Thursday, November 9, 2006
really big day’ for county
By BARRY BURLESON
The accolades were plentiful Wednesday of last week during groundbreaking ceremonies for a new Alliance HealthCare Complex in Holly Springs.
“This is a milestone,” said state representative Kelvin Buck. “This is a Kodak moment.”
“This day will go down as one of the biggest ever in Marshall County,” said Eddie Dixon, president of the board of supervisors.
New facilities on 30 acres near Highway 78 (future Interstate 22) will include the hospital, Williams Medical Clinic, a health and wellness center, an office building for doctors, extra space for medical-related businesses, a walking trail, plus infrastructure like streets, water, gas and lights.
Total investment is approximately $50 million.
Elected officials and others who took the podium reaped thanks and praises on Dr. Kenneth Williams for his commitment to Holly Springs and Marshall County.
“He’s the cog that drove the wheel,” said Don Hollingsworth, public works director with the City of Holly Springs.
Jim Tuttle, member of the hospital’s board of trustees, called Dr. Williams “an inspiration.”
Dr. Williams started his practice in Marshall County in 1989 with Northeast Mississippi Healthcare in Byhalia. He established a solo practice in Holly Springs in 1992. Williams Medical Clinic was built in 1998, and then in 1999, Dr. Williams stepped in and purchased the 40-bed hospital, which was struggling financially and at risk of being closed.
“Dr. Williams is a tremendous partner in Marshall County’s growth,” Dixon said. “He stuck with us when times were lean. Today Marshall County is growing by leaps and bounds, and this complex can only enhance that growth.”
State senator Ralph Doxey said, “Dr. Williams never stops. He’s like the Eveready Bunny.”
Dr. Williams, taking the podium last, said it’s obvious there are lots of people to thank.
“This project is much bigger than I,” he said.
“We have to shape the future, and we have to build a new facility to be able to do it. That’s reality. We have to do the right thing.”
He said the old 60,000 square foot hospital facility on Highway 4 East, which is leased from the county, is way outdated. As an example, he said it has just one elevator working, and “we’ve done all we could to get it fixed.”
“As long as we’re in that facility, times are going to be lean,” Dr. Williams said.
“Our staff members all deserve a hand. They know our limitations there. Our people are dedicated.”
He said the hospital has seen four years of positive financials.
“Otherwise, we could not think of this project,” Dr. Williams said.
“It’s a glorious day. We have a lot of work ahead, and we ask each of you to help us.”
The clinic will be constructed first on 3.3 acres. It will be doubling in size from the present 12,000 square feet to 24,000 square feet and include separate areas and waiting rooms based on services desired.
“We will be able to offer more – things we don’t have room for now,” Dr. Williams said.
His wife Regina, practice administrator for Williams Medical Clinic, said, “Simply stated, our purpose is to promote, provide and improve healthcare for all Marshall County citizens.”
Target completion for the clinic is June 2007.
Then the 130,000-square-foot hospital portion of the complex will begin and take approximately two years to build. It will be constructed for 75 to 100 beds.
Dr. Williams said the wellness center and walking trail are two other important ingredients in the complex.
“We want to put our mark on preventive health,” he said. “Plus, with the nature trail this will not be a concrete jungle. There will be a lot of green space.”
Buck said the teamwork at the local, state and federal levels made the new healthcare complex a reality, and that unity is a model for all in the State of Mississippi who want to improve their quality of life.
“From time to time, you see a prime example of public and private coming together for a common goal,” Buck said. “All different parts of the community and government see a need and meet that need by coming together at every level.
“The commitment starts with Dr. Williams, but it goes far beyond that.”
Marshall County Industrial Development Director Bill Renick and others talked about the importance of healthcare to business, industrial and residential growth.
“This is a really big day,” Renick said, “and it’s only the beginning of many great things in Marshall County.”
Perry Williams, hospital administrator and CEO, thanked all the hospital’s board members for their support, and he also had special thanks for Hollingsworth, who has spent countless hours during the past four years pushing the healthcare complex forward.
“Hats off to Don,” he said. “He has been the driving force behind this project.”
Hollingsworth said, “It’s hard to visualize, but this is not just a complex. It’s a development. We formulated a plan and went to work – lots of people. Thanks to all.”
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