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

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Thursday, January 22, 1998

Chamber banquet to be held February 7

Fun and magic will focus the 45th annual banquet of the
Monahans Chamber of Commerce at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 7,
in the Ward County Convention Center, according to a Chamber

Magician and raconteur Taylor Keen is scheduled to appear.
Tickets are available at First State Bank and First National
Bank, at the Chamber and the Teachers Credit Union. Advance
tickets are $20; at the door, $25.

Yates to sing with Texas All State choir

Justin Yates, president of the National Honor Society at
Monahans High School, will perform with the Texas All-State
Choir in San Antonio in February.

Yates is a member of the high school's acapella choir.

The performance in concert with the all state choir will be
on Saturday, Feb. 14, as part of the 1998 Texas Music
Educator's Association Clinic and Convention.

Yates earned the honor in competitive auditions held this
school year across the state at district, regional and area

About 10,000 choir students started the competitions that
led to the eventual selection of the 240-voice choir.

In choir competitions, schools are not divided by class as
they are in athletics.

Yates is the second chair bass I from the area in which
Monahans singers compete.

Yates is a private student of Carlene Wadley of Odessa and
sings under the direction of James Coldewey and David
McCarley, who are members of the Texas Music Educators
Association, an 8000-member group based in Austin. Yates
formerly was a student under Ken Mills, the legendary
retired choir director at Monahans High School.

Yates also sings with the ensemble "Special Edition" and has
performed for the past two years with the Midland/Odessa
Symphony and Chorale under the direction of Rob Hunt. Yates
attends the Church of Christ and is a varsity tennis player.

$5 million offered to lease hospital

Ward County Commissioners Court held a special joint-meeting
with the county's Hospital Board Tuesday, Jan. 20, to hear a
proposal to lease the problem-plagued hospital to a
not-for-profit corporation.

Community Health Corporation proposes giving the county $5
million up front in return for a 30-year contract to manage
the facility. CHC's proposal also includes the purchase of
Ward Memorial's net accounts receivables, inventory and
supplies for an additional $1.1 million.

CHC, the first not-for-profit group to approach the county,
is also asking that the county pay back the lease amount
over a 10 year period, with the county paying $550,000 per
year for five years, followed by a payment of $350,000 per
year for the following five years.

The county would also be expected to pay $200,000 per year
for ambulance service and indigent health care.

The commissioners are expected to review proposals for
leasing the hospital Monday morning , Jan. 26, during their
regular meeting.

County Judge Sam Massey said Wednesday that it is possible
the commissioners will be considering a total of five
proposals, three of which came from companies such CHC, and
one of which will come from Massey himself.

Judge Massey said that his idea is for the court to take
into consideration keeping the hospital's operations "status
quo", in that the county find a replacement for outgoing
Administrator Bill O'Brien and hope that a change in
management may be able to iron out the problems.

O'Brien has accepted a new job in La Grange, Texas, to
start Feb. 1.

CHC's proposal calls for Ward Memorial to enter into a
partnership with Memorial Hospital and Medical Center in
Midland. The partnership would establish a 501(c)(3) entity
for the purpose of leasing Ward Memorial. The corporation
would be governed by a local board of directors comprised of
four members from Monahans' private sector, one member from
Ward Memorial medical staff, one representative from the
Midland facility and one from Community Health Corporation.

According to CHC's proposal, the advantages of entering
into such a partnership with Midland are threefold:

*Access to specialty care in cardiology, rehabilitation,
oncology, surgery and infectious disease;

*Access to health plan options and contracts for Ward County
employees such as preferred provider organizations (PPOs)
and health maintenance organizations (HMOs);

*And, support of Ward Memorial medical staff through
referral options and recruitment of additional staff if

This latest proposal highlights the difference of opinion
which has flared-up between Judge Massey and Administrator

"Although they (CHC) are still in the running, I
personally like their proposal," said Massey. "I feel that
there were some good ideas presented, but there is no
security for the county after we pay back the lease amount.
We can't be sure what they would be leaving us after 10

O'Brien, on the other hand, felt, "CHC had an outstanding
presentation. Their people were able to give all the answers
required. I realize CHC's deal is not as financially
lucrative for the county as some of the other proposals, I
feel that the medical care which would be available is far
superior to the other proposals."

