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Thursday, Oct. 9, 1997

Grandfalls voters to decide Nov. 4
on economic development sales tax

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Grandfalls voters will decide Nov. 4 on an economic development sales

If both portions of the proposal are approved by the Grandfalls
electorate, it would mean about $7,000 more a year in city revenues,
nearly doubling the community's current annual sales tax revenues,
projects Grandfalls City Administrator Joy Chew.

She says the council took the action in lieu of increasing the
Grandfalls city property tax the full three percent it would have been
allowed under state law. Instead the Grandfalls council enacted a
current property tax rate of 00.46983 (about 47 cents) per $100 of
property evaluation, about a penny increase. Then the council voted to
place the proposed sales tax increases on the ballot in two portions.

Under the first half-cent sales tax suggestion, Chew says, the
Grandfalls Council would act as the economic development board.

Under the second half-cent sales tax proposal, there would be a
seven-member economic development board comprised of four council
members and three registered voters from Grandfalls.

Under the proposal, voters will decide on two sales tax plans. One or
both may be approved or disapproved, the city administrator notes. Each
of the increments would provide for a half-cent increase in the
Grandfalls city sales tax, which currently is one percent. The first
half-cent would be dedicated to the purchase and improvement of land
within the Grandfalls city limits to attract and hold business. The
second half-cent would be dedicated to the improvement of infrastructure
in the community to, Chew says, "enhance the city for current residents
while at the same time enhancing the city's ability to attract
job-producing businesses to provide an economic base for Grandfalls."

The city administrator says a major focus of the sales tax proposal is
to provide funds to improve streets, provide adequate street markers and
traffic warning signs, replace utility meters plus rebuild and replace
some aging natural gas lines. Natural gas line maintenance is a major
goal of the council, she says.

"This is not to say the natural gas lines represent a danger," says
Chew. "They do not. But it has been several years since they have been
maintained in the way the city council and engineers feel they need to
be maintained."

Chew says the gas lines are old and that city records on maintenance of
those lines is difficult to find. Apparently, it is not known exactly
how old the Grandfalls natural gas lines are.

In addition, she says the council feels the street and traffic signage
is needed in order "that visitors in Grandfalls will know where they
are. It may be enough for a resident to say he or she lives by Joe's.
.This is not enough for owners of businesses we hope to attract."

Grandfalls voters decide the issue.

"The council has called this election so it will coincide with the
constitutional amendment's election on Nov. 4," says Chew. "Voting will
be in the Community Center. There will be a Grandfalls municipal ballot at a separate table from the constitutional amendment ballot."

Monahans children and adults see stars

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Adults and children flocked to the dunes of Monahans State Park on
Friday night, Oct. 3, and saw stars.

With the assistance of telescopes provided by the West Texas Astronomers
Club, the more than 150 viewers also saw more than a few planets, glomed
onto some galaxies and spotted a thunderstorm over toward Odessa.

Kevin Slay, a member of the board of the Friends of the Monahans
Sandhills State Park, coordinated the affair cosponsored by the
astronomers club based in Midland and the Sandhills Friends, based in

Billed to begin at 7 p.m., just before dusk, patrons of the stars began
arriving early.
The event was free. Usual park admissions were not collected.

The evening began by looking at a three-day-old crescent moon 45 minutes
before the Sun had set. As twilight subsided, seven telescopes focused
on the bright planets - Venus, the red planet Mars, Jupiter and its
moons plus the ringed planet Saturn.

"Saturn was the crowd favorite," reports Slay.

The Sandhills Friends trustee also notes: "As the night went on, many
looked at several deep space objects; the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), and
M22 (a globular cluster in Sagittarius.)

"Several people were lucky enough to see a shooting star and orbiting
satellite overhead not to mention the beauty of a distant thunderstorm
many miles to the East. It was a wonderful night to be at the park, a night young and old will not soon forget."

