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School superintendent search still in progress

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About 20 applications for the position as superintendent of the
Monahans-Wickett-Pyote School District have been received, reports
interim Superintendent Mike Fletcher.
Fletcher also notes the school board has extended the deadline for
superintendent applications to Tuesday, Jan. 14. It is at the board
meeting that night the applications will examined.
Fletcher became interim superintendent on Dec. 1 after former
Superintendent Jack Clemmons accepted a comparable position in the
Victoria School District.

BUSTED! Monahans police focus big heat on desert dope

74-year-old man among 14 arrested

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By Jerome P. Curry
of the News

Monahans police led a multi-agency, nearly simultaneous, eight-hour
police sweep of Ward County on Friday, Jan. 3.
The target: illicit distribution of cocaine, methamphetamines, marijuana
and heroin.
The goal: Put big heat on the dopers and their customers in this West
Texas desert city.
Operating under radio silence because "everyone seems to have a
scanner," raids focused on two houses in Monahans and one in Wickett.
they began during the lunch hour and ended after dark. Arrest warrants
were served until 8:30 P.M.
One of those arrested was a 74-year-old man who was held on charges of
delivering a controlled substance. He was taken at the Monahans home he
shares with a companion. Police confiscated cocaine, cash and guns. His
companion also was charged with delivering a controlled substance.
It was the climax of a year long investigation in which undercover
officers purchased cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and marijuana
multiple times. Those purchases ranged from bags of marijuana to eight
balls of coke. It is these purchases on which all the initial charges
against those arrested are based.
Most of the dope, the Monahans News was told, came from Old Mexico.
Police Chief Davis Watts said the strike probable was the largest of its
kind in Ward County since the late 1980s.
Police Lt. Charles Sebastian, who led Operation Streetsweep, said it
most certainly was the biggest anti-dope strike this decade.
"And we have not stopped investigating," Sebastian said. "If there is
any kind of a narcotics sale in this city, we want everyone, buyer and
seller, to know we just might be standing there and probably will be."
The officers, armed with three search warrants and 18 arrest warrants,
were from the City of Monahans, the City of Pecos, the Department of
Public Safety, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Service and the sheriff's
offices in Ward and Reeves County.
Sebastian coordinated and directed the assaults from a "warroom" in the
rear of the Monahans Volunteer Fire Department.
"We wish to thank all of the agencies involved, "Sebastian says. "With
what we had to do, we could not have done it with out them. Because we
were planning to hit some places at the same time, we had to have the
additional manpower. It worked well."
Raiding lawmen hit seven residences in Monahans plus the Blue Room
tavern on Highway 80 West and one house in Wickett.
One arrest was served quietly on Ernesto Ornelas, who already was in the
Ward County Jail on previous charge. Ornelas is the only one who was
taken in the Friday sweep who was not released from jail on bond within
24 hours.
His bond on the latest charges is $15,000. But he is being held in the
Ward County Jail on a motion to revoke his probation from an earlier
Fourteen arrests were reported. Cocaine and marijuana, valued at
$15,000., was seized. The charges against them ranged from distributing
a control led substance (speed, heroin, marijuana or cocaine) to
possession. Investigations continue. Sebastian expects more arrests and
charges to be filed as that inquiry continues.
Cash, about $9,000, was confiscated.
Sundry items, valued at about $4,000 and believed by investigators to
have been stolen, were impounded. Those items included, reports Monahans
Police Lt. Sebastian, appliances, rifles, pistols, ammunition, mechanics
tools, electronics (stereos, radios, etc.) and several items of yard
maintenance equipment.
The mechanics tools, says Sebastian, are believed to have been taken at
a burglary of a Monahans service station more than a year ago.
One of the men taken, after being read his rights, told officers that
the money they found was the direct result of his dope business.
That man was among those who were released on bail Saturday.
Watts and Sebastian said that no resistance was offered by any of those
arrested in Operation Streetsweep.
In a continuing move to cooperate with new District Attorney Randy
Reynolds, The Pecos-based DA was notified.
ADA's investigator accompanied police in the action.
"We are looking forward to working with Mr. Reynolds, "Sebastian said
half-way through the Friday raids.
The inquiry into the bootleg drug business in Ward County already has
reached beyond the county's borders, the Monahans News was told.