Two proposals presented the county last year, one from
Quroum and one from Community Health Partnership, had an
acceptance date of Dec. 31. It is unclear whether there is
still interest by those groups..

Community Health Corporation is prepared to take the helm
of Ward Memorial in 90 days of its acceptance.

Family Medical Center continues

Family Medical Center of Monahans reestablished its
independence on Monday, Jan. 19, after an under capitalized
coalition of health care workers collapsed.

The Monahans center, owned by Drs. D. William Davison and
Dr. Gary R. Albertson, both fellows of the American Academy
of Family Physicians, had been a part of the Midland Odessa
Medical Group (MOM) since July of 1997.

"The MOM group ran into financial difficulties and ceased
operations as a group practice on Friday, Jan. 16," says a
statement prepared by Albertson and Davison. "All the
doctors in the MOM group have returned to their respective
individual practices and Family Medical Center resumed
operations under its own name on Monday, Jan. 19."

Davison emphasizes that there will be no effect on the
treatment of Family Medical Center patients in Monahans by
the financial failure of the health care coalition.

More than 52 Permian Basin physicians, most of them from
Midland or Odessa, were part of the group.

The concept had been to centralize business (billing, office
procedures, etc.) while giving the doctors who were part of
the coalition ready access to any medical speciality that
might be needed for treatment of their patients.
From the start, there were problems with raising the capital
needed to underwrite the initial costs of establishing a
central office, installing the required computer systems and
providing the framework needed for the group to perform the
mission it had outlined.

"When MOM was started, it was under capitalized," reports
Davison. "There had been a line of credit at a Houston bank.
More was needed. A last attempt to attract capital partners
failed. The physicians involved simply could not invest any
more than they already had invested."

The physicians emphasize that Family Medical Center will
continue to serve its Ward County patients as Davison and
Albertson have done for nearly two decades.

In addition to Albertson and Davison, Dr. Sixta Sotelo, a
board certified internist, is part of the Family Medical
Center team in Monahans. Family Medical Center's services
include pediatrics, family care, internal medicine,
obstetrics, gynecology, orthopedics, sports medicine,
employment physicals, drug screen, alcohol testing and
Federal Aviation Administration flight physicals.

Riley promoted from kinder to high school

Kellye Riley, who had been the principal at the Cullender
Kindergarten campus, is the new Monahans High School

Sam Atwood, who had been high school principal for two
years, transfers to the district administrative staff where
Superintendent Clifton L. Stephens says Atwood will assist
in identification and planning for alternative sources of
school district funding. Atwood's new title is assistant to
business services.

A lead teacher will become the chief at Cullender
Kindergarten, a status comparable to the way in which
Gensler Elementary School in Wickett operates.

Atwood "has a job with the school district as long as he
wants it" and "Kellye Riley will be getting a raise," how
much is still to be determined, says Stephens, the
superintendent of the Monahans-Wickett-Pyote School District.

Riley says she is excited abut the new challenge and
"excited about being a part of Monahans High School pride."

That is the essence of a formal school district statement
plus comments made in interviews with Stephens and Riley.
The focus was the nearly surprising series of changes that
began, the superintendent reports, when then high school
principal Atwood asked Stephens on Saturday, Jan. 10, for

The contracts of Atwood and all school district
administrators were renewed at the meeting of the Board of
Trustees on Tuesday, Jan. 13. It was at that meeting of the
trustees where the principals of the districts various
campuses reported to the board on their campus goals that
Stephens approached Riley about becoming the new principal
of Monahans High School.

Says Stephens of the change:

"The actions we have taken are positive moves for our
district. Mr. Atwood will do a good job with his new
responsibilities and Ms Riley is a very competent
administrator. I know the staff and faculty at the high
school will be supportive of Ms Riley. I want to assure the
parents of children at both campuses that your children will
continue to receive a quality education that you have come
to expect in our district."

Following is the statement released by Stephens to the
Monahans News on Friday, Jan. 16.:
"Monahans High School will have a new principal effective
Tuesday, Jan. 20, 1998. Ms Kellye Riley, who presently is
employed as principal at Cullender Kindergarten, will become
the new principal.

