April 17, 1998
New options for Ward Memorial Hospital
By GREG HARMAN
MONAHANS, April 17, 1998 - A few weeks ago it looked as if
the only way to save Ward Memorial Hospital from
ever-increasing budget and billing difficulties was to lease
the hospital out to interested Community Health Care
Systems. The hospital was floundering in the midst of a
serious dilemma, with the unattractive options of raising
taxes or reducing hospital services presenting themselves
over and again, when it began taking offers last summer to
lease out its facility.
The favorite potential leasor, Community Health Care, was
seeking a 30-year lease contract with Ward Memorial while
offering to provide $8 million to the county up front.
However, Community Health withdrew its bid after months of
on and off negotiations.
Ward Memorial Hospital Board Chairman Glen Vance said that
the original, long-term lease offer from Community Health
Care Systems was withdrawn by the company possibly because
of the length of the negotiations (which began in October
last year) and the fact that they "got a look at our
financials and maybe didn't think their offer would be
At last night's hospital board meeting, two more interested
parties entered the conversation: Lubbock Methodist Hospital
System, managing system for, among others, Reeves County
Hospital, and Midland Memorial Hospital.
Both proposals were for management contracts and both,
according to Vance, have their advantages. Both Lubbock
Methodist and Midland Memorial offered to supply a hospital
administrator, the cost of which would be absorbed by the
hospital. Midland Memorial, with no prior experience in
outside management contracts, said Vance, also asked for an
additional $5,000 monthly fee for services.
"We are in dire need of good management," said Ward County
Judge Sam Massey, "We heard reports from people in Pecos and
Lovington (N.M.) where they are running similar-sized
hospitals in similar-sized communities with staffs of 80-110
people and we employ 167 people. We have some real problems."
Massey said he felt confident that the hospital board would
make a good decision regarding management and thought both
Midland Memorial and Lubbock Methodist had good offers.
Because of a hospital circulated petition, which gathered
11,000 signatures demanding a referendum on the CHC offer,
Ward county will hold a county-wide election on Saturday,
May 2, to decide whether or not to lease the hospital.
According to Massey, there are no longer any such offers on
Massey said that there had been as many as five separate
offers to lease the hospital at one point, the best of which
was made by Community Health Care Services. "Midland
Memorial then offered to provide the same services (as CHC)
in a verbal presentation," said Massey this morning, "and we
waited to give them the opportunity to make a presentation."
That second offer, said Massey, was "not as good as we were
led to believe."
Community Health Care withdrew its original lease offer, he
said, because of a second look at the hospital's finances
and lack of support from the hospital staff.
No action was taken at last night's meeting. The board will
meet again at it regularly-scheduled Tuesday, April 21,
Family drug trial completed
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, April 17, 1998 - Three members of a Pecos family
charged with organized criminal activity entered guilty
pleas this morning in 143rd District Court and were placed
on community supervision, with adjudication deferred.
Frank William Bechtel, 43, Alta Ruth Bechtel, 47, and their
son, Skyler Avery Bechtel, 18, admitted possessing
marijuana. Skyler also admitted delivering cocaine to an
Bill and Alta were placed on six years community
supervision, with a $1,500 fine, restitution and court
costs. Skyler will serve concurrent 10-year community
supervision terms, pay $1,500 fines and restitution on both
District Judge Bob Parks placed Skyler on intensive
supervision for three to 12 months, which means he must
report to the probation officer at least twice a week.
Should they successfully complete the terms of community
supervision, the conviction will not be final, leaving them
with a clean criminal record.
Bechtel said this morning they plan to move to Austin for a
new start. He has resigned his position as dispatcher with
the Department of Public Safety, and Alta resigned as
secretary at the Texas State School in Pyote.
Skyler, who admitted selling marijuana from the family home
at 902 S. Hickory St. -near Pecos Kindergarten, said he has
received counseling and has spoken to school children about
the dangers of using drugs as part of his rehabilitation.
