The Polk County Commission is taking steps to recoup some of its investment in the Copper Basin Medical Center.The hospital has been closed for some time, and little medical service and/or treatment …
The Polk County Commission is taking steps to recoup some of its investment in the Copper Basin Medical Center.
The hospital has been closed for some time, and little medical service and/or treatment is available in the mountain communities of Ducktown and Copper Basin.
Meeting in a called session Tuesday evening at the Polk County Courthouse in Benton, the commission voted unanimously to begin foreclosure action to secure the property.
County attorney Eric Brooks was directed to draw up a foreclosure resolution for the commission to consider. The action is expected to take place at the commission's next regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, March 15.
The faciltiy had defaulted on a bank loan several months back, and Polk County and the city of Ducktown had taken over the loan of just under $1 million in hopes it would keep the medical center operating.
Polk County assumed approximately a three-quarter share of the loan, while Ducktown took ownership of a quarter. Copper Basin was financially unable to assumed its quarter share.
The hospital had earlier closed in-patient services, but was continuing to offer outpatient and emergency care.
In addition to the bank loan, which originally was well over $1 million, the hospital was also paying on an Internal Revenue Services debt.
Despite the county and Ducktown taking over the bank loan, the hospital still closed down completely. It later closed, and some employees have not yet been paid.
There has been continued negotiations by Brooks, and others, to find a buyer, or operator, for the facility, but no one or no organization has stepped forward. The county has maintain the building with a caretaker during these cold-weather months.
Voting to initiate foreclosure of the hospital property were commissioners Daniel Deal (chairman), Wendell "Buster" Lewis, Mark Bishop, Daren Waters, Greg Brooks, Mike Curbow, Karen Bracken, and John Pippenger. Sheena Gaddis was unable to attend.
In addition to taking action on the hospital situation, Polk commissioners also acted on another legal issue related to the medical center.
Cleveland attorney Jimmy Logan was directed to represent Polk County in a lawsuit against Copper Basin General Hospital District and its trustees.
The original lawsuit was later amended to include Polk County, and Logan will attempt to have the county removed.
The lawsuit was filed by Polk County resident Anna Nicole Clark against the hospital for a breach of an existing employment agreement.
The plaintiff brought this action against the hospital to obtain full and complete relief from the expense she incurred from the enforcement by the IRS due to the failure of the hospital to remit payroll taxes of its employees to the Internal Revenue Service after firing her on or around May 2016.
A third issue, of a non-legal matter, was discussed by the commissioners Tuesday.
Brooks said the commission needs to decide on the disposition of a brick home and approximately 15 acres of land included in property the county purchased for a new school.
The Gaggle property is located just southeast of Polk County High School, and a 60-acre portion will be used for a new elementary school, or elementary/middle school combination.
The Polk County Schools system will use the 60-acre tract for the school(s), and by agreement the house and 15 acres reverts back to the county so it can recoup some of the purchase price.
Brooks said the property can be disposed of by auction, or sealed bids. He added that the location of the home is on a bluff, and some of the dirt could be used to assist the school construction.
Commissioners voted to have a surveyor look at the property, and come back with options.
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