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


Dec. 18, 1997

Pyote school secretary charged

A caseworker secretary at the West Texas State School in
Pyote; her husband, a veteran Department of Public Safety
communications officer; and their 18-year-old son face a
series of criminal indictments charging the family with dope
distribution and sales.

The charges were the result of an undercover investigation
by members of the Permian Basin Drug Task Force.

Named in the indictments were Frank William Bechtel, 43, who
has been with the Department of Public Safety for 17 years;
his wife, Alta Ruth Bechtel, 47, who has worked for West
Texas State School for about nine years; and their son,
Skyler Avery Bechtel, a student at Pecos High School.

The indictments against the Pecos family were released on
Thursday, Dec. 11, after being handed up by a 143rd Judicial
District Grand Jury for Reeves County in Pecos.

Johnny B. Williams, superintendent of the Texas Youth
Commission school at Pyote, and Richard Jones, DPS
communications supervisor for the Pecos region, say the
Bechtels were suspended pending internal inquiry and
disposition of the cases against them.

Mr. and Mrs. Bechtel face three counts of organized
criminal activity in the delivery of contraband drugs by
their son. Skyler Bechtel, who celebrated his 18th birthday
on Saturday, Dec. 13, is charged with organized criminal
activity and delivery of marijuana and cocaine. According to
the indictments, the charges are based on deliveries to
undercover law enforcement officers on Nov. 20, Nov. 22,
Dec. 3 and Dec. 10.

Jones of the Department of Public Safety says the husband's
suspension was effective on Thursday, the day in which the
indictments were released. Williams of the Pyote state
school says the wife's suspensions was effective on Friday,
the day after the Grand Jury acted.

Four held in drug bust

Ward County Sheriff's Deputy John Steussy and elements of
the Permian Basin Drug Task Force confiscated 150 pounds of
marijuana on Tuesday night, Dec. 16, and arrested four men,
reports Chief Sheriff's Deputy Jerry Heflin.

The arrests were made when the officers stopped a vehicle on
State Route 18 about a mile South of the Monahans City

All four men arrested were being held in the Ward County
Jail on Wednesday night in lieu of $10,000 bail bond. One of
the four also is being held for forgery charges filed in
Midland County, according to county jail records.

Officers identified those arrested as:

William Leslie Dunivan, 28, of Odessa, held on charges of
possession and transportation of marijuana.

Steve John Cox, 28, of Odessa, held on charges of possession
and transportation of marijuana.

Arnulfo Anaya Corales, 18, of Ojinaga, Chihuahua, held on
charges of possession and transportation of marijuana and
illegal entry into the United States.

Herminio Armendarez Carrasco, 40, of Ojinaga, Chihuahua,
held on charges of possession and transportation of
marijuana and illegal entry into the United States.

Ward County Jail records identified Carrasco as the man who
also is wanted in Midland on the forgery charges.

Sheriff's Deputy Steussy brought those arrested to the Ward
County Jail where he processed the arrests.

Deficit is no-no this year

Administrators of the Monahans-Wickett-Pyote school district
expect to tame the district's nearly
three-quarter-of-a-million dollar deficit, says the
district's chief financial officer.

"We will not run a deficit this year," says district
Business Manager Joe Hayes.

That optimism can be traced directly to sharp increases in
property evaluations, especially minerals, within the school
district's boundaries. Increased revenues will harness the
school district's deficit.

Emphasizes Hayes: "We'll make it up this year because we'll
make up the $700,000-plus."

The about $753,000 shortfall was identified in the Kelley,
Smith, Willson & Rives audit of the school district's
revenues and expenditures for the fiscal year that ended on
Aug. 31. The audit was released at a meeting of the school
board on Tuesday, Dec. 9. Business manager Hayes notes the
$753,000 deficit followed a deficit of about $300,000 the
previous year. Prior to that, Hayes recalls, the school
district had operated for several years with no deficit.

When the audit report was presented to the school trustees,
James L. Willson of the firm noted the decrease in revenues
that marked the deficit "but we did not drop so much in the
fund balance."

The fund balance is the reserve on which school district
fiscal health depends.

Of this fiscal year's and the previous year's deficits,
Hayes says:

"We spent more money than we took in. It was due to our
revenues going down. We actually spent less but our property
values (in fiscal 96 and 95) were down and our state
reimbursement runs a year behind."

To go to the bottom line, the business manager says: "We had
less revenue from local property taxes."

Willson told the board: "Revenues the problem. We've lost
over $1 million."

