Weekly Newspaper and Tourism Guide for Ward County Trans Pecos, Big Bend of West Texas
August 6, 1998
Sandhills host boot camp camel crew
Boot camp camels brought their young juvenile offender
charges to Monahans Sandhills State Park on Tuesday, Aug.
4, for a run through the dunes.
It was part of the VisionQuest boot camp program based near
Uvalde. Senior Drill Instructor Michael G. Weatherly says
the camels teach the young offenders respect and self
reliance. All of the youth who came with the camels had been
working with the animals for about three months, Weatherly
says. The trip to the dunes near Monahans was designed to
give animals and boys desert experience.
Sandhills Park Superintendent Glen Korth notes the U.S. Army
once used camels in this region in the late 19th Century.
Korth wonders if it might be a good idea to examine the idea
of a late 20th century camel corps at the park
Building frame maker eyes Monahans
Rick Taylor came to Monahans Monday, Aug. 3, as the city's
new economic development director and went to work.
By Tuesday, Taylor, a petroleum engineer turned economic
development guru, was preparing drafts on two proposals for
firms to relocate in Monahans - one of them for a small
company in Maine which fabricates building frames.
That one, says Taylor, looks viable.
"We're going to have this proposal package together and
submit it by next week," says Taylor of the potential Maine
Taylor, 47, comes to Monahans from Hamlin, a community of
about 2,700 persons North, Northwest of Abilene. He was
reared in Crane. Accepting the job in Monahans was, he says,
"a little like coming home."
Taylor comes on board after a search by the city that began
with the resignation of Charles Walker, the first Monahans
Economic Development Director, late last Fall. Walker is now
the Chamber of Commerce executive in Roswell, N.M.
"We're one of many in the state seeking the Maine
manufacturer," says Taylor. "We have a lot to offer, an
excellent school system, a low cost of living, a very
trainable work force and, most important of all, really
He grew up in Crane and was graduated high school in Fort
Worth. He attended the University of Texas-Austin, Texas A&M
University and did graduate work at the Bolivian Petroleum
Institute for Advanced Engineering. Taylor reports he spent
15 years in the oil patch before accepting a position as an
associate general manager for an electric cooperative where
he first started working in economic development of rural
He and wife Jean have a daughter, Shelly, who has just been
graduated from the Dallas Police Academy and who eventually
plans a career with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Taylor notes no economic developer can promise anything but
hard work. He says it has been his experience that work pays
"Industry looks forward. It is going to be looking here. We
have the room; we have the work force; and we have the
people," says Taylor.
Health care team stronger
Reorganization and cash control procedures are taking hold
at troubled Ward Memorial Hospital while service is being
enhanced, says the county-operated hospital's interim
administrator and board chair.
The health officials say the best report they have to make
is that medical services are continuing at higher and higher
standards and all hospital employees are becoming a stronger
and stronger health care team.
Problems remain, agree Board Chair Dyer Moore and
administrator Steve Holmes, but progress is being made. Both
say they "feel positive" the goals they have set will be
made. Both note the plan to rescue Ward Memorial from its
cash flow doldrums are working. Both say the projected
$107,000 savings in monthly payroll will be realized by the
end of September depending on what happens with the plan to
privatize the ambulance service which currently is operated
through Ward Memorial Hospital.
"We'll be real close to reaching the $107,000 payroll
savings goal by the end of August," says Holmes. "But that
projection included the effect of privatization of Emergency
Medical Services. So far, privatization of EMS is still in
process and may not be realized as quickly as some had
Unemployment compensation and other payments following the
recent down-sizing also will remain a cost factor through
August into September, notes Moore.
One major factor in the stricter cash flow control, notes
the hospital board chair, is: "We're not finding any more
unpaid invoices in bottom drawers. Things are definitely
One of the latest cash control factors at Ward Memorial
Hospital has been the consolidation of Community Health
Services into the Sandhills Clinic, says Moore and Holmes.
Those who had been assigned to Community Health Services
based in the Emergency Medical Service area now can receive
the same care at Sandhills.
"What we did will realize about $80,000 a year in savings,"
says Moore, "by eliminating duplication of services as well
as payroll, floor space, utilities, just the whole thing."
