Weekly Newspaper and Tourism Guide for Ward County Trans Pecos, Big Bend of West Texas
Sept. 24, 1998
Antique district to attract dollars
Monahans City Council members Tuesday, Sept. 22, took the
first action toward eventual establishment of an antique
district to attract dollars and customers to downtown
Voting unanimously on first reading the council amended a
decades old zoning ordinance that classified antiques as
junk. The change officially does not become law until after
approval on second reading, now scheduled for Oct. 13.
Mayor David Cutbirth anticipates no problems in making
Tuesday's action final. Council members Jeppie Wilson,
Curtis Howard, Ted Ward and Clarese Gough voted for it.
Council member Mary Garcia was absent. Cutbirth, as mayor,
votes only in the case of a tie.
The mayor says he envisions a downtown antique district
comparable to the one established in Santa Fe, N.M. more
than three decades ago which turned Santa Fe into a mecca
for antique seekers and triggered economic development there.
Suzi Blair, project director for Monahans Main Street, says:
"Main Street is pleased about the zoning change. We feel it
will help us bring new business downtown. The action was
supported unanimously by the Main Street board."
Blair, like the mayor, talked about the economic benefits:
"This gives us another tool to bring life back downtown. It
will help our economic development efforts and help us fill
the empty stories."
Cutbirth says at least one antique dealer already is
investigating the possibility of establishing a store in the
downtown area that would focus on Celtic furniture and
accouterments. Others, the mayor said, most certainly will
"There are 12,000 cars a day that pass Monahans on
Interstate 20," says the Mayor. "If we can establish
Monahans as a center for antiques or Southwest memorabilia
which we can do, many of those cars will stop."
The mayor says Tuesday's Council action "might well bring
Odessa and Midland shoppers into Monahans, reversing the
shopper flow at least to a degree."
Blair agrees: "Antiques are a drawing card. Antiques are
definitely a drawing card."
Burglaries stop with seven arrests
Police officers have arrested seven youths and brought a
spree of burglaries in Monahans to a halt, reports Police
Chief Charles Sebastian.
It was the second major crack down on young criminals
recently. Last week officers announced they had identified
more than a dozen teen vandals involved in scores of cases
of spray paint graffiti vandalism in Monahans.
In the latest case, Sebastian says six juveniles from 15 to
17 years old and one young adult have been arrested in a
sweep that began Sunday night, Sept. 20.
"They knew each other," says Sebastian. "It is a bunch of
unsupervised kids who had too much free time."
All those identified in the investigation by Officers Kevin
Roberts and John Flowers are residents of Monahans.
"The burglaries all started the first week of school in
mid-August," says Sebastian. "It didn't matter to them
whether it was daylight or dark."
All are expected to be charged in juvenile informations with
burglary and theft, perhaps participation in a continuing
cdriminal enterprise. In most cases, the police chief says,
parents are cooperating with officers. The 23 burglaries
included thefts at Monahans High School and Edwards
Elementary as well as businesses and some vehicles. The
items stolen were varied electronics - including cameras,
radios, stereos. There was no apparent attempt to fence the
stolen merchandise. In fact, investigators were told some of
those arrested were passing around hand-held radios at
school. Sebastian estimates the total value of the goods
taken in the burglary spree at about $3,000. Some cash was
taken in the thefts at the schools. The major break came
Sunday when officers received information a burglary was
planned at a storage center in Monahans. Police staked out
the facility and arrested two teens about 8:20 p.m.
Sebastian says officers Roberts and Flowers "did an
outstanding job in this investigatoin."
Citizen of Heaven jailed
Thomas Hubert Nelson, 43, a self-described minister of the
Church of Heaven's Embassy, sits in the Ward County Jail in
lieu of $1,000 bond.
He refuses to recognize the secular courts of Texas and the
County. He does not see why he cannot drive with Kingdom of
Heaven License Plates on his 1983 Chevrolet coupe and
operate a vehicle with a drivers license issued by the same
Kingdom of Heaven. And so far, he has refused to cooperate
with Ward County and state authorities. Nelson is not
aggressive about it. He just doesn't cooperate.
