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Mar. 27, 1997

Rail improvements on track

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MONAHANS, Mar. 27, 1997 - Construction starts this spring on $125.4
million in railroad track improvements that eventually will increase the
number of trains traveling through Ward County to a dozen a day, reports
an executive of Union Pacific Railroad Co.

Mark Davis of the Union Pacific corporate offices in Omaha, Neb., notes
two trains a day now travel through Monahans and Ward County.

From Davis:
"As a result of the merger with Southern Pacific, we're going to upgrade
track and we'll increase the number of trains a day through Monahans
from two to 12."

That sixfold increase in Ward County rail traffic on the old Texas
Pacific tracks will come, Davis projects, in 18 to 24 months depending
on the progress of the scheduled reconstruction, renovation and
upgrading of track between Fort Worth and El Paso.

Davis made the comments in a telephone interview with the Monahans News
on Monday, March 24.

"Yes," says Davis, "we'll be going from two to a dozen trains a day but
first comes the track upgrade which will include $74.3 million in welded
rail and for construction of sidings to allow for the additional

Davis said work is scheduled to start on the upgrade by the end of this
month or in early April.

"I don't have the construction schedule as yet through Ward County and
West Texas," Davis says.

He says that schedule and what it would mean in jobs and potential
economic impact will be available as soon as possible.

But construction, he says, definitely is scheduled to start this Spring.
Keith Norris, the area manager for Union Pacific based in Odessa, said
he knew no more than what Davis had reported from Omaha.

As Davis says, Norris says he has been told the extensive track
upgrading and renovation is scheduled to begin in late March or early

All information on track upgrades and increased rail traffic must come
from Davis, Norris says.

The merger on which the Union Pacific changes in Monahans and West Texas
are based was announced on Sept. 11, 1996 in Bethlehem, Pa. It was that
day that the joining of Union Pacific and Southern Pacific Rail Corp.
was finalized.

The combined Union Pacific-Southern Pacific operates 36,000 miles of
track in 23 states - running more than 2,000 trains a day.

Mayor plans Beijing journey

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MONAHANS, Mar. 27, 1997 - The Monahans City Council voted unanimously
Tuesday afternoon, March 25, to tell Mayor David Cutbirth to start
packing... for China that is. The mayor will travel to Beijing in April
to meet with Chinese business leaders concerning investment
opportunities in Ward County.

This trip will be the culmination of negotiations begun last year when
a Chinese delegation, organized by Diana Stern of Monahans, visited
Monahans to explore shrimp farming possibilities. During that visit,
officials from Pecos and Ward counties gathered at K-Bob's Restaurant to
exchange toasts and - basically - make the Chinese feel welcome.

Charles Walker, director of the Monahans Economic Development
Corporation, has been working behind the scenes with Mrs. Stern, the
wife of local attorney Jack Stern. Walker will be accompanying Mayor
Cutbirth on the trip.

The airfare will be paid with Economic Development funds. All other
expenses, such as room and board, will be paid by the Chinese. The
mayor, obviously sensitive to the use of taxpayers' money, emphasized
that though his wife will accompany him on the trip, her airfare will be
paid from personal funds.

Councilman Curtis Howard, who sits on the city's Economic Development
Board, explained why the board felt the trip was important to Monahans'
future growth.

"We have a real opportunity here to bring in foreign investors, but at
the same time we have to realize that these investors are different than
what we are used to dealing with," Howard said.

Howard said the mayor has been familiarizing himself with Chinese
customs and protocol. The mayor refused an invitation to China earlier
this year and the opinion was expressed his refusal may have killed the
deal. However, at the Feb. 11 council meeting the mayor stated the
Chinese connection was far from severed. County Judge Sam G. Massey also
turned down that invitation.

During his defense for approving the trip, Councilman Howard explained
that in Chinese culture, business is transacted between public

"In China, a small city would be one with 600,000 population. In
conducting business, they want to meet with the head official... in our
case, the mayor. The Chinese may not grasp the office of city council
member, or city manager, but they understand the office of mayor, Howard
said, jokingly adding, "The office of mayor is a highly-respected and
powerful position in China... unlike here."

Mayor Cutbirth said he would visiting during his five-day trip with
officials involved in aquaculture, plastics manufacturing and the
Chinese oil industry. The shrimp farm operation, the mayor said, is
prepared to invest more than $1 million here.

