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March 20, 1997

Doctors fear hospital clash will hurt care

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By Jerome P. Curry
of the News

MONAHANS, Mar. 20, 1997 - Dr. Nikola Gajic fears the clash between Ward
Memorial Hospital and physicians eventually could damage medical care in
Ward County.
The reason, says Gajic, former director of the hospital-controlled
Sandhills Family Clinic, is doctors may be reluctant to come to a
community where such conflicts exist. He says this occurred in the past
at Pecos when similar conflicts erupted. Gajic made the comments in an
interview on Wednesday, March 19, at the offices of the Monahans News.
From Gajic: "This is a very poor way to resolve this when the hospital
sues the doctor. It is going to hurt the taxpayer of Ward County."
William F. O'Brien, Ward Memorial administrator, says he doubts Gajic
is correct and that he foresees no future problems with recruiting
physicians to become contract doctors with the hospital.
Gajic cited the breach of contract suits filed last week by Ward
Memorial against Drs. Phillip F. Jackson and Joel L. Adams as one
example of what he termed "unfortunate" conflict between doctors and
administrators. Those suits in 143rd District Court at Monahans seek
more than $200,000 from Jackson and Adams for alleged breach of
contract. An attorney for Jackson has noted in a letter to the Ward
County Commission that Jackson will counter in court and allege problems
with billing for Jackson, billing that under the contract was to have
been done by Ward Memorial staff members.
Gajic says suing doctors is an extreme measure that can only make other
physicians reluctant to locate in Ward County.
Responds Administrator O'Brien: "I don't think it's going to happen. I
don't think that's true . . .You sign a contract. We sign a contract. We
comply with that contract. We expect you to comply. . .I must take
action to get the county's money back, to be a steward of the taxpayer's
money." Under all of the contracts between Ward Memorial and a contract
physician, one of the county's obligations is to help pay for the
establishment of the practice, O'Brien notes. This was done.
Gajic, saying he was speaking only for himself, noted that in his
individual case.
1. He did not renew his contract as director of the Sandhills Family
Medical Clinic because of differences over remuneration between him and
hospital administrators. That was about two weeks ago. Now Gajic, a
family medicine practitioner, has opened new offices at 409 South Allen
Street in Monahans. Gajic plans to make his home and practice in
Monahans in the years ahead.
Comments O'Brien: "We support him totally in his desire and plan to
practice medicine in Monahans. We support him in doing that. The
contract was not renewed because of economic differences."
Gajic and O'Brien say a Monahans surgeon has taken over patients Gajic
had served at the hospital's clinic. O'Brien says he seeks a family
medicine practitioner as a full time director and the surgeon serves
only in the interim.
2. Since moving his practice, Gajic reports Ward Memorial administrators
refused to transfer patient records to his new office unless each
individual patient writes and requests his or her records transferred to
Gajic's new office.
The physician says he estimates about 65 percent of his billings in the
past year were not collected. Some of those probably were not paid but
many were not billed. Gajic says he has talked with one of his patients
who asked when the doctor was going to bill him for treatment.
But that's not all.
"They're even holding my sign hostage," chuckled Gajic.
The sign to which he refers is the one that has his name on it and which
was on display at Sandhills Family Clinic.
"Of course we kept it," says O'Brien. "We paid for it. We plan to take
his name off."
O'Brien says the hospital feels the records of patients treated by Gajic
are clinic records - not those of Gajic.
"When the patients who wish to continue being treated by Gajic write us
and ask for their records, we will forward them to Dr. Gajic," O'Brien