He is charged with operating a motor vehicle with a
fictitious license plate (the Kingdom of Heaven plate),
operating an unregistered vehicle although it does seem to
be registered to the Kingdom of Heaven and having no
For those who might wish to know, the documents Nelson
carries say Heaven is at 8777 Basl Hill Road Southeast in
The bizarre tale began the evening of Thursday, Sept. 10,
about two miles West of Monahans on Interstate 20 when
Department of Public Safety Trooper Mark Gerek of Monahans
pulled over an old car with no license plate light. Nelson
was driving. Frustrated by the driver's insistence that
Kingdom of Heaven license tags, drivers licenses and
automobile registration documents were valid anywhere in the
universe, Gerek took Nelson to Justice of the Peace Ronold
Ray in Monahans. Ray recalls that it was about 11 p.m. Ray
asked how Nelson pleaded to the charges.
Gerek remembers Nelson saying: "No Mustard." That's right,
"No Mustard." Ray thinks he might not have said that.
Justice Ray thinks Nelson may have said, "This doesn't pass
muster." Either way, it wasn't a plea so one of the
misdemeanors on which he is held was elevated a degree so
Nelson could be held for a date in County Court which has
not yet been set. Nelson apparently is from Leslie, Ark. He
is on good terms with the Kingdom of Heaven in Oregon. He
carries documents indicating he at least is familiar with
the so-called militia or freemen movements. On Friday, Sept.
18, a strange writ of habeas corpus arrived on Nelson's
behalf in the office of County Judge Sam G. Massey. It came
from Jericho Spring, Mo, a center of militia activity.
House scandal tells on citizens
Members of the Monahans Chamber of Commerce were told on
Friday, Sept. 19, United States President Bill Clinton
should leave office.
Tom Schaeffer of the University of Texas-Permian Basin
School of Business in Odessa made the comment in a
wide-ranging lecture on business and ethics in the late
He spoke at the Chamber business luncheon in the Ward
County Convention Center where a pizza buffet was served.
Schaeffer said the Presidency and the nation are locked in
ethical crisis. Schaeffer said the character of leaders and
decision makers is important and it appears Americans have
become lazy about moral and ethical standards.
"What does our response to the White House scandal say about
us?" asked Schaeffer. ". . .The lack of complaint and the
lack of anger says the ideals we say we live by are far what
we consider to be right."
The ethics professor said he personally wanted Clinton
Phone users want extended calling
Special to the News
AUSTIN - More than 90 percent of the telephone subscribers
in Monahans favor extending the city's local call network
to four regions - Fort Stockton, Kermit, Pecos and
Terminal, which includes Odessa Medical Center and Midland
The areas officially were approved in an expanded local
calling election conducted by the state's Public Utility
Commission and certified on Tuesday, Sept. 14, says Linda
Hymans, the Texas coordinator for extended local calling.
Odessa exchanges, Grandfalls, Crane and Imperial already are
in the Monahans local call net.
Suzi Blair, project manager for Monahans Main Street and
coordinator of the campaign to approve the extended
calling, said the four areas approved will be added to the
Monahans toll free grid sometime after Jan. 1. Blair
emphasizes there is no additional charge for adding Fort
Stockton, Kermit, Pecos and Terminal. Monahans telephone
subscribers already were paying an extra $3.50 a month on
residential bills and $7 for business lines for the right
to make Odessa a local call.
"We are happy about the outcome of the election," says
Blair. "We are ecstatic."
The more than 90 percent approval rate in the extended
calling election rectifies a mistake the voters made two
years ago in a comparable mail ballot. They voted then only
to allow Odessa into the Monahans local net, apparently not
realizing Odessa and four additional areas could be added
for the same basic monthly charge, in effect, five for the
price of one. That is why, Blair notes, the four areas added
in the latest local net ballot are free.
Hymans's staff conducted the election by mail between Aug.
12 and Aug. 28. Ballots were mailed to the city's telephone
subscribers who then returned them to the Public Utility
Commission. In her certification to the commission's
office of policy development, Hymans wrote: "The percentage
of the total responses which were affirmative was greater
than the required 70 percent (for all proposed exchanges)..
. .I recommend that the presiding officer, the contact
person (Blair) and the affected local exchange carriers . .
