Whitney White-Ashley

I have to take a moment to say ďKudosĒ to the citizenry of Somervell County. Over the last few weeks, I have seen more people come out and speak their mind about a topic it seems a few people feel very passionately about.

Many readers have brought good questions and informed opinions to the hospital district discussion.

While not everyone has agreed with each other, the discussion seems to have continued in the most civilized manner. Iíve received letters to the editor, information from outside sources and a plethora of opinions based on experience.

Iím excited to see and hear people in the community who are not afraid to stand up and speak their minds, to take charge of and responsibility for their vote in this election.

I have tried to do my best to represent the facts and I feel like I have taken a crash course in hospital fundamentals the last few weeks. I could report on this topic every day for a year and barely scratch the surface.

Quite frankly, my head hurts. When I think that this edition is my last chance to get both sides in front of readers, I hyperventilate.

And to be perfectly honest, from my vantagepoint here on the middle ground, I have to say that both sides seem to have the best interest of Somervell at heart.

I have to take a moment to address some concern over a possible conflict of interest involving Commissioner Mike Ford.

I had an opportunity to sit down with Ford during an interview for my article this week. I asked him specifically about the issue.

Ford, who has been associated with the Dr. Roger E. Marks Foundation, said he withdrew from the board of directors sometime last year, due to time constraints.

I understand very well the concern over the appearance of wrongdoing. Often times Iíve taken personal hits for appearing to do something someone else didnít agree with (Remember the orange hair?) no matter what my intent might have been. And right or wrong, as human beings we sometimes base our opinions and decisions on appearances.

But in the end, under the state code of ethics, it is not illegal for an elected official to work, uncompensated, for a non-profit organization.

He said the Dr. Marks Foundation is a separate organization from the Glen Rose Medical Foundation (GRMF) and feels there is some general confusion about the two foundations. He is proud of his affiliation with the Dr. Marks Foundation and is proud of what the foundation has been able to accomplish.

He points out that his background with the foundation should be seen as a benefit, as he brings a lot of background knowledge and experience to the very difficult subject matter of health care. In addition, small communities like Glen Rose have smaller populations to work with and to pull board members from.

I would have to concur. Public participation in general has taken a hit as fewer and fewer people are willing to carve out the time necessary to run for office or volunteer. Itís not that we donít care - itís just that weíre so darn busy trying to survive. Very few people can afford to take the pay cut or have the energy to spare.

I think both sides of this particlar issue - the hospital district - have some very valid points and concerns. I think each person needs to weigh their choice very carefully before deciding which way they want to vote.

No matter which side of the fence youíre on, however, it really doesnít amount to a whole lot unless you get out and vote.

So, donít miss your chance to have your voice heard, whether you support the formation of a hospital district or not. Make it to your voting precinct on Saturday, Feb. 14, and cast your ballot. I know itís Valentineís Day, but polls open early so you really donít have an excuse.

And if youíll pardon the shameless plug - we will have the election results for you next week.