Victim's family pleads: help keep killer in prison

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MONAHANS, Mar. 20, 1997 - Stephen Ray Williams, who shot and killed Anna
Elaine Ornelas on Aug. 10, 1991, is on course to skirt a tough Texas
statute that requires violent criminals to serve at least half the
sentence imposed on them.
The reason:
Williams did his killing and pleaded guilty before the law was enacted.
That is why Williams is eligible for parole next year and why the family
of Elaine Ornelas has started now to protest his release from prison.
Lonora Hunt, the sister of the murdered girl, says she is afraid both
for her family and the community if Williams is paroled from prison
after serving only a quarter of his sentence - a sentence she and her
family believe itself was not adequate punishment for the brutal murder
of their loved one.
Says Hunt: "When Williams has served five years, my sister will have
been dead for seven."
She notes she has been told the state's Victim Assistance Agency in
Austin will start their review of the potential parole about six months
before the scheduled parole hearing date in 1998.
This is why she and her family have only until October, she says, to
prepare the petitions and letters from the community in an attempt to
stop the state from freeing Williams.
And she notes granting Williams a parole would add further insult to the
pain she and family felt when the prosecutor in the case allowed
Williams to plead guilty April 7, 1993 to murder in exchange for a 20
year sentence.
After the plea bargain was announced, Elaine's mother, Ada, then and now
a resident of Monahans, wept and said:
"I feel that what Stephen Ray Williams did to my daughter, he deserves
more time in prison."
According to court documents, investigators and members of the Ornelas
family, this is what Williams did to Anna Elaine Ornelas.
Williams shot her three times in the back of the head with a .22-caliber
He had caught her in front of a convenience store at Loop 250 and
Midkiff road about 11 p.m. on Saturday, August 10, 1991,
They had been boy friend and girl friend and had been classmates at
Monahans High School. He was attending college in Midland when the
killing occurred.
The two had broken up about three weeks before the execution style
A physician for the prosecution had testified Williams suffered from a
mood disorder consistent with habitual use of steroids. The physician
said heavy steroid use meant Williams could not control himself.
Researchers have determined consistent use of steroids to emphasize
muscle definition results in mood disorders, testicular atrophy and
other physical and/or mental abnormalities.
It was reported Williams refused to look at the family of his victim in
the Midland court room when he pleaded guilty to the killing.
Says Lonora Hunt:
"People of Ward County, we need your help in writing protest letters to
the parole board to keep Stephen Ray Williams in jail where he belongs."
And she said again:'"My sister will have been dead seven years when her
killer is eligible for parole."
Lonora Hunt once more:
"I am so angry at the thought that Stephen might only serve five years
of his 20 year sentence. Where is the justice? I can only ask that we
come together to keep my sister's murderer in prison."

Sister asks citizens to send protest letters

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Letters protesting the release from prison of the man who shot and
killed Anna Elaine Ornelas can be sent to Friends of Justice, PO Box
743, Monahans TX, reports the murdered woman's sister, Lonora Hunt.
The man who pleaded guilty to the murder, Stephen Ray Williams, is
scheduled for a parole hearing next year - April 7, 1998.
Hunt says she has been told she must gather protests by October if she
hopes to stop Williams' parole.
Williams pleaded guilty to the shooting death of Ornelas. He was
sentenced to 20 years in prison by 142nd District Judge George Gilles in
Midland on April 7, 1993. Both Ornelas and Williams are from Monahans.
The killing was in Midland.
Hunt says those who write protesting the release of Williams also may
request copies of a petition to distribute protesting the possible
parole. Protests should refer to the case of Stephen Ray Williams (State
ID #050087788 and TDCJ ID #00651811)