Half million dollar Sandhills road
project scheduled to finish Nov. 7

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Work on a state-funded $516,970.11 road and parking lot project for
Monahans Sandhills State Park is on schedule, reports John Salcido, an
engineer with the Texas Department of Transportation.

Salcido, assigned to the regional office of the agency in Pecos, says
the work is scheduled to be finished by Nov. 7 and is now about
two-thirds finished.

Reece Albert Inc. of Midland is the prime contractor on the project.

"All of this is state-funded," says Salcido, "for the State Department
of Parks and Wildlife (which controls the park about five miles East of

Asphalt work in the scenic park, where the hill-high sand dunes are
constantly changing shape in the wind, began on Aug. 18.

The goal of the construction is to improve access throughout the park
and provide easier entrance and exit.

One of the projects that will be completed, notes Salcido, is a one-way
exit road at the park entrance in order to avoid traffic congestion at
the park entrance.

Further, work is being done so those entering the park can easier pay
the admission fee directly from their vehicle next to a drive-up window
at the park headquarters.

Says Salcido:

"We're resurfacing the whole roadway.

"We're reworking the parking facilities. All of the current roadway is
being resurfaced.

"In addition we are linking the two major camping and parking areas back
in the dunes in order that campers and motorists will find it easier to
drive in that area."

Salcido notes that inspectors Manuel Muniz and Allan Gallegos of the
regional offices of the Department of Transportation keep daily tabs on
the progress of the work in the park.

Area Engineer Doug Eichhorst is the overall director.

A major factor in the work being done at the park is the construction of
the roads so park visitors will be forced to pass a point where the
admission can be paid without having to search for the admission point.

Salcido says this is designed so that it will be easier for visitors to
make those payments; at the same time the park will be able to receive revenues it may have missed in the past from freeloaders.

Ministerial Alliance, Chamber
members named to blue ribbon panel

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Two more members have accepted appoints to the blue ribbon commission
studying alternatives to resolve the Ward Memorial Hospital crisis,
Hospital Administrator William O'Brien announces.

The new panel members represent the Monahans Ministerial Alliance and
the Chamber of Commerce.

From the ministerial alliance, The Rev. Gene Brown will serve. From the
Chamber, Candido Gutierrez will serve.

The panel held its first meeting last week. Another meeting is scheduled

So far, the panel's members include Brown, Gutierrez, O'Brien, other
hospital officers, First State Bank's Charles Wade, Rachel Martinez of
the Hispanic Chamber, Betty Johnson of the Hospital Auxiliary, Viki
Yates and Kay Watson of the Hospital Board of Managers, Dr. Steve
Steinbaum, Laura Spearman and Valerie Smith, who represent hospital employees.

Judge says hospital sale apparently not option

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Selling Ward Memorial Hospital to a private for-profit health care
company apparently no longer is an option to the hospital's continuing
woes, says Ward County Judge Sam G. Massey.

But leasing the Monahans hospital or entering into a management contract
definitely is, says the judge.

"Selling the hospital is not an option," says the county judge. "it is
likely we will not sell."

Massey says a lease decision would be within the jurisdiction of the
county commissioners.

"But any decision on management is up to the hospital Board of
Managers," the County Judge emphasizes.

Something will be done, Massey says, something must be done.

Says the judge: "We must answer this question: Are we going to be afford
to be a county-owned hospital and provide health services to citizens of
the county, health services they deserve and need?"

Massey made the comments in an interview as the hospital's cash flow and
service problems continue.

"We need to reassure the public that any decision made will be made in
the full light of public disclosure," Massey says. We have a short term
problem - cash flow, which it may be possible to resolve. Our long term
problem is providing for the health care of our community. Both issues
need attention."

Already several for profit companies are talking with Ward County
Commissioners about sale, lease or contract management.

Those firms include Community Health Systems Inc. of Nashville, Tenn.,
who made the first approach to the commissioners; CHAMA of Scottsdale,
Ariz.; Paracelius of Houston, which owns Westwood in Midland; and Quorum
Health Resources Inc. of Brentwood, Tenn.

