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The following is a WBCU Editorial. Your response is welcome. You may mail your response to WBCU Radio, 210 East Main Street; Union, SC 29379, email it to Editorial Response, fax it to 864-429-2975, or bring it by our studios on Main Street.  Properly identified Guest Editorials of an appropriate nature are also welcome for broadcast or inclusion on our web site.

WBCU EDITORIALS

WBCU – Guest Editorial, May 5, 2014  (The following views are those of Union County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair, and do not necessarily reflect the views of WBCU, its management or employees)

The Three W’s of Wallace Thomson Hospital (WTH)                       

Since the recent report in the press about consultant efforts about WTH, I am often asked in regards to WTH What is next or with Who and When.” 

            The three “W” questions of Wallace Thomson Hospital (WTH), what is next, by whom, and when, may best be addressed by first recalling a little history.  The hospital has seen management change over the years from self-management to Quorum, to CHS, and back to self-management. Several years ago there was some talk about a possible relationship with Spartanburg Regional. Concern immediately developed about Spartanburg “taking us over and shutting us down” as some thought happened to Woodruff. The talks soon ended. About two and half to three years ago, after CHS left and with WTH under self-management, other contacts were made with a number of hospitals about associations and/or alliances. This is becoming a more common practice with health care providers as they attempt to cut costs and improve service in an ever-increasingly complex and expensive healthcare world. Again, some of the same concerns as well as other concerns about being “swallowed up “surfaced, and as hospital leadership changed, those contacts became inactive.

            Recently, in a joint effort guided by a small joint committee of some council members and hospital board members working through the committee on public health along with the full council and the hospital board, a consultant was hired at county expense to study the feasibility of establishing a relationship with an area or regional hospital. Many of the same health care providers contacted in the past were revisited, and a couple of regional providers, working through the hired consultant, did pretty detailed studies of a possible relationship. As reported in the press a year or so ago, Greenville Health Care System signed a 99 year lease and essentially took over responsibility and management of the Laurens hospital assuming all its liabilities. While the two systems that did somewhat detailed and comprehensive studies of WTH did not make a specific proposal to or for WTH, they did share much of their analysis and many suggestions with WTH.  While WTH continues to cultivate relationships with these larger providers, at this point it does not seem that one of the large regional providers is ready for a Laurens/Greenville type relationship. The future could change, but at this point we do not see a large provider as any real full or part of the three W’s (what, who, when) for WTH. 

            From my perspective the players (who) are medical staff/administration, the hospital board, Physician staff,  Union County Council, and the citizens of Union.  The what is from each perspective the actions each of the players can take, and the when has to be now.  As stated, the prospective hospitals, while not offering a real proposal, did offer helpful cost cutting service improvement analysis of the hospital for possible implementation by the staff. 

From the hospital board and staff perspective:

The hospital board, working with the administration, has begun immediate implementation of some significant cost cutting and reorganizational activities. In a very frank meeting recently the chief of staff of the hospital, a large number of physician staff, the hospital CEO, the hospital board chair, and I had a very frank discussion about a plan of action addressing patient concerns and improvements in the hospital owned physician practices. The medical staff/administration has developed and is implementing 50 or more suggestions/ideas generated in house and from studies provided during the consultation phase that will cut costs and improve services. One of these ideas is what the medical community refers to as a mid-level caregiver. A mid-level care giver is basically a nurse practitioner or a physician’s assistant. I recently went through about 10 days of medical treatment that started at WTH and ended up with a specialist in Spartanburg.  My initial visit and follow up and most of the interaction was done by mid-level staff. The mid-level staff, for one, is less expensive and, two, in some ways easier to recruit. I am informed by the hospital CEO that he has signed two mid-level medical staff and has a commitment from another.  The addition will provide some financial “relief” but more importantly provide more health care professionals to handle community medical needs with less wait time for appointments.   

From Union County Council perspective:

Union County Council has been very involved with the hospital effort for some time and I need to elaborate. Union County Council paid off the DSS building  bond early two years back in order to provide the hospital with a “bridge” loan as the hospital upgraded its computer system to implement Federal required Electronic Medical Patient Records or EMR. Union County Council last year and in recent months has assisted the hospital financially from our operating budget as the hospital has worked through some financial issues. On behalf of Council and the Hospital Board, Paul Newhouse (hospital CEO) and I, working through the governor’s office, made several trips to Columbia to meet with Tony Keck, SC Director of Health and Human Services. We were supported by Mike Anthony and other members of the local delegation.   The net effect was a redefinition of some aspects of the hospital whereby now our DSH payments (a federal government term) will increase by over 2 million dollars a year.