Sandhills is about a block from the old Community Health
Says Moore: "We are down now to looking at small financial
hemorrhages - telephone control, office supplies, small
things separately but which can add up to $2,000 or $3,000 a
month over the course of a year."
Holmes says of the time since he has been at Ward Memorial
under the Covenant Health Systems Inc. management
"I feel real good. We've made strides in the directions we
need to go. Employees are really pulling together. Our goal
is to continue to provide quality health care. We are doing
that. We have the support of the physicians and continue to
try and find more physicians to bring into our community. I
feel real positive. It's always good to hear the positives.
I have not heard one single complaint about the quality of
Next in cost control, notes Holmes and Moore, is finding
ways to move more hospital operations into the hospital
(where there is space) and out of leased space in buildings
round the hospital.
Finance officer on the way
Joe Wright of Grosbeck is scheduled to report to Ward
Memorial Hospital on Aug. 10 as the hospital's interim chief
financial officer, reports Ward Memorial chief executive
Wright has been used by Covenant Health Systems Inc. in the
past as an interim chief financial officer, says Holmes.
Covenant operates the hospital under a management agreement
with Ward County. Wright succeeds former Chief Financial
Officer Robert Foret, who resigned and planned to return
to Houston. Foret had worked about 14 months on a two-year
contract when he asked the Hospital Board of Managers to
renegotiate the contract so he could leave without a $12,000
penalty. Foret made the request after former administrator
James M. Robinson, quit because some hospital employees
were paid late
Marines buddies renew friendship
Frank E. Dotson of Monahans and Harold Scott of Kettering,
Ohio, near Dayton hadn't seen each other since 1953.
On that day in Hawaii, they shook left-handed. Last week,
about 45 years later, they shook hands again, only this
time, as Dotson tells the tale he and his old Gyrene buddy
did it right, right handed.
The left-handed shake came at Oahu during the Korean War
when both were part of a Marine Corps air crash crew at the
Marine Air Station there.
Those are the guys who run onto the tarmac or flight deck
when a plane has bought the farm and the gas tanks are
exploding and the flames are swirling. They run into these
boiling cauldrons and try and save a pilot's life and the
lives of everyone around the crew.
"The Marines said it was hazardous duty," recalls Dotson.
The Marines are right.
Continues Dotson, "Harold and I never killed anybody but we
did save a few lives."
They were stationed at Oahu for 17 months, a time in which
the boredom was broken only by the crash crew scrambles.
Once the presidential airplane (Eisenhower's as Dotson
recalls) landed and lost a nose wheel. They scrambled but
there was no flame then and no president, just an
embarrassed flight crew with a broken nose wheel.
That was then. This is now.
Now means Dotson is 66 years old; Harold, 73.
"Harold's an old man. I'm not" laughs Dotson as he tells the
story of how he and his buddy met again.
Enter the internet.
After all this is now and this is the late 20th Century. One
day Dotson began looking for the Marines with whom he had
He found Scott in a small town called Kettering near Dayton,
Ohio. And Dotson drove up North to see his war time friend..
They met. They talked. They went to the Museum of Flight
which is near Dayton, which also is the place that spawned
The Wright Brothers.
And at the Museum of Flight, what do you think the Old
Gyrenes found. You'd never guess. It was that Old
Presidential Airplane, the Columbine, that lost a nose wheel
in Oahu all those decades ago when Frank Dotson and Harold
Scott were not killing people but they were saving lives.
Park projects move ahead
Delays in projects at the Monahans Sandhills State Park are
no problem and progress continues daily, the board of
Friends of Sandhills State Park was told on Tuesday, Aug. 4.
One park official projects the park enhancement, even with
the delays, will be completed by the end of February for a
Says one board member: "Delays on completion of the Dunagan
Visitor Center at Monahans Sandhills State Park, while a
little disappointing, is not a real concern here.
"That is because the project is progressing and Texas Parks
and Wildlife have good people on the project again after
some personnel changes."
Texas Parks & Wildlife regional director Delton Daugherty
says the delays are mainly due to the loss of key personnel
initially involved in the project plus multiple park
projects across the region occurring at the same time. The
Friends Board met Tuesday with Texas P & W interpretive
planners, Barry Hutcheson, Amanda Hughes, Walter Rhinehart
and Julie Coombes who are in town this week researching
various aspects of Monahans State Park and the surrounding
Two schools get good grade
Special to the News
AUSTIN - Two elementary school campuses in the
Monahans-Wickett-Pyote School District have been granted the
highest academic mark possible by the Texas Education Agency.
