Board of health just keeps getting better

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By Ben Carlson

Column as I see ’em …
Let’s start this week’s column off with some good news for a change, OK?
One of former health director Brandon Hurley’s biggest supporters on the Anderson County Board of Health is no longer there, I’m happy to report.
Joy Hoskins, a nurse who works for the state health department, was not reappointed.
That’s a fact. Of course that wasn’t supposed to be known, so the official word from people in Frankfort who ultimately dodged my questions is that she “resigned.”
Here’s how it went down. Last week, a list was generated at the state level saying who was appointed and reappointed to the Anderson County Board of Health. Hoskins wasn’t reappointed, and an email I obtained from the judge-executive’s office via an open records request said just that: not reappointed. For emphasis, the word not was underlined.
Being that she is one of the elites in Frankfort, that looked rather shoddy so by the time Tuesday night’s health board meeting rolled around, she had offered her letter of resignation.
Not that an effort wasn’t made otherwise. After word spread that she wasn’t reappointed, her boss, Dr. Steve Davis, said a mistake was made and that her term was supposed to run through the rest of the current fiscal year.
Fortunately, an effort to replace her here had already begun, so Davis was left with no choice but to ask Hoskins to resign.
Not that she’ll be missed. Her swings and misses over the past four years proved very costly to taxpayers, not to mention the health department employees who by July will be paying for the new building with cuts from their own paychecks.

Strike one
Although she wasn’t on the board at the time, her first swing and miss came with her support to hire Hurley, an inexperienced person whose own performance proved he was elevated to director far too soon. She supported him in lieu of current interim director Tim Wright, a veteran of the department who was more than qualified to be director at that time, and has already proven so in just a couple of months on the job.

Strike two
Her second miss was recommending the new health building — she was on the new building committee —  which proved to be a $2 million debacle that ran the health department to the brink of insolvency.

Strike three
Then, despite all of the ongoing problems, she refused to waver in her support of Hurley, who was allowed to quit but should have been fired last year. Like the first line of my columns always say, I “column like I see ’em,” Nurse Hoskins, and you’re out.

Speaking of debacles, pardon me while I continue to beat Hurley’s dead horse.
I chronicled in last week’s column some of Hurley’s financial foul-ups, and have learned yet another.
Not only weren’t the heating and air systems at the new health department building not properly programmed, they also aren’t under a normal manufacturer’s warranty.
Someone I trust said that’s because Hurley tried to get cute and instead of utilizing a heating and air company to buy and install those units, he purchased them outright to avoid paying sales tax, which a government agency wouldn’t have had to pay, anyway.
Which explains why they weren’t properly programmed.
Hurley then compounded that problem by not ensuring proper warranty information was filed, leaving the system with only a year instead of multiple years.
Bottom line: Hurley had way too much autonomy, and those who at that time should have been looking over his shoulder simply didn’t do it.
If one of those units fails, don’t look for them — and they know who they are — to step in and pay for the repairs.
Just as it’s been proven that Hurley wasn’t particularly concerned about safeguarding our tax dollars, the same can be said for those who kept him in that job.

Speaking of that new building, only one board member who voted in favor of it remains, Dr. Andrew Bustin, who served as chairman at that time (and, ostensibly, the person charged with overseeing Hurley).
Two other board members, Dr. Mark Tussey and Keith Klink, were also on the board then, but each voted against the building.
Some simply served out their terms and walked away; others abandoned ship rather than face the heat from their decisions.
Either way, there’s no question that the current health board is much more keenly aware of what the public expects and actually cares about using your tax dollars wisely.
They are: Dr. Bustin, Dr. Mark Tussey, Dr. Jaime Cooper, Don Wells, Klink, Todd and Judge-Executive John Wayne Conway, and new members Steve Carmichael and Mark Litkenhus.