Weekly Newspaper for Ward County

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Thursday, October 17, 1996

Chinese group visits here, studies

possible investment in shrimp

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A group of Chinese businessmen are currently exploring the possibilities
of opening several enterprises in the Monahans and Ward County area.

A delegation of six Chinese, one of whom is a high ranking Chinese
government official, arrived in Monahans last week guests of Diana
Stern, wife of local attorney Jack Stern. The delegation was
representing the ANC company of Houston, which is subsidiary of a major
Chinese multi-national.

Mrs. Stern, who is originally from China, was acting as a consultant and
translator on behalf of the group. She owns a Houston-based company
known as Chintex and is well-versed in putting Chinese investors
together with Texas enterprises.

In a hastily organized dinner Wednesday evening, Oct. 9, a group of
approximately three dozen business and civic leaders from Ward and Pecos
counties gathered at K-Bob's Restaurant in a show of support for Chinese

During several short speeches, the Chinese emphasized how friendly they
had found West Texans.

Shrimp and Titanium

The delegation was mainly interested in this region's shrimp farms.
However, there was also limited discussions held concerning the
possibility of opening in industrial coatings plant in Monahans.

Unlike local aquaculture projects, China has a successful track record
in shrimp and fish farming. In fact, last year Chinese importers created
a stir in Louisiana by bringing in crawfish at a price far below what
that state's local producers could offer. A spokesman for the Louisiana
Department of Agriculture's aquaculture division said that the Chinese
were so successful in capturing that niche market, a few of the local
producers were forced out of business.

Because of Ward County's climate and the availability of brine water,
last week's visiting delegation was very optimistic about the chances of
a successful shrimp operation here. Those factors, in combination with
the fact that the Chinese have developed a cold weather resist an breed
of shrimp, even caused optimism among local leaders.

Among the delegation was Professor Wen Li-Shi of China's Department of
Surface Technology and Interface Research. Professor Li-Shi had helped
his country develop the very effective Stinger-type missiles with the
titanium coated heads. That technology, Li-Shi feels, can be applied for
other uses such as titanium-coated cutting tools. The possibility of
opening a plant in Monahans was discussed.

Quick Mobilization

The main reason for last week's quick gathering at K-Bob's was to assure
the delegation that Monahans and Ward County are open to the idea of
Chinese investment.

"They (the Chinese delegation) wanted to make sure that the people here
would welcome them...that Ward County is a good place to live and do
business...and I believe we were successful in showing our best side,"
said Ward County Judge Sam Massey, who played a key role in organizing
the Wednesday night gathering.

Monahans Mayor David Cutbirth said, "I think this is a great opportunity
for this area and I believe that given the chance, we can show that this
is a good place for international investors to do business."

Monahans Mayor David Cutbirth said, "I think this is a great opportunity
for this area and I believe that given the chance, we can show that his
is a good place for international investors to do business."

Monahans Director of Economic Development Charles Walker praised local
officials for their quick mobilization. "The county and city officials
proved themselves to be very aware of the opportunity presented by the
Chinese. Indeed, they showed that this area is not only open to
international investment, but is also prepared to do business in the
ever-changing world economy."

"I won't say that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, but I'll
certainly say that it is a rare one. I hope the whole community joins in
making these guests feel welcome," said Monahans Chamber of Commerce
Director Tammy Swigert.

City Hall Meeting

Following Wednesday night's gathering, the delegation visited City Hall
for a Thursday morning meeting with Mayor Cutbirth and City Manager
David Mills.

Again using Ms. Stern as a translator, the delegation inquired about a
variety of matters including the availability of labor and housing as
well as the difficulty of installing septic tanks.

Mrs. Stern told the Monahans News that she would be returning within the
next few weeks with another group of Chinese investors.

Charles Walker, who gathered aquaculture information and forwarded it to
Jack Stern, pointed out that China is Texas' ninth largest trading
partner and that trade in the Asian markets has nearly doubled in the
past year. Much of the 1995 gain in Texas exports, Walker said, was in
the category of agriculture crops.

Ward County budget's passage

clears way for new tax hike

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The Ward County Commissioners Court approved the 1997 budget Tuesday

The $12,721,998 budget calls for a hike in the county's ad valorem tax
for .636 per hundred dollar valuation to .6881.

According to a comparison of the county's ad valorem rates since 1988,
the rate has been increased in six out of the past ten fiscal years. In
1988, the rate was .5165.

In 1992, the rate was cut from .54 per hundred dollar valuation to
.4820, a figure which held steady until 1995, when it was hiked to

In the new budget, the county budgeted $4,989,448 for the General Fund.

The Hospital Fund was budgeted $6,445,596, of which $3,308,000 will go
to pay salaries and wages.

Although the new budget calls for approximately $536,580 less in
expenditures, the county has had to contend with a loss in valuation of
taxable property, which can be attributed mostly to slow down in oil
patch activity.

As an example of this loss of valuation, the county levied $5,701,926 in
ad valorem taxes in 1991, as compared with 1997's figure of $4,857,848.

In 1983, the county based its budget on taxable property valuations of
approximately $1.6 billion. That figure has steadily declined over the
year's to 1997's figure of approximately $706 million.

Last week, Ward County Judge Sam Massey attributed the new tax rate to
inflation and higher expenditures in fighting juvenile crime.

The budget calls for $767,589 for the Road & Bridge Fund, a slight
decrease from 1996's 779,860, but substantially more than the $639,522
budgeted in 1995.

The Road & Bridge Fund for 1997 has allocated $199,076 for Pct. 1,
$92,544 for Pct. 2, $150,716 for Pct. 3 and $175,496 for Pct. 4.

The Commissioners' salaries and the 1996 comparisons are: $34,272 for
Pct. 1, down from 34,584; $34,956 for Pct. 2, up from $34,896; $34,620
for Pct. 3, up from $34,584; and $34,956, up from $34,896 for Pct. 4.

The money budgeted for wages to pay county employees in the four
precients remain close to the amount budgeted for 1996, but are
considerably higher than what was budgeted in 1995.

For Pct. 1, $147,804 will go to the pay employees' salaries, as compared
to the $118,696 budgeted in 1995. For Pct. 2, those figures are $49,788
for 1997 as compared to 1995's $28,904. For Pct. 3 $99,096 as compared
to $69,600 and Pct. 4 shows $123,540 being budgeted for wages as
compared to the 1995 figure of $58,584.

Blood drive slated for Wednesday

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Free cholesterol testing will be offered to all those giving blood at
the Ward Memorial Hospital Auxiliary's blood drive. The event is
scheduled for 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, October 12 at the Community
Center. Men may also opt for PSA testing at the low cost of $15 for
blood donors or $20 for those who are not giving blood.

"Both the cholesterol testing and PSA screening are considered essential
for prevention of serious health problems," said Alma Baird, blood drive
chairman, "and we are happy to be able to offer these services at our
blood drive."

"There is always such a need for blood that donors are essential for a
high quality of medical care," she added. "We encourage everyone who can
to take a few minutes of their time and give blood Wednesday. What
better way to give such a special gift-the gift of life."
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Copyright 1996 by Ward Newspapers, Inc.
107 W. Second St., Monahans TX 79756
Phone 915-943-4313, FAX 915-943-4314

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