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Trinity Standard - Local News

Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company

Ownership of old clinic labeled ‘big mess’
Trinity Standard -

TRINITY – Ownership of the old downtown medical clinic moved one step closer to finalization Monday following a meeting of the Trinity Memorial Hospital District’s board of directors. In 2009 the board approved a quitclaim deed relinquishing any interest the hospital district might have in the building to Jabarco, Inc. but learned Monday that was not enough. Dan Barnes, a member of the Trinity Peninsula Foundation, has been working for almost two years to try to untangle the ownership of the property, which was once used as the office of his father, the late Dr. Sam Barnes. Dan Barnes told the board it was his father’s wish that the building be used for the benefit of the people of Trinity, preferably in a medical capacity. It had housed the First Physicians Clinic operated by the East Texas Medical Center until 2009 when a new facility was completed adjacent to the hospital. Since the new clinic opened, the old building located at the corner of Elm and Main streets has stood empty. During the TMHD board meeting, Barnes introduced attorney Bill Durham of Huntsville, as the fourth lawyer hired to try and untangle the ownership of the property. “I know the building as the old Community Health Center and right now its ownership is very muddled, to say the least,” Barnes said. “Basically, nobody can get a title to it and nobody can get title insurance. It’s just sitting there, doing nobody any good.” Durham said that in his 51 years as an attorney, he has not seen a bigger mess in terms of property ownership. He told the board his research indicated that the for-profit Jabarco group owned the building and that in 1979 they conveyed ownership over the then private Trinity Memorial Hospital corporation. Minutes of Jabarco board meetings indicated there was a motion to disband the corporation in August 1981 but the paperwork on that dissolution was never completed. Also in August 1981, the Trinity Foundation was created (the name was later changed to Trinity Peninsula Foundation). In November of 1983, after voters approved establishing the Trinity Memorial Hospital District, the old hospital board voted to transfer ownership of most of its property over to the newly created tax-collecting district and its publicly elected board. The old hospital board then formally dissolved in December 1983. Durham said the one property that was not transferred to the district was the old clinic building. A deed on the clinic property was issued to the Trinity Foundation. However, for some unknown reason, that deed was never filed with the county, so the transfer of ownership was never completed. Durham also explained that while the paperwork dissolving Jabarco was never completed, the state later forfeited its charter because of inactivity. “On June 25, 2009, a quit claim deed on the property was issued from the Trinity Memorial Hospital Board to Jabarco, which no longer exists. “It appears to me that it was the intention of the old hospital corporation to give the hospital property to you all and the clinic to the Trinity Foundation,” Durham told the board. Durham said the easiest way to clear up the mess would be for the TMHD board to issue another quitclaim deed to the foundation. The foundation would then file the old deed and obtain a clear title to the building and the land on which it sits. Barnes noted that if the hospital district has any need for the building, the foundation would be more than happy to let them keep it. “If you decide you have a use for the building, let us know. I personally do not have an ownership interest in the old clinic, but I would like to see it used for the benefit of Trinity,” he said. The TMHD board agreed to issue the quitclaim deed but delayed final approval so that the district’s lawyer could review the situation. Board President Larry King said the matter would be put back on the board’s March 21 meeting agenda for final action. Director appointed In other business Monday, the board appointed Laura Vanecek of Trinity to fill the vacant Position 4 seat on the board. The vacancy was created by the death earlier this month of Travis Starr. Vanecek will serve the final year of Starr’s current two-year term. Vanecek and Joe Swor of Trinity were the two applicants for the appointment interviewed by the board Monday night. All board members present indicated they felt either candidate could do the job and the vote on the appointment came down to a 3-3 tie. King broke the tie in favor of Vanecek using a coin flip. “I like both candidates and feel they both could do a good job,” he said. Both Vanecek and Swor have been attending the TMHD board meeting over the past several months. Vanecek explained that she started coming to the meetings about a year ago after she attended a meeting hosted by a group seeking candidates to run against current board members during the 2010 election. “I didn’t like some of the information that was being presented at that meeting and decided to come and learn for myself what was going on,” she told the board. “That really enlightened me. I realized that the what I heard at that meeting a year ago was misinformation and that the people running it had an agenda that was opposed to the hospital,” she said. Other business During the meeting, the hospital board also: • Learned that during December and January, East Texas Medical Center-Trinity provided $80,000 in free or reduced cost medical care to low income residents of the area. Hospital Administrator Warren Robicheaux said that most of that expense was incurred through the emergency, laboratory and radiology departments. • Learned that during January the local hospital had 66 patients admitted and treated an additional 711 through the emergency room. In addition, the clinic treated 1,616 patients. • Learned that in addition to some of the land on which the new patient wing is now being built, ETMC is considering deeding the land on which the new parking lot is located to TMHD. Robicheaux noted that ETMC currently owns much of the property located north of the hospital and had already agreed to deed to the hospital district the land on which the patient wing will be built. ETMC’s corporate board is now considering expanding that donation to include the parking lot. • Received a brief update on the construction of the patient wing and dining facility that is now underway. • Approved a new engagement letter with Trinity CPA Thomas Ramey, which gives him a $50 per month increase in fees. Ramey provided all of the bookkeeping and financial planning services for the district and handles the district’s checkbook.


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