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Weekly Newspaper and Tourism Guide for Ward County Trans Pecos, Big Bend of West Texas

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Thursday, January 29, 1998

Chamber dinner plans move toward finale

Plans for the annual Chamber of Commerce Membership/Awards
banquet are in their final stages, reports Chamber executive
Tammy Swigert.

She notes the public is invited to attend "a lighthearted,
mystical evening filled with magic and fun" at 7 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 7, at the Ward County Convention Center.

The dinner this year features "a prime rib dinner
compliments of the Wagon Masters." Says Swigert: "Award
committees have met and chosen from stacks of nominees the
deserving 1997 winners of the Outstanding Citizen, Merit and
Youth Leadership Awards."

Tickets? Call the Chamber at 943-2187.

Council names Sebastian new police chief

Monahans gets a new Chief of Police on Friday, Jan. 30.

He's Charles Sebastian, who will succeed veteran chief Dave
Watts, who had asked for reassignment because of illness.
Watts remains with the department as a police captain.

Monahans City Council confirmed the appointment of Sebastian
on Tuesday, Jan. 27.

On Friday morning, Charles Sebastian will begin his twelvth
year with the Monahans Police Department when he is sworn in
as the new Chief of Police.

"It's going to be a challenge," he says, but he is confident
he can do the job.

Sebastian served from 1969 to 1973 in the U.S. Air Force and
was Honorably Discharged as a sergeant. For the last five of
his eleven years with the Monahans department, he has held
the rank of lieutenant. He has also been employed with the
Martin County Sherrif's Office as well as the Midland
County. Sherrif's Office.

He is married to Sherry Sebastian, currently employed with
the Monahans-Wickett-Pyote school district at Edwards
Elementary in Monahans.. He is also a father of two young
children, who are both students in the MWPISD school system.
This gives him a personal, as well as a professional
interest in community relations and public safety.

Serving as a police officer is different from serving with a
sherrif's department, he says. As a police officer, he is
able to work more closely with the community. "The Monahans
Police Department has had good community relations for a
long time," Sebastian says. He is anxious to continue that

It is clear that community relations is at the heart of his
decision to become Chief of Police. He says that he has no
plans for any changes or to take steps in any new
directions. His main concern is to maintain a strong tie
with the community. "I just want to continue serving the
people of Monahans," he says.

His sincerity is genuine and even contagious.

Sebastian has no plans to move from this position into city
politics. "I enjoy just being a police officer." He wants to
take this day by day and meet each new challenge as it
comes. Problems will present themselves, but he definitely
has strong ideas concerning how to handle them.

"Chief Watts did a fantastic job. We're going to try to do
as good a job as he's done," says Sebastian.

Philanthropist offer to match Gleaner funds

Dollars collected in a major fund drive by the Gleaners will
be matched by a Rhode Island philanthropist, reports Gene
Brown, a Gleaners trustee.

The fund drive will be held Feb. 4 through Feb. 18 for the
Monahans charity that provides food for the needy.

Brown says the philanthropist is Alan Shawn Feinstein who
has said he will match each contribution of $25 or more up
to a total of $1 million.

Hospital interim administrator is chosen

Ray Mason will assume part-time duties as administrator for
Ward Memorial Hospital in Monahans on Monday, Feb. 1.

His interim appointment comes on the heels of William F.
O'Brien's recent resignation to accept a comparable position
in Lagrange.

A monthly compensation of up to $3,500 could be finalized
by Glen Vance, chair of the Hospital's Board of Managers as
early as Friday, Jan. 30. Hospital trustees approved Mason
for the interim appointment on Tueday, Jan. 27.

Mason is currently employed by a Midland doctors group. He
oversees a clinic in Big Spring, one in Odessa, and three in
Midland. He also lives in Midland. At pres time, there were
no candidates for the permanent appointment as hospital
administrator at, report hospital spokespersons.

Peggy Vestal, Assistant Administrator of Program
Development, says that she is unsure of the Board's
intentions concerning when the full time position might be
filled. She notes that it could be contingent upon their
decision on the lease of the hospital. She says that in that
case, "it's possible that the company would want to bring in
their own CEO."

Ward Memorial Hospital Board member Rocky Rives confirmed
this. He said that as long as Ward Memorial is a county
hospital, the board will make the decisions as to who will
lease the hospital. Even then, he says, it will probably
only be a letter of intent by the leasor. Both parties would
have to weigh and be satisfied with the agreement before
definite action would be taken. At that time the leasor
would likely appoint its own administrator, he says.

"I doubt they'll ever sell it," Rives says, referring to the
He did allude to the fact that there is a possibility that
the lease of the hospital may not even take place. Many of
those decisions will have to be made and are being made by
the Commissioner's Court. Until action is taken , he says,
Mason is the administrator.

State recognition of M.M. Reif Co. announced

Monahans City Manager David Mills announced Tuesday, Jan.
27, that M.M. Reif & Co. has been designated an Enterprise
Project by the state of Texas.

