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Oct. 23, 1997

Letter from the editor

By Steve Patterson

I was out on our usual five-mile jog with City Manager David Mills the other day when we stopped to take a quick sip of water and smoke a cigar.

"You know, Mister Newspaper Man," he said, just because he knows I hate to be called that, "I've been thinking a lot about this economic development push over in Odessa. Do you realize that if Midland and Odessa voters pass that half-cent sales tax, Monahans is going to be competing with towns that have millions as compared to our thousands to spend on luring industry?"

That comment gave me something to think about as we continued our run, at least until we reached the four mile mark. David always insists on sprinting the last mile. As I struggled to catch up, I was nearly blinded when David's hot cigar ashes blew back into my eyes.

After a few years in this business, I thought that there's not much in the way of strangeness which I have not heard and/or written about. But, good citizens, I'm here to tell you I heard a strange and twisted tale in the courtroom of County Judge Sam Massey.

As far as criminal trials go, it wasn't much; i.e. a Class C misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

It seems that sheriff's deputies raided a room at a local motel last May in search of cocaine, pornography, guns, and computerized connections to the Hells Angels in California.

Instead, what they found was a tray containing seeds and a barely discernable amount of marijuana.

The Sheriff's department received a tip in the form of a written statement from an informant by the name of Thomas Kirkpatrick. For some reason, that name rang a bellwith me, but I couldn't remember where I had heard it before.

During a brief recess, the accused told me he had been set up by Kirkpatrick. Obviously, his opinion of the informant could be described as less than stellar.

Indeed, one witness for the defense described the informant as "a liar and a thief."

Soon, I was reminded where I had heard of the informant Thomas Kirkpatrick, who for obvious reasons was not present to give testimony.

Think back to this past August 14 and the Page One headline in this newspaper which read, "Convicted burglar captured after 70-minute, 113-mile chase."

Oh, yeah! That Thomas Kirkpatrick! The 19-year-old felon who took DPS Trooper Eric White on a little spin at speeds of 100 miles per hour.

Despite what may be perceived as a credibility problem with the informant, the jury did find the accused guilty of marijuana possession.

As an aside, you should go by and check out County Attorney Kevin Acker and defense attorney Wendell "Hoot" Gibson in action. For lawyers - believe it or not - these guys actually work for a living.

And speaking of lawyers, it's my understanding we have a new man in town by the name of Mike Swanson, who has hung his shingle over at the old Gulf Building. Mike, by the way, is the son of John Swanson, long-time court reporter for District Judge Bob Parks.

Walt and Betty Roeber just returned from a vacation of romance in New England.

These two young lovebirds dined on Maine lobster and took in the fall foliage.

"It was cooler here in Monahans than it was in New Hampshire," said a refreshed Walt.

"Do you know what they call tourists who go to New England to see the trees turn? They call us 'leaf peepers'," said Walt.

That phrase would take on a whole new meaning in someplace like the Garden of Eden.

While at the county courthouse, I was able to talk Judge Massey into declaring a holiday for county employees to shut down all their work and - yep, you guessed it - give their predictions for the First Freeze Contest.

The Judge called Austin and arranged for the first freeze to hit Ward County at 5:04 a.m. on Oct. 30. Knowing that her husband is usually a day late and a minute short, Kayla Massey chose 5:05 a.m. on Oct. 31.

A hot debate over the cold erupted between Commissioners Bill Welch (4:30 a.m., Nov. 20), Julian Florez (5 a.m., Nov. 8) and Larry Hunt (10:30 p.m., Nov. 10). Avoiding the fray, Commissioner Don Creech abstained from guessing.

Carolyn Cunningham, waiting to see which way the wind blows before revealing her political intentions, did not hesitate to guess 5 a.m., Nov. 1. Deputy Sheriff Steve Vestal says the first freeze will be putting the cuffs on this area at exactly 2:37 a.m., Nov. 4.

Those titans of the courtroom, Kevin "Unbearable Force" Acker and Hoot "Immovable Object" Gibson filed motions for 5:45 a.m., Nov. 15 and 1:30 a.m., Nov. 3 respectively. Both have threatened to sue the Weather Channel if thy are proven wrong. Commissioner Candidate Rick McCurdy promises, if elected, the freeze will hit at 5:45 a.m. on Nov. 1.

Not caring what the courthouse crowd is saying, it is obvious Big Green Band Director Tony Gibbs is marching to the beat of his own drum in guessing 10 p.m., Nov. 19 This will be the last week to enter for a chance to win either a free trip to Hawaii or a one year subscription to the Monahans News.

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