Weekly Newspaper and Tourism Guide for Ward County Trans Pecos, Big Bend of West Texas
Oct. 29, 1998
Depressed oil price chases Altura from Ward
By Jerome P. Curry
of The News
HOUSTON - Altura Energy Ltd. plans to sell its Oil Patch
production holdings in Ward County before Jan. 1, say
executives of the nation's largest oil producer.
The Ward County action, according to Altura reports, is part
of a strategy designed to ensure the long term success of
the company in an Oil Patch stressed by depressed oil prices.
Altura, a joint venture between Amoco Corp. and Shell Oil
Co., was established in March of 1997. Altura operates 200
oil wells in Ward County and a half-dozen gas wells near
Pyote. The Pyote area gas wells, reports Altura's Kari
Fluegel, are not part of the projected Altura actions.
The Ward County sale of Altura holdings is part of a
corporate wide plan that involves property movement
throughout the Altura system. Altura executives project an
employee reduction of about 10 per
Boys and Girls Club draws 100
More than 100 children showed up to celebrate the official
Grand Opening of the Boys and Girls Club on Saturday, Oct.24
, in Monahans.
Festivities lasted for three hours, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
There were 300 free hot dogs served and the Club gained 20
This brings the current Boys and Girls Club membership to
230 kids. More than 1100 have spent time at the Club since
it opened in September at Fourth and Main Streets downtown.
Director Pete Martinez says, "It's a good place for kids to
come to after school. They can get help with their
homework, make some arts and crafts, or just have fun."
There is also a distinct possibility that the Club will
expand into the building next door, says County Judge Sam G.
Massey. Massey made the comment at the Monday, Oct. 26,
meeting of the Commissioner's Court.
Possible expansion, the judge says, is due to the steady
growth in membership; the one building the Club now uses
will soon be too small to accommodate them all. The Club is
open from 3 p.m to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, to
children ages six through 18 years old.
Everett named Granfalls mayor
James Everett, a former Grandfalls mayor, is mayor once
more of the Ward County town.
Everett was appointed to fill the unexpired term of former
Mayor Joyce Wilhelm, who was ousted by the Grandfalls City
Council on Aug. 12. Wilhelm was removed from office by a
5-0 Council vote after a sometimes acrimonious hearing on
charges of incompetence and official misconduct.
The Council appointed Everett to succeed Wilhelm at its
meeting in the Grandfalls Council chambers on Wednesday
night, Oct. 21. Everett was one of two persons who had
applied to the council for the appointment as mayor. The
other was Tracey Meyers, a Grandfalls citizen who works at
the shrimp farm in Imperial.
Everett first became Grandfalls mayor when he was elected to
an unexpired term on Aug. 9, 1997.
That special election was called after then Grandfalls mayor
James Norton, two of the five council members and the city
administrator quit in June.
On May 2 of this year, Everett, running as the incumbent,
was one of three mayoral candidates in the race won by
In that May election, Joyce Wilhelm, now removed from
office, received 62 votes; Leo Bookmiller, 47 and Everett
36. Bookmiller did not apply to the Council for appointment
as mayor to fill Wilhelm's unexpired term.Everett who had
been employed as a teacher by the Grandfalls-Royalty school
district is now associated with the Grandfalls Housing
Authority. Everett must seek election to the office next May
because he was appointed to an unexpired term.
Police, hospital team up for safety
By Rebecca Jones
of The News
Two major forces in Monahans are going arm-in-arm this
Halloween in an effort to keep trick-or-treating children
safe on their Halloween night rounds.
From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., on Halloween night, Saturday, Oct.
31, Ward Memorial Hospital will x-ray candy children have
collected, to ensure the safety of the treats.
Police Chief Charles Sebastian also notes several tips on
To get candy x-rayed, says Ward Memorial interim
Administrator Steve Holmes, " Just walk through the front
entrance of the hospital into the lobby."
It is there a special Halloween reception will be
established and the candy will be tested. All children need
to be accompanied by an adult.
Says administrator Holmes, "adults can get free blood
pressure checks and glucose tolerance checks while they're
Police Chief Sebastian warns:
-Adults should accompany all younger children.
-Be sure fright night costumes are of a light color and
face masks fit properly. Better , use face paint.
-Take a flashlight. Use it.
-Go only to houses you know.
-All treats should be examined, at the hospital or by an
-Watch for traffic..
-Adults should accompany young children.
