"A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives."


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Scottsboro City Council Meeting, Regular Session July 24, 2017

Scottsboro City Hall, photo by G. Morgan

Council Member Patrick Stewart and City Attorney Steve Kennamer were absent.


Jackson County Commission Regular Session - County Schools, Commission and Sheriffs Agreement for Schools Resource Officer - July 24, 2017

Jackson County Courthouse, south entrance, photo by G. Morgan


Jackson County Schools Resource Officer Agreement between Jackson County Commission, County Schools and Sheriffs Department
(Click on image to expand view.)


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Scottsboro City Council, Work Session July 17, 2017

Scottsboro City Hall, photo by G. Morgan

Mayors Report - 1) County has provided check to city for the business tax reimbursement. 2) Willow Basin Drainage program bid was rejected as it was $250K over budget. 3) One time Retirement pay raise for retired city employees. All items to be placed on Regular Session agenda.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Jackson County Commission Special Session and Work Session - July 17, 2017

Jackson County Courthouse, north entrance, photo by G. Morgan

Discussion regarding Camera and Fingerprint equipment out of date for Sheriff's Department, cost approximately $16,400.

Work Session Discussion
Spreading sewage waste - unknown source for photo, Fair Use for non-profit news reporting and commentary.

Are regulatory requirements being met?
 Work Session discussion over use of human sewage for crop fertilization. Bad smells reported, massive numbers of flies (disease vector problem), runoff witnessed in intermittent streams, sewage sludge-human waste reported on roadway all indicate EPA Regs regarding utilization of human septage and sewer sludge waste products may not be meeting EPA regulatory standards as described in these publications. - https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-05/documents/land_application_of_sewage_sludge_december_1994.pdf  and https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-05/documents/a_guide_to_the_federal_epa_rule_for_land_application_of_domestic_septage_to_non-public_contact_sites_september_1993.pdf

Chattanooga's sewage sent to Jackson County Alabama
Article from Chattanooga Times Free Press regarding sewage sludge/biosolids issue and amount of tonnage spread on Alabama and Tennessee Fields. "Scientists say many contaminants bioaccumulate -- become concentrated inside the bodies of living things -- and can travel up the food chain."


Monday, July 17, 2017

Economic Development Authority Board Selects Shelia Shepard as CEO/President - EDA NEWS RELEASE - July 17, 2017

Shelia Shepard Hired as President and CEO of Jackson County Economic Development Authority 

Scottsboro, Alabama
July 17, 2017

The Jackson County Economic Development Authority (JCEDA) Board announced today that Mrs. Shelia Shepard has been named President/CEO of the organization.  Mrs. Shepard has been serving as Interim President/CEO. (JCEDA Facebook photo, crop by G. Morgan, Fair Use for non-profit news reporting.)

"We are very pleased that Mrs. Shepard has accepted the Board's offer to officially become President/CEO of JCEDA," stated Board Chair Dr. David Campbell.  "She has done an excellent job as Interim and of course has years of experience working in economic development for Jackson County.  We are excited about our county's economic future with Mrs. Shepard leading the way."

The Board conducted a structured process in the selection process.  The job was posted nationally and was open for forty-five days for individuals to apply.  "When it was all said and done, Mrs. Shepard was the unanimous choice of the Board members," Campbell stated.  "With her experience, connections, and passion for Jackson County, she was the perfect choice. We look forward to many achievements in economic development under her leadership."

The Board of Directors, in addition to Campbell includes Tommy Harding, Rudder Williams, Bruce Purdy, Jim Green, Phillip Thompson, and A.J. Buckner.

has an A.S. degree with Honors in Business from Northeast AL Community College, a B.S. degree with Honors in Business and Accounting from Athens State University,  the Basic Intensive Economic Development certification, the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute certification, TVA Rural Leadership Institute, Leadership Jackson County, as well as numerous training conferences offered through the Economic Development Association of Alabama, Tennessee Valley Authority and the North Alabama Industrial Development Association.

