Weekly Newspaper and Tourism Guide for Ward County Trans Pecos, Big Bend of West Texas
April 23, 1998
Winged stranger arrives in desert
Desert is the place to find the strange and unusual-
everything from the remains of old stage coaches to the
bones of a wooly mammoth.
But who would believe this?
In an oasis of a back yard in Monahans, Ward County, on
Tuesday, April 21, a wayfaring stranger came on wings to
seek what beings of his ilk reportedly never have seen
before. The strange bird has set up housekeeping in the yard
of a Monahans citizen who shall remain unidentified for both
his protection and the protection of his house guest.
Attempts to photograph the winged visitor failed. The bird
is camera shy although gregarius in more conventional
When the Monahansian noted the bird and introduced it to a
Monahans News reporter, the citizen said: "I never have seen
any bird like it before."
Neither had the reporter. The reporter subsequently found
this stranger in the West Texas Desert is known by
naturalists as an American Woodcock.
American Woodcock, according to the "Book of North American
Birds," a publication of Reader's Digest General Books,
should not be in Ward County. American Woodcocks, like Big
City Politicians, should not be anywhere West of Interstate
35.The bird's identified habitat hardly grazes the Eastern
edge of East Texas. It likes swamp not desert. It is a 10
1/2 to 11 1/2 inch long bird with a large head and a very
long bill and rounded wings. It has a dead-leaf pattern on
upperparts and rusty, crown with transverse black bars on
the under parts according to the book on North American
Birds. In addition the birds wings whistle in fight. The
bird lives in moist thickets and woods; it nests in a hollow
in the ground and eats mostly insects and earth worms. The
bird will thump its feet on the ground in order to draw the
worms out and picks them off with its long beak.
"It is not unusual to see one or two when we have high
south-western winds," said Bur Williams, Education Director
of the Environmental Learning Center in Midland. "They look
for a place that reminds them of home, which is a forest,
and fills up on bugs and what not then they will head on
home. So I guess a town looks like a forest to a bird."
Four miles east of Barstow, a trooper died
Sgt. Harvey Stamper of the Department of Public Safety-Pecos
stood with his shoulders slightly hunched into the driving,
chilly West Texas wind coming from somewhere near Denver
with a glacial bite to its sting.
Stamper and fellow Highway Patrol troopers had gathered at
this remote spot four miles East of Barstow in Ward County
on a piece of frontage road. The nearly abandoned
thoroughfare once was the legendary U.S. Highway 80, the
Southern route across the United States in the days of
nickel beer, dime bread and The Great Depression.
Behind Stamper was the new monument to a fellow Highway
Patrol trooper, Joseph Newton Avary, who died in the line of
duty at this spot of desert on May 17, 1935, Stamps says.
Avary was stationed at Pecos, working that fatal day in Ward
According to the death certificate, Avary was 28 years and
16 days old when his motorcycle smashed into the side of a
highway department truck while the highway patrolman was
chasing a traffic violator. Avary died instantly. The truck
was backing into the roadway when the collision occurred.
Newspaper reports at the time misspelled his name and also
got his age wrong. They said he was 30 and that his last
name was spelled AvEry, not the correct Avary.
Stamper says the records indicate that this trooper, a
Highway Patrolman before the Department of Public Safety
officially was established, may be the only DPS trooper
killed in the line of duty in the history of Ward County.
Richard Metcalf, the man from Bastrop who coordinated the
drive to place the monument to Avary, was there with several
DPS troopers to mark the occasion at 10 a.m. on Friday,
Avary's monument was the fifty-eighth Metcalf and his
organization, We The People of the State of Texas, have
placed to Texas law officers who have died in the line of
duty. Metcalf recalls that he started the crusade to honor
fallen Highway Patrol officers and Rangers in 1991.
"I started this charity because of a simple act of kindness
shown to me by State Trooper Carlos Ray Warren. He caught me
speeding and I was guilty," Metcalf said in a short address
Friday at the monument to Avary. "He treated me so
professionally and kind, it was clear that he felt he was
there to serve and protect the public in any way possible.
He sent me home with a kind warning."
