Weekly Newspaper and Tourism Guide for Ward County Trans Pecos, Big Bend of West Texas
Aug. 27, 1998
First lady pushes literacy
Laura Bush, the First Lady of Texas, came to Monahans on
Thursday, Aug. 20, to boost her drive for adult literacy and
her husband's reelection campaign.
Incumbent Republican Gov. George W. Bush faces Democratic
gubernatorial nominee Garry Mauro in the November general
While in Monahans on a calendar-filled morning, The First
Lady met privately for 45 minutes with executives of the
Monahans News, toured the Rainbow Room under the guidance
of Sheri Lord for 30 minutes and ate lunch at Leal's - a
Number Eight on the menu (relleno, chicken enchilada, rice
and beans) with ice tea. After lunch, she returned to
It was the First Lady's second visit to Monahans this year.
Monday, April 27, Bush was in Ward County to celebrate the
designation of Monahans "as a Texas Main Street City."
Monahans' volunteer-operated Rainbow Room is a unique
project designed to assist clients of Texas Child
Protective Services. Rainbow Room provides emergency goods
ranging from clothes to toys gratis to children who
become clients of Protective Services.
Private ambulance service unlikely
Ward Memorial Hospital is expected to retain control of the
county's ambulance service when county commissioners meet on
Monday, Aug. 31, several commissioners report.
The action that will end a county inquiry into the
possibility of privatizing emergency medical services is the
last item on the court's agenda when it meets in the
County commissioners have examined four proposals from
private firms to assume control of the ambulances, which
traditionally have been operated through county-operated
Ward Memorial. Those proposals called for county subsidies
to the private firms ranging from $114,000 to $145,970 a
year, depending on the range of services offered.
"The hospital has proposed that we allow them to continue to
run the ambulance service and pay them the $126,000 annual
supplement they had in the past," reports County Judge Sam
G. Massey. "Through Medicare and other billings they
estimate they can collect another $50,000 for the hospital."
The County Judge also reports Ward Memorial Hospital
administrators have long range plans to place emergency
medical services adjacent to the emergency room.
"This allows EMS personnel to help in ER staffing which they
estimate will save another $89,000 a year," says Massey.
That savings would come by using paramedics to provide
emergency room relief while not working the ambulances
instead of paying overtime and premium pay in times of a
heavy emergency room load or on holidays.
"It would cost no jobs and save money," says Massey. "They
have made that request. We heard what they wanted to do."
Massey says, speaking only for himself, he believes county
commissioners will keep ambulance service under hospital
"We retain local control and continue to do a good job,"
says Massey. "All workers will be retained."
Energy aid available
TU Electric Co. is ready to help low income customers pay
their electric bills, emphasizes Kevin Slay, the Monahans
area manager of the utility.
Dollars for Ward County and its customers will come from
about $7.5 million in TU Energy Aid.
"This means more help will soon be available for customers
here," says Slay. "A portion of that $7.5 million will go to
agencies in our community to help our neighbors."
TU Electric, Slay notes, assisted customers by offering
payment options such as credit extensions, average billing
and deferred payment before the state Public Utility
Commission two weeks ago decreed that utilities could not
terminate service as triple-digit heat and drought continued
in the state. Slay notes no Ward County customer has been
terminated for nonpayment since June.
Says Slay: "Unusual conditions call for unusual action. We
recognized a need that was not being met. Even with federal
funds made available recently, the money is running low.
Thousands of people are worried about their electric bills."
Slay says those who want Energy Aid should call
1-800-242-9113 and follow the computer prompts.
Power failure empties classrooms
More than 460 Tatom Elementary School pupils and their
teachers headed for open air classrooms on Monday, Aug. 24,
when power failed at the campus.
The power loss came at about 7:45 a.m. as the school was
preparing for the start of its day, reports Kevin Slay, area
manager for TU Electric Co. A failed cable was repaired and
power restored about 1:30 p.m., says Slay. Pupils were back
in classrooms by 2 p.m. with the air conditioners running,
reports Judy Snelson, Tatom's campus coordinator.
Slay says the cable failure at Tatom Elementary was
comparable to the one that blacked out the Ward County
Courthouse on May 18 and was repaired in approximately the
"It was school as usual," says Snelson. "The real exciting
thing was the Lord blessed us with a cool day. I don't know
how we could have managed if it had been a triple digit
But temperatures were in the 90s and Snelson acknowledges:
"If you were looking for a hot campus this was one."
School administrators and teachers made the decision to
leave the classrooms for outdoors because of modern
construction which does not allow most windows to open
relying on air conditioning to cool and ventilate rooms.
"You should have seen the way students stepped up and rose
to the occasion," says Snelson. "We told them this is just
like their grandparents went to school."
Although there was no power in the cafeteria, the cooks
prepared the lunch and dished up steak fingers, mashed
potatoes, green beans and hot rolls served on foam trays.
