Hospital Board accepts AG decision

BRENT ADDLEMAN Managing Editor
The Somervell County Hospital District Board of Directors accepted the opinion received from the Office of the Attorney General regarding term limits for board members who tied in the last election.

By a 4-3 vote, the Somervell County Hospital District Board of Directors will have five board members serving two-years terms, as the board accepted the opinion of the Office of Attorney General as it pertained to term limits of a pair of board members who tied in the last election.

Board secretary Paul Harper and Eugene Brode will serve two-year terms, however there was a lengthy debate over the components of the decision and the board.

“Because we asked for this opinion from the attorney general, I think it is only right, I will make a motion now that we accept this opinion and make it our own,” Harper said.

John Parker, who serves as vice president of the board, seconded the motion and discussion centered around what board member Ron Hankins felt was a “non-opinion” from the attorney general’s office.

Hankins stated the attorney general’s office, “more of less avoided the issue because in their summary they said a court could – and I emphasize could – conclude that five members of the board would serve two-year teams and only two would serve one-year terms.”

Hankins felt the attorney general opinion “missed the boat” because the, “legislature failed to define the term majority. A majority of the board members would serve two-year terms. I think it is clear the way the law is meant to be on boards a majority is a simple majority.”

A simple majority of the board would be a 4-3 split, as there are seven members on the board.

“I think they missed it, and they didn’t really want to get into it and they punted,” Hankins said. “I think it is a bad opinion coming out of the attorney general’s office. I think it is wrong, but it is what it is and I will take it at that.”

Dr. Karen Burroughs stated that a 5-2 split could be problematic with future boards.

“I’m really concerned with five people going off [the board] next year and with five new people coming in and having only two people with any experience [could be problematic],” Dr. Burroughs said. “We’ve all seen how hard it is to learn this stuff. I think it is setting the hospital up to have more difficulties. I really feel our responsibility is what is best for the hospital district. I really feel a 4-3 change over and over would be best.”

Board President Chip Harrison suggested having every member be a one-year term and “start over.”

“I will tell you it is unfortunate the previous board tried not to resolve this in any way,” Harrison said. “They didn’t ask for a recount, they didn’t canvas the vote. They, to my knowledge, had zero discussions about solving this tie. What should have happened was it should have been solved before anybody was sworn into office. My concern at this point is we are talking about removing someone from office.”

Board member Brett Nabors suggested a coin flip to determine who would get the one-year term, Harper or Brode.

“There was an opportunity to solve that tie,” Nabors said.

After lengthy debate, the decision was accepted by a 4-3 vote, with Harrison, Harper, Brode and Parker voting for the measure. Hankins, Dr. Burroughs and Nabors cast dissenting votes.

In other news:

• The Somervell County Hospital District Board of Directors election will be held on Saturday, May 9 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Deb Gartrell was appointed election judge and early voting clerk, and Johnnie Beaudin was appointed early election judge.

The board will look into building on GRMC’s current property to construct and finance a building that would house senior care and outpatient therapy.

The board gave approval to the administration to enter into a contract for electricity, provided the administration can find a better plan that could potentially save GRMC $166,000 per year.

In the CEO Report, Ray Reynolds informed the board that Donna Miller, RN has been hired as Chief Nursing Officer and is expected to start before March 9. Clinic construction has neared completion, and an open house with Dr. Steven Vacek will be scheduled.

Brent Addleman is managing editor of the Glen Rose Reporter. He can be reached at 254-897-2282 or email to brent.addleman@theglenrosereporter.com. Follow him on Twitter: @GRR_Editor.