"Mr. Sam Atwood, present high school principal, has
requested a reassignment in the district. The request was
approved by Superintendent Clifton L. Stephens. Mr. Atwood
will begin his duties as assistant to business services on
Tuesday, Jan. 20.

(In fact by Wednesday, Jan. 21, Atwood already was deep
into his new role at the school district attending a special
workshop in Odessa. His new offices are in the
administrative annex.)

"Cullender Kindergarten will operate with a lead teacher to
be named later after meetings are held with the staff of
that campus."

New principal Riley was graduated in 1976 from Hobbs (N.M.)
High School, received her bachelor of science in education
degree from New Mexico State University in 1979. She earned
highest honors in the College of Education. Riley taught
second grade at Hobbs and then recessed from education for
three years.

She and husband, Michael, have three children: Allison, a
sophomore at Monahans High; Shon, a freshman; and Trent, a
seventh grader at Walker Junior High.

She returned to the classroom for a year and then moved to
Roswell, N.M., where she was a teacher in the gifted and
talented program.

From Roswell, Riley moved to Houston (Tex.) Dickinson where
she also attended the University of Houston - Clear Lake and
earned her Master of Science in Educational Management and
her administrative certification. In 1992, she came to
Monahans and taught third grade one year at Tatum Elementary
before moving to Cullender as principal.

January sales tax rebates up 40%

Special to the News

AUSTIN - Sales tax rebates from the state to Ward County
increased by more than 40 percent, according to a report
from State Comptroller John Sharp.

At least one reason, says the comptroller, is a half-cent
sales tax for economic development effective on Nov. 1 in
the City of Monahans. The January rebate checks were for
sales tax dollars collected in November.

The Ward County increase, compared with January of 1997, was
an exact 42.45 percent on sales tax checks that increased
from $44,066.82 last January to $62,776.48 in January of

Monahans, the Ward County seat, led the increase in sales
tax rebates which went up 42.13 percent from $40,896.24 to

Grandfalls and Wickett did have larger percentage increases
in the checks from the state but on far fewer dollars.

Wickett increased 59.7 percent from $2,048.44 to $3,271.54;
Grandfalls, up 47.66 percent from $327.28 to $483.29.

Thorntonville's sales tax rebate check for January was down
7.25 percent from $76.23 to $70.70.

In Pyote, the increase was 14.8 percent from $718.63 to

Air Force plans increased flights over county

Citizens of Ward County have only positive comments about
U.S. Air Force plans to increase bomber training flights
over the region, report Air Force public affairs officers.

Under either of two projections for the change in B-1B
Lancer and B-52 flight patterns, the number of flights over
Monahans and other towns in the Trans-Pecos would increase
by about 200 to 300 a year, says Lt. Donald B. Kerr of the
Seventh Bomb Wing Public Affairs office at Dyess Air Force
Base near Abilene.

Currently most of the 1,500 to 1,700 training flights a year
are at night. The high flying bombers usually can be seen
flying in pairs around midnight.

Adding 200 to 300 a yearmight not even be noticeable to any
but the UFO crowd around Roswell, N.M.

The public comment is being sought as part of required
hearings by the Air Force for the preparation of an
Environmental Impact Statement.

More public meetings in the Trans-Pecos on the increased
B-1B and B-52 traffic aloft are scheduled - the next one
will be in Pecos on Tuesday, Feb.3, , from 6:30 p.m. until
8:30 p.m. in the Pecos Community Center at 508 South Oak

A hearing in Monahans on Dec. 10 at the Ward County
Convention Center was typical of the reactions of West
Texans to the expanded training plans.

Those at the hearing supported anything the Air Force wanted
in proposed Realistic Bombing Training Initiative. The Air
Force hearing officers stressed the "need for training
close to home and why we cannot achieve this without the
full support of the community."

Under one of the proposed options, the primary operating
area would be about equidistant between Lubbock and
Abilene,. In the second, the area would roughly center on

Kerr notes changes in training flight patterns like those
planned require a complete examination of all potential
environmental impact in a region.

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