Weekly Newspaper and Tourism Guide for Ward County Trans Pecos, Big Bend of West Texas
April 16, 1998
City Council rejects expansion bid
All bids for expansion of the Monahans City Hall and
addition of a municipal court building were rejected by the
Monahans City Council on Tuesday, April 14.
The Council decided to explore other options at the
recommendation of City Manager David Mills.
Bids were opened during the Council meeting last month and
came in higher than anticipated, apparently due to the
building boom in Midland-Odessa, Mills suggested.
In other action, the council held a public hearing on
renewing the franchise of Classic Cable. Classic is seeking
a renewal for 20 years, paying the city a three per cent
franchise fee on gross sales of basic cable rates. The rate
is now two per cent. Mills was questioning the basis for
computing the gross sales and that is to be clarified prior
to the next council meeting when another public hearing will
Ben Hernandez, area operations manager for Classic, answered
questions asked by the council and noted in response to a
question by Council Woman Mary Garcia that a 20-year renewal
is being sought in order to cover investments in the cable
Councilman Curtis Howard asked about improvements Hernandez
mentioned and the Classic representative noted fiber optic
cable is being installed in Kermit and that could be coming
to Monahans as well as the possibility of subscribers
having a converter box to pick from a large selection of
Chamber of Commerce Manager Tammy Swigert along with Main
Street Manager Suzi Blair noted thanks to the cable system
for helping out on community projects.
One member of the audience jokingly asked if the cable would
take off the controversial Jerry Springer show. The question
When asked how the city could get out of the agreement,
Hernandez noted they are controlled by the FCC and
customers. The council will consider a resolution to renew
the franchise within 30 days.
In other action, the council approved a resolution declaring
the month of May as "Clean-up Beautification Month" in
Monahans in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce. They
also agreed to a one-year lease agreement with the Monahans
Main Street Association for the Downtown Texaco building. By
the end of that time, Blair said it is hoped that the group
will have their non-profit, tax exempt status approved.
The council also approved the second reading of an ordinance
for the proposed franchise agreement with Southwestern Bell
Telephone and approved a resolution approving property tax
abatement agreement with Reif Manufacturing.
Another ordinance was approved, cancelling the May 2 city
election and declaring the unopposed candidates as winners.
Those candidates are Mary Garcia, District 1; Jeppie Wilson
of District 2; Ted Ward, District 4 and Clarese Gough,
Sale of eight lots which are tax delinquent properties, was
approved . Those lots are located at 802 E. "D", 308 N.
Allen, 507 and 509 N. Bruce, 205 and 209 E "J", and 701 and
705 E. "B".
The school and county must approve of the sale of the lots
for $200 each to various buyers before it can be final. The
school has objected to the sale, apparently Mayor David
Cutbirth said, because the $200 is below the value, Mills
noted that the city is the one that has to deal with
complaints about weeds and infested areas and had to tear
down buildings on those lots. If the school doesn't want to
sell the lots, they can buy a tractor and mow them, he said.
At the request of Connie Bean, head of the school district's
transportation department, the council approved closing the
area around the city park between 10th and 11th Streets and
parts of adjoining streets on Saturday, April 25 for the
school bus road-e-o. He reported there will be 92 drivers
from 10 school districts here competing. The streets will be
closed off in that area from 6:45 a.m. to 1 or 1:30 p.m.
Bean noted that no other school district has a driver like
Gina Williams who has made 13 trips to the state finals and
two to nationals, coming in eighth four years ago. He noted
that Odessa has a bounty out on her to get her defeated as
no one in this area has had near the success she has had.
The second and final reading was approved on closing the
1700 block of South Carol Street and the council also
approved lease of the tower/antenna at the airport for GTE
Airfone at the rate of $312.50 per month. The council held a
brief executive session on deliberation regarding real
property but took no action. Mills reported that new
shelters are going up at Hill Park and a new trench is being
dug at the landfill.
State begins plan to issue six-year DL
The state of Texas already has started to phase in the
six-year drivers licenses, according to a statement from the
Texas Department of Public Safety in Austin.
