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Area Newspapers


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

Top Stories

Jan. 21, 1999

Pedestrian bruised by vehicle

A case of mixed signals ensued on S. Leon Street Monday
afternoon, resulting in a pedestrian being hit by a car.

According to Audra Hendricks, she was just about to cross
the street with her dog when she noticed a '97 Cavalier
signaling to turn left, in her direction, onto Leon.
Hendricks paused, and waved for the car to go ahead.

But the driver, a 17-year-old local girl, waved for
Hendricks to cross first.

The 21-year-old pedestrian doesn't remember much of what
happened next. She says that she began walking, dog in tow,
across the street, but then the car turned anyway. She was
knocked onto the hood.

Fortunately, the extent of her injuries was a few bumps and
bruises. After being checked out at Ward Memorial Hospital,
she was released that same night. As for the driver, she
was, according to Police Chief Charles Sebastian,
understandably "shook up" about the whole experience.

County convictions

Richard Perez Villa, 22; DWI; 100 days confinement in Ward
County Jail

Ricardo Duran Gomez, 34; assault-family violence; $450 fine
and 100 days confinement in Ward County Jail; probated 18

Ralph Simon Crews, 56; assault-family violence; $450 fine
and 100 days confinement in Ward County Jail; probated 18

Howard Clayton Hoskins, 19; driving while license suspended;
$450 fine and 100 days confinement in Ward County Jail;
probated 18 months

Albert Gene Wilson, 26; assault; $450 fine and 100 days
confinement in Ward County Jail; probated 18 months

Cruz Botello Deanda, Jr., 23; DWI; $450 fine and 100 days
confinement in Ward County Jail; probated 18 months

Benny Sanchez, 30; DWI; $450 fine and 100 days confinement
in Ward County Jail; probated 18 months

Ernie Carrasco, 34; assault-family violence; $450 fine and
100 days confinement in Ward County Jail; probated 18 months

Scottie Lee Ferguson, 18; possession of prohibited weapon;
$450 fine and 100 days confinement in Ward County Jail;
probated 18 months

Richard Robert Ford, 48; DWI; $2,000 fine and 100 days
confinement in Ward County Jail; probated 18 months

Lyle Gene Hudson, 35; assault-family violence; $450 fine and
100 days confinement in Ward County Jail; probated 18 months

Gary Wayne Blackmon, 19; reckless driving; $450 fine and 100
days confinement in Ward County Jail; probated 18 months

Ruth Garrison, 33; theft by check; 100 days confinement in
Ward County Jail; probated 18 months

Tommy Orasco, 32; theft by check; 100 days confinement in
Ward County Jail; probated 18 months

Esteban Maldonado, 43; DWI; $250 fine and 70 days in Ward
County Jail; probated 12 months

Jaime Lopez Armendariz, 39; assault-family violence; $450
fine and 100 days confinement in Ward County Jail; probated
18 months

Felipe Deanda Rivas, 30; assault-family violence; $450 fine
and 100 days confinement in Ward County Jail; probated 12

Courthouse records

143rd District Court
Juan Jose Namez vs. Demitrez Gonzales IDM.

Jose Angel Vargas vs. William A. Garrard IDM.

Warranty Deeds

Debbie Nell Hale to Russell Hale, Lot 7 and 8 in Block 3 of
the Western Subdivision, Ward County.

James D. Ward and wife Marilyn Rhea Ward to Lonnie S. Brown
and wife Rose M. Brown, A 5.901 acre tract of land out of
Section 49 Block N, Ward County.

Raulph E. Kelly and wife Laurane K. Kelley to Tim Gilles,
Lot 32 of Western Heights Subdivision Ward County.

Bobby L. Self and wife Judy A. Self to Kenneth W. Self and
wife Sandy M. Self, A tract of land out of Lot 31 Western
Heights Subdivision, Wickett, Ward County.

Electricity by choice is coming

Deregulation of the State's electricity system is going to
happen, said TU Electric manager Kevin Slay. Eighteen
percent of the 50 states have already implemented some form
of deregulation and bills have been filed in the 76th Texas
Legislature to provide for introducing competition into the
Texas retail electricity market. One such bill provides for
customers to begin choosing their electricity suppliers as
soon as Jan. 1, 2002.

A proposal for deregulation was introduced by the governor
in the last session. Though supported by the Public
Utilities Commission, the bill did not reach the floor for a
vote because of time constraints and opposition headed by
the Electric Cooperatives of Texas and the Texas Retailers

"A number of changes have occurred since then, however and
the environment for passing a bill in Texas has grown more
positive," said Ray Perryman, president and CEO of the
Perryman Group and a recent speaker at a Chamber of Commerce
business luncheon.

