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Written by Vicki Cleveland, Staff Reporter   

Early in Monday nights January Bamberg County Council meeting, council voted to elect Chris Wilson as Council Chairman for the 2008 year with Claire Guess serving as Vice Chairman.

Wilson said of his new post, “I appreciate the confidence the council has shown in me. There will be times that we agree and times that we disagree, but we will move forward, hopefully in the best interest of the county.”

“I do want to say that I will commit to you as council chairman that anyone who needs to speak will be allowed to express their opinion, and that everyone will be provided with the information they need to make the decisions. I look forward to your help and your support,” Wilson continued.

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Following the “Passing of the Gavel”, Chris Wilson presented Dorothy Tatum with a plague in recognition of her service to the council as Chairman for the 2007 term.

A public hearing was held for “An Ordinance Authorizing the Issuance, Execution and Delivery by the County Council of Bamberg County, South Carolina of its Hospital Facilities Revenue Bond Series 2008, with Maximum Face Amount of the Bond not Exceeding $1,500,000”. With a couple of minor changes to the final draft, this ordinance was approved and passed for third reading.

During the hearing, Sara Noel of Denmark questioned council as to the use of the monies obtained by the loan and taxpayer responsibility for the loan. The question was given to Mike Seezen, McNair Law Firm, representing the hospital.

According to Seezen, the money will be used for the operation of the hospital and certain preconstruction cost. Seezen also reassured Noel that the repayment was solely the responsibility of the hospital and not payable from the tax base.

During the Hospital Financial report, Hospital Administrator, Warren Hammett reported that the finances were down over $500,000 for the past month due to low revenue in both the hospital and the nursing center. Inpatient for last month was down by 246 patients. This brings the current loss for the year to $1,066,000.

“Steps have been taken to reduce expenses,” Hammett said. “We are working on the issue.”

County Council also announced that Eric K Shell, CPA, MBA has been hired to consult with the council on ways to handle the hospitals financial situation. A special meeting of Council, Shell and the appropriate hospital personnel has been scheduled for January 24th. Shell has 18 years experience in the area of medical finance and operation of rural hospitals.

A public hearing was held for the “Proposed Ordinance to Establish and Enforce False Fire Alarms in Bamberg County”. This proposal was designed to help cut back on alarms within that county that cause unnecessary emergency dispatch when faulty fire alarm systems are set off. The third reading of this ordinance was held and passed.

A public hearing was also held on “Proposed Ordinance for the Transfer of Ownership of a Mobile Home Unit from Bamberg County to the Town of Ehrhardt for Emergency Medical Service.” The third reading of this ordinance was also held and passed.

John N. Bennett and Lyle Rutherford were appointed to serve from the private sector to the Workforce Development Board and Alzena Robinson was elected to the OCAB Board by a vote of 4 to 3.

A first reading, in title only, was heard on the “Proposed Ordinance for South Carolina Regional Development Alliance Revenue Agreement Change”. This is an agreement between counties and adding Hampton County, for the shared distribution of revenues generated by industry in certain cases.

Larry Dozier was recognized as a new face with Palmetto Health. Dozier, former administrator of Barnwell Hospital has been brought in to help the hospital find ways to save money.

Discussion was given to the date and location of the 2008 Council’s Retreat, and council adjourned to executive session.

 
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