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September 4, 1997

Bob Turner will seek fourth term in House

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VOSS - State Rep. Bob Turner, whose 73rd House District includes Ward
County, intends to seek his fourth term.
Turner, a Democrat who is pro business and West Texas, says he readily
admits he serves special interests in his House district.
"They are the interests of rural and West Texas such as agriculture, the
petroleum industry, property rights, health care, teachers and public
education for the elderly," says the veteran legislator.
He notes the disparity in legislative clout roughly divided by
Interstate 35.
"The western two-thirds of Texas is represented by only 14 percent of
the members of the legislature," notes Turner. "We're outnumbered by
urban representatives who don't always consider and can't be expected to
know that legislation does not and should not apply to rural Texas. I
intend to come back and make sure West and rural Texas continue to be
well represented in the House."
Turner and wife Ann are residents of Voss in Coleman County. He was
first elected in a 1991 special election. After redistricting he was elected to the District 73 seat which he has held since.

Patterson, Curry named to Texas Press committees

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AUSTIN - Two Monahans News executives have been appointed to committees
of the Texas Press Association, according to an announcement from TPA
President Rollie Hyde.
News Publisher Steve Patterson has been named to the press association's
legislative committee; Editor Jerome P. Curry, to the better newspaper
Hyde, publisher of the Plainview Daily Herald, made the announcement on Wednesday, Aug. 27.

Reif deal stumbles

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A dour-looking David Reif, accompanied by his mother and a lawyer, left
Monahans City Hall at 4 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 3, after 11th-hour
negotiations over a lease agreement for the city-owned Camelot Building
apparently went South.

The talks between M.M. Reif & Co. and Mayor David Cutbirth, City
Manager David Mills and the city's attorney apparently broke down after
Reif set a Nov. 15 deadline for having the building ready for operations.

"We tried our best to make this thing work," said a flusterd Mayor
Cutbirth, "But unfortunately, Mrs. Reif was adament about what I
consider to be an unrealistic start-up date."

The original start-up date had been announced as Jan. 1, then it was
bumped back to Dec. 1 and finally to Nov. 1 by Mrs. Timma Rief, mother
of David and one of the company's owners. Mayor Cutbirth did say that
Mrs. Reif offered to compromise and make the start-up Nov. 15, but it
was felt by the city that required work on the building could not be

"Never the less, we wish them best of luck," the mayor added.

The souring of the deal comes on the heels of what appeared to be the
city's Economic Development Corporation's first major victory in luring
new industry to Monahans.

"Although, if in fact this [Reif] deal falls through - and I think it
stands a good chance - it frees up $300,000 of EDC funds to work on the
next project," said Mayor Cutbirth. "You couldn't buy the education and
experience we got from this first go-around."

In order to lure the sewing company to Monahans, the EDC has spent
considerable effort and time in coming up with a list of incentives.

What appeared to be a done-deal hit its first snag shortly after Reif
announced he had chosen Monahans over Raymondville. There were several
tricky legal questions as to what the city could actually offer in the
way of tax breaks to a company which would be occupying a city-owned

The Camelot Building - which last housed a conversion van shop - was
acquired by the city from the Monahans Industrial Foudation a few years

There were also numerous demands made by the company which, according
to sources close to the deal, were considered unreasonable by some.

It was uncertain at press time where Reif would open his new plant if
not in Monahans.

The start-up of the plant would have meant approximately 30 new jobs
with medical benefits for Monahans.

The EDC is funded from a half-cent sales tax recently implemented following approval by Monahans voters.

Monahans residential renting market gets higher

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Although Monahans has never been known to have an overabundance of
rental property, the current market is much tighter than it has been
during the past few years, according to local Realtors and apartment

Phillip Derrick, a broker/owner of Derrick Real Estate, says the rent
houses he manages stay on the market "for about a day."

"The rental market is tighter than we've seen in the past four or five
years, but the resell market of used homes is better than we've had in
the past eight to nine years," says Derrick. "I think some of it [the
tighter market] can be attributed to the stabilization of oil prices. A
lot of our oil people have regained their confidence and show it by
buying a house."

