The MONAHANS NEWS
Weekly Newspaper for Ward County
May 29, 1997
KLBO collects for tornado victims
Skip to next story
Monahans Radio Station KLBO is collecting goods for victims of the
tornadoes that ravaged central Texas on Tuesday, according to a
statement from station management.
"Especially needed are water, food and hygiene items," says the
communique from the radio station.
There is a time factor in the collections because of the urgent need for
the supplies in the area North of Austin.
Authorities report 32 confirmed dead from the storms. Sixteen of those
died when twisters leveled a subdivision at Jarrell north of Austin.
Citizens of Ward County are asked to bring what they can to the radio
station between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 29.
If you arrive after the station's doors close at 6 p.m., just leave the
items at the door, says the radio statement.
Trucks are scheduled to be in Monahans on Friday to take the goods to
central Texas for distribution.Radio KLBO is at 1706 East Sealy Avenue (Old Highway 80).
Woodward top senior grad
Skip to next story
Honor graduate awards were presented to Adrienne Denise Woodward,
valedictorian, and Amy Michelle Morgan, salutatorian, at the annual
awards assembly on Thursday, May 22, at Monahans High School.
Woodward has a four-year average of 5.21190. Morgan's four-yer average
Woodward received a valedictorian trophy and plaque and a scholarship
provided by the Texas State Legislature. She also received a scholarship
certificate from the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas.
Morgan received a salutatorian triophy and plaque.
Class Scholarship Awards
Scholalrship medals earned by the boy and girl in each of the high
school classes with the highest scholastic average for the current
school year go to the following students.
Freshmen: Bradley Smith, grade point of 4.85 and Jessamy Parras, 5.20.
Sophomores: Ryan Cosby, 4.86 and Jeanette Franco, 5.07.
Juniors: Eric Ray, 4.9 and Velma Sandoval, 5.07.
Seniors: Garrett Williams, 4.88 and Adrienne Woodward, 5.10.
Most Outstanding Senior Boy and Girl
The award triophies presented to the "Most Outstanding" boy and girl in
the Senior Class go to Tyler Alan Lee and Amy Michelle Morgan.
Academic awards are presented to students who have maintained grade
averages of 90 or above in each academic subject for the first five
six-weeks of the school year at Monahans High School and who have been
approved as good citizens.
The following students received the awards:
Freshmen: Erin Armstrong, Kerri Beckham, Brandon Bicknell, Jamie
Butters, Luis Canava, Kyle Clemmer, Audrey Cox, Andria Diez, Lindsay
Fredericks, Sarah Humble, Brandon Lee, Tiffany Looney, Marina Martin,
Monica Martinez, Jessamy Parras, Kimberly Peacock, Brandi Smith, Allison
Stradley, Joshua Swarb, Mandy Wilson, Katy Woodall.
Sophomores:Jolene Balderrama, Charles Branham, Ryan Cosby, Felicha
Delao, Jeanette Franco, Lanny Hayes, Gabriel Ontiveros, Eric Passmore,
Amber Rogers, Nathan ROgers, Julie Rowe, Amanda Sanchez, Jennifer Smith,
Jarod Thomas, Elizabeth Trevizo, Ada Velasquez, Joshua Willson.
Juniors: Samantha Bouquin, Laura Ann Bryant, Melanie Covensky, Candace
Eubanks, Angela Flores, Kacey Huckabee, Whitney Lewallen, Stephanie
Mullins, Jaime Muniz, Mark Murray, Eric Ray, Jeremy Sancez, Velma
Sandoval, Annee Tucker, Justin Yates.
Seniors: Sarah Carrell, Chad Creel, Jana Denman, Jennifer Dutton, Joseph
Enriquez, Wesley Hamilton, Leah Johnson, Tyler Lee, Maritza Loera,
Crystal Looney, Sandra Meeks, Amy Morgan, Lily Prieto, Jennifer
Robinson, Jessica Tuxhorn, Garett Williams, James Willson, Adrienne
Local and College Awards
Odessa College Presidential Scholarship ($300 per semester), Sarah
First Monahans American Legion Post 473 Scholarship ($3,500), Garrett
Rita Luckie Memorial Scholarship, Tonya Hix and Brandy Walker.
Dan Gibbs Music Scholarship, Jorge Montes and Wesley Hamilton.
