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

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April 9, 1998

2 jailed in attack on elderly man at home

Two young men arrested in the assault of an elderly Ward
County man at his home have been released on $15,000 bond,
reports DPS Trooper Eric White.

White and Sheriff's Capt. Steve Vestal identified the two
men as Michael DeFranco, 19, and Jeremy McPeak, 17, both of
Monahans. The victim was Walter Frazier, 73, who was
assaulted in his home in the 2800 block of South Stockton
Avenue abut 9:25 p.m. on Sunday, March 22.

Sheriffs Deputies Jim Price and Juan Rodriguez were the lead
investigators in the case. Vestal reports Frazier answered a
knock at his door. When he opened the door, he was struck
with a chair leg wielded by one of two ski-masked men. He
was hit several more times as he struggled to a bed room
where, Vestal says, Frazier was able to get his pistol. The
attackers then ran. White arrested DeFranco at Forty-Second
Street and Veronica avenue. He arrested McPeak at his home.

"Walt Frazier did not know his attackers," White said. "But
Jim Price, Juan Rodriguez and myself identified the
suspects by talking to some people and I had them in custody
in about two hours."

Frazier was treated at Ward Memorial Hospital for cuts and
bruises sustained in the assault. Vestal said Frazier was
whipped "badly."

Ward Countians invited to help form task force

Ray Ramirez of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in
Austin will key a special program in Monahans on Thursday,
April 16, at the Ward County Convention Center.

The project is designed to lay the frame work for a
citizen-law enforcement task force against violence and
abuse, says Monahans coordinator Jean Jeffords.

"Everyone is invited to attend," says Jeffords. "The program
starts at 10 a.m."

Texas Ranger Capt. Barry Caver of Midland and Hans Martin of
the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Odessa are scheduled
to attend.

Jeffords notes the speakers include Monahans Mayor David
Cutbirth; Elizabeth Olson, the Ward County Advocate for the
Midland Battered Women's Shelter; Misty Och of the Rape
Crisis Center in Odessa; Vella Connally of the Alcohol and
Drug Abuse Council of the Permian Basin; Ward County Judge
Sam G. Massey; and Georgia Lamothe of Christian Fellowship

Jeffords notes there are no registration fees. The program
is free to all who wish to attend.

For further information call Jeffords at 943-3882 or Shirley
Hill, 943-5962.

County demands 'real' hospital budget

Ward Memorial Hospital workers face potential staff
reductions and salary cuts

Ward County Judge Sam G. Massey read a six-minute ultimatum
to the Board of Managers of fiscally troubled Ward Memorial
Hospital on Tuesday, April 7.
The focus of his message: "I emphasize we all are going to
live within a real budget, avoid debt and live within our
means. And if that means cutbacks in staff, salaries and
services, then so be it."

One county official suggested as much as half the hospital
work force will be furloughed. Another suggested 40 percent
would be sufficient.
More than 75 percent of those who crowded into the meeting
room were Ward Memorial Hospital employees.

As soon as the commissioners' statement was read, Massey led
the Commissioners out the door into the parking lot. Inside
an impromptu town meeting already was in progress.

The county judge had told them: "Ward Memorial Hospital will
obey the law just like the rest of Ward County. Bills will
be submitted to the auditor for payment within 30 days just
like the rest of the county bills and they will be paid
first come, first served. If there is not enough money to
make (hospital) payroll, then payroll will be held until the
dollars are there."

Massey said he did not feel there was a need for he and the
commissioners to remain after the statement was read.

Commissioner Larry Hunt said of the hospital administration
and hospital employees: "They've run out of places to hide
from the money problems that affect us all. In my precinct,
I've had to cut workers. They are going to have to reduce
workers just like the rest of us already have done."

The confrontation came in the meeting rooms of the hospital
trustees across from the hospital where only two patients
were in the hospital's nearly 30 inpatient beds. One
hospital employee said the average daily census of hospital
patients was 18. The Commissioners' Court has been told it
is less than four.

Speaking for the Commissioners' Court, Massey spoke
precisely without emotion. He told the hospital board they
would see to it hospital administrators prepared a
legitimate budget and the budget would be followed.

The judge said county commissioners had stopped making up
shortfalls so the hospital's 144 employees could be paid. He
said he and the commissioners agreed hospital board members
should quit if they did not like what they were being told
and if they did not think they could do what was demanded.
In fact, Massey encouraged resignations from any trustee who
did not feel sharp management and watching the purse
strings might save the hospital. But he said he did not want
them to quit. Massey saiid he wanted them "to ride for the
brand or go on down the road. You must instruct your
administrator to follow the same procedure and to demand
that the staff push, pull or get the hell out of the way.
The staff must be loyal."