Some six year licenses already are being issued at the
drivers license office in the Law Enforcement Center in
From the DPS communique which quotes DPS Director Col.
Dudley M. Thomas:
"Eventually, all Texas drivers licenses and identification
cards will be good for six years instead of four. Since
folks won't have to visit our driver license offices often,
we should have fewer people waiting in line on any given
Issuing the six year licenses is a four year project.
From the DPS statement: "Over the next four years, DPS will
phase in the six-year system. During the transition period,
renewal licenses will be issued for four, five or six years
to evenly distribute renewals through the next cycle and to
avoid crowds when those licenses expire. All original
licenses and identification cards will be valid for six
Drivers license fees will remain $4 a year but totals will
vary depending on the expiration date.
Cain, McCurdy, Fausett win
Natrell Cain won the Democratic nomination for Ward County
She succeeds a retiring legend, Pat V. Finley. Finley says
she is retiring from office but she plans to keep working at
home and in the community.
County Veterans Affairs Officer Rick McCurdy becomes the
Democrat County Commissioner from Precinct 4, a mostly rural
district focused on Wickett and Pyote.
Businesswoman Kathy Fausett won in Precinct 2, the closest
area Ward County can claim to being an urbane, sophisticated
area where most of the residents vote.
That was the outcome in Ward County on Run Off Day, April
14, the Democratic Primary.
All of the nominations are tantamount to election. Neither
Cain, McCurdy, nor Fausett face any Republican opposition in
the November general elections.
In Ward County, Democratic nomination historically means
election. Incumbent County Judge Sam G. Massey is the only
Democrat with GOP opposition in November. That comes from
Candido Gutierrez of Monahans, who has promised a strong
campaign. Still, on run off election day in Ward County with
three statewide Republican nomination races on the ballot,
only 10 GOPs voted
Victor and vanquished congratulated each other at the
Courthouse in Monahans on Tuesday night, April 14, as the
Precinct 2 commissioner candidates Kathy Fausett, the
winner, and Henry Cutbirth, the loser, embraced, talked for
a few moments and wondered what lay ahead for the county.
Fausett defeated Cutbirth 277 to 210, 56.87 percent to 43.12
percent. Both Precinct 2 candidates had waged a vigorous
In Precinct 4, McCurdy literally blasted incumbent Precinct
4 Commissioner Don Creech, who was running for reelection to
a second term. McCurdy won 128 to 45, 73.98 percent to 26.01
Natrell Cain and her opponent, Judy L. Greer, are both
veterans of the county clerk's office. Greer had served as
Finley's chief deputy and has been in the office 19 years.
Cain, a dozen year veteran, defeated Greer in the run off
605 to 517, 53.92 percent to 46.07 percent. Cain worked
hard. She had been campaigning in Barstow from 3 p.m. to 6
p.m. on Run Off Day.
Early voting starts for hospital lease
Early voting began Wednesday, April 15, on both the Ward
Memorial hospital leasing issue and to select a trustee from
District 2 of the Monahans-Wickett-Pyote school district.
District four voting was canceled because incumbent John
Sconiers runs unopposed.
Early voting will be at the County Clerk's Office in the
Courthouse in Monahans every working day from 8 a.m. to 5
The last day for early voting will be April 28. General
election will be May 2 when the polls will be open from 7
a.m. till 7 p.m.
School Board early voting for precinct 2 will be at the
Monahans Administration Building, 606 South Betty, during
regular business hours (8 a.m. - 4 p.m.)
The last day to vote early is April 28.
The May 2 election for the school board trustee will be held
at Sands Art Center.
Incumbent in the school board election is Jessie Aguilar.
Her opponent is Patsy Lyles.
In Grandfalls early voting for city elections will take
place at City Hall, 210 Second St.
May 2 elections will be held at the Community Center in
Grandfalls. On that City's Ballots are Mayor: James Everett,
Leo Bookmiller, Joyce Wilhelm.