Besides the organized criminal activity charge, Skyler
allegedly sold cocaine to an undercover officer on Nov. 20
and 22, 1997, and marijuana on Dec. 3 and Dec. 10, 1997.
The city-county narcotics team obtained a search warrant for
the Bechtel home following the Dec. 10 sale, which occurred
in front of the house.
During the search, officers found 5.5 ounces of marijuana,
scales and roach clips in the master bedroom. Arrest of all
three followed, and they were indicted the next day.
Pecos Police investigator Paul Deishler seized the home and
the family was required to move out temporarily. District
Judge Bob Parks allowed them to return home on the condition
they return it to the state in good condition at the time of
Deishler said the family is negotiating with the state on
the forfeiture, which was not on today's docket.
Judge Parks warned the family that deferred adjudication is
a two-edged sword.
"You have the right to ultimately clean up your record, but
the court has a pretty big hammer. A third-degree felony
(marijuana possession) carries a penalty of 2-10 years in
prison and a fine of up to $10,000. A second degree (cocaine
delivery) is 2-20 years."
Their attorney Scott Johnson, also warned his clients that
the judge can assess the full punishment should they violate
any term of their community supervision.
"I am not expecting to see you back," said Judge Parks. "But
if you are, you have to recognize the seriousness of this
offense; when we have people who are respected employees of
the state in this situation."
Fallen Texas lawman honored in Barstow
By CARA ALLIGOOD
BARSTOW, April 17, 1998 - This chilly, overcast morning was
an apt setting as a monument honoring Texas Highway
Patrolman Joseph Newton Avary, who was killed in the line of
duty, was dedicated at the scene of his death, about a mile
east of Barstow on Highway 80.
Officers of area law enforcement agencies attended the
ceremony along with officials from both Reeves and Ward
The monument is one of a series of such memorials to fallen
Texas lawmen who died in the line of duty. The series of
monuments dot the roadways of Texas through the efforts of
Rick Metcalf, because of an act of kindness shown to him by
a trooper who was later killed in the line of duty.
Reverend James Sain of West Park Baptist Church in Pecos
gave the invocation at the beginning of the ceremony and
Pecos Department of Public Safety Sgt. Harvey Stamper read
the dedication of the monument.
Avary was killed in an accident while pursuing a traffic
violator May 17, 1935, after being stationed in Pecos for
two years. He had been with the highway patrol since Oct.
Avary was born July 1, 1906, and was 28 at the time of his
Avary is survived by his wife, Clarice Alice Avary and three
children, one of whom was an infant only three weeks old at
the time of his father's death. Funeral services were held
in Pecos, then his body was taken to Beaver City, Neb. for
According to newspaper accounts of his death, Avary had the
reputation of being an honest and efficient officer who was
very highly regarded by his fellow officers.
Stars on display in Texas parks
By GREG HARMAN
PECOS, April 17, 1998 - First there was the soon-to-be
retracted prediction of a "killer" asteroid smashing into
Then the two curious racquetball-sized chunks of space
debris landed in Monahans.
Now, those with a zest for the "great beyond" of
ever-expanding crab nebulas, black holes and other majestic
extra-terrestrial sights, are offered a closer look at the
world beyond at two free "star parties" being held this
The first will be held in the parking lot of the Chihuahuan
Desert Research Institute, celebrating their 25th
anniversary this year, at 8:30 p.m. Friday, April 17. The
free event will be hosted by Matt Bridges, of Fort Davis.
The following evening, Carlsbad Caverns National Park and
The Albuquerque Astronomical Society (TAAS) will pool their
resources for an evening of slides and stars beginning at 7
p.m., April 18, at the Visitor Center of the national park.
