Private Citizens Want a Grand Jury Probe

A group of Washington County citizens is asking for a grand jury investigation into the county's lease agreement for the Northwest Florida Community Hospital in Chipley.

In December 2003, the county signed an agreement for a 40-year lease on the hospital with Northwest Florida Healthcare.

The agreement called for the county to invest several million dollars in the facility. County commissioners chose that option over a bid by Resurgence Healthcare out of Georgia, which was willing to pay the county for the lease.

Two hundred thirty four people have presented a petition to county commissioners. It requested the grand jury investigation. The commission voted 4 to 1 to pass the case on to the state attorney's office.

Northwest Florida Healthcare CEO Pat Schlenker issued a written statement saying neither he nor his staff has done anything wrong and several auditing groups have never found any indication of wrongdoing.