Another Patterson rig has trouble

Flames chase crew off derrick

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PYOTE, Mar. 20, 1997 - Boots & Coots, the legendary oil and gas field
firefighting team headquartered in Houston, controlled a well fire
within hours after arriving at the site on Saturday afternoon, reports
Jerry Heflin, chief sheriff's deputy in Ward County.
Heflin says the fire started at 4:47 a.m. on Saturday, March 15, when
the drill hit a natural gas pocket "and blew out."
No injuries were reported. Heflin says the rig crew evacuated in a
matter of seconds.
The rig was Patterson Drilling Co. Rig No. 7. It was two miles North of
Pyote just off Highway 115.
It was the second Patterson rig that had run into trouble in about two
weeks. On Tuesday, March 4, at 6:45 a.m. Patterson Rig No. 71 collapsed
in the field southwest of Kermit and north of Monahans.
In that bizarre accident, three workers were hospitalized. Two were
treated on the scene.
Agents of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration have now
broadened their inquiries of the initial Patterson Rig collapse to
include the rig that burst into flame on Saturday.
From a sheriff's statement issued on the day that the second Patterson
rig burned:
"At approximately 4:47 a.m. this date (March 15), the Monahans Fire
Department was notified of a well fire at Pyote, Texas on Highway 115,
two miles North. The rig will belong to Patterson Drilling. There were
no reported injuries. The rig was drilling a gas well when it blew w out.
"Due to the amount of pressure on the well, the fire still is burning
(about noon Saturday).
"At noon this date, the fire fighting company of Boots & Coots arrived
and are on location and are in the process of extinguishing the fire."
The fire was controlled before nightfall.
Heflin says the Monahans firefighters looked at the burning well when
they arrived and "decided to let it burn until Boots & Coots got there."
Hitting a natural gas pocket and igniting a well fire happens frequently
in the OIL Patch, notes Heflin, unlike the mystery collapse of Patterson
Rig No. 21 on March 4. Heflin says the crew evacuated the fire site
Saturday "in record time."

Dog bite victim awaits word from surgeons

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MONAHANS, Mar. 20, 1997 - Little Desaray Tarpley, whose face was ripped
by a chained Rottweiler named Grizzly, will find out April 8 the
extent of plastic surgery needed to repair her face.
The 15-month-old girl was taken on Tuesday, March 18, to a Lubbock
plastic surgeon for an evaluation of their child's injuries.
"We simply don't know what eventually is going to happen," says
Desaray's father, Brian.
"We hope to find out more on April 8 when we take her back to Lubbock,"
says her mother, Dianne. "They have done extensive surgery already. They
did not say how many stitches had been taken except to say 30 or 40
stitches were required to close the cheek."
The Monahans family now is locked in a battle to save their little
girl's face.
It appears, says Dianne, that the outter layer of skin will sluff in
the weeks ahead.
Desaray was taken by helicopter to Lubbock Methodist Hospital on the day
she was attacked. That was on Tuesday, March 11.
Desaray was attacked by a chained animal at the home of a friend of the
family in the 300 block of West Fourth Street in Monahans.
Investigators say the incident occurred at 2:49 p.m. Within nine
minutes, Monahans Police Animal control Officer Terry King was at the
Police Lt. Charles Sebastian reports the dog's owner gave officers the
authority to dispose of the animal that attacked Desaray. The dog was
taken to the Sandhills Veterinary Clinic.
"The head of the dog was sent to Austin for (rabies) tests," says
Sebastian. "The tests came back this week and they are negative."
Dianne Tarpley says she had gone to her best friend's home to wash when
one of her friend's children rushed in and screamed: "Grizzly! Desaray!"
She and Cathy Dempsey then rushed to Desaray's assistance..Sebastian
reports there is no record of any previous attacks on humans by the
Rottweiler that attacked Desaray.

