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Thursday, October 24, 1996

Grand Jury orders hospital to close bank accounts

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A directive letter from the Ward County Grand jury to the administration
of Ward Memorial Hospital was issued last week.

The letter orders the hospital to immediately close four unauthorized
bank accounts. It also orders Administrator Bill O'Brien and Hospital
Comptroller Jesse Saucedo to appear before the Grand Jury when it
convenes on Nov. 14. The letter reads, in part;

"The Grand Jury finds that Ward Memorial Hospital has used and currently
uses several bank accounts at First National Bank of Monahans, without
the knowledge, consent and approval of the Ward County Commissioner's
Court... and the Ward County Treasurer. The Grand Jury requests that all
bank accounts at First National Bank... be closed immediately. Any money
in a First National account must be immediately turned over to the Ward
County Treasurer. New accounts may be opened at First State Bank... the
county depository, if necessary. Only one new bank account at First
State Bank.. may be opened for each Rural Health Clinic."

The accounts in question have apparently been in existence since 1991.
In 1994, the county took bids from local banks to act as the county's
official depository. First State Bank won the bid and, according to
County Treasurer Nell Berry, the hospital was ordered to transfer the
accounts from First National to First State.

"I told the hospital to leave only enough money (in the First National)
to cover any outstanding checks they had," said Berry.

Apparently the accounts were never fully closed and funds continued to
be deposited and withdrawn, said Berry.

The Treasurer became aware the accounts were still open in late August
or early September. "They (the hospital) brought me a check for $30,000
to cover their payroll. I showed the check to (County Auditor) Barbara
Walsh and she sent them a letter citing that the accounts were in
violation of state law."

Berry also said she believed the accounts were kept active with money
from patient collections. In 1993, the hospital was not turning in
patient collections in what Berry considered to be timely fashion. The
current procedure to account for patient collections, she said, is for
the hospital to turn in it cash on a daily basis.

Another portion of the Grand Jury letter cites the accounts as being a
violation of accepted procedure.

"The Grand Jury finds that Ward Memorial Hospital has written checks on
the bank accounts at First National Bank without any authorization of
the Ward County Commissioner's Court and without approval and audit of
the Ward County Auditor. This practice must stop. The Grand Jury demands
that Ward Memorial Hospital discontinue writing checks to any entity or
person except the Ward County Treasurer. The Grand jury also demands
that all money accumulated form time to time in any Rural Health Clinic
bank accounts be remitted to the Ward County Treasurer at least twice a
month and that Ward Hospital discontinue its practice of accumulating
money in these banks accounts without remitting it to the Ward County

A Matter of Cooperation?

Before the regularly scheduled Hospital Board meeting Tuesday night, the
board's Finance Committee met in open session to discuss, among many
other items, the matter of the accounts.

After presenting a summary of his side of the matter, which basically
defended the practice, Hospital Comptroller Jesse Saucedo was told by
County Judge Sam Massey that - no matter what the justification - the
unauthorized bank accounts were illegal and the funds had to go to the
county treasurer for oversight.

Hospital Administrator Bill O'Brien asked Judge Massey for assurance
that he would have access to cash in case the hospital needed to make an
emergency purchase such as oxygen.

Judge Massey replied, "A little cooperation on the part of the county
treasurer here would be helpful... and I realize that has not been

The Finance Committee voted 4-0 to order that the accounts be closed at
First National Bank of Monahans and reopened at First State.

Study ranks Monahans tax

rates as state's 127th highest

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While the Ward County Commissioners Court was the only local taxing
entity to raise its ad valorem rate for the 1997 budget year, the city
and the school district tax rates were ranked as being the 127th highest
in the state during 1994-95.

The ranking was assigned recently by a study compiled by the Texas
Taxpayers Research Association, a non-profit group comprised of
businesses and individuals interested in state fiscal policy.

the study, which compares 487 "taxing areas" across Texas, ranks the
1994 property tax rate in Monahans as being 127th highest.

The total property tax rate of $2.7137 per $100 valuation was comprised
of .506 levied by the city and 1.5 levied by the Monahans-Wickett-Pyote
Independent School District.

Texas has more than 3,500 property taxing jurisdictions, and the report
shows that property tax burdens ranged from a high of $3.58 per $100
valuation in Robstown - near Corpus Christi - to a low of $1.55 in Gun
Barrel City in Henderson County.

Monahans did fare better in category of homestead tax burdens. A
residential Monahans homestead valued at $100,000 in 1994-95 would have
paid a total of $1,957 in local property taxes, which was ranked 414th
highest in the state. These are the taxes that would have been due after
deducting all generally available homestead exceptions. No adjustments
were made in the study to account for homestead exemptions available
only to special groups of taxpayers, such as the elderly, the disabled
or veterans.

The TTARA Research Foundation report also has similar tax burden and
ranking data for commercial, industrial, oil and gas and utility
properties valued at $100,000. The Monahans area was ranked 186th
highest as far as commercial property taxes; 190th for industrial
property; 201th for utility properties and 72nd for oil and gas.