"I have the responsibility to go and listen to these people if it
may result in economic growth and jobs for this area," the mayor said,
adding, "If we're serious about growth, we need to play the game."

In other business, the council:
• Entered a long discussion concerning accepting a bid for the
construction of a pavilion at the city cemetery. The low bid of $37,952,
offered by Hawkins Construction, was about $10,000 higher than
anticipated during the planning stages of the project. An agreement was
struck with the Sandhills Garden Club that the city will pick up $30,000
of the cost. The garden club will provide any additional money needed.

• Approved a resolution to support the Monahans Housing Authority to
apply for a Texas Home Investment Partnership Program grant.

• Saved taxpayers approximately $3,000 by voting not to hold a city
election on May 3 because the three incumbents running are doing so

County judge dumps Wes-Tex Waste

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MONAHANS, Mar. 27, 1997 - Ward County Judge Sam G. Massey ordered WesTex
Waste Inc. of Midland to remove its dumpster from his ranch after he
received a March bill more than double what he had been paying.

"My WesTex bill for March went up from $30 to $47 at my home," says the
county judge. "I told them I would pay that bill but it would be the
last one. I told them to get that dumpster off my property. I made
other arrangements."

Massey's home is near Wickett. He says the unheralded WesTex Waste
increase prompted him to find another vendor to pick up the trash at
his home.

The county judge and other rural residents of Ward County contract with
private firms for removal of solid waste from their properties.

The county judge says he does not know how many people have been
affected by the increased WesTex Waste bills nor what the average
increase might be. Massey said Tax Assessor/Collector Dolores Fine's
WesTex Waste billing went up about the same as his.

Fine's bill went from $11.16 in February to $26.56 in March, a 138
percent increase.

"There is competition for WesTex," says Massey. "You can contact the
competition just like I did."

Last week, WesTex Waste Manager Jackie Reid told the Monahans News there
was an increase in billings to rural Ward County customers but he did
not know by how much or how many customers were affected.

Massey says the increases must have struck all rural customers not
protected by municipal solid waste contracts.Because of the contract,
WesTex rates in Thorntonville remain at $10.99 a month.

Meanwhile, the furor over the increases in rural Ward County continues
to build.

Rare theft from McDonald's safe

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MONAHANS, Mar. 27, 1997 - Predawn safe burglars cracked the safe at the
McDonald's Restaurant in Monahans on Monday, March 24.

Monahans Police Lt. Charles Sebastian says it was the first safe
burglary he could remember in his dozen years in law enforcement in Ward

"This is definitely the first one in a long time," says Sebastian. "Safe
burglaries in this part of the country are rare."

Sebastian says the McDonald's safe was cut open with a welding torch and
that the thief or thieves left the restaurant through the back door.

The burglary occurred sometime between midnight Sunday, when the last
McDonald's employee is reported to have left work, and about 5:30 a.m.
on Monday when the early crew arrived to begin preparations for the
breakfast hour.

Investigators believe the "actor or actors probably hid somewhere in the
restaurant until after all the workers had left for the night."

Where a thief might have hidden is a matter of speculation, says

The reason, reports the police lieutenant, is there are no signs of
forced entry into the building at 1905 South Stockton Street in Monahans.

Investigation continues into the theft.
The amount of money stolen has not yet been determined, says Sebastian.

Welfare spending drops

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MONAHANS, Mar. 27, 1997 - State spending on major welfare programs in
Ward County is on a steady decline, according to statistics released by
the Texas Department of Human Services.

That drop began after food stamp spending in the county peaked in 1993
and aid to families with dependent children topped out in 1994 over the
five year period in which the numbers were examined.

The data roughly corresponds to the period from 1990 to 1996 when the
county population decreased 8.5 percent from 13,115 counted in the 1990
census to a U.S. Census estimate of 11,994 persons in 1996.

Further, the Lone Star Card, which replaced actual food stamps in Texas
two years ago, gives better control over food stamp spending and
eliminates duplication of food stamp allocations because of the data
base which supports the card.

"Both population decline and the Lone Star card are reasons for the
decline but they are not the only ones and they may not even be the
major factors," says Barbara Evans, the community relations director for
the Department of Human Services West Texas office in Abilene.