Operation Streetsweep "The Boxscore"

According to records at the Ward County Jail, all of the 14 arrested,
with the exception of one man, were released on bond Saturday after
spending one night in jail.
Their names, charges and bonds, according to jail records, are:
W.C. Johnson, 74, of Monahans, charged with delivery of a controlled
substance, bond $10,000.
Yolanda Quiroz, 44, of Monahans, delivery of a controlled substance,
possession of cocaine, bond $25,000.
Jesus Montes, 44, of Monahans, delivery of a controlled substance and
possession of a controlled substance, bond $10,000.
Eliso Yanez of Monahans, no age available, delivery of a controlled
substance, bond $5,000.
Jim McKinney, no age available, of Wickett, possession of a controlled
substance, bond $5,000.
Karen McDuffee, no age available, of Wickett, possession of a controlled
substance, bond $10,000.
Norris Spencer of Monahans, no age available, delivery of a controlled
substance, bond $5,000.
Richard McDonald, of Monahans, no age available, of Monahans, bond
Charles McDonald, no age available, a relative of Richard's, of
Monahans, bond $5,000.
Tony Armendariz, no age available, of Monahans, delivery of a controlled
substance, bond $5,000.
Daryl Myers, no age available, of Monahans, delivery of a controlled
substance, bond $10,000.
Esther Minjarez, no age available, of Monahans, delivery of a controlled
substance, bond $10,000.
John L. Anderson, no age available, delivery of a controlled substance,
Ernesto Ornelas, no age available, of the Ward County Jail, bond $15,000.

Trucks jackknife as snow and ice glaze Interstate 20

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Five tractor-trailers bound East on Interstate 20 spun, smashed and
jackknifed about 9 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8, on a half-mile long, two-inch
thick ice sheet.
No injuries were reported. Eastbound traffic was stalled for more than
tow hours while emergency crews worked to clear the roadway.
That spectacular crash keyed a morning of sliding traffic after an
overnight snow dumped an official two inches in Monahans, according to
reports from a National Weather Service observer.
Heavier snow fall was reported in Kermit, Pecos and Barstow. In Kermit,
even grandmothers were said to be throwing snowballs.
Snow first moved into Ward County Tuesday but did not begin to
accumulate to any degree until late Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday
morning, the area was frosted.
But the early morning brought warmer temperatures and the snow gradually
melted into ice.
Near Mile Marker 55, on I-20, the ice sheet on which the chain-reaction
accident occurred was the longest identified in the area. Two drivers
involved were Willis Stone and James Utley, driving out of Sparta, N.C.
They were driving up a slight incline in a line of tractor-trailers. The
truckers, both men estimated, were driving about 40 miles an hour on the
ice, attempting to get some traction by keeping their outside wheels
close to the fogline where there was snow, not ice.
"A car jumped out and moved up the line," Stone said. "The lead truck
was having trouble getting traction," Utley said. "The car moved back
in," Stone said. "The lead truck started to slide," Utley said.
Stone and Utley's vehicle jack-knifed into the median between the
Eastbound and Westbound lanes where it collided with another truck also
out of control. One rig to the rear of the Stone and Utley truck was
taken by its driver into the median between the eastbound lanes and the
service road. That driver made the service road with his tractor but
lost his trailer in a bizarre twist of the rig. The car that keyed the
whole series of crashes? Both men said they didn't know. If just went on
down the interstate.

