published Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Hutcheson Medical Center appoints familiar faces

The Hutcheson Medical Center building in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.
The Hutcheson Medical Center building in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.
Photo by Doug Strickland.

The nine-person board that runs financially struggling Hutcheson Medical Center will get one new face — and two familiar ones.

At its meeting Wednesday night, the Hospital Authority of Walker, Dade and Catoosa Counties filled three open seats.

The only newcomer chosen was Steve Cooper, who for three years will take the Catoosa County seat held by Ken Rhudy.

Cooper is a Fort Oglethorpe resident who retired from the Tennessee Valley Authority in 2000 and currently runs his own environmental consulting firm. He’s not served on the hospital board, but he has gained attention lately as the chairman of the state-appointed committee reviewing Fort Oglethorpe’s city charter.

The hospital authority board chose retired Chickamauga, Ga., City Manager John Culpepper to fill for three years the Walker County seat vacated by Bill Chapin, who runs Rock City. Culpepper has served since 2011 on two hospital boards underneath the authority board: Hutcheson Health Enterprises and Hutcheson Medical Center Inc.

The board reappointed T. Darrell Weldon, M.D., for another five-year term. Weldon was first appointed in 1991.

Three names were proposed for each slot. The hospital board chose Culpepper over Billy Neal Ellis, a Chickamauga School Board member and Roy E. Parrish, Jr., who for 24 years was Walker County Sole commissioner.

Cooper beat out Denise Burns, a Ringgold stay-at-home mom and independent insurance agent and Charles Hendrickson, a retired certified public accountant.

Weldon beat out Roger Nelson, a critic of the current hospital board who owns a machine works, and William Clark, a veterinarian and former Georgia state representative.

The vote was unanimous for each appointee. The hospital board recently reappointed Bill Cohen of Catoosa County.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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