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A dispute is brewing at Southeast Health

County Commissioner accuses oversight board of ramrodding him.
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 9:16 AM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -Houston County Commissioner Ricky Herring believes those who oversee southeast Alabama’s largest employer are trying to strong arm him.

He claims the Houston County Healthcare Authority is attempting to ramrod its choices, instead of him picking the person he prefers for their group.

Like other commissioners, Herring appoints three of 12 Authority members--one every two years. The Authority is essentially Southeast Health’s board of directors.

Members submit three names for commissioners to consider, and marks the one they recommend, often a person already on the board.

Herring, though, wants to appoint someone with no ties to the Authority, the hospital, or its network of satellite healthcare facilities.

His choice is Steve Hicks, a government administrator without ties to the Authority.

There is a problem. Hicks is not among those on Houston County Healthcare Authority’s short list.

“(These) are the most important appointments we will make, and we choose who is best to move (the Authority and Southeast Health) forward,” Herring told News 4 on Tuesday.

Herring has only praise for Dothan businessman Lance Shepard, who currently holds the seat, but believes Hicks is the better fit.

Shepard, though, is the Authority’s recommendation. The other two candidates are Mark Kinney and Brownie Browning. Steve Hicks is not mentioned in a list sent to commissioners.

Herring will delay his appointment until the dispute is resolved and, until then, Shepard will remain an Authority member.

Southeast Health employs about 3000 people in several counties and multiple states.

Authority Chairman Chester Sowell and Southeast Health declined to comment for this story.

Besides the 12 appointed members of the Authority, the president of Southeast Health’s medical staff also has a seat.

Copyright 2021 WTVY. All rights reserved.

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