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Purcell City Council down to three members following hospital controversy

Two Purcell City Council members accused of trying to dissolve the Purcell Municipal Hospital board in a closed meeting have resigned, including one on Friday who denies wrongdoing and voices concern for the hospital's survival.

BY JAMES S. TYREE Published: June 9, 2010
PURCELL — Down to three members from its usual five, the Purcell City Council has rescheduled its monthly meeting to 8 p.m. today.

The council did not have a quorum Monday night, in large part because two members had resigned recently in the wake of a controversy regarding Purcell Municipal Hospital. Kevin May resigned Friday after newly elected Lagaylia Alfonso did the same on May 7.

City Clerk Shauna Long said the remaining council members soon will appoint interim members.

Alfonso and current councilman Jayme Shelton have been accused of discussing and possibly making decisions about the hospital and its board while traveling in a car, and not during an open meeting.

Susan Tarp, the board's president, referred all comment regarding the hospital to Jim Berry, its CEO. Berry did not immediately return telephone calls for comment.

A petition for May's recall had been circulating Purcell prior to his resignation. According to the petition, May had "been instrumental in an attempt to dissolve the hospital board and lease the Purcell Municipal Hospital to Integris Health.”

May said his wife is a physician contracted through a private company to work out of Integris Southwest Medical Center. They have been accused of standing to benefit if the Purcell hospital works with Integris, but May denied it because he said his wife works for a different company.