Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Friday, April 12, 2002
Hospital discusses plan for $6 million renovation
By SMOKEY BRIGGS
PECOS, Friday, April 12, 2002 -- Reeves County Hospital took another step
toward a new look and more efficient use of space Thursday when Hospital
Administrator Robert Vernor hosted a public comments session in the
main lobby concerning the proposed renovation and expansion project.
Also on hand to explain and answer questions about the plans were three
associates with Hammel, Green and Abrahamson (HGA), an architectural firm
based in Minneapolis, Minn.
Vernor said that the renovation and expansion project had several goals
and that the plans were created with those goals in mind.
Topping the list of priorities was an expansion of the Emergency Room,
shuffling of departments to make more efficient use of space, and improving
the image of the hospital.
"Yesterday's wreck involving the U.S. Marshal's van is a good example
of why we need to expand our E.R.," he said. Eight inmates and two guards
were brought to the emergency room following the accident in Jeff Davis County.
Vernor also said that if the hospital were renovated it would have to
make changes to bring it into compliance with federal and state regulations.
Dr. W. J. Bang, the chief of medical staff for the hospital, gave his
support to the proposals.
Bang said that the hospital needed more space.
"We've added many services since this hospital was built and these services
take up space _ space that used to be used for beds," he said.
Bang also said that the remodeled hospital will be much more efficient
and that the image of the hospital was an important part of patient care.
"This hospital is 25 years old and beginning to show signs of age," he
said. "With the renovation we will be in a better position to compete for
our patients with neighboring medical providers."
Fort Stockton and Alpine have both opened new hospitals in the past two
years, and Bang said that Pecos' geographic location left it in a unique
position for a smaller community.
"Because of the distance to the major medical centers our community needs
a full-service facility," he said.
Bob Walker of HGA said that the plans being discussed were the result
of three months of work with the administration, medical staff and his firm.
Walker said that the plan called for a step-by-step approach that would
allow the hospital to take smaller bites that would be affordable and that
would not disrupt hospital functions during the process.
Walker said that the plan was devised to meet five primary goals.
The goals are to improve patient care, the efficiency of the hospital,
the diagnostic conditions, to bring the hospital up to code and to improve
the image that is presented to the community, he said.
If the plans are finalized Pecos can expect, among other changes, a new,
larger emergency room with less complicated access in the parking lot and
shorter walk. Within the hospital the plans call for a shuffling of departments
including placing surgery, diagnostics and radiology closer to the emergency
A new wing is also planned that will make room for the hospital to have
more beds open for patients without crowding other services.
Vernor said that the hospital was and would still be licensed as a 49-bed
"We're licensed for 49 beds," he said. "But we only have 30 or so open
on a daily basis because of the lack of space. If necessary we can shuffle
things around and operate all 49 beds."
But doing so requires other departments and areas to make room.
"It gets very crowded," he said.
"With the expansion we should be able to have all 49 beds open all the
time," he said.
Vernor said that the first phase of the proposed plan has an estimated
price tag of $6 million. The hospital is planning on financing that amount
with a bond with payments being made from interest on money the hospital
has in the bank and from tax revenues.
The first phase of the project includes all of the new construction and
the proposed exterior renovations, Vernor said.
"The new areas will house the new E.R., the new Rural Health Clinic, a
new Specialty Clinic, a new physical therapy clinic and maybe a kidney dialysis
unit," Vernor said.
Once these service move into the new areas the hospital could begin reorganizing
the older parts of the hospital.
Van crash cause disputed, three remain hospitalized
From Staff and Wire Reports
PECOS, Friday, April 12, 2002 -- Eight of the 11 U.S. Marshal's Service inmates
injured in a Wednesday afternoon van crash that killed two other inmates
have been released from hospitals in Pecos and El Paso, while the cause
of the Interstate 10 wreck remains under dispute between the company
that operated the van and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Francisco Letkeman-Wiebe, 48, and Jose Rubio, 25, died at the scene of
the Wednesday afternoon crash on Interstate 10 near Pecos, said Cpl. Kathy
Briggs of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Both were thrown from the
vehicle when it ran off the highway and rolled down a 10-foot embankment
on Interstate 10 at the 183 mile marker in Jeff Davis County. Emergency Medical
Service teams from Pecos, Balmorhea, Van Horn and Fort Davis were called
to the scene, along with volunteer fire personnel from Pecos and law enforcement
officials from Reeves, Jeff Davis and Culberson counties.