.be notified of the results of the ballot and the (carrier)
serving the petitioning exchange, Southwestern Bell
Telephone Co., Inc., be directed to file a schedule of
Sales tax shows increase
Special to The News
AUSTIN - Sales tax rebate checks to Ward County are up more
than 30 percent compared with the same period last year,
according to reports issued by State Comptroller John Sharp.
Sharp says the increase was from $529,661.15 to $691,200.74
compared with last September. Monahans led Ward County
entities in the receipt of the sales tax rebates for the
nine month period, increasing from $484,639.27 to
$642,016.41, an increase of 32.47 percent.
The nine month report was made in conjunction with the
statement on September sales tax rebates based on sales made
Sales tax checks for September returned to Ward County
cities totaled $60,405.64 compared with last September's
rebate of $55,744.22, an increase of 8.36 percent.
Monahans September sales tax check was up 12.5 percent from
$49,822.22 last year to $56,054.33.
Other Ward County towns and their September sales tax
numbers, according to the Sharp report are:
Grandfalls - Up 69.14 per cent from $803.70 to $1359.38.
Pyote - Down 77.73 percent from $1,254 to $279.33.
Thorntonville - Up 297.95 percent from $89.51 to $356.21.
Wickett - Down 37.56 percent from $3774.25 to $2356.39.
The September checks in Ward County reflected an increase
across the state.
Says Sharp: "Sales across nearly all of Texas picked up the
pace in July (the month on which the September checks are
based). Rebates to cities and counties are u p 10.7 percent
over the first nine months of last year."
Texas monthly sales tax rebate checks totaled $164.7 million
across the state,4.5 percent higher than last September's
Sandy Badger wins mascot nod
Darren McGowan's Sandy Badger has won the Monahans Sandhills
State Park mascot competition, according to an announcement
by the board of The Friends of the Sandhills.
Kevin Slay, chair of the committee that conducted the
contest, says McGowan's winning drawing will be forwarded to
staff members of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department who
will make the final decision. Slay says making the choice
from a multitude of entries was difficult but McGowan wins
the $100 first prize.
Assuming eventual certification by Parks and Wildlife, Sandy
the Badger will become the official mascot of the park five
miles East of Monahans.
A second prize of $50 went to Jane Nowlin's Leonardo the
Honorable mention was given to Patrick McGee, Daniel Iley,
Daniel Stuteville, Kris Anderson, Wes Balko and Larry Cox.
Says the statement from the board: "Board members of the
Friends of the Sandhills wish to thank everyone for the
wonderful ideas and drawings."
The Friends communique reminds that exhibits in the enhanced
Dunagan Visitors Center are scheduled to be finished next
February with the park's Grand Reopening now set for March.
Sixth of a Series
From 1935 to 1940 Monahans began to experience growth. The
low point of the Depression had been hit and the town was on
its way to recovery.
Monahans became the fastest growing town in west Texas.
People from various parts of the United States began
settling in the community. Brick buildings were being built
to replace shacks. Business now consumed 16 blocks, rather
then only two. Oil production expanded and Monahans was
The school in Monahans saw many changes and a number of
additions during this period.
A.E. "Major" Lang became the superintendent of the school in
1934, picking up where J.A. Summerhill left off. Lang
immediately moved toward progress and growth.
Because the school had become so crowded, the Monahans
Common School District began to discuss adding a new
building in May of 1935. A petition was circulated by
Lester Dollison, president of the school board, and Max
Winkler, secretary of the board. The petition called for a
referendum to issue bonds for the new school building. The
building would be 212 feet by 201 feet. It would contain
nine classrooms as well as an auditorium and a gymnasium.
It would be completed in 1936. The school board would use
the old building for a grammar school, grades one through
four, after the new junior high-senior high, grades five
through 11, was finished. A twelfth grade was not added
until 1940. The North end was the senior high section of
the new building: the South, junior high.
A school bus was also purchased during the Summer of 1935.
The Chevrolet bus, bought by the school board, would be
used to transport students from the surrounding oil camps
and rural areas. The cost of the bus was $1,800 and it would
hold approximately 50 children.
That Fall, more than 400 students in Monahans school
received physical examinations by local physicians without
cost. The object was to identify any communicable diseases
that might threaten the student body.