Water, economic development, property tax relief,

Monahans Sandhills State Park

Legislators say they'll carry Ward County's message

to 75th general assembly in Austin

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A Monahans News analysis

Ward County's legislative delegation, a Democrat and a Republican, takes
a decidedly nonpartisan, pro-West Texas philosophy into the 75th Texas
Legislature which convenes on Tuesday, Jan. 14, in Austin.
Those two men are veteran State Rep. Bob Turner, D-Coleman and freshman
State Sen. Robert L. Duncan, R-Lubbock, who despite his neophyte status
in the senate is himself a veteran of the State House.
In separate interviews with the Monahans News, Democrat Turner and
Republican Duncan pledge to take Ward County's legislative agenda into
the legislature.
The Ward County agenda seemingly parallels their own personal agendas
which also focus on water, property tax reform and economic development.
Both Turner and Duncan said they would take the steps necessary to
resolve the curious scenario involving conflicting political
jurisdictions that thwarted the City of Monahans enactment of a one-cent
sales tax that would have provided a half-penny for property tax relief.
Decidedly a local issue which has no expected opposition, the imbroglio
can be resolved and the only place to do that is in the legislature.
Here essentially is what happened. Monahans voters in November 1995
voted to increase the city sales tax by one cent, a half-cent for
economic development and a half-cent so the property tax inside the city
could be reduced.
Plans were made to decrease the City of Monahans property tax rate from
50.6 cents to 34 cents for each $100 of property valuation.
Then last July, the Texas Comptrollers Office notified city officials
the half-cent for property tax reduction could not be imposed as
scheduled last October. The comptroller's office cited "an unusual
That situation involved:
1. Annexation by the City of Monahans of 5,000 acres of land in Winkler
County that was part of a Monahans annexation of several thousand acres
that encompass the City Municipal Water Field. That annexation had
occurred in the 1950's.
2. In November of 1995, Winkler County also had voted to increase its
sales tax by a penny providing a half-cent for property tax reduction
and a half-cent for medical facilities in the county.
3. The conflicting governmental jurisdictions, the comptroller's staff
reported, meant that the half-cent property tax reduction could not be
collected in Monahans or Winkler County because of overlapping
Special legislative action was needed comparable to a similar case
several years ago, it was reported, that involved Port Aransas and
Aransas County.
"What is needed," said Charles Walker, director of the Monahans Economic
Development Corp., "is that the legislature provide for exemption of the
city of Monahans acres in Winkler County from the Winkler County vote.
Exempting the Monahans city property from that vote allows both Winkler
County and Monahans to collect the sales tax that would reduce the
property tax."
Says Representative Turner: "We'll get this resolved with legislation
correcting errors in the collection of the economic sales tax in areas
involving more than one governmental entity."
Concurs Senator Duncan: "That kind of an issue can band will be
the freshman Senator made that strong statement although he was still in
the last minute throes of finding office space and establishing staff in
the week before the start of the legislative session, a problem caused
by his election in a December runoff, a full month behind most other
legislators moving into Austin for the 75th general assembly.
Duncan has not yet had time to cast his legislative goals for the coming
session because of that time crunch but he did note that Ward County and
Ward County issues were a major part of his focus.
"I was in Ward county and in Monahans three or four time during the
campaign, "Duncan, a Lubbock lawyer, noted.
he said he planned to come to Monahans as soon as possible and when his
agenda permits to discuss the county's concerns with Ward County Judge
Sam G. Massey, Monahans Mayor David B. Cutbirth and the city's economic
development director Charles Walker.
turner, in a memorandum to the News, made these points about the session
He said he already had introduced or planned to introduce the following
1."...legislation correcting errors in the collection of the half-cent
economic sales tax"
2. "Several local bills concerning hospital and water districts."
3. "Legislation to make trespass on agricultural land a Class C
misdemeanor with swifter punishment."
Turner also notes the major legislative issues he sees are "juvenile
justice reform, water rights and distribution, property tax reform and
additional tort reform."
Turner and Duncan both said they would examine closely suggestions by
County Judge Massey and several other county officials in Texas to
provide a portion of lottery revenues to local governments.
"This will give us a way to cut property taxes," Massey has said.
Duncan and Turner said that on the surface the idea seemed sound and
should be examined.
Under the proposal, a nickel on each lottery sales dollar would be
returned to the county in which the lottery sale was made.
According to a resolution approved unanimously by the Ward County Court
Sept. 23:
"(State) Sen. Tom Haywood has proposed a senate bill to be presented to
the 1997 Legislative session to the Texas Senate that would require the
Texas Lottery Commission to return five cents of every lottery sales
dollar to the city where the sales were transacted or to the county
where the sales transaction location was in the unincorporated area of
the county.
"Whereas, the sate lottery ticket sales in Ward County during the
calender year 1995 totaled $2,470,634 and this proposed bill would have
returned to the cities and county of Ward a total of $123,532.
"Now therefore be it resolved, on Sept. 23, 1996, the Ward County
Commissioners' Court adopted an official resolution approving the
acceptance of the proposed senate bill by Sen. Tom Haywood returning
our cents of every dollar sold in the cities to the cities and one cent
of every dollar sold in the cites to Ward County and returning five
cents of every dollar sold in unincorporated areas to Ward County."
Massey, Precinct 1 Commissioner Julian Florez, Precinct 2 Commissioner
Bill Welch, Precinct 3 Commissioner Larry Hunt, Precinct 4 Commissioner
Don Creech signed off on the resolution filed by Ward County Clerk Pat
V. Finley, acting as clerk of the commissioner's court.
Monahans Sandhills State Park is a vital part of the Ward County
legislative package in this session. And the major goal here, notes
economic development Walker, is to stop the erosion of state funding for
the park, a vital resource to the county, the region and the state. A
local nonprofit organizations formed to help the park seems to be
assuming more and more of the park's financial burden without having any
real power over the park. Then there is the issue of the remains of a
native Americans which the state has taken from their original resting
place in the park and stored at the Texas Historical Commission in
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Copyright 1997 by Ward Newspapers, Inc.
107 W. Second St., Monahans TX 79756
Phone 915-943-4313, FAX 915-943-4314

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