            Union County has invested through bonds and direct payment several million dollars in Timken Park. When one looks at Dixie Youth, High School, American Legion, Miracle League, weekend tournaments, etc., one must conclude, while costly, it was a worthwhile investment. Union County Council has invested in WTH through bonds and on occasion direct financial assistance from current budget operating funds. Certainly we all agree that WTH and our healthcare is in and of itself worth investing in. When one factors in WTH and by extension its impact on nursing home jobs then one must conclude that just like any other industry the several hundred health care related jobs are worth investment to sustain from an Economic Development perspective . The feedback other council members and I get is generally in support of the hospital.  I have talked with Union County Council and there is basic consensus to treat the bonds and the other financial help as an investment. An investment, not just in healthcare, but in economic development as we do for industry and just as we did for Timken Park as we all work through and support the hospital in transition.   

The who that is left is Union County Citizens and from their perspective:

We all have had or heard stories about the WTH care, administration, insurance, charge issues, and maybe other things are not so pleasant. Some are true and some are exaggerated. WTH has to and is actively working on this. We even hear of situations like this from other medical institutions sometimes. But let me state as frankly as I can, the future of this hospital remains with us, the citizens.  Sometimes when I am asked in public, “What are you going to do about the hospital?” I want to say, “Support it. I hope you are too.”  The truth is WTH staff and administration can cut and reorganize in all directions, WTH can continue to receive increased DSH payments, Union County Council can continue its financial support, but until the citizens support the hospital, it cannot sustain itself. Sure there have been and will be issues and the hospital must and is addressing them, but just like our schools, our communities, our governments, our churches, and all our community and citizen institutions let us continue to support as we identify, correct, and improve. Then, as we support WTH ourselves, industry, other hospital systems, will support WTH. The final W is us for Who, with our What being support and use of WTH, and When for us and the hospital must be now. 

 

WBCU – Guest Editorial, March 18, 2013  (The following views are those of Union County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair, and do not necessarily reflect the views of WBCU, its management or employees)

 

Right People, Right Place, Right Time, Right Reason

By Union County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair

Union County Council recently authorized the go ahead for the Miracle League field transition construction at Timken Park. Union County Council also recently met with the Hospital Board for a financial futures update. I would like to take this opportunity to address those two headline-making events. I hope with a few words that I have sufficient writing skills to relate them to each other, to other events, and to Union’s future-our future, mine and yours.

A year ago after council approved the Timken field transition using independent, non-county funds, a number of volunteers jumped in, faced the challenge, and with the help of individuals from children to adults, civic groups, businesses, and foundations, essentially reached the ¼ million dollar goal ($250,000) in a year. This only happens with the right people in the right place at the right time for the right reason.

Union County, in concert with the Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Board, the School Board, all Union, Jonesville, Lockhart, and Carlisle municipalities in the county, USC-U, Spartanburg Community College , and other groups, recently signed on to address the challenges of Union becoming a Work Ready Certified Community. Becoming certified by meeting this challenge will enhance Union’s already competitive and successful Economic Development efforts. I was at a meeting recently that was Work Ready related. As I looked out and saw Kathy, Joe, Eric, Kevin, Andrena, Chump, and others around that room, I realized I was the oldest and had watched them all grow through our community and school system. I experienced a degree of satisfaction in that moment as I commented to them that I believe they represent the right people in the right place at the right time and for the right reason as our community approaches this challenge. I have no doubt that the Work Ready group and this community will meet this challenge just as the Miracle League Challenge was met by their groups and the people of this community.

Another recent headline spoke of Wallace Thompson Hospital, our hospital, looking at ways to cut costs. The joint Union County Council/Hospital Board meeting was the background of the article. I am quoted in one of the articles as questioning the long term financial liability of the hospital and when it would “break even.” The question was important for two reasons: 1) as a measure of the financial future of the hospital, and 2) for an understanding of the ability of the hospital to “repay” what was basically a “loan” to the hospital from county government. I put “repay” and “loan” in quotes because one cannot really loan or repay themselves money. This is our county government and our hospital, and to repay ourselves is somewhat an accounting and accountability comment. I have stated a number of times over the past 3 years that small rural community hospitals are like many families and are financially fragile. Keeping our hospital will always be a challenge. It will be a challenge we must address and handle. It will be a challenge that we can meet just like Miracle League and Work Ready Communities.