She has helped develop, co-host or serve on the steering committee for various workforce development programs such as, BEST Robotics, CEO Expo Career Fair, CHOICES Program, North Alabama Works Workforce Board, Tri-State Workforce Development Board, and the Impact Learning Center Board.  She also works closely with our existing industry to help offer programs such as Jackson County HR Professionals, Northeast AL Maintenance Managers, Quality Forums, Safety and Environmental Conference, and AIDT Leadership Skills

“I could not be more proud to be named President. CEO of the Jackson County EDA!” said Shepard.  “I have been with the EDA for almost 25 years and it is not just a job for me.  It is something that I truly love and care about.  Jackson County is my home.  I have family, children and grandchildren here and I want to do everything I can to help improve the economic future for them and all of Jackson County.” 
About Jackson County EDA:   Jackson County Economic Development Authority's mission is to attract new industries to Jackson County, Alabama and help existing industries expand and prosper to provide quality jobs for local citizens.
Jackson County EDA @ 256-574-1331

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Jackson County Health Care Authority, Part 2 - July 12, 2017 - Update (7-18-17) - 2015-2017 Financial Chart

This photo was found on JCHCA.ORG, Jackson County Health Care Authority, it was identified as a "coming soon site," the site was not developed. This image is utilized as Fair Use for non-profit news reporting and commentary. The Jackson County Health Care Authority, JCHCA, is a public entity and a separate corporate entity of the Government of Jackson County Alabama. The JCHCA Board of Directors are appointed by the Jackson County Commission. 

The Crisis - A health care facility CEO warns about the financial crisis and the decreasing of Medicaid funding for rural hospitals such as Highlands Medical Center.

Part 1 of this series, Jackson County Health Care Authority, may be found within at: http://arklite.blogspot.com/2017/06/jackson-county-health-care-authority.html 

This chart sums up the citizens hospital, Highlands Medical Center, and the Jackson County Health Care Authority's financial predicament, or should I say pending Financial Disaster.
Jackson County Health Care Authority officials OWE the citizens of Jackson County an explanation as to the financial stability of our hospital.(

I have had 2 meetings with Dr Albin, the CEO of the Jackson County Health Care Authority. One meeting was an in person introductory meeting, the second was a telephone meeting specifically discussing the new ambulances and the purpose of my series on the health care authority. I expressed the importance of the requested video interview. 

Unfortunately, at this time I must conclude it has been denied as to the questions presented in advance of a video interview. I was informed by Public Relations personnel that the attorney for the health care authority advised the CEO to not have a video interview. 

During the telephone interview Dr. Albin expressed concerns regarding the alleged unaccounted for money and other financial problems such as money lost on the "Mamo Bus." It has been reported to me the "bus" cost the health care authority an approximately $300,000 loss. Dr. Albin stated, "This was before my time and I can not answer any questions about this allegation." Referring to the missing/unaccounted for $1.2 million dollars.  He did state that money was lost on the bus.

1 - First, it is my belief that Dr. Albin is seriously concerned about the health care authority and wants to provide the best quality of health care possible to the community. 

Photo by the JCHCA, Fair Use for non-profit news reporting.
There are many excellent services offered by Highlands. One such admirable service is that of the Highlands Medicine on the move bus. The schedule of this service may be found at http://www.highlandsmedcenter.com/services_line/highlands_medicine_on_the_move.aspx

2 - Second, the health care authority has problems, which means Dr. Albin and the Executive Team have problems along with the entire Highlands and Jackson County Health Care Authority have problems which may be detrimental for the continuing operation of our hospital and its various services. Identification of problems may seem simple as to the "big picture," specifically these problems are far reaching and have been expressed by staff, executives and myself as a concerned citizen and retired health care administrator, "sometimes it is difficult to understand folks motivations within the community." 

There are 4, four, major problem areas which I identified: 1) Communications - (a) internal, professional in-service, team building - morale; (b) external, communications with public as to Highlands and the JCHCA accomplishments, financial status and direction in an ongoing community information program. The JCHCA web site is good, but external broad scale communications to community media is lacking, in my opinion. 