Hospital Trustee Chris Kessler of County Precinct 3 did
resign but he cited the press of meetings and said he could
no longer make the meetings of the board. His resignation
was effective immediately. Five members of the hospital
board remain. The terms of three trustees, including board
chair Glenn Vance of Precinct 1, expire on Monday, April
13, when Commissioners expect to announce new appointments.

Citizen wonders about hospital district

Citizen Bill Hare, a resident of Monahans and Ward County
for decades, suggested it may be time to revive plans for a
hospital district.

"I'm going on record asking for an independent hospital
district," Hare told the group who began a town meeting
after the county commissioners told hospital officials the
time had come for sound fiscal management in the operation
of the hospital.

Monahans Mayor David Cutbirth said: "I'd go with a hospital
district if we can."

Cutbirth and Hare were only two of the many who spoke in the
wake of The Six Minute Ultimatum by the commissioners.

Cutbirth also wondered about the working poor of the county
and he questioned the commitment of the county commissioners
to saving Ward Memorial Hospital.

At one point the mayor said: "The major problem with the
hospital is the commissioner's court."

His special plea though was for the working people of Ward
County who do not have any sort of medical insurance -
Medicaid, Medicare or private. They don't have it, Cutbirth
said, because they can't afford it although they pay
everyone else's bills with their taxes.

"We're not going to get rid of poor working people," said
the mayor. "We need to help them and we will help them."

Johnny B. Williams, superintendent of the West Texas State
School at Pyote, noted that he had to make hard budgetary
decisions when he came to the school there years ago. He
did. And, Williams notes, the school continues to serve
within budget while maintaining its mission. Hospital Board
Chair Glenn Vance said: 'The hospital will be here. It has
to be run efficiently."

Vicki Yates, a trustee, said: "The commissioners have bailed
us out in the past. I do not think they are unreasonable in
asking for accountability."

Robert Foret, Ward Memorial's Chief Financial Officer,
released a series of statistics that said the hospital's
debt at the end of February was $478,146, a debt at least
one health care management company refused to assume if it
was to lease and operate Ward Memorial.

Foret, who sat through the proceedings, had said earlier the
hospital was in better financial shape than it was in the

In a memorandum to hospital employees April 2, he had
written: This is not to say we don't have problems. We do
have major problems and hopefully these problems will be
resolved as soon as possible."

Merchants preparing for athletic invasion

What do the Monahans Chamber of Commerce, the Monahans High
School Lobo Athletic department and Ward County 4-H have in

They are preparing to welcome at least 1000 people to

Spokespersons for the Chamber, school and 4-H also hope the
merchants are prepared for what will be a major weekend in
the restaurants, hotels and motels of the Ward County Seat

Next Friday, April 17, and Saturday, April 18, Monahans will
host University Interscholastic League district track, golf
and tennis competitions.

These three alone, projects Athletic Director Larry Hanna,
will account for about 443 athletes, not counting coaches
and parents.

In addition the District 6 4-H Rifle Association will host
its regional tournament, which will attract about 300
shooters from a region that extends from El Paso in the
West to Midland in the East to Del Rio in the South.

"We are hoping to have a great turn out from all the
parents in the district," said Athletic Director Hanna. "I
am sure that they will feel the warm hospitality we have in

While Hanna's office is working to get all the entries in
order the Monahans Chamber of Commerce is preparing its
members for the impact, both economic and sheer numbers.

Chamber Executive Director Tammy Swigert has sent a letter
letting the businesses know what to expect.

Swigert writes: "We are expecting several hundred
participants and spectators to be in Monahans during these
events. We hope that information such as this will help you
with your ordering of supplies, and scheduling of employees."

Terry Kirkland of the 4-H Rifle Team in Ward County notes
"the team from Del Rio has had reservations for some time."

Main Street Report:

State Resource Team tells Monahans to plant trees

Kathy Hendrick, the business development director for City
of Denison, said: "You all definitely need some shoes here."

There was a smattering of chuckles in the crowd of downtown
merchants and area entrepreneurs that had gathered in the
auditorium at the Ward County Convention Center in Monahans
on Thursday afternoon, April 2. Then they applauded.

