Estimated Timeline Set for Pocahontas Memorial Hospital Expansion Project

At their April 19th regular meeting, the Pocahontas County Commissioners received an update on the Expansion Project for Pocahontas Memorial Hospital (PMH.) The hospital’s CEO, Andrew Bair, explained to the commissioners that the project had been delayed because last August, the appraisal of the project had been rejected by the USDA Rural Development agency. Bair said that approval of the USDA’s 5.7-million-dollar loan to pay for the project depended on having that appraisal accepted. He said that after many appeals, the appraisal has now been approved and the project can begin to move forward.

Bair introduced Brenden Frederick of the Becker Morgan Group, an engineering and architectural company, who said the next step is put the bid for the project together and advertised. A meeting on site at PMH with potential bidders will be scheduled for somewhere around May 3rd.  On June 9th, bids will be accepted. He said the bids will come in as a single lump-sum total bid for the project. Somewhere around June 21st, Becker Morgan will present their recommended choice for the winning bid to the county commissioners at a special meeting. That bid will have to be consistent with the appraisal and with the loan amount. The commissioners will make the final selection. This will then be presented to the USDA who will take about a month to give their approval and for construction to start. Frederick believes the project can be completed in December of 2022.

Bair said the 35-year loan will carry an interest rate of 2.125%, which has been locked in, and will require monthly payments of $19,000.

The commissioners passed a motion to authorize the advertising of this bid.

The commissioners also laid the 2022-2023 Tax Levy. The rates are as follows:

  • Class 1- $14.07
  • Class 2 – which is the rate most homeowners pay – is $28.14
  • Class 3 – rental rate – is $56.28
  • Class 4 -municipal rate – $56.28

Commission President Walt Helmick said that these rates are actually a little less then last year, but will bring in the same amount of revenue to the county because property appraisals have increased.

The commissioners approved a $1,500.00 In-House budget revision for the Tax Office.

They received an update from Commissioners Rebinski and Helmick regarding the electrical situation at the ARC Building. At the last meeting, the commissioners told Mike O’Brien to hold off on installing LED lighting until a commercial electrical contractor could come in and assess the causes and fixes for the high monthly electrical bills at the building. Helmick said he has contacted such a company in Charleston and they will be coming out to do that assessment. Rebinski said that some of the broken outside lights have been fixed, adding safety outside.

County Clerk Melissa Bennett added that when they checked the voting machines that have been stored in the ARC Building, it was discovered that rat feces and dust have gotten into the machines, requiring a lot of clean-ups. Bennett said early voting will begin on April 27th and continue to May 7th, with the Primary Election being scheduled for Tuesday, May 10th.

The commissioners scheduled a Special Session for 3:00 pm on Friday, April 22nd to test the voting machines and to discuss local channel availability on satellite TV service. They will also hold a special session to determine the expenditures for their American Rescue Plan stimulus money.

Commissioner Rebinski discussed a framework for a county Demolition Ordinance. He said he wanted the county to work with owners of dilapidated properties by offering to help them pay for the demolition of the buildings, on a voluntary basis. One thing he wants in the ordinance is that if the land owner gets the county to pay to clean-up their property, then sells it for a profit, the county should be able to recoup part of all of their expenses.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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