Orders of Election Approved

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – While the recent sub-freezing temperatures might indicate otherwise, the spring season is just around the corner. It has been said spring symbolizes new life and during the Houston County Hospital District (HCHD) Board of Directors held on Tuesday, Jan. 16, it now appears as if the coming of spring will breathe new life into the Houston County hospital.

“This is not the final document that means the hospital is opening,” HCHD Board President Deborah Blackwell said as she displayed a document to those in attendance. “This is a negotiated lease agreement. CMC (Crockett Medical Center, LLC) is meeting with the state tomorrow (Jan. 17) to facilitate the transfer of the hospital license. One of the requirements was to have a lease in place.”

Blackwell said other ancillary agreements would need to be signed including the operational agreement and the indigent/uncompensated agreement which are next in line for negotiation.

“At this time, we do have a final document which has been reviewed by Crockett Medical Center, the district (HCHD) and our attorneys,” she reported.

Some of the key features of the agreement included a five-year term, with the potential for an additional four five-year lease terms. An additional term in the agreement stated if CMC was unable to acquire the necessary licensure within 180 days, the lease may be terminated.

“The rent will be $100,000 per month for the hospital building and furniture, fixtures and equipment. That does not include the medical office building, the helipad, the EMS or the residential housing. It is strictly the main hospital building,” Blackwell said.

Rent will commence in 120 days from Jan. 16 or when the hospital is open and seeing patients, she said.

“CMC will be responsible for all insurance, taxes and utilities,” Blackwell continued. “They are accepting the hospital as is. However, any repairs over $100,000 in the first six months of the lease and due to an existing condition before the lease, will be the responsibility of the district.”

Blackwell said CMC is targeting a mid-spring opening but could possibly open sooner if all the paperwork is in order. After a brief discussion, the HCHD board unanimously approved the lease agreement.

Prior to the lease discussion, Blackwell addressed the upcoming HCHD elections.

“I can’t believe it is election time again,” the HCHD president remarked. “We have four places up for election. They are: place two held by Dr. Perry Ramsey; place four – Dr. John Stovall; place six – Jim Dowell; and place eight – Deborah Blackwell.”

She added if anyone was interested in running for one of the four places up for election, they should pick up an application from HCHD administrator Dick Murchison. Candidates are asked to submit a petition of interest – in lieu of a filing fee – with the signatures of 100 registered voters, Blackwell said. The deadline for filing is Feb. 16.

“Early voting begins Monday, April 23 and the election is Saturday, May 5,” she said.

Orders, resolutions along with the appointment of election clerks and judges were all approved by the HCHD Board.

As the meeting continued, the subject of inventories was brought before the board. Blackwell said several options were available to the board including having the current HCHD employees conducting the inventory or having an outside entity conduct the inventory and appraisal.

It was recommended and approved to hire an independent agency to conduct the inventory. The reasoning for using outside contractors was because “… the results may be used for leasing and refinancing current debt. For these purposes, it is important that the complete inventory and appraisal process is from a third party to ensure validity,” a document pertaining to the matter stated.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.