Originally created 08/05/99

Board names executive director finalists



Two finalists were named Wednesday for executive director of the Community Mental Health Center of East Central Georgia, with a vote coming in two weeks.

Ed Sheehan, chairman of the Community Service Board that oversees the center, announced the two finalists. They are:

Sharon E. Haire, director of the division of developmental disabilities at Gracewood State School and Hospital in Augusta.

Campbell Peery, administrator of Aurora Pavilion Behavioral Health Sciences in Aiken.

The center has been without an executive director since John Warner resigned in April. The search began then, and the board narrowed 16 to 18 applications down to these two candidates, Mr. Sheehan said. The board has met in closed session twice in the past two months to discuss candidates but did not reach a decision during those meetings.

"I think we have two fine candidates," Mr. Sheehan said. "They've got experience and seem to be very fine people."

Mr. Peery did not return a phone call to his office Wednesday.

Mrs. Haire, 51, said she was happy with her job at Gracewood but excited by the opportunity.

"I do see it as a tremendous opportunity to engage in some partnership with other community and hospital services and to make differently abled people as independent as possible," she said. "For me it would just be an opportunity, as we go into the next century, to continue to give something back to the community."

She has worked with mental health patients in other hospitals and currently employs some of the Augusta center's patients in Gracewood's laundry.

"I'd like to see other businesses get involved with employing folks and giving folks a chance," she said. The center has been plagued by budget problems the past few years and is under a managed care review system for its Medicaid patients.

"There are a lot of challenges and a lot of opportunities to shift our paradigm in service delivery at this point," she said.

Tom Corwin covers science and medicine for The Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached at (706) 823-3213 or tomc@augustachronicle.com.