Warren died a few days later in a fire fight that began when
the officer interrupted an attempted kidnapping and stopped
"With his last life's blood leaving him, he found the great
courage to . . . get up on one elbow and mark the (felon's)
car as it sped away. . (it was) his last effort in life to
do his job."
San Antonio police, suspicious of the bullet-marked vehicle,
stopped it a short while later and arrested the would be
kidnapper, says Metcalf.It was then Metcalf began placing
the monuments He notes he has received support from the
Department of Public Safety, the DPS Officers Association
and Paul Lucky and his sister at Rockdale Memorials in
Rockdale, who built the monuments at cost.
Avary, who was born in Harlingen but whose family was in
Beaver City, Neb., was taken there on May 22, 1935 for
burial, Stamper recalled. Avary left a wife, Claire Alice
and three small children, whose names could not be found in
the records. His widow paid $295 for the funeral the day
after her husband was killed.
Stamper says there is no indication that any of the Avary
family related to the killed patrolman now live in either
Reeves or Ward County.
One thing is certain. Avary died doing his job.
Hospital trustees postpone decision on hospital
Members of the Ward Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees
Tuesday evening, April 21, voted to postpone a decision on a
probable management contract for the financially troubled
Hospital Chair Glen Vance, who voted to proceed, cautioned
the trustees that something needed to be done "as quickly as
it can be done."
Also from Vance: "We don't need a hasty decision but we do
need to make one. I think we need to move on and make a
Interim Ward Memorial Administrator Ray Mason, whose
contract had been scheduled to expire at the end of April,
verbally has agreed to stay on as administrator at least
Both he and Vance confirmed that report and both said it
still had not been formally accepted by the board of
It was close - a 2-2 tie vote broken by County Judge Sam G.
Massey who cast his vote for postponement.
Hospital trustees had been expected to decide whether to
adopt a management agreement with either Lubbock Methodist
Hospital or Community Health Corp., a group that includes
Memorial Hospital and Medical Center of Midland.
Under the management agreement concept, the agency receiving
the contract would manage the hospital.
Lubbock Methodist already manages Reeves County Hospital in
Trustee Dyer Moore of County Commission Precinct 3 moved to
postpone the decision until Loredia Potts of Precinct 2 and
Alan Stockton, who represents Precinct 4 officially become
members of the hospital board on May 1.
Vance, the chair, and trustee Vicki Yates voted to proceed
with the decision. Dyer and trustee Kay Watson voted against
proceeding. Trustee Rocky Rives, who is leaving the board,
was not present.
After the meeting, Massey said he voted to postpone "because
I have several questions about the possible impact of the
impending merger between Lubbock Methodist and St. Mary's of
the Plains Hospital (also in Lubbock)."
Massey says these questions must be resolved.
Jim Bullard, vice president of regional services for Lubbock
Methodist, told the trustees the merger is scheduled to be
formalized on June 8 or June 9 with an exchange of board
He also said the two hospital units would operate as
separate entities at least until the end of the year.
Bullard emphasized to the board that any contract with
Lubbock Methodist must be accepted by any succeeding body.
First Lady in Monahans Monday
Laura Bush, First Lady of Texas, joins the Texas Historical
Commission in Monahans on Monday, April 27.
The occasion is the 1998 Main Street Celebration tour.
From a communique from the governor's office:
"Mrs. Bush will give brief remarks and help unveil the
first architectural drawings for the restoration of
buildings in downtown Monahans and Levelland.
The Monahans stop is part of a statewide tour by the wife of
Texas Gov. George Bush.
Laura Bush Schedule
Monahans, Monday, April 27
7 a.m. - Main Street Board at Main Street Building to set up
8:30 a.m. - City to block of Sealy from Highway 18 to Bruce
9 a.m. - Drivers pick up cars at Motor City
9:35 a.m. - Depart for Midland Airport
9:45 a.m. - Main Street Board, City and County Officials,
Presidents, etc., arrive at site to pick up name tags.
