County Commissioners Back PMH Application for 1.6 Million Dollar ARC Grant
During their March 2nd meeting, the Pocahontas County Commissioners held the first of two public hearings regarding Pocahontas Memorial Hospital’s application for a federal Small Cities Community Development Grant to purchase and install a HVAC system and a roof for the hospital. Donna Ward of the Region 4 Planning and Development Council, which is sponsoring PMH’s grant application, explained that the grant, if approved, will be for approximately 1.6 million dollars. 1.2 million dollars of which would pay to install a new HVAC system, while the remaining would be used to remove the old rubber roof from the hospital and install a new rubber membrane roof. She said the current rubber roof is covered with rocks, something not done today, so the rocks will also be removed and not reinstalled over the new rubber roof. Some of the money would also be used for architectural and administrative costs.
Ward added that commission approval of the grant application is required and the grant application must be submitted by March 12th. A required second public hearing regarding this is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 10th in the Commission Office. Not finding any downside to this project, the commissioners all voted to sign-off on the grant application. It was explained that the proposed project is completely separate from and additional to the renovations included in the hospital’s USDA Rural Development loan.
In addition, the commissioners approved the 911 Center to hire Savanah Jackson as a full-time 911 Dispatcher at $12.00 per hour plus benefits, to start on March seventh.
They also approved a request from Amanda Smarr of the Region 4 Planning and Development Council to authorize a ten-thousand, eight-hundred- and fifty-dollar ($10,850.00) drawdown from the Broadband Study Grant funds. This money will be used to pay invoices and administrative expenses.
Commissioner Groseclose proposed that the commission submit a letter of intent to the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for a broadband implementation grant. John Tuttle from Region 4 explained that this grant would be additional to the reconnect grant application which has not been approved, and according to Tuttle, does not look promising. The ARC grant would also provide broadband to most of Pocahontas County. Tuttle says the ARC grant looks much more promising to be approved. He said the grant would be for 2.5 million dollars. Tuttle said that the grant does require a thirty percent local match, however the county will not be required to pay that match since it would possibly be paid for by state CARES funds or, if that is not possible, the Internet Service Provider would be required, as part of their bid, to roll those match funds into their service charges.
Tuttle asked the commissioners to provide the letter of intent to apply for the ARC Power grant, and authorize Region 4 to issue requests for proposals (RFPs) for internet service providers, an engineer, and a lawyer for the project. The commissioners approved a motion to write the letter of intent and have the RFP’s issued.
Commissioner Rebinski addressed the commission about three issues:
- Rebinski suggested the commission amend the Towing Ordinance to allow EMS personnel who arrive at the scene of a traffic accident where a vehicle needs to be towed, and where there is no owner request for a specific towing company, to be able to request the 911 dispatcher to call the next towing company on the rotation to begin to respond to the scene. He said currently, only the responding law enforcement officer may do that, but this can delay the arrival of a tow truck, since often the officer doesn’t arrive on scene quickly. Johnny Dean of Johnny’s Towing told the commissioners he, and the members of the Towing Committee feel the ordinance is just fine the way it is. The Commissioners decided to put off any decision on this until they hear from the Towing Committee and from the Sheriff.
- Rebinski also provided new information about the county’s efforts to get the Satellite TV providers to offer local West Virginia Channels to county customers. He said that Direct TV has now offered to provide a local WV channel to all customers in the county, but which channel would depend on the zip code of the customer. It would either be a station out of Charleston/Huntington or one out of Clarksburg. The commissioners agreed to send Direct TV a letter accepting their offer, but to still send a letter to the FCC complaining about Dish Net’s continuing refusal to offer any local channels.
- Rebinski informed his fellow commissioners that there is a long-range proposal under consideration to possibly, in the future, build a new, modern and enhanced 911 Center on a site near the hospital. He said it would be a good idea to join efforts with PMH to obtain new grants that would help both the hospital’s building projects and the 911 Center Project.
Finally, at the meeting, the new District Manager of the Snowshoe Resort Community District (RAD), Lisa Cutlip, introduced herself to the commissioners and said she would work with the commission and local municipalities to accomplish mutual goals.