That grade is "exemplary." It was earned by the pupils of
Gensler Elementary in Wickett and Sudderth Elementary in
Monahans. Based on scores on the Texas Assessment of
Academic Skills (TAAS) tests, 90 percent or more of the
students taking the tests on a campus must pass to earn the
"exemplary" rating. To earn any honor rating (exemplary,
recognized, acceptable), the campus also must have an
attendance rate of at least 94 percent in the previous
The announcement was made in Austin on Monday, Aug. 3.
In contrast to the MWP schools, only one campus in the more
than twice as large Odessa school district earned the TEA's
"We're really proud of it," says Clifton L. Stephens, the
district superintendent. "It was everything. It was a team
effort. We were just a hair away from the whole district
achieving 'recognized' status. This is attributable to
everyone - students, teachers, administrators."
Edwards Elementary and Tatom Elementary in Monahans had the
second highest academic rating, "recognized," which means 70
percent or more of the students taking the tests must pass.
Monahans High School and Walker Junior High earned
"acceptable" ratings, missing "recognized," notes
Superintendent Stephens, by only a few tenths of a
"The school board has challenged us to make every campus
either 'recognized' or 'exemplary.' We're awfully close
now," says Stephens.
TEA did not rate Cullender Kindergarten or the Monahans
Education Center, the district's alternative education
At the Grandfalls-Royalty school district, TEA rated the
schools "academically acceptable," which means more than 30
percent of the students passed the test and there was at
least a 94 percent attendance rate.
School starts Aug. 13
School bells start ringing for the 1998-99 academic year in
Ward County next week.
Classes are scheduled to start in the Monahans-Wickett-Pyote
school district on Thursday, Aug. 13. May 27 is the
scheduled last day of school.
Students in the Grandfalls-Royalty district do not report
until Monday, Aug. 17. Their scheduled last day of school is
The number of students reporting to Ward County school
districts will be comparable to the numbers enrolled for the
start of the 1997-98 school year, report Clifton L.
Stephens, superintendent of the Monahans-Wickett-Pyote
School District and Kevin Noack, the new principal of
In Monahans, that means an enrollment of about 2,500,
projects Stephens; in Grandfalls, the expected enrollment is
about 200, says Noack.
No major changes are expected in policy or curriculum in the
coming school year. There will be the traditional holiday
Stephens encourages those who file for the free or reduced
price lunch program to do so before school starts in order
to avoid confusion, particularly in those families where
children attend classes on separate campuses. A special
registration for the program was held on Monday, Aug. 3, at
the high school cafeteria.
"We also encourage new students in the district who have not
already registered to come in and register before the first
day of school," says the Monahans superintendent.
And Stephens has a special message for parents and students:
"For the students and their parents, it is so important for
them to be in school every day. This is necessary from
pupils in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten to high school."
Sheriff, chief go with task force
County sheriffs and police chiefs in the Trans-Pecos and
Permian Basin want to be part of a new regional task force
attack on illicit narcotics by Sept. 1
If it happens, as the command law officers want and the
criminal justice division of the governor's office promises,
several procedural and organization problems must be
resolved. The major issues are agreement by the sheriffs
and chiefs, determining jurisdictional liability for task
force actions and reaching agreement on whose badge task
force officers might wear.
That was the bottom line after a sharp exchange of views
among the law enforcement command officers, legislators,
various prosecutors, citizens and members of the staff of
Gov. George W. Bush. The confrontation came on Thursday
afternoon, July 30, in the Colonial Inn at Monahans.
Ward County Sheriff Ben Keele, who was a member of the
board of the task force, and Monahans Police Chief Charles
Sebastian say they are ready to move forward and give the
governor's staff a chance to make good on its promise for a
new anti-narcotics task force.
"Yes, sir," says Keele, "I will take advantage of the task
force for at least nine months. I really do believe they
realize all the mistakes they made. And it would be nice if
they would work real hard on improving their communications.
