Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Thursday, September 5, 2002
Hospital ends management deal, seeks to keep Vernor
By JENNIFER GALVAN
PECOS, Thurs., Sept. 5, 2002 -- The Reeves County Hospital Board of Directors
voted in a special meeting Wednesday evening not to renew an agreement
with the hospital's management contractor Richard Murphy, and to buy
it out before the contract expires next year.
The board voted 3-2 against renewing the CRM Management Contract between
the hospital and Management Contractor, Richard Murphy during the special
6 p.m. meeting in the hospital's classroom. They then voted to buy out the
contract, effective Sept. 15.
The contract, which expires after January 15, 2003, provides the board
with Administrator, Robert Vernor through the services of Murphy. However,
the board is hopeful of retaining Vernor's services at a meeting scheduled
for next Wednesday.
The current contract states that the board has four possible ways of extending
the agreement. One of its options is for the board not to take any action
on the contract, which would then automatically be extended after January
The second option the board has is to discuss the contract and then choose
to formally extend the agreement, while the third option is to discuss the
contract and decide not to extend it at all.
The final option, eventually chosen by the board, is to discuss the contract,
decide not to renew it and then buy out the existing contract.
In buying out the contract the board will have to pay Murphy 30 percent
of Robert Vernor's annual salary.
Board member Leo Hung spoke up first saying that he would not like to
extend the contract with Murphy.
"I think we should not extend the contract," Hung said. "We need more
loyalty. A relationship is important to me. That and trust."
Right now the contract states that though Vernor is not an employee of
the hospital, the board can evaluate him and decide if and how much of a
salary increase he is given.
However, under the same contract the board is not able to fire Vernor
if it is unhappy with his performance. If the board wanted to fire Vernor
at some point in time, it would then have to go to Murphy with the request.
At that point Murphy would fire Vernor and then help the board find some
one to replace him.
Hung said that the next CEO should have to put in 100 percent of his efforts
towards Reeves County residents and not to some one else.
Board member Bill Wendt said he felt that both Murphy and Vernor have
done an excellent job.
Wendt felt that if the contract with Murphy would not be extended, Vernor
then would not have the constant resources available through Murphy.
"Mr. Vernor could go ahead and call on him (Murphy)," Wendt said.
However, Hung disagreed with Wendt.
"Mr. Vernor is very resourceful," Hung stated.
Under the contract, any question about the renewal of the contract must
be addressed to Murphy. It also states that the board is not able to ask
the opinion of Vernor.
During the discussion, board members wondered whether or not Vernor would
stay on with the hospital without the contract between the hospital and Murphy.
"I would be interested to know if he (Vernor) would stay," board member
Chel Flores said.
President Linda Gholson added that the board would have the opportunity
to go back to Murphy on a consultant bases if it decided to do away with
During the consultant bases, the board would work with Murphy in finding
a new administrator.
Wendt stated that he felt everything was going well and there was no point
in fixing something that is already working.
"If something is working don't fix it," Wendt said.
Board member Hugh Box said that he agreed with both Hung and Wendt.
"I agree with Bill," Box said. "We know where we have been, where we are
now and were we want to be. I don't want to rock the boat."
Box added that he believed that the board should let the contract run
Gholson added that whatever decision the board made over the contract,
the expansion of the hospital would continue.
"The expansion is going to go on," Gholson said. "HGA is working on it."
Though Vernor could not comment on his position at the hospital Hung said,
"We give him evaluations and there are no changes. There is no reason why
he would want to quit."
Murphy at this point added to the meeting that his position is still the
"My position is still the same as the last time," Murphy said. "I look
at it as a business issue."
He added that he has set aside all relationships in this issue. Murphy
also said that he has been in plenty of board meetings to know that when
things are running smoothly a conversation is of this sort is discussed.
"We all know that there was turmoil within the system several years ago,"
Murphy said. "Covenant (Medical Center in Lubbock) knew that they were not
going to renew the contract. I was just to come down here for 90 days and
then leave. We came to a business agreement and that is why we are here now."
Murphy finished by saying that he would be satisfied with whatever the
board decided and that of course there would always be some regrets when
any contract is not renewed.
"Robert's and my friendship will continue," Murphy said. "I do not have
another facility to put Robert in and he knows that."
Hung added that he was concerned about the management company because
he felt that the board did not know what the firm was doing outside the hospital
and because of the independence and loyalty issues.
"There is nothing that they can not tell us," Hung said.
Gholson stated that the board knows what has worked, though it does not
know if things would be better or worse after the termination of the contract.
"What I am hearing is that we don't have faith in either way we go," Gholson
said. "There are a lot of unknowns."
Chief of Staff, Dr. W.J. Bang made a point to say that in hiring a new
administrator would become a negative factor.
"It take time for new people to understand the hospital," Bang said. "We
had a lot of ups and downs. Mr. Murphy and Mr. Vernor took care of a lot
of problems quickly because of their knowledge and experience."
