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Whidbey General Hospital board appoints Gardner again

A recent change in state law is forcing the commissioners for Whidbey General Hospital to re-appoint its newest member.

The elected board will re-appoint Georgia Gardner during a special meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday, July 5, in the Whidbey General Hospital board room. The commissioners have to revisit the decision because the previous meeting didn’t comply with recent changes made to the Open Public Meetings Act.

Whidbey General Hospital spokesperson Trish Rose said the hospital notified the news media and posted notices in the hospital campus, but nobody posted the meeting on the website, www.whidbeygen.org.

The change to the OPMA, which went into effect June 7, requires an entity to post a notice of special meetings on its website. Rose said the hospital normally posts meeting notices on its website; however, the employee responsible for that task recently left the hospital and her replacement didn’t know about the requirement.

“That kind of fell through the cracks,” Rose said Monday afternoon.

Gardner, who was originally appointed to the board in mid June, was one of six candidates interviewed for the position. The retired accountant has a history of serving in public office. She served on the Blaine City Council for eight years and then represented the 42nd District as a representative and a senator from 1997 through 2002.

Gardner replaces Dr. Paul Zaveruha, who resigned from the hospital board in April.

Rose said board members didn’t realize the error until they attended a recent workshop about changes to the Open Public Meetings Act. Once they realized the error, a new meeting was scheduled.

The change in state law also outlines several exemptions where an entity doesn’t have to post a special meeting notice on the website. Those exemptions are: An agency lacks a website, has fewer than 10 full-time equivalent employees, or doesn’t have an employee whose duties include maintaining and updating a website.

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