Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Monday, November 25, 2002
Air Force says pilot's mistake led to bombing
By CHRIS ROBERTS
Associated Press Writer
HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. - A pilot's inattention and a breakdown
in a chain of safety procedures are to blame for the accidental bombing last
year of three towns in New Mexico and Texas, the U.S. Air Force said on Friday.
An F-117 nighthawk pilot flying a practice mission out of Holloman AFB
on July 16, dropped three dummy bombs on Pecos and Monahans in Texas and
Maljamar in New Mexico.
One bomb pierced the roof of an occupied home in Monahans while the bomb
that hit Pecos fell on the edge of a yard at Fifth and Hickory streets and
the bomb in New Mexico hit the edge of U.S. 82 in Maljamar. No one was injured
in any of the incidents.
The pilot, who Air Force officials declined to name, did a preflight check
of his aircraft but didn't notice the dummy bombs, which don't contain explosives.
"Had the pilot properly inspected both left and right internal weapons
bays during his preflight inspection, he would have known the aircraft was
configured with practice munitions in the right internal weapons bay," said
Col. James P. Hunt, commander of the 49th Fighter Wing at Holloman.
The pilot was grounded during the investigation, Hunt said. He was removed
from his leadership position, counseled, and trained before being returned
to flying status, he added.
"There is no doubt that this is a blemish on the absolutely excellent
record of a superior officer," Hunt said. "He was completely honest about
his mistake and showed a great deal of remorse for his error."
Hunt said other safety checks also failed that day.
The pilot was excused from a morning safety briefing where he would have
been informed that the aircraft was loaded with dummy bombs from a previous
A card with that information somehow disappeared from his briefing package.
And an individual briefing by the mission commander didn't include a mention
of the aircraft's weapon configuration, Hunt said.
Also, the pilot, who was part of a computer simulated mission, threw switches
that allowed the bombs to be dropped.
Changes in simulation procedures now prohibit use of the switches and
require that any dummy bombs from previous missions be unloaded before the
aircraft leaves the ground, Hunt said.
The 25-pound practice bombs crashed through the roof in Monahans, frightening
homeowner Gloria Aker and her two children and destroying a bathroom in the
house. The bomb in Pecos fell in the front yard of a home owned by Evarista
Mora in the 500 block of South Hickory Street.
Two lawsuits, filed by towns for damage to pavement and curbs, have been
settled for about $3,000, Hunt said.
The other two, including the claim for damage to the home, are still being
Hunt said no lawsuits had been filed as of Friday.
"I'd like to apologize to the citizens of Monahans and Pecos, Texas, and
Maljamar New Mexico, for the July 16th incident. All involved truly regret
Franco says pact improves RCDC medical services
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Mon., Nov. 25, 2002 -- Providing the appropriate medical care to inmates
is harder and should be handled differently than regular county physician
services, which is why an outside provider was acquired for services
at the Reeves County Detention Center, Reeves County Commissioners
were told this morning.
RCDC Warden Rudy Franco and Assistant Warden Tommy Duncan were on hand
at the regular Commissioners Court to talk about the services currently being
provided by PNA to the prison's 2,000 inmates, housed under a contract with
the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
"I would like Mr. Franco and Tommy Duncan to recap the medical services
over the last two years at the facility and talk about the problems that
have been encountered," said County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.
He said that recruiting medical services at the facility has been a problem
that was solved this past summer due to the services provided through the
"When you're dealing with medical services for a facility such as ours,
with 2,000 inmates and you have to meet the BOP requirements, it's a little
harder than providing services for individuals out in the community," said
He said that the three main problems in a prison facility are usually
food, medical and mail services.
"Out of the three, the hardest has been medical," said Franco. "It's medical,
because medical in a facility is much different than regular medical services."
He said that inmates have a tendency to be more demanding. "They always
want the bottom bunk and if the medical services provider doesn't know any
better, he requests more bottom bunks for inmates than what we have," said
He added that a medical provider who is new and not accustomed to dealing
with inmates would inadvertently provide the inmate with medication and other
medical provisions that he doesn't necessarily need.
