Bath Supervisors unable to comment on hospital issues at monthly meeting

Discussion of Bath Community Hospital issues is off limits for the Bath Board of Supervisors.  With the expectation that the topic would come up during public comment at the supervisors meeting Tuesday night, County Attorney Mike Collins made a statement about comments on the hospital.  He advised the public that while the supervisors meeting was an appropriate forum to express opinions the board of supervisors, as a legislative body of the county, is restricted by law from doing anything that could be construed as trying to influence a court.  Collins said that since a lawsuit involving the hospital is pending, the topic of the hospital was off limits for the board.  He also asked the public to be positive and to not have character assassinations in their comments, because what is said could be subject to challenges and lawsuits if people spoke inappropriately.

And during both public comment periods three board members recused themselves from participating in those portions of the meeting.  Board Chair Bruce McWilliams and board members Kevin Fry and Cliff Gilchrest all have connections to the hospital.

Stephen Terry of Bacova was one of five people who spoke about the hospital during public comment.  He said promises made by hospital board members at the community meeting have not been kept.  There have been no meetings with the board and the board has not answered any questions.  He appealed for some help or guidance from the board of supervisors for the concerned citizens group.

In other business Tuesday night, School Superintendent Sue Hirsh reported on a school security equipment grant that has been awarded for the purchase of new emergency radios.  She asked the board to appropriate about $27,000 that will be reimbursed by the grant, along with the local match amount of about $13,000.  The board unanimously approved appropriation of the amount that will be reimbursed, but asked Hirsh to try to find the $13,000 local match in the school budget.

And the board discussed the bear problem at the Warm Springs solid waste site.  People are not using the compactor there for household trash and are instead putting it in the open top container.  Bears are getting to it and scattering it around the area.  The board agreed to remove the open top container from that location.

The board approved having County Administrator Ashton Harrison present his report a half hour before regular board meetings begin.  Harrison said it will be a more informal atmosphere, where he will give updates and answer questions that the public may have.  The board approved having this new format begin at the January meeting and the report will start at 6:30.

And the board unanimously approved installing school safety zone signage at the high school at the intersection of Charger Lane and Route 220. Signs, road markings and flashing speed limit signs will be added.  The speed limit will be 25 miles per hour when the lights are flashing. The total cost is expected to be around $7,000.

And also the board appointed Amy Phillips to the Rockbridge Area Community Services Board.

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

Current Weather