One thing is sure, if Texas does not act on its own behalf,
eventually the Federal government will mandate the

"Many bills have been introduced into the U.S. Congress that
would impose national mandates on states, requiring each to
move to retail competition by conforming to
one-size-fits-all nationwide requirements," noted Slay.
"None of these bills have been enacted, but they do indicate
that Congress is considering taking action.

"Today, local utilities provide electric generation,
transmission, distribution and customer service to retail
customers at rates regulated by the cities and the Public
Utility Commission of Texas," explained Slay. "In the new
structure, generation of electricity and customer service
would be deregulated. Customers would be able to choose
among competing energy suppliers and prices for these items
would be set by the open market."

How would such deregulation affect the residential customer?

"Under competition, customers will see better prices," Slay
affirms. "A free market is simply more efficient and
produces better pricing than government-mandated regulation.
A lot of the large industrial customers are wanting to see
freedom of choice.

"We like the freedom to choose or not to choose," he
continued. "Just because we deregulate doesn't mean you will
get another power company."

Regardless of the number of companies that may offer
electrical power when deregulation occurs, TU Electric is
here to stay, Slay said.

"We own and maintain that plant. We own and maintain all the
poles, wires, street lights in this town. The wires, poles
part of our business - the infrastructure- will still be
regulated," he explained. "They're still ours. We're going
to leave them right here. We are still going to have a
presence because we have an investment. That plant is a TU
Electric plant. Only the kilowatt hour will be deregulated."

TU's goal is to have electricity available to its customers
99.8 percent of the time. "Reliability is very important to
us," said Slay. "We will still be monitored by the PUC just
like we are now."

The TU manager doesn't expect deregulation to happen

"This will be a monumental task," he said. "There needs to
be a transition period, a period where utilities educate the

"The long-distance telephone industry didn't arrive at it
present state of competitiveness overnight," added Perryman.
"Similarly, competition within the electricity industry also
will take years to evolve and stabilize."

Proponents are hopeful any bill passed will contain strong
consumer protection from some of the foibles that have
plagued the phone industry, such as slamming and cramming.

"It's very possible that an aggregation or loads of
customers will be allowed, whereas the citizens of Monahans
could allow the City Council to put out for bids the
kilowatt hour that comes into this town, lump all their
customers together and bid it out," said Slay.

"There will always be freebirds who change each and every
month and that is their choice. I envision mechanisms being
in place to combat some of these problems and issues that
come up. We are looking at the other utilities that have
deregulated and hopefully we'll learn from some of the
pitfalls that have occurred."

He also envisions technological innovations will emerge from
a competitive market. "Today, the restrictions of the
regulatory system mean TU Electric is limited in where and
how it can do business," he said. "A competitive environment
will allow the company to have freedom to develop and offer
new products and services, such as surge protectors, home
automation and computer data right off your meter."

He also believes the overall economy of Texas will benefit.

"Businesses and industries will take the availability of
choice into consideration when deciding whether to relocate
to Texas or expand current operations," he explained. "With
choice, Texas will continue to compare favorably with other

"If we delay, Texas risks falling behind the trend. Already,
states representing more than half the United States
population have opted to open their electric industries to
retail competition. Virtually all other states are
considering the same legislation."

"This is definitely a hot topic in Austin," Slay concluded.
"What they do is going to affect everyone."

Gramm seeks to help oil industry

Bill Christian, adminstrative assistant for state affairs of
Senator Phil Gramm's office was in Monahans Friday to
listen to concerns and answer questions on behalf of the
senator. Gramm is in Washington for the Presidents
impeachment trial.

Christian, a 1981 graduate of Monahans High School, is the
head of the senator's state projects.

Questions ranged from regulation on the banking industry to
support of a potential space port in Fort Stockton to the
oil field. Chris Hisel, vice president of MR Oil Co. asked
what the senator is going to do in regards to helping the
oil industry in his home state.

City Manager David Mills voiced concern of over-regulation
on municipalities like Monahans, which are trying to
survive and at the same time, continue to provide its
citizens with all of the services its citizens deserve.

Christian advised the group that any problem has a solution
and the senator is always willing to look at proposals that
help Texans.

You can reach Senator Gramm's office in Washington by
calling Christian at 202-224-2934 or on line at

Homes to be upgraded

Four homeowners in Wickett have the opportunity for their
home to be replaced through a grant from the Texas
Department of Housing and Community Affairs HOME Program.
Funds come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development. The program is available to low-income
home-owners, typically those on fixed incomes, who are at
least 62 years old.

Depending on need and eligibility, homeowners can receive up
to $45,000 to replace their existing or up to approximately
$20,000 to rehabilitate their home. "The grant awarded to
Wickett indicates that we are to reconstruct at least four
homes. . .," said City Secretary, LaNita Balko.

