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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Thursday, September 5, 2002

Hospital ends management deal, seeks to keep Vernor

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., Sept. 5, 2002 -- The Reeves County Hospital Board of Directors voted in a special  meeting Wednesday evening not to renew an agreement with the hospital's  management contractor Richard Murphy, and to buy it out before the contract expires next year.

The board voted 3-2 against renewing the CRM Management Contract between the hospital and Management Contractor, Richard Murphy during the special 6 p.m. meeting in the hospital's classroom. They then voted to buy out the contract, effective Sept. 15.

The contract, which expires after January 15, 2003, provides the board with Administrator, Robert Vernor through the services of Murphy. However, the board is hopeful of retaining Vernor's services at a meeting scheduled for next Wednesday.

The current contract states that the board has four possible ways of extending the agreement. One of its options is for the board not to take any action on the contract, which would then automatically be extended after January 15, 2003.

The second option the board has is to discuss the contract and then choose to formally extend the agreement, while the third option is to discuss the contract and decide not to extend it at all.

The final option, eventually chosen by the board, is to discuss the contract, decide not to renew it and then buy out the existing contract.

In buying out the contract the board will have to pay Murphy 30 percent of Robert Vernor's annual salary.

Board member Leo Hung spoke up first saying that he would not like to extend the contract with Murphy.

"I think we should not extend the contract," Hung said. "We need more loyalty. A relationship is important to me. That and trust."

Right now the contract states that though Vernor is not an employee of the hospital, the board can evaluate him and decide if and how much of a salary increase he is given.

However, under the same contract the board is not able to fire Vernor if it is unhappy with his performance. If the board wanted to fire Vernor at some point in time, it would then have to go to Murphy with the request.

At that point Murphy would fire Vernor and then help the board find some one to replace him.

Hung said that the next CEO should have to put in 100 percent of his efforts towards Reeves County residents and not to some one else.

Board member Bill Wendt said he felt that both Murphy and Vernor have done an excellent job.

Wendt felt that if the contract with Murphy would not be extended, Vernor then would not have the constant resources available through Murphy.

"Mr. Vernor could go ahead and call on him (Murphy)," Wendt said.

However, Hung disagreed with Wendt.

"Mr. Vernor is very resourceful," Hung stated.

Under the contract, any question about the renewal of the contract must be addressed to Murphy. It also states that the board is not able to ask the opinion of Vernor.

During the discussion, board members wondered whether or not Vernor would stay on with the hospital without the contract between the hospital and Murphy.

"I would be interested to know if he (Vernor) would stay," board member Chel Flores said.

President Linda Gholson added that the board would have the opportunity to go back to Murphy on a consultant bases if it decided to do away with the contract.

During the consultant bases, the board would work with Murphy in finding a new administrator.

Wendt stated that he felt everything was going well and there was no point in fixing something that is already working.

"If something is working don't fix it," Wendt said.

Board member Hugh Box said that he agreed with both Hung and Wendt.

"I agree with Bill," Box said. "We know where we have been, where we are now and were we want to be. I don't want to rock the boat."

Box added that he believed that the board should let the contract run another term.

Gholson added that whatever decision the board made over the contract, the expansion of the hospital would continue.

"The expansion is going to go on," Gholson said. "HGA is working on it."

Though Vernor could not comment on his position at the hospital Hung said, "We give him evaluations and there are no changes. There is no reason why he would want to quit."

Murphy at this point added to the meeting that his position is still the same.

"My position is still the same as the last time," Murphy said. "I look at it as a business issue."

He added that he has set aside all relationships in this issue. Murphy also said that he has been in plenty of board meetings to know that when things are running smoothly a conversation is of this sort is discussed.

"We all know that there was turmoil within the system several years ago," Murphy said. "Covenant (Medical Center in Lubbock) knew that they were not going to renew the contract. I was just to come down here for 90 days and then leave. We came to a business agreement and that is why we are here now."

Murphy finished by saying that he would be satisfied with whatever the board decided and that of course there would always be some regrets when any contract is not renewed.

"Robert's and my friendship will continue," Murphy said. "I do not have another facility to put Robert in and he knows that."

Hung added that he was concerned about the management company because he felt that the board did not know what the firm was doing outside the hospital and because of the independence and loyalty issues.

"There is nothing that they can not tell us," Hung said.

Gholson stated that the board knows what has worked, though it does not know if things would be better or worse after the termination of the contract.

"What I am hearing is that we don't have faith in either way we go," Gholson said. "There are a lot of unknowns."

Chief of Staff, Dr. W.J. Bang made a point to say that in hiring a new administrator would become a negative factor.

"It take time for new people to understand the hospital," Bang said. "We had a lot of ups and downs. Mr. Murphy and Mr. Vernor took care of a lot of problems quickly because of their knowledge and experience."

