In an update to the supervisors on Monday, Lock Boyce, chairman of the Patrick County Board of Supervisors, said the bid to reopen the hospital is a priority for Health and Human Services Secretary Daniel Carey.
Boyce noted the governor’s office also has “some power” with the lender, Virginia Community Capital (VCC), and also has some funding available to help with the project.
“What I hope is people will get past all of this stuff” and come together to work on “getting some kind of an ambulance facility … an emergency destination,” Boyce said.
A new point person is needed on the project, and the “logical person is the new director of the EDA,” Boyce said. Only four applications have been received for the post that is being vacated by Debbie Foley, director of the Patrick County Economic Development Authority (EDA).
“The most promising (applicants) are not from around here, and I know that that makes a big difference to some,” people, he said.
Residents will need to “broaden our minds, because the people who can help us get this hospital reopened are not from around here,” but may have the needed background, education and experience, he added.
Denise Stirewalt, a former assistant director of the EDA, encouraged the board to put their personal feelings aside and make rational decisions based on concerns raised by constituents.
“I ask that you … consider Mrs. Harris’s request for the resignation of the county administrator,” Stirewalt said, referring to a request by Crystal Harris, of the Smith River District, who in August called for County Administrator Tom Rose to step down.
Stirewalt said the concerns she shared are not about her, the past or the behaviors in which county employees engage during their time off. “This is about having a respectable leader for you, me, and the citizens of Patrick County.”
Karl Weiss, of the Blue Ridge District, has said that he had not heard concerns from constituents or county staff about any issues regarding county staff, but Stirewalt said Weiss was included in the email conversation between “a potential new business owner in his district and myself, asking for assistance,” after the potential business owner alleged “they could not get a return phone call or email” from Rose, who served both as county administrator and director of the EDA at the time.
“I don’t take emails, never have…. I don’t believe in them… When it comes to emails, you’re wasting your time to send me one,” Weiss said, adding that he prefers telephone calls.