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Pocahontas Commissioners Takes “No Action” to Authorize PMH to Apply for Loan

There was an “Emergency” meeting of the Pocahontas County Commission on Monday, July 1st for the purpose of discussing “Pocahontas Memorial Hospital issues.” The notice for this meeting, which was the agenda, was sent out at 9:50 a.m., only about 5 hours before the meeting was scheduled to occur -at 3:00 p.m.

Hospital Board members Janet Ghigo and J.L. Clifton, along with PMH Chief Executive Officer Mary Beth Barr and Rebecca Hammer, the Hospital’s Chief Financial Officer all attended representing PMH. The meeting was called to further discuss the potential USDA Loan application by PMH for repairs and expansion. This matter had been discussed at the last regular session of the Commission on June 18th resulting in the Commission taking no action to authorize the hospital to apply for a “post application” for the 4.5 to 5-million-dollar loan. The hospital has already received approval on their “pre-application” but cannot proceed with the loan application unless the Commission authorizes them to apply for the post-application.

At the emergency meeting, it was pointed out that a private donor has already paid an Architect $70,000 to create the drawings for the potential project. Once again. Commissioner Walt Helmick expressed reservations about the Hospital encumbering such a large debt.  Commission President David McLaughlin joined Helmick in being also concerned about water and sewer issues with the project. Marlinton Mayor Sam Felton again said that while it is possible the Town of Marlinton could extend their sewer and water lines to PMS, it would require Town Council and other approvals and permits, and was far from being a certainty to happen. For those reasons and also because the third Commissioner, Jessie Groseclose, was unable to attend this emergency meeting, Helmick and McLaughlin decided to once again take no action on authorizing PMH to make the post-loan application.

The Commission’s regular meeting was held the following day, Tuesday, July 2 at 8:30 a.m. At that meeting the Commissioners (all three were present) took the following actions:

  • They awarded the only bid received for the purchase of 500 blank 911 road signs; the purchase of the poles and hardware for the signs; and the printing of road names on the signs. That bid was for $73,975.00 and was submitted by Shinaberry Graphics. 911 Director Mike O’Brien said that they are looking at having Day Report Clients doing the actual installations of the signs, which would be a huge savings in cost to the County. Commission President McLaughlin said he recalls the original estimates several years ago which would have had the Commission paying over a half a million dollars for the purchase and installation of the signs.
  • They approved the employment of Nick Helmick, a law student, as a part time summer employee in the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Commissioner Walt Helmick abstained from this vote.
  • They appointed WV State Police Sergeant David Simmons to fill Herbie Barlow’s unexpired term on the County 911 Advisory Board, with that term set to expire on June 30, 2020.
  • They approved a $311,330.00 Coal Severance Tax Fund budget revision and resolution as required by WV Statute.
  • They approved a Proclamation in support of the 2020 Census Count Task force, as requested by the U.S. Census Bureau representative Carol Bush, who also presented a 30-minute Power Point presentation on the census.

During the Mail Items portion of the meeting, Sue Helton said that the Spruce Knob/Seneca Rocks Telephone company sent them a letter saying that they were closing their office in Green Bank because of staffing issues.

Chris May of Advantage Technology, a WV IT and cyber security company, made a presentation of the services they can provide to the County, including offering free training of county IT employees on protecting County computers from cyber-attacks and how to respond to those attacks.

Commission President David McLaughlin reported that the county has received a check in the amount of $860,759,00 as a settlement for their PELT Grant lawsuit.

Mayor Felton told the Commissioners that Lucy’s Grocery and More will be opening in the old Fast Check building in downtown Marlinton in about a week. He said the new grocery store has been completely renovated.

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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