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Pocahontas County Commissioners Discuss PMH Loan Possibilities with the USDA

Following the January 7th Pocahontas County Commission meeting, the commissioners held a telephonic conference call with Lisa Sharp, from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development in Morgantown, and with Janna Lowery from USDA Community Programs about the possible USDA loan for the expansion of Pocahontas Memorial Hospital (PMH.)

Commissioner Helmick asked the USDA officials about the ramifications if PMH took out a five-million-dollar loan and defaulted on it. Lowery said that once a government loan such as this is finalized, if it goes into default it cannot be renegotiated, it would simply be foreclosed on.

Lowery said that currently a five-million-dollar, thirty-year loan would have a 2.75% interest rate. She explained that the loan pre-approval process would require that PMH demonstrate that it has a good operating financial history for the past five years and a favorable feasibility study completed by a CPA firm.

Once those conditions have been met, according to Lowery, PMH can complete the full loan application. As part of that process, the USDA will complete an environmental study and will review the architectural plans before giving its final approval.

Sharp added that there is an alternative to a government loan. She said the USDA also offers a loan guarantee program whereby the USDA will guarantee repayment of the loan to a private lender who loans PMH the funds it needs.

The USDA offered to send some representatives to a future commission meeting in Marlinton to further discuss these loan possibilities, and the commissioners offered to hold a special meeting at the convenience of the USDA to accomplish that.

Also, at the meeting, the commissioners voted to retain commissioner David McLaughlin as Commission President, and for each of the commissioners to retain their current commission board assignments.

Cree Lahti of the Pocahontas County Libraries and Visitor Information Centers delivered the Libraries annual update. She said the libraries had forty-five thousand (45,000) visitors in 2019, of which sixteen hundred (1,600) were tourists visiting the county. Lahti said their public Internet access has also enjoyed a successful year, with eighty-seven hundred (8,700) people using the libraries computers and another thirty-five hundred (3,500) using their own devices on the library public WIFI.

The commission’s counsel, Bob Martin, discussed a legal situation going on between the Silver Creek Association and County Assessor Tom Lane. Martin explained that in compliance with a January 4th, 2019 court order, Lane had re-assessed all of the condominiums in the Silver Creek Commercial Hub. Martin said this was done on January 17 and 18, 2019. However, the Silver Creek Association has now filed a motion with the court alleging that Lane illegally reassessed their condos after the February 1, 2019 deadline to reassess. Martin said that claim is absolutely false as he has documented proof that these reassessments were completed before the February 1st deadline. Martin said he has filed a responding motion to “dismiss and strike their motion as it is slanderous.”

He also said that some of those re-assessed condo owners have asked the commissioners to “exonerate” their reclassifications from Class 3 commercial back to class 2 residential. The Commissioners decided to take no action on this matter until Judge Dent rules on the motions at a February 19th court hearing.

Also at their meeting, the commissioners:

  • Granted permission for the 911 Center to connect to the commission’s internet service as a back-up in the event their primary City Net Internet connection temporarily goes down.
  • Approved County Clerk Melissa Bennett’s request to change the Slatyfork-Central District’s polling place from the community center to the Linwood Library.
  • Appointed the following people top the County Local Emergency Planning Committee:
    • Gail Siers
    • Mike Vance
    • Jaynell Graham
    • Michael Riggsby
    • Preston Cline
    • Cindy Wilfong

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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