Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

March 19, 2013

Hospital’s future top issue for Gamble

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — The future of Pauls Valley’s health care, namely its hospital, is the one and only issue on Tim Gamble’s list of reasons for deciding to seek another term on the local city council.

A member of the council for the past dozen years with the last 10 as mayor, Gamble literally went right down to the wire before filing for another run at a four-term term.

Gamble is now set to go against challenger Patrick Grimmett during an election on April 2.

The reason for the close call was Gamble wanted to make sure the future of the hospital was ensured with its sale to St. Anthony. When that became a question mark he decided to make another run for the council.

While explaining his decision Gamble pointed to a copy of the Pauls Valley Democrat and a story on the local hospital to illustrate his point.

“This is a watershed moment for our community,” Gamble said. “The future of health care for this community and the region that uses this hospital — that’s what is on the line.

“Being involved in this for so long, all the knowledge I’ve gained about the hospital, I felt like it behooved me to sign up again and do my best to see if we can save our hospital,” he said.

“That is the reason I signed up.”

Adding to his point, Gamble’s wife Connie, who works in the health care field, agreed he should run again because of the importance of the hospital.

“Without her permission I still wouldn’t have signed up even with all this stuff going on,” he said.

“She said you have to, this is too important.”

Gamble says the local hospital and its future has been a top concern for about five years now.

With an open door policy encouraging citizens to come to him at his realty office on North Willow, Gamble said it was about three years ago when a number hospital employees voiced their concerns.

“I was very pleased the employees out there had enough confidence in me to come see me about their concerns,” he said, adding this made him aware of the ups and downs on the way for the hospital.

That path led to the recent three-day filing period for city council candidates. The first couple of days Gamble was working the phones trying to determine whether or not the hospital sale would happen and solidify its future.

“On the third day I learned it was not going to happen. I decided to file.”

The future of Pauls Valley General Hospital is among the many big issues on the council’s radar over the past dozen years — a new water treatment plant, a water dispute with a rural district, the Reynolds Recreation Center and aquatic center now under construction and the planning for an upgrade of the local sewer system.

“Most people don’t realize how long it takes to get most projects done,” Gamble said. “As a council we have to make a lot of decisions on any new project and how it’s going to impact the city.”

It’s that time and effort behind the scenes that provides Gamble with plenty of respect for every other person he’s served with during his 12 years on the council.

“Until someone actually sees what we do they have no idea how much time and energy it takes,” Gamble said.

“When a new member joins the council they are amazed at how many hours it takes for the council; that we are continuously working for the betterment of our city,” he said. “There has not been one council member who didn’t realize that and all strive to make our city better.

“In my experience anybody who has served on that council did it so they could help our community. I’m proud to serve with all the council members who have been there with me. I’m very proud to have served with all of them over the years.”

The mayor also salutes the many volunteers who serve on all the city committees.

“Without them we wouldn’t be able to make great strides last — in the last 12 years and the next 12 years,” he said.

“I encourage all of our citizens to be involved.”

Another plus is all the people running for a seat on the council with a total of five candidates going for two offices.

“I am encouraged when I see all the people signing up for the council; people willing to put their names out there,” Gamble said.

“It indicates the future of our city is bright when the younger folks start getting involved and push for the betterment of Pauls Valley.

“I fully expect Pauls Valley to have a bright, bright future.”

Gamble, who will turn 64 years old in August, stresses his health is not an issue for this campaign.

He had surgery last May to remove cancer found behind his left ear. Skin grafts and a very difficult series of treatments followed in the summer.

“My health is fine.”