Three top stories of 2012: JMC sold; JSU replaces Crowe; elections
by Staff reports
Two of the three top stories of 2012, as voted on by the staff of the Jacksonville News, occurred late in the year.

The three stories (in no special order) are: Regional Medical Center purchasing Jacksonville Medical Center; the firing of Jack Crowe as football coach at Jacksonville State University and the hiring of Bill Clark as his replacement; and the 2012 elections.

Jacksonville Medical Center

The purchase of JMC by RMC was announced just before Christmas. The 89-bed Jacksonville hospital was owned by Tennessee-based Capella Healthcare. The completion of the transaction is expected at the beginning of 2013.

Dan Slipkovich, chief executive of Capella Healthcare, said in a press release Thursday that under healthcare reform, “close collaboration and increased scale will be rewarded as every hospital is trying to do more with less.”

David McCormack, RMC’s chief executive, said the Affordable Care Act played a role in the transaction.

“I think it was looking at the future and all the changes that were coming about in healthcare – We knew things were going to change,” he said.

McCormack also said his organization started planning the acquisition about three years ago as RMC’s leadership looked to take the lead as the major regional medical center between Atlanta and Birmingham.

“Sitting here, we couldn’t continue to do things the way we were doing. We needed to expand out and ensure the people in all – we have five counties we serve – to ensure all of them are getting access to good, quality healthcare.”

With the purchase, two of the county’s three hospitals will be brought together under nonprofit ownership.

Jacksonville State football

Crowe was released from the final two years of his contract in early December after spending 13 years leading the Gamecocks.

Under Crowe’s leadership, Jacksonville State posted an 87-57 record during 13 seasons, including winning three Ohio Valley Conference Championships (2003, 2004, 2011). The Gamecocks advanced to the NCAA playoffs three times during his tenure (2003, 2004, 2010), but failed to win a postseason game.

Crowe ends his tenure with the second most wins in Jacksonville State history and served the second-longest tenure of any coach in program history, trailing only Don Salls’ total of 95 wins over 18 seasons. Crowe picked up one of the biggest wins in school history with a 49-48 double-overtime road win over Ole Miss to open the 2010 season.

Clark has been named head coach just before Christmas. He has more than 20 years of coaching experience and has spent the last five years as the defensive coordinator at the University of South Alabama after serving as one of the most successful high school coaches in the State of Alabama.

Clark joined South Alabama in 2008 after spending nine years as head coach of the nationally ranked Prattville High School. He won a pair of Class 6A State Championships as his last two teams won 30 straight games, while the 2007 squad was ranked No. 2 in the nation in the USA Today’s national high school poll. 

Clark is the first JSU head football coach to have graduated from the school. He was an all-state player at Piedmont High School and is the son of famed high school coach Ragan Clark.

Jacksonville elections

In the city elections in September and October, incumbent Mayor Johnny L. Smith stayed at the helm of the city council as Jacksonville transitioned into a new form of government.

With more than 60 percent of the vote, the two-term incumbent weathered a challenge from Councilman Derek Raulerson.

In council place 1, Jerry Parris defeated George Areno in an Oct. 9 runoff election.

Councilman Mark Jones held off a challenge by Kyle Warmack in place 2. Jones, who serves as director of recreational sports and judicial coordinator at JSU, took home nearly 60 percent of the votes over Warmack, a student at Gadsden State Community College whose run for council coincides with the first election in which he is able to vote.

Jonathan Tompkins pulled out a clean victory in the three-man race for place 5 on the city Council

In the board of education races, Emily Sims unseated incumbent and current school board president Caroline Allen-Ross in place 4. Two-term incumbent Kelly Haynes Pearce, who serves as vice-president of the board, held onto her seat in place 3 with a victory over Steven Sewak. Political newcomer David Glass, who faced William Walter for school board place 5, brought home more votes – 1,245 – than any other candidate in Jacksonville.
© 2013