The Mexican Consulate in El Paso identified Letkeman-Wiebe as a Mexican
citizen from Cuauhtemoc, Chihuahua, and Rubio as a U.S. citizen who married
a Mexican woman and had a home in Juarez, Chihuahua.
According to a press release issued by Jack Dean, U.S. Marshal for the
Western District of Texas, only three of the 11 inmates remain hospitalized,
one at R.E. Thomason General Hospital in El Paso, one at Midland Memorial
Hospital and one at Covenant Medical Center in El Paso.
The most seriously injured of the three is Javier Fabela, 19, who suffered
a severe scalp laceration and was taken along with two other injured inmates
to Thomason General in El Paso. The other two hospitalized are Pablo Aguilar,
61, who is in Midland, and Carlos Romero-Mora, 34, who is in Lubbock. Both
were flown by air ambulance to those hospitals after being transported by
ambulance to Reeves County Hospital.
Fabela and Aguilar are both in stable condition, while Romero-Mora is
in good condition in Lubbock. A Marshal's Service spokesperson said Romero-Mora
had "independent health problems" aside from his injuries in the accident.
Romero-Mora and Fabela are two of the three other injured inmates
who were Mexican nationals, said Socorro Cordova, a consulate spokeswoman.
She identified the other as Victor Hugo Blanco, 35.
The U.S. Marshal's Service refused to release any information on the
inmates today, but according to the Odessa American, the other inmates treated
and released from Thomason General and Reeves County Hospital were Sergio
Murillo-Dominguez, 34, Jose Contreras-Fernandes, 33, Juan Duran-Garcia, 33,
Jose Rios-Hernandez, 34, Cameron Hill, 24, Randolph Leby, 39, and Demario
The 13 inmates were being transported from El Paso to the Ector County
Detention Center in Odessa, said Jim Shaw, regional director for CiviGenics,
the company that operates the detention center. The inmates were part of
a two-van convoy that had left Odessa about 4:30 a.m. to pick up the prisoners
in El Paso, and had begun their return trip to Odessa around 12 noon CDT.
The guards in the final had traveled about 445 miles over a 10-hour period
when the accident occurred.
Department of Public Safety Sgt. Luis Najera said shortly after the
accident that the driver became fatigued and drifted off the road. However,
Shaw said the van rolled after the front right tire blew out.
Corrections officer Mike Contreras, who riding with driver Dwayne Taylor
when the van wrecked, said a guard in the second CiviGenics van told him
a blowout occurred. The driver told his superiors fatigue wasn't the cause,
Shaw said, adding that he disagreed with the Najera's statement.
"It's unusual for DPS to make that assessment without an investigation,"
said Shaw. "He (Taylor) was off for two days prior and had a total output
time of 10 hours, so that (fatigue) was not the case. If you look at the
man's time he was nowhere near overworked."
In his press release, Dean indicated that CiviGenics did not initially
tell the Marshal's Service about the conflicting reports after the accident
"Contrary to what was initially reported to the United States Marshal's
Service immediately after the accident, tire failure was not a primary cause,"
Dean said. "While tire failure may or may not have contributed to the accident,
subsequent reports to the United States Marshal's Service indicate driver
error may also have been a factor."
CiviGenics operates both the van and the Ector County Detention Center,
which is under contract with the U.S. Marshals Service to hold and transport
prisoners, is for minimum- and medium-security prisoners, Shaw said.
Ex-Pecos officer shot in Odessa
By LEIA HOLLAND
PECOS, Friday, April 12, 2002 -- For the second time in three months, a former
Pecos resident working as a law enforcement officer in Odessa has been
shot in connection with handling a domestic dispute.