Since we have just finished tax season and my door is open, many people poke their heads in and comment about anything from hospitals to roads and ball games. Hospital comments are generally about receiving unusually good care, but having billing/administrative issues. I have experienced them myself. The current CEO is leaving and we wish him well. The hospital administration is in transition. I know that in recent weeks some employee groups have worked to identify activities that will produce cost savings and improve efficiencies. The new transitioning administrative team has a local person high up in the business department (Cindy Gault), an experienced billing person recently returning to Union whom we welcome back (Roger Miller), and the new CEO Paul Newhouse who has the experience and situational awareness I believe necessary to address the challenges that face fragile small rural hospitals. I believe they, along with the employee groups that are engaging in the future of the hospital (groups of Union based community people just like Miracle League and the Work Ready Groups), are the right people at the right place at the right time and for the right reason. There is maybe one avenue where we all can improve: utilize the hospital. When I say that in my office to those who poke their heads in with complaints, I get a variety of reasons of why not to use the hospital. I acknowledge to them that there are some problems and challenges at the hospital just as there are in government, education, public safety, etc. I do believe that many of the issues are perception issues, BUT if we do not support the hospital in word and use, then it may not remain there long enough to address the real challenges and issues as we also work to clear up the perceived ones. We all have to be the right people, our community is the right place, the hospital is the right reason, and this is the right time to meet the challenge. We often are our own worst enemies when we put ourselves down enough that we begin to believe it. John Flood reminded me recently of what is often referred to as the self-fulfilling prophecy where a person or an organization lives up (or down) to the expectations others set for them. We as a community can raise our expectations, and I believe that as we look at and support the hospital as a group, it will meet our expectations. As I see those employees at the hospital as a group who are a product of our community, I can tell you that they are like Miracle League folks and Work Ready Community folks. They are the right people in the right place at the right time for the right reason. Let us be the right people, in the right place, at the right time, for the right reason and join them and support them as this community establishes and meets high expectations in this and other areas of our community.


WBCU – Guest Editorial, January 5, 2010  (The following views are those of Union County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair, and do not necessarily reflect the views of WBCU, its management or employees)

Ten years ago, as the year 2000 approached, we were looking forward to a new year, a new decade, a new century, and a new millennium, and the immediate and long-range promise promise each of those would bring.  Early in the decade, the century, and the millennium, the tragic events of 9-11-2001 happened and altered our lives here in Union and in the nation.  Many efforts and sacrifices were made then and still continue to restore the promises that were shattered early in that decade.  Recent events have caused a degree of skepticism and maybe even shattered some of the promises we hold in our small and special community.  We are about to enter a new year and a new decade.  The people of Union have been patient, understanding, and encouraging as we set about to restore hope and the promise of the future.  I have thought long and hard how to immediately and somewhat begin to permanently remove the skepticism of government in Union.  As I consider and mentally digest the cause of this skepticism, it comes down basically to a cloud about money and drugs.  The real question then is how do you not just ask people to believe in government, but to participate in activities that will remove the cloud and restore faith in government?  As we enter this New Year and the promise it can hold for the new decade, we will do that in both areas.

The money part is relatively easy.  The Clerk of Court is about to begin an outside audit by the state that is part of their audit program.  This audit will also look at parts of the treasurer's office.  We are fortunate to have it at this time.  Recent investigations serve somewhat as an audit of other county expenditures.  I am about to provide council a complete financial sheet on the Timken Sports Complex.  We will be transparent and know where we stand.

The drug cloud is harder to remove in the short term.  County personnel policy does not provide for mandatory drug testing except in special circumstances and employment.  In the military and in many businesses and industries, random testing is the norm.  I have thought for weeks how to provide this.  Freddie Gault, Dianne Wilkins, and I were talking recently about the upcoming state audit and how to procedurally and financially respond to the anticipated shortfalls that will probably present themselves. We also talked of how to let the citizens know what we are doing with the audit so as to begin to remove the cloud.  The discussion led to a discussion about drug testing and county policy, and the idea that we could do it voluntarily.  I quickly went around to other elected officials, appointed department heads, and employees present at the time, and all were enthusiastic about the idea.  I have no reason to expect the few I have not talked to because of vacation will not also enthusiastically support the idea.  The truth is that those in government want the "drug cloud" removed as much and probably more than anyone else.  I have advised council of this individually and have their support as well.  Many in government and on council expressed support of a policy change.  In the meantime, I have contacted companies that can help us facilitate the almost immediate volunteer testing.  Sheriff Taylor's deputies and detention officers are tested as a matter of employment.  I do appreciate both local papers and the local radio station as they help us get this information out to citizens.

