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Thursday, January 8, 1998

Police Chief requests reassignmet

Police Chief Dave Watts, a veteran of more than two decades in law enforcement, has requested reassignment within the Monahans police department, reports City Manager David Mills, himself a former Monahans Police Chief.

The commander of the department cited health as the reason for his request, reports the city manager. Physicians have been treating Watts for cancer for at least two years.

"I want to emphasize no one is forcing me to do anything," says Watts. " This is my decision. It is no one else's. I have had chronic health problems and I have reached that point where it is better for me and the city that I be reassigned to a position that does not have the same responsibilities and demands as this one. I still can work and I still will work."

Watts became Monahans Chief five years ago.

Police Lt. Charles Sebastian has been Watts second in command and executive officer.

A short communique from Mills says: "Monahans Chief of Police Dave Watts has requested reassignment in the department. Chief Watts has served in the capacity of police chief for five years and has been employed with the city for 22 years. Chief Watts has submitted a request for reassignment with the department to City Management. Chief Watts cited health reasons for requesting this reassignment. The request has been accepted and the process to replace Chief Watts has begun. Chief Watts will continue to serve in his current capacity until a replacement is named by the City Manager."

Mills notes that there is a position within the department for an assistant police chief with the rank of captain. That position has not been filled in recent years. The City Manager says this is the position projected for Watts to fill. In the interim, Watts will continue as police chief. The time needed to find a successor to Watts is unknown.

"It could be two weeks," says City Manager Mills. "It could be five months."
The City Manager confirmed the reassignment request by Watts on Monday, Jan. 5.

Mills says the time needed for the police command transition to proceed will depend to a large extent on advertising to fill the position and whether there are applications from within the department to succeed Watts. The police chief says he cannot project when his successor will be chosen or whether that successor will come from within the department or elsewhere.

No license plate triggers drug bust

No license plate on a Nissan Maxima travelling west on the interstate triggered a heroin, cocaine and marijuana arrest of a man and wife, reports Sgt. Billy Sides of the Permian Basin Drug Task Force.

Sides says he and Ward County Sheriff's Deputy Juan Rodriguez made the bizarre arrest on Sunday, Jan. 4, at Interstate 20's mile marker 76 in western Ward County.

"They were heading for El Paso and had come out of Aurora, Ill.," says Sides. "Jose and I were cruising about 1:30 p.m. when we saw the vehicle pass with no license plate."

Sides says the officers pulled the automobile over.

"There was no trouble," says Sides.

Asked about the lack of a license plate, the driver told the officers the plate was in the trunk.

"We obtained permission to search," continues Sides. "They were right. The plate was in the trunk next to the heroin, cocaine and marijuana."

Daniel Alberto Jauregui, 28, of El Paso, and wife, Tina Anne, 24, were arrested.

They are being held in the Ward County Jail on charges of possession and distribution of illicit drugs. Bail bond for each is $5,000.

Grandfalls-Monahans to be local call

Grandfalls (population 588) and Monahans (population 8,101), the two largest communities in Ward County, finally will be linked by local telephone service on March 18.

Guy Andrews of Southwestern Bell says March 18 is the scheduled date when telephone subscribers in the two towns, only about 15 miles apart, can start calling each other without a long distance service charge.

Grandfalls residents will pay more on their basic monthly bills for the Grandfalls-Monahans link; but, residents of Monahans will not, Andrews reports. Under the laws allowing extended local calling, communities approved as part of a city's extended network are not assessed additional fees.

Monahans has been the beneficiary of this aspect of the law with extended local calling elections in Imperial and Crane adding Monahans to their local net.

This does not mean Monahans telephone subscribers can make local calls to Fort Stockton, one of five cities approved for the extended service. The no long distance charge calls only can be made to Grandfalls as a result of the Grandfalls ballot.

The local calling link between the two communities was the result of an extended local calling election in October and November conducted by the Public Utility Commission of Texas among Grandfalls residents and businesses which have telephones. Grandfalls voters overwhelmingly cast "yes" votes for extended local calllng to Monahans, Crane, Fort Stockton, Imperial and Odessa.