Former Pecos law enforcement officer Robert Diaz is listed in stable condition
at Medical Center Hospital after receiving a gunshot wound Thursday night
in Odessa after responding to a domestic disturbance, according to an Ector
County Sheriff's Department news release.
Diaz, 54, was shot after struggling with the suspect of a family disturbance
call at approximately 11 p.m., last night in the 1900 block of South Westcliff
Street in Odessa.
Diaz, a 17-year veteran of the Ector County Sheriff's Office, responded
to the call where he arrested Efren Olivas Gonzales, 40, of Odessa.
While Diaz was attempting to handcuff the suspect when Gonzales began
to resist arrest, according to the news release.
During the struggle, Gonzales attempted to grab Diaz' weapon. Diaz then
attempted to take control of the weapon when several shots were fired with
one hitting him in the upper arm.
The news release stated that Diaz was able to call for backup while continuing
to hold the suspect in custody until additional officers arrived at the scene.
Diaz is a former Pecos Police Department and Reeves County Sheriff's Reserve
Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney said that Diaz was an officer for the
local police department for eight years in the early 70s.
He then transferred to the Sheriff's Office where he was a Reserve Deputy
until the mid-eighties.
As of this morning, no bond has been set for Gonzales who is being held
at Ector County Detention Center on a charge of attempted capital murder,
a Felony in the first degree.
Diaz is the second former Pecos resident to be shot in the line of duty
in Odessa this year.
Odessa Police Department Cpl. Greg Travland was shot in the leg after
responding to domestic disturbance at an Odessa business on Jan. 18 of this
year. During that incident another former Pecos resident, Estela Cadena Ramon,
36, was shot and killed by her estranged husband, Joe Ramon, also formerly
As a result of the exchange of gunfire, Travland suffered a single gunshot
wound to the upper area of his left thigh. Joe Ramon was also wounded in
the incident, and spent about two months in Medical Center Hospital before
being taken to the Ector County Jail.
Since the shooting, Travland has been under doctor's care unable to continue
working for the Odessa Police Department, according to Media Spokesperson
"Right now he is off on injury leave," she said.
It is uncertain when Travland would be able to go back to work
"Right now it's too early to tell," Thomas said.
School board takes partial action on grievance
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Friday, April 12, 2002 -- Pecos-Barstow-Toyah School Board members
denied one complaint of a Level III grievance filed by a campus official,
while making partial changes to his campus in connection with a second
complaint, following an executive session Thursday night during their
regular monthly meeting.
The board dealt with several other issues before going behind closed doors
in executive session to discuss the complaint filed by Jimmy Dutchover, who
is the P-B-T district's transportation director, as well as supervising the
Lamar Alternative Education Program (AEP) campus.
After the executive session, two motions were made and approved unanimously
by the board. One the board denied the compensation portion of the grievance.
They granted the second portion of the grievance for Superintendent Don Love
to prepare a recommendation regarding future operations of the DAEP-AEP including
location, staffing, compensation for employees, funding sources, project
costs and student enrollment.
In action taken during open session, board members approved changes in
personnel, including the resignation of long-time employee and Career and
Technology Director Larry Sloan.
Sloan has been with the P-B-T ISD for30 years and has taught for about
32 years. He has worked in different areas of the school district and most
recently was instrumental in procuring funds for the new Technology Center.
The board also appointed current Pecos High School assistant coach Joe
Flores as the new varsity basketball coach at the high school, replacing
Tino Acosta. Flores is a Monahans High School graduate who holds a Bachelor
of Science/Kinesiology degree from Angelo State University and has three
years experience as an assistant coach in football and baseball in the P-B-T
Board members approved granting permission for the Town of Pecos City
to re-open 10th Street between Block 15 and Block 33 of College
Addition. The street is a one-block stretch between Willow and Cherry streets,
next to the now-closed Pecos Elementary School and one block west of Pecos
Love told the board that on Feb. 6, 1969, a motion was made to close that
street. At the time the Pecos Kindergarten was opening and students were
bused to that location.
"Now the city council has approached us about re-opening that street,"
said Love. "We no longer use that (Pecos Elementary) campus," which was closed
"If we ever gain 500-600 kids again we can request to have the street
closed again," he said.
