To the editor,
This is a letter of appreciation for the action taken by the Mayor and the city council at their meeting on September 9, 2008, to review the overflow from and around Alligator Pond between Hereford and Cedar Streets down to the Paluxy River.
The Problem of overflow from and around Alligator Pond down to the Paluxy River:
Overflow from Alligator Pond is channeled under Highway 67. The sloping terrain on the side of Highway 67 opposite Alligator Pond also contributes rainwater runoff, additional soil, paving chunks, and debris. The overflow and runoff zigzags over and around boulders, trees, and brush. It cuts a narrow channel until the creek bed widens behind the Cedar Street residence and 404, 402, 306, and 300 Hereford, where the overflow and runoff dump their load.
The overflow and runoff are then channeled under Vine Street. It flows behind seven more homes. It is channeled under Elm Street, across the Milam block, under Barnard Street, and then coats the Bird Sanctuary with a layer of silt before emptying into the Paluxy River.
City Council Meeting January 2009: You addressed the problem of overflow from Alligator Pond and rainwater runoff, soil, and debris between Hereford and Cedar Streets from Alligator Pond to the Paluxy River.
Background: During his term of office, after each heavy rainfall, your City Superintendent has walked up the overflow and rainwater runoff from and around Alligator Pond to determine the cause of the problem, the best procedure and the most beneficial time to resolve the problem. To get a second opinion, he recently invited a city councilman to join him in their inspection. Both men were of the same opinion regarding the cause, resolution, and the timing to resolve the problem.
The Project: Prior to beginning this project, the City Superintendent shared with this home owner the apparent causes of the problem, the suggested resolution, and that now was the time to begin.
Both heavy duty and light earth-moving equipment and dump trucks were moved in. Access and egress through the adjoining neighbor’s property was obtained. The work area has aged cedar-elm, pecan, pine, and other native trees. Other planted shrubs dot the landscape. The original stone embankment for the overflow from Alligator Pond, which was hand-laid in the 1930’s-40’s, although several feet high, was completely submerged in most places by run-off mud and debris. There were other hand-laid stone terraces. No mortar was used between the stones when the creek bed was embanked to permit at-that-time the gentle overflow from Alligator Pond to saturate the terraces.
Your City Superintendent and his able-bodied, hard-working, alert, and well-trained team arrived January 9, 2009. First, he briefed the men on the approved project. Secondly, he got into the cabin, first, of their huge, bulldozing equipment, and secondly, of a smaller bulldozer. He demonstrated to them how to move the equipment around in this tight, fragile, and difficult-to-work-in landscape and how to proceed with the project. Third, he watched them as they did it before he moved on to his dozen or more ongoing projects that day. At the end of the first workday, after his team had gone, he came back to inspect what they had done and how they had done it.
He was concerned about his men and their safety, about the equipment, and about the project being finished well. His motivation was to improve the scenic beauty of Glen Rose and the quality of life for all citizens.
Thank you for your sensitivity to this project, for your supervisory and workforce personnel, and for the excellence with which they are completing the job.
Early this morning before daybreak, our LORD added His blessing of rain to your effort. For the first time in probably twenty years the embankment of this seasonally dry creek bed again held rainfall and some runoff from and around Alligator Pond.
“He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.” Psalm 72.6, King James Version.
To the editor,
The election to form a hospital district is over and the results are in. Almost 600 voters opposed the formation of the district and 336 favored the district. Voters in all six precincts voted down the hospital district.
The question becomes “what do we do now?”
Folks - I find no joy in the outcome of the election, except we now have a chance to reconsider, get answers to our questions, and get competent, independent advice as how to best proceed.
I suggest that the hospital engage an independent accounting firm, responsible to the directors of the hospital foundation and the County Judge and Commissioners, to address how drastic the hospital’s situation really is. I suspect that it is not nearly as serious as was presented before the election.
Secondly, I suggest that all our hospital and/or nursing home involvement (if any) with the Meridian healthcare facility be terminated immediately. Further, steps should be taken to make very sure that Rose Beck’s organization cease and desist from implying that there is a connection with Glen Rose Medical Center or any of its related entities.
We must recognize that the prime purpose of our hospital is to serve the health needs of Somervell County citizens. If citizens of other counties who use our facilities contribute to the benefit of better care for our citizens, bring them on!
There is no question that we have a very substantial investment in our fine hospital. There is no question that citizens of our county need and deserve excellent, convenient medical care. Continuation of such care is vital to our future as a first class town.
There is no question that Medicare, Medicaid, private insurers, and private providers and payers have each contributed to a complicated, confusing, and expensive system for keeping up with the amount and collectability of hospital charges. There is also no question that indigent care is a tremendous burden on all hospitals.
Our hospital operates in this environment and collected only $12,000,000 of the total $32,000,000 charged last year.
I understand that the “system” requires that hospitals charge far in excess of estimated collections. Yet, unfortunately, we must deal with the “system.”
Pardon my digression, but the prior comment brings my next point and that is that we must bill accounts receivable as soon as possible, use the best collection efforts, and recognize uncollectables in a timely manner. Receivables must be monitored consistently by qualified staff.
The ten pages of material weaknesses in internal control described by the auditors require that internal control be reviewed and all such weaknesses be turned into strengths. I practiced public accounting as a C.P.A. for almost 40 years and have written and reviewed many letters commenting on internal control. Never in my experience did I see anything remotely resembling this many material weaknesses! They must be corrected!
I suggest that a qualified, independent hospital consulting firm be engaged immediately to do a complete evaluation of the hospital and nursing home. Further, we should charge the firm to make recommendations for such improvements that it considers important. The firm’s first charge should be to review the present construction contract and plans to determine whether the construction contract and plans are the best plans for the future of the hospital and nursing home. Frankly, I see no need for adding so many emergency rooms, but I certainly am no expert. I wonder, if we need so many emergency rooms, whether we could find and afford the personnel to staff them. Also, I question whether a plan to locate an aviation fuel facility so close to the hospital and nursing home is a good idea.
In my opinion, the culture with respect to the hospital and nursing home has been dominated with far more secrecy than patient privacy requires. This culture needs to be changed. The CEO of Glen Rose Medical Foundation must be responsible to an independent, well-informed board who understands that the CEO works for them and not the reverse. The County Judge and Commissioners must also play their proper role - - that is, to assure that the best interests of the citizens of Somervell County are served. After all, it is mostly County taxpayers’ money that has enabled the hospital to be the fine facility that it is. Again, it is the County Judge and Commissioners’ job to use their influence on the hospital operations and not be subservient to the CEO. All records coming into County officials’ hands by virtue of their ex-officio service on the hospital board should be promptly and completely filed in the offices of the County Clerk because they are properly County records.
The relationships of the County Judge and all Commissioners with respect to the hospital and nursing home need to be fully clarified. If there are any conflicts of interest or appearances of conflicts of interest, then any official in question should not vote on any matter with respect to the foundation. Further, such official should not be allowed to discuss the matter up for consideration.
I call for the officials and all citizens to band together, work quickly through where the hospital really stands, and take adequate time to plot the future course.
I believe, despite the dire prediction of our hospital going under or reducing services, if these changes are made, the hospital and nursing home will survive and thrive on a solid basis for many years. This will benefit all of us.
Charles R. Thomas, Sr.