9:50 a.m. - Laura Bush arrives at Airport
10 a.m. - Depart for downtown Monahans
10:10 a.m. - Ceremony begins
10:30 a.m. - Walking tour of downtown Monahans
10:55 a.m. - Reception at First National Bank
11:10 a.m. - Bush Party departs for Midland Airport
Sandhills Park Friends present check to state
AUSTIN - Kathlyn Dunagan, president of the Friends of
Monahans Sandhills State Park, led a delegation to Austin on
Thursday, April 16, and presented a check for $160,000 to
the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
The dollars represented the Friends share of funds allocated
to enhance and improve the unique Monahans Sandhills State
Park Northeast of Monahans.
Said Andrew Sansom, executive director of Texas Parks and
Wildlife: "I'm so proud of the Friends of the Monahans
Sandhills State Park. They are a great example of what a
Friends group can do for a park and have worked tirelessly
on behalf of that site. The Friends are the leading edge of
support groups across the state."
Richard Heath, vice chair of the Texas Parks and Wildlife
Commission, commented: "I would like to commend the efforts
of the Friends of the Monahans Sandhills State Park on
behalf of the Park.
They represent what our system is all about."
The Monahans delegation to Austin included Friends trustees
Dunagan; Helen William, secretary; Clarese Gough; Richard
Hoyer; Lois Grant; Mike Fletcher; Dixie Fletcher; former
Sandhills Park Superintendent Ken Benad; current Park
Superintendent Glen Korth; Deann Korth; and Sheri Lord.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Region I Director Delton Daugherty
and wife, Lea, also were present.
15-year-old in stolen truck stopped in Tucson
A City of Monahans water department pick-up stolen during
the night Saturday, April 18, has turned up in Tucson,
Ariz., police report.
The 15-year-old California driver is in custody. He
reportedly had been visiting relatives in Ward County.
It apparently wasn't a problem for Tucson police to spot the
vehicle with the big green city water label on the side and
an orange light on top once an all-points bulletin was
The Monahans water department employee who drives the
vehicle discovered it missing from the front of his
Northside home about 8 a.m. Sunday, April 19.
The ignition keys were inside the locked vehicle which
contained a cellular phone, radio and was equipped with tool
boxes and tools, he told Monahans police.
The city employee keeps a separate set of keys to open the
City manager David Mills says the water truck's telephone,
radio, tool boxes and tools were valued at about $3,000 and
the 1996 Dodge pick-up at about $16,000.
Monahans police learned the pickup was discovered and the
driver arrested about 3 p.m. Monday, April 20.
From all indications, the pick-up is in good shape and all
tools, telephone and radio are still in the truck, Tucson
police told Monahans police.
The youth is from California and apparently was en route
home after visiting relatives in Monahans.
First indications are that he will not be extradited to
Texas and instead will be returned to his California
relatives due to his juvenile status. Under the law, no
criminal charges are possible.
Water meeting attracts 111 participants
Exactly 111 people jammed the Convention Center Auditorium
on Tuesday, April 21, to hear the report of the board of the
Sandhills Water Supply Corp.
The bottom line: Sweet water from the City of Monahans wells
will flow to Thorntonville and areas South and West of
Monahans by Autumn assuming no problems.
Monahans Mayor David Cutbirth congratulated the water board
whose six years of work appears to be coming to fruition.
Treva Oxedine, secretary-treasurer of the Southwest
Sandhills WSC, says the proposed closing date for the
receipt of more than $1 million in federal grants and loans
is Sept. 18.
"That's the date we'll actually get the money from Rural
Development (an agency of the U.S. Department of
Agriculture)," says Oxedine. "They're holding the money for
us until our engineer puts out bids. Many things have to
come together before the closing date. Everyone must
understand. No water lines can be laid before the closing
date although site preparation can and is being done."
Oxedine reports there already are nearly 600 members of the
corporation. She notes the fee to connect to the new water
lines is $500 with a $150 membership charge. Those who
already have paid do not have to pay again. Engineer Kerry
Maroney of Biggs & Mathews of Wichita Falls estimates the
final water charge will be $30 a month for the first 2,000
gallons and $2.50 for each subsequent thousand gallons. Six
new members registered.
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.