"The inmate can talk him into prescribing any medication that he wants,
just by telling him what hurts and what medication he needs for it," said
Franco. "Because some of these inmates have been former drug users, they
just tell the medical supplier what they want and if the physician isn't
used to dealing with inmates will just give them that."
Franco said that population is another problem that medical services in
a facility faces. "When you have that many inmates and need to provide appropriate
medical care and meet certain requirements, it's a little harder," he said.
"The BOP requires that we have the right medical personnel."
Franco said that in the past they had been using FMG's (Foreign Medical
Graduates), but that the BOP still required that a licensed physician see
the inmate. "They would see the inmates, but still refer them to a doctor,"
Franco said that the BOP required that the prison be Health Commission
Accredited. "This is an expensive process," said Franco.
Franco said that a time came when the inmates were not receiving the adequate
care that the BOP required under their Statement of Work.
"After we got PNA, we have achieved our goals of providing the appropriate
medical care to these inmates," he said.
Franco said that for the past four months the PNA contract has been in
effect, compared with the first seven months of the year, the number of outside
visits went down from 59 to four; the number of surgeries required from 15
to two and services from 3,148 to 222.
"The inmates are more harder to deal with, because they have no other
avenue," said Franco.
Franco said that he first heard about the group at a conference held during
the summer and attended by prison employees.
"I listened to them and learned that they had done an excellent job at
other facilities," said Franco. "They had experience with inmates and were
certified in that area."
He said that in the past it took about two weeks for an inmate to see
a physician and another two weeks to receive their medication. "Now they
get to see the doctor within a couple of days and the medication within a
day," he said.
"I even had inmates come up to me, and tell me, I received my medication
today, but my illness went away three weeks ago," said Duncan. "That's because
it would take two weeks for them to see a doctor and another two to receive
"We knew this wasn't the appropriate medical services we should be providing,"
said Franco. "Eventually the inmate will act out and then we'll have a problem."
Franco said that over the summer, they paid a lot of attention to the
medical services at the facility.
"We had 101 x-rays and now we have had four since we went with PNA," said
Franco, who added that they have also eliminated a lot of office visits.
"The number of inmates leaving the facility has gone down," he said.
"By the correct medical approach and medication used, we have eliminated
a lot of problems. Instead of giving the inmates brand names, they can now
prescribe generic and still offer the same services," said Franco.
"Can you tell us about what it was costing us to provide these services
and what it is costing now?" asked Galindo.
Duncan read a part of the Statement of Work, the contract the county has
with BOP about the medical services provision. "We are required to provide
the appropriate medical care," he said.
"The cost of providing these services outside of the facility was $1.4
million, outside of the facility and then you have the staff required inside
the facility is $2.6 million," said Duncan. "The total cost would be $3.4
million," he said.
Cost of services through PNA are $408 per inmate for each man/day, and
has been estimated to be about $2.9 million, according to Duncan.
"That's a $400,000 savings," he said.
PNA provides services to 15 facilities, according to Duncan. "They have
been successful in attracting special services, such as cardiac, when in
the past we had trouble doing that," said Duncan. "They have years of experience.
"They also use services from the local community as much as they can,"
said Duncan. "Pharmaceuticals is used locally," he said.
Duncan said that he is currently working on problems that have occurred
with local service providers.
"These were just human errors and we're working on them," said county
auditor Lynn Owens. "Since it was new to Mr. Duncan, there were a few mistakes,
but nothing that can't be corrected."
"It's a tremendous improvement from what we've had in the past," said
Galindo. "I know that even the local hospitals have trouble recruiting medical
personnel, so it's even harder for a facility."
Galindo said that when they first met with PNA, he took Reeves County
Hospital Administrator Robert Vernor along with him. "I invited him to that
meeting and asked him if the hospital could provide all those services, and
he said `no'," said Galindo. "What he said was no way."
