minutes from previous meetings.
· Semi-monthly bills.
· Spread on Minutes: Notice of over-axle over gross weight permit
and contracts for Guadalupe Regalado and Michael LeCuyer.
AUSTIN (AP) _ Results of the Cash 5 drawing Thursday night: Winning numbers
drawn: 24-25-26-34-37. Number matching five of five: 0. Matching four of
five: 194. Prize: $1,040.
AUSTIN (AP) _ The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Thursday by the Texas
Lottery, in order: 4-4-8 (four-four-eight)
Manuel Prieto Machuca, 89, of Balmorhea, died Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2000,
at Memorial Hospital and Medical Center in Midland.
A rosary will be held at 8 p.m., today at Christ the King Catholic Church
Mass is scheduled for 11 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 22, at Christ the King
Catholic Church in Balmorhea, with burial in the Saragosa Cemetery.
He was born in Candelaria, was a lifelong resident of Balmorhea, a retired
farmer and a Catholic.
Survivors include two sons, Genaro Machuca of Las Cruces, N.M. and Raul
Machuca of Alpine; one daughter, Evangelina Morales of Balmorhea; two brothers,
Valente Machuca of Odessa, Carlos Nichols of Pecos; one sister, Consuelo
Valdez of California; eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Petronila G. Munoz, 96, died Thursday, Jan. 20, 2000, at Pecos Nursing
A rosary will be held at 7 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 23, at the Pecos Funeral
Mass is scheduled for 2 p.m., Monday, at Santa Rosa Catholic Church
with burial in Greenwood Cemetery.
She was born June 29, 1902, in Shafter, was a Catholic and a homemaker.
Survivors include three sons, Marcelino Munoz of Barstow, Ramon Munoz
of Pecos, Isabel Munoz of Fontana, Calif.; one daughter, Tanis M. Chavez
of Pacoima, Calif.; 24 grandchildren; 49 great-grandchildren and 15 great-great
Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
High Thursday 62. Low this morning 32. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy.
Low around 40. Southwest 5-15 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High in the
mid 70s. West wind 10-20 mph. Saturday night: Partly cloudy. Low 30-35.
Sunday: Partly cloudy. High 60-65.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, 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 2000 by Pecos Enterprise