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Commission authorizes PMH to purchase additional land

Tim Walker
AMR Reporter

Pocahontas Memorial Hospital CEO Mary Beth Barr appeared before the Pocahontas County Commission at its February 16 meeting to seek authorization to purchase an additional tract of land.

Barr said the Strategic Planning Committee of the Hospital Board has been negotiating with Buckeye Development to possibly buy a nearly two-acre tract of land that adjoins the hospital property. PMH would like to purchase the land as a place to build a housing unit and equipment bay for the facility’s Emergency Medical Unit. Barr explained that they have reached a tentative agreement to buy the land for about $60,000. Since the county owns the hospital, the board needs the county commission’s approval to make the purchase. Barr said that the property would be purchased using cash from the hospital’s operating budget, and they can afford it. Commission President Walt Helmick was assured that no county taxpayer money would be used for this. It was also pointed out that the property has been appraised for $74,000 and assessed at $49,000.

Convinced that PMH can afford it, the commission voted to approve the purchase of the property at a price PMH negotiates, with the stipulation that PMH uses its own funds for the purchase.

Jason Bauserman and Judy Fuller, of the Upper Pocahontas Community Cooperative (UPCC), attended the meeting to let the commission know that the citizens in that part of the county want to preserve and restore the old Howes Tannery office building in Frank. The UPCC is looking for a group of citizens who are willing to form a non-profit corporation that can obtain grants to restore the building. Fuller said she has also been looking into having the building placed on the National Historic Registry, which would make it easier to obtain restoration funding grants. Helmick said there would still need to be a useful purpose for the building, such as a museum, and any non-profit would have to agree to operate and maintain the county-owned building and once all this was in place, the commission might consider turning over the ownership of the building to that non-profit.

It was agreed to discuss the matter again at the next commission meeting.

In other business, the commission

• agreed to make a $5,000 contribution to the Pocahontas County Humane Society, which will be used as their match to obtain a $15,000 state grant to provide reduced-cost spay and neutering services in the county.

• adjourned the current Board of Review and Equalization Hearing

• Scheduled three 2021 Budget Work Sessions for 10 a.m. March 8 and 12, and 9:30 a.m. March 10.

• agreed to consider including the Fire Board’s fiscal audit as part of the commission’s annual state audit at a future meeting, provided the Fire Board provides them with a letter requesting this.

• received an update from 911 Director Mike O’Brien about the progress of building the new parking lot at the 911 Center. O’Brien said they are waiting for the weather to break and for Southern States to remove an old propane tank from the site.

• received an update from Rita Griffith on the Day Report Center’s upcoming JCS Grant application. The commission passed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Community Corrections Board authorizing this application.

• appointed Louise Burner to the Dramas, Fairs and Festival Board, term expiring June 30, 2023.

• voted to write a letter to the Federal Communications Commission to try to force the satellite TV companies to provide local West Virginia channels to their Pocahontas County customers instead of the Virginia channels they now provide.

The Pocahontas County Commission meets the first Tuesday of the month at 8:30 a.m. and the third Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m.

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