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Thursday, Feb. 13, 1997

Split court OKs hospital loan

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MONAHANS, Feb. 13, 1997 - Ward County Commissioners Court voted 3-2
Monday to loan the county's Memorial Hospital $450,000 for the purchase
and installation of a new and controversial computer system.

County Judge Sam Massey and Commissioner Don Creech voted against the
loan. Commissioners Bill Welch, Larry Hunt and Julian Florez voted in
favor of the measure.

According to the motion, the hospital will loan the money from its
insurance fund. The hospital will pay back the $450,000 over a five-year
period at an interest rate of 5.4 percent.

The loan approval was piggy-backed with the court's decision to
transfer $110,000 from the hospital's equipment fund to pay for
emergency repairs of the air conditioning system.

The court's action came after last week's highly charged joint meeting
between the commissioners, the hospital administration and the hospital
board. During that meeting, County Judge Sam Massey made it clear that
he had lost confidence in the current administration and suggested to
the court it seek resignations.

Although the motion to approve the loan passed, Monday's meeting was
not without pointed questions about the hospital's financial situation,
the practicality of a new computer system and its willingness to
consider other computer options.

It was brought out that the court had already approved the initial
$73,000 down-payment for the new system and the contract had already
been signed. The court had approved the purchase with the understanding
that anticipated Medicare payments would cover the rest of the cost of
the system. Obviously, those federal payments have failed to materialize
in time.

The meeting was attended by more than the usual number of spectators,
some of whom joined in the questioning.

C. Pearson Cooper asked whether the hospital or its board had made an
effort to contact Lubbock Methodist, a affiliate of Ward Memorial, to
find out if that institution could offer help and/or advice in the
purchase of a computer.

Chief Financial Officer Jesse Saucedo told the court there was no
benefit to be had by contacting Lubbock. Both Judge Massey and citizen
Cooper took issue with that statement and insisted that indeed Lubbock
Methodist was in a position to be of assistance.

Henry Cutbirth, a hospital board member who has made it plain that he
plans to step down when his term expires in April, defended the board
and the administration in the selection process used for choosing a
computer. Cutbirth also pointed out that the $450,000 over a five-year
period represents a little more than $80,000 per year, a figure which
the hospital should have no problem generating.

Tom Kuhn, a Grandfalls resident and owner of the Odessa Data company,
quizzed the administrators on the type of software that was being
purchased and whether the whole system could be leased, thus avoiding a
big cash outlay. Once Kuhn realized that the contract had been signed,
he declared the ongoing discussion as an exercise in futility.

Terry Kirkland, a Monahans businessman, asked the commissioners what
would happen if the hospital defaulted on the loan.

"Would any of the commissioners care to address this question?" Judge
Massey asked. There was no reply. At that point, County Attorney Kevin
Acker pointed out that should the hospital default, the commissioners
had the power of the purse strings. The loan payments could taken into
consideration during the budgeting process, Acker said.

Commissioners also:
1. Approved a resolution proclaiming observance of Black History Month
in the county.
2. Approved the county treasurer's quarterly report.
3. Renewed an annual agreement with the Permian Basin Regional Planning
Commission for nutritional aid for the elderly.

Finalists picked for school post

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MONAHANS, Feb. 13, 1997 - Two administrators of the
Monahans-Wickett-Pyote School District are among the six finalists
chosen by district trustees as candidates for superintendent.

The six were chosen after an executive session on Tuesday night. Members
of the school board met in the district's administrative offices.

Interim Superintendent Mike Fletcher reports that the candidates on the
so-called short list are:

Clifton L. Stephens, the district's current assistant superintendent for

Calvin L. Carrell, current principal at Sudderth Elementary School in
Jimmie Carpenter, Midlothian School District superintendent.
Les Farmer, Hubbard School District Superintendent.
David Hutton, Tahoka School District Superintendent.
Tony Reed, Clyde School District Superintendent.
Tentative plans, Fletcher reports, provide for members of the school
board to interview the candidates on Feb. 21 and Feb. 22.
The search for a new school superintendent began with an original pool
of 35 applicants which was narrowed to a dozen two weeks ago.
Whoever is chosen will replace Jack Clemmons who resigned to accept a
comparable position in Victoria. Fletcher has acted as interim district
chief since that resignation.

Fire leaves church sanctuary a shell

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MONAHANS, Feb. 13, 1997 - Flames raced through the sanctuary at Rosa de
Saron (Rose of Sharon) Assembly of God Church on Tuesday afternoon, Feb.
No injuries were reported. No one was in the building when the blaze
started, according to incident reports.