Students filed orderly into the cafeteria, got their lunch
and went back outside where they ate as if it were a
regularly scheduled school picnic.
"At the beginning," says Snelson, "There was spotty power.
Some areas of the school had electricity. Some didn't. Some
teachers ran home and got fans. Then all the power failed
and it was a serious problem."
Teachers and students already had started moving their day's
instruction outside on the walkways under the overhangs by
the time Tatom Principal Dick McClanahan made the decision
to hold classes in the open air.
"We had music," says Snelson. "All classes were outside. We
told the kids everyone deserved a Purple Heart. This was
service above and beyond the call of duty."
Asked how open air instruction went, Snelson says: "It was
really a good neat experience. Attention rate was there.
Students offered a chance to go home said, 'I'm staying.' "
Still when the power was restored it was time to return to
the Twentieth Century.
"We beat it back in the classrooms and turned on the A-C,"
says Snelson. "I believe we had enough of roughing it."
Boys/Girls club head resigns
Pete Martinez, the first director of the Monahans Boys and
Girls Club has resigned, reports Danny Morriss, a member of
the youth club's board.
Martinez gave his notice on Wednesday, Aug. 26, Morriss
says, and plans to accept a position as truant officer with
the Kermit School District.
A meeting of the board of the club has been scheduled for 8
p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 27, to consider ways in which to
replace Martinez. The meeting will be at the club at Second
and Main Streets.
"We will be seeking a paid director and coordinator," says
Morris. "Anyone who is qualified and who may be interested
in the position is asked to telephone Bill Shue, the area
Boys and Girls Club Director, at the Midland club, 683-0050
Members of the board want to move as quickly as possible to
replace Martinez because this is the inaugural year for the
club which provides weekend and after school activities and
programs for students through high school.
Diversity needed to ease work shortage
July's increase in the Ward County jobless rate emphasizes
the area's continuing need for economic diversity, says
Curtis Howard, president of the Monahans Economic
From June to July, the unemployment rate in Ward County
increased from 7.9 to 8.5 percent, according to statistics
released by the Texas Workforce Commission. The Ward County
job decrease is consistent with the San Angelo Metropolitan
Statistical Area, of which Ward County is a part. The MSA
unemployment rate rose from 4.0 to 5.4 percent from June to
According to the Workforce analysis of San Angelo MSA:
"While it is not uncommon for the MSA to lose employment
during the first half of the year, this year's job decline
is larger than any other seen in the 1990s."
Closing of the Levi-Strauss Plant in January at San Angelo
was a major factor in the job loss, according to the report.
In Ward County, Howard noted the increase can be atttributed
at least partially to reorganization at Ward Memorial
Hospital in Monahans where about 45 jobs were lost and the
initial impact of a downturn in The Oil Patch caused by
collapsing oil prices - about $13 a barrel by the end of
"What this does is focus the importance of our continuing
efforts to diversify the Ward County economic base," says
Howard. "The about 40 jobs at Reif are immune to the
fluctuations in oil. We need; we will seek; and we will find
more operations like Reif."
The reference was to M.M. Reif Manufacturing Inc., a
division of Pennsylvania-based M.M. Reif and Co. Reif
Manufacturing came to Monahans in 1997. Production of web
products under United States military contracts began 10
days before Christmas.
David B. Reif, president of the company that bears his name,
has said: "With the continued support of the Monahans
community, we expect this division to continue to grow and
provide jobs and economic growth for the whole community."
Howard notes oil and gas will continue to be the base on
which the Ward County economy is built but diversification
will provide can an economic safety net ."Already many
people who work in Odessa or Midland live in Monahans
because of the excellent school system and overall better
life style," says Howard. "These are not counted as part of
the Ward County work force because their employment is
Pick a mascot for Sandhills
Friends of Monahans Sandhills State Park this week launched
a contest to find a mascot for the park.
The deadline for entries, according to a statement from the
organization's board, is 3 p.m. on Sept. 11. The winner will
receive a prize of $100.
According to the contest organizers:
-An insect, animal, reptile or bird native to the
sandhills (past or present) five miles East of Monahans
must be the basis for the entry.
-All entries must contain original drawings of the proposed
mascot and the suggested name. For example: Randolph Rattler.
- Mascots proposed can be either drawn realistically or
creatively as in a cartoon.
-Entries must be mailed to: Monahans Sandhills State Park,
PO Box 1738, Monahans, TX, 79756-1738 or taken to the
Sandhills State Park Office in the section house.
"The winning mascot may be used on nature trail signs,
gifts, the sand buggy and other items associated with the
Monahans Sandhills State Park," according to the statement
announcing the competition.
The board of the Sandhills State Park will be the judges.
Their decision, says the board, will be final. If there are
questions, potential entrants may call the Sandhills State
Park headquarters at 943-2092.
