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Dec. 31, 1998

Hunt votes no on golf course pact

The interlocal agreement for Ward County Golf Course was
approved by the Commissioners Court Monday by a three to one
vote. The agreement, which details the responsibilities of
the City and the County as concerns the facility, was
declared "one-sided" by Commissioner Larry Hunt, who cast
the dissenting vote. The agreement will go before the City
Council for approval next week.

Ward County Golf Association's bid to manage and operate
the golf course was accepted unanimously. The Association's
bid was the only one submitted.

The firefighting contracts for Barstow, Grandfalls, Pyote,
and Wickett, were also approved unanimously by the court.
Terms of the contracts remained the same as last year.

The Court accepted the resignation of County Extension Agent
Linda Russell, who has accepted a position with the Military
at Fort Hood. Her resignation is effective Jan. 10.

Five members were reappointed to the Senior Citizens
Advisory Board. They are Bill Dull, Chester Hopton, Gordon
Rawling, Jane Cox and Dorothy Kuykendall. Members serve a
two-year term.

In other business, the Commissioners:

- Set meetings for next year and approved the 1999 holidays
when the Courthouse will be closed;

- Approved line item amendments for the County and the
Hospital budgets;

- Approved a resolution allowing the Juvenile Probation
Department to apply for a grant to assist with funding for
short term detention;

- Transferred $1607.84 to the Golf Course account for end
of year bills.

The Court also said farewell to two retiring commissioners
and County Clerk, Pat Finley. This was the last official
court meeting for Bill Welch, Precinct 2 and Don Creech,
Precinct 4.

The next meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m., Jan. 11 in the
County Courtroom on the first floor of the courthouse. The
meeting is open to the public.

Oil woes hurt city, county budgets

The most important issue facing both the City and the County
in the coming year is the financial situation caused by the
downturn in the oil and gas industry, agree County Judge Sam
Massey and City Manager David Mills.

"As it appears right now, it does not look very positive for
next year," said Mills. "We have to really look at some
revenue sources being reduced due to loss of sales tax and
utility account customers."

For the County, the revenue loss will come from reduced
property valuations, particularly in the oil and gas sector.

The economic woes have not come as a total surprise to Mills
and Massey.

"We've been planning for it," said Massey "We have some
things in the works that will take care of some of the
losses because of the decrease in the price of oil. We are
prepared to ride it out for the next year or two. If the oil
prices stay down, we will have to make lots of cuts. We
prepare for the worst, but hope for the best."

Like the County, the City operates on a three to five year
basis and will continue with the projects that are already
underway like refurbishing the water tower at Rudy Park.
They are also proceeding with simple things like cemetery
expansion and upgrading of water, sewer and sanitation

The radio system has been updated to enhance both the police
and fire department calls. An antenna has been mounted on
the water tower by the football field which gives much
better range and reception, said Mills, adding that
remodeling of the communications office at the police
department is also nearing completion.

And with the help of a Texas Department of Transportation
grant, repairs are being made at the airport.

"We certainly hope the oil and gas industry will rebound,"
said Mills, but added that "the City is making every effort
to diversify the economy with economic development. We had
success in getting Reif to locate here and are still
pursuing other businesses."

The County, too, looks to diversification of the economy.

"We are going to work real hard on new ways to create
dollars . . . ways that will not be tax dollars," said

He said commissioners are looking into the possibility of
expanding the jail and housing more federal prisoners,
"which is a money-maker". They've also made moves with the
golf course to create a self-supporting facility and
"hopefully, our hospital will continue to head in the right
direction and demand less support for tax dollars," he added.

Combining of jobs has also resulted in dollar-saving. New
commissioners Rick McCurdy and Kathy Fausett have both taken
on additional responsibilities. McCurdy will continue to
function as Veterans Service officer at no additional pay
and Fausett will be responsible for booking of the Ward
County Convention Center, previously a separate position.

"There are several more projects like a juvenile detention
center that will create dollars," said Massey.

"There is the possibility we could build one for short-term
detention," he explained. Right now juvenile offenders are
sent to other facilities, a service which costs the County
extra money. Nearby facilities are filling up rapidly, he
added. "Our kids can no longer use Ector County, Fort
Stockton or Pecos. We are sending them further which costs
more and more dollars."

A detention center here would not only be self-sustaining
but hopefully would make a profit.

"We have been talking with Judge Parks and the juvenile
board," said Massey. "We have also talked with Juvenile
Probation head Sandra King, and Daren Clark of the RC&D to
find some grant money." Dialogue is also on going with Judge
Jimmy Galindo of Reeves County for "some kind of joint deal".

Along a similar line, Massey has talked with federal
marshalls in hopes of securing a grant to expand the jail
for adults. "We could keep a lot more federal prisoners and
they would pay for construction," he said.

Both men acknowledge the year ahead may be a tough one.

"We have to continue to try to provide services to citizens
of Monahans in the most economical and best manner
possible," said Mills.

"It's just like it's been for several years," added Massey.
"We have to find the dollars to do the services the people

"We are going to put our heads together and do the best we
can," he said. "When there are not many of you, you put
petty things away and work together."

Park center reopened

Remodeling has been completed at the Dunagan Visitor's
Center at the Sandhills State Park and the staff has
returned to the Main building, said the Park's
administrative technician, Debbie Hall. While remodeling was
underway, offices were moved to the Section House. That
building is once again available for public use.

Projected exhibits, which will not be installed until
February, will be divided into three primary areas - dune
dynamics, a history of the area and information on flora and
fauna resident in the sandhills. Hall said the dune dynamics
will focus on how the dunes came to be and their continuous
shifting. The history will include both ranching and the
oil industry. Flora and fauna will include an explanation of
the wildlife tracks seen in the Park.

Part of the funds for the remodeling were raised in 1997 in
a drive which culminated at the end of that year with
$160,000 raised. Those dollars were combined with funds from
Texas Parks and Wildlife to pay for the park enhancement.
That project included extensive roadway work, which was
completed last year, and the Center remodeling.

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Copyright 1998 by Ward Newspapers, Inc.
Joe Warren, 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.