The county judge's comments came in a week of activity when Hospital
Administrator William O'Brien deferred for 24 hours a decision on
whether to accept a hospital offer to extend O'Brien contract until Dec.

The offer was made on Monday, Oct. 6. O'Brien decided to accept the
extension on Tuesday. The contract under which O'Brien had been working
expired in August. At that hospital board of manager's meeting, the
board also voted to accept an offer from Quorum to examine the
operations at Ward Memorial.

Both O'Brien and Massey say they appreciate Quorum's offer.

"It costs nothing and it gives us more information on which we may base
our eventual decision," says the county judge.

"Quorum would do an evaluation of management, staff and services. This
would provide us more tools with which to resolve the issues," says the
hospital administrator.

Quorum, like the rest of the companies noted, is a for private health
care firm. It owns 19 hospitals and manages more than 200. The expected
Quorum focus would be entering into a management contract for Ward
Memorial, not the purchase of the facility.

Feelings by some that the commissioners would reach a decision on the
hospital by Dec. 31 are not echoed by the county judge. Massey says the
commissioners are working on no deadline although they wish to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

Bealls-Monahans opens with a sale

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Bealls-Monahans begins a new era in the Ward County seat's retail sector
today with a sale.

Shoppers today through Sunday will have a chance to win vacation trips
and shopping sprees. But you have to register to take advantage of the
premiums, says a Stage Inc. statement.

Bealls-Monahans is at 1203 South Stockton Avenue in Pecan Plaza.

The doors were scheduled to open at 8:45 a.m.

Bealls replaces the old Anthony's store, part of the financially
troubled C.R. Anthony group which was acquired by Houston's Stage Inc.,
the parent company of Bealls.

Anthony's had closed in the first week of September after a liquidation
sale. In the ensuring weeks, the store has been remodeled and a
completely new line of affordable, high end merchandise has been placed
at the new Bealls store.

Former Anthony's manager Raymond Briseno will be the Bealls-Monahans
manager. Assistant manager is Edward Bejaran.

According to a Stage Inc. communique

"Mark your calendars Thursday, Oct. 9, through Sunday, Oct. 12, will be
Bealls Grand Opening Days.

"There will be a store full of great fashions for the entire family at
unbeatable savings plus register to win $7,100 in prizes, including:

- a trip for two adults and two children to Disney World in Florida,

- a trip for two to Las Vegas- plus storewide shopping sprees and exciting merchandise prizes."

Arsonist suspected in Sunday house fire

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Investigation intensified Wednesday, Oct. 8, into a Sunday morning house
fire in Monahans that destroyed the house's interior.

Only charred rubble remains on the inside of the structure holding up
the exterior walls.

No injuries were reported in the blaze.

"It is obvious that this was arson," says City Fire Marshal Lovelle

Police Chief Dave Watts reports the occupant of the dwelling in the 900
block of South Main Street was not home at the time the flames were

About 20 Monahans firemen began responding to the flames at 4:13 a.m.

On Wednesday, State Fire Marshal Allan Neighbors of Lubbock came to
Monahans to begin the agency's part of the investigation, an
investigation that already has led to the questioning of at least one
man, perhaps more. Samples taken from the fire scene were sent to the
State Fire Marshal's laboratory in Lubbock.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the state arson investigators were sifting
through the ruins of the burned dwelling. When asked directly if there
were char trails at the house indicating the use of accelerants, the
police chief replied he could not comment because of the ongoing
investigation except to say: "The state fire marshal is here. He is
investigating." Floyd also cannot comment because of the continuing
inquiry. Initial inquiries have determined there was no apparent
insurance on the burned house. The City Fire Marshal confirms the blaze
was not an arson-for-profit fire. Neighbors have said they have kept
away from the structure since the fire because of the danger of
collapsing timbers and because of the yellow police lines which block
the curious while the investigation is underway.

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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