One of the biggest stories of 2003 – the proposed sale or lease of Tri-Lakes Medical Center – appears destined to be one of next year’s biggest stories.
That’s because a decision, predicted to have come this month, won’t be made by Dec. 31.
"The consultant is still negotiating with Triad and Baptist," Mayor Bobby Baker said Monday morning.
"We had hoped to get something done by last Friday when the Board of Supervisors met," he said. "Now, it will be after the first of the year."
The city and county’s consultant, J.C. Burns of Burns Development Group in Ridgeland, told The Panolian Monday he does not know exactly when he’ll make his recommendation.
"We’re working on it and hope to have a recommendation soon," he said. "But I can’t put an exact date on it."
Burns, formerly of Batesville, confirmed he is "still negotiating" with Baptist Memorial Health Care of Memphis – which wants to buy the hospital – and with Triad Hospitals, Inc., of Plano, Texas, – which has a lease proposal on the table.
Although the Board of Supervisors by consensus recently agreed to reconsider a third proposal – by the Tri-Lakes board and Dr. Bob Corkern – Burns said he is not negotiating with them.
Previously, the supervisors and aldermen voted to consider Triad and Baptist, Burns’ top two of the three proposals.
Burns said it’s his understanding that in order for the board/Dr. Corkern proposal to get further consideration, both the supervisors and aldermen must vote to put it back in the mix.
Burns said he has not been in contact with the board/Dr. Corkern regarding that proposal saying that he left a message for Ray Shoemaker, the chief operating officer at Tri-Lakes, and the call was never returned.
In a recent interview, Dr. Corkern told The Panolian neither he nor the hospital board has been contacted by Burns.
In an interview with The Panolian, Supervisor Jerry Perkins said, "the majority seem to want [to reconsider the board/Dr. Corkern proposal] not that they don’t understand what we did the first time.
"Mr. Pratt brought so much more information before us," Perkins said, making reference to Larry Pratt, vice chairman of the Tri-Lakes board.
"We want to do what’s right," Perkins said. "Mr. Pratt thinks Dr. Corkern has a good proposal."