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1987: Meet Baby Jessica, economy improves - Odessa American: 75th Anniversary

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1987: Meet Baby Jessica, economy improves

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Posted: Saturday, September 5, 2015 6:00 am

Baby Jessica: In a story followed around the world, a Midland infant, Jessica McClure, fell into an abandoned water well and was trapped for 59 hours. The rescue attempt united the Permian Basin. A worldwide television audience watched as workers, who normally drilled oil wells, dug a shaft beneath the baby. On Oct. 22 "Baby Jessica" emerged from the well in reasonably good condition, considering her ordeal.

Economy improves: Though it was not a banner year, oil prices stabilized at about $18 a barrel and fostered a mood of mild optimism in a town dependent on the fortune of the oil industry for its financial survival. A recovery that began in May brought back about 700 jobs in Odessa, and helped to reduce an unemployment rate of 14.9 percent in January to 7.8 percent by December. Nevertheless, continuing financial wariness in Odessa may have contributed to the defeat of an $18 million bond issue for the renovation of Ector County Coliseum. The issue failed on Dec. 1, by a vote of 7,160 to 5,085.

    Pipeline fire: On April 18, a crude oil pipeline burst into flames, destroying nine mobile homes and two cars. The fire started under a mobile home on Andrews Highway. In an accident report filed Aug. 6, Larry Felio, regional pipeline safety engineer for the Texas Railroad Commission, stated that gases within the crude corroded and weakened the 10-inch 60-year-old pipe. When the line split, it spewed oil into the fire, fueling the blaze and causing dense black smoke that choked firefighters and bystanders.

    Lawsuit: On Dec. 7 police sergeant Terry Tyree filed an $11 million lawsuit against Ector County Attorney Gary Garrison and former bail bondsmen Charles "Red Klinger." The suit alleged that Garrison and Klinger slandered Tyree and attempted to discredit him for his role in a federal gambling investigation. Tyree sought $11 million in damages for mental anguish inflicted by the accused, who according to the plaintiff, had aroused concerns for the sergeant's continued employment, safety and financial security. In December 1986, Garrison disclosed that he had evidence of police corruption extending to the department's highest levels. A county grand jury wrapped up an investigation into the allegations in April of 1987 without seeking indictments.

    Headlines:

    >>Permian High advanced to the state semifinals for the 11th time in the school's history, but lost to Plano. 29-21.

    >>On Aug. 16 a Northwest Airlines passenger jet crashes on takeoff in Detroit, killing 156 passengers.

    >>On Oct. 1, a 6.1 earthquake hits Los Angeles, causing eight deaths.

>>Nirvana is founded.

>>Michael Jordan still dazzles with an average 32.5 points a game and the league MVP award.

 >>Lance Armstrong becomes a professional athlete competing in triathlons

>>Super Bowl XXI ends with the Giants defeating the Broncos 39-20.

>>Steve Wozniak leaves Apple.

>>Andy Warhol dies.

>>The movie “Platoon” wins best picture at the 59th Academy Awards.

>>Ronald Reagan makes his famous speech at the Berlin Wall.

>>The movie “Dirty Dancing” reminds us that nobody puts Baby in a corner.

>>Tim Brown wins the Heisman.

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

Odessa, TX

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