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Wednesday, August 1, 2001

RCH board plans look at feasibility of dialysis center

Staff Writer
PECOS, Wed., Aug. 1, 2001 -- The Reeves County Hospital Board of Directors gave approval for a financial feasibility study for a dialysis center in Pecos during their regular monthly meeting Tuesday night, in the classroom at Reeves County Hospital.

Richard Murphy, president of CRM Management Group, Inc., informed the board that he asked Larry McGowan with Nephrology Services International, Inc., to do a preliminary review on the possibility of a dialysis center in Pecos.

Murphy, the hospital's former interim administrator, said that in the past the possibility of having a dialysis center in Pecos has not been very positive and he continued to think that it would not be beneficial for the hospital when this review was started.

"I didn't think that our probability would be good," he said.

McGowan, who has worked with Murphy in establishing other dialysis centers, found the probability to be good.

In a letter to the board, Murphy said he attached a copy of McGowan's report, "which is more positive than (he) had expected."

"I don't think I had quite a hold on the necessity of a center here," he said.

Murphy explained to the board that there are many people in Pecos and the surrounding areas that require dialysis treatment.

He said that all of those patients have to travel to either Midland or Odessa to receive that treatment three days a week.

With the time it takes to travel to the treatment center, the time it takes to receive treatment and the time to get home, Murphy said it virtually takes up a full day.

Murphy said that that is very hard for the patients.

"These patients are like no other patients," he said. "They are financially strapped and can't work."

Board member Leo Hung said that he has talked with many people in Pecos who are considered "borderline" patients that need treatment, but could go without treatment for a while.

"A lot of patients have contacted me who are borderline patients and they are not going to seek help," he said.

Hung said that these people have chosen to put off treatment because they can not afford to miss work and travel such a long distance three times a week.

"Some of them said I'd just rather die," he said.

He also said that some patients who absolutely need treatment choose to move to Midland or Odessa.

Hung said that if Pecos established a dialysis center here then patients from Alpine, Presidio and other surrounding cities would more than likely travel here for treatment because it's closer to home.

"If they could come over here it would save a lot of distance," he said.

The board approved continuing with a financial feasibility study.

In other action, RCH Administrator Robert Vernor informed the board that he will soon ask a physician recruitment company to look into recruiting a family practitioner and obstetrician for Pecos.

Vernor told the board that he has been looking into some possibilities, but so far has been trying to recruit doctors with little success.

He said that only one person has called about the position but he was not someone the hospital would want.

During an interview this morning, Vernor said that the physician who called had not practiced in seven years.

"We're just not interested in that," he said. "We want somebody that is ready to go when they get here."

The board also discussed the prescription drug program for the hospital employees.

Under the current prescription program, the employees pay one co-pay for a one-month supply and three co-pays for a 90-day supply.

In a previous meeting, the board asked to see if the hospital's prescription drug company insurer, Blue Cross, could change the co-pay to one co-pay for one-month supply and double for anything over that.

Blue Cross informed the hospital that they could not change the policy.

The board decided to continue with the current co-pay program while looking into other companies' policies.

Also on Tuesday, the board approved keeping Debbie Thomas as elections coordinator as well as appointing Lydia Prieto to calculate the effective tax rate and rollback rate for 2001.

They also approved the 2001 budget-planning calendar and the 2001 certified appraisal roll as well as the monthly tax report, financial statements, and payment of bills.

Austin Elementary set for third grade move

Staff Writer
PECOS, Wed., Aug. 1, 2001 -- With school just around the corner, parents are not the only ones making arrangements for it. So is the administration.

Students going into the third grade will be attending Austin Elementary instead of Pecos Elementary. With school starting in less than three weeks, everything for the third grade classes has now been moved, including teachers.

According to Assistant Superintendent Gome Olibas, the move was made for two reasons.

"The main thing for the move was because we wanted to align the curriculum of grades first, second and third," Olibas said. "The other reason was because of the budget, we would save money."

After losing a total of about 142 students last year, the move become easier.

"We lost so many students that we had 10 or 11 empty rooms at Austin Elementary," Olibas said.

Pecos Elementary is the third school closed in the past four years by the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD. Barstow Elementary was shut down before the 1998-99 school year while Lamar Middle School was partially closed a year ago, with sixth graders moved to Zavala Middle School, while the newer half of Lamar was turned over to the district's alternative education program.

Pecos Elementary, which was built in 1938, will now be used as a storage facility for the district. Maintenance will be kept up, and a new a sprinklers system was recently installed, Olibas said.

