Pecos - For years, Pecos has been best known for two things - canteloupe and the rodeo. But it's beginning to gain recognition for something else - oil production.
While most areas of West Texas have enjoyed the benefits of oil production for decades, drilling in Reeves County was never economical. But advances in technology have totally changed all that. Now, with a rig count of 34, Reeves County is one of the hottest exploration spots in the entire state. As a result, the city of Pecos is booming.
It's something business owners have been waiting for for decades. Local restaurant owner Alfred Gomez says, "80's and 90's... Pecos really turned into a ghosttown. Things were really bleak there for a while."
But about a year ago, things started changing. Gomez says business at his restaurant, Alfredo's, has grown around 50 percent over the past year.
"We've really had a lot of new people coming in to town and a lot of new trucking companies coming in to help facilitate the oil and gas industry," says Pecos Mayor Venetta Seals.
But all this growth hasn't come without growing pains. Seals says, "We weren't totally prepared for this, and I think the areas where we're really experiencing the most growing pains are with our lack of housing."
But that lack of housing has actually helped local motels like the new Comfort Suites.
"There's a lot of opportunity when it comes to oilfield services, so we thought that we could get good business around here," says Hema Patel, Comfort Suites general manager.
And they were right. Just like the other new motels in town, Comfort Suites is booked solid almost every night.
While this is helping the housing shortage, there's one problem that's harder to solve. Seals says, "Because we have not had a lot of revenue base for several decades, we're now playing catch up to replace water and sewer lines and to repair our streets."
But an increase in population means an increase in profits for the city. So as long as drilling activity in Reeves County continues, the future will look bright for Pecos. Seals adds, "It's a wonderful feeling for the community because we do have more revenue base coming in, and we see a future in getting things repaired and replaced that have needed repairing and replacing for a long time. And now, we see the opportunity to start in on that."
Mayor Seals doesn't know how much the population has grown over the past year. But she says that back in 2009, the city sold 30,000 gallons of water. In 2010, that number more than doubled. And by the end of this year, they expect to sell 100,000 gallons.
So it's no question, Pecos is growing fast.