Monahans Educational Support Association, Joseph Enriquez and Sandra
Harold G. Massey Memorial Scholarship, Martha Heald.
Butterfield Overland Stagecoach and Wagon Festival, Jamie Willson.
Rotary Scholarship, Tyler Lee and Jeremy Ornelas.
Richard King Farmers Insurance, Amy Morgan.
University of Texas Ex-Students Association, Joseph Enriquez.
Monahans Masonic Lodge, Colby Carter.
Delta Kappa Gamma, Chad Creel.
Texas A&M Former Students Scholarship, Sandra Meeks and Jennifer
Association of Texas Professional Educators, Lina Navarrete and Dori
St. John's Knights of Columbus, Colby Carter, Jeannette Carrasco, Eric
Fuents, Antonio Santiago, Joseph Enriquez.
Gerald Stava Insurance Agency, Holly Powell.
Clara Edwards Honorary Scholarship, David Stava.
Weaver-Johnson Memorial Scholarships, Amy Enriquez and Leah Johnson.
J.P. McNemee (McKay's) Scholarship, Kaci Clemmer.
Lowe's Marketplace Scholarship, Kara Teague.
Monahans Classroom Teacher's Associataion, Lina Navarrete.
United States Army GI Bill, Fanny Arsiago, Amber Cunningham, Sandra
Monahans High School FTA Mary Ethel Adams Scholarship, Jana Denman and
Midland College High School Counselor's Scholarship ($200 scholarship
for two semesters), Mandie Balteraz.
K-Bob's Scholarship, Tyler Lee.
Business Professionals of America Scholarship, Lupe Marquez.
Academic Excellence Scholarship at Stephen F. Austin University, Kaci
West Texas A&M University Residence Hall Scholarship and College of
Business Scholarship ($1000 each), Adrienne Woodward.
West Texas A&M University C.J. Davison Scholarship ($200), Jessica Ochoa.
South Plains College John L. and Vergie Belle Smallwood Scholars ($500
for four semesters), Crystal Looney.
McMurry Vocal Scholarship (1,000), McMurry Choral Scholarship ($1,000),
Methodist Church Scholarship ($1,000), Randie Brannon.
Vernon Junior College ($8,000) Sara Carrell.
Jones King Scholarship ($200), Colby Carter.
Sul Ross State University Band ($200), Eric Fuentes.
Howard Payne Presidential Scholarship ($16,000), Howard Payne
Instrumental Music Scholarship ($8,000), Baptist All-State Music
Scholarship ($1,000), Baylor University Academic Scholarship ($4,000),
Howard Payne 15 hours credit for ACT courses, Wesley Hamilton.
Hillsboro College ($700), Tonya Hix.
Angelo State Carr Academic Scholarship ($2,500 a year), Leah Johnson.
Todd Welch Scholarship ($500), Tyler Lee.
Howard Payne Music Scholarship ($6,400), Christis Leadership Scholarship
($1,00o), Wayland Baptist Music Scholarship ($6,000), Wayland Baptist
All-State ($1,000), First Baptist Church Ed Hammond Scholarship ($500),
Edmonds Educational Trust Scholarship ($1,000), Sandra Meeks.
Hardin-Simmons Music Scholarship ($8,000) Jorge Montes.
Angelo State Carr Scholarship ($1,500), Miss Monahans ($500), Amy Morgan.
Hardin-Simmons Academic Scholarship ($2,000), Hardin-Simmons Academic
Scholarship ($8,000), Jessica Ochoa.
Hardin-Simmons Dean's Scholarship ($750 a year), Holly Powell.
Valero Energy Corporation ($2,000 a year) Jennifer Robinson.
Angelo State Carr Academic Scholarship ($1,500), Zach Stevenson.
Weatherford College Basketball Scholarship ($10,000).
Miss Monahans ($1,000), Jena Tisdale.
Howard Payne Drama Scholarship ($300), Jessica Tuxhorn.
Eastern New Mexico Athletic Scholarship ($40,000) Garett Williams.
Bud Rollins Scholarship ($300) Jamie Willson.
Sandhills Quarter Horse Show ($1,000) Adrienne Woodward
Bausch & Lomb Honary Science Award, Scott Lackey.
Hugh O'Brian Youth Foundation Leadership Award, Lanny Hayes.
Association of Texas Small School Band Award - Jamie Butters, Audrey
Cox, Monique Vianes.
