Petition fate set to come soon

Very soon the fate of a petition asking for an investigation into the 2018 closure of Pauls Valley's hospital is expected to be known.

Secretary Gayla Dean confirms the Garvin County Election Board office she oversees has received the petition asking for the state auditor's office to look closer into a list of different things related to the city of Pauls Valley.

“It has been received, and we're working through it,” Dean said, adding the first step is to make copies of the petition documents before beginning the process of verifying signatures.

“We will be looking at the state election board records to see how they're registered,” she said about each person signing the petition during the drive stretching out over a month.

“We're looking to see that they're registered in the municipality of Pauls Valley.”

With the drive ending July 24 the petition documents were delivered the same day to the state auditor's office in Oklahoma City.

Those documents have since made their way back to Pauls Valley as it's believed at least 294 signatures of residents living inside the city limits here must be verified for an audit to be called.

“We won't announce any results until the special board meeting,” Dean said as election board members are expected to hold a meeting early next week.

When the petition documents did arrive earlier this week Dean says she initially them placed into the custody of the sheriff's office until the verification process could begin the following day.

The main focus of the petition is to have state officials conduct an investigative audit on how the local hospital was operated in its final years and the specifics of the facility’s closure nearly two years ago.

The actual petition lists out eight specific areas that auditors are asked to closely check out if a comprehensive audit happens.

• Determine if financing arrangements (revenue notes, loans, etc.) have been properly managed.

• Determine if sales tax revenue has been used according to its designated purposes.

• Evaluate the recall petition process and related communications and results.

• Review contracts, lease agreements and bid processes of the hospital facility and the ambulance service.

• Determine if the city has failed to pay wages and related benefits to former hospital employees.

• Review the city’s management/relationship with nursing home facilities across the state of Oklahoma.

• Review the possible violations of the Open Meeting Act and the Open Records Act.

• Review payments to selected personnel (contract labor, legal services, etc.).

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