Grants improve housing units
Nearly $1.2 million in federal grants have been received by
the Housing Authority of Monahans to enhance units and
boost security at the complexes, reports authority director
She expects the federal checks by Jan. 1.
All of the work will be focused on the authority's 68 low
rent units located in different complexes around Monahans.
Both grants are from the Department of Housing and Urban
Development. One is for $1,135,000; the other, for $50,000.
Hill received official notice on Monday, Oct. 26, that both
applications had been approved. She was notified by letter
from HUD about the $1.1 million grant. Word on the $50,000
came from the Washington office of U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm,
The $50,000 is part of a national HUD program designed to
curb security problems at housing authority apartments
across the United States.
Hill says she will use that money to provide some security
lighting, landscaping to curb entry to windows and, she
says, most importantly, to hire off-duty commissioned law
enforcement officers to provide security after dark.\
The $1.1 million will be used to enhance various apartments,
provide central heat and air conditioning for some and do
painting, repairs and some landscaping, the authority
Hill says plans also have been made to install security
fencing in some areas.
Unemployment rate jumps
Ward County's September unemployment rate was the highest
in more than three years, according to Texas Workforce
Skip Geron, the San Angelo-based area coordinaor for the
commission, says the reason is the downturn in the Oil Patch
caused by the low price of oil ($11 to $13 a barrell) and
the decision by producers to down size.
Geron notes oil must sell at about $20 a barrel for
producers to break even. Geron says a similar pattern is
evident across all Texas counties where oil production forms
the economic base.
In Ward County, the September jobless rate is 9.9 percent,
the highest since a county jobless rate of 10.2 percent in
June of 1994.
The nearly 10 percent unemployment rate compares with a
seven percent jobless rate in September of 1997 and a 9.7
percent jobless rate in August.
This September's jobless rate is based on a Ward County
civilian labor force of 4,218 with 462 workers reported
In August the Ward County civilian labor force totaled 4708
with 455 workrs reported without jobs, according to
In adjacent Reeves County the jobless numbers are even
higher where the September unemployment rate was 13.1
percent compared with 12.1 percent in August and 7.5 percent
a year ago.
In Pecos County (Fort Stockton) where mineral wealth is not
as much of a factor in the economy, the September jobless
rate was 7.7 percent compared with six percent in September
In the San Angelo Metropolitan Statistical Area counties,
the overall September unemployment rate was 5.3 compared
with 3.4 in September of 1997. Statewide the numbers were
5.0 and 5.2; nationally, 4.4 and 4.7.
On Aug.3, 1965, the Monahans-Wickett school district
officially became the Monahans-Wickett-Pyote Independent
The year before, enrollment for the Monahans-Wickett
district had been 3,171 students- the largest ever, up till
When the Pyote school closed, between 50 and 60 students out
of a body of 75 left Panther territory to become part of the
Lobo Green tradition. The rest went to Wink or Grandfalls.
Any employee of the Pyote school was welcome to transfer to
the Monahans-Wickett-Pyote district schools as well, and
fourteen of them did so.
The district itself consisted of North Ward, South Ward,
Edwards, Clements-Pope, Tatom, Sudderth, Brockman, and
Gensler Elementary (formerly known as Wickett Ward).
Two of those that came were Wright Chrane, the Pyote
superintendent since 1936 and tennis Hall of Famer, and wife
Adeline, a secretary. Chrane doubled as the Pyote tennis
coach and had led the Panthers to 28 consecutive district
championships (a string stopped only by the consolidation).
He once wrote of that Pyote transition to Monahans:
"We had already bought our retirement home in Marble Falls
and I accepted the Burnet County Supervisor's position but
later declined to work in Monahans.
"Both Adeline and myself worked for five years in the
Monahans system, continued to live in Pyote and kept an eye
on our Pyote students.
"Working conditions were ideal and our association with the
Monahans teachers and people of the community produced many
good and loyal friends."
The Chranes finally made it to the Hill Country in their
later years and they never lost their passion for tennis.
Continued Chrane: "I still give tennis instruction to both
students and adults and Adeline and I play frequently on the
new plexi-pave courts at the lake and cannot help but smile
and pour another cup of coffee when we see the morning
school bus cross the Marble Falls bridge."
Consolidation was not the only change in 1965.
At the Monahans high school a middle classroom wing was
added, along with a cafeteria and a new band hall. The old
band hall became the new choir room.