Evans continues:
"More and more people are walking into our offices and saying they have
found jobs and don't need the assistance anymore. People are seeking
jobs and finding them."

Another factor is the federal and state initiative, says Evans, which
makes it more and more difficult to qualify for food stamps and other
government welfare.

She notes those efforts also intensified about two to three years ago.
"Regulations are so stringent," Evans says, "that many simply do not
want to go through the process required to qualify for aid under the
current federally mandated guidelines."

In fiscal 1995-1996, the state reports a total of $3,046,514 was spent
on major welfare programs and projects in Ward County, reports David
Maberry, the regional administrator for the Department of Human Services.
Maberry is based in Abilene.

Says Maberry:
"Food stamps worth $1,558,533 were issued for the fiscal year which
ended Aug. 31, while Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC)
totaled $352,059. Food stamps are funded entirely by the federal
government while the department determines eligibility of applicants and
issues the food coupons.

"The state and federal governments share in the cost of AFDC to families
where needy children are deprived of support because of the absence or
disability of one or both parents.

"Nursing home costs of approximately $445,409 were paid for aged and
disabled residents.

"Community care for Aged and Disabled spent $524,441 for Medicaid
related services and $109,7 80 for non-Medicaid related services."

Welfare spending declines in Ward County are most obvious in the Food
Stamp and AFDC programs, according to the statistics released from
Maberry's office.

These declines are in actual numbers without inflation rates factored
into the equations.

In 1991, food stamp spending in Ward County totaled $1,147,154 compared
with $1,558,533 reported for last year.

Food stamp spending data for 1992 shows a rise to $1,496,979; in 1993
to $1,628,560 (the five year high); 1994, $1,571,636; and 1995,
$1,544,109. AFDC spending shows $260,634 allocated in the county in
1991; $322,710 in 1992; $370,346 in 1993; $384,721 in 1994; $367,796 in
1995; and last year's $352,059.

Evans says the welfare spending decline in Ward County probably would
be reflected across the state but no analysis has been done with Texas
wide figures.

Bonilla wants real border war on smugglers

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WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-San Antonio, wants the federal
government to start a real war on the dope smugglers at the Mexico-Texas

Bonilla, whose 23rd congressional district includes Ward County, made
the comments in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and Gen.
Barry McCaffrey, director of the federal office of National Drug Control

Says Bonilla: "Our border with Mexico is under siege by drug
traffickers. Every day drug traffickers stage their operations on
farmer's and rancher's land. No American should have to live in fear
every day.

"The drug traffickers are smart. They know where the law enforcement
officers are and where they are not. So they are simply refocusing their
efforts to isolated areas of the border which do not have the resources
they need."
Texas needs more manpower to fight the smugglers, says Bonilla.

Have coffee with your congressman

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U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla, R- San Antonio, plans to stop in Monahans for
coffee with his constituents on Wednesday, April 2, according to a
communique from his office in Washington D.C.

Bonilla is scheduled to be at the Monahans Country Club RV Resort from
8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. The congressman's stop in Ward County is part of a
whirlwind spin through Bonilla's 23rd Congressional District, which
includes Ward County.

A member of the congressman's staff, Angela Rogers, says the whistle
stop in Monahans is billed: "Have Coffee With Your Congressman."

She urges all citizens who can be there Wednesday to attend and bring
their concerns to Bonilla.

Six hurt at one intersection

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MONAHANS, Mar. 27, 1997 - Six persons were hurt and three traffic
citations issued in two accidents in two days at the same Monahans
intersection, says Monahans Police Lt. Charles Sebastian.

The intersection:
Sealy Street (formally designated Business Route Interstate 20) and Loop
"I don't really know what we can do," says Sebastian. "There are
flashing lights and warning signs. People need to be careful out there,
extremely careful. Some people just seem to ignore the warnings."

Luckily, the police officer notes, none of the injured in the two
accidents were reported to be seriously hurt. All, Sebastian says, were
treated at Ward Memorial Hospital and released.

The first accident occurred at 2:01 p.m. on Sunday, March 23. It
involved two older automobiles.
According to the Monahans police report, a 1979 Oldsmobile was being
driven East on Sealy. A 1976 Chevrolet was headed South on Loop 464.
The Chevrolet, police report, crossed the railroad tracks and "failed to
stop at the intersection."

