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Kilgore College trustees approve lease with hospital

By Glenn Evans
Dec. 16, 2013 at 11 p.m.

KILGORE - College trustees here approved an agreement Monday to convert some 30,000 square feet at the former Laird Memorial Hospital as a training site for nursing and other medical courses.

The Kilgore College Board of Trustees also set a $1.5 million cap for what the school will pay to renovate the unused space at the former city hospital.

The sub-lease with Allegiance Specialty Hospital, which leases all 128,000 square feet of the hospital at U.S. 259 and Dudley Lane from the city, will cost the college $125,400 annually.

Trustees also OK'd a so-called survivability agreement with the city of Kilgore. The agreement ensures the college may use the space even if Allegiance ends its lease with the city, which still owns the building and 10-acre site.

Nursing, radiological technology, surgical technology and physical therapy assistant courses will move to the new site, College President Bill Holda told the board. The move will free up 18,000 square feet on campus for automotive technology and other courses, he said.

"We'd spend another $4.5 million to $5 million to build that space," Holda said.

Allegiance Executive Director Sherry Bustin, who also is a city councilwoman familiar with both ends of the lease, told trustees 65 percent of her staff nurses were educated at Kilgore College.

"We do not have enough nurses," she said, tacitly echoing hospital administrators across the country. "It's a special opportunity for our community. It's a great opportunity for our college."

The sub-lease includes an initial term extending through 2015 with renewals arising every five years to 2025. The survivability agreement ensures the sub-lease stays active through 2035.

Kilgore City Manager Scott Sellers told Holda after the meeting the city council might call a special meeting to OK its end of the agreements. The council's next scheduled meeting is after the New Year, he said.

In other action Monday, the board OK'd a staff recommendation to begin charging people for public information when the time that staff spends fulfilling someone's request exceeds 36 hours during one year.

Holda stressed the publicly funded institution is keen on its obligation to answer to taxpayers.

"But you also have a responsibility to the taxpayers to recover the cost that is incurred by the taxpayers," he said. "Because, sometimes people don't realize the financial burden" of finding, compiling, copying information requests.

Charges will be based on the amount of time that staff members spend responding to open record requests. However, Holda said, the first 50 pages will be free.

Board Chairman Charlie Hale noted the college's auditors had reminded the board of its responsibility to the college's financial health as well as taxpayers.

"You have to be responsible to the college, too," he said.



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