Weekly Newspaper and Tourism Guide for Ward County Trans Pecos, Big Bend of West Texas
July 9, 1998
By Richard Acosta
I walked outside one recent Saturday afternoon with no shoes
on. The concrete was so hot I got a blister on my foot and
my neighbors got to see me do the "hot foot" dance.
Folks, I don't know when West Texas moved a quarter-mile
from the sun, but I wish we could return to the days when 98
degrees was a "hot day."
A while back a buddy and I went down to visit some friends
in San Angelo. On the way we passed miles and miles of
fields, some of which had cows. Those cows looked mad (not
mad as in mad cow disease). They were just standing there,
being hot, with a look of disgust on their little cow faces.
Speaking of cows and heat, I heard a rumor about butter fat.
Due to the high temperatures, the story goes, cows are not
producing enough butter fat. Butter fat is the key
ingredient in ice cream. Simply stated butter fat down
equals ice cream price high.
I know other dairy products will be affected, but its Summer
time and ice cream goes hand and hand with Summer. I felt it
was my duty to get to the bottom of the butter fat issue -
if not for The Monahans News, then for all the children who
may have to take a credit card to the ice cream truck.
I called over to the Midland County Agent and he referred me
to two of the most knowledgeable people in the field of cows
- Mike Tomaszewski, professor and extension dairy specialist
and Sandra Stokes, head of the Resource Extension Center in
Stevenville (Dairy capital of the world).
I was unable to reach Stokes. However, I received a call
from Tomaszewski, who put in touch with (by his own
admission) someone who knew more about cows than he - Bob
Schwartz, professor of economic dairy marketing.
Here are the facts according to the best.
First off, it is not the cows fault butter fat production
is down. It is economics pure and simple. Americans have
discovered dairy products are good for them and are buying
more cheese, milk and butter than ever before.
Commercial industries have discovered that by adding real
butter to products, they get a unique taste that can not be
duplicated. Reports have also shown a great increase in ice
cream sales, most likely due to the heat. The catch is more
Americans wanting a purer, creamer ice cream, which uses
more solid dairy which includes butter fat.
The government also has butter contracts, where they must
export so much butter. Because of increasing dairy products
sales, the industry has not been able to meet the Summer
When dairy was still thought of as "bad for you," many of
plants closed and dairy farmers retired because prices were
down and they were losing money.
No longer. With increased demand for dairy products, it is
hoped some people will take the retired dairy plants out of
"moth balls" and start producing again.
As for the price of dairy, in 1990 the government got out of
the dairy industry, so there is nothing, except the laws of
supply and demand, to keep prices from soaring to the sky or
dropping to the floor.
People today use more dairy products so the amount being
made before simply is not enough.
There is no Grand Government Conspiracy, or underground
dairy farmer movement, to take over the world with the power
of milk. So, when you drive down the road and see the cows
out in the field, give them a honk and a wave.
Cows are working hard to keep America in ice cream for the
Summer and it doesn't help to curse these producers.
By Jerry Curry
Freedom Fest '98 in Hill Park was a happening that attracted
people from all over the Permian Basin to partake of a
little patriotism, a bunch of fun and a blast of sun. That
sun blast didn't bother the kids who dived into the pies for
the pie eating contest, cheered their turtles in the great
race, took part in the water balloon tossing olympics and
spit water melon seeds into orbit. But the sun blast did get
to some of us older folks.
I agreed with Kevin Slay about midafternoon when he observed
he was "just about wore out" and we both noted it was
cooler this year than it was for Freedom Fest '97 when the
mercury reportedly boiled through the tops of a few
thermometers. This year, on a comparative basis, it was
cool, only in the low hundreds but it was still warm - too
The heat did not temper fun but it did enhance the
enthusiasm of those climbing into the dunking booth. Danny
Morriss did it twice. These so-called victims were more than
willing to be dunked for a good cause in that heat. Someone
said he was going home and get in his hot tub to cool off.
Kevin and Candido Gutierrez, who were the lone co-hosts of
the Bingo booth, were battling sun most of the afternoon. I
even wandered over from my perch on the stage and helped
them move the exotic Bingo calling machinery further under
the canopy so all that modern technology could be saved from
the West Texas Sun.
Several of the hundreds who came to Hill Park for the day
long July 4 celebration in Monahans stopped by for only an
hour or so and then beat unorganized and hasty retreats to
the cooler environs at home or elsewhere. Freedom Fest '98
was great fun but it could have been more comfortable.
Freedom Fest is something this community needs and it could
be better if we figure out a way to air condition Hill
Park. That option, I agree, is not cost effective.
But there is a cheaper way. Let us consider the nocturnal
alternative. If Freedom Fest were mostly after dusk, heat
would not be as much of a factor. Even more patrons would
come to the Ward County celebration of the Declaration of
Independence. I was told holding the July 4 festival at
night has been discussed in the past but nothing ever
"We could put lights on the trees," suggests one chamber
board member. "We could have more booths with electricity
and it would be perfect for Christmas in the Park as well as
being cooler for Freedom Fest."
And at night every July 4, I sincerely believe, some of our
kids could hit the moon in the great watermelon seed
Hospital must be healed
By Friday, July 10, if the scenario plays out as expected
several workers at Ward Memorial Hospital no longer will be
employees of Ward County.
The decisions are going to hit them hard and it doesn't do
them any good, mentally or economically, to tell them it is
something that has to be done to save the hospital and the
biggest health care provider in Ward County. This is true.
Truth in this case cannot be denied with any kind of
The analysts from Covenant Health Systems Inc. are not going
to base all of their financial treatment recommendations on
laying off workers. More than workers are going to be
involved in this first step toward fiscal sanity in an
institution that has been battered too long by uncertain
cash flow and uncertain management.
Before certain cash flow, there must be strong management
and it appears, at least for the present, that Ward
Memorial Hospital has this in a new aggressive board and an
interim administrator with what one board member, who knows
what it means, calls "shooter's eyes."
These are hard times and the hospital must be healed.
Line item veto vetoed
Every now and then, despite reports to the contrary, the
Supreme Court of the United States upholds the Constitution
that established it. It did this with the absurd statutes
which allowed the President of the United States a line item
veto in budgets approved by Congress, an action which
blurred the Separation of Powers Doctrine and moved any
President, no matter how well meaning, close to the status
of tyrant. But the court struck down the line item veto,
noting the Constitution provides Congress, the governmental
branch closest to the people, stipulates federal government
spending and Congress only. Hail the Constitution.
Mine closing sends warning
In these alleged times of economic prosperity, as defined by
the Spin Doctors in Austin and Washington, Culberson County
took a deep impact last week that would put a comet
colliding with the Earth somewhere in the category of minor
Officials of Freeport-McMoran Sulphur Inc. announced in Van
Horn they were closing the company's Culberson Sulphur Mine.
The mine, says the company's president, Robert M. Wohleber,
is the victim of depressed and plunging sulphur prices which
mean the mine is operating at a loss. This translates to 158
jobs gone. Wohleber says the company will pay its Culberson
County taxes this year on properties valued at $18 million
but no taxes will be forthcoming next year.
If any argument needs to be made for continued aggressive
and diversified economic development in Ward County, the
mine closing in Culberson County should be the final warning
that a one-crop economy is dangerous.
Copyright 1998 by Ward Newspapers, Inc.
Joe Warren, Publisher
107 W. Second St., Monahans TX 79756
Phone 915-943-4313, FAX 915-943-4314
Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.
Copyright 1998 by Ward Newspapers Inc.