Middlesboro ARH responds to grant allegations

Published 1:51 pm Friday, July 19, 2019

The Community Chief Executive Officer of Middlesboro ARH has issued a response to the allegations made by a citizen that Middlesboro Mayor Rick Nelson declined a grant from the hospital that would keep the pool open.

The allegations were by Patsy Sullivan Pierce during the public comments portion of Tuesday night’s Middlesboro City Council meeting.

The response from Appalachian Regional Healthcare was submitted to Nelson, who submitted them to Middlesboro Daily News on July 18. The letter reads as follows:

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“Dear Mayor Nelson:

In regards to comments attributed to me by a speaker during the public forum portion of the July 16th Middlesboro City Council Meeting:

1. I have NEVER made an offer to you as Mayor or to anyone else, either verbally or in writing, to fund a $50,000 grant for the Middlesboro City Pool.

2. I have NEVER made the statement to anyone, either publicly or privately, that I made such an offer to you and that offer was turned down.

Please contact me with any questions,


Michael Slusher

Community Chief Executive Officer

Middlesboro ARH”

Pierce began the allegations following statements made about a grant the city received for a mentoring program.

“I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not,” Pierce continued to say during Tuesday’s meeting. “I’m curious about this. As you all know several people has went above and beyond over this pool deal trying to donate money and trying to help, and I was going to try myself and I was told no. But, I don’t know if you know that the mayor had a meeting with the administrator of the hospital here just not too long ago and he declined a $50,000 grant, does anybody know that?”

Mayor Nelson stated that even he did not know that he had turned down the grant and questioned Pierce as to where she got the information.

“The hospital talked to you and they wanted to use the Middlesboro pool as a physical rehab and the citizens, you know, the citizens and kids in our community use the pool the other time,” she stated. “And you declined the $50,000 grant. I talked to the man myself.”

When Mayor Nelson asked Pierce if the man she was referring to was Mike Slusher, she was reluctant to respond and finally said, ““You know who it was. I talked to the man myself so that way I could not be standing right here and be called a liar.”

The pool is repaired and the mayor credits two or three local businesses that gave enough money to complete those repairs.

Pierce is running for the seat that was appointed to Bo Green following Kevin Barnett’s appointment as street department superintendent.