Academic and Athletic Excellence Award, Tyler Alan Lee and Leah Beth
Marine Corps Scholastic Excellence Award, Amy Morgan.
Marine Corps Distinguished Athlete Award, Garett Williams and Sandra
Marine Corps Semer Fidelis Award, Jorge Montex.
The 1998 Monahans High School senior class received $226,250 in
scholarship and financial aid money. Eighty-eight percent plan to attend
either a two-year or a four-year college. An additional five percent of
the class will continue their education in vocatinald and technical
schools. Seven percent plan to enter branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Top 10 percent of the Senior Class 1997
Following are students who are in the top 10 percent of their class and
participated in a University Interscholastic League event during high
Chad William Creel, Jennifer Suzanne Durron, Wesley Harrison Hamilton,
Leah Beth Johnson, Tyler Alan Lee, Martiza Loera, Crystal Dawn looney,
Sandra Kathryn Meeks, Amy Michelle Morgan, Kara Brianne Teague, Garret
Wyn Williams, James AThomas Willson, Matthew Evan Wittie, Adrienne
Presidential Academic Fitness Award
To earn this award, students must have a cumulative average of 3.0 or
better and score in the 80th percentile on the SAT, ACT or other
national academic tests.
Kevin Douthit, Jennifer Dutton, Joseph Enriquez, Wesley Hamilton, Leah
Johnson, Crystal Looney, Sandra Meeks, Jessica Ochoa, Jennifer Robinson,
Kara Teague, Garett Williams, James Willson, Matt Wittie, and Adrienne
Departmental Awards are presented to the outstanding student of each
department in Monahans High School.
The winners are:
Accounting - Kawyn Diez
Annual - Beth Bryant
Art - Adam Palmer
Auto Tech - Efrian Armendariz
Band - Wes Hamilton
Choral - Mittzi Loera
Debate - Liz Henry
Drama - Jena TisdaleEnglish - Adrienne Woodward.
Home Economics - Makay Tefertiller
ITE Metal - Abel McGuire
ITE Wood - B.J. Kute
Journalism - Holly Blum
Keyboarding - Juan Moreno
VICA Law - James Cunningham
Mathematics - Leah Johnson
Newspaper - Rebecca Jordan
Office Education - Carlee Heuman
Photojournalism - Shannon Rogers
Physical Education (male) - Eric Ortiz
Physical Education (female) - Ludmila Vargas.
Science - Crystal Looney
Shorthand - Lily Prieto
Social Science - Jamie Willson
Spanish - Samantha Bouquin
Speech - Jeremy Sanchez
VAC - Shawn Evans
These awards go to:
Jae Bigham, Lobo Masco; Sara Carrell; Jana Denman; Crystal Looney;
Stephanie Mullins; Lily Prieto, head cheerleader; Selena Reagan; Stacy
Sotelo; Mandy Treadaway.
National Student-Athlete Award
This award is given to one student-athlete per team, per school and is
designed to honor student athletes who have found the balance between
athletics and academics.
Football - Garrett Williams
Boys Basketball - Zachary Stevenson
Volleyball - Crystal Looney
Baseball - Tyler Lee
Girls Swimming - Sandra Meeks
Boys Golf - Eric Ray
Girls Golf - Jessica Tuxhorn
Tennis - Caleb Clark
Perfect Attendance Awards
Pefect attendance certificates are presented to those students who are
neither absent nor tardy during the school year in any classes.
Freshman: Stephanie Aaron, Orlando Acosta, Lucia Chavez, Andria Diez,
Belia Gabaldon, Sarah Humble, Brian Morris, Larry Navarrete, Douglas
Treadaway, William Whitworth.
Sophomores: Sergio Arriola, Charles Branham, Lanny Hayes, Kathryn Rojas.
Juniors: Samantha Bouquin, Timothy Bustos, Shanda Curtis, Kawyn Diez,
Carlee Heuman, John Jaquez, Jennifer Melius, Antonio Navarrette, Jared
Young, Melissa Partida.
Seniors: Elisa Alvarez, Wesley Hamilton, Heather King, Steven Mabry, Amanda Treadaway, Adrienne Woodward.
Benefit dance on tap
Skip to next story
A benefit barbecue and dance is scheduled in Monahans on Sunday, June 1,
to help pay the medical costs of a Monahans resident suffering from
cancer, according to a statement from friends of the patient.
