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Aug. 8, 1997

M.M. Reif & Co. EDC's first victory

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In a competition which went to the wire, the tax-supported Monahans Economic Development Corporation tallied its first success in bringing new industry to the city.

And while the EDC offered incentives to the owner of a Philadelphia-based industrial sewing company, it is the business-friendly climate of the town and the attitudes of its people which sealed the deal, says the firm's chief executive.

David Reif, president of M.M. Reif & Co., said during a luncheon interview Wednesday, Aug. 6, the primary reason he chose Monahans over Raymondville as the site for his new manufacturing plant was, "the people you have here."

Reif, who announced his decision last week, says, "Every person who has been involved in this recruitment effort is the reason we're here." He gave credit to the mayor, the city manager, the EDC board members and several others who played a role in the effort for presenting Monahans as a good place to do business.

Reif also made a point to give credit to the two bank presidents, First State's Charles Wade and First National's Mark Gatzki, for providing hard numbers which, according to Reif, "... instilled me with the confidence to make a $300,000 capital investment in equipment."
The main incentive offered Reif by the city - and in a sense the taxpayers - was the 10-year lease-purchase of the old city-owned Camelot Building on Fifteenth Street. The building will be remodeled and refurbished to meet the company's needs. M.M. Reif manufactures canvas and web covers for military and civilian use.

Over an informal lunch Wednesday, Aug. 6, with EDC Board President Curt Howard, Board Member and banker Mark Gatzki and EDC Director Charles Walker, Reif said he was shooting for a Nov. 1 start-up date for manufacturing, although he acknowledged that date could be moved back a little bit. The city will be letting out bids for the Camelot construction work during this month, with work possibly beginning by September.

Reif said he will be hiring approximately 30 people locally. As the plans stand now, during the next 18 months Reif, his production manager and his quality-assurance manager will be in Monahans for the start-up operations. Locally-hired managers will be sent to Philadelphia for training. Eventually, he said, complete local control will be handed over to the local manager.

"I'm looking at the possibility of purchasing a corporate house here and possibly making Monahans my home for part of the year," Reif said.
Although the negotiations between Reif and the city have taken several months and were somewhat detailed and complicated, Reif said his criteria for choosing a location could be boiled down to three main points.

"First, there was the issue of labor. I needed to find a place where I could offer my workers full benefits and suitable wage and still remain competitive in the market.

"Second, and maybe most important, I was looking for the best building available. I wasn't looking for tax abatements or other such incentives as much as I wanted a community to step forward and offer me a building. The less I pay for my physical structure, the better off I'll be.

"Third, we wanted a community which wanted us. We tired in Philadelphia of hitting a stone wall every time we looked for some type of help."

The road to EDC's first successful recruitment was not without it potholes. EDC's mission has been criticized by some sectors of the community who feel government and tax funds do not need to be used for luring businesses to the area.

The EDC was established 22 months ago under the leadership of Mayor David Cutbirth, who Reif cited as being an influence on the decision to come to Monahans.

The following is a statement issued by Cutbirth upon the announcement of Reif's decision.

"The successful recruitment of the M.M. Reif & Co., Inc., t Monahans is a major step in the direction of our goal to diversify our local economy. The can-do attitude and our West Texas hospitality was our Number One selling-point to the company. I would like to say thanks to everyone involved and we in the city government are anticipating a big turnout for the ribbon cutting."

The mayor said during a brief interview Tuesday, Aug. 5, the economic development efforts were not going to slow down with this first success. He notes there is currently an effort to bring an investor to the old Rattlesnake Refinery in Wickett to start a diesel refining operation. "If we're successful" the mayor says, "we're looking at another 30 jobs. Now admittedly, the refinery is in Wickett, but I bet most of the workers would be from Monahans and certainly they would be spending money here."

This paper speaks with authority, says WTPA judge

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One championship and three thirds.

A winner in four of five categories it entered in the 1997 West Texas Press Association Awards.There are 10 over all.

Winning enough points in those four categories to actually finish fourth in the sweepstakes competition of the largest, possibly the most prestigious in the opinion of its more than 150 member newspapers, regional press association on Earth.

That's the box score for The Monahans News at the Better Newspaper Contest conducted by the West Texas Press Association at its annual conference on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, July 31 through Aug. 2 in Lubbock. The awards were based on newspapers published in 1996. The Monahans News competed in the large weeklies division.

"As elated as we are by the showing we have made in this competition against our fellow newspapers," says Monahans News Publisher Steve Patterson, "We promise the people of Monahans, we will strive to do better next year. In fact, I promise it. I know we could have eclipsed our fine showing this year if our current team had been in place for all of 1996. We felt contest quality was achieved only with the newspapers we published in the last two months of last year."

