Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Thursday, September 7, 2000
RCH board votes for delay in ER project
By LEIA HOLLAND
PECOS, September 7, 2000 - The Reeves County Hospital Board of Directors
voted by a 3-2 margin to postpone construction of a new emergency room
in a special meeting Wednesday.
The decision was made after a long discussion between the board, the
project's architects and a few members of the medical staff, who said the
money for the $1.1 million project could be better spent on trying to attract
new doctors to the facility.
Board members Leo Hung, Jesse Preito and Chel Flores voted to delay
the project, while board president Marcella Lovett and board member Holly
Key voted to continue with construction of a new building, which would
cost $500,000 more than the original ER renovation plan.
Representatives of Rees Associates Inc. were at the meeting and explained
to those in attendance why the original plan of renovating the current
ER had been upgraded to construction of a new building.
John Sousa, senior associate for Rees, said he and his company looked
into the renovation for about two months and found more problems than originally
"We started looking at the walls and found out every one of the walls
are load bearing walls," he said, meaning they could not be easily removed.
Sousa said all the renovations needed to be compliant with requirements
of the Texas Department of Health (TDH), and in order to fulfill those
regulations, problems with the transformers, generators and electrical
system would need to be fixed.
A sprinkler system would need to be placed throughout the hospital and
all the ER rooms would need to be bigger, he added.
Sousa said all these things were seen on a visual walk-through and did
not include any internal problems that could come up during renovation.
"Those costs, we realized, versus the cost of a new building were equal
to, if not higher than, constructing a new building," Sousa said.
After hearing about the possible additional costs, the board decided
it would be best to construct a separate building that would be connected
to the hospital by a corridor.
"The problems were greater if we tried to make the renovations work
that to just build a new building," Sousa said.
He said if the idea of renovation continued TDH would require that the
rest of the hospital be compliant to the requirements as well as the renovated
Sousa said by stating to TDH that the hospital wanted to build a new
separate ER they were able to get a waiver to only get the new addition
up to code.
"We bought the hospital some time," he said. "Now TDH won't come in
and shut down the hospital."
Sousa said the hospital will eventually have to come up to code but
by building the new ER separate from the existing building, TDH would allow
the hospital to work on upgrading the rest of the facility in the future.
Board member Leo Hung asked other members and Sousa if Rees was the
only company consulted about the renovations and asked if there has been
a second opinion.
"Isn't it a good idea to get a second opinion and wouldn't the original
construction company who built the hospital know what would be a problem,"
Board President Marcella Lovett explained to Hung that quite a few companies
were contacted and the only response was from Rees. She said nobody wants
to come out this far in West Texas.
Sousa explained to Hung and the board that the original contractor specialized
in building motels and said the layout of the hospital reflects that.
Hung also questioned Sousa on the increase in cost from the original
$600,000 to the current request of $1.1 million.
Sousa said the original cost was based on the walk through analysis
of what needed to be done to renovate the current square footage of the
He said the board and his company had meetings with the staff to ask
for what they would need or require in the construction.
"We were trying to incorporate all the ideas into the addition," Sousa
He added that after meeting with the staff to see what was needed, company
officials then designed a plan to meet TDH codes.
"The building got bigger because it was required," he said.
RCH physician Dr. James Cam said the staff was not asked if they wanted
the new addition. He said they were approached with the idea that it was
a done deal.
"Patient care would not improve with a new building," Cam said.
In a letter given to the board, Cam and four other members of the medical
staff stated, "Our concerns are based on the priority issues in improving
the quality of patient care in our hospital as well as the potential negative
financial impact with such a project, which could eventually threaten our
Dr. W. J. Bang, chief of staff, said he believes that the staff should
have been consulted more on whether or not to use money to build a new
ER. Bang and Drs. Orville Cerna, John C. Libbie and Joseph K. Daroplar
also signed the letter to the RCH board.
"We never had a well organized discussion about adding on the ER," Bang
said. "We need to divert those reserves to what is needed most."
Cam said the money spent on the new building could be more efficient
if used to attract new doctors and nurses to Pecos.
He explained that the Ward Memorial Hospital in Monahans is in a county
with a total of 13,000 people and has seven doctors and Reeves County has
a total population of 16,000-17,000 and the hospital only has four doctors.
"With that money I could buy a new radiologist for four years," Cam
Lovett said she was shocked to hear the complaints of the doctors.
"I thought we really were working well," she said.
Lovett explained to the board and medical staff that the administration
is continuing to address all the needs of the hospital and continues to
look for new doctors.
Sousa said the new ER would help recruit doctors to the hospital, because
they see that improvements are being made.