The statement says the barbecue and dance will begin at noon at El Capri
Club, 2601 Loop Road.
Five dollar donations are requested.
The statement says the proceeds will go to help pay for chemotherapy for
cancer patient Janet Mings.
A $100 cash drawing is scheduled. There will be games and an auction.
Dancing will continue into the evening.More information: call 943-9158.
Graduating class smallest in years
Skip to next story
Thursday night, May 29, Monahans High School will have 119 new graduates.
It will be, notes high school counselor Gayla Langley, the "smallest
graduating class in some years."
Grandfalls-Royalty School district will graduate six seniors on Saturday
night, May 31.
Those two commencement exercises key the end of school for the year and
the end of high school for 125 Ward County students.
Susana Vasquez is the Grandfalls valedictorian; Jessica Cavazos, the
In Monahans, the valedictorian is Adrienne Denise Woodward; the
salutatorian, Amy Michelle Morgan.
This year, Langley reports, no prospective graduates were lost to
failures to pass the state-required tests to receive a diploma.
As soon as the graduation ceremonies are completed for the
Monahans-Wickett-Pyote School District, volunteers will begin
preparations for the all night graduate party at the complex for
graduated seniors and their guests. This all-night graduation party will
be alcohol and drug free, reports Sherry Treadaway, the coordinator for
the celebration. Monahans area merchants and organizations have
combined efforts to make prizes and food available for the just
graduated seniors and their guests. Treadaway reports the boozeless,
dopeless graduation bash starts with a casino hour in which the winners
of chips in various games of chance can then use the chips in a silent
auction. From there the graduates and their guests adjourn to a series
of competitions ranging from basketball to other games of skill.
Those attending already have received and had parents or guardians sign
releases for the new graduates to be there until the scheduled closing
time around 4 a.m. when a breakfast of milk, orange juice and pastries
will be served.
Chaperons will notify parents and guardians of those attending if they
leave before the scheduled 4 a.m. closing time. In addition, a series
of drawings for major prizes will be held at 4 a.m. and, says Treadaway,
"You must be present to win." She continues: "If you want to win one of
the televisions or other major prizes. You must be there at 4 a.m." She
says parents are providing snacks, Lowe's Supermarket some food items
and the Monahans Chapter of DFYIT (Drug Free Youth in Texas) will provide pizzas for the celebration for the Lobo Class of 1997.
Free health programs expanded
Skip to next story
Ward Memorial Hospital's free rural health programs expand into the
Grandfalls and Pyote areas in June, reports assistant hospital
administrator Peggy Vestal.
Vestal notes that health and medical services through the Ward County
rural health clinics are provided to patients without charge.
"In order to help people learn more about their health, our Rural
Health Clinics have begun providing outreach services to people in the
smaller communities," says Vestal in a statement released Friday, May
23. "Staff from Sandhills Family Clinic are going to Barstow on a
monthly basis and will begin going to Pyote next month. The West Texas
Rural Health Clinic hopes to start going to Grandfalls next month also."
Vestal says the services offered will include "a focused Health Risk
Assessment, blood sugar checks for diabetes, blood pressure screening,
patient education and referral to medical services. These services are
offered at no charge."
Expansion of the rural health programs administered by the hospital
accentuated in Ward County this year as the need for medical services in
the rural areas was identified and mapped.
"We have been to Barstow twice. What extremely nice people live there.
Almost every person who came to see us either had a potentially serious
health problem or were at risk to develop cardiovascular disease or
diabetes. High blood pressure was the most common problem we found."
Vestal notes the Monahans-based hospital's mission is to provide quality
care for all of Ward County. This, she says, is "a major shift in our
perception of our role in the community."
That shift means the hospital's role is expanding, while maintaining its
more traditional focus.
"At one time, we saw our role as providing the best possible care to
those who entered our doors," says Vestal. "In today's changing health
care arena, we must work towards promoting a healthier community.
". . .It also requires that we be sensitive to the health care needs of
the entire community. In our case, that means we must reach out to those
who historically have not had their needs met . . .
"Although the hospital is located in Monahans, we are just as interested
in providing health care services to citizens throughout the county. The
smaller communities in Ward County are sometimes isolated from health
". . .In order to help people learn more about their health, our Rural
Health Clinics have begun providing outreach services to people in the
In June, that means Grandfalls and Pyote in addition to the visits
already made to Barstow.
