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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
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Monday, November 18, 2002

Commissioners discuss budget, pool repair costs

Staff Writer

PECOS, Mon., Nov. 18, 2002 -- A conservative attitude with no additions to the budget were  being asked of Reeves County employees and department heads, during  a budget hearing held this morning on the third floor of the courthouse.

But commissioners were also told that at least one county recreational facility would need considerably more money than budgeted in order to meet state operating standards.

The hearing, along with adoption of the 2003 county budget and tax rate, were to be topics of discussion during a special Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting scheduled for today.

Throughout the morning, commissioners went over the budget, line-item by line-item in each department, as they sought to maintain the county's current tax rate despite a decline in valuations during the past year.

"Try not to add to this budget and be as conservative as we can be," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.

The proposed 2003 budget is based on a tax rate of 40 cents per $100 valuation, which is the same as last year's rate. An estimated 93 percent collection rate was assessed for the new budget.

The budgets for the different departments were also set essentially the same as last year, under the proposal discussed during the hearing.

"The budget was done on existing salaries," said county auditor Lynn Owens, during a line-item discussion.

Commissioners also were given a report on the North Side Pool during this morning's hearing. The county has budgeted $11,940 for the pool, but Road and Bridges Administrator Russ Salcido said over $60,000 more would need to be spent in order to get the facility back into operation.

"It's been closed for the past two years," said county auditor Lynn Owens. "It needs some renovations to see if it will open up in May."

"We've done a lot of repairs out there, but there is still a lot that needs to be done to bring up to standards," Salcido told commissioners.

He said his department had gotten an estimate on bringing the pool to up to standards at one time and that it was set at $74,000.

"That's the first I hear of this," said Galindo. "What is the 74 for?"

"We actually got two quotes and one was for a little less, but not to bring it up to standard," said Salcido. "It'll be like re-doing the whole pool."

Salcido said that they've done most of the plumbing and corrected other problems out at the pool, which was built 20 years ago, but that it still doesn't meet the state's standards. "As far as being usable, yes, but it doesn't meet the requirements," he said.

"The city had similar problems with their pool and they just seal coated and fixed the leaks," said Galindo. "Could we maybe do something like that?"

"I don't know if it will work on this one," said Salcido.

"The next step is to see what will keep us in compliance and if it needs improvements how much it will cost," said Galindo. "Why don't you look into it and bring it back to the court."

Salcido said that he would contact the appropriate companies to come check out the pool and see exactly how much it would cost to bring it into compliance.

"Then we can find out if we can re-open it next year," said Galindo.

Galindo said that $10-$15,000 could be used for repairs at the pool. "But we can't afford $74,000," he said.

"Operating and being up to standards are two different things," said Salcido. "But I'll check it out," he said.

Jobless rates still affected by Anchor's closing

Staff Writer

PECOS, Mon., Nov. 18, 2002 -- The end of the harvest season in the Pecos area helped lower  the number of workers and the number of jobs in the city and in  Reeves County last month, but did nothing to change the area's  high unemployment rate following the closing of the Anchor Foods plant  at the end of May.

The numbers released by the Texas Workforce Commission on Friday showed the number of workers in Reeves County dropped from 7,905 in September to 6,579 last month, while the number of jobs went down from 6,473 to 5,339, which left the county's jobless rate at 18.8 percent. That's up from September's 18.1 percent, but down from the previous three months, when the jobless rate in the county was over 19 percent.

TransPecos Foods has reopened the former Anchor onion processing facility, and entered into an agreement last month to supply onion rings for Dairy Queen restaurants across Texas. But the workforce at the plant is still well below the 700 level it was at a year ago when McCain Foods announced it would close the facility, which it acquired after buying Anchor Foods in September of 2001.

The 6,579 workers in Reeves County is about average for recent years, based on the TWC's figures for October. Since 1990, the county's workforce has ranged from a low of just over 6,000 workers in 1997 to over 7,200 in October of 1999, and stood at 6,360 a year ago. But the 5,339 jobs within the county is the lowest total for October since at least 1990, based on figures available at the commission's website. Last year, Reeves County had 6,014 people working in October, giving the county a 5.4 percent jobless rate.

The jobless numbers for the Town of Pecos City are even higher. Unemployment for October was 21.2 percent, up from 20.4 percent in September and from 6.3 percent in October of 2001. Despite the Anchor layoffs, the city's labor force is up by over five percent from last year, from 4,950 to 5,229, but the number of jobs in the city has fallen by almost 12 percent, from 4,640 to 4,119.

In September, the city had 6,276 workers and 4,994 employed. As with the county, the drop in workers and jobs is due in part to seasonal employment.

The rise in unemployment for both the city and county came while other areas of the Permian Basin and Trans-Pecos saw their jobless totals drop last month. Midland-Odessa unemployment fell from 6.2 to 5.6 percent, while in the two nearby counties that also had people working at the Anchor plant, Ward and Winkler counties, unemployment also declined. The jobless rate fell from 11.7 to 10.7 percent in Winkler and from 9.3 to 8.2 percent in Ward County.

Last October, unemployment stood at 5.5 percent in Ward County and 5.4 percent in Winkler County. The number of jobs in Ward County was unchanged from September while the labor force declined, while Winkler County gained jobs while its workforce remained unchanged.

Pecos County's jobless rate last month was 6.8 percent, down .1 percent from September, while the jobless rate in Andrews County fell from 5.2 to 4.9 percent. Presidio County continues to have the area's highest unemployment rate, though is also dropped in October, falling from 22.7 to 22.3 percent, according to the TWC's figures.

Hospital plans two seminars about diabetes

PECOS, Mon., Nov. 18, 2002 -- Two separate diabetes seminars will be held, at 6 p.m., Wednesday and next week in the classroom at the Reeves County Hospital.

There will be free admission and many topics covered.

Signs and symptoms of diabetes will be discussed by Dr. Oladele "Dele" Olusanya and nutrition by Christine Little, dietician.

The other seminar will be held on Monday, Nov. 25.

Topics will be: exercises for diabetics and foot care by Steve Cavitt, RCH Physical Therapist and other problems resulting from diabetes (eye, kidneys, sexual function) by Dr. Olusanya

For more information or to register call Reeves County Hospital at 447-3551, ext. 242 or 350.


PECOS, Mon., Nov. 18, 2002 -- High Sun. 74. Low this morning 55. Forecast for tonight: Clear.  Lows around 30. NE winds 5 to 10 mph. Tues.: Mostly sunny. Highs 65 to 70.  South winds 10 to 20 mph. Tues. night: Clear. Lows 30 to 35. Wed.: Sunny.  Highs around 65. Thurs.: Mostly clear. Lows 35 to 40. Highs 65 to 70.


Lola Byrd

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