Cam said the condition of the hospital is not what stops new physicians
from coming here.
"The town is too isolated. It's not because we don't have a nice hospital,"
Cam also showed concern on using so much money when it is not certain
that the hospital would have enough money in the future to stay open.
"This is not a prospering town, we might not have the money five years
down the road," he said.
Lovett explained that all the money for the new addition has already
been earmarked from funds received from the state's tobacco settlement.
"It will not hurt the hospital financially in any way," she said.
Lovett also said no tax dollars would be used for the addition.
She added that the next step is to place the new ER project back on
the agenda for a future meeting and continue discussions with the RCH board
Air Force hosting third tour, bomber program
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, September 7, 2000 - A group of Pecos area residents will be traveling
to Abilene on Friday, to participate in a third tour of Dyess Air Force
Base and the planned Realistic Bomber Training Initiative over Reeves and
"We want them to understand our mission and what we're talking about,"
said Lt. Wes Ticer. "We want to show them how we do our mission," he said.
A group of about 20 people, 10 each from Reeves County and the city
of Pecos, will board a van at the Reeves County Civic Center early Friday
morning and depart to the base, located 240 miles east of Pecos.
This is the third tour of Dyess the Air Force has offered this year,
with the first two coming in March and April, after the RTBI route circling
Pecos was selected.
B-1 bombers from Dyess AFB and B-52 bombers from Barksdale AFB in Louisiana
will fly simulated runs along a path across the South Plains, and then
in a loop around Reeves County, at levels as low as 500 feet off the ground,
according to Air Force officials.
Electronic scoring sites will be set up along the route, with one manned
site planned in the Verhalen area. The site would employ 31 people and
bring about $1.6 million annually into Reeves County, Ticer said earlier
The route was selected to cut flight times for the bombers, which now
travel as far north as Montana for their training runs. Workers currently
stationed in Colorado Springs, Colo., are scheduled to be transferred to
the new scoring site south of Pecos under the Air Force's RTBI proposal.
The low-level flights have drawn opposition from area farmers and ranchers,
and still face challenges in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. Ranchers
and environmentalists from nine western states filed suit earlier this
year to block the low level training flights conducted by the Air Force
across the West.
Friday's tour is designed to allow area residents to find out more about
the project. Residents in the Snyder area, where a manned scoring site
for the bombers' higher-level runs will be built, have been given similar
tours of the base.
Friday's tour group will receive a Wing Mission Briefing when they first
arrive, to let them know what they do and how they do it, according to
"We'll be taking them into the B-1 Simulator and they will be seeing
a weapons demonstration," said Ticer.
The group will also watch the load crews, load up, see the jet repair
center and go inside a real B-1, according to Ticer. "They will get a briefing
from the pilot, a familiarization tour," he said.
"This is so that they will know exactly what we do and see it first
hand," said Ticer. "They can then answer questions other community members
"They'll know what it's all about and possibly squelch rumors about
the Air Force and their mission," said Ticer.
The group will leave at 7 a.m. and be back in Pecos by 8 p.m.
Zoo officials hope pupfishcan be saved
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, September 7, 2000 - Salt cedars are a problem on the Pecos River.
So is the Pecos River pupfish _ or rather, the threatened status of the
pupfish is the problem, because it could affect water usage by farmers
along the river in Texas.
But local, state and federal agriculture officials and curators with
the Fort Worth Zoo think both problems can be solved at the same time,
as part of the salt cedar eradication effort, which began last year on
the Pecos River.
The second phase of spraying the herbicide Arsenal along the river began
on Wednesday and was expected to continue through the end of the week,
according to Barney Lee, district conservationist for the Natural Resources
"We're probably going to do about 30 miles between today and Friday,"
said Lee, just before the helicopter spraying operation shut down for the
The first phase of spraying in September of 1999 covered the area from
Red Bluff Dam to the State Highway 302 crossing near Mentone. This phase
began at the Highway 302 bridge and is working its way south.
"We're trying to get to the Interstate (I-20) bridge," said Lee. "We're
going to skip a spot between Barstow Dam and Sullivan Bridge (FM 3398),
and we're going to put some test plots in from Sullivan Bridge to the Interstate
The herbicide is absorbed by the trees and will stop them from producing
new leaves next spring. The results of the second phase of spraying will
be easier for Pecos residents to see, since it will cross Business I-20
on the eastern edge of town.
Officials eventually hope to spray the entire length of the Pecos River,
focusing for now on the section between Red Bluff Lake south to the Imperial-Girvin
area of eastern Pecos County, where the most water use for agriculture
The salt cedar trees are non-native to West Texas, and were planted
as a way to prevent soil erosion in the early 1900s. But the thirsty trees
are believed to remove as much as 50 percent of the water from the Pecos
River, cutting down on its availability for agriculture use.