The slide presentation, entitled "A Journey Through Space,"
will emphasize objects that can be seen with telescopes
provided by TASS and the park, including Orion nebulae in
our Milky Way galaxy and deep sky objects outside of our
After the slide show, actual star viewing will be held,
Also, friends of Guadalupe National Park may be interested
in registering for an upcoming research and resource
management symposium to be held from Wednesday, April 22, to
Saturday, April 25, at the Pecos River Village in Carlsbad,
Titled, "25 Years of Cultural and National Stewardship at
Guadalupe Mountains National Park," the symposium will
highlight research and resource management activities that
have occurred since the establishment of the park.
Balmorhea housing to be discussed
PECOS, April 17, 1998 - A letter to HUD regarding the
Balmorhea Housing Authority management disbandment as
resolved by the BHA Board of commissioners will be the
topic of discussion at the Pecos Housing Authority Board
of Directors regular meeting.
The group will meet at 5 p.m. today at the PHA/FLH,
administration office, 600 Meadowbrook Drive. The
group will also discuss the CIAP 96 budget revision
by HUD engineer, Mike Long andCIAP 96 field report of
March 17, by Architect Shane Sigrist. The group will
listen to a CIAP 96 update.
Under new business a resolution and approval to open bids
for FY Jan. 1, 1997 and Dec. 31, 1997 audit will be discussed and a resolution to clean up airbase vacant lots and remove idle telephone poles and disposal of transmitters as proposed by Red Simpson Inc.
Approval of inventory and sales of salvageable equipment,
materials, etc., from the 1996 CIAP renovation project in accordance to the PHA Disposition policy is also on the agenda.
Approval of employees' wage increase for FY 1998 will be
discussed along with the regular item agendas such as monthly income and expense report, accounts payable and occupancy report.
In the Farm Labor Housing portion of the meeting the group
will discuss a resolution and approval of FLH Board for FY April 1, 1998 and March 31, 1999; approval for accountant for FLH project with Lindsey Company; approval of turnover FY 1997 collection losses for Sonia
Wilson Rayos, $111, Esmilda Martinez, $275, Jaime
Valenzuela, $33, Maria Serna, $108, Felip Cabada, $225 and Patricia Tapia, $33 plus $238 previous balance.
Approval of employees wage increase for FY 1998 will also be
discussed along with regular agenda items for the Farm Labor Housing.
RCDC expansion moving smoothly
By RICK L. SMITH
PECOS, April 17, 1998 - Walls are up and workers are
beginning to place the roof and interior fixings on the day
room expansion at the Reeves County Detention Center. The
expansion is expected to be completed by June 22, according
to Arnie Babillo, project supervisor.
The expansion of the detention center will add 300 beds to
the facility, increasing its capacity from about 700 inmates
to around 1,000. Completion of the expansion is expected to
add 30 new jobs at the facility, increase RCDC annual
revenues from $8 million to $12 million and pump almost $4
million annually into the county's economy, Reeves County
Commissioners have said.
Commissioners expect the additional jail space will be sold
to law enforcement agencies such as the U.S. Marshal's
office and Immigration and Naturalization Services for
$36.50 per day to pay for the expansion. Once the current
expansion is completed commissioners hope to construct an
additional 1,000-bed jail adjoining the present facility.
Ground was broken for the expansion Dec. 10, 1997.
The day room expansion will include facilities such as
televisions, game tables and crafts. Current areas for day
activities will be removed and more beds added in their
place. The existing commissary will be housed with a new
building along with the day room. Existing space for the
commissary will be used to house warden offices.
"Everything has been going remarkably smooth for a project
this size," said RCDC Warden Rudy Franco.
CRIME OF THE WEEK
PECOS, April 17, 1998 - Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000
in reward for information leading to the arrest and Grand
Jury indictment of person(s) responsible for the incident
described below. Anyone having any information on this crime
or any other crime including narcotics can call "Crime
Stoppers" at 445-9898 and you will remain anonymous.
On April 23, 1997 at approximately 2:09 a.m., the Pecos
Police Department responded to an alarm activation at
Ernie's Smoke Shop, located at 711 West Third Street. Upon
arrival, the officers observed damage to the back door. The
person or persons were unable to gain entry due to two 2x4
boards behind the door.
