County Council asks for end to opposition

Members of Barnwell County Council are asking the opposition in a current civil case regarding the future of Barnwell County Hospital to "step aside."
In an Op-Ed letter signed by all but one member, they accuse the attorney and the people he represents of "attempting to undermine efforts to secure the future of healthcare for Barnwell County citizens."
The letter says legal costs for the county have already passed $300,000 since the saga began two years ago. The letter also says each month that passes without closing the sale of the hospital costs taxpayers nearly $100,000.
The key question in the case is whether members of the Barnwell County Council violated conflict of interest laws that bar officials from holding dual positions when they appointed themselves to serve on the hospital board.
Two years ago, Barnwell County Council removed all the council-appointed members of the Barnwell County Hospital Board. Council members then appointed themselves to fill the empty seats.
The case has made it all the way to the state Supreme Court, which heard arguments in early April. A final decision has not been reached. A lower court ruled in favor of county council, saying the situation was not a case of dual office holding.
Former hospital board chairman Don Alexander, along with Carolyne Williams, Georgia Fields, William "Bob" Dixon, Colonel Joe H. Zorn Jr., Melanie Wright, and Dr. M.O. Khan brought the suit to have county council's actions overturned.
On county council's side, current members Freddie Houston, David Kenner, Keith Sloan, Lowell Jowers Sr., Joe Smith and Harold Buckmon are named in the suit. Former council member Travis Black, who did not seek re-election when his term ended last year, is also named in the suit.
Regarding the sale of the hospital, current efforts by the council are aimed at sealing an agreement with Atlanta-based Resurgence Management Company. But those efforts could come unraveled if the high court rules against county council.
Additionally, the hospital has been going through an extended bankruptcy process that is just now nearing an end.