MOUNT GILEAD — Thirty were present but one key figure was absent at the Morrow County Commissioners public hearing Monday morning for the proposed removal of Patrick Drouhard, Chairman of the Morrow County Hospital Board of Trustees.
Those attending included several supporters of Drouhard in addition to hospital board members, county officials and attorneys for Drouhard and the hospital.
Attorney for Drouhard and the hospital, William M. Mattes of Dinsmore and Shohl, LLP, noted that it would not be according to Ohio Revised Code (ORC) to hold the hearing since the “appointing authority” that includes Judge Robert Hickson was not present.
Mattes quoted from Hickson’s letter of July 5 to the commissioners, asking that the meeting be rescheduled since he is a member of the appointing authority for the hospital board of trustees and he had a trial scheduled for July 8.
Hickson wrote, “If the Board of Commissioners is unwilling to reschedule this meeting, please take notice that I am opposed to the removal of Patrick Drouhard as Chairperson of the Hospital Board.”
Mattes said Drouhard was prepared to go forward with a statement and questions if the commissioners would choose to continue without the presence of the judge and full “appointing authority.” However, the meeting would not be according to ORC 339.02H.
ORC 339.02H states that “any member of a board of county hospital trustees may be removed from office by the appointing authority…”
Mattes added that this is not a meeting of the appointing authority without the presence of Judge Hickson since according to ORC; the appointing authority consists of the Board of Commissioners, the senior Common Pleas Court Judge and the Senior Probate Court Judge.
Hickson is senior judge for both the common pleas and probate courts.
Mattes stated opinion of higher courts that the appointing authority for the county hospital board members consists of the board of commissioners, senior common pleas and senior probate judge as each having one vote.
Morrow County Prosecutor Charles Howland stated a different opinion that the commissioners represent three separate votes instead of one as a board.
Commissioners called for a break to see if either Judge Hickson or Judge Thomas Elkin would be available to come to the meeting. Both were engaged in court proceedings.
They returned to the question of whether commissioners had a vote as a body of one or three individuals. Whiston asked hospital board member and former county commissioner, Olen Jackson, whether they had three votes as part of the appointing authority.
Jackson said that in this decision, commissioners only have one vote as a board. He said that is according to not only Ohio Revised Code, but also the Ohio Association of County Commissioners’ manual.
The hearing will be rescheduled when Judge Hickson and other concerned parties are available.