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Weekly Newspaper and Tourism Guide for Ward County Trans Pecos, Big Bend of West Texas

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Sept. 17, 1998

Spray painters tagged

More than a dozen juveniles and at least two adults have
been identified in a Monahans police crackdown triggered by
scores of spray paint vandalism cases, police report.

Most of the graffiti gang's work has been concentrated on
the North Side but the whole community has been hit, police

Investigation continues. Those identified so far in the
continuing inquiry range from 14 to 19 years old. They soon
will face juvenile petitions alleging organized criminal
activity and criminal mischief. The adults will face
criminal charges. Officers first started making contacts a
week ago. Those contacts continue this week.

The police action against the vandals comes only a week
before several organizations are scheduled to meet to form
an anti-graffiti task force in Ward County.

County Judge Sam G. Massey notes that the task force's first
meeting will be held at noon on Wednesday, Sept. 23, at the
Ward County Convention Center.

Hospital to resolve bill conflicts

By Genese Shorten
of the News
Ward Memorial Hospital trustees Friday, Sept. 11, agreed the
hospital's financial officer should take the first real
steps toward resolving decades of patient complaints about
old bills, already paid bills and fictitious bills.

This would be done by writing off, before the end of the
fiscal year, about $2 million of about $3.4 million in
accounts receivable, many representing accounts several
years old with no way to determine if they had been paid or
not paid or if they actually were valid accounts because of
past problems in financial tracking. The write off involves
hundreds of questionable bills which have generated a
multitude of sometimes vociferous patient complaints to
hospital officers and Ward County commissioners.

"This should resolve these continuing complaints about bills
while placing the hospital books on a more realistic base,"
says Dyer Moore, chair of the Hospital Board of Managers.
Moore notes the board took no official action other than to
accept the report Chief Financial Officer Joe Wright made to
the board at its meeting in the Health and Wellness Clinic.
Moore says the board and county commissioners agree with
Wright's plan

"I have looked at the accounts receivable and believe that
we need to write off between $1.8 and $2 million," reported
Wright to the board. "The primary reason is the age of the
accounts and our inability to do the best follow-up because
of data lost in (computer) conversion, missing the filing
deadline and inaccurate information in the patient files."

Wright says the write-off is necessary to "begin 1999 with
a clean slate."

Child wellness clinic is a go

Members of the Ward Memorial Hospital Board of Managers
Friday, Sept. 11, decided to sponsor the Ward County Child
Health and Wellness clinic for another year. The program,
funded by a $25,000 federal grant, is designed to assist
parents of families with children five years old or younger.
The hospital trustees note that the program is not usually
associated with a hospital environment but at this point
there is no other agency in Ward County which can take it.
Hospital Trustee Kay Watson suggested it remain with the
hospital for at least one more year while another sponsoring
agency is sought.

To date the project has had 275 clients plus 22 pregnant
teen-age girls. Candy Powell of the clinic notes the
telephone number is 943-2068.

School history

Fifth of a Series
On March 29, 1929 most of the students in Ward County came
to Monahans School (South Ward) for two days of
competition in what was then University of Texas
Interscholastic League sanctioned contests.

Students from Monahans, Pyote, Barstow, Grandfalls and
Wickett gathered in the booming town for a series of
competitions to see who were the best and brightest in
academics and athletics.

They competed in declamation, debate, spelling, essay
writing, extemporaneous speaking, track and field, tennis
and volley ball.

The big winners that year, reported the Pyote Signal, were
Monahans and Pyote. In previous years, the newspaper said,
Barstow had dominated.

Before 1929 the county wide contests had been in Barstow.
Monahans won the honor in the last year of The Roarin' 20s.
It may have been the first time Monahans School held the
prestigious competitions.

It would not be the last. In later years, Monahans schools
would host county and district contests among students
through the end of the century as the school's reputation
for excellence continued in both academics and sports.

In September 1929 plans were being formulated for the next

School Superintendent R.A. Parsons of Monahans was elected
the director general of interscholastic competitions.

For Parsons, another concern would be the school's chances
of being classified.

Monahans school officials felt 1929 was the year they would
be certified completely by the state.

The Pyote Signal and Ward County News of Dec. 20, 1929,
reported a visit by an inspector for the State Department of

"Faculty and students were surprised Monday by the sudden
appearance (of the inspector) but were pleased with her
visit because much progress had been made toward meeting the
state requirements for classification and most of the
comments of the inspector were complimentary. It is the
belief of Supt't (sic) Parsons that the school will be given
classification this year."

On a lighter side, Christmas was big in 1929 although this
was the year in which Wall Street went ballistic and
crashed. This was the year The Great Depression locked onto
the county, the state, the nation and the planet.

Despite the economic and personal depression, a Monahans
school wide Christmas program was held and carols were sung
the Thursday before Christmas.

First graders in Miss Gray's class decorated a tree. high
schooler Mildred Jarrel said a prayer. Six girls from the
high school came to the first graders and sang Silent Night.
After the program, the first graders distributed presents.

On the Saturday before Christmas, the Pep Squad hosted a
football banquet. They decorated the table with pink and
gold crepe paper. No real record of school colors for that
year exists.

Parsons was toast master; Miss Lola Mauldin (football
quieen) gave a talk; the pep squad girls sang a song;
Mildred Jarrell danced. Parsons announced the wedding of
Coach William Thomas.

Accreditation which Monahans had sought in 1929 did not come
that year. William (Billy) Hunter Gibson later would recall
the school had not been accredited even two years later in

J. Lee Bilberry, the Ward County School Superintendent
reported on Aug. 27, the Summer after Gibson was graduated,
Monahans Common School District 2 was the second largest in
the county with 217 students. Barstow was the largest with
363. Wickett was the smallest with 31.