At that point, the Oldsmobile and the Chevrolet collided.

Two passengers in the Chevrolet and the driver of the Oldsmobile were
taken to the hospital, treated and released, reports Sebastian.

Marsha Steele, 19, of Jal, N.M., the driver of the Chevrolet was charged
with reckless driving, having no proof of liability insurance and not
wearing a seat belt.

At 5:30 p.m. on Monday, March 25, A tractor-trailer rig driven by Alfren
Heredia, 57, of Crane, was traveling South on Loop 464, according to the
police report. Sebastian says the truck pulled in front of a Chevrolet
Blazer on Sealy.

The Blazer driver and two Blazer passengers were taken to Ward
Memorial, treated and released. Heredia was issued a citation for
failure to yield the right of way at a stop sign. The Blazer driver,
John Brooks, 32, of Wickett was cited for failing to have seat
restraints on a child.

Intense inquire in I-20 death

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Texas Highway Patrol investigators continue an intense inquiry into the
death of an El Paso teen-ager on Interstate 20 on Friday night, March
21, reports DPS Trooper Shannon Gray of Monahans.

A witness reported the youth was hit by a tractor-trailer rig sometime
before 9:15 p.m. on Interstate 20 about two miles west of Wickett.
Officers are searching for a rig as part of their inquiry and a driver
who left the scene of the accident.

Gray identifies the victim as David Armando Ramirez, 17. Funeral
services are scheduled in El Paso today, Thursday, March 27.

Preliminary (and Gray emphasizes the preliminary) autopsy results show
that Ramirez died from a blow to the back of the head. The report uses
the term "blunt injury."

"We're waiting for the complete autopsy report on the cause of death and
the investigation into this case definitely is continuing," says Gray.

The autopsy is being done by the medical examiner in Lubbock and should
be available within a few weeks, the trooper has been told.

Gray reports that Ramirez and his cousin, Daniel Joe Subia, 18, of El
Paso apparently were walking east on I-20 toward Wickett. Their
automobile had stalled and refused to start at the rest stop between
Pyote and Wickett.

That information, says Gray, was given by a nearly hysterical Subia the
night of the incident. Subia said he and his cousin were driving from El
Paso to Midland to visit relatives.

Subia says a tractor-trailer rushed past them and struck Ramirez.

After the incident, Subia tells officers, he began to run toward
Wickett for help. At 9:15 p.m. he ran into a business in Wickett where
officers were called.

On the way back to the scene of the incident, Gray reports Subia "was
very distraught. He was hysterical."

He was given a sedative Friday night. Investigators plan to interview
him further after the funeral.

Teacher contracts renewed

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MONAHANS, Mar. 27, 1997 - Trustees of the Monahans-Wickett-Pyote School
District have renewed the contracts of several teachers, administrators
and other professional personnel for the 1997-98 school year.

The action was taken at an executive session of the board on Tuesday,
March 18. Some contracts not noted previously had been renewed.

Names of those whose contracts were considered in that board meeting and
the schools to which they are assigned are:

Monahans High School
Janell Bigham, Dayna Blevins, David Burnett, Ronna Coffman, Berry Cox,
Cheryle Cox,
Frances Curry, John Curry, James Davalt, Imelda Dominguez, Michael
Eckerty, Mary Fulce, Robin Fulce, Ronald Gillaspy, Dee Gober, Linda
Jana Heuman, Harold Hicks, Delores Hill, Harlan Hinds, Angela Huckabee,
Evelyn Jones, Robert Jones, Aaron Layman, Janna Lilly, Lynda Linton,
Michelle Marenco, Jeff Mills, Scott Murray, Andy Patterson, Bill
Petteway, Abigail Pritchard, Charles Quintela,
Dolores Ratcliff, Ed Renfro, Berlinda Rivera, Kenneth Rosser, Janette
Rutherford, Brent Satterwhite, Chris Simpson, Betty Standefer, Michael
Swigert, Veronica Valenzuela, Dianne Waggoner, Trey Watts, Dianne
Weaver, Lisa Willmon, Mitchell Woodard.