The rancor among the law officers was triggered by the June
1 decision of the governor's criminal justice division staff
not to renew federal funding for the Permian Basin Drug
Task Force, in effect, killing the regional war on drugs in
the Permian Basin and the Trans-Pecos region.
Highlights of the meeting:
- Outright laughter when a member of the governor's staff
said stopping federal funding for the Permian Basin Task
Force was not the same as killing it.
- Applause from the law officers when Bush's Legislative
Director Terral Smith said mistakes had been made when the
task force was killed..
- The quick and professional way in which Bush's press
officer Linda Edwards stopped a television reporter from
interrupting the law officers questioning the staff.
- A representative of the League of United Latin American
Citizens who told the governor's staff they had crippled law
enforcement in West Texas by killing the task force.
- Statements by a member of the governor's staff that the
constitutional right of due process did not apply to
officers of the defunct Permian Basin Drug Task Force. This
was followed by an acknowledgment that no evidence has been
presented to a grand jury.
- Sheriff Chel Duarte of Terrell County demanding to know
"what this man has done" (a reference to former Permian
Basin Task Force Chief Tom Finley against whom the political
attack was launched which eventually killed the task force.
- Questions by Duarte and others asking why all of the
sheriffs in the counties involved were not notified about
what was happening and about the meeting in Monahans.
At the meeting, the governor's staff agreed with the
sheriffs there had been a lack of communication between
them and the law officers and they agreed mistakes had been
All the sides represented unanimously acknowledged a
regional fight against illicit drugs had to renewed
Smith said the governor's criminal justice division was
ready to begin. Smith said the state would fund a Department
of Public Safety led regional task with $800,000 for nine
months and would seek no dollars from the local
jurisdictions while the public relations and law enforcement
damage is repaired. In that period, a local jurisdiction
would be sought which would be willing to assume the
controlling agency's burden of coordinating the regional
Still frustrated with the way in which the Permian Basin
Drug Task Force was killed but willing to work to renew
regional task force operations, the sheriffs and police
chiefs, according to a telephone survey, say they will work
with the governor's plan.
Already Winkler County Sheriff Robert Roberts, Andrews
County Sheriff Wayne Farmer and Andrews Police Chief Buck
Jones have met with officials in Ector County to determine
if Ector County would be the regional base and authority for
the new task force as it was for the old. Ector County
officials told the law officers they would consider the
latter on Aug. 10.
Following is the complete text of a letter signed by Gov.
Bush and read to the law officers assembled at the Monahans
"I want to thank you all for taking time out of your day to
attend this very important meeting to establish a new drug
task force. I agree with your concerns that West Texas must
have a concerted effort in finding and arresting those who
distribute drugs and prey upon our citizens. I want to thank
you for your hard work and pledge my support.
"I am sorry I cannot be with you today but Terral Smith, a
senior member of my staff, will be there to answer questions
and report to you that I am committed to maintaining a task
force. My office has $800,000 of available money to spend
for the next nine months to enable you to fight drugs.
"One of my jobs is to make sure that taxpayer money is spent
in an appropriate manner. Allegations have reached my
office that there was concern by some in West Texas that the
money was being misspent and misallocated. It is my duty to
investigate such allegations. This is exactly what has taken
place and that is why the current status of the task force
exists as it does today.
"The intent of this meeting is not to cast blame or
aspersions but to move forward. I look forward to hearing
from Terral Smith as to the progress made at the meeting. I
appreciate your attendance and concerns."
Quarantined horses freed
Special to the News
BALMORHEA - Texas is free of blistering disease and the
quarantine on vesicular stomatitis (VS) infected horses in
Reeves county has been lifted, according to a report from
the Texas Animal Health Commission.
The quarantine officially was ended on Friday, July 31.
Dr. Max Coats, assistant state veterinarian for the Texas
Animal Health Commission, notes the VS quarantine had
affected two horses at a ranch near Balmorhea.
"Unfortunately," says Coats,
"It takes only one infected animal for a state to suffer
from restrictions placed on their interstate and
international movement and trading opportunities."
New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona have been plagued by Summer
outbreaks of VS or blistering disease in animals, mostly
horses, since 1995.
Copyright 1998 by Ward Newspapers, Inc.
Joe Warren, 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.