And then later in his presentation, "We've lost over $1

It is that problem the expected higher property tax revenues
this fiscal year are expected to remedy.

The deficits should not be a source of worry because there
are lean years and good years, says the district business
manager. The district is now projected to enter a good time.

"It continued," Hayes says. "I'd be worried but with the
increased valuations, the problem will be resolved."

One way in which the school district counters deficits
comparable to those in the past two years is the "fund
balance." These are dollars stored for the bad years to
which Hayes refers. It is these dollars which allow the
school district to absorb the deficits. Currently, according
to the audit report, that fund balance is about $2.5 million.

"I like to carry about three and a half million in the fund
balance," says Hayes.

That kind of a fund balance, the business manager notes,
would restore the school district's books to the point that
it could continue to weather any coming lean years.

Auditor Willson congratulated the board and its
administrators for the way in which they track the
district's expenditures and for "spending less than
budgeted" when the impending shortfall was identified.

Chief questions radiology work

Ward Memorial Hospital's Chief of Staff questions whether
the hospital's radiology machines can perform the tasks for
which they are designed.

Ward Memorial Hospital's administrator says he is wrong.

The first comment came from Steven Steinbaum, the chief of
medical staff at the Monahans hospital and an assistant
professor of radiology at Texas Tech Health Science Center
in Lubbock.

Ward Memorial Administrator William F. O'Brien says the
equipment is certified by the Texas Deparatment of Health
and the Food and Drug Administration.

Steinbaum agrees but he says he is concerned about the
American College of Radiology accreditation, the most
important. The physician says he is concerned because:

"The current equipment at Ward Memorial Hospital is
substandard and I doubt if it will ever obtain final
certification by the American College of Radiology," says

The physician continues: "Attempts at repair and upgrade are
ongoing and have been unsuccessful since the unit was
dropped off at the hospital over a year ago. The money spent
on repair and upgrades is rapidly approaching the cost of
buying a new machine."

O'Brien says the repairs and maintenance have been
successful and there are no outstanding work orders or
anything else pending.

"Medical physicists from Radiological Physics Inc. in El
Paso gave the equipment a clean bill of health on Nov. 3,"
the administrator emphasizes.

The physician also says: "I regret to say that our current
administration has not made a commitment to provide quality
breast care to the county residents."

Steinbaum further reports: "Both Dr. Glenn Roberson, the
chairman of the Department of Radiology at Texas Tech and I
want to help the residents of Ward County obtain the best
breast care possible."

Says Steinbaum: "Let me attempt to clarify a few of the
problems with breast care at Ward Memorial Hospital. I am
credentialled to read mammograms at Texas Tech." Steinbaum
says he is scheduled to take ACF board tests this Summer.

Dr., Roberto Spencer, a board-certified radiologist, is the
Ward Memorial's mammography program medical director.

Pepito heads hospital staff

Dr. Dante Pepito has been elected chief of the Ward Memorial
Hospital medical staff in Monahans, report those who
attended the closed meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 15.

Meetings of the hospital medical staff are not open to the
public under the state's Open Meetings and Records Act.

Pepito is scheduled to succeed current chief of staff, Dr.
Steven Steinbaum.

The physician officially is to take office in January.

Those at the meeting say the vote to elect Pepito was five
to four.

There are nine physicians now listed on the staff of Ward
Memorial Hospital in Monahans.

Thrashers take grand prize

J.W. and Jennie Thrasher won the Grand Prize in the annual
Monahans outdoor Christmas lighting contest sponsored by the
Women's Division of the Chamber of Commerce.

Judges made their decisions on Tuesday night, Dec. 16, after
a nocturnal tour of Monahans. Results were announced on

The Thrashers came out of the Spirit of Christmas category
to win the big prize.

Others Winners were:


R&R Imports

Honorable Mention: Friaco's

Spirit of Christmas

The Thrashers, 1405 South Franklin Avenue.

Lanny Ice Jr., 1210 North Doris Avenue.

Thomas Escamilla, 1305 South James Avenue.

Reason for the Season (Religious)

J.B. Pogue, 501 South Skylark Avenue.


Emily Pepito, 1311 South Murray Avenue.

Honorable Mention: Terry and Carolyn Harkey and Brett and
Vicki Heflin


Linda Mills, 501 South Faye Avenue.

Doug Curbow, 1106 South Allen Avenue.

Honorable Mention: Keith Shugart, 1400 Nelson Avenue.

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