Walker Junior High
Terry Bean, James Coldewey, Shawn Curlee, Kimberly Dudley, Cindy
Everett, Wade Gilliam, Chard Hahn, Mike Hardaway, Lisa Henson,
Tracy Henson, Becky Hix, Gary Huckabee, Julie Hutson, Jeff Jones, Laura
LeBeau, Varnelle McBeth, Janet McConal, Becky Melius,
Loredia Potts, Jim Rhodes, Lee Anne Sconiers, Roger Smetak, Ronnie
Smith, Doug Ward, Lynette Watson, Jeppie Wilson, Tommy Wilson.

Sudderth Elementary
Kay Ables, Joy Allen, Bonnie Benad, Carla Brown, Judy Brownd, Melissa
Dutton, Jane Anne Eason, Barbara Fisher,
Jamie Fredericks, Teresa Gonzales, Sharon Heath, Dora Hiers, Wallace
Langley, Lydia Lindsey, Debbie McDaniel, Susan Powell,
Brenda Scarborough, Nancy Sipes, Jenny Sloan, Dee Smith, Susi Smith,
Beth Tuxhorn, Monya Wolfe.

Tatom Elementary
Cathy Anthony, Kim Ashbrook, Susan Carrell, Faye Creel, Lynn Curlee,
Linda Forbush, Julia Galindo, Neva Green, Vicki Greenfield,
Jo Ellen Ham, Frances Hardaway, Anita Jernigan, Nita Lear, Kathy
Lewallen, Barbara Longbotham, Clarice Mills, Karen Mills,
Ann Moser, Ninfa Porras, Vickie Renfro, Kristi Simpson, Beckie Stephens,
Joyce White, Linda Wilson, Angela Wright.

Edwards Elementary
Lyndal Akins, Shirley Atwood, Autumn Bowman, Dale Bowman, Joyce
Coldewey, Joyce Dotson, Dixie Fletcher,
Deborah Gambino, Linda Hinds, Cindy Hunt, Mitzi Johnson, Judy
McClanahan, Deborah Moore, Margarita Nixon,
Rosalia Peacock, Phillis Samuels, Betty Smith, Kim Thomas, Christine
Ward, Alice Williams, Melanie Willson.

Cullender Kindergarten
Connie Clayton, Candy Clemmons, Kathy Cornelius, Sherry Horak,
Cathy Horton, Alison Jones, Charla Marcum, Rachel Montez,
Carmen Olibas, Jill Steen, Tana Stephens.

Gensler Elementary
Alicia Barnett, Sandra Locke, Kaye Rogers, Bridget Schoolcraft.

Special Education
Jo Ann Sanchez, Beverly Thomas.

Connie Harris, Linda Heslin, Leah Satterwhite.

Loboes mark up high points

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FABENS, Mar. 27, 1997 - Monahans High School competitors have won the
District 3A academic competition for the second consecutive year.

Lobo speakers, writers, acccountants, mathematicians, computer masters
and criticis scored a total of 379 points to win the district academic

Alpine was second with 344 points.

The competition took place on Friday and Saturday, March 21 and 22, at

Academic team sponsors were Delores Hill, Evelyn Jones, Ronna Coffman,
Berlinda Rivers, Lynda Linton, Jim Ed Davalt, Nancy Upchurch, Mary
Fulce, Jeff Mills, Janell Bigham and Diane Weaver.

Monahans Summary
Liz Henry, Lanny Hayes and Jeromie Oney won first, second and third in
Lincoln-Douglas Debate.
Lany Hayes was second in extemporaneous speaking; Jeromie Oney, third;
and Jae Bigham, fifth.
Jeremy Sanchez was first in extemporaneous persuasive speaking.
Jana Tisdale was third in poetry interpretation.
Mitzi Loer was second in prose interpretation; Elvia Gutierrez finished
Julie Rowe finished third in editorial writing; Rebecca Jordan was fifth.
In feature writing, Crystal Looney was first; Beth Bryan, fourth.
Mark Murray was first in headline writing; B.J. Kute, fourth; and Robery
Dendy, sixth.
In individual accounting, Michael Walker was first; Kawyn Diez, third;
and Andrea Turpin, fourth.
Michael Walker, Kawyn Diez and Andrea Turpin were first in team
Leah Johnson was fourth in calculator applications.
Beth Bryan was fifth in computer applications.
Jennifer Robinson finished third in the individual computer science
Wesley Hamilton, Annie Tucker and Mark Weaver were second in team
competition in current issues and events.
Wesley Hamilton was first in the individual current issues and events
Leah Johnson was first in individual mmathematics; Nathan Rogers, fourth.
Leah Johnson, Nathan Rogers and Eric Ray won first in teamn mathematics.
Leah Johnson was fifth in individual competition for number sense.
Leah Johnson, Nathan Rogers and Mark Murray finished second in the team
competition for number sense.
Julie Rowe was fourth in ready writing; Jeremy Sanchez, sixth.
Wesley Hamilton finished third in science over all; Nathan Rogers, sixth.
Wesley Hamilton was first in biology.
Wesley Hamilton, Nathan Rogers and Scott Lackey were second in the team
science competition.