Notes Vestal: "We plan to offer some different services or a different
focus each month along with the basic blood pressure and blood sugar
screens. Last month we featured cancer detection services."More information call: 943-3063.
Ward County - China link forged
Skip to next story
An obviously elated Mayor David Cutbirth returned late Tuesday night,
May 27, from a one week trade mission which took him across the Shandong
province of China.
In a fast-paced and upbeat telephone interview, the mayor covered a
variety of topics concerning the immediate future of Chinese investment
in Ward County.
The main purpose of the trip - to lure Chinese shrimp farming operations
- was obviously successful as evidenced by the pending arrival in late
June of three separate delegations representing their respective
aquaculture companies. They will be going for site visits around Ward
However, the mayor emphasized, two other groups representing a cotton
clothing manufacturer and a fiber optics company will also be coming
this Summer to visit Monahans.
"The clothing manufacturer specializes in colored cottons and will be
making clothes strictly for sale domestically... it will say `Made in
the U.S.A.' on the label.
"This [clothing] enterprise," the mayor said, "would create some jobs
around here because they would only be bringing top management from
China. The rest would be local hires."
The fiber optics company, the mayor stressed, is "certainly not a sure
deal, but if we could get them to come here and open a plant, it would
be great for Monahans." The company is currently providing technology
for such U.S. giants as MCI and AT&T, said the mayor.
"The key to showing that there is an interest on the part of the
Chinese is that they are coming here to visit. They were awe-struck by
how quickly we [the Monahans delegation] were able to cut through the
bureaucracy and red-tape in order to meet with them," the mayor said.
Mayor Cutbirth was accompanied on the trip by his wife, Patti; Economic
Development Director Charles Walker; local attorney Jack Stern and wife,
Diana. Mrs. Stern is a Chinese national who was instrumental in setting
up the trip and makin contacts.
The Monahans delegation, which left about 10 days ago, landed in the
provincial capital of Jinan before traveling to the major cities of Wendeng and Qingdao.
Property valuations up
Skip to next story
Ward County's Tax Appraisal office reports preliminary figures indicate
property valuations are up across the county over 1996 totals.
If the appraisals withstand the appeals process, this will mark the
first time since the mid-80s that property valuations have increased
"This is the first time I can remember in some time," said Monahans
City Manager David Mills in an interview Tuesday, May 27.
As an example, Mills says, the City of Monahans had $142 million
dollars in appraised values on the tax rolls in 1986. By 1996, those
valuations went South with the decrease in oil patch activity, as
reflected by the $108 million in appraised values.
Preliminary figures for 1997 indicate the city will be taxing property
valued at approximately $110 million. The $2 million increase represents
about $9,600 in additional revenues for the city at the current tax rate.
Mills attributes the higher valuations to the new Town & Country store
and the construction of five new homes on the city's East Side, one of
which is valued at $280,000.
County Tax Collector Dolores Fine reports county property evaluations
are up approximately $72 million over last year's figures. For 1997, the
county may be able to apply taxes against $777 million in property as a
result of increased oil patch activity.
County Judge Sam G. Massey says that since the higher valuations are
still preliminary, the county had only come up with a "really, really
rough" estimate of $100,000 in additional revenues.
"In the seven years I've served as county judge, this is a first,"
"This is strictly my opinion - I'm not sure how the commissioners feel
- if we [the county] can hold the line and stay close on our current
effective tax rate... we just may be able to purchase some much-needed
equipment," Massey says.
The estimated value of taxable property within the Monahans-
Wickett-Pyote School District leapt by $55.8 million over 1996's total
of $564 million.
If the estimated values hold, the valuations will result in the school
district realizing a gain of $837,070 in revenue, according to a press
release from Jeanette Wristen, the district's tax assessor/collector.
Wristen emphasizes the projected gain is based upon "current" state
tax laws. The failure of Gov. George Bush to implement his tax reform
plan this past week in Austin has left the state's school districts in a
"what next?" state of mind.
The Grandfalls-Royalty School District also was given a better tax
base estimate upon which to project its revenues. That district's
estimated valuations jumped about $8 million from last year's
$54,728,990 to this year's estimated $62,316,440.
