Council withdraws Wells’ name, appoints Patterson to hospital board

Demopolis City Council’s running dispute with the Tombigbee Healthcare Authority Board of Directors over appointments to the hospital board apparently reached a final – though tense – conclusion Thursday night.

Following lengthy discussion at Thursday’s council meeting, which included THA Board Chairman Jay Shows and board members Allen Bishop and Charles Singleton, council member Bill Meador made a motion to withdraw Riley Wells’ name from consideration. Wells had recently been appointed to the hospital board by the council. Meador’s motion passed 5-1, with Mayor Mike Grayson opposing.

The council then voted 4-2, with Grayson and Meador objecting, to fill the vacancy immediately. The vacant hospital board spot went to Michael Patterson by a 4-1 vote, with Meador opposing and Grayson abstaining. Patterson was on a list of candidates recently submitted to the council by the hospital board.

At issue in recent months has been the process for selecting hospital board members that are considered city council appointments. For the past 20 years, City Attorney Bill Poole pointed out, the hospital board has accepted appointments from the city council. Last year, however, the hospital board invoked a stipulation of the Healthcare Authorities Act that limits the council’s choices to a list of three nominees submitted by the hospital board.

Grayson asked Shows why the hospital board felt it necessary to change the process after 20 years. Shows responded that the THA Board feels utilizing the Healthcare Authorities Act process “provides better filtering of candidates that both sides can work with” and that the process takes politics out of the equation as much as possible.

Grayson then asked Shows why the hospital board had an issue with the person that the council had chosen (Wells). Shows said the hospital board had no problems with Wells’ character or qualifications, but felt it is necessary to “follow the proper process.”

In other action Thursday, the council:

  • Appointed Lee Pritchett to the Industrial Development Board
  • Granted a 50 percent sales tax rebate to SVH Bistro for seven years. The Bistro, which will be located downtown, will provide 14 new jobs, said Grayson, who will own the bistro and who had temporarily vacated his seat to make the request
  • Voted to send a letter of commitment to assist with the paving project at the South Industrial Park to accommodate Shelton State’s truck driving program
  • Approved the demolition of a burned out residence at 609 W. Pettus. The council will place a lien on the property for the cost of clean up
  • Voted to increase fees for non-profit organizations that use the Civic Center more than once in a calendar year
  • Agreed to cover cost overruns on the Jackson Street Bridge project, and lower the speed limit to 20 mph at the bridge
  • Approved the back-to-school Sales Tax Holiday for Aug. 7-9.