PECOS, April 17, 1998 - EDITOR'S NOTE: Information contained
in the Police Report is obtained from reports filed by the
Pecos Police Department, Reeves County Sheriff's Office, or
other officers of those agencies.
The serving of warrants by an officer for outstanding fines
of either traffic citations, animal control violations or
other court costs are considered arrests and will be printed
as such unless indicated that the fines were paid. In such
instances we will indicate payment and release.
If police are unable to fully identify a person who is
arrested, the incomplete information will not be published.
Cassandra Capriotti, 17, Duvall Rd., was arrested at 11:40
a.m. April 9 at Pecos High School on a warrant for failure
to attend school.
Jesus Mendoza, 25, 801 Jackson, was arrested at 10:37 p.m.
April 9 at the police department on a warrant service, paid
the fine and was released.
Johnny Valencia, 35, 207 N. Oak, was arrested at 2:12 a.m.
April 10 at 9th and Cedar on a warrant service.
Leticia Rodriguez, 25, 521 S. Walnut, was arrested at 11:07
a.m. April 10 on a warrant for telephone harassment.
Walter Stephens, 25, Hwy. 80 and Western Rd., was arrested
at 11:13 a.m. April 10 on a warrant for telephone harassment.
Johnny Valencia, 35, 207 N. Oak, was arrested at 11:09 a.m.
April 10 on a warrant service.
Fernando Orona, 38, 601 S. Plum, was arrested at 7:42 p.m.
April 10 in the 600 block of S. Plum for assault by threat
under the family violence act.
Ruben Hernandez, 17, 221 N. Cedar, was arrested at 2:53 a.m.
April 11 in the 1500 block of S. Eddy, during a traffic
stop, for public intoxication.
Joel Jaramillo, 27, 2208 Limpia Rd., was arrested at 12:23
a.m. April 13 at the north side park for public intoxication.
Vicki Ocon, 25, 1005 S. Pecan, was arrested at 10:20 a.m.
April 13 for telephone harassment.
Between 7 and 9:30 p.m. April 1, a car in Balmorhea was
scratched in a circular pattern on top.
Steve Charles Rivers, 31, a transient, was arrested at 7:45
p.m. April 3 at the Saragosa Mission for public intoxication.
A house in Toyah was broken into between 8 a.m. March 26 and
11:30 a.m. April 7 and the carpet was burned with a
cigarette in three different places.
A ½-horsepower motor was stolen out of an evaporative cooler
at the Toyah Community Club sometime before 10:30 a.m. on
April 17, 1998
Ernesto Rocha, 60, of Van Horn, died Thursday, April 9,
1998, in California.
Mass was be held today, at Our Lady
of Fatima Catholic Church in Van Horn. Burial will be in Van
Rocha was born Jan. 11, 1938, in Bavicoda, Chih., Mexico. He
was a heavy machine operator working in the construction
business, a lifetime Van Horn resident and a Catholic.
He was preceded in death by his mother Josefina Enriquez
Survivors include: his wife, Maria Luz Gomez of Van Horn;
his father, Jose Dolores Navarez Rocha of Baldwin Park,
Calif.; one son, Ernest Rocha Jr. of Dallas; four daughters,
Lupe Garcia of Van Horn, Esther Garcia of Van Horn, Josefina
Sanchez of Odessa and Concha Edwards of Tuskegee, Ala.; one
brother, Marcos Rocha of Baldwin Park, Calif.; and 10
Martinez Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
PECOS, April 17, 1998 - High Thursday, 76, low this morning,
44. Showers and thunderstorms are forecast across most of
Texas tonight and Saturday. It will be partly to mostly
cloudy across West Texas with a chance of rain in the areas
east of the mountains through Saturday. Lows tonight will be
in the 30s and 40s in West Texas, highs Saturday will be in
the 60s and 70s in West Texas.
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