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1980: Panthers make it three, booming year - Odessa American: 75th Anniversary

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1980: Panthers make it three, booming year

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Posted: Saturday, August 29, 2015 5:00 am

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year marks 75 years of the Odessa American. Through the OA’s anniversary date of Oct. 2, we will count down the last 75 years, with a brief summary of some of the news and events that affected Odessans.

Desegregation: Disputes with the U.S. Justice Department and emotionally charged hearings over desegregation proposals were a major news story throughout 1980. On June 1, Justice Department Attorney Craig Crenshaw ordered ECISD trustees to devise a comprehensive desegregation plan and to set it in motion by the fall academic year.

Three citizen’s groups formed to represent a variety of interests in Odessa. They included CRUCIAL, organized by the Rev. Laurence Hurd and political activist Raul Guerrero, which represented southside residents; the Organization of Concerned Odessans, which advocated a “volunteer-only” plan; and the Anti-Busing Committee.

After the Justice Department rejected several proposals, ECISD trustees unveiled a plan that would convert Ector High into a junior high and Blackshear Junior High into a special and vocational education center, and would reroute westside children to southside schools as well as bus an additional 2,317 southside children to elementary and secondary schools. The plan was universally disliked, and set all three citizen’s groups on the warpath. Southside residents were outraged at the suggestion to close Ector High, and the westside anti-busing group was just as vehement.

Football titles: As the community argued over integration efforts, the Permian Panthers won their third state football title, beating Port Arthur Jefferson, 28-19, before a crowd of 22,000. The area almost had two titles to brag about. Rankin lost a heart-breaker, 7-6 to Valley View, in the state Class A championship game.

Employment: Odessa ranked fourth among the state’s metropolitan areas in employment, with only 4 percent of the workforce without a job. Jobs in mining, manufacturing, real estate and insurance all increased during the year. Mining, which includes the oil industry, gained the most jobs with a rise of 14 percent.

Booming economy: Odessa exceeded $100 million in building permits for the first time, the $100.13 million total dwarfing 1979’s total of $60.94 million. In 1980, 584 new houses were built at a cost of $32.95 million; and permits were issued for 951 apartment units. Major construction projects in the works during the year included a $1.5 million renovation of the three-story Headlee Building, at West Fourth and Tom Green, for use as the new Ector County Library, and $2 million expansion of the county jail.

Local economic development groups induced two major companies to set up operations in the area: Computer component manufacturer Texas Peripherals relocated to Odessa, and Texas Instruments built a plant between Midland and Odessa. Teledyne Wah Chang, an exotic metals manufacturer, bought an option on 600 acres west of Odessa.


  • Wayne Gretzky wins Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP) in rookie season.
  • The Steelers defeat the Rams 31-19 in Super Bowl XIV.
  • Jesse Owens dies of lung cancer.
  • Seve Ballesteros wins the 44th Masters.
  • Stephen King does it again with “The Shining.”
  • Larry Bird is named Rookie of the Year.
  • AC/DC releases “Back in Black.”
  • George Rogers wins Heisman.

Information is drawn from news accounts, archives and other historical records.

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