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Hartselle divided on funds for free clinic

By Deangelo McDaniel
DAILY Staff Writer 340-2469

HARTSELLE — The Hartselle City Council appears divided over whether to help fund the Community Free Clinic of Decatur-Morgan County.

"This was a one-time gift, and I don't know why they did it," Councilman Bill Smelser said, referring to the $10,000 the previous administration gave the clinic before leaving office.

"They will need some awful strong arguments before I will give," Council President Kenny Thompson added.

This is not what Trudy Grisham, chairwoman of the clinic's fund-raising committee, and clinic Executive Director Debbie Griffin wanted to hear.

"I have talked with the mayor, and we will be going to talk with the council," Grisham said.

The council will start budget hearings for non-profit organizations Aug. 24. Last year, city leaders gave what they called a "one-time appropriation."

The clinic opened in March 2004 and offers free medical help to people with jobs but no benefits, people with chronic illness and people who meet the clinic's criteria for indigence.

Councilman Mark Mizell said he believes the clinic is worthy of funding from the city.

"I don't know of an organization that would be more worthwhile," he said. "I would think we would try to do something."

Since opening almost a year ago, the clinic has served more than 200 people with Hartselle addresses, according to Grisham.

"We certainly hope that Hartselle will continue some funding," she said.

The Morgan County Commission and city of Decatur have agreed to fund the clinic.

Smelser said the problem in Hartselle is that some non-profit organizations are requesting funding for the first time.

"We're going to have to be very frugal about what we fund," he said.

Thompson added, "We can only do so much."

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