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October 16, 1997

Monahans man faces pen in child assult case

MIDLAND - Much litigation remains for Michael Scott Nichols of Monahans, 26, who has pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a minor, reports Assistant District Attorney Theresa Clingman of Midland County.

In a plea bargain Oct. 3, Clingman says, Nichols pleaded guilty in return for 15 years in a state penitentiary. The plea came before District Judge John G. Hyde in the 238th State District Court. Already on probation for a similar charge involving a min
or in Andrews, Clingman says that probation still is to be adjudicated.

She says it may be Nichols will remain in the Midland County jail pending that court action or he may be transferred to the Texas Department of Corrections.

In addition, Clingman says a civil case is pending at Monahans to remove his parental rights in the case of a stepchild.

Sandhills museum project approved

State park officials Thursday, Oct. 9, told trustees of the Friends of Monahans Sandhills State Park that remodeling and enhancement of the Dunagan Visitor Center is approved by the state.

Sandhills Friends already have raised $113,000 to support the projected $320,000 project.

State Park officials said the entire project would be finished by late Summer of early Fall of 1998.

The announcement was made at a meeting of the Sandhills Friends board at the visitor's center at the Park.

Parks officials present included Regional Director Delton Daugherty, Project Manager Bill Dolmon, Project Management Director Laura David, Curator and Exhibits Planner Joanne Avant, Associate Curator Sarah Tapper, Regional Maintenance Specialist Mike You
ng and Community Services Director Kevin Good.

"The project is coming along just like we planned it," Dolmon said. "It's going to be really great. The kind of center the Friends and the community will be proud of. It's the kind of thing we (State Parks Department) like to do, especially with the supp
ort of a group like you."

Laura David displayed the plans for the Center and showed examples of the types of window glass, carpet and other materials to be used in the renovations and exhibits. Bids will be opened this week for abatement of the asbestos-containing floor tiles, a
factor that must be resolved before the rest of construction can start.

Bids are scheduled to go out next week for construction and renovations.

David said construction is expected to start sometime in January soon after the end of the Holidays.

"I think everyone will enjoy having a building that is much more comfortable as well as the very impressive exhibits," David said.

David and Dolmon said heating and cooling costs would drop significantly at the center with the replacement of the current air conditioning system and the use of opaque glass windows in the center.

Daugherty told the Friends he hopes the rest of the project goes as smoothly as it has to date.
He said that when the work is finished the Dunagan Center will rival any in the state and then added: "I'll stick my neck out and say any in the country."

Council proclaims "Richard J. Hoyer" day

The Monahans City Council gave its unanimous approval Tuesday afternoon in proclaiming Sunday, Oct. 26, as "Richard J. Hoyer Day" in Monahans. Hoyer is a former mayor who has served the city in many capacities.

In another matter, the council instructed the city staff to send a letter to the Texas State Guard giving 30-days notice to vacate the old Armory Building next to Pearson Park. The Guard, which has experienced declining membership in recent years, has be
en using the building as base of operation for this region. None of the members of the local branch are from Monahans. The evicition should not come as a surprise to the unit since the City Council has asked the Guard to seek funds from other area taxing
entities, such as Ward County and the City of Kermit.

According to City Manager David Mills, "I don't know if they ever asked anybody but Monahans for money."

The Armory Building, also known as the Old Youth Center, will be used by the Ward County Adult Probation Department. Probationers will check in at the building and they will also be used in cleaning and remodeling the structure.

The Council also approved a resolution as a first step in having a state-recognized Enterprise Zone declared for M.M. Reif & Co. at the Camelot Building.

Gift giving comes yearly for young and old

Just before Homecoming 1997, the transportation director of the Monahans-Wickett-Pyote school district fired up a band bus and headed East for Houston.

Connie Bean was scheduled to attend a school transportation conference that weekend in East Texas but he had a reason to take the bus.

That reason was 25 computers given to the school district by Phillips Petroleum Co., computers that came through the nostalgia of a graduate of Monahans High School, Johnathan R. Olibas, who now is the administrator of information technology for Phillips

The 25 computers, all with Windows and sundry other software loaded, were divided - five for Cullender Kindergarten, 20 for the high school.

But those 25 were not the only PCs that came through Olibas and Phillips. Five more are on the way to bring the number at Cullender Kindergarten to nine.

"It was so complimentary of our school district," says Cullender principal Kellye Riley. "When you're in Houston it's hard sometimes to remember there are schools West of I-35. Mr. Olibas and Phillips Petroleum did. We were very, very surprised and very,
very happy."

Riley says the additional five computers, now stored in the Odessa office of Phillips will be picked up and delivered as soon as possible.

Like Riley, District Superintendent Clifton L. Stephens likes and appreciates what a Lobo alumnus did for the school district.

"I appreciate the gift of these computers to our school district. I think this speaks highly of the alumni of Monahans High School."

The transfer of the Phillips computers from the Gulf Coast to Monahans in the Permian Basin began with a Summer high school reunion.

Writes Olibas in a letter to Riley:

"During this past Summer I had the privilege of attending my 20 year high school reunion in Monahans. I had a difficult time managing my schedule to accommodate the trip for the reunion. As with most people in today's society, our schedules tend to manag
e our time for us. Once I arrived and became reacquainted with my old classmates, I cannot believe I ever thought of missing the 20 year occasion."