Bang went on to ask the board if the contract is ended to do it with minimal
change and maintain a smooth transition, because of the limitations of such
a small hospital.
"It is difficult to find a high quality people without paying a high
price," Bang said. "We have been lucky."
Gholson reminded the board that they still had a little bit of time to
come to a decision before the 90-day notice.
"We the board set policies for the CEO, but the CEO is not our employee,"
Gholson said. "It is questionable the way we have handled some things."
Gholson hoped to find a better or different way to set a contract up between
the board and Murphy.
Box said that any decision the board came to would be a gamble and that
some people would be upset while others would happy on the decision. He believed
that the board should have control over the CEO and CFO, but agreed with
Bang that the board would have to be careful with what was decided.
Bang went on to say that the board should look at how the hospital is
doing now, and study the data provided by the hospital and by talking to
people before taking any action.
"If they are not doing their job then that is the one thing you can go
by," Bang said.
Not having any experience in looking for a CEO, Gholson said that the
board could learn from the experience or it could be a nightmare.
Flores said that any decision the board came to it would have to be the
best for the hospital district and keeping in mind the surrounding area,
while Box told the board that he had no problem terminating the contract
if Vernor would stay on because he knows what they have done.
However, Box ended up voting with Went for extending the agreement with
Murphy, while Gholson, Flores and Hung voted against the extended contract.
The board went on to vote on buying out the contract as of September 15,
2002 with Box making the motion and Wendt seconding it.
Thought the board was not allowed to offer the job to Vernor, the members
were allowed to ask him if he would be interested in applying for the job.
"I would be interested in applying for the position," Vernor said.
A meeting is set for next Wednesday, September 11, at 6 p.m. to discuss
West side drug raid results in cocaine, weapons arrest
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Thurs., Sept. 5, 2002 -- A narcotics search warrant landed a Pecos
man in jail Wednesday, on separate drug and firearm charges.
Officers from the Pecos Police Department, Reeves County Sheriff's Department
and the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force executed a narcotics search warrant at
the home of Glen Cameron, 2118 W. Third Street, Apartment #26.
Once the SWAT Team had secured the apartment officers proceeded to search
"During the search of the apartment officers located a substance believed
to be cocaine," said Pecos Police Department Investigator Paul Deishler.
Officers also located inside a substance believed to be marijuana, paraphernalia
commonly used in the packaging of cocaine and one shotgun and shotgun shells.
"While searching Cameron's vehicle officers found inside the vehicle a
substance believed to be cocaine," said Deishler.
Officers completed their search and Cameron, 48, was transported to the
Criminal Justice Center.
Cameron was charged with the offenses of possession of a controlled substance
(cocaine), possession of a controlled substance (marijuana), possession of
drug paraphernalia and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.
Cameron is currently awaiting arraignment at the Criminal Justice Center,
according to Deishler.
Grand jury to decide pedestrian fatality case
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Thurs., Sept. 5, 2002 -- An investigation is continuing in the death
of a Pecos man who was struck and killed by a vehicle late Saturday
evening near the intersection of Interstate 20 and U.S. 285, and officials
said a grand jury would decide whether or not any charges should be
Autopsy results are not yet in on Hal Pratt Sr., 61, who was struck and
killed while crossing South Cedar Street just before midnight last Saturday,
according to Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney
"What the department will do is investigate the accident and submit it
to the district attorney and then he will probably present it to the grand
jury," said McKinney.
Pratt was pronounced dead at the scene by Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace
Lamberto Herrera at 12:10 a.m., after he was struck by a pickup truck traveling
southbound on U.S. 285. The accident occurred at about 11:15 p.m., Saturday
and police and ambulances responded immediately to the 9-1-1 call placed
by the driver of the 2001 Ford pickup, who police identified as Mark Gomez,
18, of Pecos.
According to the initial report from police, Pratt, who had been arrested
often in the past on public intoxication charges, was struck by Gomez' pick
as it was southbound on 285 on the East lane.
"Hal was walking on the east side of the lane and headed to the west side
of roadway diagonally on turning lane," said Pecos Police Officer Melissa
Roberts, who investigated the accident.
The driver started to swerve to the left and Pratt jumped back to the
left on east side. "He (the driver) swerved to the right and that's when
he struck him," said Roberts.
Pratt was hit near the entrance to the Quality Inn on U.S. 285, and the
force of the impact caused his body to land about 60 feet north, near the
entrance to Jim and I's Exxon on U.S. 285. Law enforcement personnel closed
off U.S. 285 between I-20 and Lincoln Street to through traffic for about
two hours, while the accident was being investigated.
At the time of the accident, Roberts said that no charges had been filed
against the driver and that it would be ruled as an accident. That final
decision, McKinney said, will be up to the grand jury after it is given all
of the information, including the autopsy report on Pratt.
Pratt reportedly had not been drinking during the day on Saturday, but
it his condition at the time of the accident is unknown, pending the report
from the medical examiner.