The City of Grandfalls, however, appears to be the county's only loser
in the preliminary figures with a drop of approximately $31,000 in
property valuations. The preliminary figures estimate Grandfalls to be
looking at $2,369,408 in property as compared to last year's $2.4
million. County Tax Appraiser Arlice Wittie emphasizes the projected
figures were just that - estimated - and have not yet been subject to
the appeals process. Final figures will not be made available until late
July. However, he adds, an increase in local business activity is responsible for the increases.
Treasure hunt evokes hugs
Skip to next story
Two pupils at Tatom Elementary School, George ("Call me, Isaac")
Oyerbides and Shea Scott, found unexpected treasures last week in
The treasures, one classic and one contemporary:
A sapphire and diamond bracelet (the classic treasure) laying under the
bleachers at Lobo Stadium where the elementary schools were holding a
track meet on Thursday, May 22, and a cellular telephone (the
contemporary one) hanging from a tree at the front of the school the day
Isaac and Shea returned the treasures to their owners, Jana Thurman and
Carol Prough, earned a reward for their encounter with ethics and
honesty plus gratitude from the two women. Shea got an extra bonus - a
big hug from Prough.
Isaac, 10, is a student in Kim Ashbrook's fourth grade class; Shea, 9,
a pupil in Cathy Anthony's third grade class.
Neither Thurman nor Prough could be certain when they misplaced the
bracelet and the cell phone. The bracelet probably slipped from
Thurman's wrist when she was at the grade school track meet. Prough
apparently hung the cell phone in the tree when she came to the school
on Wednesday. Both women have children who attend Tatom. Both
acknowledge they didn't really identify with Tatom Terrific until the
separate incidents. Neither Shea nor Isaac seemed to have any other
thoughts except to turn in the items they found. Both seemed mystified
when they were asked if they considered keeping them. Both wondered why
anyone would consider such a thing. There were no options except the
right one, the two children emphasized.
Shea even wondered why Prough gave her a reward for her honesty.
"You don't have to do that," Shea forcefully said when Prough handed her
"Yes, I do, honey," replied Prough.
Then they hugged each other.
Isaac says he found and brought the bracelet to school officials soon
after Tatom Principal Dick McClanahan had made an announcement it had been lost. "No big deal," says Isaac.
Million Barrel Museum is 10 years old
Skip to next story
Monahans' unique Million Barrel Museum, dedicated to the story and the
artifacts of the West Texas Oil Patch, celebrates its tenth birthday on
Saturday, May 31.
Clarese Gough, president of the museum's board, invites all charter
donors of the museum, descendants of the Holman Family and residents of
Ward County and the nation to help the museum celebarte.
The Million Barrel Oil Tank is the focus of the museum grounds, a gift
of 14.5 acres to Ward County donated by Amalie Long in memory of her
husband, Wayne. That was in 1984 three years before the museum opened.
Festitivities start on Saturday at 10 a.m. with tours of the museum and
an open house. This venue of the party continues until 5 p.m.
Other entertainments all starting at 10 a.m. include sand volleyball,
arts and craft booths, a kid's train, face painting, a washers and
horsehoes tournament and a cake walk.
Attendees plan to continue the birthday party until at least early
But the main event comes at 7:30 p.m. when the charter donors of the
museum and members of the museum board past and present gather for a
special welcome followed by the music of "This West Texas Country."
Ward County Judge Sam G. Massey, Monahans Mayor David Cutbirth and
Million Barrel Museum president Gough are the ones scheduled to be in
charge of this section of the birthday rendezvous.
Barbecue is available ($6 a plate) beginning at 6 p.m. It will be served
until 7:30 p.m. when "This West Texas Country" is scheduled to start at
the Meadows Amphitheater on the floor of the tank. The dance to taped
music starts at 9 p.m. and continues until early Sunday.. County Agent Andy Stewart is the caller.
Mills has heart for youth
Return to top
When Ken Mills lowers his baton for the last time, several thousand Ward
County young people will have been influenced by this man of music.
Though the many trophies and plaques in the Monahans High School choir
room give silent praise to his successes, it is his influence on the
young people themselves that most concern him.
"If I've caused a few kids to think and to care and to want to be good
at something and if they can take that and utilize that in what ever
they do, then our time together would have been worthwhile," he said.
