The future of health care in southern Montage County is in the hands of voters. A measure on the ballot for Saturday's election would create a Montague Memorial Hospital District. It would add onto property taxes fund the hospital. Hospital Officials say the measure is critical. Some that live in the Forestburg area don't want the District.
Financial cuts have hit the hospital hard. CEO Kim Lee says the measure is needed. "We're hoping to utilize tax money to keep our services and not have to cut additional services and to be able to go out to the community and give the needs they are asking for," she said. Lee says without the additional funds, services and jobs may be cut. "We're going to have to start looking at reducing services and employees."
The proposal includes the entire southern half of the county. Many that live near the Cooke County line around the Forestburg Community don't want to be included. They say they don't use Bowie Memorial, because other medical facilities are closer. "There are a lot of other facilities that are closer to us, and when you're looking for health care or emergency care specifically, you're looking for the closest best facility," said Forestburg Rancher Paul Braswell.
Braswell says its faster to drive to hospitals in Muenster, Decatur and Denton from his ranch. He also feels that the hospital does not reach out to the families that call the Forestburg area home. "They've never been over here, they've never been to any of these events. They've never come over here and done a Flu shot clinic," he said.
Early voter turnout has been exceptional about this issue. The County Clerk says 978 people turned out for early voting – very high for Montage County. One thing that both sides are in agreement upon is that the civic process is exciting. They hope that all eligible voters go out and cast a ballot.