"The grand jury is a group of citizens who will hear the case and decide
if it needs to proceed," said McKinney. "They will decide what course of
action to take from there."
"I've talked it over with Lt. Davis and we feel it will be in the best
interest of everyone involved," said McKinney.
Services for Pratt were at 11 a.m. today at Santa Rosa Catholic Church.
Restitution deal reached in Ward irrigation district theft
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Thurs., Sept. 5, 2002 -- A former employee of the Ward County Irrigation
District No. 1 in Barstow, who was arrested on theft charges late last
year, received additional probation and restitution charges were added
following a court hearing last Thursday.
Marlene Briceno Roman, 33, was arrested for Motion to Adjudicate and had
been held in the Reeves County Jail. Roman was transferred to the Ward County
Jail in Monahans and bond was set at $50,000.
She was arrested in December 2001, two months after an investigation was
begun by local law enforcement officials into the theft of funds from the
irrigation district, which serves the Barstow area. The Ward County Grand
Jury indicted Roman on a charge of theft of more than $20,000 and less than
A term of two years was added to Briceno's probation period, which will
now expire on April 18, 2012.
Her minimum monthly restitution payment will be $235 beginning on the
first day of the month following the month in which the order was signed.
The order was signed last Thursday, Aug. 29, and went into effect on Sunday,
According to the indictment, Roman used her position as Office Manager
for Ward County Irrigation District #1 to embezzle money from the district.
Roman was fired from her position as WCID #1 secretary in October, and
Ward County sheriff's deputy Ben Deishler called in the Texas Rangers to
assist them in the investigation.
Dieshler said in late October that the investigation began after a complaint
was filed, and deputies met with Texas Ranger Gerry Villalobos of Fort Stockton.
The water district's board of directors requested an investigation into several
irregularities at the water district office, according to Dieshler.
Ward County Irrigation District No. 1 is one of seven sub-districts to
the Red Bluff Water Power Control District, which regulates water releases
from the Pecos River to farmers between Red Bluff Dam and the Girvin area
in northeastern Pecos County. Red Bluff board members assign water allotments
each year to the seven districts, and the boards of those districts in turn
allot water to the farmers in their areas. Because of the ongoing drought,
the district had no water to allocate for the 2002 growing season.
Eagles tickets for home games remain on sale
PECOS, Thurs., Sept. 5, 2002 -- Season ticket sales for the Pecos Eagle
home football games are on sale now, though the number of home games this
year is still to be determined.
The Eagles are scheduled to have five home games, and tickets are on sale
for new season ticket buyers at the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Business Office,
1302 S. Park St.
Season tickets are $25 each and can be purchased up until the Eagles'
first regular sesason home game, on Sept. 13 against Lamesa.
However, Pecos' Oct. 18 game against Presidio may not be played. Those
who have purchased tickets for that game will have until the end of the regular
season in November to get their money back on that game, if it is not played.
District officials are awaiting a ruling from the University Interscholastic
Pecos' other home games are Sept. 20 against Brownfield (homecoming),
Oct. 4 against Lubbock High and Nov. 1 versus Fort Stockton. Starting times
for all the games is 7:30 p.m.
PECOS, Thurs., Sept. 5, 2002 -- High Wednesday 94. Low this morning 70.
Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows 70 to 75. East winds 5 to
15 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 90s. East winds 5
to 15 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy. Lows around 70. Saturday:
Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 90s. Sunday: Partly cloudy. Lows
around 70. Highs 90 to 95.
Marriages for June 2002, as filed with the Reeves County Clerk's Office.
Dulces Nombres Guerrero and Marisa Dominguez Pando.
Jose Angel Gonzalez and Rebecca Ramirez.
Alberto Samaguey and Brenda P. Rodriguez.
Warren Martin Keck, Jr. and Leslie Kay Tollett
Charlie Brian Anderman and Vandy Lee Clark.
Marriages for July 2002, as filed with the Reeves County Clerk's
David Garcia Salcido and Monica Rayos.
Leonel Ramirez and Araseli R. Molina.
Carlos Bueno, Jr. and Alma Lee Myers.
Edward Briceno and Nidia Lopez Beltran.
Jeffery Shay Martinez and Valerie Shaye Lara.
Ismael Hinojos Alvarado and Naomi Franco.
Higinio Porras Serrano and Criselda Samaguey.
Armando Luis Vera and Monica Rodriguez Carrasco.
Ricky Craig Furlong and Jamie Ann Bramblett.
Luis Ernesto Valeriano, Jr. and Elizabeth Holguin.
Divorces for June 2002, as filed with the Reeves County District Clerk's
Alan Morgan and Lana Morgan.
Divorces for July 2002, as filed with the Reeves County District
Steven Raye Brookshire and Wilma C. Brookshire.
Teodoro Fuentes, David, Holguin and Miguel Ortega
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 2002 by Pecos Enterprise