Bang went on to ask the board if the contract is ended to do it with minimal change and maintain a smooth transition, because of the limitations of such a small hospital.

"It is difficult to find a high quality people without paying a high price," Bang said. "We have been lucky."

Gholson reminded the board that they still had a little bit of time to come to a decision before the 90-day notice.

"We the board set policies for the CEO, but the CEO is not our employee," Gholson said. "It is questionable the way we have handled some things."

Gholson hoped to find a better or different way to set a contract up between the board and Murphy.

Box said that any decision the board came to would be a gamble and that some people would be upset while others would happy on the decision. He believed that the board should have control over the CEO and CFO, but agreed with Bang that the board would have to be careful with what was decided.

Bang went on to say that the board should look at how the hospital is doing now, and study the data provided by the hospital and by talking to people before taking any action.

"If they are not doing their job then that is the one thing you can go by," Bang said.

Not having any experience in looking for a CEO, Gholson said that the board could learn from the experience or it could be a nightmare.

Flores said that any decision the board came to it would have to be the best for the hospital district and keeping in mind the surrounding area, while Box told the board that he had no problem terminating the contract if Vernor would stay on because he knows what they have done.

However, Box ended up voting with Went for extending the agreement with Murphy, while Gholson, Flores and Hung voted against the extended contract.

The board went on to vote on buying out the contract as of September 15, 2002 with Box making the motion and Wendt seconding it.

Thought the board was not allowed to offer the job to Vernor, the members were allowed to ask him if he would be interested in applying for the job.

"I would be interested in applying for the position," Vernor said.

A meeting is set for next Wednesday, September 11, at 6 p.m. to discuss the position.

West side drug raid results in cocaine, weapons arrest

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., Sept. 5, 2002 -- A narcotics search warrant landed a Pecos man in jail Wednesday,  on separate drug and firearm charges.

Officers from the Pecos Police Department, Reeves County Sheriff's Department and the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force executed a narcotics search warrant at the home of Glen Cameron, 2118 W. Third Street, Apartment #26.

Once the SWAT Team had secured the apartment officers proceeded to search the premises.

"During the search of the apartment officers located a substance believed to be cocaine," said Pecos Police Department Investigator Paul Deishler.

Officers also located inside a substance believed to be marijuana, paraphernalia commonly used in the packaging of cocaine and one shotgun and shotgun shells.

"While searching Cameron's vehicle officers found inside the vehicle a substance believed to be cocaine," said Deishler.

Officers completed their search and Cameron, 48, was transported to the Criminal Justice Center.

Cameron was charged with the offenses of possession of a controlled substance (cocaine), possession of a controlled substance (marijuana), possession of drug paraphernalia and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.

Cameron is currently awaiting arraignment at the Criminal Justice Center, according to Deishler.

Grand jury to decide pedestrian fatality case

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., Sept. 5, 2002 -- An investigation is continuing in the death of a Pecos man who  was struck and killed by a vehicle late Saturday evening near the intersection  of Interstate 20 and U.S. 285, and officials said a grand jury would  decide whether or not any charges should be filed.

Autopsy results are not yet in on Hal Pratt Sr., 61, who was struck and killed while crossing South Cedar Street just before midnight last Saturday, according to Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney

"What the department will do is investigate the accident and submit it to the district attorney and then he will probably present it to the grand jury," said McKinney.

Pratt was pronounced dead at the scene by Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Lamberto Herrera at 12:10 a.m., after he was struck by a pickup truck traveling southbound on U.S. 285. The accident occurred at about 11:15 p.m., Saturday and police and ambulances responded immediately to the 9-1-1 call placed by the driver of the 2001 Ford pickup, who police identified as Mark Gomez, 18, of Pecos.

According to the initial report from police, Pratt, who had been arrested often in the past on public intoxication charges, was struck by Gomez' pick as it was southbound on 285 on the East lane.

"Hal was walking on the east side of the lane and headed to the west side of roadway diagonally on turning lane," said Pecos Police Officer Melissa Roberts, who investigated the accident.

The driver started to swerve to the left and Pratt jumped back to the left on east side. "He (the driver) swerved to the right and that's when he struck him," said Roberts.

Pratt was hit near the entrance to the Quality Inn on U.S. 285, and the force of the impact caused his body to land about 60 feet north, near the entrance to Jim and I's Exxon on U.S. 285. Law enforcement personnel closed off U.S. 285 between I-20 and Lincoln Street to through traffic for about two hours, while the accident was being investigated.

At the time of the accident, Roberts said that no charges had been filed against the driver and that it would be ruled as an accident. That final decision, McKinney said, will be up to the grand jury after it is given all of the information, including the autopsy report on Pratt.

Pratt reportedly had not been drinking during the day on Saturday, but it his condition at the time of the accident is unknown, pending the report from the medical examiner.

"The grand jury is a group of citizens who will hear the case and decide if it needs to proceed," said McKinney. "They will decide what course of action to take from there."