Patterson won a third prize for his editorials. Deputy Editor Jerome P. Curry accounted for the championship and a third place finish. The Monahans News staff (Patterson, Curry, Lifestyles Editor Linda Stephens, Operations Director Jerry Caldwell, Sports Writer Richard Acosta, Account Executives Dolores Rivas and Ludi Garcia) won a third in the most demanding competition of all - General Excellence, in which several consecutive editions of complete newspapers from advertising and design to writing and news judgment are weighed.

Curry's first place was in feature writing for stories written on the dissident, self-styled Republic of Texas organization and the visit of a dirigible to the Monahans Airport for a few minutes one late morning in November. The 15 judges, all from the Gulf Coast Press Association, say of Curry's feature stories: "Good headlines draw you into story. Good writing, interesting use of italics. Good stories."

Of Curry's third place in column writing, the judges commented: "Anti-Smoking Bigots. Heavy-handed, graphic. You're not going to win any friends among the anti-smoking crowd. Odessa. Aha! I knew you were a smoker! Good approach to an old refrain (knocking Odessa). Well-written piece."

Of Patterson's editorials, the judges reported: "Texas Patriots. Good Point. Brochures. OK!

Patterson says he's proudest of the comments made by the judges who determined the general excellence rankings in the nearly 40 entries.
The Monahans News finished third but the judge's comments, Patterson says, indicate the quality of The Monahans News in relation to the general excellence champion (Burnet Bulletin) and the runner-up (Iowa Park Leader). From the judge's comments in the general excellence division: "This paper (The Monahans News) speaks with authority." The judges also note: "...Nice editorial page. Nice section headers. Dec. 19 front page a little grey but very well done."

Says Patterson of his newspaper's effort in the Better Newspaper Contest: "These awards are physical evidence of our quality. They show why we are the dominant advertising vehicle in our market and why we are the dominant source for information in Ward County. We prove weekly community journalism does not have to mean bad journalism. In The Monahans News, community journalism means good journalism and our circulation proves it."

Paterson congratulates The Fort Stockton Pioneer, the only other Western Permian Basin winner of a West Texas Press Association 1997 award. The Pioneer finished second in news writing and third in special sections.

Johnson arrested in Calloway death

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W.D. (Dub) Johnson, a 74-year-old convicted dope dealer, has been arrested and jailed in connection with the Monahans police investigation of the mystery death of Jeannette Calloway.
Police Chief Dave Watts reports Johnson was taken into custody on Friday, Aug. 1, and charged with tampering with physical evidence.
Armando Flores, Johnson's parole officer, says: "I already have filed a motion to revoke his probation."

If that motion in the 143rd District Court is granted, one probable option would be the transfer of Johnson to a Texas state prison to serve the balance of his probation. Johnson was convicted of a charge of delivering a controlled substance. Johnson's probation, Flores says, had been scheduled to continue until 2007.

Watts says he still has not received the autopsy report on the body of Calloway, who was found unconscious in a house on South Main Street about 12:30 p.m. Saturday, July 27. Calloway died the next day at Odessa Medical Center where she had been transferred after emergency treatment at Ward Memorial Hospital in Monahans. She was 29 years old. The body was taken to a pathologist in Lubbock for examination. Memorial services were held on Wednesday, July 30.

Callaway, a resident of Monahans for eight years, is survived by husband, David Wayne Calloway, son of Harold and Patsy Calloway, owners of Radio Station KLBO; two sons, David Wayne Jr. and Curtis Lewis, all of Monahans, her parents and two sisters, all of California.

Lions meet in Monahans

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This weekend as approximately 125 Lions are expected to gather from across West Texas in the Monahans Convention Center. The Monahans Lions Club will be overseeing the event.
The keynote speaker at Saturday's luncheon will be Ronald McDonald from the State Comptroller's Office in Austin. McDonald will be speaking on the subject of The Family Path Finders program.
A spokesperson at the Best Western said they are booked solid for Friday night and several other businesses are expecting increased activity from the attendees.
District 2-T3 stretches from El Paso to Odessa and from Kermit to Presidio, encompassing 39,000 square miles.

Dunn on six-month trip

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Marine Corps Pfc. Andrew L. Dunn, son of Donna K. Snow of Monahans, is halfway through a six-month deployment with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, according to a statement from the Fleet Home Town News Center in Norfolk Virginia.

Dunn is about the ships of the USS Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group.

