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Thursday, January 30, 1997

Sheriff turns up heat

431-pound pot bust third major

assault on dope in 5 weeks

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By Jerome P. Curry
of the News
Two Ward County sheriff's deputies Friday turned up the heat on the West
Texas dope trade.

At 4:52 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 24 deputies Jim Price and Gene Baker
stopped a lurching 1988 Chevrolet pickup 3.2 miles south of Monahans on
Highway 1776, confiscated 431 pounds of marijuana in 22 bales and
arrested the driver. Roseann Marie Holmberg, 46, of Odessa. price had
followed her from just north of the Pecos River where she entered Ward
County from Pecos County.

The retail value of the illicit cargo was estimated at more than $1
million. Holmberg says she was driving to Odessa.

Sheriff Ben Keele cites the interception by his deputies as one more
warning to dopers taking contraband through the region into
metropolitan areas. Smugglers, the sheriff said, "are advised to take a
wide detour around Ward County. We simply don't tolerate this and we
have a prosecutor (new District Attorney Randy Reynolds) who will back

Although the marijuana bales were partially covered with a blue plastic
tarpaulin, it was possible to smell the pungent weed in the clear air of
the desert before dawn Friday. NO drug sniffing dogs, Price and Baker
agreed, were needed to identify the load.

Holmberg was charged with possession with intent to deliver marijuana
more than 50 pounds and is being held in the Ward County Jail in
Monahans in lieu of $200,000 bail bond.

Investigation continues. Chief Sheriff's Deputy Jerry Heflin said
federal authorities had been notified and the seizure might eventually
become a federal case.

It was the third major assault on the dope traffic in Ward County in
five weeks, a period that marks the arrest of more than 15 persons and
the confiscation of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and cash.

On Thursday, Dec. 19, Sheriff's Deputy Tommy Hernandez intercepted a car
on Interstate 20 East of Barstow and confiscated 90 bounds of marijuana.
The driver Larry Michael Jones Jr., 28 of Sylacauga, Ala. - was
arrested. Keele noted at the time that the 90 pounds was the largest
contraband drug seizure in the county in 1996. By New Year's Day,
federal illicit drug transportation charges were filed in the Larry
Michael Jones case.

On Friday, Jan. 3, Monahans Police led a multi-agency assault on Ward
County dope. It was called Operation Streetsweep. Raids that day netted
14 arrests, including a 74-year-old man and his younger female
companion, plus various forms of narcotics, weapons, cash and several
items believed to have been stolen. All the cash and goods were
confiscated under federal and state laws which allow the civil seizure
of goods purchased with the products of criminal enterprise.

In the latest anti-dope assault, Deputy Price reports he had checked a
pasture gate just east of the Pecos River. Keele noted there had been
some reports of cattle straying in the region.

It was then Price saw the 1988 Chevrolet pick-up registered in an Odessa
owner coming up Highway 1776 across the River into Ward County.

"The vehicle was being driven erratically," Price recalls. "It would
speed up and slow down, speed up and slow down. Taillights would flash
bright. I got in behind her and showed down to 25 miles an hour. By this
time, Gene was there."

Says Baker: "At no time did she get more than 40 miles an hour."

Price: "You could smell the product."

Then they pulled over the pickup. There was no resistance.

No later than 5:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 24. Roseann Marie Holmberg had
been booked into the Ward County Jail.

County endorses $275,000 arena renovation

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By Steve Patterson
of the News
The Ward County Commissioners Court gave unanimous approval to a
resolution of support for the $275,000 renovation of the arena and
animal stalls at the county's fairgrounds.

Pearson Cooper of the Monahans Quarter Horse Association made a brief
presentation to the commissioners on why the renovations are needed.

Cooper emphasized that the fairgrounds are important to tourism since
they are used by the annual quarter horse show, the Butterfield-Overland
Stagecoach Wagon Fest, the Way Out West Bull Rides and the American
Junior Rodeo Association.

According to copper, the four groups are making a concerted effort to
obtain funding for the work through private foundation grants.

"We have already identified about 20 possible sources for funding,"
Cooper told the court. He added that the commission's resolution of
support would be used in the grant application.

By upgrading the facilities, he said, the fairgrounds may gain
additional activities. he also said tourism is becoming the main
industry of Monahans and the fairgrounds play a central role in luring

The Butterfield festival and the quarter horse show will be overlapping
this summer, meaning that larger than usual crowds are expected.

Oil and gas dominates county's top tax payers

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Minerals, oil and gas, although the oil patch reportedly is in recession
continue to dominate the tax rolls in Ward County in 1996, according to
statistics released by County assessor Dolores Fine.

The total assessed valuation of the county is about $600 million.

Chevron USA Inc. leads all tax payers with mineral properties valued,
according to the report, at $46,634,820.

The oil and gas roll eclipses all other categories in Ward County on
values on which the ad valorem taxes are based. For example, just behind
Chevron USA and Texas Utilities are:

Nynex Co. $38,666,670, Mobil Producing TExas and New Mexico INc.,
$37,182,930; Phillip Morris, $31,252,590; Texaco, $20,192,600; Shell
Western E&P, $19,569,000; Exxon Corp. Minerals, $18,160,250.

According to the data, the leaders in property values on the real estate
rolls were the University of Texas with property valued at $2,361,470
and Sealy & Smith FDN, $1,289,960. Rounding out the top five in real
estate values were First State Bank of Monahans, $1,204,010; Sunwest NOP
INc., $949,550; and First National Bank of Monahans, $855,960.

Frank E. Dotson, who owns investment properties, was the only individual
listed in the Top 10 of the real estate roll.

Dotson, according to the report, has real estate valued at $712,770,
just behind Texas Utilities who lists real estate with an assessed value
of $750,260.

On the commercial value rolls, First State Bank with values of
$1,000,590 and Sunwest NOP Inc. will values of $949,550 were the
leaders. The rest of the top five; Texville Associates, $706,640;
Annette Bloch (ALCO), $698,940, and First National, $640,640.

Halliburton Co. and Dow Chemical Co. were the leaders in the industrial
properties values. Halliburton had industrial assets valued at $421,420;
Dow, $326,080. The rest of the commercial Top Five were Weatherford U.S.
Inc., with industrial properties valued at $212,740; Southwest Royalties
Inc., $207,620 and Brantly Trucking, $206,430.
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Copyright 1997 by Ward Newspapers, Inc.
107 W. Second St., Monahans TX 79756
Phone 915-943-4313, FAX 915-943-4314

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