Bank exec named to hospital board

By JEANIE RIESS Staff Writer The Greenwood Commonwealth

Bank of Commerce President and CEO Bryan Thornhill will replace Alex Malouf as chairman of the Greenwood Leflore Hospital Board.

The Leflore County Board of Supervisors unanimously appointed Thornhill on Monday during its first meeting of the new year.

Before the vote, Supervisor Robert Moore asked Thornhill if he was in favor of keeping the hospital “community-owned.” Thornhill said the most important factors of the hospital — the care it gives residents of the county and the economic impact it has on the region — were reasons the community should keep control of it.

Thornhill added that he would need to get situated on the board before speaking further on the subject.

“Then I’d like to offer my support, at least until I hear something different,” said Moore.

Thornhill will carry out the remainder of Malouf’s term, which is set to expire in February 2017. Malouf resigned just before the new year after serving for eight years.

The board didn’t hear any other candidates, Chancery Clerk Sam Abraham said after the meeting.

“There’s no question that Bryan is a very capable person with an interest in the county,” Abraham said. “He will be an outstanding member.”

Thornhill’s appointment was one of a host of new beginnings the board marked Monday.

It approved a motion to rescind the annual election of the board president, meaning that Robert Collins will continue to serve as president for the remainder of his term. Wayne Self was the only supervisor voting against this change.

Robert Moore made the motion, proposing that board presidents be elected for terms lasting four years instead of one. Moore said electing the president annually “weakens the board.” The vice president is already elected to four-year terms.

The board also swore in the county’s election commissioners during Monday’s meeting. Judge Betty Sanders administered the oath to Deveda Dillon, Emma Baker, Preston Ratliff, Edward M. Course Jr. and Debra Tate Hibbler. Ratliff is the only new member.

Joyce Chiles was re-appointed as board attorney, and Abraham was re-appointed to his position as county administrator.

The meeting also included a lengthy debate about the county’s use of GPS devices. The devices, which were implemented in April 2012, are currently used in about 100 county vehicles and cost the county about $4,000 per month.

Last year, the county accepted a bid by Fleetmatic, a company that the city of Greenwood has used to track its vehicles since 2010, to provide the devices.

Self said he doesn’t understand how the devices save the county money. He said a number of his constituents have complained about the program because they don’t see how it benefits the county.

Abraham assured Self that the devices were working to make the county more productive. Sheriff Ricky Banks said they were particularly useful for law enforcement.

“When an 18-wheeler was stolen, we were able to find it on top of a hill just a few days later because it had the GPS,” said Banks.

Banks added that the GPS was also useful for monitoring deputies’ vehicles.

Abraham said that beyond law enforcement the GPS devices were efficient because they minimized the amount of labor and equipment the county needed to pay for.

Self asked Abraham to show him proof that the devices are working. A motion to add a discussion of the GPS devices to next week’s agenda was approved unanimously.

Abraham said today that the GPS devices allowed county administrators to track county vehicles at all times.

“There were two goals. One was to save money, and the other was to enhance productivity,” said Abraham. “In terms of productivity, there’s no question about it. We can see whether or not people are doing their jobs, to make sure that vehicles aren’t just sitting on the side of the road. There have been several cases where we’ve seen overlapping service.”

As to the question of whether they save money on gas, those numbers will have to be analyzed according to the cost of gas, he said.

Also Monday, the board:

nAsked Mallory Health Care, which was seeking a tax exemption, to come back next week in order to give Chiles time to investigate whether the clinic qualifies as a nonprofit organization.

nAccepted the yearly bids for various maintenance and construction projects under the condition that the lowest bid would be accepted and the rest would be used as alternates.

• Contact Jeanie Riess at 581-7235 or jriess@gwcommonwealth.com.