Amy Giles, the marketing director of Highland Mall in
Richardson, suggested ridding the vacant downtown Monahans
store windows of the murals "because they draw attention to
the vacancy and invite vandalism." She suggested an intense
marketing campaign to get businesses in those stores.

Barbara Austin, a senior landscape architect from the firm
of Richardson Verdoon in Austin, congratulated The Monahans
News for its motto "Serving the Oasis of the West Texas
Desert" and suggested the whole community take the
newspaper's lead and follow that concept to attract business
and prosperity. Austin also said: "What we are proposing is
to plant as many trees as possible."

They were three members of a visiting state resource team
that also included Texas Main Street Program Director Terry
Colley and Texas Main Street Architect Dick Ryan. They had
spent two days in Monahans looking at the possibilities and
the possible ways to restore downtown Monahans to the
shopping mecca it once had been. It was Ryan's second visit
to Monahans. On his first he had consulted with varied
business people and suggested ways to enhance their
buildings to make them more customer friendly - a point to
which Giles and Hendricks spoke often in their
presentations. Giles noted: "Business hours have to be
consistent. Potential customers need to know when you are
going to be open. And you have to be open when the customers
are off work and have time to shop."

The evaluation by the team was the beginning of a three-year
assistance program provided to Monahans because of its
designation as a Texas Main Street City. Monahans Main
Street Project Manager Suzi Blair introduced the team.
Suggestions from the team were many and varied. All of them
said the most positive aspect of Monahans was the can-do
attitude of its people.

Austin focused her report on Sealy Avenue "a street built
for traffic not people" and suggested a tree accented median
to make the area more people friendly and easier to cross on
foot without fear of speeding automobiles.
Austin said: "Sealy is just too wide."

All of the team members emphasized the importance of
regional cooperation and the regional market that
encompasses all of Ward County.

Said Hendrick: "Network, network, network. Regional
cooperation is what it is about."

And she reminded that Monahans banks are willing to help
provide low interest loans for new businesses.

Early voting suggests heavy run off

Early voting in the Ward County Democratic Primary run off
suggests a heavy turn out on the official Election Day,
Tuesday, April 14, reports County Clerk Pat V. Finley.

Finley, the county's election officer, says 944 early votes
had been cast in the Democratic run offs where three Ward
County offices are at issue - County Clerk, County

Commissioner Precinct 2 and County Commissioner Precinct 4.
The early vote for the run off, says Finley, includes 943
Democratic votes and one Republican. Republicans are having
a run off in the state race for the GOP nominations for
attorney general and two judges.

"This is very good for an early vote in a run off," says the
county clerk. "Traditionally the vote in a run off is light."

She notes that the total vote in the 1996 Democratic Primary
run off in Ward County was 990 when Democratic races for
County Commissioner Precinct 1 and Constable in Precinct 1
went to a run off. In that run off two years ago, 356 votes
were cast in the early vote.

"And we still have one more day of early voting so the total
this year may go higher," says Finley.

The last day for early voting in the lobby of the Courthouse
in Monahans is today, Thursday, April 9. Because of the Good
Friday holiday, no voting will be held on Friday. Early
voting began on Saturday, April 4, for the April 14 election.

"In 1994, we had 1,670 total votes in the Democratic run off
where we had two commissioners races and a justice of the
peace race," says the county clerk.

She notes that 578 of those votes in 1994 were cast in the
early vote period.

Southwest Sandhills Water group meets

Members of the Southwest Sandhills Water Supply Co. are
scheduled to hold two meetings in the Ward County Convention
Center at Monahans on Tuesday, April 21, according to a
statement from the water group's secretary treasurer, Treva

"As you read in the paper, . . .Rural Development has okayed
our money. And a lot of money it is - $1,102,000 will be
grants, i.e. (we don't have to pay it back!!!). Another
$891,000 will be a loan over 40 years," writes Oxedine.

She continues: "There will be two meetings on Tuesday, April
21. The one at 6 p.m. will be for general information for
the public. We will also sign up new members at that time.
The cost for NEW members is $150 for membership fee plus
$500 connection fee . . .

"At 7 p.m. our annual membership meeting will begin. You
paid your membership fee before the deadline on Nov. 8,
1996. We borrowed all that money for our members of record
as of the date above; so NO, you do not have a $500
connection fee."

Questions, call Oxedine at 943-3680.

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Copyright 1998 by Ward Newspapers, Inc.
Mac McKinnon, Publisher
107 W. Second St., Monahans TX 79756
Phone 915-943-4313, FAX 915-943-4314

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Copyright 1998 by Ward Newspapers Inc.