For Grandfalls City Council: James Chill Jr., Donald Howell,
Jessie Heard, Thomas Ed Kuhn, Lawana Johnston, Sue Mullins
and Jeannie Crawford. Grandfalls school board early voting
and regular voting will be held at the Administration
Building, 108 Ave. E. Running for place one is Ray
Bookmiller, Randy Brandenburg and Jim Pulis. Place two is
Mary Everett and Jeff Kester. Place three is Otho Lee
Pierce, Mark Kuhn, Raquel Mull and Randy Michael McAlister.
The major issue in the May 2 elections, observers agree, is
the county wide vote on whether or not leasing Ward Memorial
Hospital is an option available to try and save the
financially struggling institution.
County Clerk Pat V. Finley has noted that the election will
cost more than $4,000.
County Commissioners have already presented the issue back
to the Hospital Board of Managers and told them to solve the
Commissioners last week told the hospital trustees that
leasing the hospital to a third party to operate it is no
The principal reason, notes County Judge Sam G. Massey, is
that the only viable lease possibility, a company based in
Tennessee, withdrew its offer because company officials said
the hospital's debt was too great to assume. Therefore, the
election must be held because it was called for in a
petition signed by the voters.
Lease is no longer an issue but the election must be held,
no matter what the cost, says elections officer FInley,
because the law requires that it be held.
County commissioners have warned hospital trustees that the
county will no longer subsidize an over staffed, inefficient
operation at Ward Memorial.
Hospital trustees considering hiring manager
Members of the Ward Memorial Hospital Board of Managers are
considering the possibility of hiring a manager for the
Last Week the Ward County Commissioners Court led by County
Judge Sam G. Massey said the fiscal problems of the hospital
were to be solved by the hospital trustees.
Massey told the board the hospital would adopt a real
budget, subject to the approval of the commissioner's court,
and the hospital would live within that budget.
Massey told the trustees: "I emphasize we all are gong to
live within a real budget, avoid debt and live within our
means. And if that means cutbacks in staff, salaries and
services, then so be it."
Hospital trustees are scheduled to meet on Thursday, April
16, at 5:30 p.m.. At the Hospital's Family Health and
Wellness Center at 813 East Fourth Street in Monahans.
The agenda of the first meeting indicates a commitment to
respond positively to the ultimatum of the commissioners'
Members of the board are going to discuss management
The potential contracts at issue are consideration of St.
Mary's Hospital, Methodist Hospital in Lubbock and Midland
Some county commissioners have suggested repeatedly that
staff at the hospital must be cut in consideration of
present county budgetary restraints. Commissioner Larry Hunt
has noted that all facets of county government have
responded except for the hospital.
First Lady of Texas to visit Monahans
Laura Bush, wife of Texas Gov. George Bush, is scheduled to
visit Monahans on Monday, April 27, according to a statement
from the governor's office and Monahans Main Street.
The First Lady's trip to the Ward County Seat is to
celebrate the designation of Monahans as a 1998 Official
Texas Main Street City, reports Main Street Project Manager
Blair notes that the visit of the first lady to Monahans is
part of a statewide Main Street tour that includes
Nacodoches, Port Arthur and San Antonio Midtown on the
Blanco on Monday, April 13, and Electra, Garland and Gilmer
on Monday, April 20. Her trip to Monahans on April 27 will
coincide with a comparable visit to Levelland on the same
day, Blair notes.
Blair says all of Monahans and Ward County is invited to be
In the words of the Main Street Invitation to the affair:
"You are cordially invited to join Laura Bush, First Lady of
Texas, as she dedicates Monahans Main Street as an Official
1998 Texas Main Street City, April 27, 1998, 10 a.m. at the
Main Street Building, Sealy and Highway 18, Monahans. Jan
Bullock, wife of Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock and representatives of
the Texas Historical Commission will join us in this
historic event. A reception will follow in the Board Room,
First National Bank, 307 South Main. In the event of rain,
the entire event will be held at the Ward County Convention
Bush is scheduled to give the keynote address at the
Monahans celebration. Jan Bullock will offer a welcome from
the Texas Historical Commission.
