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A new face will join the board that oversees Dothan’s largest employer as the Houston County Commission appointed Bernard Ward to the Houston County Health Care Authority Monday.

The 13-member authority manages the operations of Southeast Health, which consists of one large hospital, the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine, and several clinics. District 1 Commissioner J. Curtis Harvey selected Ward to replace longtime board member Mary Mayo, who expressed a desire to retire, Harvey said.

“He wants to be involved in the community,” Harvey said of Ward. “He is someone who I think would look out for the best interests of the people. We need a mediator on our behalf.”

Three other commissioners also made appointments to the board, whose members serve six-year terms. Bob Theune, Taylor Knight, and vice-chairman John McDaniel all received reappointments to the authority.

District 3 Commissioner Ricky Herring, who in January expressed a desire to see more accountability from the authority since it manages a public hospital, reappointed Knight. Herring said he believed Knight’s character and experience on the board made him a good fit for reappointment.

A 1982 state law allows boards that oversee public hospitals to conduct their business in private perhaps in an effort to ensure their viability in the marketplace. Public hospitals operate like businesses and compete against private entities.

Herring noted it can be difficult for commissioners to find willing and qualified candidates to fill board positions, especially on the healthcare authority.

“It’s an unpaid position, and it’s a time-consuming position,” he said. “It seems that no one wants to take it. At the same time, you have to be careful of people who volunteer for it because they may have an agenda.”

All commissioners except Chairman Mark Culver appoint three members to the Houston County Health Authority. Since members have six-year terms, four appointments are made every two years.

The hospital’s medical staff president serves as the 13th member of the board.

Culver called the appointments the most important the commissioners make during their terms on Thursday.

“They run and make decisions for the largest employer in the community,” he said. “Southeast Health provides healthcare to not just citizens in Houston County but throughout the region. This is by far the most important board we appoint.”

In other action, the commission:

>> Approved the emergency expenditure of $9,438 to replace a broken ice machine at the Houston County Road and Bridge Department and another emergency expenditure of $5,512.89 for the replacement of an air conditioning unit at the county’s sign shop.

>> Approved an alcohol license for TCBC Development Company at The Crossing at Big Creek (formerly Country Crossing).

>> Approved a bid of $175,247.68 from Gulf Atlantic Culvert for drainage pipes and a bid of $14,610 from Tractor and Equipment Company for 250 motor grader blades.

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Follow Jeremy Wise on Twitter @DEgovbeat

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