Dan Gibbs was already an institution at the high school by
the mid-sixties, whimsically rechristening his Green Wave
Band the "Big Green Band From Lobo Land."
Whenever the school hosted an exchange student, the band
would oftentimes honor that student by spelling his/her name
out on the field during a half-time show. By the late 1960s,
Superintendent Cullender and the school board were making
long-range plans for a bigger and more comprehensive school
It was apparent that the old 1928 school was ready to come
down. Over on the south corner of the football field, a
$30,000 field house was in the making.
Other ambitious projects were ahead as oil prices held and
good times rolled. In the Soaring 70's, Monahans business
boomed as loud as the horns in Dan Gibbs' band.
Only three years after consolidation, a man had walked on
Earth's moon. The Monahans-Wickett-Pyote school district was
ready to take an equally giant leap, this time into the
Slow early vote portends low turnout
Based on a light early vote, County Clerk Pat V. Finley
expects a small ballot count in Ward County for the Tuesday,
Nov. 3, elections.
Finley expects voter disinterest and apathy although there
is a general election contest for county judge - Republican
Candido Gutierrez against incumbent Democrat Sam G. Massey.
It is the first partisan local election contest in years.
Early voting ends at 5 p.m. on Friday, Halloween Eve.
On Election Day, There are eight polling places throughout
Precinct 1E at the Sudderth-Middleton Gym.
Precinct 1W at the Barstow
Democrats, Republicans chat with Bonilla
As many local Democrats as Republicans came out Monday, Oct.
26, to see U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-San Antonio, seek
votes at the Ward County Convention Center in Monahans.
The congressman, whose 23rd district includes Ward County,
has two opponents in the General elections on Tuesday, Nov.
3 - Democrat Charlie Urbina Jones and Libertarian William A.
Stallknecht, who like Bonilla are from San Antonio. San
Antonio's predominantly Republican Southwestern suburbs
represent the largest voting bloc in Bonilla's district.
Bonilla is expected to win reelection handily although he
said he feared "predictions of the lowest vote in decades
would prove to be true on Tuesday."
The congressman's stop in Monahans was his sixth in a
furious day of campaigning that began in San Antonio just
after sunrise. He said he planned to make a television
appearance in Odessa at 10 p.m. and was in Midland on
Tuesday for more campaigning.
Bonilla praised Ward County Democrat and Republican alike in
his remarks from the stage of the convention auditorium.
He was introduced by Monahans Mayor David Cutbirth and posed
for pictures with incumbent County Judge Sam G. Massey, the
Democrat who seeks reelection, and Candido Gutierrez, the
Republican nominee who opposes Massey.
The congressman predicted that the House of Representatives
would vote Articles of Impeachment against President Bill
Clinton before the end of the year - articles that
principally would be based on allegations of obstruction of
justice. He also said he did not believe the U.S. Senate
would convict because he did not believe there would be
enough votes in the Senate to provide the two-thirds
majority necessary to remove Clinton from office. Bonilla
says he expects the GOP to gain 10 seats in the House and
five in the Senate. Bonilla also noted his continued
opposition to current federal income tax laws.
Hundreds seek refuge from tornadoes
Rain and hail storms raced through Monahans and Ward County
on Tuesday evening, Oct. 27.
Streets flooded. Hundreds went to the Ward County Courthouse
seeking refuge from threatened tornadoes.
The tornadoes did not come. But 1.5 inches of rain fell in a
half-hour, according to the weather gauge at KLBO Radio in
Monahans. National Weather Service Observer Pearson Cooper
reported 1.1 inches of rain from the fast moving storm line.
Ping pong size hail fell in Pyote. Hail in Monahans was
more like buckshot. Crane reportedly received two to three
inches of rain.
The weather woes began around 6:30, when it was reported
that funnel clouds were over the sandhills.
Dolores Fine, Ward County tax collector, called Patsy
Calloway at KLBO Radio to say the courthouse was open to all
that needed shelter.
Fine estimates 500 weather refugees took advantage of the
sanctuary. The basement filled quickly as did the first
floor. Corridors followed by the Commissioners Court
Then a jailer got a key to what is called "the big room"
downstairs. It too filled to capacity.
People sat on the stairs while some stood outside and
watched the storm.
County Judge Sam G. Massey says he's "proud to have a
facility that could keep so many people safe."
Fine says Quinn Wilson and Daniel Leyva were instrumental in
keeping all those people calm.
No injuries and little damage was reported to law
enforcement officers in the county.
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.