Under the extended local calling statutes, approval of one or more of the areas to which local calling privileges are extended means residential customers pay an extra $3.50 a month; business subscribers, $7.50 a month. Up to five areas can be noted on the ballot. Approval of one or all five means the same charge is added to the basic monthly telephone bill - a five for the price of one option.

In Grandfalls, according to a report from Linda Hymans, manager of the extended local calling section of the utility commission, voters approved Monahans and Odessa by the same percentage - 98.87. Fort Stockton was approved by 98.26 percent of those balloting. Crane was approved by 97.67 percent; Imperial by 97.09 percent.

Seventy percent of the voters in an extended local calling referendum must approve an area to which local call service would be extended.

Under the extended local calling law, citizens added to a community's local net may call the core city at no additional charge but they do not have the same privilege to the other cities in that extended local calling network.

Andrews notes Southwestern Bell had filed the necessary implemention and fees documents with the Public Utility Commission on Dec. 29.

Extended local calling first came to Monahans on April 16, 1997, when Odessa came on line. This was the result of an extended local calling ballot among Monahans telephone subscribers in 1996. In that election, Monahans voters decided they wanted to pay the $3.50 a month extra on their residential bills ($7 for businesses) for the right to make Odessa a local call. They rejected four other cities on their ballot, which included Grandfalls and Terminal, the site of the Midland-Odessa airport. Monahans could have had all five for the same money they paid for Odessa alone. This Monahans rejection of the five for the price of one has been used since across the state as an educational tool in extended calling elections. Extended local calling elections can be held in communities of 10,000 or less population and may include an area within a radius of 50 miles of the core city.

Commission field nearly guarantees run off

Seven candidates battling for two places on the County Commissioner's Court nearly guarantee a run off election before Democratic candidates are chosen, says the Ward County Democratic Party's election officer.

Three candidates seek the Democratic nomination for County Commissioner from Precinct 2; four, for county commissioner from Precinct 4.

Historically, Democratic nomination for a local office means election in Ward County. The county's generally conservative voters split tickets in regional, state and national races.

Tuesday, March 10, is primary election day for Democrats and Republicans. Run offs, if needed, are scheduled on Tuesday, April 14.

County Commissioner Bill Welch's retirement in Precinct 2 was expected to draw interest. C. Pearson Cooper, Henry Cutbirth and Kathy Fausett seek the party's nomination there.

"I can understand Precinct 2," says Triva Oxedine, executive secretary for the Ward County Democratic Party. "I didn't expect the number of candidates in Precinct 4 because it has an incumbent, Don Creech."

Other Precinct 4 Democratic candidates are Rick McCurdy, David Carasco and Johnny B. Williams. Says Oxedine: "We're going to have run offs in Precinct 4; possibly, Precinct 2."

Ward officially takes City Council seat

Ted Ward, 74, a consulting petroleum engineer, officially took his seat on the Monahans City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 6.

Ward had been appointed to the position in December suceeding Fred Hinojos, who resigned to accept a position in Midland.

"I'm retired but I do a little consulting and maintain an office," says Ward, a veteran civic leader in Ward County.

He notes one of his first official duties now that he's an official member of the Monahans council is that he will have to resign from the county's Appraisal Review Board.

He also has been a member of the Ward Memorial Hospital Board of Managers.
Ward and wife, Maxine, moved to Monahans in 1951 two years after he was graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a petroleum engineering degree.
A Naval veteran of World War II, Ward was born in Smackover, Ark., and was graduated in 1941 from high school in Magnolia, Ark.. Smackover and Magnolia are communities in the Razorback Oil Patch.

The term he takes on the City Council, Ward says, is to expire this year. Will he run again?

"We'll wait to see about seeking re-election," says Ward. "I only agreed to serve the rest of this term. Running for re-election may be more than I want to do. I am retired, you know."

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