The statement also reports dune buggy rides now are
available at the park.
Services for Evelyn Jackson, 78, are scheduled for Thursday
(today) at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church officiated by Dr.
Levi Price, Rev. Barry Klempnauer, Rev. James Reeves and
Rev. Joseph T. Fields, Jr. Burial will be in Monahans
Memorial Cemetery under direction of Harkey Funeral Home.
Mrs. Jackson was born June 30, 1920 in Fairland, Ok and died
Aug. 25, 1998 at her Monahans home. A Monahans resident
since 1938, she was a homemaker and a member of FBC.
She married Harold Jackson July 21, 1941 in Monahans.
Survivors include her husband, Harold of Monahans; a son,
Duane Jackson of Altamonte Springs, Fl and a daughter,
J'Nevelyn Lloyd of Edinburg; a brother, M.J. Crow of Houston
and four grandchildren.
The family requests memorials to the music fund at First
Baptist Church of Home Hospice, 516 N. Texas, Odessa.
J.O. "RUSTY" PARKER
Services for John Oliver "Rusty" Parker, 77, of Welch, were
held Sunday at First United Methodist Church in Lamesa
officiated by Rev. Nancy Moore and Rev. Ricky Barkowsky.
Burial was in Lamesa Memorial Park.
Mr. Parker was born Dec. 19, 1920 in Belton and died Aug.
21, 1998 at Methodist Hospital. He was the owner of a
Seminole trucking firm from 1946 to 1991 and a Methodist.
He married Birdie Herndon May 27, 1991 in Welch.
Survivors include his wife, Birdie of Welch; five sons, John
Edward Parker of Monahans, Cecil Don Parker of Midland,
Curtis Parker of Norwalk, Ca, Richard Glenn Parker of
Seminole and Owell Jeffcoat of Lamesa; a daughter, Sharon
Pearl Driver of Seminole; two brothers, Lee Parker of
Arlington and J.D. Parker of Mertzon; 13 grandchildren and
Lillian Lorene Rochelle Counts, 79, died July 16, 1998 at
her home in Grape Creek.
She was born in Fort Worth in 1919 and married Dennis Alvin
Counts in Big Spring June 5, 1937. They lived on several
ranches until moving to Monahans when her husband went to
work for Gulf Oil Corp. Mrs. Counts worked for the
collection agency and Montgomery Ward Catalog Stores until
returning to the San Angelo area in 1960. She was a member
of the Baptist Church.
She is survived by her husband, Dennis A. "Cowboy" Counts;
her children, Richard and Lavelle Counts of Monahans, Karen
Curry and Keith McSpadden of Grape Creek; a sister, Juanice
Miller of Robert Lee; one granddaughter and two
She was preceded in death by her only grandson, Dennis Alvin
Counts II in 1980.
Services for Homer O'Neal Moore, 65, of Odessa were held
Monday in Mission Baptist Church in Odessa. After cremation,
he was interred in Trinity Memorial Park in Big Spring.
Mr. Moore was born Sept. 18, 1932 in Grandchain, Il to Harry
and Pearl (Barnett) Moore. An Army veteran of the Korean
Conflict, he was a painter, employed with Medical Center
He is survived by his wife, Wini Lou, whom he married Nov.
24, 1955; four sons, Homer Jerald Moore of Odessa, Terry
Hayden Moore and Leslie Don Moore, both of Monahans, and
Wesley Doyle Moore of Cartersville, Ga.; his mother, Pearl
Moore of Midland; four brothers, Robert Moore of Dallas,
James Moore of Midland, Armon Moore of Carrolton and John
Moore of Mesquite and three sisters, Lela Carnett of
Midland, Shirley Cobb and Linda Mifflin, both of Houston.
Former Monahans resident, Kelly Abernathy McKennon, 34, died
June 29, 1998 in a Houston hospital following complications
She was born in Houston April 28, 1964 and grew up in
Sugarland and Monahans. While attending Monahans High
School, Kelly lived with her grandparents, James B. and
Mickey Armstead, now of Big Spring. She graduated from MHS
in 1982 where she was on the varsity swim team. She attended
Texas Tech University and was employed by SYSCO until 1996.
The food service named Kelly a Master Merchandiser, the
highest honor that can be received at the company. She left
their employ to spend more time with her family.
She is survived by her husband, Lynn McKennon of Pearland; a
daughter, Katy Aline McDaniel, a step-daughter, Michelle
McKennon and a step-son, Michael McKennon; her mother, Janet
Aline Cooper; her father, John F. Abernathy and his wife,
Monique; two brothers, Matthew Brady Abernathy and Leon
Cooper; two sisters, Payton Abernathy and Tessa Abernathy;
and her grandmother, Mrs. (Tommie) Perry Abernathy.
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.