Duncan said that three months ago, the medical services department was
in no shape to be seen by outsiders. ""We didn't want them to see our medical
records, we were so far behind, but now we've seen a major improvement,"
Christmas for Kids seeking donations, taking applications
PECOS, Mon., Nov. 25, 2002 -- Christmas for the Kids is continuing to
seek donations to help pay for presents for children of low income families
in Reeves County this year.
Christmas for the Kids is also taking applications until Friday from families
seeking help this holiday season, said Sofia Baeza, one of the organizers
for the group. "If anyone feels that they qualify for this program they can
come by the sheriff's department and fill out an application or call us,"
The group is seeking to raise $8,000 to buy gifts for children this Christmas.
For more information on the program call the Reeves County Sheriff's Office
Weather helps make inaugural flea market a success
By JENNIFER GALVAN
PECOS, Mon., Nov. 25, 2002 -- Vendors and local customers could not have
asked for better weather this weekend for the First Annual Pecos Peddlers
Flea Market, held at the Buck Jackson Rodeo Grounds Saturday.
"We began planning in July and we could not have picked a more beautiful
day in November," said Linda Gholson, interim Executive Director for the
Pecos Chamber of Commerce.
Temperatures were mostly in the 60s and 70s on Saturday while the flea
market was underway. It opened its doors to the public at 9 a.m., and remained
in operation until 4 p.m., with vendors displaying their items in the area
between the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena and the Reeves County Civic Center.
Debbie Thomas, member of the committee, said that they also had no idea
that the flea market would be such a huge success.
According to Thomas about 600 people attended the flea market throughout
the day, with most of the people coming in though the gates during its first
"We know that from 9 a.m. until noon, 482 people came in through the gates,"
Thomas also said that as of early Friday they had 16 vendors with three
more signing up Friday afternoon for a total of 19.
Thomas said that out of the 19 vendors, several of them were not only
from Pecos but also from Monahans, Odessa, and Midland.
"There were a lot of out-of-town people," Thomas said. "I sent some of
them to the museum."
Gholson said that the merchants had a lot of items to choose from as well.
"We had a variety," she said. "We had some garage sales, arts and crafts
and bake sales. We had a lot of novelty items."
Thomas said with 15 local merchants donating door prices they then added
15 more for a total of 30.
"We added 15 refreshment items from the concession stand as door prices,"
Gholson said that along with the Chamber and local organizers, the vendors
seemed pleased with the turnout and sales as well and some were even asking
when the next one would be scheduled, though she added that the group isn't
going to test their luck with the late-season temperatures any further.
"The next Peddlers Flea Market will not be till the spring or early summer,"
Thomas added that the committee would have a meeting next week to discuss
when they could have the next flea market.
"We will meet next week to discuss whether we will have it quarterly or
every six months," she said.
Gholson said that she would like to thank everyone for their support.
"We definitely appreciate the venders, volunteers and the public for supporting
the first Pecos Peddlers Flea Market," Gholson said, and Thomas added that
they appreciated everyone from the vendors to the merchants for participating
in the flea market.
She also said that the committee enjoyed the flea market as well.
"It was also exciting for those who put it on," Thomas said.
PECOS, Mon., Nov. 25, 2002 -- High Sun. 78. Low this morning 40. Forecast
for tonight: Mostly cloudy and cold with a slight chance of light
rain or freezing rain. Lows around 30. East winds 5 to 10 mph. The
chance of precipitation is 20 percent. Tues.: Mostly cloudy and continued
cold with a slight chance of light rain or freezing rain in the morning.
Highs in the upper 30s. NE winds increasing to 10 to 20 mph. The chance
of precipitation is 20 percent. Tues. night: Mostly cloudy and continued
cold. Lows in the upper 20s. Wed.: Mostly cloudy. Highs near 40. Thanksgiving
Day: Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 30s. Highs in the lower 40s.
Lewis Cowart and Josephine Shultz
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