Colored Rock Map of Texas at I-20 in Pecos, Click for Travel Guide

Pecos Enterprise


Pecos Country History
Archive 62
Archive 74
Archive 87
1987 Tornado Photos
Rodeo Photos 88
Archive 95
Archive 96
Archive 97
News Photos 1997
Rodeo Photos 97
Archive 98
News Photos 1998
Rodeo Photos 98
Parade Photos 98
Archive 99
Photos 99
Archive 2000
Photos 2000

Area Newspapers


Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Thursday, September 7, 2000

RCH board votes for delay in ER project

Staff Writer

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 planned.

"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 space.

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," Hung said.

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 ER.

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 said.

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 hospital's future."

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 said.

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," he said.

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 and staff.

Air Force hosting third tour, bomber program

Staff Writer

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 surrounding counties.

"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 this year.

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 Ticer.

"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 might have."

"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 

Staff Writer

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 Conservation Service.

"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 day.

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 bridge."

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 occurs

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 effort.

"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 1999.

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 Evening Optimist.

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.

Search Entire Site:

Pecos Enterprise
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

Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.

Copyright 2000 by Pecos Enterprise