The money awarded to Wickett can only be used by homeowners
who currently occupy their homes within the city of Wickett,
said Balko. Families whose homes are in such condition that
rehabilitation would be too expensive to bring it into
compliance with Texas Minimum New and Rehabilitation
Construction Standards should apply as soon as possible, she
stressed. The financial assistance will be in the form of a
forgiveable loan. The homeowner will not be required to
repay the loan if he/she remains in the new home for at
least five years after construction completion.

Homeowners in Wickett interested in applying should contact
the City of Wickett, 101 W. Third in Wickett during office
hours to obtain an application.

"Applications will be accepted until all funds are
obligated," said Balko, noting that the sooner residents
apply, the better chance of receiving assistance. For more
information, call her at 943-6765 or the Grants
Administrator at 800-775-2633.

Oil price plunge sparks demonstration

More than 300 demonstrators marched through downtown Austin
to the state capitol Monday in an effort to call attention
to the plight of the oil field caused by the dropping price
of oil.

During the past year, the price of oil has plunged from a
high of $20 a barrel to the present low of $10, about the
price of producing a barrel of crude.

Not only are jobs in the oil fields affected, but schools,
cities and counties also experience a drop in tax revenues
as the value of the oil field land drops.

Marchers hoped to influence legislators to pass a bill that
would cancel severance tax whenever the price of oil falls
below $15. The tax currently stands at $4.60.

While most agree canceling the severance tax would be a
start, they realize the real solution lies somewhere in

March organizer, John Bell of Kermit, said the country's
reliance on foreign oil is doing the most damage.

"We are paying for defense of the Persian Gulf oil and I
think Persian Gulf oil ought to pay for its own defense," he

Bell has pledged more marches if the legislature hesitates
to act on oil field relief.

Chryslers move into Ford building

Motor City will open a sister dealership featuring
Chryslers, Plymouths, Dodges and Jeeps Feb. 1 in the old
Lobo Ford building. The business will offer parts, service
and sales.

"They will be the parts and service center for all of West
Texas including Fort Stockton, Peocs and Kermit, which
should bring many outside dollars to the Monahahs comunity
as well sales tax on over a million dollars per month," said
the dealership's owner, Hugh Williams.

The business will employ 20 people.

Service manager will be Jack Dillard, who brings over 20
years experience with Chrysler in the Permian Basin. Ray
Lopez, with 10 years experience, will be parts manager and
Don Kilpatrick will bring his 20 years experience to the
position of service advisor. Sales manager, Bobby
Neatherlin, also has 20 years experience.

"This business should be a boost to Monahans economy and
make it a parts and service hub in West Texas," said

The new dealership is also associated with Motor City USA at
the Permian Mall.

Area cities added to extended calling

After a two-year delay, on Feb. 2, residents of Monahans
will finally be able to call Kermit, Pecos, Fort Stockton
and Terminal without incurring long distance charges. These
cities were listed on the original ballot from Southwestern
Bell two years ago along with Odessa but were not accepted.
City manager David Mills and Main Street Association
Manager, Suzi Blair, blamed the rejection on ballot language.

"The way the ballot was worded, people were confused," said
Blair. "They apparently thought it might cost less to vote
only for Odessa." That was not the case. Any or all of the
cities increased the telephone bill the same - $3.50 for
residential use and $7.00 for businesses.

"We have finally corrected the mistake," said Blair. More
than 90% of those replying voted for each city on the new
ballot, which was completed in August.

The additional cities are scheduled to join the toll-free
grid February 2, however a PUC spokesman said it could be
that evening before the change is actually implemented. And
the cost will remain the same, stressed Blair.

The Terminal exchanges encompass the Midland International
Airport and several Odessa prefixes including Medical Center

Crane, Grandfalls and Imperial included Monahans in their
own ballots, thus giving Monahans residents toll-free access
to those communities also.

Off-peak power rates could be lower

TU Electric is asking approval for three optional
time-of-use rates for residential and business customers
that would allow users to take advantage of off-peak times
to get lower rates. This approval must come from the cities
exercising original jurisdiction over the rates.

Last year, the Public Utilities Commission gave interim
approval to the rates which lower prices for electricity
during periods of low demand. Since the PUC put them into
effect, about 200 customers have signed up in the 197 cities
governed by the PUC and in unincorporated areas.

"These time-of-use rates, which are purely voluntary, appeal
to a diverse group of customers," said TU Electric manager,
Kevin Slay. About 20 percent are churches and school
districts, he said. The remainder range from pipeline
companies and heavy manufacturers to a tanning parlor and
video rental chain.

The rate has four pricing periods that depend on both month
and time of day. Under the time-of-use rates, prices for
electricity vary from 1.09 cents per kilowatt-hour every day
in April, October and November, when demand is low, to 13.42
cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity used from 2 p.m. to
8 p.m. weekdays during the months of June, July and August.

Businesses are also eligible for a voluntary curtailable
rate and an aggregate billing option.

