Council Advances FMH Payout

WINNSBORO – County Council voted unanimously during their Dec. 23 meeting to immediately advance to Fairfield Memorial Hospital their second quarterly contribution for 2014. The $245,000 contribution had already been appropriated in the 2013-2014 budget, Councilman Kamau Marcharia (District 4) noted as he and his six colleagues supported the motion by Carolyn Robinson (District 2) and the second by Vice Chairman Dwayne Perry (District 1).

Council Chairman David Ferguson (District 5) said the payment brings the County’s commitment to the hospital current until June. The County’s annual contribution of $980,000, Ferguson said, goes entirely to keep the hospital’s emergency room open and operating. The six months’ advance of payments, however, gave him some concern, he said.

“It does (concern me), but having been on that (hospital) Board for 10 years and keeping up with the Fairfield Memorial trends as I have, it’s certainly not a surprise,” Ferguson said. “Unless they join up with a larger hospital with larger finances – you just can’t do it. And you can’t get industry into your county if you don’t have a hospital.”

During the Dec. 23 meeting, interim Administrator Milton Pope told Council that the hospital was indeed in negotiations with a larger facility – Palmetto Richland – for a long-term partnership. Pope said that in order to establish such an agreement, Palmetto Richland would “require various data,” from Fairfield Memorial and acquiring that data would require the services of a consultant. There was no word during the Dec. 23 meeting on costs associated with such a potential consultant.

Councilman David Brown (District 7) said the new Eau Claire Cooperative Health Center, to be located at 8991 Highway 215 in Jenkinsville and for which Council had earlier in the evening appropriated $50,000 for land and site preparation, would go a long way toward alleviating some of the pressures felt by the Fairfield Memorial emergency room.

Council also voted 7-0 to approve the purchase of a 2014 Ford F-250 crew cab truck for the County’s Emergency Management Department. While the sticker price for the truck, Pope said, was $28,791, the entire cost was being funded by grant funds. Davis Anderson, Deputy Administrator, said the truck would be used to tow the County’s decontamination trailer in the event of an emergency at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkinsville.

Council voted 7-0 to OK the temporary closure of a portion of Debutary Road near Lake Wateree. Pope said that since the washout of the Crooked Creek Bridge earlier this year, illegal dumping has increased along a portion of the road accessible by Wateree Road. Jack James, the County’s attorney, said the County approved a similar closure on Cook Road many years ago. The County will not be maintaining the road, James said, and the property owners on that stretch of the road would be responsible for putting up the barriers.

Finally, following executive session, Council voted to extend Pope’s interim Administrator agreement for an additional six months, Ferguson said. Pope was voted into his interim position during a special called meeting on July 17, with a contract period of up to 180 days. Ferguson said the extension maintains Pope’s original pay rate of $10,833.33 per month and includes “no fringes,” Ferguson said, such as a County car or health benefits.