"Do we still have playground equipment out there?" asked board member
Maintenance supervisor Joe Coody assured the board that all playground
equipment had been removed.
"The only reason I asked, is because if children are still playing there,
it could pose a problem," said Flores, "but if not I don't see a problem
with re-opening it."
The group recognized Crockett Middle School UIL academic students and
band students (concert and sight reading).
"We're very proud of our young students and they (UIL students) will be
going to San Antonio to compete at the state level," said Crockett Middle
School Principal Juanita Davila.
The group left early this morning accompanied by teacher and sponsor Olivia
Herrera who said she was very proud of the kids and had a lot of confidence
in them. Students participating in UIL include: Amanda Natividad, Roxxie
Mendoza, Marcelo Salgado and Mark Lyles, who are all eighth graders. Seventh
graders attending the event are: Brittany Castaneda, Adam Medina and R.J.
The band will be participating in concert and sight-reading at Ector Junior
High in Odessa.
"If I've ever had a good band it's not because I'm a good teacher, but
we have good kids," said head band director Merle Lenfest.
Middle School band director Scott Bostwick told the group that he had
spoken to the students and as an incentive told them that there was a can
of dog food on one of the shelves and if they received a Division I rating
he would eat it.
"No matter what our rating is, I'm very proud," said Lenfest.
The group approved the Pecos Chamber of Commerce's request for use of
the Pecos High School New Gym and to waive fees for the Harlem Entertainers,
who will put on a comedy basketball show next Friday, April 19, at 7 p.m.
"The chamber of commerce does a lot for this community and this event
sounds like it will be a lot of fun," said Love.
Rotary members briefed on cloud seeding benefits
By SMOKEY BRIGGS
PECOS, Friday, April 12, 2002 -- Can cloud seeding work in the Pecos area?
County Extension Agent Terry Holder thinks the idea is worth a try and
was on hand at yesterday's meeting of the Pecos Valley Rotary Club to explain
the basic process and the details of the local movement to being a cloud
Holder said that cloud seeding research showed some real benefits to the
Seeded clouds last about twice as long and cover about 50 percent more
area he said.
More importantly the clouds produce an average of 37 percent more rain
than their non-seeded brothers, he said.
"It definitely seems to help," he said.
Seeding a cloud involves injecting silver iodide particles into the cloud.
Holder said that clouds are made up of nearly microscopic particles of
"As these particles of water hit together they former larger particles
and eventually a rain drop forms that can fall," he said.
"The silver iodide particle attracts these microscopic particles so that
rain drops form more quickly."
The silver iodide is injected into the cloud by airplanes.
Holder said that a steering committee has been formed to create a cloud
seeding program encompassing Culberson, Ward, Reeves and Loving counties.
"We need about $250,000 to get started," he said, "and we are asking area
agencies to pitch into the project."
Holder said that the group has about $60,000 pledged so far.
"The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission is providing technical
and financial assistance to areas forming a weather modification agency,"
he said. "The state provides one-half of the money."
Church cancels youth fundraiser softball tourney
PECOS, Friday, April 12, 2002 -- The Prarie Dog Classic Men's Softball
Tournament that had been scheduled for this weekend has been cancelled due
to lack of participation.
The event was to benefit the youth of St. Catherine attending World Youth
Day in Canada.
Those needing more information on the event or who would like to help
the youth can contact Chapo at 445-1772 or Lupe at 447-4024 or 447-9652.
High Thurs. 94. Low this morning 56. Forecast for tonight: Partly
cloudy. A 20 percent chance of thunderstorms. Lows 50 to 55. SE winds 5 to
15 mph. Sat.: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms.
Highs near 85. SE winds 10 to 20 mph. Sat. night: Partly cloudy with
a 20 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. Lows 50 to 55. Sun.:
Partly cloudy. Highs near 85. Mon.: Partly cloudy. Lows 55 to 60. Highs
85 to 90..
Eliseo Jaramillo and James "Jabo" Sears
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 2002 by Pecos Enterprise