Dorothy Holt, manager of the Villa Apartments, says she rents vacant
units "a little faster than just a few months ago."

Another well-known landlord, Frank Dotson, refuses to divulge the
number of rental properties he manages other than to say "enough to keep
me pretty busy."

"It's a tight market now, but nothing like it was during the boom.
Right now, people are renting nice homes, back in the boom, people were
renting anything they could find... they were renting shanties," says

Jean Jeffords, manager of the Garden Apartments, says her units are
usually near capacity . She notes upstairs apartments usually are hard
to rent, but her's are full, as are her duplexes.

"The phone has been ringing a lot . . . I feel sorry for some of the people looking for places and they can't find them," Jeffords adds.

Dick Dillow services held Tuesday

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Services for Richard "Dick" E. Dillow, 66, were held
Tuesday in Harkey Funeral Chapel officiated by Rev.
Wayman Swopes. Burial was in Monahans Memorial

Mr. Dillow was born Sept. 12, 1930 in Roxanne, Ill.
and died Aug. 29, 1997 in a Midland hospital. A
longtime resident of Monahans, he was a Marine Corps
veteran, a retired tool pusher and a Christian.

He married his wife, Norma, Jan. 28, 1954 in Reno,

Survivors include his wife; a son, Richard Michael
Dillow of Monahans; two daughters, Christi Christian of
Big Lake and Tammy Jean of Arlington; and fivegrandchildren.

Juvenile crime down in Ward County

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Referrals to the Ward County Juvenile Probation Department are down.
The department's juvenile crime work ethics project has saved the
county more than $10,000.
That's the report from Ted W. Cooley, the county's chief juvenile

Says Cooley in a letter to the Monahans News:
"Referrals to the Juvenile Probation Department are down from Fiscal
Year 96 to Fiscal Year 97. Maybe the following is the reason why.

"The Juvenile Department has established several new programs for youth
involved in delinquent conduct, at risk youth and programs assisting
parents with communication skills and recognizing danger signs with
their children."

Cooley credits Program Coordinator Robin Manning with being a major
factor in the apparent success of the department's programs to deter and
refocus youth involved in criminal activity.

Manning, Cooley writes, "has worked very hard at getting these programs
established, as well as, presenting the programs several times a year.

"She tries to move the classes around to different organizations that
can accommodate small groups of people This enables us to be more
accessible to the juveniles and their families, as well as, enhances the
networking process within the community."

Cooley notes Ward County juveniles referred to the program worked "a
total of 1,639 hours of community service (in 1996) and in fiscal year
1997, the youth performed a total of 2,076 hours." He estimates the
county saved $8,440 because of the program.

He also notes restitution to victims of crime averages about $8,000 a

Cooley congratulates Manning and fellow staff members James Bigham and Rebecca Sanchez "for a job well done."

Community Health Systems seeks
hospitals in Monahans and Kermit

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Community Health Systems Inc. a for profit health care provider based in
Brentwood, Tenn., seeks to lease both Ward Memorial Hospital in Monahans
and Winkler County Memorial in Kermit.

Ward County Judge Sam G. Massey confirmed the report on Wednesday, Sept.
3, in an interview on the status of negotiations that might lead to the
leasing of Ward Memorial by the Tennessee company.

"Community Health Systems owns or leases many rural hospitals through
the nation," says Massey. "They own Alpine, Scenic Mountain in Big
Spring and Highland Medical Clinic in Lubbock. The holding company that
owns Community Health Systems is Forstmann and Little, a multi-billion
(with a 'b') dollar company. Other holdings include Gulfstream
Aerospace, Ziff Publishing and Dr. Pepper among many others."

Massey believes leasing Ward Memorial to Community Health Systems or
some comparable company is necessary to halt a major financial drain on
the county's coffers. This loss can be controlled, Massey suggests, and
optimum health care can be maintained for citizens of Ward County.

