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County Council Gives Final Approval on $8.9M Budget, Hears of "Controversy" at ECH

web posted June 4, 2014

EDGEFIELD The Edgefield County Council held their June meeting Tuesday evening with the county budget receiving final passage on a 4-1 vote with Councilman Dorn opposing. There was a final amendment to increase the budget by roughly $10,000 due to a HHS requirement for an increase in services costs. Councilman Dorn voted for the amendment to the budget and then voted against the budget.

Later in the meeting is when the council began bringing up the "controversy" that is ongoing surrounding the county hospital and the hospital board. The issue arose when it came time for council to appoint a vacancy on the board that has been open for almost two months and the board making no recommendations to the county council.

Connie Sutton, who has 25 years experience in leadership, medical, and administrative credentials at GRU (formerly MCG) volunteered for the position and was placed on the agenda for approval. During public comments Mrs. Sutton spoke and said that she is still employed at GRU and wants to serve on the board to bring her knowledge and experience to help the hospital move forward.  She was also said to be the former second runner-up for the CEO position when the board hired Brandon Clarey over her. She said she has no ill will and looked forward to working with Clarey and the board.

Councilwoman Betty Butler, a former member of the hospital board, said she wanted to push the vote back one month because there are so many rumors and a "controversy" over things that have taken place at the hospital and the board. "There is something going on there," Butler said, but did not expand on the comment.

Chairman Dean Campbell said he, as all of council, has been receiving emails and phone calls about the situation at the hospital, but he saw no need to push the vote on Sutton's appointment back. Doing so would be an "injustice" to the board in his opinion. The "controversy" continued to be discussed, but just in broad terms until Vice-Chair Genia Blackwell spoke up and directly to Mrs. Sutton. 

"It's obvious that there is some underlying tension and controversy at the hospital. Ms Sutton is not the reason for the underlying tension and controversy. I think she is extremely qualified and I welcome a woman on the board," Blackwell said.

The discussion was closed and Sutton was appointed on a 3-2 vote with Butler and Dorn voting no.

The county hanger at the Trenton Airport was once again on the agenda to hold a second reading of an ordinance setting the rental rate for the hangers at $160 a month, fixed with no negotiations. During discussion, Councilman Rodney Ashcraft made a motion to amend the ordinance to give Johnny Anderson of Plane Fun, the fixed base operator at the airport, control of the property and the ability to set rental rates as needed with the market. Anderson would also be in charge of upkeep on the hangars.

The amended ordinance was given a second approval on a 3-2 vote (Dorn/Butler opposed). Chairman Campbell said he would like to see the change in the wording in writing before final approval and reserved his right to reject it on final reading next month.

Also approved was $8,000 to replace the roof on the Collier's Community Center, which is in dire need of repair. The center is used as a polling place, making it available for county funding. It passed on a 5-0 vote.

In other business the council approved re-appointments of Thomas Holmes and Betty Jean Edwards to the Recreation Commission and Sherry Holmes to the Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.

A final reading to lease the open fields around the Industrial Park to Gary Coleman for harvesting hay. Coleman will pay the county $15 the first year per acre and then raising up to $25 an acre from there on. This frees the county from having to maintain the fields and generate revenue at the same time.

The council did meet in executive session to receive a legal briefing and returned to session and adjourned the meeting.

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