As far as principals, Gail Norris, third grade principal of Pecos and Austin Elementary retired, causing the move of Zavala Elementary Principal Cindy Duke to Pecos Kindergarten. Cindy Armbruster will be the Assistant Principal for Austin Elementary, with Victor Tarin remaining as principal.

With Duke being moved to take over at kindergarten, Pecos High School Assistant Principal Benny Hernandez was moved to Zavala. This created a spot for new Assistant Principal for the high school, which will be filled by new P-B-T hire John Fabela.

Pecos pair plead guilty to federal drug charges

Staff Writer
PECOS, Wed., Aug. 1, 2001 -- Two Pecos men have pled guilty and are awaiting sentencing on drug related charges in connection with federal indictments returned in February by a grand jury in Midland.

Gregorio Navarrete, 46, of Pecos and Thomas Herrera were among a group of people arrested by local law enforcement agencies earlier this year as part of an investigation that began two years ago into a major drug smuggling operation in West Texas.

Navarrete pled guilty on Monday to count 20 of the 21-count indictment, which alleges that the defendant aided and abetted by others, did possess with intent to distribute more than 100 kilos of marijuana. The alleged incident occurred on April 24, 1999.

Three remaining defendants have pled guilty as well, including Herrera who pled this morning to the same charge as Navarrete, after his trial had begun in U.S. District Court in Midland.

The guilty pleas entered carry possible sentences of 5 to 40 years in prison.

Navarrete's attorney is Brian Chavez of Odessa and his sentencing date has been set for 5 p.m. on Oct. 2 in Midland.

A sentencing date for Herrera has been scheduled for late October or early November.

Herrera and Navarrete were already in custody on separate charges when the indictments were returned. Two other Pecos residents and a former Pecos resident were among the 19 people charged in the indictment, but had reached plea bargain agreements earlier this year.

One other suspect involved in the smuggling effort had pled guilty at the start of the three-day trial and the jury was released after all the defendants had pled, according to U.S. Attorney Jeff Parras.

Isidro Sanchez, a.k.a. "Chilo," pled to the same charge as Herrera and Navarrete. The alleged incident occurred in June 1998 and he faces 5-40 years in prison.

Two other individuals charged in February who are from Presidio also entered guilty pleas. Arturo Valdez pled to aiding and abetting by others, did possess with intent to distribute not more than 100 kilos of marijuana. His plea carries a possible sentence of 0 to 5 years in prison.

"Another defendant had pled in early July," said Parras.

Catalina Sanchez pled to a lesser charge and is facing 0-3 years in prison, according to Parras.

"This takes care of all the 19 we had on the list, all that remain are the fugitives," said Parras.

He added that there are four remaining fugitives from the February drug indictments.

In a related case in Odessa, out of the 12 defendants, 10 have already agreed to plead and one remains a fugitive.

The individuals are accused of helping smuggle tons of marijuana into the United States through their involvement in two closely linked West Texas drug rings.

The arrests were made after a federal grand jury in Midland returned a 12-count sealed indictment on Feb. 21, charging 24-year-old Jose "Josecin" Sanchez of Presidio, (the alleged leader of the organization) and 11 other people with transporting some one to two tons of marijuana from Ojinaga, Mexico to Odessa.

The indictment was unsealed in March by U.S. Magistrate Judge Durwood Edwards in Alpine and contained a charge of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute a controlled substance and substantive charges of possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance.

Back-to-school clean-up effort date is changed

PECOS, Wed., Aug. 1, 2001 -- A Back-To-School Cleanup scheduled for this coming Saturday morning has been pushed back to Aug. 18, program co-ordinator Michael Benavides said

Volunteers are needed to help get Pecos ready for back to school and clean up the community, and those who participate in the clean-up were scheduled to get T-shirts. But Benavides said the T-shirts will arrive late, resulting in the delay in the clean-up effort.

School starts for Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD students on Monday, Aug. 20.

P-B-T tax office to halt collections due to renovations

PECOS, Wed., Aug. 1, 2001 -- Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD tax office will be undergoing some renovations on Thursday, Aug. 2, and is asking the public for their patience, while undergoing the changes.

The office will be getting new carpet and the collection system will have to be shut down during this time.

Personnel will still be on hand to help all customers and they can call 447-7261.


PECOS, Wed., Aug. 1, 2001 -- High Tuesday 101. Low this morning 72. Forecast for tonight: Mostly clear. Low 70 to 75. East wind 5 to 10 mph. Thursday: Partly cloudy. High around 101. Southeast wind 5 to 15 mph. Thursday night: Mostly clear. Low 70 to 75. Friday and Saturday: Partly cloudy. Lows 70 to 75. Highs from the upper 90s to around 102.

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Pecos Enterprise
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