He is aware that there is talk of a petition asking that the pending
issue of leasing the county's hospital to a for profit provider be
presented to the voters. Massey says such a petition would require 600
signatures and he says he is aware of the concerns that have initiated
such talk - the job status of the hospital's about 150 workers who staff
the rural health clinics and other programs as well as the hospital.

Says Massey: "If I were a citizen of this county, I would expect the
county judge to do his home work on this and make the decision because I
wouldn't have time to do that homework. Obviously we're going to have to
provide for employees as well as we can in any transition. These have
been loyal people but we also "

Massey was doing homework on Wednesday, checking Community Health
Systems Inc. references.

He also reports that other for profit health care providers have
contacted the county about the potential of either leasing or buying the
hospital. He is inclined toward "lease" as opposed to sale but Massey
also says he has a open mind on the issue. He says he knows something
must be done before the fiscal drain on the county's resources goes
beyond the crisis county officials have battled for at least three years.

How did this talk of lease and Ward Memorial Hospital begin?

"I was first contacted by Judge Charles Scott, a retired County Judge
from Blanco, Texas," says the Ward County Judge. "He is married to an
'old Wickett girl' and accompanied her to her class reunion here in
Monahans. He saw in (the Monahans News) a story of some of the cash flow
struggles our hospital administration was facing. He mentioned in my
mother's presence that he worked for a firm that might be able to solve
such a problem. She referred him to me. So, thanks to Polly Massey, we
will have another option to look at in solving along running hospital
financial problem.."

The negotiations?

"Discussions have progressed to a point that Community Health Systems
have given us a letter of intent. It is 13 pages long. There are several
areas that need consideration. We have hired Mr. Tom Pollon of the
Bickerstaff & Heath Law Firm of Austin. They specialize in county
government law and have handled several county and district hospital
sales and leases in the past."

Other bidders for lease or sale?

"In the meantime we've been contacted by the group who own Westwood
Hospital in Midland. They will be here next week with an offer. I have
no idea what they will offer but, at the least, it can only strengthen
our position."

What are the arguments for leasing the hospital?

"Money for equipment will be no issue. Cash flow problems should not
exist. Bottom line will be important."

What about the hospital workers?

"Hospital employees who are hard working and good at what they do will
be offered jobs with competitive salaries. If a hospital employee is not
getting the job done, there is a good bet that they are going to keep
their job with Ward County or Community Health. We have a good, hard
working staff at Ward Memorial. I see no reason why any person I've
dealt with at the hospital would lose their job. Where else can they
hire help anyway? They will want and need you."

Massey believes the lease plan, if eventually adopted as envisioned,
would mean lower county tax rates, expanded medical services, another
$3.5 million a year in county revenue. All of this would come with
"continued ownership of present facilities by the county." Massey also
asks the citizens: "If you have any knowledge about this company, or if
you have any thoughts about how this change might affect our health care, please let me know."

No Coke or candy in budget
of troubled Grandfalls

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No more free Cokes and candy in the city budget - for anybody. City
employees used to get the Cokes. Everyone got the candy.

Adopting a proposed no frills, no pork $282,600 budget with out an
increase in the town's current 46.4 cent tax rate for each $100 of
property evaluation. And they're planning public hearings on it. Last
year's budget, a total of both the utility and general funds, was

A working cooperative City Council.

Identifying goals and ways to make the city work and working to make it

That's the message from new Grandfalls City Mayor James M. Everett, who
took the helm of the troubled city after a landslide election on Aug. 9.

Since then, Everett says he and the new Council are "working like
elected city officials are supposed to work."

In Grandfalls, that's unusual.

There hasn't been a real city government since June when then Grandfalls
Mayor James Norton, veteran City Administrator Marlyn Thurman and three
Council members quit.

The Ward County community of 583 persons still is under investigation by
County Attorney Kevin D. Acker and District Attorney Randy Reynolds for
a series of complaints that range from allegations of conflicts of
interest among city officials to blatant disregard for the state's Open
Meetings and Open Records Acts in Grandfalls City Government and in the
administration of Grandfalls-based Ward County Water Improvement
District 2.

