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September 11, 1997

MWP school board sets tax rate hearing

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Trustees of the Monahans-Wickett-Pyote School District Tuesday night,
Sept. 9, set a public hearing at noon Thursday, Sept. 18, on the
district's proposed tax rate for the 1997-98 school year.

The hearing is scheduled to be held in the board's offices at 606 South
Betty Avenue in Monahans.

That suggested rate is $1.50, which would retain the current rate and
represent an actual decrease in the school district tax bill, notes
Superintendent Clifton L. Stephens. Stephens estimates property tax
payers will have an average actual school tax savings of about $145 a
year, or about half last year's school tax bill, if the $1.50 rate is

The school tax bill decrease would be the result of the voter approved
increase in the homestead exemption of $10,000. This increased the
total homestead exemption to $15,000 and was effective on Sept. 1. That
homestead exemption applies only to school district property taxes and
is not a factor in the property taxes of other governmental entities.

School board members approved a proposed tax rate of $1.50 per $100 of
property evaluation, the same as the current rate but more than three
percent above the so-called effective tax rate as defined by the state's
Truth in Taxation Act.

In order to equal last fiscal year's school tax levy of a little more
than $8 million, the effective tax rate would be $1.35 plus a fraction
of a penny.

The proposed $1.50 rate does mean an increase of 11 percent in the total
tax levy principally because of increased mineral property valuations in
Ward County.

Stephens noted at the Tuesday meeting the owner of a house valued at
$24,171 last year and $24,407 this year would see a savings in the tax
bill although there is an increase in the total tax levy.
This savings is a direct result of the $10,000 increase in the homestead

Last year's Monahans school tax bill on that mythical house would have
been $287.57. Retaining the $1.50 tax rate means the school tax bill
this year would be $141.11.

Says Stephens:

"It is important for the taxpayers to realize that every homestead will
receive an added $10,000 exemption on their school taxes which would
reduce your tax about $145.

"If the value of your property has increased, you will not see that full

"Your school taxes will not be raised. The statement in our (legal
advertisement) that says taxes will increase 11 percent is comparing our
proposed tax rate to our effective rate.

"The Board of Trustees is proposing the tax rate be the same as last

"This should allow the school district to maintain a quality academic and extracurricular environment that the community can be proud of."

M.M. Reif & Co. - city negotiations back on track

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What appeared to be a stumble last week was not a fall in the
negotiations between M.M. Reif & Co. and the City of Monahans over a
lease agreement for the Camelot Building.

The deal apparently was salvaged in an impromptu visit to First
National Bank immediately following Sept. 3's tumultuous meeting
between sewing company president David Reif, his mother, Timma, their
attorney; Mayor David Cutbirth; City Manager David Mills; and the city's

The negotiations were broken off after the parties involved could not
reach an agreement about time frames for the city to have the Camelot
Building ready for start-up operations. The building is owned by the

What appeared to be the breaking apart in mid-air of the Monahans
Economic Development Corporation's first victory regained its wings when
the Reifs paid a visit to First National's President Mark Gatzki, who
also serves on the economic development board.

Gatzki summoned Mayor Cutbirth to the meeting and - as suddenly as the
deal had ended - it was back on again.

Whereas the Reifs originally were negotiating the details of doing a
10-year lease of the building, the new negotiations are structured
around the Reifs buying the Camelot outright with the city using
economic development funds to renovate and remodel the structure.

While a new optimism seems to surround the born-again negotiations,
several parties close to the talks emphasized "it is not a done deal."

"I am very glad the deal is still on," said a jubilant Mayor Cutbirth.

"Admittedly, at this time last week I thought we had hit a wall... it is
because of the straight-forward manner in which these negotiations have
been conducted by both sides that I feel we can still make this happen.

"I am very optimistic," the mayor continued, " and I look forward to
reaching a conclusion which will be fair and satisfactory to the Reifs,
to the city and to the (commission). I believe Monahans stands a very
good chance of gaining some good corporate citizens"

City Councilman Curtis Howard, commission board president, was in New
York last week when the deal apparently headed South after the
negotiation session at Monahans City Hall. Howard also expressed relief
and optimism that the negotiations are back on.

During an interview before Tuesday's, Sept. 8, City Council meeting,
Howard not only gave credit to Gatzki and Mayor Cutbirth, but also to
the way in which the Reifs have "played it straight up".

"I think Timma Reif is a wonderful person. She epitomizes that phrase of
`calling a spade a spade,'" Howard said.

"She's a very tough negotiator and says what she means and means what
she says... that's why her company is so successful. And while she can
be tough at the table, I don't think she would ever say anything to
intentionally hurt someone."

Howard also praised the direction the new negotiations have taken.
"By removing government from the deal, the process of making this happen will be facilitated."

UP starts rail work in Pyote this week

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Union Pacific Railroad Co. crews this week began a 40-mile railway tie
project extending from Pyote through Monahans to Penwell.

While the work is in progress, day time train traffic through Ward
County is expected to be curtailed. Trains likely will be rerouted to
the evening hours when the about 60 workers in the UP gang are not
scheduled to work.

That was the report from a spokesman for the railroad who said work
would start, weather permitting, Friday, Sept. 12.

The work is part of a multimillion dollar rail renovation and
construction project on UP rail in West Texas focused on lines from El
Paso to Fort Worth.

Eventually, the work will allow about a dozen trains a day to move
through Ward County, press officers in Omaha, where Union Pacific is
based, have said.

Part of the work scheduled is to upgrade railway crossings in the
region. The construction also includes ties, railbeds and rails where
the UP planners have identified the need for such work.

