By Patrick Yost
Today, he says, he can at least smile about the unusual demand made by a plaintiff in a failed lawsuit against the construction of a new hospital for Terry Evans to quit.
Evans says now he studied the demand, which came from John Anton, as well as a demand the Morgan County Hospital Authority publicly state that they would seek no more than $1 million per year in subsidy from Morgan County tax payers and to insure that all districts in Morgan County had a person serving on the authority. Do these things, the agreement says, and Anton promised not to appeal Superior Court Judge Allison Burleson ruling in favor of Morgan Memorial Hospital’s bond validation.
Evans said for him, at least, the choice was easy. “It would be real easy to give up a seat on the authority to build a new hospital.”
In fact Evan argues that had Anton appealed the ruling, the appeal alone could have cost several million dollars and time. By agreeing to resign on June 30 when his term expires the hospital can begin the construction of the new $35 million facility.
“If the object was to hurt me personally and stop this hospital they only achieved one goal,” he says.
Evans says he wanted to stay on the authority three more years “to see this project through” but he is also “proud to be the sacrificial lamb.”
When the agreement between Anton and the Hospital Authority was announced, Anton’s attorney Stephen Morris said Evans stepping down off the authority was “a positive step.”
“This way both sides can avoid a costly appeal. we are looking forward to seeing more changes on the board in the future. But having Terry Evans resign from the board when his term is up… is a good start.”
Evans says initially Anton and what Evans described as a “political action group” demanded the resignation of three authority members. Those members, he says, and himself have been “maligned” by the group.
Anton, who serves as the chairman of the Morgan County Republican Party has stated on several occasions that he initiated the lawsuit as a private citizen and not as part of the party.
Evans says when he first joined the Morgan Memorial Hospital Authority in 2005 the first retreat he attended at Dr. Ken Lewis’ lake house involved listening to consultants then discuss the county’s need for a new hospital. “At the time they were telling us if we did not have the full support of the Morgan County Commissioners we couldn’t do it.”
That support came last year, he says, and Evans thanked commissioners Andy Ainslie, Donald Harris and former commissioner Ellen Warren for agreeing to the project.
“If it had not been for the commissioners support there would be no hospital,” he says.
He also says that the work of Morgan Memorial CEO Ralph Castillo and Morgan Memorial CFO Kyle Wilkerson have created a business model that works at Morgan Memorial. “They had turned that place around.”
Evans argues that the multi–layered vetting required by the USDA to acquire the loan to construct the hospital is affirmation that the project is sound. “We got this money on our own. The USDA feels we can support this.”
He argues that the facility’s doctor swap agreement with Piedmont/ Athens Regional Hospital and medicare reimbursement for capital expenses also are favorable for the new facility’s success.
But he also says retaining the more than 180 jobs supplied directly by the hospital and the ancillary jobs created are important not only for the employees but for the local community. “Without a hospital its hard to grow as a county.”
“If you care about this community, you want to get healthcare for the people of this county.”
In retrospect, he says, he knew seeing on the board would demand fortitude and resolve. He says his wife Sheree provided quiet, firm support throughout his time on the board.
Leonard Nimoy helped, too. Evans says one of his favorite quotes comes from Nimoy’s Dr. Spock character on “Star Trek.”
“The needs of the many out weigh the needs of the one,” he says, quoting Nimoy.
“I’m proud to be the sacrificial lamb.”