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Zeb Holden is sworn in as Randolph County’s new manager after being appointed by the Commissioners. Holden’s wife Stacy is holding the Bible. 

Frye, Allen voice issues with hospital owners

ASHEBORO — Darrell Frye and David Allen expressed their concerns when American Healthcare Systems requested an annual waiver of its annual debt payments.

The issue came up May 6 at the Randolph County Board of Commissioners monthly meeting. American Healthcare Systems (AHS) took over management of Randolph Hospital in 2021 during bankruptcy proceedings. The county had applied for and received a loan under the state’s Rural Health Care Stabilization Program. The loan amounted to $12 million.

Under the agreement between AHS and the county, AHS was to pay the debt service payments to the county, which would forward those to UNC Health, manager of the loan. Under the arrangement, the county agreed to waive AHS’s debt service payments each year so long as AHS operates Randolph Hospital at a certain level and so long as AHS fulfills certain other covenants. 

The county would annually assess the performance of AHS to determine whether the conditions required for waiver of debt service are met.

At the May 6 meeting, Tim Ford, CEO of Randolph Hospital, presented a resolution to waive the annual payment of $1.11 million since the conditions of the agreement had been met.

A section of the resolution says: 

“The Board of Commissioners of Randolph County finds that AHS has made commercially reasonable efforts to maintain and operate Randolph Hospital as a North Carolina acute care hospital with a complement of healthcare clinical services and service lines reasonably appropriate for a similarly situated hospital with a minimum of 49-bed impatient capacity located within the corporate limits of Asheboro, NC … which includes:

a. Five (5) general Operating Room suites, plus one additional suite reserved for C-sections (based on current surgical service needs); 

b. Emergency Room services with 15 bays to be open 24 hours a day/7 days a week/ 365 days a year;  

c. Services to be provided in the impatient facility would include, but not be limited to, intensive care, general surgery, orthopedic and maternity / OB-GYN services.”

In addition, the resolution states: “The Randolph County Board of Commissioners finds that AHS has provided quarterly progress reports to the County including, but not limited to, financial condition, operating statistics, staffing levels, capital replacement plan status and any other relevant details.”

That last section is where Frye, commission chair, and Allen, vice chair, took issue with Ford. Both are listed as members of the AHS board of directors for Randolph Hospital.

Frye, while maintaining that the hospital staff is “doing good things,” had complaints toward the ownership group. “We’re not having regular meetings (of the board of directors),” he told Ford.

Ford apologized: “I’ll take responsibility. I had a meeting scheduled in March but I was very ill (and had to cancel that meeting).”

Allen said he understood the reason for canceling the March meeting but had other issues. “We haven’t seen a full audit,” he told Ford.

Frye then complained about money being sent from here to another AHS hospital in another state. “Money going to the (local) hospital is for the benefit of the hospital,” he said. “The issue is with the ownership.”

Allen continued, “I haven’t seen a financial statement (for Randolph Hospital), how well the hospital is operating. I don’t think we’ve voted (on such decisions such as medical equipment purchases). There’s not good communication from corporate in California.”

Frye then suggested not taking action on the waiver resolution “until we have a meeting (of the board of directors).”

Ford said he plans to have a meeting this month. Allen recommended having a regular schedule of board meetings.

The commissioners voted unanimously to table the issue until after the next hospital board meeting.

In other business, commissioners took action on the following topics ...


New county manager

- Appointed Zeb Holden as county manager, succeeding Hal Johnson and interim county manager Will Massie.

Holden has been Archdale’s city manager for the past eight years and was interim manager the previous year. 

Present for the Holden's swearing-in, with wife Stacy holding the Bible, were former county managers Johnson, Richard Wells, Bob Crumley and Harold Holmes, who was the first county manager.


Budget for SAMS renovations

-  Approved the form of agreement and project budget for renovations to South Asheboro Middle School (SAMS).

Dr. Aaron Woody, superintendent of Asheboro City Schools, reviewed for the commissioners the Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund Grant approved for the SAMS project by the NC Department of Public Instruction. The grant is for $29,728,490, with a local match from the county of $5,246,205. Additional costs are $1 million for mobile classroom rentals and $850,000 for furniture and technology needs.

Woody said the school system has selected the design-build team of Bobbitt Construction and Brady Services. Professional fees amount to $2,820,795 and construction is estimated at $32,153,900, which bring the total budget to $36,824,695

SAMS was built in 1962 with an addition in 2001. The school size totals 97,300 square feet. Woody said the design phase will take several months.

Renovations will include:

- Accessibility for the disabled, including an elevator.

- Enlarging cafeteria seating capacity.

- Enhanced security at entrances.

- Updates to the aging HVAC, electrical and plumbing infrastructure.

- Enhanced Career and Technical Education learning spaces.

- Updated flooring, paint, windows and restrooms.

Construction is planned to begin in May 2025 with completion in July 2027.


Healthy Communities boost

- Voted to provide $5,000 to Healthy Communities to pay for the initial website development and expansion to feature health education, corporate wellness and substance abuse/opioid collaborative.

Healthy Communities A3 is a 501(c)3 nonprofit focused on encouraging community members to embrace healthy lifestyle opportunities through education and collaboration. Healthy Communities’ initiatives include trail education, physical activity opportunities like lead hikes, and the Corporate-Municipalities Wellness Coalition.

According to a presentation by Mary Joan Pugh, Healthy Communities chair, the organization’s programs align with Randolph County’s Strategic Plan goals of: 

1. Increase education for Randolph County residents related to Health and Wellness knowledge. 

2. Improve access to health and wellness within the county by reducing barriers.


Use of county-owned assets

- Agreed to accept an engagement letter with Raftelis, a local government and utility management consulting company.

Raftelis wants to develop a long-term financial model for county-owned assets, generate a rate structure to ensure adequate revenues and assist in the development of contracts and/or interlocal agreements with other water and sewer stakeholders. The cost of these consulting services is not to exceed $67,500. With the approval, county staff will utilize funds from the Rural Water Infrastructure Fund for these services. 


Governor’s Award winners

-  Honored Governor’s Volunteer Awards winners:

- Peggy Kilburn, creator of The Heart of Christmas Dinner.

- Kenita Matthews White, founder of the nonprofit Grace Given.

- Debbie Draughn, volunteer at Randolph Health.

- Eddie Burks, volunteer with The Salvation Army and Kiwanis Club.

- Jimmy McNeill, volunteer at Our Daily Bread Kitchen.

- Tom Richardson, longtime student mentor for Communities in Schools of Archdale-Trinity.


Public comments

- Heard public comments from Vera Andrews and Franklin Suggs, who asked that the Confederate monument be moved from the front lawn of the Historic 1909 Courthouse; William Dula, who asked for support of the people of Israel on Holocaust Remembrance Day; and Michelle Thompson and Laura Highman, who had concerns about noise in their neighborhood.