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Pahrump Mirror
Pahrump, Nevada
May 1, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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May 1, 1997

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10 Thursday, May !, 1997 Pahrump Valley Gazette Editorial Writing--a time to be humble Last week I heaped loads of accolades on the Nye County Commissioners and other county officials. Now I humbly admit a bit of a problem with that. I'm the pin-head that named Bill Offutt our "man of the year" Humble, humble, humble. For those of you who have been living with your heads buried in the sand for the past year, here's the situation. Until March of last year, Bill Offutt was the Nye County Manager and chief gopher for the commissioners. One week I wrote an unsigned editorial (unsigned editorials represent the posithn of the newspapeO that loaded Bill Offutt with enough kudos to last a lifetime. I named him our "man of the year." The very next week Offutt was fired in disgrace under allegations of sexual misconduct. The allegations were ex- tremely serious. Humble, humble, humble. If ever there was a time that I wished I could run around the county and purchase every copy of the newspaper just to get them out of the market -- this was the time. On the other hand, let me tell you the events that led up to the editorial and ask you what you would have done. Remem- ber this: Offutt, to this day, has never been charged with a crime. There is a lawsuit against him and other county officials filed by the alleged victims but this has yet to go to court. In early December, 1995 Offutt was charged with the responsibility of managing Nye Regional Medical Center. He was to make whatever changes he felt necessary and report back to the commissioners on all actions taken. In short, turn this hospital around. According to the reports given to the commissioners for NORTHERN EXPOSURE m the next three months, Offutt made sweeping changes. The very first month there was little to no loss in the hospital's finances. In January the hospital continued its upward trend by breaking even -- the first time in years. by Dave Downing In February, 1996 it was reported that the hospital actually made money. The reports showed a steady upward trend with the hospital actually making a complete turnaround. Meanwhile, commission business was moving at a fast pace. Every single job given to Offutt by the commissioners was getting done with positive results. Even when his time was completely consumed by the hospital, Offutt was getting his regular job completed in an outstanding fashion. There appeared to be no question about it. One man had successfully accomplished what teams of managers had failed to do. He deserved recognition for this tremendous accom- plishment and I, representing this newspaper, was put to work to place the appropriate words on this page. I spread it on thick. This paper wasn't alone. I know of at least one other paper that was in the process of doing the exact same thing but they were doing it on the same day Offutt was fired. They had just enough time to pull it. Well, did I botch it? You tell me. It is important that you realize that nothing has been heard in acourt of law. Offutt is to be considered innocent of any and all charges until such time as a court of law determines otherwise. It is also important to note that the allegations are extremely serious and are well-documented in the lawsuit filed by those involved. Getting back to last week's editorial. You may ask, what about all the charges rm hearing directed against the Nye County Commissioners and staff?. The key is that they are just that. Unsubstantiated charges that are being made by indi- viduals. The claims are numerous and they are, for the most part, being ignored by the commissioners. They're being 0 ignored because there simply has been nothing to prove that the commissioners are taking illegal actions with criminal intent. Nothing. The commissioners are certainly capable of making mis- takes and if this were the case they would correct those mistakes. The people on the Board of Commissioners are good honest people. I truly believe that. However, I'm also very humble, humble, humble. EDITOR'S NOTE: You can e-mail Dave Downing at: downing@sierra.net. "Devil's Hole"...A Critical Review by Richard Reul Bill Branon's fwst novel, Let us Prey, was selected by the New York Times as a 1992 Notable Book of the Year. It dealt with a national conspiracy against the Internal Revenue Service and a counter-conspiracy by certain factions within the Federal Government. Devil's Holeis Branon's second novel. It involves a pair of contract killers, both in their fifties. Arthur and Montana had met and worked together in Vietnam, where Arthur had been an expert Army sniper and Montana was his spotter. This brutal war has left its indelible stamp on both of them, particularly on Arthur. His personal ghosts continue to haunt his dreams and he uses his present career as a strange atonement for what he was ordered to do in Nam. He accepts targets only from among society's predators and tries to devise a death that fits his victim's crimes. With his icy control,. Arthur is an unstoppable juggernaut once he has a contract. The partners accept a contract offered by several casinos in Las Vegas. Their target is an ex-Marine in his early thirties, alleged to be a drug dealer. Mike has found a way to beat the casino sport books and he is costing them heavily. Melody and Karla are close friends. Melody has split from Craig, an obnoxious young lawyer she laad been living with in southern California. She takes off for Las Vegas and Karla follows her later. Both girls obtain low level jobs and Melody goes to Dealers School. Karla meets Montana at the pizza parlor where she works and they are attracted to each other. Melody encounters Mike when she is working the Sports Book at her casino. The chemistry between them is immedi- ate and startling in its intensity. Karla persuades Melody to go on a double tate with Montana and Arthur. She finds herself drawn strongly to the hit man, but by love rather than lust. The story moves swiftly as Arthur and Montana zero in on Mike. They are unaware of Melody's relationship with him and Arthur finds himself irresistibly falling in love with Melody. The climax occurs at and near Devil's Hole in Ash Mead- ows where two skilled warriors battle to the death and then for mutual survival. It involves chilling suspense, treachery, expected and unexpected violence and a totally unantici- pated, double-twist ending where Melody becomes a key player. Interestingly, part of the action during the climax is told through the eyes and other senses of a desert wolf! This novel is notable for its fine character delineation and its detailed descriptions of local places and practices. As a long time Pahrump resident, I found Frank - the retired Nevada Test Site engineer and barfly at the Saddle West - completely believable. There are revealing glimpses of the Mountain Springs Saloon, the Pahrump brothels and the Short Branch Saloon in Crystal. Also interesting are the detailed and accurate characteristics and idiosyncrasies of various weapons that are woven into the story. As a relatively. expert rifleman, I was also intrigued by the shooting tech- niques revealed. The erotic sex scenes are unbelievably powerful and leave the reader with the feeling of participation rather than observation. My only criticism of this novel is that Branon did not "tie up his loose ends" well enough for the average reader. The surprising climax raised many questions that were not an, swered in the rather off-beat epilog. Most of the answei are buried in the earlier text but need coordination and emphasis. Bill Branon now lives in Las Vegas. He is a Harvard educated Navy veteran and an expert in weaponry, demoli- tion and surveillance. He is also a champion ocean sailor, a professional level golfer and a high-stakes casino gambler. He frequently writes letters to the Review-Journal. I will look forward to reading his future novels. Devil's Hole is available in paperback at Pahrump's Reading Oas!s. ... Yet another group attempts mass suicide.