From the statement:
"Early in the deployment, Dunn's unit conducted the evacuation of 2,500 American citizens from Sierra Leon. The evacuation was conducted jointly with French, Nigerian and Sierra Leon surface ships."Dunn was graduated from Monahans High School in 1996.

Elm Leaf Beetles chew away

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Ward County Extension Agent Andy Stewart notes that the annual blight of Elm Leaf Beetles in full swing. Elm trees around town appear to be foilage as though it is fall instead of the middle of summer.

Stewart says there are ways to control the beetles, but to be successful, it must be a community-wide effort.

"You can spray for the beetles, but unless your neighbors spray, too, a reinfestation of your trees will probably take place in a week."

Jurors age exemption raised

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Ward County Tax Assessor Collector Dolores Fine has announced that due to changes in state law, the age for exemption from jury duty will be raised from 65 to 70 effective Sept. 1, 1997.
Fine said those who have already filed for the exemption "will be grandfathered in" on Sept. 1, but after that date it will be too late.
"For those who wished to be excused from jury duty, now is the time to file for the exemption," Fine said.

Students start fall classes

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Students in the Granfalls-Royalty and Monahans-Wickett-Pyote school ditricts this week began preparing for a Fall Semester that starts in Summer.

Classes in both districts are scheduled to start on Wednesday, Aug. 13. Registration for new students and some hold over students in both districts began on Monday, Aug. 4, and continued through the week.
In the Monahans district, according to a statement, registration continues today, Aug. 7, from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., at the Monahans Education Center, 813 South Alice Avenue. In addition, Walker Junior High Assisant Principal Randy S. Johnson says, "Walker Junior High registration will be held on Thursday, Aug. 7. Eighth grade students will pick up their schedules between 9 a.m. and Noon. The seventh grade students may pick up their schedules from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. "

Beginning of the year parties are scheduled on Monday, Aug. 11, at Cullender Kindergaten from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and at Edwards Elementary from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Free and reduced price meals plan

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Policies for free and reduced price student meals in the Monahans-Wickett-Pyote School District were announced this week.

Food Service Director Maria S. Duran notes the policies are based on the guidelines of the 1997-98 National School Lunch and Breakfast Program.
Duran notes:

"Each school office will have a copy of the application form to be filled out . . .Forms also will be available in Spanish. To apply for free and reduced price meals, households must fill out the application and return it to the school as soon as possible."

These applications are subject to verification by school officials at any time during the school year, says Duran.

More from Duran:
"For school officials to determine eligibility for free and reduced price benefits, households receiving food stamps or AFDC . . . only have to list their child's name and food stamp or AFDC . . .case number. An adult household member must sign the application.

"If the adult who signs the application does not have a Social Security number, the household member must indicate that a Social Security number is not available by writing the word 'none.' The application must be signed by an adult household member."

District holds line on meal prices

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Prices of breakfasts and lunches served in the Monahans-Wickett-Pyote School District remain the same this school year, reports Food Services Director Maria S. Duran
According to a statement from Duran:
In Kindergarten, breakfast is 80 cents and lunch is a dollar.
For first and second graders, breakfast is 80 cents and lunch $1.20. The same prices hold for third and fourth graders.
For grades five through eight, school breakfasts cost 85 cents and lunches are $1.45.
Freshmen through seniors in high school will pay 90 cents for breakfast and $1.75 for lunch.
Adults will pay $1.20 for breakfast and $2.20 for lunch.
Extra milk at both breakfast and lunch is 20 cents for students and a quarter for adults.

UPS strike to impact Monahans

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Monahans will begin to feel the impact of the national Teamsters strike against United Parcel Service if the walkout continues, predicts Postmaster Ben Martinez.

That impact, the chief of the Monahans Post Office says, probably will begin on Friday for incoming and outgoing parcels.
Larger cities already are reeling from the sudden gap in parcel delivery services and the U.S. Postal Service is attempting to provide some relief. But, Martinez notes, this is difficult.

"We can accept no more than four parcels from one customer for delivery at one time," notes Martinez. "If someone has more than four parcels, they should call us so that we can make arrangements for those parcels to be delivered."

The telephone number for the Monahans Post Office at 201 South Betty Avenue is 943-2232.

UPS accounts for about 80 percent of the market share in parcel delivery and the Post Office is attempting to relieve some of the pressure caused by the strike. Other parcel carriers, Federal Express, Airborne Express, etcetera, also are increasing their delivery crews in an attempt to mitigate the strike affects.

Ward County Clerk Pat V. Finley says the strike has not yet hampered the operations of her office and will not impact the election on Saturday, Aug. 9.