TU Electric wants rate freeze

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MONAHANS, Mar. 27, 1997 - TU Electric, which provides service to
Monahans and Ward County, Wednesday, March 26, asked the state of Texas
for the right to refund $80 million to its customers and freeze rates
for the remainder of 1997.

The request is subject to approval by the Texas Public utility
"We have been doing well and we wanted to return the favor to our
customers," says TU Electric Monahans manager Kevin Slay.

Slay says the refund, if it is approved as expected in the weeks ahead,
would mean about $17 in refunds to each TU customer in the county.

According to the communique distributed by Slay:
"The proposal, which is subject to Public utility Commission approval,
is the result of a joint agreement by TU Electric, the PUC staff, the
Office of Public Utility Counsel, and the Coalition of Citizens served
by TU Electric.

"Under the agreement, TU Electric would make a one-time refund to
customers in August 1997 as a credit on their bills. For a typical
residential customer, the refund would be about $17.

"Discussions began late last year when the PUC staff reviewed TU
Electric's earnings and indicated that they are potentially higher than
would be allowed if the company underwent a rate case.

"The staff's analysis, however, did not include the effects of a
subsequent Texas Supreme Court decision issued this Spring that directed
the PUC to reconsider a $909 million disallowance from the company's
1990 rate case. That ruling could lead to an increase in the amount TU
Electric is allowed to earn. The PUC has not yet reconsidered the

Slay says the settlement announced on Wednesday is good for several

Says a company statement: "TU Electric customers would benefit in August
from the refund and all of the parties involved would avoid the expense
of lengthy rate proceedings at this time."

Parmelee joins Wayne in dream for tank

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MONAHANS, Mar. 27, 1997 - The possibilities contained within the Million
Barrel Tank did not belong exclusively in the dreams of Wayne Long.
There was another Monahans citizen who saw the gargantuan structure as
being more than an eyesore and a white-elephant.

While Wayne appreciated the tank for what it's future may hold, Mrs.
Deolece Miller Parmelee appreciated the tank for its past. Mrs. Parmelee
was an English teacher at Monahans High School in the early 1960s.
Although she is remembered fondly by her former students as being a
great teacher, she was also very active in the preservation of Texas. In
fact, she was a tiger when it came to Texas history.

Indeed, she was the author of thousands of Texas Historical Marker
texts which are still read today by millions of people as they travel
the roads of this state. She may also be remembered in this area for
having helped compile and edit the 1962 phamplet "Water, Oil, Sand and
Sky" which dealt with local history.

It was through her active participation in the State Historical Survey
Committee as part of the state's Historical Commission that Mrs.
Parmelee became a guru of sorts to the local Junior Historians branch in

Although it was only a few years after Long's ill-fated water show, Mrs.
Parmelee told the Junior Historians that they had more than an empty
tank in their town, they had a interesting piece of Texas history and
that it should be treated with the respect it deserved.

The Junior Historians - which later evolved into the Ward County
Historical Commission - took the teacher's words to heart, but it was a
full 10 years after Mrs. Parmelee's departure from Monahans that the
Million Barrel tank would be submitted as an object of history.