From Blair's communique: "Accompanying Bush and Bullock will
be Terry Colley, director of the Texas Main Street Program;
Mary Alice Torres-MacDonald, Texas Main Street Urban Program
Director . . . and members of the Texas Historical
Curtis Tunnell of the Historical Commission says of Bush's
planned visit to Monahans: "Through the years, the First
Lady's tour has become a traditional honor for the new Main
Street cities. The tour shines a spotlight on our cities as
they begin a program that will have a positive impact on
their local community."
Board tables action on computer, plans trip
A computer learning system proposed by administrators of the
Monahans-Wickett-Pyote ISD will require a field trip by the
school board as trustees tabled the item during the regular
meeting of the board Monday, April 13.
The system, developed by Creative Education Institute in
Waco, is now in use in Pecos, McCamey and Rankin and other
area schools and is useful in helping children who for
whatever reason have trouble coming up to speed in reading.
Assistant Superintendent Tom Johnson, along with his wife,
first grade teacher Karen Johnson, pointed out that the
system is in use in Whiteface where they were before coming
to Monahans. School technology coordinator Nancy Upchurch
said it would cost about $80,000 to put four computer
stations in four schools, Kindergarten thru 4th grade.
Johnson along with Superintendent Cliff Stephens noted that
this would help bring students up to reading level by the
time they reach the third grade which is a goal of Governor
Trustee Brook Claborn said it is unfortunate that the system
can't be used in all grades to which Stephens responded this
is only a proposal and could possibly be expanded at a
future date if the board desired.
However, board member Steve Hurst said he just wasn't
comfortable spending $880,000 without more information.
Trustee John Sconiers then made a motion to table the matter
until a later time to give the board a chance to go to
another school to see the system in operation. Board
president Johnny White said it would be good to take a
little more time but be able to get the system approved in
time for it to be implemented for the new school year, if
the board approves.
Most of the three hour, 15 minute meeting was taken up by a
one-hour, 39 minute executive session on personnel.
However, in other action, the board approved a special
meeting for noon, May 5 to canvas the school board election.
They also declared an unopposed trustee election for
District 4 and declared incumbent Sconiers as the winner.
The only contested election for the board is between
incumbent Jessie Aguilar and challenger, Patsy Lyles
Carrasco for the District 2 race. Absentee voting is now
underway for the May 2 election.
Also approved was a waiver for Algebra 1-4 which gives
students two years to get complete Algebra 1 under a program
approved by the state last year but a waiver must be
The board also learned the school district will receive
$171,152 more federal money than was budgeted. Part of this
was spent last month on computers for high school and junior
high libraries. The enrollment report showed there are 2,477
students enrolled in school which is 22 less than this time
Only one resignation has been received and that was
accepted. It was from James Edward Davalt, math/computer
science teacher. Three new teachers were approved to be
hired, Randy Johnson as principal at Cullender Kindergarten;
Deana Moreland, computer science/math teacher at the high
school and Amy Wilson, math teacher, coach at Walker Junior
Citizens and law agencies join for seminar
Citizens and law enforcement officers are joining hands in
Monahans today, Thursday, April 16, in the first step toward
the possible establishment of a task force to assist victims
and prevent family and sexual abuse and assault.
The program starts at 10 a.m. in the Ward County Convention
Ray Ramirez of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in
Austin will be the keynote speaker and the coordinator of
Monahans coordinator Jean Jeffords urges all who can to
attend the seminar. Representatives of support groups as
well as law enforcement officers are scheduled to attend.
Jeffords says Texas Ranger Capt. Barry Caver of Midland and
Hans Martin of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Odessa
are scheduled to attend.
For further information, call Jeffords , 943-3882, or
Shirley Hill, 943-5962.
Copyright 1998 by Ward Newspapers, Inc.
Mac McKinnon, Publisher
107 W. Second St., Monahans TX 79756
Phone 915-943-4313, FAX 915-943-4314
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Copyright 1998 by Ward Newspapers Inc.