Thorntonville gets incorrect trash billings

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THORNTONVILLE, Mar. 20, 1997 - About 250 residents of the village of
Thorntonville received incorrect trash collection bills which were too
high and incorrect, reports the manager of the company that has the
The problem was the apparent result of an erroneous applying of higher
waste collection charges in other areas of Ward County, higher charges
that do not apply to Thorntonville where monthly collection charges are
established by contract with the village.
There may have been more than 250 incorrect bills but that still is to
be determined.
Jackie Reid, manager of WesTex Waste Inc. based in Midland, apologizes
to citizens of Thorntonville for the multiple errors.
Under a franchise contract with Thorntonville, WesTex provides trash
collection services for $10.25 a month, a bill that comes to $10.99 a
month when various taxes are added, notes Reid.
Incorrect bills were and are being sent to Thorntonville citizens that
ranged above $30. Residents began to deluge the offices of Thorntonville
City Secretary and Municipal Judge Sue Carter with complaints.
Carter notes the bills obviously are wrong because of the franchise
contract which sets rates for the trash collection contract. Any
increase in the cost of the waste collection service is a violation of
that contract.
"There was a mistake. There is a mistake," Reid tells the Monahans News.
"There is not an increase."
Reid says credit will be given to the accounts of any Thorntonville
customers who may already have paid the higher bills they received.
Otherwise, advises Reid:
"Just ignore the higher bill and send in the proper amount - $10.99."
There will be no problems if Thorntonville does that.
Not all Thorntonville citizens received the higher bills, says Carter.
She bases that statement on the fact not all of the residents have
complained to her and she herself did not receive the higher bill at her
"There was an increase in rates in other areas of Ward County," says
He says he does not have the percentage of increases in those other Ward
County areas and he does not know how many rural customers WesTex Waste
has in the rural areas.
"Inadvertently these increases were applied in the city of Thorntonville
because Thorntonville is in Ward County," notes Reid. "It just happened.
It was a mistake and we will resolve the problems caused. There is no
increase in trash collection rates to citizens of Thorntonville."

Wayne's World II

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By Steve Patterson
Of the News

By most accounts, it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon that Oct. 8, 1958,
as slightly more than 200 people gathered at the Million Barrel Tank -
redubbed Melody Park - to see a water-show extravaganza.
The crowd had paid $4 each in admission to see stunt water skiers
glide around the tank. The concession stand was doing a brisk trade.
The star of the show, according to promotional photographs, was the
beautiful, blonde and curvaceous Bonnie Perkins. A veteran of national
competition, Perkins held the distinction of completing the second
longest ramp jump in the 1958 national competition.
What should have been a very happy day for the promoter, Wayne Long,
and his wife, Amalie, was not. The huge tank filled with water and the
crowd standing around the rim was the culmination of four years of work
for Wayne.
Yet, according to Amalie, Wayne was already painfully aware that his
dream of putting Monahans on the tourism map was evaporating faster than
the water.
"We knew before the show that the concept wasn't going to fly,"
recalled Amalie in a recent interview, "but we decided to do it anyway
as one last fling.
"I guess you could say that it was two water shows in one... the first
and the last."
Not surprisingly, most of the crowd was made up of people from outside
Monahans. Although Wayne tried to convince those in his own town that
tourism would be good for Monahans, he was met with skepticism,
criticism and - reportedly - some ridicule. He did have his supporters,
but they remained very low-key.
Perhaps it was from a desire to prove his detractors wrong, or maybe
it was just the desire to make money, but Wayne Long had wanted the plan
to work. Luck was not with him.
Evaporation and seepage (what some in Monahans called outright
leakage) were giving the tank an unquenchable thirst. Even Wayne's
simple scheme for stocking the huge tank with fish went belly-up when it
was learned that fish need vegetation in their habitat.
After the water show, Amalie said, "We just forgot about the tank and
went to concentrate on running our trailer park." Although he still
owned it, Wayne didn't talk much about the possibilities which could
realized at the Million Barrel.
Wayne died in June of 1980. In 1984, Amalie signed away the tank to
the Ward County Historical Association as it was searching for projects
with which to observe the Texas Sesquicentennial.
While Wayne Long may be remembered by some as a dreamer and
self-promoter whose plans didn't work out, there is another side which
needs to be remembered.
Several of Wayne's surviving friends remember him as charismatic,
charming and extremely funny. As should be obvious by his purchase of
the Million Barrel tank, he was a man with an imagination.
For the crowd that gathered on that warm Sunday afternoon in 1958 to
watch water skiers in the West Texas desert, the huge tank will never
just be a forgotten white elephant that was abandoned by Shell Oil. It
will the magical place where they saw the beautiful Bonnie Perkins
gliding about the water performing stunts. Who could ever come up with
such an idea?
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Copyright 1997 by Ward Newspapers, Inc.
107 W. Second St., Monahans TX 79756
Phone 915-943-4313, FAX 915-943-4314

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