The TTARA argues in its study in favor of statewide uniform appraisal.
Unless all property is appraised uniformly, the study says, tax burdens
will vary among jurisdictions and among types of property within the
same jurisdiction. By law, most property should be appraised at 100
percent of the market value. Across the state, average ratios of tax
appraisals to market value ranged from a high of 132.5 percent in
Chester ISD, south of Lufkin, to a low of 81.4 percent in Coolidge ISD
in Limestone County

Locally, the average appraisal ration in MWPISD, according to the study,
was 103 percent of the market value of property. The appraisal ratios
for specific categories of property ranged from 91 percent for
single-family homes to 108 percent for oil and gas properties.

The City of Monahans actually lowered its tax rate for the coming fiscal
year, while the school district will keep the same rate as last year.
The count tax rates were not taken into account for the TTARA study.

Statewide, total property taxes grew from $8.1 billion in 1984 to $15.4
billion in 1994, a 91 percent increase. In comparison, the state's
school districts tax levies jumped 117 percent from 4.2 billion in 1994.
The study claims that a statewide average of levies by cities, counties
and various special taxing districts increased by 52 percent, 72 percent
and 70 percent respectively, over the same period.

A.G. Adair leaves legacy of love for Monahans

Newspaperman was dedicated to family, community and youth

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A.G. Adair, 74, collapsed and died at his Monahans home on Thursday,
October 17, as he worked at his computer.

Born November 5, 1921, in Uvalde, Texas, he began his career in weekly
newspapers at the age of 16 as a handset compositor and pressman, using
an old two-page book press.

The ink was in his blood to stay by the time he was senior in high
school. He and a friend leased a tiny country weekly and were recognized
by the Associated Press as being the youngest owners/publishers of a
commercial newspaper at that time. That was quite an achievement for
young Adair, considering that he also lettered in four sports and
graduated as salutatorian of his class.

After high school, he went to work for the Carrizo Springs Javelin where
he learned to operate the old Linotype machine and a double-revelation
cylinder press.

He developed his skills to a point that he next took a job in Sabinal at
the Sentinel and put out the entire newspaper by himself.

He entered the Army on Nov. 27, 1942, and served in the 29th Infantry
(spearhead) Division for the Omaha Beach landing in Normandy, was
involved in the Battle of the Bulge and was 40 miles outside of Berlin
on the Elbe River awaiting the arrival of the Russians when the European
campaign ended.

Discharged on Oct. 31, 1945, the veteran returned to his hometown of
Uvalde and went to work as shop foreman and advertising manager of the
Uvalde Leader News. He married Ruth E. Hansen.

In 1953, he moved to McCamey as editor of the News. The next year, he
went to work for the Crane News, eventually buying it in 1958 and
selling it in 1962. His son, Larry Don, was born in Crane.

He was then hired in July of 1962 by Hugh P. Cooper to become news
editor of the Monahans News.

He married Mary E. Carroll Nicholson in 1964 and they had a daughter,

After undergoing five heart bypasses in 1986, he became sports editor.

But he was much more than a newspaperman who wrote his community, he was
an active member of his community.

Adair worked diligently to promote local events, large and small, in his
community. However, his first love was to encourage participation in
school sports. he originated the Monahans News Outstanding Woman Athlete
Award, choosing each year's recipient after carefully considering sports
ability, participation, individual achievement and, ultimately, their
academic performance.

Adair's civic and patriotic service was given unselfishly thorough many
channels and organizations in Monahans, including his being;

*A charter member of the local Optimists.

*A Mason, receiving the first Golden Trowel awarded in Monahans to
Chapter No. 561.

*A member of Scottish Rite

*A York Rite Knight Templar.

*A Worthy Patron of the Order of Eastern Star for 11 previous terms and
a portion of this year.

*A Charter member of the Ward County Council for Handicapped Children.

*A life member of the Monahans Writers Club.

He continued in military service by serving in the Texas State Guard. He
began his service in the Guard, serving as First Sgt. for Company B,
before working his way up to the area Battalion position as S3, training
officer, and eventually to Battalion Commander.

He also served in the Texas State Guard Association, becoming its
president in 1985. he was honorably retired in 1986, then called back to
active Battalion after the sudden death of the commander.

He was honorably retired a second time, receiving two Adjutant General
Awards for his service and also received his brevet Colonel rank.

He was always quick to defend his flag and explain the proper methods
for its display to those who were unknowing or careless. He was proud to
explain his dedication to the flag, whether it be to adults or to a Cub
Scout pack, which he did on Oct. 15.

He became a Christian believer at the age of 15 at the Apostolic Faith
Church. in Monahans, his church affiliation was with Southside Baptist.

Survivors include his devoted wife, Mary, of the home; Larry Don Adair,
Levelland; Ray Nicholson, Beaumont; Katheryne Nicholson Brice, Dallas;
Dorthea V. Adair Olgin, Monahans; 14 grandchildren and 14
great-grandchildren; sister Louise Sutton of Roswell, NM; and brother
Robert M. Adair of Summerville; a host of nieces and nephews and
literally thousands of friends.

Services were held Saturday at Southside Baptist Church, followed by a
Masonic burial ceremony at Monahans Memorial Cemetery. He was buried in
full uniform with a color guard presenting the flag to the widow. Three
M-1 cartridges were folded into the flag to symbolize the 21-gun salute
to which Adair was entitled.

A fund to help with burial expenses has been establish at First State
Bank in Monahans.
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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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