Hatmaker: ‘We want information’

Requests copy of Covenant, county hospital lease agreement

By Jan Runions - [email protected]

The ongoing battle to get an ambulance substation reinstated for Clairfield residents has now netted the request by Claiborne Commissioner James Hatmaker for the actual Covenant Health System’s hospital lease agreement.

In his resolution, unanimously adopted by the Claiborne Commission last week, Hatmaker demands that a copy of the complete document be provided to each of the 21 commissioners no later than Oct. 7.

The resolution also calls for a detailed, itemized list of every transaction between the county and Covenant having to do with the Claiborne Medical Center escrow account.

According to the resolution, the itemized list will be updated monthly and included in every commissioner information packet, normally sent ten days prior to each regular meeting of the commission.

During the August meeting, Hatmaker accused Covenant Health of trying to “wiggle out of their contract” and attempting to “get every dollar they can” from the county.

“Once the escrow account is gone, this thing continues on. The only way we can fund that (the ambulance service) is taxpayers’ dollars,” said Hatmaker during the August meeting.

According to county attorney James Estep III, Claiborne E-911 records show the Clairfield Substation was indeed active at the time of the signing of the lease agreement.

Matthew Goodman, Claiborne EMS director, said during the August meeting that the substation was in operation when the lease agreement was signed.

“Was it manned, consistently? No, it was not,” said Goodman, during that meeting.

Claiborne Medical Center officials and legal counsel are expected to update the commission during its regular October meeting.

It looks as though WNTT radio will be expanding its services to include an FM station. The commission spent a bit of time mulling the sale of the county-owned property housing the structure to station owner Aileen Craft.

In 1996, Craft signed a 20-year lease agreement with the county. That agreement ensured that the station owner would have first option to buy if the grounds were to ever go on the market.

The estimated 2.3 acres of land is currently appraised at $6,300, according to commissioner Juanita Honeycutt.

Some time was spent debating possible conflicts with county rights-of-way, first questioned by commissioner Dennis Estes.

County Mayor Jack Daniels assured the commission there would be no conflict with the impound lot, the convenience center or the County Road Department properties.

Commissioner Billy Johnson suggested possibly renewing the current lease agreement with Craft for another 20 years.

Honeycutt said Craft would have little incentive to pour some $90,000 into her enterprise, to expand into the FM market, if she does not own the property.

After a bit more discussion, commissioner Bill Keck made a motion to table the matter. That motion failed by a vote of 16 to five. Commissioners Keck, Johnson, Whitt Shuford, Nicholas Epperson and Danny Longworth voted in favor of tabling the issue.

After more discussion, the commission approved the sale. By a vote of 20 to one, Craft became the new owner of the station property. Commissioner Danny Longworth was the one ‘no’ vote.

In other action, Shuford requested that the election of the chair and vice-chair be placed on the October meeting agenda. He referred to certain state statutes included in the Tennessee Counties Handbook, requiring annual elections of those positions.

The county will be holding a Highway Department surplus equipment sale on Nov. 12, coinciding with the surplus sale for the Claiborne Sheriff’s Office. The combined events will be held at the Claiborne County Jaycees’ Fair Barn.

Reach Jan Runions at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @scribeCP.

Requests copy of Covenant, county hospital lease agreement

By Jan Runions

[email protected]

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