Off-loading of construction equipment began at Monahans on Monday, Sept.

Ties for the Ward County leg of the rail bed renovation were unloaded
on Wednesday, Sept. 10.

The about 20 miles of new tie from Pyote to Monahans should be
completed in about 20 days, certainly by Halloween, says a Union Pacific

The about 40 miles of new tie are scheduled to be finished to Penwell
before Christmas.

Next year rails and crossings in Monahans and other areas in the Pyote
to Odessa corridor are scheduled to be renovated and enhanced, says the

Work on rails could start as early as January of 1998, says the spokesman.

City's first economic development
director quits effective Sept.19

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Charles Walker, the city of Monahans' first Director of Economic
Development, has resigned.

City Manager David Mills says the resignation is effective on Friday,
Sept. 19.

Mills says a replacement for Walker will be sought through the usual
channels - advertisements in professional journals and elsewhere. The
position, Mills notes, pays between $28,000 and $35,000 a year depending
upon the qualifications of the applicant.

Walker's resignation was tendered on Friday, Sept. 5. He left the city's
employ at that time taking accrued vacation and leave time.

In his letter of resignation, Walker thanks the city for the opportunity
to work in Ward County and help in its initial organized economic
development efforts.

"I feel it is time for me to move on to reach my professional goals,"
Walker said in a short interview with the Monahans News.

Walker was at the city's economic development helm when the citizens
approved a special half-cent sales tax to promote economic development.

He was a factor in negotiations with Chinese investors who are
considering several possibilities in Ward County. Walker was part of a
special economic delegation to China that was led by Mayor David
Cutbirth. He also was the point in negotiations with W. W. Reif & CO. of
Philadelphia, Pa., in which city officials are attempting to lure Reif
to Monahans and Ward County. Reif is a web-products manufacturer with
several military contracts for production of various products including packs and carriers for military equipment.

Deadline Oct. 2 for Leadership Monahans

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Monahans Chamber of Commerce Leadership committee has extended
enrollment in Leadership Monahans to Oct. 2, according to a Chamber

Classes are scheduled to begin on Tuesday, Oct. 14. At least 10
participants are required for the series of seminars to be held.
Chamber President Kay Rankin encourages all employers to attend or to
send a representative from their business to Leadership Monahans. Rankin
serves as the Leadership seminar chair.

Leadership Monahans is scheduled to meet once a month for eight months.
The program is designed to teach civic indeed citizens about every
aspect of the community.

Participants tour numerous facilities in Monahans and Ward County.
Speakers at the sessions teach the many functions and services provided
as well as information concerning governmental entities.
Leadership Monahans is open to the public.

Tuition fees are $75 for Chamber members; $100, for non-members.
Fees include all materials, lunch for each session and the graduation
banquet which will take place in May.

Rankin asks those interested in attending Leadership Monahans to call
the Chamber office at 943-2187 no later than 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 2.

Ward Memorial administrator wants
panel to study proposed hospital lease

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Ward Memorial Hospital administrator William O'Brien suggests a special
advisory commission study the proposed lease of Ward Memorial Hospital
to a private, for-profit health care provider.

O'Brien says such a "blue ribbon" panel would need to be appointed by
County Judge Sam G. Massey and the Ward County Commissioner's Court.

"I want to make it a win, win situation for the county commissioners
and the county judge plus all the citizens of the county," says O'Brien.
"This is a way to get the citizens of the county involved in the
proposed lease and use their expertise to figure out what is really the
best deal for the county."

Community Health Systems Inc. of Brentwood, Tenn., has approached the
commissioner's court about leasing Ward Memorial.

O'Brien says the panel might determine if a lessor or purchaser would
continue all non-hospital services presently provided by Ward Memorial -
rural health clinics, wellness programs, senior citizen services, home
health care, community health clinics in the county's towns, preventive programs.

Monahans High Student Council seeks
entries for '97 Homecoming Parade

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Entries for 1997 Monahans High School Homecoming Parade are being sought
by the Student Council, says a statement released by the council.

The parade is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 26. This year's
Homecoming Parade theme is "Celebrations."

Student Council Sponsor Dolores Ratcliff says she encourages all
Monahans businesses, churches, civic organizations and individuals to
get involved in the parade. Says Ratcliff: "With your help, we can make
this the best parade ever."

More information? Call Ratcliff at 943-2519 between 8:15 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

August building permits exceed $20,000 in city

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Monahans building permits issued in August totaled $22,460, according to
a report from City Inspector Bobby Sinclair.
Of those permits, $20,460 was for residential work; $2,000 for
commercial. The August building permits brought the city of Monahans to
a total of $688,124 to date, Sinclair reports. In all of last year,
building permits representing $1,463,419 were issued.

Among the August permits were:

• $7000 to Dora Arroyo for an addition to a home at 305 South Faye
• $4,250 to Faye Mayhall for a storage building and fence brace at 903
South James Avenue.
• $5,000 to Cliff Goble for siding on a house at 1208 North Dora Avenue.,
• $1,550 to Ben Medina for a carport at 912 North Dora Avenue.
• $1,335 to Glenn Ratliff to re-roof a carport at 1100 South Dwight
Avenue.• $6,100 to William Cunningham to move a mobile home at 1

Texas Transportation Department
honors 7 Monahans employees

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Seven Texas Department of Transportation workers in Monahans have
received safety awards from the agency, according to a statement from
the Odessa district office.

The awards were among more than 300 awarded by the Texas Department of
Transportation to its workers.Those honored were Andres Fuentes, Ismael
Guzman, Anthony Bustos, Omar Flores, Larry Ornelas, Gabriel Castro and
Merle Miller.

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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