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Weekly Newspaper and Tourism Guide for Ward County Trans Pecos, Big Bend of West Texas


July 16, 1998

Monahan's Well

By Jerry Curry
Robert Foret, the chief financial officer for Ward Memorial
Hospital, is by his own assessment, out of the loop in the
consolidation and reorganization of services and departments
that Covenant Health Systems has in place.

Robert Foret, the chief financial officer for Ward Memorial
Hospital, by his own assessment, is not comfortable with
the way in which the attempts to curb the hospital's dollar
problems are proceeding.

Robert Foret, the chief financial officer for Ward Memorial
Hospital, by his own assessment, feels he is vulnerable
because he champions hospital options other than the
management agreement signed between Covenant and the county
to operate Ward Memorial Hospital. He believes selling or
leasing the institution to a not for profit health care
provider might well be better. Foret also thinks a hospital
district with the authority to provide for its own finances
would be better than the management agreement concept.

Robert Foret, the chief financial officer for Ward Memorial
Hospital, by his own assessment, has been in Monahans 14
months and he has asked the Hospital Board of Managers for
the right to renegoiate his contract.

If his current contract is renegotiated, as many expect,
Robert Foret may leave early and be added to a growing list
of major Ward Memorial Hospital managers who have come and

Foret himself in 14 months has served under four hospital
chief executive officers - William O'Brien, now in La
Grange; Ray Mason, who returned to Midland; James M.
Robinson, who quit as a result of the recent tardy pay day
for hospital workers; and now, Steve Holmes. Robinson and
Holmes were both interim appointments through Covenant.

It was Robinson's resignation and the reasons for that
resignation that triggered Foret's request to the hospital
board to renegotiate his contract.

Foret, like Robinson, believes the failure to pay all
employees on a Friday pay day was illegal although
management and other employees signed waivers in which they
agreed to wait until the next Monday when they were paid.

Robinson said the week after his resignation he quit because
his lawyer told him his assets were at risk if he was the
administrator as the pay day fandango unfolded. Foret agrees
with Robinson's lawyer.

Says Foret: "It was illegal. I believe it was illegal."

Foret then is in a quandary caught in a years long financial
embroglio at Ward Memorial.

Meanwhile, the $107,000 or so savings in hospital payroll
every month projected as Covenant budget restraints tighten
most certainly will result this week in furloughs, lay offs,
dismissals of hospital employees.

We are talking here about 35 to 40 jobs.

But so far no one has confirmed that figure.

It is an estimate based on the projected savings in pay roll
and what is in progress at Covenant's hospital in Lovington.

Foret, the chief financial officer for Ward Memorial
Hospital, by his own assessment, has had little or no input
into the major remedies that are in process at the hospital.

No one in power asks the chief financial officer for his
opinion. He is told what to do and he does it.

Government teamwork A-OK

Monday, Monahans City Council members - Curtis Howard, Mary
Garcia and Mayor David Cutbirth - and City Manager David
Mills met with the Ward County Commissioners. Discussion
centered on funds for the golf course. In the past the City
and County met quarterly. Before Monday, the last
commissioners-Monahans council meeting had been Oct. 31,
1996. With all the issues facing us - health care, economic
development, schools - it is time for these quarterly
meetings to resume. We are fortunate here to have leaders
who consider the citizens in every decision they make. We
believe local government teamwork will fuel Ward County's
social and economic growth into the new millennium.

Done deal done undone

With all the bureaucrats in Austin and Washington powered by
a congress that hasn't taken time to look at the issue, it
appeared that the radioactive waste dump five miles out of
Sierra Blanca was a done deal. It appeared that the Yankee
nuke trash from New Hampshire and Maine was on the way to
West Texas and the checks were on the way to Austin.

That might still happen but last week something truly
strange and absolutely wonderful occurred. One bunch of
state bureaucrats contradicted another bunch of state
bureaucrats. The State Office of Administration told the
Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission not to
approve the nuclear waste facility at Sierra Blanca. The
natural resource conservation group, which neither protects
nor conserves natural resources, has said in the past it
liked the plan to dump the radioactive debris near Sierra
Blanca, despite local and West Texas opposition. Now there
is a new factor in the equation.

Administrative law judges from the Office of Administration
note the state's Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal
Authority did not:

-determine whether a fault line beneath the proposed site
was linked to other active faults in the area;

-consider the potential economic damage to the Sierra Blanca
region a nuclear dump would cause.

Now Gov. George W. Bush is having second thoughts about his
earlier no holds barred support for dumping Yankee trash out
here West of Interstate 35. He even says: "If the site is
not proven safe, I will not support it."

This action by the State Office of Administrative hearings
is the first good news in a while for those of us who oppose
the nuclear facility.

And just to support the administrative law judges, it is
possible someone should tell the natural resource
conservation commission this proposed dump site is about a
90-minute drive West of the epicenter of a 5.3 West Texas
earthquake in 1995. Staff members of the low level
radioactive waste authority say they are not concerned about
the potential contamination of water supplies, land and air
from a quake shaking a nuke dump. Of course they aren't.
They live in Austin.

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Copyright 1998 by Ward Newspapers, Inc.
Joe Warren, Publisher
107 W. Second St., Monahans TX 79756
Phone 915-943-4313, FAX 915-943-4314

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Copyright 1998 by Ward Newspapers Inc.