Today, I was invited to join former and current McCurtain County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) in a photo-op with a check for over $2 million for the purchase of over 110 acres at the Idabel Airport location to build a brand new McCurtain Memorial Hospital.
The Idabel Airport location has always been a great spot for a new hospital, in my opinion, but early on I was extremely concerned about governmental regulations as they might relate to federal aviation restrictions. I was pleased recently to learn that there are no FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) concerns, according to county officials.
I cannot help but look back over the last 18 months tonight at how far this project has come. Yes, I would love to be breaking ground on a new facility by now and hate it that I am having to litigate this with our friends up north, but even in all of this, I have to trust that God has a plan. This land deal was started with the former BOCC's, Mr. Westbrook, Mr. Jennings and Mr. White - and the baton was carried through by Mr. Williams, Mr. Beck and Mr. Bamburg.
It has been a privilege in working with these men. One thing I have come to respect is that I may not always agree with every decision the county government makes - and they certainly may not agree with every decision I make - we have developed a relationship wherein we respect each others positions and can work together on important issues. I cannot think of a more important issue to work on than the future of healthcare for the residents of this amazing county.
We suspect a new hospital will occupy approximately 15-acres of this new land but what I will commend the BOCC's on is their forward-thinking vision. We are not in a box and this large land purchase provides room for growth. Growth for what? Who is to say that one day we cannot have a very nice expo/convention type center there; a beautiful industrial complex; or nice housing?
Men without a vision perish. Proverbs 29:18. I have a vision that we will successfully build a beautiful, new, state of the art hospital that will serve the needs of this community for another half-century and beyond. I will tell you another vision I have: we will do this together - and that will include our friends to the north.
What I have come to realize in the last month or so is that I can disagree with my colleagues in local, city or county government and that doesn't make us enemies. Why can others not be just as passionate as I am? Why does my friends' commitment and passion have to be viewed as coming from a bad place - yet I stand ready to defend my own position and frown at being questioned or disagreed with? What many have learned from me this last year is that I love this hospital and the quickest way to rile me up is mess with her or the men/women who work for me. But what I am learning is that I have been placed in a position that gives me a platform to unite people far more than be a part of division.
We will build a new hospital. We will begin that initial phase soon. Will it be with the 2% that you gave us in November? Well, only time and the courts will tell. But, rest assured, we will build a hospital and guess what? You're going to be blown away at the people who come together before it's said and done and get this thing done. These are important times for the residents of this amazing county and our actions as leaders must be intentional. To my colleagues in government, do what the people brought you here to do. We all work for the people and each of us have an opportunity, despite our past and old grudges/hangups to leave a legacy for decades to come that we did it.
I count it a blessing to extend my hand of fellowship to anyone willing to reach out and take it, and together, build this hospital and secure our healthy future.
Jimmy, Chris and Mark - thank you for seeing a vision and starting the ball rolling. John, Robert and Ray - today cemented the vision and I challenge you all that may come after you, take care of your hospital. She's been good to the residents of this county for many, many years and if you'll treat her right, she will yield life-saving outcomes for countless years to come.