Pocahontas County Commission Amends and Extends PMH’s Ground Lease
Cam Siegrist spoke at the August 2nd Pocahontas County Commission meeting. Siegrist is an attorney with the Charleston based Bowles Rice Law firm which is representing the efforts of Pocahontas Memorial Hospital (PMH) to finance their current renovation project. He asked the Commissioners to revise and extend PMH’s ground lease agreement. That lease is between the Pocahontas County Commission and PMH, who are the ground lessors, with the lessee, who is the Pocahontas County Building Commission. Siegrist presented a rather legalese, and, frankly rather confusing explanation of what this is, and why it needs to be done. He said this would be the 6th amendment to the original 1992 ground lease and will extend the lease by 40 years, and make certain other revisions to it. He said this needs to be done for legal reasons to enable PMH to obtain a six-million-dollar interim bond to finance the project’s construction. He explained that the interim bond is necessary even though PMH has secured a 5.7-million-dollar low interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture since the USDA will not loan money for the construction phase. However, Siegrist explained, after the renovation is complete, the interim bond will be paid off by the USDA loan funds and some of the donated money. The commissioners approved those changes to their ground lease.
Only two commissioners were present for this meeting, Walt Helmick and Jesse Groseclose, since Commissioner John Rebinski was attending Commissioner Training.
Additionally at the meeting, the commissioners approved a $5000.00 contribution to the Pocahontas County Prevention Coalition to help battle the drug issues the county is experiencing by, among other efforts, providing anti-drug abuse education to school students beginning in as early as 1st grade.
Commission President Walt Helmick added the commission will also increase its own efforts against the drug problem by dedicating that any money that is eventually received by the county from the Opioid Lawsuit Settlement to fight that drug problem.
They also approved making a $4000.00 donation to the Tucker County Foundation to support their “Run for It” fundraising race. Jeff Fellows from the foundation, said that over the past 25 years, the commission has donated $25,500.00 to that race, and in return, the Tucker County Foundation has donated $183,000 back to Pocahontas County non-profits.
The commissioners also appointed Chad Baldwin and Lori Doolittle to the Dramas, Fairs, and Festivals, and Ruthanna Beezley to a three-year term on the Pocahontas County Building Commission.
They approved a request from County Clerk Melissa Bennett to approve a change of polling place for Precinct 2, and for them to adopt the Emergency Absentee Voting Policy for the November 8th General Election.
Ruthanna Beezley discussed the property lease at the East Fork Industrial Park for a prospective biorefinery project. Beezley said that since this was discussed at the last meeting, but nothing was decided, she wanted to assure that the commission makes that site environmentally usable either for this biorefinery project or. if that isn’t finalized, for another project. She also asked the commissioners to give her their “seal of approval” to pursue the biorefinery project. Helmick said no motion was necessary to do that, since she already has their approval to do so.
There was a discussion with Mike O’Brien, OES/911 Director and Johnny Pritt, the Assessor, over a personnel issue, which was held in Executive (closed to the public) Session, and that session resulted in no formal action being taken by the commission.
There was a discussion with Sheriff Barlow about courthouse security, which was also held in Executive Session, and which also resulted in no formal action being taken by the commission.
There was an informal discussion at the beginning of the meeting about the flooding issues in the county, specifically about settlement in the streams, creeks and the river. Helmick said he will schedule a meeting with the Army Corps of Engineers to discuss this.
There were several other items on the agenda which for one reason or another were postponed to a future commission meeting.