It was a roller coaster week for me with highs and lows. Let me recap.
On Monday I met with Senator Jim Davis and Chairman Jim Tate of the Macon County Commission. We discussed mutual concerns and the upcoming legislative agenda. Two major topics covered was the problem of tractor trailer trucks on the Gorge Road and the development of broadband here in Highlands and throughout Western Carolina.
Senator Davis told us he would be happy to help on both issues. He noted he had just encountered a tractor trailer on the Gorge Road coming up to the meeting, so he experienced the problem firsthand. We had a very productive meeting, and I thanked Senator Davis for taking the time from his busy schedule to meet with us.
On Wednesday morning, I got a call from WLOS asking me for a response about the Attorney General, Josh Stein, coming to Asheville that afternoon to hold a press conference concerning the HCA Mission sale. I picked up Barrett Hawks and immediately drove to Asheville to be at the press conference. Barrett had done a tremendous amount of volunteer work in analyzing the original sale agreement, and I wanted him to hear the Attorney General’s decision.
Attorney General Stein announced he was going to approve the sale to HCA and the creation of the Dogwood Health Trust based on the revision of the original Asset Purchase Agreement. He went on to identify the key changes in the APA, such as guaranteeing the operation of small hospitals, i.e. Highlands-Cashiers Hospital, from 5 to 10 years. We discovered the AG had renegotiated many of the concerns that the Highlands Town Board Hospital Resolution had called for.
It turned out to be a great day for the people of Western Carolina including the folks of HCA, Mission, The Dogwood, the local foundations and healthcare advocacy groups. This revised sales agreement will better serve us all.
I am so proud of our Town Board and folks like Barrett Hawks that spoke out for the interest of our hospital. The resolution that the board passed was one of the first steps taken by local officials that identified concerns for the community. With that said, I and the board look forward to working with HCA and leaders in advancing healthcare access for the plateau.
The low point occurred at the Town Board meeting on Thursday night. The issue of planting trees on Main Street has become a contentious issue where emotions intensified. Although I hoped we could have resolved the issue, in the end it was tabled.
The discussion began with two options: to plant 4 trees or to plant 7 trees. Lamar Nix had researched the costs and had rather specific estimates for each option. During the discussion the scope of the project began to change to where the direction became unclear. The board made a good decision not to take a vote.
As always folks can contact me on any issue by calling me at 828-506-3138 or emailing at: firstname.lastname@example.org. My office door is always open.
- Town of highlands Mayor Pat Taylor