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KCC weighs hospital board choices

Posted: August 17, 2012 5:38 p.m.
Updated: August 20, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Kershaw County Council is currently in the process of exploring options to fill four soon-to-expire terms on the KershawHealth Board of Trustees.

Councilman Stephen Smoak suggested during council’s meeting Tuesday that it would be in the county’s best interest to make new appointments for only three of the four available seats. Smoak noted that over the years, the staggered terms of the nine-member board have gotten off-kilter due to past councils allowing trustees to serve beyond the normal six-year time frame stipulated for each term. Every two years, council is supposed to appoint or reappoint a group of three members with expired terms.

By picking only three new trustees this time around, Smoak said, the board could get back on track as far as having the correct number of members with expiring terms.

“I think everyone recognizes and agrees that this is a very important board,” Smoak said. “It’s also one that probably has a fairly difficult learning curve as far as getting acclimated. It’s my preference to do what’s necessary to get those terms staggered back in such a way that would allow the most experienced and best candidates to serve on the board.”

He explained that he had no “personal issues or interest” in designating which trustee would continue to serve beyond the time span of the term.

“We’ve got a situation where there are four terms up this year and then there are three more in the next year after that. You’re looking at a situation where you may have six or seven brand new board members to the hospital serving at any given time,” Smoak said. “I think that’s a bad idea.”

The four trustees with terms set to expire Sept. 30 are: Chairman Jody Brazell, Dr. Marguerite Carlton, Carolyn Hampton and Ernest Witherspoon. Each was appointed to begin serving on Oct. 1, 2006.

Councilman Jimmy Jones disagreed with Smoak’s proposal and recommended that council should fill all four seats, noting he felt the board needed “fresh blood” with new ideas.

“I really am going to encourage my colleagues to consider us moving forward with the four appointments. Let’s go ahead and do what we’re supposed to do,” Jones said.

He said he believes that each time a group of appointments need to be made, the hospital always asks to have certain trustees held over for a longer term.

“You’ve got some people sitting on the hospital board that have been there a long, long time. I think with the applicants that we’re going to be looking at, any of them could go in there and hit the floor running,” Jones said.

Council Chairman Gene Wise didn’t express his preference Tuesday, but reiterated his request to bring each applicant before council as part of an official vetting process.

While no formal vote was taken establishing a specific directive, Kershaw County Administrator Vic Carpenter said council plans to bring in applicants to be vetted during a work session on Sept. 6.

Carpenter explained that when the hospital board was originally established by the General Assembly, it was intended to be a nine member body where three seats were up for appointment each time.

“My understanding is that the hospital perhaps had requested that people be allowed to stay on, that they were doing a good job and to not replace them. So they just let them stay. They didn’t get reappointed. They just carried over,” Carpenter said. “Technically, the term of the appointment is until they’re replaced. So if an individual’s term expires and there’s no replacement in line, then they’ll continue to serve until such a replacement is provided.”

He noted the application deadline for individuals interested in serving as a trustee is Sept. 5 and that the appointments would likely be made during council’s meeting Sept. 11.

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