By September of 1935, Lang announced workers were busy two
blocks West of the school building with the new Monahans
High School athletic field. The bleachers on the field would
hold up to 750 fans.
The town also began to see many changes. In January of 1936,
plans for a city hall were discussed by the City Council.
By 1937, First State Bank opened.
"It was a day of celebration," states Jessie Shelton.
There had never been a bank in Monahans prior to the arrival
of First State Bank.
The Country Club was started in 1937 as well. Several men
including Walter Harwell, Tom Pence, Grady Kidd, Herbert
Hudler, and Frank Barron began encouraging construction of a
golf course for Monahans. They swung their clubs on land,
already used as an airplane landing strip, as a driving
range. The first municipal swimming pool also opened that
year in Monahans. It was not until 1940 that a small club
house was built. Soon after, a small golf course was in the
making. Grady Kidd would later be the first tournament
In 1940, two school coaches, Cundiff and Hanscomb, operated
the city swimming pool. Their first names have been lost.
Nineteen-thirty-seven also brought three stop lights and
automatic switches for the pumps of the five city water
wells. City government began to grow and five aldermen were
named, including Major Lang, the school superintendent.
In the Spring of 1937, a special election was held and
on April 21, 1937, Lang made the announcement that the
Monahans-Wickett Independent School District had been
The new district was comprised of Monahans Elementry School
built in 1927 (eventually it was to be called South Ward
and then Brown e Elementry), the new junior high-senior
high Monahans School (built in 1936) and Wickett Ward
Elementary (established in 1928), which became today's
Gulf Oil Corp. assisted the school district financially to
help things get off the ground.
A tax assessor's and collector's office was soon set up.
Mrs. Bill Shelton was the first school tax clerk.
On May 7, 1937, the Monahans Band won first place in the
State of Texas for Class C bands.
Superintendent Lang took the band via school bus to the
national contest in Oklahoma City where it won first place
in its class in the United States.
Meanwhile voters approved $15,000 through a bond election
that June in order to build a band hall and a shop building.
The money would also be used to add a new brick school in
Wickett and a teacherage.
It was a year of firsts at the new Monahans-Wickett school
district. Lights were installed on the football field; funds
for slide projectors were approved.
Also in 1937 the initial school annual,the Monahanian, was
published. That year it contained the history of Monahans
schools as well as early pictures of the school and band.
In 1938, the town continued expanding. Clayton Jordan was
employed as chief of police. The opening of the new
telephone office was announced by a Mr. Fox, the district
manager. The public was invited to come and view the new
A remodeled, modern Coca-Cola plant also opened in Monahans
in 1937. More than 3,000 people traveled to Monahans to
view the Grand Opening of what the publicists called the
most modern Coca Cola bottling plant in Texas. John Conrad
Dunagan was the manager.
After an election dominated by Monahans partisans, The
County Seat was moved in 1938 from Barstow to Monahans.
Several large moving trucks transported all the county files
from Barstow to Monahans where the files were stored in
Monahans City Hall until a courthouse could be built.
Although 1938 seemed to be a good year for the town, the
school district saw a turmoil.
Superintendent Lang was fired from his position in May of
1938 and more than 300 high school students went on strike.
Students protested his dismissal as well as the removal of
three faculty members. Monahans students paraded through the
streets carrying protest signs:
"Down with the Board,
"We Want Major,
"Give Us Back Our Teachers,
"No Teachers, No School."
Students sat on the school lawn with a sign reading:
"The Trustees School."
They told everyone that passed they would not return to
classes unless Lang did.
The student rebellion ended after the fired Lang met with
them and asked them to return to classes the next day, a
Lang's dismissal came after an all night session by the
The reason Lang was fired is unknown. At that time, there
were no Open Meetings or Open Records laws.
According to the records, school district trustees never did
issue a statement as to the cause of the firing but the
board did hide behind Lang when the students took to the
streets. And it was Lang who persuaded the students to stop.
In Lang's four years, the school population grew from 325
students to 1,109. Lang was responsible for much of the
school district's progress, officials agree.
There is no doubt he was admired greatly by the students.
In May of 1938, P.E. Lewis would take Lang's place until a
new superintendent was found.
Next: Pictures, Pictures, Pictures
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.