Supervisors question foundation on money management Featured

Mark Hargett, president of the Bolivar Medical Center Foundation recently presented the foundation’s annual report to the Bolivar County Board of Supervisors.

The foundation was formed 17 years ago to manage funds from the lease of the former county run hospital.

About two months ago, the Board of Supervisors sent a letter to the foundation asking if it board would consider hiring a financial manager from Bolivar County.

The supervisors said they asked for an update a month after the letter was sent and no one ever heard anything back.

Supervisor Larry King asked Hargett if they would consider hiring local and minority money managers instead of someone who is not from the Bolivar County area.

Hargett said although he does not recall receiving a letter from the board, the foundation board has been "constantly entertaining those processes" about hiring local and/or minority financial managers.

"What we have in place right now is something that is working very well for us as you can see by the numbers, and right now our board just hasn't had the need to go and make any changes," Hargett said.

Hargett said the foundation started out at $28 million and has grown over to $49 million, and it has been successful in making money in the county and it is not looking to hire at the moment.

Hargett said the foundation is always looking for and evaluating managers, and if anyone is not doing their job well, they will most likely be replaced.

He said he does not really know if they have minority financial managers, and that he does not really think of it in terms of race.

Hargett explained the financial consultant is Frank Smith of Smith Shellnut Wilson of Madison, who hires and oversees the financial managers and they come from big investment firms that handle a lot of money.

"We presently have about eight managers out there. Some are very good on the stocks side of it, the bond side of it, so we try to find the best people who know the most about their area of expertise," Hargett said.

He added, "Our consultant manages those particular managers and they report straight back to him and to us on a monthly basis."

The mission of the foundation is to improve the quality of health care provided to the citizens of Bolivar County, and Supervisor Preston Billings said he believes it is only right the foundation hire a Bolivar County citizen as a financial manager.

Attorney Jamie Jacks who accompanied Hargett said there are over ten different managers who manage different sections of the portfolio and that ranges from big organizations.

Jacks said, "I think it would be impossible to really know who is managing with these organizations."

King asked Hargett if the foundation would consider providing scholarships to other institutions in addition to Delta State University and Mississippi Delta Community College.

Hargett said they would most definitely be interested in entering into a memorandum of understanding with other institutions if there is need to give the scholarship money to other schools.

The purpose of the nursing scholarship given by the foundation is to improve healthcare in Bolivar County and to also improve health care education in Bolivar County.

A student who receives the nursing scholarship will receive it for five semesters and will be employed in Bolivar County for a minimum of two to three years after completing the program.

Jacks said the foundation gives $10,000 to DSU and $10,000 to MDCC for its nursing programs on campus.

"For the scholarships, we have a memorandum of understanding with the institutions that receive the scholarship money where they are suppose to pick students who make a commitment to come back to Bolivar County to practice, and that's a big part of what the foundation wants to see, and the other part is to obtain a 3.0 grade point average or better," said Jacks.

Jacks also said the foundation attempted to partner with Coahoma Community College with the scholarship program but they declined.

Jacks said, "They were very honest and said we don't think students meet that criteria."

Hargett said there is no particular name for the nursing scholarship and that the institutions can decide on what to name the scholarship.

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