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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Thursday, October 2, 2003

Hospital board backs Vernor, clarifies rules

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., Oct. 2, 2003 -- Reeves County Hospital Board clarified the responsibilities of both the board, the hospital's chief executive officer and the hospital's staff on Tuesday, during an executive session to discuss personnel issues.

The meeting was designed to clarify the position that the board's job is to be the policy setting body for the hospital, while the CEO's job is to run the hospital, and the staff's job is to administer health care.

The reasoning was that there might be concern that there was "probably a conflict of understanding of how policy is set," hospital board president Linda Gholson said.

"The fact is that some policies have not been looked at in many years and the confusion arose over the hospital's need to decide what is best for the most efficient running of hospital operation," she said. "The board must set policy, even if a policy is outdated, changing it cannot bypass rule setting regulations."

After the executive session the board took action to state its position that the board hired and fully supports Robert Vernor as hospital CEO, and that hospital personnel issues must be handled according to hospital policy. They also said Vernor needs work to improve administration communication with hospital staff, maintain an open door policy, be encouraging and receptive to employee concerns and address the issues put forth in a staff letter of Sept. 10.

The board did not release a copy of the Sept. 10 letter, which apparently was critical of Vernor and resulted in Tuesday's executive session.

The position was adopted unanimously, on a motion from board member Elizer Flores and a second on the motion by board member Bill Wendt.

The board also requested that the joint conference committee, a board made up of representatives from all three branches of the hospital, meet monthly instead of quarterly to address any progress made in inter-hospital communication.

"The hospital board, administration and staff must all be focused on providing the best possible health care to the area that is possible," Gholson added.

Also on the Tuesday's agenda was the approval for the hospital to set up a non-profit organization through the Reeves County Hospital District. The organization will allow the hospital to administer the new foreign doctors it will be bringing in to staff the hospital's expanded facilities, include the new kidney dialysis unit.

Texas law requires that any doctor working on a J-1 visa must go through a non-profit organization to assure that all of the proper certifications are up to date and in order. A J-1 visa is the typical work visa for employment in the United States.

This organization will allow the hospital to simplify their hiring of the two new doctors. It would still be possible to have the doctors working at the hospital; only, they would have to be routed through a non-profit organization, the nearest being in Midland/Odessa. This move will simplify and even save the hospital a little money, by shortening the loop that the doctors will have to go through before beginning their practice.

Latest redistricting plan affects Ward County

From Staff and Wire Reports
Another proposal for redrawing West Texas congressional districts, this one proposed by State Sen. Robert Duncan, would again do little to affect District 23, which includes Reeves County and the Town of Pecos City. But the proposal would put Ward County and the city of Barstow into a new district that would include Midland and Odessa but neither Lubbock nor San Angelo.

The county and Midland-Odessa would be paired with Abilene in District 11, and would also include the cities of Fredericksburg, Kerrville and Bandera in the Texas Hill Country. Midland, Odessa and Ward County are currently part of District 19, which includes Lubbock and most of the South Plains and northern Permian Basin.

Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick has sought to create a new congressional district that would allow the Midland-Odessa area to have its own representative in Congress. In the special election held this past June, Lubbock businessman Randy Neugebauer defeated Midlander Michael Conaway in a runoff race to fill the vacant seat. Neugebauer replaced Larry Combest who announced his retirement shortly after winning re-election in November.

District 19, under the Duncan plan, would include Lubbock and San Angelo, and run as far east as Palo Pinto County, near Fort Worth. The northern Panhandle would be in District 13, which would also include the Wichita Falls area.

The only major change to District 23 would be a restoration of eastern Webb County, which was removed in the most-recently passed congressional redistricting bill. Webb County includes the city of Laredo, which would be reunited in District 23, while part of Bexar County in the San Antonio area would be removed from the district.

District 23 is represented by San Antonio Republican Henry Bonilla, while District 11 in its current form is represented by Austin Democrat Chet Edwards.

Conaway, who was vice president, secretary and treasurer of Bush Exploration for five years, and is a personal friend of President Bush, said he would run for the proposed Midland-based congressional district if Craddick wins his fight with Senate Republicans on how to draw West Texas.

Craddick has said he wants a Midland district that Conaway can win.

"I know Tom is way set to get it drawn the way he wants to or it goes down," Conaway, 54, said in Wednesday editions of the Houston Chronicle. "Tom's prepared to go either way: not have a bill at all or get it done the way he wants it done."

House and Senate conference committee negotiators have been fighting over how to draw West Texas districts.

Sue Brannon, the Midland County Republican chair, said she knows of no Republicans who would challenge Conaway in a primary if the new district is created.

Congress. Conaway, a certified public accountant, audited Bush's company for three years before joining it as vice president.

Conaway later was the senior vice president and chief financial officer of the United Bank of Midland, the institution that loaned Bush $500,000 to buy his share of the Texas Rangers baseball team. Conaway said he had no role in Bush getting that loan.

Conaway said Bush sparked his interest in getting into politics.

Prewit named head of Presidio checkpoint

PECOS, Thurs., Oct. 2, 2003 -- A former Pecos law enforcement officer has been named the port director for the Presidio port of entry by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency.

John Prewit was named port director last Friday, according to The (Presidio) International, and officials hope this will bring a little continuity to an office that has been somewhat of a revolving door over the years.

Prewit replaces interim port director Barry Miller, who on Friday was appointed director of the Fabens and Fort Hancock ports of entry.

Formerly a police officer and sheriff's deputy in Pecos, Prewit was first assigned to Presidio in 1993, and served as head of Immigration and Naturalization Service operations at the port before that agency was folded into the newly created Department of Homeland Security in March of this year.

Not too long ago, the Presidio port of entry had three different port directors, one each for Customs, Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. On March 1 of this year, however, these and other agencies were merged into the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, a division of the newly created Department of Homeland Security.

Officials praised Prewit's decade of experience in Presidio as a valuable asset as the port continues to wind its way through the reorganization.

Prewit's appointment came the same week that Mexico officially opened an improved highway between Ojinaga and Chihuahua City. The new road is better able to handle truck traffic, and is expected to increase traffic between Chihuahua and most sections of Texas. Truck traffic currently goes through the El Paso-Juarez area, while the new route would cut 150 miles off the trip between Chihuahua and the Permian Basin and other parts of the state.

New 432 area code will be mandatory starting Saturday

AUSTIN (AP) - Starting Saturday, people calling the 915, 432 and 325 area codes will have to use the specific code to get through to the regions as a grace period ends, the Public Utility said Wednesday.

The PUC last year approved dividing the 915 area code into three regions. The three-way split will prevent the need for additional area codes in the three regions for an estimated 17 to 20 years, the PUC said.

The 432 area code covers the Trans-Pecos and Permian Basin areas, while the 325 area code will cover the area around the Concho Valley. The El Paso area and Hudspeth County in Far West Texas will retain the 915 area code.


PECOS, Thurs., Oct. 2, 2003 -- High Wed. 82. Low this morning 59. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows near 60. South winds 10 to 15 mph. Fri.: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of thunderstorms. Highs 85 to 90. South winds 10 to 15 mph. Fri. night: Partly cloudy. A slight chance of thunderstorms in the evening. Lows in the mid 50s to near 60. South winds near 10 mph. Sat.: Partly cloudy. Highs near 80. NE winds 10 to 15 mph. Sat. night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the upper 50s.


Glenda Still

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