Longtime hospital district director from Presidio resigns; office moving

PRESIDIO, ALPINE – Big Bend Regional Hospital District directors, meeting in Alpine last week, accepted the resignation of director Marco Baeza of Presidio, who has moved Lubbock.

Baeza, the former city of Presidio administrator and police chief, served with distinction for many years.

A search is on for his replacement to Single Member District 2, which includes portions of Presidio and Marfa.

Interested candidates should compete an application in person at either the Presidio or Alpine office, or call District Manager Jacqueline McCracken at 432.837.7051.

In other personnel matters, Diana Aguirre Armendariz was reinstated as patient advocate in the Presidio office after maternity leave.

The board also agreed to proceed with the lease of new office space in Presidio and will move from its existing presence in the former Spencer Department Store at 803 W. O’Reilly.

McCracken said she could not yet reveal the address of the new building until the lease is approved.

And board president Lisa Taylor said “moving down the street will provide a tremendous savings.”

She hinted that the new space is also on O’Reilly Street a few blocks from the existing building.

In other Presidio business, Marathon director Buddy Cavness said he was concerned with unusually high fuel and tire usage on the Presidio ambulance, which was financed by the Hospital District.

He said fuel usage on the ambulance has indicated a usage of about a gallon per mile and tires are replaced with less than 10,000 miles on them. Taylor said the issue will be discussed at the next meeting April 25 in Presidio.

Meanwhile, after being on the market for nearly 10 months, the district’s old office at 106 E. Texas Street in Marfa is nearing completion of a sale.

McCracken opened two bids, which Taylor read aloud: Kirk Hopper bid $285,000 and Three Bandidos Ventures offered to pay $270,000.

The board unanimously agreed to authorize Alpine Realtor Carol Morrow to offer the building to the top bidder and, if that is not successful, to offer it to the second.

The Marfa building went on the market in early June 2018 as the board also decided to buy its present building at 105 West Holland Avenue in Alpine.

After rejecting two bids as being too low, the board contracted with Morrow in September to sell the Marfa property.

Board Treasurer Esther Howard told the board last week that the $285,000 was higher than the minimum of $280,000 and the lower bid was close enough. In other matters, the board agreed to discontinue the four-year scholarship plan to resident medical students studying in the Big Bend area when the money in the budget runs out.

The board last month agreed to stop the two-week program and the four-week program will continue until the funds have been exhausted.

Taylor said students already receiving the scholarships will continue on the books.

Both Drs. Adrian Billings and James Luecke praised the programs saying they brought a lot of good talent to the area.

“They have supported me,” Billings said. “Five of them have come back to practice. And providing the training makes me a better doctor.”

But Howard said the district has “cut back on staff and it’s really starting to affect us.”

Board Secretary Robert Rice said part of the problem has been providing housing for the students, which with a “limited staff has become a burden.”

Taylor said earlier the program “was taking a lot of time away from people in the office.”

She said the program will end this fiscal year and next year, beginning October 1, those who want to study here can apply to the district for cash grants.

Buddy Cavness, who was named earlier to replaced Allan Haley, was named vice chair to replace Baeza.