Elizabeth Heath, currently active in the preservation of Ward County
history, remembers well the 1975 statewide meeting of the Historical
Commission in Austin,

"Well, all the Junior Historians from across the state would enter
exhibits. We (the Monahans branch) decided that our exhibit would be a
replica of the Million Barrel tank under construction. We went so far as
to go out to the tank and gather authentic lumber and tarpaper for our

Tiny human and animal figurines accompanied by a nearby tent city made
the scale model of the tank an interesting and somewhat realistic
diorama. Mrs. Heath still expresses pride when she recounts how
Monahans won third in the state that year. Not bad considering there
were 80 other entries.

"But, it wasn't so much that we won third. It was the fact that with
the exhibit we asked `the question'..."

The question being, "What next for the Million Barrel Tank?"

Indeed, what should become of the tank was a question far frombeing
answered when its owner, Wayne Long, died in June of 1980. Shortly after
his death, Mrs. Heath said, she approached Long's widow, Amalie, about
the situation.

At the time, Mrs. Long was not prepared to discuss the matter. And
thus the matter remained unresolved until something much bigger than the
tank - and Ward County for that matter - forced the local historian
community into action.

In 1984, the hype and the hoopla of the upcoming 1986 Texas
Sesquicentennial was gaining full steam. Communities across the state -
including Monahans - were feeling the pressure to come up with special
projects with which to acknowledge and celebrate 150 years of Texas
statehood. It was a matter of civic pride and competition.

Mrs. Heath remembers several things going on simultaniously in
preparation for the observation.

"In the early 80s, Chuck Reynolds [a member of the Ward County
Historical Commission] really became excited about restoration of old
buildings. He was very excited about restoring the the old railroad
station east of his furniture store. It was a good idea, but
unfortunately, the station burned down before anything could be

"So, we turned our full intention to the Holman house. It was way out
in the boonies... it was just rotting away."

The current Holman house is an approximation the childhood home of
Eugene Holman in the 1920s. He eventually grew up to become the
president of Standard Oil Company of New Jersey. Although Holman House
is a popular exhibit today at the Million Barrel Museum, it was not an
obvious decision for to move house to its current location.

Mrs. Heath continues:
"Mrs. Ophelia Evans had a nephew-in-law named Don Williams. At that
time [ the early 80s], Don was the head of the Drama Department at
Lubbock Christian College and an associate producer of `Texas'..."

"Texas" is a long-running and popular musical extravaganza with a
theme about the Panhandle's history. It has been a tourism draw for that
area and the local Historical Commision thought, "Heh! Why not here?"

"We asked Don to come here and look at the tank to see if perhaps we
could use it as a production facility. He came and crawled through the
brush - it was a little overgrown at the time - and he thought it would
be a great place to stage a musical production... with a couple of

"First, he questioned whether it wouldn't get awful hot for crowds
down there... this is something we found out later that just wouldn't

"Secondly, he pointed out that Monahans has no nearby university or
drama school from which they could tap talent for such a production,"
Mrs. Heath concluded.

So, the musical extravaganza idea just did not work out. So it would
seem that "the question" was still unanswered; i.e. What to do with the
Million Barrel?

Mrs. Heath points out that things were not spinning out of control,
but into control.

First, Amalie Long agreed to deed the tank over to the people of Ward
County. This called for the creation of - now pay attention here
because it gets a little confusing - the Historical Association of Ward
County, a non-profit foundation set up to administer the business of
running an empty tank full of possibilities. The HAWC - as it is still
known - filed a dba as the "Million Barrel". However, in no way is the
County of Ward responsible for the operations. Yes, the tank belongs to
the people, but not to the County.

After Amalie Long's generous donation, an overwhelming reality hit the
local Historical Commission. Namely, in order to prepare the tank in
time for the Texas Sesquicentennial, help was needed. In fact, a lot of
help was neeeded. Could Ward County pull it together?

(NEXT WEEK: An amazing response from the citizens of Ward County in
terms of volunteer labor, fund raising projects and a $250,000 anonymous
donation which remains a mystery to this day.)

Herrington heads child care group

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The Permiam Basin Chapter of the Texas Licensed Child Care Association
has reestablished and has elected officers, according to a statement
released by the childcare group.

Officers are:
Russ Herrington, president, owner and director of Kiddie Kollege
Kindergarten in Odessa.

Mecca Johnson, vice president, director of Kelview Kindergarten and
Preschool in Midland.

April Terrell, secretary-treasurer, co-owner and director of Aladdin's
Castle in Odessa.
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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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