The fire left a charred out hulk in the windowless, A-Frame-like
building that is in the center of the church complex at 12th and Main
Streets in Monahans.
So far, Monahans Fire Marshal Lovelle Floyd reports, the cause of the
mysterious, sudden fire is unknown.

But, says Floyd: "Arson is not suspected. There is no evidence of
suspicious origin."

Floyd made the comment when he was asked about the possibility of arson
and it was noted that thousands of fires attributed to arson have been
reported in small community churches across the South in recent years.
Those fires have struck both white and nonwhite congregations.

"There absolutely is no evidence of anything like that here," says Floyd.
Firefighters from the Monahans Volunteer Fire Department controlled the
flames in about 20 minutes, says the Fire Marshal.

Damage was extensive although no cost estimate was made
Floyd said the flames appear to have started in the area of the heater.

From that small room, the flames moved into the roof area of the

Fire damage generally was confined to that part of the building above
ground with less severe damage to the basement area below the church.

Smoke damage was prevalent throughout the structure.

The status of services this weekend remains to be reported.

Saucedo resigns hospital finance post

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MONAHANS, Feb. 13, 1997 - Jesse Saucedo, chief financial officer at Ward
Memorial Hospital since June of 1995, has tendered his resignation,
reports Hospital Administrator William F. O'Brien.

Saucedo was the focus of a fiscal firestorm at the hospital which has
prompted criticism from Ward County Judge Sam G. Massey. Massey, in a
joint meeting of the Hospital Board of Managers and the County
Commission, questioned the financial credibility of the hospital
administration. At that Feb. 4 meeting, Saucedo, Administrator O'Brien
and Assistant Administrator Peggy Vestal offered to quit if county
commissioners wanted it. No formal steps were taken then by any of the
hospital's major administrators.

Saucedo downplays the clash with the county commissioners over hospital
finances. He says it is the job of the County Commissioner's Court to
watch county expenditures.

"The problem with county government is that it is county government,"
says Saucedo.

Asked directly if the controversy was a factor in his decision to
resign, Saucedo replies: "Not really."

O'Brien and Saucedo say Saucedo formally offered his resignation to
O'Brien on Monday. Its effective date will not be for at least 30 days.
Further, Saucedo has told O'Brien he will stay on the job and help bring
up the hospital's new computer systems, scheduled to go on line April 1.

Saucedo says he plans to seek opportunities in the private sector, an
option he has considered several times in the past few months.

"It probably is time to do something else " says Saucedo, who holds a
masters in business from Sul Ross University in Alpine and a bachelor's
in accounting from Fort Hays (Kan.) State University.

He thanked the Hospital Board of Managers and O'Brien for the "excellent
work" all of them have done.

"We have a good administrator, a good assistant administrator and a good
hospital board," Saucedo says. "Ward Memorial Hospital is a necessary
asset to the community. Ward Memorial Hospital will survive."

Buffalo soldiers open frontier

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West Texas has been the home of many blacks since the Civil War in part
due to the U.S. Army. Originally, four black regiments were formed -
the Ninth and Tenth Cavalry Regiments and the Twenty-fourth and
Twenty-fifth Infantry regiments. These men were commanded by white
officers exclusively until the first black graduate of West Point, Lt.
Henry O. Flipper later joined their ranks.

Ft. Davis, in Jeff Davis County of West Texas, was one of their
assigned posts and they were responsible for protecting the settlers as
they crossed the frontier, the mail, the telegraph lines and others
crossing the frontier from hostile Native Americans who were being
pushed off of their land as well as bandits who took refuge in Mexico
and crossed the border for raids. The black soldiers were given the
name Buffalo Soldiers by the Indians.

Two popular reasons were that the black troops were strong and brave
like the buffalo and that their hair seemed like buffalo hair to the
Indians. Whatever the reason, it was meant as an accolade to show the
respect in which they were held. Though the Buffalo Soldiers lived in
substandard conditions, were given worn out mounts, and were given
little respect by many of their fellow soldiers, they served with
bravery and loyalty.

Unfortunately, though they had served their country with valor, the
rewards were not evident when they returned to civilian life. Prejudice
was still rampant and segregation was the order of the day.
Nonetheless, many ex-soldiers stayed in the West and ranched or farmed.

It wasn't until 1992 that a memorial was dedicated to these brave men.
Their first assignment in the 1860's was Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and
it was there that the statue of a black cavalryman astride a horse was

On a walkway around the statue are the names of the eighteen black
soldiers who were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for service
on the Great Plains of the American West. General Colin Powell
dedicated the monument and declared "Look at him, soldier of the nation.

