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KCC to select four new KH board members

Posted: September 7, 2012 7:01 p.m.
Updated: September 10, 2012 5:00 a.m.

After weeks of consideration, Kershaw County Council has decided it will appoint four new members to the KershawHealth Board of Trustees.

The decision came during a work session Thursday and settled an ongoing debate among council about whether to select three or four new members to the board. Four trustees have terms set to expire Sept. 30 with new appointments set to take place during council’s meeting Tuesday.  

County Attorney Ken DuBose said that applicable state law indicates appointees shall be appointed “for terms of six years and until their successors are appointed and qualify.” Consequently, council is directed by state law not to reappoint a member with an expired term, but a member should not be replaced until another individual qualifies for the board and is appointed by council.

The law also stipulates that three members are supposed to have expiring terms for each two-year appointment cycle. However, as years have gone by, 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 per term.

“The only way we could alter the four, because there are four seats expiring, is for someone to make a motion to make it to three,” Council Chairman Gene Wise said, citing DuBose’s advice.

Councilman Stephen Smoak, who supported making only three appointments in previous meetings, motioned to appoint only that number during Thursday’s work session. Smoak had previously noted that by making only three appointments at Tuesday’s meeting, future hospital boards would be on track as far as the number of appointments needed to be made each appointment cycle.

Council voted 4-3 against Smoak’s motion Thursday, meaning four appointments would be made Tuesday. Wise and councilmen Bobby Gary, Jimmy Jones, and C.R. Miles voted against the motion, while Smoak, Tucker and Councilman Tom Gardner voted in favor.

To qualify for the board, all appointees must be residents of Kershaw County. Also, state law stipulates that at least one member be appointed from each of the county’s four townships -- Buffalo, DeKalb, Flat Rock and Wateree.

Council is consequently mandated to find replacements for the expiring terms of Flat Rock representative Ernest Witherspoon and Wateree representative Jody Brazell, who also serves as board chairman. DeKalb representatives Carolyn Hampton and Dr. Marguerite Carlton also have terms set to expire. Since the board already has members with unexpired terms from Buffalo and DeKalb townships, the other two appointments can come from any of the four townships. 

Council also considered Thursday the best method to approve each new applicant to the board.

Smoak explained that since he’s been on council, “we have not used, although we certainly can, the nominating process … we simply have made motions to appoint a particular person, the motion gets seconded, and they either get a majority of supporting votes or not.” Tucker said he believed council had actually voted through “nomination style” in the past and felt that would be the best method.

“What the nomination style does is allows each council member to present a candidate if they choose to do so to be appointed,” Tucker said. “Doing it just by motion blocks out your colleagues. You’d have to be the first to the mic, make a nomination, somebody seconds it, vote it or up or down, you move on, and then the four slots are gone.

“There are seven of us, do the math. All of us can’t speak at the same time and all of us can’t get a motion all at the same time. But by the nomination process, you allow each council member to put somebody on the slate to be voted on.”

Smoak noted that through the nomination process, with a slate of nominees for each seat, the person who received the most votes would be appointed.

“So if candidate ‘A’ was nominated and got four votes, then later on down the line, another candidate got six or seven votes, they would prevail,” he said.

Smoak also noted that the motion process could leave the procedure open to the subjectivity of the chairman.

“I don’t ever think Chairman Wise would do this, but what if he simply refuses to acknowledge a certain member or a couple members from council. Really, it’s whoever raises their hand up the fastest and whoever he acknowledges to make the motion,” Smoak said. “So that’s the only thing it does prevent, but I don’t have a strong feeling either way.”

Smoak later motioned to vote via motion during the appointment process Tuesday, which was seconded by Jones. The proposal was approved 6-1 with Tucker voting against. After establishing the methodology for making appointments, Wise outlined the three applicant questions culled from council’s suggestion.

“First, we all know we have the Affordable Health Care Act being implemented next year. There’s a tremendous amount of uncertainty with that. We also have an uncertain economy and there’s a lot of talk about another potential dip. Hopefully there’s not, but the key thing I’ve learned over the years is that you have to anticipate everything. You have to put a plan together,” Wise said. “So what would you do in a situation where there’s a ton of mandates and we have a weak economy and a financial strain is put on our health system in Kershaw County?”

The second question was described by Wise as a business conduct question. He said that essentially, council wanted to know each applicant’s relationship with the hospital, both personally and financially.

The third question dealt with each candidate’s overall outlook for the hospital: “What’s your vision as we look forward down the years for the hospital system?”

By the Sept. 5 application deadline, council had been presented with the names of 18 candidates. However, when Thursday’s official interview process began, two applicants, Vincent Degenhart, a physician/anesthesiologist, and Dennis Lofe, CEO of Wilson Senior Care, had withdrawn their names. Lofe is a former KershawHealth chief executive officer.

All applicants were provided with a copy of the questions before Thursday’s work session. Applicants Walter “Buddy” Clark, former manager of the medical department at DuPont and former executive director of the Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce; and Dan Lovatt, a self-employed consultant, mailed their responses to council in advance.

Sixteen candidates made their case in front of council Thursday: from the DeKalb township, Clay Carruth, former Director of Research for the S.C. Senate Medical Affairs Committee; Paul Christenberry, surgeon; Karen Eckford, of NBSC bank; Roy Fakoury, owner of Camden Financial Planners; Steve Holliday Jr., senior agent with S.C. Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services; Barbara James, former math and dance instructor and realtor; Karin Jenkins, Academic Hospitalist with Dorn VA Hospital in Columbia; Linda McLeod, physician with McLeod Women’s Center; Don Terrell, retired banker; James Watts, retired executive vice president of Associates Corporation; from the Wateree township, Linda Franklin Moore, self-employed; Derial Ogburn, lobbyist with Ogburn and Associates; from the Flat Rock township, Paul Napper, executive director of the ALPHA Center; and Eloise Parker, director of Sentinel Health Partners.

After Thursday’s work session, Wise said he thought the process went well, overall.

“It gave council members an opportunity to evaluate the candidates. I was very impressed with the responses, very impressed with the candidates,” Wise said. “We have to make some tough decisions Tuesday night. There are so many highly qualified individuals, but we’ll do that Tuesday and I’m very confident that with the candidates we do select that they’re going to make our community hospital survive for years to come.”

Other items on council’s agenda for Tuesday include:

• second reading of an ordinance setting the millage rate for the 2012-2013 fiscal year;

• second reading of an ordinance authorizing a fee-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with Diversified Information Technologies;

• an appointment to fill the unexpired term for Kershaw County Board of School Trustees District 3; and

• a resolution supporting the second annual “Clean-Up of Lake Wateree.”

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