2) Financial development and problem solving: (a) long term/short term planning, commonly called a Capital Expense Procurement Program. Information from the American Hospital Association on Equipment Purchase Analysis and Practices - http://www.hhnmag.com/articles/6278-saving-on-new-equipment How long can Highlands Medical Center continue to operate with a $1.4 million  deficit, March 2017, and decreasing Medicaid payments? The annual report is out of date. It is listed as 2015  http://www.highlandsmedcenter.com/sites/www/Uploads/Annual%20Report/board%20hospital%20report2.pdf  An accurate Highlands and Jackson County Health Care Authority 2016 Annual Report should be listed.

3) LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT. There are no so called "natural born leaders." Effective Leaders are educated team players facilitating all within their purview to excel in excellence and professional accomplishment. It is my observation and opinion the cooperation between the board and executive staff is lacking - you do not have the best interest of the community at heart - Ladies and Gentleman you must work together as a team to mange the facility for the continuing benefit of the community. If you can't do the job and are not a team player, get out. We must have a TEAM who will serve the community to build a great Health Care Authority. Yes board, you may hire and fire executives, however you are part of the team. Build cohesion, be a professional, honest leader or resign. CEO, CNO, CFO and the other alphabet executives, if this facility folds it is on you and the Board of Directors. Plan, continue planning, identify and resolve problems, and build the TEAM!

4) Facility Maintenance/Preventive Maintenance Programs - This must be coordinated with the Capital Expense Priorities and Purchase Programs

Here are the questions presented to Dr. Albin, CEO, JCHCA, on June 13, 2017; as of  July 12, 2017 the video interview requested has not been granted. As the old saying goes, 'better late than never.'  I have expressed to all concerned that this is an opportunity to communicate to the public at large which should not be passed up or thought of as a negative outcome, this is an opportunity to inform and communicate in a visual manner; to correct misperceptions, facilitate goodwill, and tell OUR and YOUR story about health care in our community.

June 13, 2017
Interview/ Questions with Dr. Lonnie Albin, MD 
CEO of the Jackson County Health Care Authority, Scottsboro, Alabama
Also present: _________________________________________________________________

The following questions are based on interviews with Jackson County Health Care Authority Employees, Citizens of the greater Jackson County Community, Physicians within the community and Board Members of the Health Care Authority.

1.      Dr. Albin, what do you see as your goal as the CEO for the Jackson County Health Care Authority relating to: 1). Patient care; 2). Employees; 3). Facility?
2.      What do you think about the wellness or health of Jackson County citizens?
3.      Could you please explain about the last Joint Commission Accreditation, how did that turn out for the Highlands Medical Center and associated services and clinics?

Financial Status-Capital Expense Program
1.      Sources within the Jackson County Health Care Authority informed me there was $1.2 million dollars which was unaccounted for/missing approximately 3 years ago, 2013-2015 time frame from the Jackson County Health Care Authority accounts, no specifically named account. Is this claim true, if so how do you explain this loss?
2.      It was reported to me that there was a $6.9 million dollar loss last year, 2016 operations year, for the Jackson County Health Care Authority. Is this true, if there was a loss how do you explain the financial loss; or was there a gain in funds?
3.      Sources within the Jackson County Health Care Authority have stated to me the Reserve Fund of the Health Care Authority was $12 million dollars 3 years ago, currently the reserve fund is approximately $6 to $6.5 million currently. Is this claim factual, if it is factual please explain or if not factual what was the reserve fund 3 years ago and what is it today?
4.      It was reported to me that the Health Care Authority is currently behind in paying their debts to the tune of approximately $300,000 is this true?
5.      Does the Health Care Authority have a policy in writing regarding a Capital Expense Program? Is there a schedule of major equipment purchases, Capital Expense Program – 1 year, 2 year, 5 year, 7 year, 10 year major equipment purchases submitted by sections/divisions/clinics/hospital, etc. approved by the CEO and CFO or Executive Staff and the Board of Directors on an annual basis? If you have a written policy, may I have a copy?

