Hospital property purchase approved

By NICK ROGERS
Staff Writer |

The Leflore County Board of Supervisors on Monday approved the purchase of property on Strong Avenue by Greenwood Leflore Hospital for eventual development into an urgent-care clinic.

The motion passed 3-1 with District 2’s Robert Moore casting the sole no vote. District 3 Supervisor Anjuan Brown was absent.

Jim Jackson, the hospital’s administrator, initially brought the proposal before the board in December 2015. On Monday, he reiterated the need for a facility that “will meet the needs of the community” with regards to primary care.

Presently, he said, many patients rely on the emergency room for primary care, which makes it more difficult for that facility to provide emergency care for patients who need it most.

For many, the closest urgent-care clinic — at which nurse practitioners give primary care to walk-in patients under the supervision of physicians — is in Ruleville.

Greenwood Leflore intends to use the Ruleville facility as a model. “If anything, we’re losing patients to that clinic,” Jackson told the board.

The property under consideration, currently owned by Edwin Meek and S.R. Evans, has been appraised at a value of $365,000. Meek and Evans are asking for $345,000 for the property.

Jackson said he was concerned that if the board delayed approval of the purchase for much longer, Meek and Evans would ask for the full appraised value.

The property currently brings the county a little over $6,000 in tax revenue. Jackson said that until the hospital is prepared to start renovating the space, it will be leased out to the former owners, somewhat mitigating the impact of the transaction on county tax rolls.

The hospital board unanimously approved the proposal. The Greenwood City Council gave its approval in December.

After Jackson’s presentation — largely identical to the one he gave in December — Moore said he did not know what an urgent-care clinic was. He asked the same question when the hospital brought the purchase before the board last month.

“I just don’t know enough about this to support it at this point,” said Moore.

Although the purchase was eventually approved, Jackson said the hospital will continue to face pressures in terms of space.

“Until I get a medical office building, which is at least 15 years or so (in the future), we’re going to continue to have a real estate problem,” said Jackson, although he added that with this most recent purchase approved the hospital is unlikely to buy more property in the near future.

The board also approved a property tax exemption for the Baptist Town Community Center at 200 McCain St.

Robert Benford, a community center board member, and Emily Roush-Elliott, an Enterprise Rose architectural fellow involved in efforts to revitalize Baptist Town, initially requested tax-exempt status in October 2015.

The board determined that the community center would pay its 2015 taxes but would be exempt going into the future.

In other business, Moore voiced his displeasure with the board for approving a $10,000 advertising sponsorship for a group of entrepreneurs working to bring a balloon festival back to Greenwood.

Greenwood hosted two series of ballon festivals between 1990 and 2004.

Moore and District 4 Supervisor Wayne Self were absent from the meeting at which that sponsorship was approved.

“If there is any way I can force my objection to this so that it will reflect in the minutes, I want to do that,” said Moore, who insisted that he was not categorically opposed to balloons but rather to the board approving such a large sponsorship after short consideration.

“I promise you the taxpayers of this county are very concerned with how we’re taking care of business,” said Moore, adding that there should be a formal set of procedures set in place for the approval and allocation of such sponsorships.

Moore also said the board should have been warier of the request given that the Greenwood City Council voted not to fund the event.

District 1 Supervisor Sam Abraham pointed out that the city was providing in-kind support for the festival in the form of security and use of Whittington Park.

“This was a legitimate project, and I think the ones that remember the Balloon Classic remember the people it brought to town,” said Abraham. “These people are willing to spend 100 and some thousand dollars, not knowing whether they’re going to make it or not. If people want to do that, we need to take a look at it.”

Also Monday, the board delayed action on approving a settlement agreement between the county and the Canadian National Railway Company.

The agreement as currently written would dissolve all claims against Canadian National in connection with a March 30 derailment that occurred between Philipp and Minter City. In return, the county would get almost $300,000 from the company.

The derailment resulted in the spillage of dicyclopentadiene, a hazardous and highly flammable liquid.

Abraham put forward the motion to table the approval of the settlement until Board Attorney Joyce Chiles had time to look it over more thoroughly.

Contact Nick Rogers at 581-7235 or nrogers@gwcommonwealth.com.