AUSTIN -The Texas Workforce Commission reported Aug. 21 that Texas added 37,900 new non-agricultural jobs in July.

But, 941,000 able Texas residents were listed as unemployed in July.

In June, 899,800 people were listed as unemployed, so even with the reported gain, that is a net loss of jobs over the month of July. Consequently, the unemployment rate grew from 7.4 percent to 7.9 percent - still less than the national unemployment rate of 9.4 percent.

The Commission also reported that 129,455 unemployed Texas residents will exhaust their unemployment benefits over the five-month period between August 2009 and Jan. 2, 2010.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, in its August regional economic update for Texas, said, “Despite the signs of stabilization, employment continues to decline, though there is evidence of improvement on this front as well. The most recent employment forecast estimates that Texas will see a decline of 2.8 percent in 2009. While not especially encouraging, it is a significant improvement from the previous forecast of minus-3.5 percent.”

Drink, Drive, Go to Jail campaign

The annual “Drink, Drive, Go to Jail” campaign will be observed during the Labor Day holiday.

The campaign is a joint project of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Yellow Cab and local law enforcement agencies.

“The price of a cab ride pales in comparison to the hefty fines, attorney fees and other cost associated with being arrested for driving while intoxicated,” said David Baker of the Texas Highway Patrol.

Convicted first-time DWI offenders can pay a fine of up to $2,000, lose their driver’s license for as long as a year, and serve 180 days in jail. Other costs associated with a drunken driving arrest and conviction can add up to more than $17,000 for bail, legal fees, court appearances, court-ordered classes, vehicle insurance increases and other expenses.

Panel to decide in Keller case

A four-day state district court hearing in the case of Judge Sharon Keller ended Aug. 20 in San Antonio.

Keller, who sits on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, is charged with judicial misconduct for not processing a late hour death row appeal in September 2007.

It’s now up to the 13-member State Commission on Judicial Conduct to deliberate on findings of fact in the case, and rule. Possible outcomes: the dropping of charges, censure, or a recommendation that Keller be removed from office.

Hurricane

preparations under way

Lessons learned because of monumentally disastrous Hurricane Ike last September are still fresh, and as named storms in the Atlantic Ocean rattle westward, generally toward us, Texas is coordinating disaster plans.

On Aug. 18, the Texas Department of Transportation said it, along with other state agencies, volunteer groups and private sector partners, are preparing. Responders are forming logistical support teams and working on evacuation and reentry, emergency traffic control, debris removal plans, and updating phone lists and Web sites.

After 36 hours, charges go up

The amount of time it takes the Texas Historical Commission to produce public information for requestors is going to make a difference shortly.

Employees of the Commission who round up information for inspection or making copies will have to keep track of the time expended for each requestor.

If they go past 36 hours for you, the Commission will assess charges for personnel time. The hours will be calculated over the agency’s fiscal year, which starts Sept. 1 and ends Aug. 31, 2010.

Off-highway vehicle parks coming

The sale of those $8 official state decals that must be displayed on off-highway motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles is bringing in enough revenue to improve and build more park facilities where OHVs can be operated.

Parks & Wildlife plans to spend more than half a million dollars in decal revenue in 2010-2011 for such purposes as land surveys, appraisals, land acquisitions and biological or cultural surveys.

Perry asks for

emergency funds

In an Aug. 18 letter to President Barack Obama, Gov. Rick Perry requested a federal emergency declaration for the state because of the extreme fire hazard from ongoing exceptional drought conditions. Also requested was funding for additional firefighting resources.

Celebrated Texas

 novelist dies

Elmer Kelton, 83, died Aug. 22, 2009, of natural causes. The Crane native wrote more than 60 books, mostly western novels. His work experience included 15 years as a farm and ranch writer for the San Angelo Standard-Times.