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1994: An OC crisis, national title for Mojo - Odessa American: 75th Anniversary

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1994: An OC crisis, national title for Mojo

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Posted: Friday, September 11, 2015 9:00 am

OC investments: Risky investments, which had paid off handsomely in previous years, caused a financial crisis at Odessa College. OC had generated revenue ranging from $1.5 million in 1991 to $4.3 million in 1993 by investing in derivatives, financial instruments that appreciated as long as interest rates declined. When they began rising in 1994, the school was left with a paper loss of $10 million. The school was forced to obtain a $6 million line of credit, slash $2 million from the budget (which included discontinuing three athletic programs), raise taxes and negotiate a bond deal.

Traffic fatalities: On June 19, less than three weeks after graduation, Odessa High School valedictorian Brandon Lemon, 18, died from injuries sustained in a car crash at the intersection of Highway 302 and FM 866. The driver of the other car, Juan Navarette, 30, of Jal, N.M., was charged with involuntary manslaughter. Another auto wreck that occurred four days later claimed the life of Daniel Sinclair, 17, a junior honor student at OHS. Sinclair was killed when his 1984 Mercury collided with a John Deere tractor driven by Arturo Martens.

Just two weeks later, the Odessa American’s assistant city editor, Dean Sueltenfuss, and 19-year-old Justin Ryan Lester of McCamey were killed when their vehicles collided on Texas Highway 305, 8 miles south of McCamey. Sueltenfuss had been returning to Odessa from South Texas after attending his brother’s wedding. Two McCamey residents, Christopher Wayne Smith, 21, and an unnamed 19-year-old were charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor in connection with the accident, since they had brought alcohol to a party attended by Lester prior to the fatal collision. The Texas Department of Public Safety reported Lester’s blood alcohol level at .09 following the accident. The legal intoxication level in Texas is .10. Both men were later cleared of wrongdoing.

Slow start: In the first season under new head coach Randy Mayes, the Permian Panthers lost three of their first five games, the worst beginning in 30 years, then won eight in a row— including a 31-16 win over the state’s top-ranked team, Abilene Cooper. The streak ended in the playoff semifinals with a 10-0 loss to eventual state champion Plano High.

Headlines:

  • The Permian boys gymnastics team wins the state and national high school titles, equaling the achievement of the school’s girls team two years earlier.
  • The major league baseball season ended Aug. 11 when players went on strike. The labor action was not resolved until the following April.
  • Amazon is founded.
  • The Dallas Cowboys beat the Bills 30-13 to win Super Bowl XXVIII.
  • Magic Johnson becomes head coach for the Lakers.
  • Kurt Cobain commits suicide.
  • Jose Maria Olazabal wins the Masters.
  • Former President Richard Nixon dies.
  • Michael Jackson marries Lisa Marie Presley.
  • The film “Forrest Gump” is released.
  • Nick Price wins the 76th PGA Championship.
  • Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer dies after being attacked in prison.
  • Rashaan Salaam wins Heisman.

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

Odessa, TX

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