The designation will entitle Reif to state sales and use
tax refunds and franchise tax reductions. The state
incentives are based upon job creation and capital

Mills, who made the announcement during the regularly
scheduled city council meting, pointed out that only 65
businesses across the state received the special status.
Reif is the first business recruited to the city by the
Monahans Economic Development Corporation and is also the
first local business to qualify as a Enterprise Project.

Mills told the council that the city is especially lucky
to have been able to pull off the designation for Reif
because of the lack of a economic development director. The
post, which was vacated by former director Charles Walker
several months ago, is currently open and applications are
being sought from qualified candidates.

"The deadline for the Enterprise Project application was
approaching and I didn't have the time to complete it, so I
asked Monahans Main Street Director Suzi Blair to handle the
paperwork, which she obviously did very effectively," Mills

In other council business, members approved the second
reading of an ordinance which will closing an alley to
traffic in the 500 block of South Gary.

Approval was also given to local attorney Kevin Acker to
fence his property, known as the Gretchen Addition, at the
deadend of 13th Street.

Acker said he was concerned about his liablity for kids
riding all-terrain vehicles around a caliche pit.

The council also voiced its satisfaction with a quarterly
report about the investment of public funds.

Boxer charged with attempted murder

9:52 a.m., Thursday, Jan. 22, the first call came to the
Monahans police department.

That unidentified woman's message was one of several calls
that suddenly flashed through the police department
switchboard. There had been an automobile accident on Pecan
Street, the callers reported.

Monahans Police Chief Dave Watts and his officers soon found
the reported accident was apparently an aborted suicide
attempt. A speeding automobile had sheared a utility pole
from its moorings at Pecan street and Carol Avenue but it,
investigators were to find, was not an accident.

It was part of a nearly unbelievable series of events that

*The arrest of Christopher Paul Molina, 26, the amateur
heavyweight boxing champion of West Texas on charges of
kidnap, attempted murder and assault. He is being held in
the Ward County Jail in lieu of bail bond. Molina was
treated for cut wrists before he was confined to the Ward
County Jail.

*The critical injury of Janet L,. Howell, 51, from massive
head injuries. She was treated first at Ward Memorial
Hospital and then transferred to Odessa Medical Center where
she remained in critical condition on Wednesday, Jan. 28.
Howell underwent surgery on Friday, Jan. 23. Howell is
Molina's mother-in-law, the mother of his estranged wife,
Natalie. She was treated for cuts and bruises at Ward
Memorial and released.

*An attack on Howell with fists outside the Howell home,
forcing of Natalie into the automobile and driving it at
high speed into the utility standard, an attempt at hanging
from a tree in the front yard of the Howell home and the
slashing of Molina's wrists with a kitchen knife.

According to investigation reports, court records and
witness interviews, this is what happened.

On May 30, 1996 Judge Bob Parks of the 143rd Judicial
District in Monahans issued a protective order as a result
of an ongoing conflict between Molina and the Howells.

According to that order, Molina was ordered to stay away
from Janet Howell, members of her family, her place of
employment, the Spotlight Supper Club where she was then the
manager, and Monahans High School where one of Natalie's
sisters is a student. Natalie was not a part of that order.

Molina was ordered to attend 32 counseling sessions under
the direction, control and supervision of Project Adam in
Odessa. It is not known if he attended the sessions.

The protective order expired in May of 1997 and there is no
record that the order was renewed..

Chris and Natalie appeared to have reconciled but they once
again separated and became estranged. Natalie went back home
to her mother a day or two after Christmas.

In the meantime, Molina continued his boxing, attended
school in Odessa and worked at a Monahans automobile

On Tuesday, two days before the incident on Pecan Street, he
left material for a boxing story with the sports department
of the Monahans News.

In that information for the newspaper he had written:

"I am the West Texas Heavyweight chap. On the ninth, tenth
and eleventh of January, I competed in the State USA Boxing
tournament and lost a decision in the quarterfinals to the
Southwest Champ (Kirby Gillespie).

"I will compete Feb. 13 and 14 in the West Texas Golden
Gloves at Pecos and will defend my title from last year.

" I will compete at 165 pounds, super middle weight."

Molina also wrote: "I would especially like to thank my wife
Natalie Molina for always supporting me."

On Thursday, he went to the Howell home. His mother-and-law
and wife were outside.

Howell was struck in the face with fists. A major injury
occurred when the back of her head apparently hit the
sidewalk when she fell.

Natalie was forced into the car and it was driven at high
speed into the utility pole. Natalie, shaken and bruised,
ran from the car.

Molina ran to a tree in front of the house and attempted to
hang himself with a belt.

He stopped when a neighbor screamed: "There are children

He then ran into the Howell house where Natalie directed
arriving police officers.

Officers found him in the kitchen where his wrists had been
slashed with a kitchen knife.

Investigation continues.

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