1.      Some folks within the community and the health care authority have expressed concerns about the quality of patient care available at the Highlands Medical Center. What would you like to say to people and possible patients expressing concerns about the quality of health care at Highlands Medical Center or any Clinic or Service associated with the Jackson County Health Care authority?
2.      Concerns have been expressed about the financial stability of the Jackson County Health Care Authority; what would you like to say to those folks expressing concerns regarding the financial stability of the Jackson County Health Care Authority and associated patient care services or clinics?

Future Vision
1.      What is your vision for the future of the Jackson County Health Care Authority, Highlands Medical Center and all the patient care facilities delivering patient care?
2.      Dr. Albin are there any further comments that you would like to make?

Thank you for your time, it is greatly appreciated.

This requested video interview to date has not occurred. I wish the best of all outcomes for the Jackson County Health Care Authority and  Dr. Albin as the CEO. We are very fortunate to have Highlands Medical Center and the professional dedicated team. 

Folks, the problems may be resolved with leadership, teamwork, and professional problem solving.
Organization Effectiveness professionals maybe helpful. Here are some references: 

1) The Profile of an Effective Healthcare Leader http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/the-profile-of-an-effective-healthcare-leader.html  

2) Effective governance: the roles and responsibilities of board members - (from my alma mater, Baylor University) An important article and direction for board members. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1276331/  

3) Developing an Effective Health Care Workforce Planning Model - American Hospital Association  http://www.aha.org/content/13/13wpmwhitepaperfinal.pdf

4) Performance Measures For Health Care Systems  http://www.hret.org/chmr/resources/cp19b.pdf 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Jackson County Commission in Bridgeport, Public Hearing on Annexation; Mr. Hodges Seeks Options Regarding Second Job and Commission Chair Position - July 10, 2017

Jackson County Commission Chair Matthew Hodges addresses citizens at the Bridgeport Community Center regarding a request to annex parts of County Road 75 into Bridgeport. Photo by G. Morgan

Jackson County Commission Chair and Second Job - Options
Jackson County Commission Chair seeks options regarding his second job and elected position. Commissioners have mixed emotions about the situation. Will an Attorney Generals opinion be forthcoming? What do the commissioners have to say about Mr. Hodges' actions? One Commissioner did state that he thought Mr. Hodges' actions brings discredit to the commission. The full Jackson County Commission will have to vote on the issue and decide what question(s) to send to the Alabama Attorney General.  Mr. Hodges declined an opportunity for a video interview at his office earlier in the day regarding this issue.

The Special Act creating the Jackson County Commission Chair job, Act 392, approved August 26, 1953 has this to say about the Commission chair's time: "Section 8 ...Chairman of the board shall be required to give his entire time and attention to the business of the board..." A copy of the law and the WAFF News Story may be found at the WAFF site link:July 5, 2017 WAFF News article:  http://www.waff.com/story/35819237/residents-question-jackson-co-commission-chairmans-acceptance-of-2nd-job#.WV6HY5YL-9E.facebook

Alabama Ethics Laws Handbook for Public Officials may be found at -  http://ethics.alabama.gov/docs/GuidelinesPublicOfficialsEmployees7-2012.pdf
The Conflict of Interest law has this to say - Section 36-25-1 states:
nflict of interest involves any action, inaction, or decision by a public official or public
employee in the discharge of his or her official duties which would materially affect his or her financial interest..." His failing to fulfil his full time commitment as an elected official (
"Section 8 ...Chairman of the board shall be required to give his entire time and attention to the business of the board...") while employed in another full time job, in my opinion, may be a conflict of interest. Mr. Hodges as the Chair of the Commission is the decision maker, him taking off of work for a financial gain at another job reeks of a conflict of interest.

Video of Citizen's Listening Session About Expansion of Bridgeport City Limits