I was saddened to learn that our local hospital administrator, Patrick Trammell, plans to step down later this month as CEO.

In my opinion, he’s done a great job under extremely difficult conditions. We’ve been fortunate to have his leadership during the pandemic.

Community hospitals are vitally important to economic development and quality of life. In reviewing his tenure, Trammell has worked hard to bring excellence to ours and recruited several great physicians to move here. I know that the dedicated staff at DeKalb Regional will continue to save lives and pursue excellence going forward.

Difficult Decision

As I wrote this, the Fort Payne Board of Education prepared for an emergency meeting called by Superintendent Brian Jett.

If the school board accepts Jett’s recommendation that everyone wear a mask after all, there will be critics for sure. But the move comes with a built-in time (20 days) for it to be reconsidered based on the circumstances. That feels reasonable.

Things could be a lot different by Labor Day depending on the trajectory of the highly contagious Delta variant.

If we don’t want our kids to still have to wear a mask by this time next year, it’s largely up to all of us to do our part.

When you consider that children under 12 years of age can’t get vaccinated against COVID, it seems reasonable to exercise caution until we know more.

I know Jett would prefer not to start the new school year with this, especially during a moment of triumph as Little Ridge Intermediate School prepares to open its doors at long last. I saw it Friday and it’s gorgeous.

Please be understanding and patient as our educators return to the essential task of enriching the minds of our children. And please be safe out there.

— Steven Stiefel is the Times-Journal’s publisher. His column appears in Saturday editions.

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