The next step in the Great Phillips Computer gift came when Elaine Boyd, the sister of Olibas and a teacher at Cullender Kindergarten, approached principal Riley and told her of the possibility Phillips would make the computers available. The oil compan
y recently had undergone a major data processing upgrade and the machines were available. Riley wrote a letter and the process began.

Olibas explains in his Oct. 1 letter to the Cullender principal:

"We have recently undergone a tremendous computer upgrade project for our engineering and geophysical staffs here at Phillips Petroleum Co. Upon completion of the project, I had several used 386 and 486 computers on my hands that needed a home. When I re
turned to Houston from the class reunion, I began the paperwork necessary to make these systems available for donation. We at Phillips Petroleum are always looking for ways to better help our communities and what a better way than to donate these PCs to
local, or in your case not so local,. . . schools."

Olibas does not plan to stop with the one time gift. He promises more.

"I am very glad we were able to donate 25 computer systems (now 29) to the school district and look forward to providing technological improvement to the MHS system for years to come.

"I will continue to keep the Monahans schools in mind the next time we upgrade our desktop computer systems."

Olibas notes the donation was on behalf of Phillips; himself; his brother, Pascual; and his two sisters, Elaine and Dina.

He adds that he still calls Monahans home.

Anti-crime money transferred to Odessa

Ward County commissioners Monday, Oct. 13, approved giving crime-fighting dollars to Ector County.

The Ward County Commissioners Court met for an hour and approved several routine matters, including how the county funds collected for Crime Stoppers should be spent. Camilla Blum, of the county's Adult Probation Department, said the department had coll
ected approximately $10,000 during the past year for the program. The money represents a percentage of fees collected from people on probation. Since there is no longer a Crime Stoppers program in Ward County, commissioners were asked to give their appr
oval to giving the money to the Odessa Crime Stoppers, which in turn will spend the money here for advertising and paying tipsters.

Cub Scouts stage a bicycle rodeo

Cub Scouts and the Monahans Police Department held a rodeo for bicycles on Saturday, Oct. 11, at Hill Park.

There were prizes and lessons on safety.
According to the event's officials, the winners in the various divisions were:

Hector Orosco was first and Roy Gray was second.

J.J. Morriss and Shane Sinda tied for first and Aaron Baker was second.

Joshua Huertas was first and Jason Frederick was second.

Justin Torbett was first; Danny Roten, second and Joshua Bingham, third.

Other winners included:
Two to five years old - Cassidy Taylor, Bryann Abila and Matthew Morris.

Six to nine years old - Hillary Torbett, Jolyn Sinclair, Chelsea Rodgers and Marilyn Bingham.

Ten to 12 years old - Brandi Horton, Judin Rowan and Corrie Gonzales.

Board puts tax abatement to
lure business on agenda

Trustees of the Monahans-Wickett-Pyote school district Tuesday night, Oct. 14, instructed district staff to place a vote on tax abatement for economic development on the school board's November agenda.

They made the decision in a wide-ranging discussion on the pros and cons of granting the property tax abatement in reference to the location in Monahans of a military web products manufacturer, M.M. Reif & Co., based in Philadelphia, Pa.

The consensus of the board seemed to be school tax abatement to lure business must be done, if it is done, on a case-by-case basis rather than a blanket abatement for economic development.

Mayor David Cutbirth, Mayor Pro Tem Clarese Gough and City Councilman Curtis Howard were present to present the case for tax abatement, a decision already made by County Commissioners and the Monahans City Council.

But the school district must consider one other factor - increasing property evaluations in a school district means a loss in state aid.

Cutbirth acknowledged that but he also noted at the meeting, "We are asking you do a little sacrifice . . .You do have a loss, a couple of thousand dollars a year."

District Business Manger Joe A. Hayes told the board: "It would take about eight years to break even."

Hayes also noted that the tax abatement plan would mean a loss to the school district of $2,692 a year for each $200,000 of property evaluation.

Under the plan presented to the board, the tax abatement would be only for investment to enhance and prepare the Camelot Building, which because it now is owned by the city is not on the property tax rolls.

David Reif of M.M. Reif and Co. has signed an agreement to purchase that building for $170,000. The building, Cutbirth estimates, probably would be valued at $200,000 for tax purposes. Taxes would be paid on the building. An estimated $200,000 in buildin
g enhancement is projected. It is these school tax dollars which the phased tax abatement would impact.

Cutbirth noted that Reif means about 40 jobs. District Superintendent Clifton L Stephens said there were many variables - i.e. each additional student in the school district means an increase in state funding of nearly $3000.

It is possible, Stephens noted, that those working for Reif might well mean additional students at the school - but, that is not a given, only a possible.

"Believe me," Stephens told the city delegation, "we're for economic development." The superintendent had said earlier: "There is no question in my mind that it (tax abatement for economic development) is a good thing for the community."

School Board President Johnny White noted: "I believe we all (the school board) are all aware of what would be best . . .We have a responsibility to the taxpayer. This means we must examine this carefully and in detail."

It was White who noted of the Camelot Building: "Once you get it on the tax rolls, you've already gained $3000."

Stephens said:

"We have until Dec. 31 to do this. I'll put it on for action next month (at the regular meeting of the school board in November."

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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