"Those problems have not gone away but we're working on them," says
Everett. "I don't think (the allegations) have been resolved but I hope
its calmed down a little."

Everett notes the new Grandfalls city government has sought the
assistance and is working with staff members of the State Comptroller's
office in Austin in an attempt to remedy the town's governmental woes.
From Everett: "We've got close advisors from the state comptrollers
office. They are helping get us on the right road. "

More from Everett:

"We've made a tremendous amount of progress doing some studies on things
to use the particular expertise of different council members.
"We have taken several things under advisement that might be good for
the future of the city."

Among those were the possibility of "a municipal police department . .
.upgrading purchasing programs to make them more cost effective and

And he emphasizes: "The lights still are on in Grandfalls and they are going to stay on."

Budget up, tax rate down in proposed
City of Monahans 97-98 budget

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The Monahans City Council will hold the first reading of the 1997-98
proposed budget during a public hearing at 3 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 9, at
City Hall.

The budget is currently available for public inspection during
regular business hours at City Hall.

The proposed budget anticipates $4,395,855 in total expenditures from
$7.98 million in available funds.

This compares to 1996-97 of $3.85 million in expenditures from total
available funds of $7.71 million.

The document, compiled by members of the council and city
administration during a series of budget workshops, is based upon ad
valorem property valuations of almost $110 million, up $1.4 million over
last year's valuations.

The increase has been attributed to the new Town&Country store and new
home construction on the east side.

While under the proposal the city will increase both expenditures and
valuations, the anticipated effective tax rate will actually drop from
its current 48 cents to 29.655 cents per $100 valuation.

The rollback rate of 33.505 cents is the highest which can be set
before taxpayers can petition for a new election.

The major reason for the lower tax rate is the implementation of an
increased sales tax - from 7.75 percent to 8.25 percent - which will
take effect Oct. 1.

Although Monahans voters approved the increase some time ago, due to
overlapping jurisdictions with Winkler County, special "designer"
legislation had to be passed in Austin in order for the increase to be

The increased sales tax was specifically designated to be used for the
lowering of property taxes.

City Manager David Mills cites two major expenditures which are "one
time things".

First, Mills says, the city will allocate up to $300,000 for
remodeling, renovation and upgrading of the city-owned Camelot Building
for an Economic Development Corp. project.

The funds will be reimbursed to the city from the tax-supported
Economic Development Corporation. The company, which was recruited here
by the EDC, is expected to sign a 10-year lease purchase for the
building. Since the building is city-owned, it has presented several
unusual negotiation hurdles.

The EDC has already reimbursed the city $50,000 on the building.

Another major expenditure, Mills notes, is a $200,000 cash outlay for
a "Financial Assurance Plan' required of all owners of landfills by the
Environmental Protection Agency.

Federal regulations require landfill owners - in this case the city -
to show that they have the ability to pay a third party the cost of
closing the "largest active portion" of a dump at any one time.

Mills says in order to comply, the City of Monahans would open an
interest-bearing account which will hopefully generate enough extra to
keep up with inflation.

"At this time, we're not sure whether $200,000 is too much, or too
little. We hope this will be a onetime expenditure," the city manager

The proposed budget also calls for an expenditure of $120,000 for
renovations at City Hall and the Police Department, as well as $100,000
for new sanitation trucks.

City services will remain the same, except for sewage rates, which have
not been changed since 1984, according to Mills. Currently, the city
charges either $5, $7 or $10 per month, depending on usage. Under the
new rates, users will be put into a category of either $8 or $12.

There are no cost-of-living raises being given this year to city

"All raises will be merit raises," says Mills.

There are also no anticipated increases in the number of city workers,
with the exception that the Monahans Main Street project Manager will
become a full-time position with full-time pay.

Although Tuesday's meeting will be the first reading of the budget,
the law requires a second reading before it can be passed.

The public is invited, as always, to attend and participate in the
hearing, say city officials.

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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