That September, the school year of 1931-32 Monahans school
finally was granted nearly full accreditation, a year after
Gibson's graduation.

According to The Monahans News, founded on Feb. 5, 1931 by
B.W. Barnes, editor and publisher, and Harry G. Knipp,
associate editor, the new superintendent R. G. Gray had this
to say:

"As a result of . . .concerted effort of the patrons with
the board of education, the faculty and the students, the
school has made great strides of progress during the past
few years. From a three-teacher, unclassified school of a
few years ago, we now have a nine-teacher school with 217
students, housed in a modern (running water and flush
toilets) brick building with the classification of a
first-class high school of four years work and with five
units of affiliation with the best colleges and

Classified in 1931, Monahans schools received nearly full
accreditation the next year. In those days, accreditation
came course by course, not school wide as it has in the
decades since World War II.

William Hunter (Billy) Gibson, had this to say in a later

"The Monahans schools were good to me. I graduated in a
class of three (with Fern Adkins, Willie Mae Casey) . . . in
1931 but the school was not accredited and offered only
three years of high school. I was prepared for college only
with the dedication and wonderful personal help of
Superintendent R. G. Gray and instructors Covin and Jordan
who gave me individual classes in trigonometry, Latin,
ancient history, physiology and a fourth year of English.
(They) tutored me on their own time after school and
arranged for me to take 16 state examinations in one dizzy
week covering my entire high school work. With such help, I
applied to and was accepted by Rice Institute (now Rice
University) in Houston where I became a member of the
Student Council and Manager of the Rice Band and was
graduated in 1935."

Then Gibson went into the oil business with a company that
eventually would become Texaco Inc.

Revitalized and reborn in 1932, the Monahans High School
Band was playing music under the direction of Sanford
Eskridge. The band had almost vanished since it played at
the big 1929 celebration in Kermit. By the time the Eskridge
band's first public concert in February of 1932, the
school's colors definitely were green and white, as J.C.
Avary recalled. In 1932, Monahans High musicians were, The
Monahans News reported "resplendent in their new uniforms
of green and white with white military caps."

Jazz and Western Swing played and The Great Depression was
kept a little at bay, the town's economy kept afloat on the
oil beneath the Chichuahuan Desert sands. A new age left
the old behind. Telephones, indoor plumbing and electric
lights were almost every where in Ward County, if not on the
ranches and in the oil camps.

Talking movies started in the Pence Theatre at 111 South
Main Street. The Pence eventually became The Palace.
"Modern" housing was the rage. E.J. Tatom and Lee Mullins
swore they had caught 40 pounds of catfish in the Pecos
River in Loving County.

U.S. Highway 80 still was called Bankhead Highway in honor
of actress Tallulah Bankhead's daddy, a Georgia U.S. Senator
who was credited with leading the Congressional fight to
fund the coast-to-coast Southern route across the nation.
Fern Tatom was the mayor of Monahans. He succeeded Fred
Gibson, who had been the first mayor after the town's
official incorporation in 1927.

In 1931 Mayor Tatum was forced to borrow money from the
Chase National Bank of New York (now Chase Manhatten) to
help the city pay interest due on water bonds. The
Depression had arrived.

In the 1930s, Monahans city officials even began to name
most of the streets - names which commemorted pioneer and
later prominent familes, the railroad and the town's already
famous water - Sealy, Adriance, Minor, Hogg, Hill Tatum,
Estes, Wildman, Texas, Pacific, Water, Sunset, Guadalupe.
Some of those street names survived; most did not.

Now it is 1933 and Midland's J.S. Summerhill is at the
helm. Summerhill, one of the most respected school men in
Texas, became the Monahans School Superitnendent in
February of 1932. Within a little more than two years,
Summerhill would die, the victim of an automobile accident
that also would take a second life. Classes in the Spring
semester had grown so large Summerhill ordered four
temporary buildings from the Wink and Royalty oil camps and
turned them into classrooms. Sumerhill said the continuing
oil boom, despite The Depression, made the move necessary.
No one argued.

The Monahans News reported on the start of the 1933-34
school year:

"Opening of the Monahans Public School System will be on the
first Monday or the 4th of September, the board decided at a
recent meeting. The system will open with 13 teachers as
compared with 9 last year.

The school buildings are now finished and every room has
been remodeled and rearranged to accomodate pupils
comfortably. Teacher's filing cabinets have been installed
in every room. Modern conveniences have been added in the
form of drinking fountains, sanitary commodes and showers
for the boys athletic building.

"In fact it is a new school plant that the school board
presents to the people of this city. The yard has been
fenced and the board requests that everybody help take care
of the buildings. The public is welcome to visit and view
the improvements while the janitor or superintendent is in
the buildings. However, the public is requested to not go
on the grounds at night." Expansion continued after the
death of Superintendent Summerhill, who was succeeded by A.
E. Lang, who reported steadily increasing enrollment in
1935. That Fall there were more than 400 students. A new
athletic stadium was completed two blocks West of the high

Next: 1+1 = 1 (Consolidation)

High winds trim dead tree limbs

Squalls driven by winds gusting to 40 miles an hour whipped
through Monahans and Ward County late Monday night and
early Tuesday morning.

The wind trimmed the dead limbs from trees, scattered loose
debris and toppled a utility pole in the alley at the rear
of the 300 block of South Calvin Avenue.

That pole, apparently abandoned with no listed owner, caused
the most reported damage when it crushed a fence.

Kevin Slay, area manager of TU Electric, says a check he
made found no major power outages in the area because of the
storm. At Monahans, a little more than a half-inch of rain
was measured. Eight-tenths of an inch fell at Grandfalls.

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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.