"And if they learned to sing a little while they were doing that, that's
good music. Music is a tool I use to teach things more important than
He got his start singing in the church choir.
"The preacher's wife was the choir director and she cornered me and I
didn't know any better so I sang," he explained. "I sat by a fellow who
sang tenor and when he left, I figured out I could do that myself."
There wasn't a choir in his high school but when the band director took
over the church choir, he was influenced to take up band and started out
playing the French horn his sophomore year.
"I was a rank beginner," he said. "Our horns were pretty old and when I
found out that making first chair could get me a new French horn, I
worked really hard and I got it."
Mills got together with some other students and formed a little quartet
in high school, singing for churches and "any place that invited us.
That's where I decided that what I wanted to do."
He attended McMurry University in Abilene on a music scholarship.
"It could have gone either way," he mused. "Band or choir, but it's
probably good that I came this route. I don't think I would have had the
same successes with band."
He went on to get his master's at Texas Tech, graduating in January of
1959. For a year, he served First United Methodist Church in Pecos as
their minister of music. At the second semester he started teaching
music at Pecos' junior high. He taught there five years before accepting
the position as the Monahans choir director.
"I followed a fellow named Dan Gibbs who was teaching both choir and
band," he remembers. Under Gibbs' guidance the choir was already started
and good things were beginning to happen.
Despite the ups and downs of the population, over the years the A
Cappella choir has remained about the same size--55 to 60 students. In
the early years, there were about 940 kids in high school which
necessitated having three choirs, the director recalls.
"Actually we still have three choirs," he said. "But our ensemble,
"Special Edition" [a part of the A Cappella choir] makes up the third
Mills considers his greatest challenge that of "becoming a thorough
musician myself so that I would be in a position to help kids." He
credits his success in that area to good teachers.
"The biggest thing over the years was good friends who were excellent
and who were willing to help and teach me," he said.
"I learned a lot from the director of the Midland-Odessa Symphony
Chorale. He would look me in the eye and tell me the way it was, but the
fellow that probably saved my professional life was the director of the
Odessa High School choir.
"At one time I was doing everything I knew to do and we still weren't
suceeding at contests and I couldn't figure out why. I knew I wanted to
know so I put our friendship on the line and asked him to tell me the
truth. He listened to a tape of my choir and didn't pull any punches in
telling me where the problems were."
Mills felt it was important to retire while it was still fun.
"You can go too long and cheat your kids. Then they wouldn't get what
they could have or should have," he said, noting that, "It's more fun
now than that it was 33 years ago."
When he made the decision to retire, he first told his assistant, James
Coldewey, and the kids, then the administration.
"I didn't want the kids and James hearing it by rumor. Shortly after
that they [the administration] told James he was the man.
"James is one of the greatest blessings of my life. When he came here
there were 12 or 13 that applied," recalls Mills. "I wasn't smart enough
to know which one was the right one but I hired James. I figured he
would be here a couple of years but I tried to make it where he would
like it. We have taught together 16 years."
As to retirement, he says his first job is "to make my wife think I'm
He also plans to do more dove hunting, a sport about which he has his
"I figure if you put enough shot in the air surely a bird will fly into
it," he explained. "Besides, it's the best time of year, the best time
of day and the game comes to you. What more could a man want. "
He also plans to continue directing the church choir and bell choir at
First United Methodist and singing with The Board of Directors and a
Gospel quartet at the church.
Along with that, "I need to lay a mile and a half of water line at the
farm and I need to build a bunkhouse," he laughed. "And my son needs his
utility room enlarged."
And when he runs out of anything else to do, he plans to start tuning
"I have been so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with such
neat kids and be in a community interested in their kids and wanting to
provide everything we needed--very supportive and caring.
"Music and singing--the sum is greater than the parts. Everyone doesn't
have to have a great voice. You can take five or six rather ordinary
voices and put them together and get this sound that is really nice,"
Mills explained, a theory he has proven over and over at Monahans High
"It's a good feeling knowing you're leaving things with someone who
knows the program and who cares," he said of his replacement. "It won't
be the same but it isn't supposed to be--we're not the same people. It's
like a piece of music--there is more than one way to do it right. They
could not be in better hands."
Copyright 1997 by Ward Newspapers, Inc.
107 W. Second St., Monahans TX 79756
Phone 915-943-4313, FAX 915-943-4314
Return to Menu
Return to Home Page