"I've talked it over with Lt. Davis and we feel it will be in the best interest of everyone involved," said McKinney.

Services for Pratt were at 11 a.m. today at Santa Rosa Catholic Church.

Restitution deal reached in Ward irrigation district theft

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., Sept. 5, 2002 -- A former employee of the Ward County Irrigation District No. 1  in Barstow, who was arrested on theft charges late last year,  received additional probation and restitution charges were added following a  court hearing last Thursday.

Marlene Briceno Roman, 33, was arrested for Motion to Adjudicate and had been held in the Reeves County Jail. Roman was transferred to the Ward County Jail in Monahans and bond was set at $50,000.

She was arrested in December 2001, two months after an investigation was begun by local law enforcement officials into the theft of funds from the irrigation district, which serves the Barstow area. The Ward County Grand Jury indicted Roman on a charge of theft of more than $20,000 and less than $100,000.

A term of two years was added to Briceno's probation period, which will now expire on April 18, 2012.

Her minimum monthly restitution payment will be $235 beginning on the first day of the month following the month in which the order was signed. The order was signed last Thursday, Aug. 29, and went into effect on Sunday, Sept. 1.

According to the indictment, Roman used her position as Office Manager for Ward County Irrigation District #1 to embezzle money from the district.

Roman was fired from her position as WCID #1 secretary in October, and Ward County sheriff's deputy Ben Deishler called in the Texas Rangers to assist them in the investigation.

Dieshler said in late October that the investigation began after a complaint was filed, and deputies met with Texas Ranger Gerry Villalobos of Fort Stockton. The water district's board of directors requested an investigation into several irregularities at the water district office, according to Dieshler.

Ward County Irrigation District No. 1 is one of seven sub-districts to the Red Bluff Water Power Control District, which regulates water releases from the Pecos River to farmers between Red Bluff Dam and the Girvin area in northeastern Pecos County. Red Bluff board members assign water allotments each year to the seven districts, and the boards of those districts in turn allot water to the farmers in their areas. Because of the ongoing drought, the district had no water to allocate for the 2002 growing season.

Eagles tickets for home games remain on sale

PECOS, Thurs., Sept. 5, 2002 -- Season ticket sales for the Pecos Eagle home football games are on sale now, though the number of home games this year is still to be determined.

The Eagles are scheduled to have five home games, and tickets are on sale for new season ticket buyers at the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Business Office, 1302 S. Park St.

Season tickets are $25 each and can be purchased up until the Eagles' first regular sesason home game, on Sept. 13 against Lamesa.

However, Pecos' Oct. 18 game against Presidio may not be played. Those who have purchased tickets for that game will have until the end of the regular season in November to get their money back on that game, if it is not played. District officials are awaiting a ruling from the University Interscholastic League.

Pecos' other home games are Sept. 20 against Brownfield (homecoming), Oct. 4 against Lubbock High and Nov. 1 versus Fort Stockton. Starting times for all the games is 7:30 p.m.


PECOS, Thurs., Sept. 5, 2002 -- High Wednesday 94. Low this morning 70. Forecast for tonight:   Partly cloudy. Lows 70 to 75. East winds 5 to 15 mph. Friday:   Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 90s. East winds 5 to 15 mph. Friday night:   Partly cloudy. Lows around 70. Saturday:  Partly cloudy. Highs in  the mid 90s. Sunday:  Partly cloudy. Lows around 70. Highs 90 to 95.


Marriages for June 2002, as filed with the Reeves County Clerk's Office.

Dulces Nombres Guerrero and Marisa Dominguez Pando.

Jose Angel Gonzalez and Rebecca Ramirez.

Alberto Samaguey and Brenda P. Rodriguez.

Warren Martin Keck, Jr. and Leslie Kay Tollett

Charlie Brian Anderman and Vandy Lee Clark.

Marriages for July 2002, as filed with the Reeves County Clerk's Office.

David Garcia Salcido and Monica Rayos.

Leonel Ramirez and Araseli R. Molina.

Carlos Bueno, Jr. and Alma Lee Myers.

Edward Briceno and Nidia Lopez Beltran.

Jeffery Shay Martinez and Valerie Shaye Lara.

Ismael Hinojos Alvarado and Naomi Franco.

Higinio Porras Serrano and Criselda Samaguey.

Armando Luis Vera and Monica Rodriguez Carrasco.

Ricky Craig Furlong and Jamie Ann Bramblett.

Luis Ernesto Valeriano, Jr. and Elizabeth Holguin.


Divorces for June 2002, as filed with the Reeves County District Clerk's Office.

Alan Morgan and Lana Morgan.

Divorces for July 2002, as filed with the Reeves County District Clerk's Office.

Steven Raye Brookshire and Wilma C. Brookshire.


Teodoro Fuentes, David, Holguin and Miguel Ortega

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Pecos Enterprise
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