--Tommy Sinclair, Union County Supervisor


WBCU – Guest Editorial, November 24, 2008  (The following views are those of concerned citizen David Fant, and do not necessarily reflect the views of WBCU, its management or employees)

Joint planning commission needed

Do you want a stinking, noisy, and hazardous, industry moving in next door to you, devaluating your property and adding further congestion to your children’s highway safety? Who’s going to stop it?

Early in November 2008, to their total surprise, residents found out through WBCU News Radio and the Union Daily Times that the Sloan Construction Company had already purchased the neighboring properties, garnered the appropriate permits, and have begun building an Asphalt Storage Facility next door and the residents can do little about it. Helplessly, they approached the County Council and were emotionlessly informed there was nothing the Council could do about it because the County simply lacks Zoning.

Is Union County going to be a dumping ground for less than desirable companies and industries, that no other community wants, because there are no land-use controls in place? Yes, you could be the next victim unless some fair, just, limited, and common sense land-use control is instituted. Yes, in the past the County attempted but failed to implement limited land-use planning to protect the US 176 corridor. But should the County Council not try again because they once or twice failed? No! Try again, educate, build the trust, and do it right!

The Union County Economic Development Board Director also confirms the lack of County Zoning greatly hinders positive economic growth here. Zoning is one of investing companies’ primary requirement criteria and consideration. Likewise, the lack of Zoning is a key attraction to undesirable and hazardous industry. Remember, not all industry is quality-of-life friendly.

Isn’t it time for Union County to partner with the City of Union and consider adopting a smart growth policy and create a consolidated Joint Municipal-County Planning Commission as well as a Joint Municipal-County Planning and Zoning Department?

Planning is merely an indispensable tool available to our community leaders to use for the protection of its citizens. A Planning and Zoning department’s functions can require a full range of sophisticated and high level expertise from community planning, zoning, building codes and inspections, Geographic Information System (GIS) Technology, Global Positioning System (GPS) Technology, and Computerized Automated Design (CAD) Technologies.

A Planning Commission and Planning Department is a substantial and important investment. The City of Union and Union County both presently subscribe to basic services of Catawba Regional Council of Governments (COG), a non-profit organization, which specializes in Grantsmanship and Land Use and Comprehensive Planning including Zoning Regulations. The City of Union is already using the COG Professional Planning Staff services one day a week. The City presently has $318,260 budgeted for the Planning Department and another $30,000 for COG services. COG also receives a grant administrative fee, based on a percentage, subtracted from the grant itself for every grant they procure for the City and County. In addition, the City has a major capital planning investment in facilities and equipment, i.e. computer, software, plotter, and etc.. Union County has $100,000 budgeted for the Building Inspector Department and another $38,120 for COG Basic Services.

Union County in conjunction with the City of Union has the obligation, using all the necessary resources available, to thoroughly study, check for associated grants, and consider the consolidation of County wide Planning functions. The creation of a Joint Municipal-County Planning Commission as well as a Joint Municipal-County Planning and Zoning Department could broaden County planning capabilities while reducing redundancy in capital expenditures. Next a Union County and the City of Union Comprehensive Plan should be established according to the South Carolina Local Government Comprehensive Planning Enabling Act of 1994. Full citizen participation should be encouraged in this process.

With proper planning, powerful leadership and sound execution, Union can once again be a positive leader in the quality-of-life in the upstate.