Eagles on his buttons, crossed sabers on his canteen, a rifle in his
hand, a pistol on his hip. Courageous, iron will. He was every bit the
soldier that his white brother was. He showed that the theory of
inequality must be wrong."

This is Black History month and the people of Monahans want to salute
the black members of our community with some brief bits of Monahans

Monahans does not have many black residents, but those who have and do
live here have always been an integral part of the community.

Sam and Mary Keithly were early residents of Ward County who played a
large role in the development of the town. Sam was brought to Monahans
when he was four years of age and spent most of the rest of his life
here. His wife, Mary, was from Cisco, Texas, but became as valuable a
member of the community as Sam after she moved here in 1910. They built
a comfortable home which became a landmark and they lived there until
Mary died in 1930.

Mary grew beautiful flowers which must have been no easy feat in the
sandy soil of Monahans. For many years she furnished flowers for most
of the funerals in town.

Sam was an accomplished musician who played the fiddle with his left
hand. He was also the town carpenter, blacksmith and later a mechanic
and plumber. Sam built many of the windmills in Monahans in the 1930's
and also the old Ward County Jail. The jail can be seen at the Million
Barrel Museum today.

Sam died in Odessa in 1952 and the couple had never had children.

Although the public schools in Monahans were not integrated until the
late 1950's , education has always been important to the black residents
of Ward County. Prior to integration the children of elementary age
attended the segregated Booker T. Washington school which was located in
the 300 block of North Dwight. When it became overcrowded, the
Cleveland "Domino" Brockman School was constructed in 1958.

Brockman was a black man who had carried the U. S. Mail from the depot
to the post office every day for many years. He wasespecially popular
with the children in town because of his friendliness and the candy he
shared with them.

All of the black children who wanted to get further education after
eighth grade were bussed to an all-black high school in Odessa.

E. T. Johnson, a long time Monahans resident, drove them daily. The
Odessa school had a very good reputation both academically and in

It was a disappointment as well as a victory to many when desegregation
meant staying in Monahans for high school because the Odessa school had
had many winning sports teams .

Several black educators come to mind when excellence is mentioned,
including Alberta Allen who taught in Monahans for many years and Thomas
E. Bell after whom the junior high stadium is named. Mr. Bell was a
much loved coach and teacher for thirty-two years. He resigned in 1988
due to ill health and died later that same year.

Mrs. Little Austin and Mrs. Jewel Williams were also early advocates
of education and Mrs. Williams taught primary school and music. These
few names are only a small portion of the black citizens who have worked
for equality through education.

Religion has always played a large role in the black community and the
church members have worked diligently to ensure that Monahans welcomes
newcomers and makes them feel part of a thriving and contributing group.
Many black members of the Monahans and Ward County communities have made
major contributions to the well being of all of us. In this, Black
History Month, we salute you and we hope that each year a bit more of
the history of the important contributions made will become part of the
history learned by everyone in school and not just at this time of year.

The information about local residents was found at the Ward County
Historical Commission Archives. The ladies who work there would be very
interested in any information, including pictures, letters or other
memorabilia of early Monahans residents. If you have questions about
Monahans history, please stop by and ask.

Truck hits, kills pedestrian

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MONAHANS, Feb. 13, 1997 - A 73-year-old man from Marion in Southern
Illinois was killed just after midnight Sunday, Feb. 9, when he was hit
by a tractor-trailer 5.3 miles East of Monahans just inside the Crane
County line, according to Department of Public Safety reports.

The victim was identified as Paul Morgan. Morgan's body was about 100
yards from his automobile that had been parked on the side of the

DPS Trooper Eric White of Monahans was the investigating officer in the

Ward County Sheriff's Deputies, who assisted in the investigation, said
it appeared that Morgan's body may have been struck several times by
other vehicles after the initial strike that killed him.

The driver of the rig that struck Morgan was identified as Shawn Pylant
of Clovis, Cal..

White said he was Westbound on the Interstate and Morgan was walking
from the center median North to the shoulder.

"He walked right out in front of the truck," White said.

White confirmed that Morgan had been hit several times.

White said he did not know why Morgan left his car.

So far, the keys to the vehicle have not been found. The car is
impounded at Monahans Exxon pending investigation.

Daisy Jeffrey, a Crane County justice of the peace, pronounced Morgan
dead at the scene. The body was taken to a Monahans funeral home.
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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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