They also take water that can be used by the Pecos River pupfish, which
is another source of concern to farmers in the area. The U.S. government
has threatened to move the fish up from threatened to endangered status,
which could result in federal regulation of water releases along the river.
The fish's habitat in the river has been taken over by the Sheepshead
Minnow, another non-native to West Texas. It has pushed the Pecos River
pupfish's habitat back into tributaries that feed into the river near the
Texas-New Mexico state line. Salt cedar trees also overrun that area, which
is where the Fort Worth Zoo comes in.
Stacey Johnson, curator of the Zoo's Texas Wild! exhibit, and Armin
L. Karbach, Jr., aquarium curator for the Fort Worth Zoo, joined others
on top of a bluff along the Pecos River on Wednesday to watch the first
day's spraying efforts. The two were working species in cooperation with
the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife on a project to help protect
the state's endangered when they were connected with those involved in
the salt cedar project.
"We didn't know of this aspect until a month ago," Johnson said. "We're
working with Gary Garrett (TP&W Fisheries Research Biologist) to see
if (the pupfish) can be unlisted by getting rid of the water-sucking tree."
Garrett, who was involved with the 1998 effort to eliminate the Sheepshead
Minnow from Balmorhea Lake, connected up Johnson and Karbach with Lee,
who helped get approval for Arsenal spraying last year. The Fort Worth
Zoo then joined with Lee and the others involved, which include the Upper
Pecos Soil and Water Conservation District, the U. S. Department of Agriculture,
the Red Bluff Water Power Control District, American Cyanamid, local farmers
and ranchers, the Texas A&M Extension Service and about a dozen other
agencies and water districts.
The spraying has involved just the areas along the Pecos River, while
Johnson and Karbach are focusing their efforts on Salt Creek, which flows
into the Pecos River just south of Red Bluff Dam. The creek feeds into
Screwbean Draw west of the dam, and was identified three years ago as the
last known habitat in Texas for the Pecos River pupfish.
"Apparently there is a spring there that seeps out and forms a cinega
(wetland), which is a perfect habitat for the pupfish. But the salt cedar
takes over and takes up the habitat," Karbach said.
Johnson said Pecos River pupfish were collected in early June for the
West Texas section of the Texas Wild! exhibit, and as part of the preservation
"Back then, the stream just meandered into a grove of salt cedars and
disappeared. It turned into a mud puddle, and there were a lot of dead
fish out there," he said. The ongoing drought has added to the problem,
since the last significant rainfall in the Red Bluff area was in July of
Johnson and Karbach hope to use the Arsenal spraying to kill off the
salt cedars along Salt Creek and Screwbean Draw and increase the water
flow. Then they would try to introduce the pupfish hatched at the Fort
Worth Zoo back into the habitat.
"There is a special area of the aquarium where we'll be pulling eggs
and trying to hatch them," Karbach said. "Hopefully, with the salt cedar
eradication we'll have enough water to reintroduce them.
"Not only are we working to conserve the gene pools, but we're conserving
the habitats," he added.
Johnson said the work he and Karbach are involved with "is part of the
`next generation' zoos, where you work with animals out in the field as
much as in the zoos. The momentum is already there with this program; we're
just joining in. Instead of being a prophet in the wilderness, we're just
filling in the gaps."
"A lot of times, the conversationalists and the agriculture people find
themselves at odds," said Karbach. "It's nice to be in a situation like
this where we'll all standing up here and congratulating each other on
the same project."
Galindo fundraiser scheduled Friday
PECOS, September 7, 2000 - A fundraiser is being planned for a long-time
Pecos resident who has helped others in their time of need.
A brisket plate sale will be held beginning at 11 a.m., Friday, at Saragosa
Hall, corner of Sixth and Peach Streets, to benefit Manuel Galindo.
Plates will be $4 and deliveries will be made. To order call 445-5225.
The proceeds of the fundraiser will go towards medical expenses for
Galindo, who has been a Town of Pecos City employee for many years and
has also served the Pecos community as a radio announcer, an umpire and
official for the Pecos Little League and as a long-time member of the Pecos
All donations are greatly appreciated.
PECOS, September 7, 2000 - High Wednesday 109. Low this morning 69. Forecast
for tonight: Mostly clear. Low in the mid 60s. East wind 5-10 mph. Friday:
Partly cloudy. High in the lower to mid 90s. East wind 10-15 mph. Friday
night: Mostly clear. Low in the mid 60s. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Low in
the lower to mid 60s. High in the 90s.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 2000 by Pecos Enterprise