David Fant


 

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Comments on the upcoming mayoral election in the City of Union

Chris Woodson, President, CEO of Union-Carolina Radiocasting

The City of Union is facing a very serious time. On November 4th, we will be electing a new mayor by an unprecedented write-in election. Currently we have thirteen candidates who have announced their intentions and desires to be our next mayor. Some of these candidates are qualified, while others, in my opinion, are not. Our next Mayor will be responsible for a nearly $50 million budget. As citizens of the City of Union, we need to make sure that we elect a mayor that will carry our city in the right direction. We need a mayor that will work to recruit jobs and industries; a mayor who will make our city proud once again; and a mayor who will do what is right and best for our city even if it is not the popular decision. We need a mayor who wants the job regardless of salary, because their true concerns are for the city and its future, not their own personal agenda.  On Thursday night at 7 PM, in an effort to better inform the voters of the City of Union, WBCU will be holding a Mayoral Forum in which all announced candidates have been invited. This forum will ask questions and allow for discussion among the candidates as to their plans for our city. I encourage all of you to either attend in person or listen on air to AM 1460 or 103.5 FM as WBCU broadcasts this forum. In the end, I hope that you will take the information you gain from listening to the candidates, and then pray that the right person will be elected, one who will lead our city into the future in a positive manner. Our next mayor should not be elected because of who they are or how many friends they have. Our mayor should be elected independently on their merits and their qualifications to be a positive leader for our city.  I hope that each and every voter will weigh each candidate individually and cast their vote for the person most qualified to oversee a fifty million dollar budget, and to be the leader that the City of Union needs and deserves. As a voter in the City of Union, you owe it to your city, your family, yourself, and your children to make the right decision. As we head towards Election Day, let’s pray for our city and our country that the right leaders will be elected to office.


Friday, February 29, 2008

Comments on WBCU's FM translator at 103.5 FM

Chris Woodson, President, CEO of Union-Carolina Radiocasting

"After nearly three years of planning, WBCU radio signed on the air on August 27th, 1949. With the foresight of Community leader Everett Hughes, a dream finally became a reality and grew to become a community institution.

WBCU’s stature grew immensely in 1953, when a partnership of Jimmy Coggins and Ed Osborne purchased the Union-Carolina Broadcasting Company. Ed along with his wife, Dot, served Union County and WBCU for  40 years  until 1993  when Ed brought  a young Georgia entrepreneur by the name of Art Sutton to Union. A year later, Sutton bought WBCU and improved upon it’s already well established leadership in community involvement. The station was named one of America’s best small market radio stations by the National Association of Broadcasters, was twice named South Carolina’s small market radio station of the year.

Since the inception of WBCU a long held goal for the past thirty years has been to add bring a FM signal to Union County. Union’s central location to several large cities, home to many FM stations, precluded any FM frequencies from being available for use in Union.  WBCU’s AM signal has faced more interference especially at night when the 1000 watts must be beamed eastward over the city of Union and away from other AM stations on 1460 operating in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

In 2003 when I came to work for Art Sutton and later purchased the station from him, we have continued to pursue a permit for an FM signal.  Through political and regulatory channels, we have finally found success.

I am proud to announce today that that dream has become a reality and that WBCU is now broadcast on both AM 1460 and 103.5 FM. The new FM channel is not designed to replace WBCU’s, AM signal but instead designed to enhance the AM signal. 103.5 FM allows WBCU to reach areas that in the past could not be reached at night time due to FCC restraints.  This new FM repeater station allows us the ability to cover all of Union County and solidify our role as Union County’s radio station. 

Since 1949, nearly six decades,  it has been the mission of WBCU Radio to serve the public interest of Union County and this commitment will remain the same as we introduce  a new era of broadcast technology to our community.

In the words of Bob Doll who authored a book about WBCU and Union in 1999

'As long as songs are sung

The mission goes on

As long as events deserve reporting

The mission goes on

As long as there are people who hurt

The mission goes on

As long as people yearn for companionship

The mission goes on

As long as businesses have problems

To solve and opportunities to realize

The mission goes on

As long as there are friendships to be shared the mission goes on.'

In closing, I have some personal comments.

 I would like to thank Art Sutton for providing me the opportunity to own WBCU and the assistance he has provided me on this project.

Thank you to Union Mayor Bruce Morgan and the entire Union City Council for their willingness and desire to assist by making space available on the city water tank at Sonoco for our new FM antenna. Thank you to the Union Daily Times for their coverage of this service.

I would also like to thank my wife Ashley for standing by me through this process, the staff here at WBCU who make my job a lot easier and my sincere appreciation and thanks to our  listeners, advertisers and to each of you here today for all your support of WBCU over these many years.

Thank you for being an important part of our history today as we now embark on a new journey for the station.  Let me promise that as long as there is a Union County and as long as there is life in me, the community mission of WBCU will move forward at 1460 on the AM dial and now at 103.5 on the FM dial."

Mail to chris@wbcuradio.com with questions or comments about this web site.
Last modified: 08/29/2014