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1974: Lots of snow and a local scandal - Odessa American: 75th Anniversary

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75 years of the Odessa American 1974: Lots of snow and a local scandal

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Posted: Sunday, August 23, 2015 6:00 am

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year marks 75 years of the Odessa American. Through the OA’s anniversary date of Oct. 2, we will count down the last 75 years, with a brief summary of some of the news and events that affected Odessans.

Hospital bonds approved: Despite signs of a national recession, Ector County voters approved a $20.4 million bond package to upgrade and refurbish Medical Center Hospital. The project would expand the hospital’s square footage from 192,500 to 327,950, and was scheduled for completion in the spring of 1977.

UTPB president: Bill Amstead, the first president of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, resigns after questions arise over the possible use of state funds to build a golf course on the campus. H. W. Hise, executive director of development, told University of Texas Regents that he challenged testimony Amstead had presented to the House Appropriations Committee regarding the issue. During a probe by the UT System officials in Odessa, and after faculty members cast a no-confidence vote against the UTPB president, Amstead abruptly resigned, but not before telling Hise his contract would be terminated at the end of the year. V. R. Cardozier, vice president of academic affairs, replaced Amstead.

Extreme weather: The worst snowstorm since 1949 hit the area on Jan. 24, blanketing Odessa with seven inches of snow. On June 14, a huge summer storm dumped four inches of rain on Odessa. Accompanying winds, gusting to 50 mph, caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage. The biggest casualty was the Montgomery Ward store at 42nd and Grandview. The combination of wind and rain caused a large section of the roof to collapse.

Stadium issue fails: In November, county residents narrowly defeated a $3.5 million bond issue to finance a new high school football stadium. Almost 11,000 people went to the polls, with the measure falling by just 128 votes, 5,560-5,432.

Oil show: In October, a record crowd of 402,723 attended the biannual Permian Basin Oil Show, held at Ector County Coliseum. The show featured 454 exhibits.


  • The Mesa Building and the gymnasium are built on the UT Permian Basin campus.
  • In the wake of the Arab oil embargo and concerns about conserving energy, the federal government lowers the speed limit on interstate highways to 55 mph.
  • The Wink girls volleyball team wins its second state championship in three years. Wink, which also won the title in 1972, lost in the finals in 1973.
  • A shortage of student housing at UTPB prompts Odessa developer Louis Rochester to propose tentative plans for a $100 million housing development near the university, but acute drainage problems stymied the project.
  • On July 30, the House Judiciary Committee approves three articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon: for blocking the investigation of the Watergate break-in, for abuse of presidential powers and for not complying with the committee’s subpoena for taped White House conversations.
  • On Aug. 8, Nixon becomes the only president to resign. He is replaced by Vice President Gerald Ford, who has the distinction of being the only president to serve without being elected. He had been appointed by Nixon when Spiro Agnew resigned in 1973 because of a corruption investigation.
  • The federal Freedom of Information Act is passed by Congress over the veto of President Ford.
  • On Feb. 5, Patricia Hearst, the daughter of newspaper publisher Randolph Hearst, is kidnapped from her apartment in Berkeley, Calif., launching a 17-month drama after which the victim is convicted of participating in a bank robbery with her captors.
  • The Dolphins win the Super Bowl VIII over the Vikings 24-7.
  • Author Stephen King scares us again with “Carrie.”
  • Archie Griffin wins the Heisman.

Information is drawn from news accounts, archives and other historical records.

Odessa, TX

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