City of Salem and Lucas Oil close to a deal on airport purchase PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 11 June 2009 00:00
    According to information provided by Salem Municipal Airport Board of Aviation Commissioners (BOAC) member Bob Woodward, the City of Salem and Lucas Oil Company are very close to inking a deal that will transfer ownership of the existing airport property to Lucas Oil and provide funds for the local match to build the new airport facility.  Representatives from Lucas Oil were in Salem last week to meet with Mayor David Bower, members of the Washington County Economic Growth Partnership, and members of both the air board and the city council.  Meetings also took place between the Lucas Oil people and Owen Thompson, owner of the Salem Speedway.
    Woodward said that the deal to purchase the old airport is about 99 per cent complete.  Assuming that negotiations go well between Thompson and Lucas Oil, everything should be signed before the end of the year.  
    Woodward went on to say that the engineering firm  R.W. Armstrong has redesigned the plans for the new facility to have a shorter runway than the initial plan called for.  The new plan includes a 3500 runway which is 1500 feet shorter than the one in the initial engineering plan but over 1000 feet longer than the current runway.  After completion of that phase, the additional 1500 feet of runway will be added over time.  This revision will allow the new facility to be operational within 24 months.  
    Woodward confirmed that the  re-appraising of properties to be purchased for the new airport is still expected to begin this fall.
    The next regularly scheduled BOAC meeting is Wednesday, June 17, beginning at 7pm at the airport.
Last Updated on Thursday, 11 June 2009 10:48
Commissioners say budget reductions mean less paving PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 11 June 2009 00:00
    The Washington County Board of Commissioners met in regular session on Wednesday, June 3, with all members present.  The minutes of previous meetings, the payroll and all claims were approved unanimously.
    After reviewing the Budget Approval Form 1782 from the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, the Commissioners noted that over $400,000 targeted for road paving in the county have been cut.  The explanation from the State of Indiana is that revenues will be less than anticipated due to the recession.  That cut in the budget could eliminate between six and eight miles of paving this summer.  County Highway Superintendent Rick Graves said that he will make cuts across the board and hopes that a reduction in fuel costs over last summer will help to absorb the shortfall.
    In other business, the Commissioners took the following action:
Appointments to various boards.
Approval of Adult Protective Services Contract with State of Indiana
Took no action on direct deposit of county employee paychecks as requested by County Treasurer Bob Woodward. Results of employee survey shows strong opposition to the plan.
    With no further business to conduct, the Commissioners adjourned until their next regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, June 17.
Last Updated on Thursday, 11 June 2009 10:49
Property tax bills should go out in July PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 11 June 2009 00:00
    In a telephone interview on Monday, June 1, Washington County Treasurer Bob Woodward said that if everything goes according to plan, property tax bills should be in the mail to property owners no later than the last half of July.  Woodward explained that once the information comes back from the state, it should be a fairly quick process to get the bills out to taxpayers.  The bills will be due approximately thirty days after receipt by the property owner.  
    For the first time, taxpayers can use credit cards or debit cards to pay their tax bills this year.  A small fee for the service will be charged to the card holder for this service by the card processing company.  For additional information about paying with a credit card or debit card, contact the Washington County Treasurer's Office at 883-3307.
Last Updated on Thursday, 11 June 2009 10:50
Hospital plans to downsize PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 03 June 2009 00:00
      At a Friday afternoon May 22 meeting, Washington County Memorial Hospital (WCMH) Interim CEO Joe Roche spoke quite specifically about the need to consider either downsizing or eliminating certain departments/units at the hospital. Currently on the chopping block are Obstetrics (OB), Oncology (ON), and the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).  Although no decision has been made yet, the writing is on the wall.  
    An example of the tough realities facing WCMH is the ongoing problems with keeping the Obstetrics Unit open.  According to Roche, in order for OB staff to stay proficient in dealing with difficult births and for the unit to stop loosing nearly $1 million a year, approximately 300 birthing procedures would need to be performed annually.; in 2008 only  eighty-eights birth occurred at WCMH.  According to information received from the Washington County Health Department the last time that 300 births occurred in the county was 1982.
    Consideration is being given to consolidating the facilities currently being used for the Intensive Care Unit with the Medical/Surgery Unit.  According to Melissa Richardson, Public Relations Director for WMCH, only about 30% of all patients currently admitted to ICU are “true” ICU patients.  The rest are Medical/Surgery Unit patients kept in ICU for less than 24 hours.  If this  consolidation is made, all long term ICU patients will be transferred to other medical facilities in the area.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 June 2009 10:23
WCMH—Is bankruptcy the next step? PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 03 June 2009 00:00
      A special joint meeting of the Washington County Memorial Hospital (WCMH) Board of Trustees, the Washington County Board of Commissioners and the Washington County County was held on Friday afternoon, May 22.  All members of the three groups were present except for Council President, Mark Manship.  Earlier in the month, Manship recused himself from voting on any action involving WCMH, citing possible conflict of interest issues.  Only one item was on the agenda.  That one item was a resolution approving the transfer of all assets and liabilities of WCMH to a newly formed non-profit corporation, Critical Access Health Services (CAHS).  
    As stated by bankruptcy attorney Michael Hile, the move will allow the hospital more options in dealing with its current debt load estimated to be around $15 million.  When asked by representatives of three local financial institutions  (Regions Bank, Mid-Southern Savings Bank, 1st Harrison Bank) if the plan calls for the hospital to reorganize under the provisions of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Hile would only say that bankruptcy is one of the possible strategies.  Citing the lack of forewarning about this maneuver, the representatives for financial institutions clearly were caught off guard by Hile's comments.  
    In a May 27 telephone interview, Mike Smith of Mid-Southern said, “No doubt about it, we feel like we were blindsided at last Friday's meeting.  All three banks have been more patient with the hospital than we probably would have been with any other debtors.  No one at the hospital has been willing to talk seriously with us for a long time about how to resolve this problem.  We were simply told that arrangements were being made to work things out.  We didn't want to do anything to hurt the hospital or the community so we held off.  Unfortunately, that may not have been the best move on our part.”  Smith continued by saying, “We are currently exploring our options.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 June 2009 10:27
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