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1986: The bust is really felt; UTPB funding in jeopardy - Odessa American: 75th Anniversary

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1986: The bust is really felt; UTPB funding in jeopardy

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Posted: Friday, September 4, 2015 6:00 am

Oil prices plummet: Oil prices plunged to less than $10 per barrel in April, barely four months after OPEC announced it was lifting its self-imposed limits on production.

The Permian Basin felt the impact almost immediately. By February, some drillers were taking jobs they knew they would lose money on. Bob Parker Jr., president of Parker Drilling Company, advised panicky Midland oilmen that the best way to survive the oil crunch was to move their offices to the first floor “so it won’t hurt so much when you jump.” While morbid humor may have helped keep the situation in perspective, the national rig count dropped to less than 700, the lowest number recorded since Hughes Tool Company began tracking the figure in 1940. Less than a quarter of the country’s 4,500 rigs were operational.

Jobless oil workers swamped the Texas Employment Commission office. By the end of February the office had abandoned processing individual complaints and was handling groups of as many as 50 at a time. In June, unemployment levels had reached 19.6 percent. The Texas Business Forecasts study commissioned by the TEC indicated that Odessa stood to lose between 2,000 and 5,000 jobs in the following year, even if oil recovered to $18 a barrel.

>> UTPB funding in jeopardy: UTPB fought for its life in 1986. The previous year, the institution had undergone the trauma of being excised from the state budget by a legislative committee, but funding eventually was restored. After UTPB received funding that year, Odessa and Midland supporters organized to forestall further attempts to shut down the upper-level two-year school. On June 13, 1986, 200 UTPB boosters appeared before the Governor’s Select Committee on Higher Education in Austin. Subsequently, the committee, which was formed by the 1985 Legislature to review public education, unanimously recommended UTPB remain open.

>> Rain: Seven inches of rain fell in two days in September, causing flooding that prompted the Red Cross to set up an emergency evacuation center at the National Guard Armory on Andrews Highway. The downpour forced Mayor Don Carter and County Judge Jan Fischer to designate the vicinity south of 57th Street to Yukon Road, and Andrews Highway east to Ector Avenue as a disaster area. An October hurricane that stalled off the Gulf Coast produced more rain and caused water to rise as much as five feet at the intersection of First Street and North Hancock Avenue. The National Weather Service reported 32.13 inches of rain during 1986, surpassing a 1941 mark of 30.33 inches.

HEADLINES:

>> A victim of the economic downturn, Permian Bank was declared insolvent and closed its doors on July 18. It had assets of $38.8 million. It was a record year for bank closures, with 26 banks failing in Texas and 138 nationwide.

>> On April 14 the United States launched an air strike against Libya in retaliation for its involvement in terrorism.

>> Warren Burger retires as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on July 10.

He is replaced by Justice William Rehnquist.

>> On Jan. 28, the Space Shuttle Challenger explodes on takeoff at Cape Canaveral, killing its seven astronauts, including New Hampshire teacher Christa McAuliffe, the first private citizen chosen for a mission.

>> The Ford Festiva and Aerostar are first produced.

>> Super Bowl XX ends with the Bears on top of the Patriots 46-10.

>> Notable deaths in 1986 included television entertainer and pioneer Desi Arnez (69), musician Benny Goodman (77), actor Cary Grant (82), artist Georgia O’Keeffe (98) and singer Kate Smith (79).

>> Jack Nicklaus wins his sixth Masters.

>> Michael Jordan scores 63 points against the Boston Celtics.

>> Geraldo Rivera opens Al Capone’s safe on live television.

>> The Oprah Winfrey Show begins.

>> Stephen King scares us again with “It.”

>> Iron Mike Tyson becomes the youngest heavyweight champ in history.

>> Vinny Testaverde wins the Heisman. Information is drawn from news accounts, archives and other historical records.

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