Opinions - 12-03-2008

County Council Update

Chris Wilson, Council Chairman

Since the end of the year is near, this may be the last time I write as County Council Chairman to update the citizens of Bamberg County. We rotate Chairman on a yearly basis, and a new Chairman will be installed in January 2009. I hope that this periodic update has been informative and has helped the citizens of Bamberg County understand what County government is doing. I hope that this periodic update has encouraged people to become more involved. And lastly, I hope that subsequent Chairmen will continue this article and keep the citizens updated and informed. There has been a lot of news recently about the Bamberg County Nursing Center. County Council has entered negotiations with UHS-Pruitt concerning the sale or transfer of the nursing center to UHS-Pruitt. Council will shortly enter into a contract with UHS-Pruitt to sell or transfer the nursing home to them for their operations. Since early 2008, County Council has engaged the services of Stroudwater Capital to assist in investigating and pursuing options with respect to the Hospital and Nursing Home. Their (and our) investigations have shown UHS-Pruitt to be a high-level company. County Council has committed to continuing to provide the highest level of care possible at the Hospital and Nursing Center, and the transfer of the Nursing Home to UHS-Pruitt will help accomplish those goals. UHS-Pruitt will invest in the Nursing Home and community and will operate the Nursing Home at a high level of care. The proceeds from the transfer of the Nursing Home will be used to meet the obligations at the Hospital so it can continue to operate. Our Hospital is operating much better at this time, but we still have major obligations to meet for CMS and to keep the doors open. We can achieve two results continue to enjoy a high-level nursing center and maintain operations of our Hospital with the transfer of the Nursing Home. These are very tough decisions, but decisions that are being made with the long-term best interests of the County at heart.

We have made progress on other major projects this year. We have enjoyed some economic project announcements this year with job creation and investment in our County. We continue to work on the countywide water/sewer project and search for monies to implement the project. And we are still looking for solutions to the building needs in the County. We expect to be in a better financial position next year and hopefully can continue to address these and other County needs. The Hospital and Nursing Center have taken a lot of time and resource this year. And they are important enough issues to devote time and resource to in order to preserve their existence and operation. As the issues with the Hospital and Nursing Home come under control, I hope that we can move forward on the other important issues facing our County. We will only be able to do so if we work together to find solutions. Finally, I attended the County Veterans Day program a few weeks ago at the Bamberg Civic Center. It was a wonderful, touching program with probably 200+ people in attendance. In years past, each municipality did their own program. But this year the cities of Bamberg and Denmark, along with the other municipalities in our County, worked together to hold this first joint Veterans Day Program. It was a huge success and congratulations to those who came together and worked hard.

As always, please stay involved in and informed about your County government. As always, contact me or County Administrator Rose Elliott (803) 245-5191 if you have any questions or need any assistance. Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season.