"TU Electric developed the rate structure after many hours
of consultations with customers who were looking for ways to
better manage their electric usage," Slay said. "Time-of-use
rates allow customers who can shift significant portions of
their electric loads away from the company's peak periods to
save money on their electric bills. By doing so, they allow
TU Electric to incur less costs in buying power to meet its
customers' peak demands, which saves money for all

"We are not increasing our rates," he emphasized. "If
approved, this will simply be a new option you, as a
customer, can go on."

The company is hopeful cities will approve the rates in time
for customers to sign up and make the necessary changes in
time to achieve peak load reductions this summer.

Box of rocks may be valuable

By Joe Warren
Potential meterorites, 200 million plus years old, were
found recently in the West Texas desert.

About one month ago a friend of the Samples family of
Monahans stumbled onto some peculiar looking rocks when out
looking for arrowheads in an unrestricted area.

He had no idea what he had found, but remembered that his
friend Carolyn Samples collects rocks. Because these rocks
were different than any he had seen before, he thought
Samples would like to have them.

He loaded all of the rocks into his truck and brought them
to her.

Samples said she just kept the rocks in her front room for
about two weeks and let the kids play with them.

"They were kinda different looking; they were heavier than
they looked like they should be," said Samples.

The friend of the family who actually found the rocks, later
brought it to the Samples attention that they may be
metorites. That is when Mrs. Samples started to do her

She called Monahans City Hall and was referred to The Museum
of the Southwest and then refered to the Director of the
facility's planetarium, Gene Hardy. Samples also contacted
the McDonald Observatory and was given a fact sheet on how
to identify a metorite.

Carolyn's husband, Norman, decided to take a trip to Midland
to visit with Hardy at the planeterium and show him the

After a visit with Hardy, it was decided that a sample about
the size of a golf ball should be sent to Johnson Space
Center NASA Planetetary Science Division for evaluation and
possible confirmation.

Hardy said that right now they are calling the rocks
"potential meteorites" and that they have "definite magnetic

The Samples plan to auction off the rocks as soon as the
confirmation from NASA comes back.

Hardy told Samples he believes the rocks could be core
material worth a very large sum of money.

The Samples have rented a safety deposit box to store the
rocks, rather than keep something that valuable around the

"The report from NASA should take four to six weeks to get
back, so we are crossing our fingers till then," said

Railroad Commission backs oil tax break

The Texas Railroad Commission is seeking emergency relief
for Texas oil and gas producers who are reeling from the
precipitous decline in domestic oil prices.

The action, which came in the form of a motion adopted
unanimously Tuesday by the three-member panel, includes
drafting proposed legislation for consideration by the Texas
Legislature to suspend severance tax payments when the price
for oil and gas drops below $15 per barrel of oil or $1.50
per Mcf of natural gas as determined by the Comptroller of
Public Accounts.

In addition, the Commission voted to suspend for six months
all new regulations relating to oil and gas exploration and
production, except when necessary to ease the regulatory
burden or when it may be needed to protect the environment
or public safety.

"I am delighted that Commissioners Garza and Williams have
joined with me in this proposal," Commissioner Charles
Matthews said. "It is imperative that Texas have a vital oil
and gas industry to provide for our state's schools and our
children. A severance tax moratorium based on price achieves
meaningful relief."

Commissioner Tony Garza said "this is about survival," and
noted that severe losses of revenue, production, oil
reserves and jobs are hurting the industry. Texas oil
producers are being devastated by oil prices that are in
most cases substantially below the cost of finding and
producing crude.

"Today, with the price per barrel where it is, there is
simply no way the domestic energy industry, in particular
the independents in our state, can stay competitive with
foreign oil," Garza said. "I am committed to helping reduce
the impact of this crisis, particularly on our small,
independent producers. These efforts are just the first step
in the right direction."

"Severance taxes may be the difference between pumping and
not pumping for some folks," said Commissioner Michael L.
Williams. "I urge the Legislature to join us in supporting
this proposal which helps to make certain that Texas
schools, jobs and paychecks aren't impacted by this downturn
in the oil industry. Severance tax relief means Texas
producers could get a fair crack at the global and domestic

In 1997, the Texas oil and gas industry pumped nearly $60
billion into the state economy. It contributed more than
$171 million to the Texas Permanent School Fund, $84 million
to the Texas Permanent University Fund and provided more
than 1.2 million direct and indirect jobs for Texas. Oil
and gas producing properties contributed over half a billion
dollars to Texas school districts in 1997. Ninety-five
school districts received more than half of their properties
tax revenue from oil and gas property in 1997. More than
two-thirds of all school districts in Texas received some
level of property tax revenue from oil and gas properties.

Currently, the severance tax on oil is 4.6 percent of value
received at the wellhead, and the severance tax on natural
gas is 7.5 percent of the wellhead value.

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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 1999 by Ward Newspapers Inc.