"We're in good shape here right now for the election," says Finley. "Our supplies usually come by UPS. Thankfully, we had enough on hand."
Ward Memorial Hospital Administrator William O'Brien notes that the hospital is a major customer for UPS services.

But so far, at least, there has been little or no impact because the hospital has been able to find alternative sources for delivery and receipt of various item. One prime source, he notes, is the Post Office. Another alternative, he notes, has been Federal Express.

"Most of our packages are small and do not pose a critical problem in finding other carriers," says O'Brien.

She anticipates her office will not feel the strike unless it continues through the weekends because some of her suppliers make UPS deliveries on Fridays. Even then, Finley believes, suppliers will find an alternative, most likely the Postal Service.

The national UPS strike began at 11 p.m. (CDT) on Sunday, Aug. 3. UPS supervisory personnel and drivers who did not walkout providing limited service. UPS pickup boxes in Monahans and other cities have been taped shut. The principle issue in the strike is UPS part time employees who, because they are part time; do not receive either full time wages or benefits. Some of those so-called part time workers says they have been working for years with that status although they work full time.

Alternative carriers have said they cannot make up for the loss of service by UPS because UPS has so much of the market.

Voters to decide tax question

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Ward County and Texas voters are expected to approve overwhelmingly on Saturday, Aug. 9, an additional $10,000 homestead exemption in school district property taxes and immediately drop revenues to the districts.

This will come in the wake of state mandates for teacher pay increases that average between five and six percent, according to reports from analysts at the Texas State Teachers Association in Austin. The state also has provided an additional $1 billion for school district revenue relief with the expected passing of the proposition which will increase the homestead exemption to $15,000. How much of this will be available to individual school districts still is unknown.

Exit polls in the early voting have found few who said they voted against it (Proposition 1) on the Saturday ballot. Pundits expect that early voting trend to carry through Saturday where the consolidated polls in Ward County open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

Ward County Clerk Pat V. Finley predicts a light vote. In Ward County early voting, she notes 239 ballots were distributed.

Although Proposition 1 is the closest the Texas Legislature came this session to promised property tax relief and although it may prove to be a revenue issue for the schools, Finley says: "I'm afraid there will be a light vote."

In the Monahans-Wickett-Pyote School District, Superintendent Clifton L. Stephens comments:

"The Ward County Appraisal District has appraised the values in the Monahans-Wickett-Pyote ISD at $617,789,708 without the increased homestead exemption. If the proposition passes, our tax value will be $602,138,590. This will lower our values by $15,651,111."

Ward County Assessor Dolores Fine notes Stephens' school district already is at the maximum $1.50 per $100 property valuation and cannot increase the tax rate to mitigate a short fall in revenues.
More from Stephens:

"The legislature has developed a 'hold harmless' provision that will use one billion dollars of surplus state money to reimburse each school district in Texas for the revenue lost to this homestead exemption. This one billion dollars has been collected from several revenue sources including the state lottery. The approximate cost in tax money to the school district is $250,000."

Fine notes that the homestead exemption applies only to real property and does not include mineral or commercial properties.

Stephens speaks directly to the mandated teacher pay raises: "Also contingent on approval of Proposition 1 are mandated state teacher pay raises of six per cent over the next two years. Funds were appropriated to offset this cost but the Monahans-Wickett-Pyote ISD will not receive any of this money from the legislature because of our present pay scale."
County Clerk Finley notes voters in Precincts 1E and 4E will cast ballots at Sudderth Middleton Gymnasium in Monahans; Precinct 2 voters at the Monahans Convention Center; Precinct 3N and 3S voters at the Ward County Coliseum and Precinct 1W, 4M and 4W at the Pyote Community Center.

Barring write-ins, Grandfalls election over

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Barring an unexpected, last minute write-in campaign for one or more candidates, Saturday's municipal election in the politically troubled city of Grandfalls is over.

Probable winners: Mayor - James M. Everett.

City Council members - Will Grigorio, Jim Cahill and Jim Crawford.

In the City Council race, three positions are vacant after a flurry of council resignations in June. There are only three candidates. In the mayor's race, Everett's opponent, Mark John Barker, could not serve legally if he received a majority of the vote, says County Attorney Kevin D. Acker. Court records show both Grandfalls mayor candidates are convicted felons but Everett (assault of a public official) has had his civil rights restored by court order. Barker (felony possession of marijuana) has not.

Meanwhile an inquiry by the District Attorney's office and Acker continues into allegations of various municipal law violations in the operation of Grandfalls city government.

Eight voters have cast ballots in the city's early voting which ended on Tuesday, Aug. 5, Voting Saturday will be at the Community Center from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to Grandfalls City Staff members.

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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