The Pocahontas County Commission held the first of two public hearings March 2 regarding Pocahontas Memorial Hospital’s application for a federal Small Cities Community Development Grant to purchase and install a HVAC system and a new roof at the hospital.
Donna Ward of the Region 4 Planning and Development Council, which is sponsoring PMH’s grant application, explained that the grant, if approved, will be for approx- imately $1.6 million. Of that amount, $1.2 million would be used to install the new HVAC system, while the remaining would be used to remove the old rubber roof from the hospital and install a new rubber membrane roof. Ward said the current roof is covered with rocks, something not done today.
Some of the money would also be used for architectural and administrative costs.
Ward added that commission approval is required and the grant application must be submitted by March 12. A required second public hearing regarding this was scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday, March 10, in the commission room. Not finding any downside to this project, the commissioners all voted to sign-off on the grant application. It was explained that the proposed project is completely separate from, and additional to, the renovations included in the hospital’s USDA Rural Development loan.
Commissioner Jesse Groseclose proposed that the commission submit a letter of intent to the Application Regional Commission (ARC) for a broadband implementation grant. Region 4 executive director John Tuggle explained that this grant would be in addition to the reconnect grant application which has not been approved, and according to Tuggle, does not look promising. The ARC grant would also provide broadband to most of Pocahontas County. Tuggle said the ARC grant, which would be for $2.5 million, looks much more promising for approval. The grant requires a 30 percent local match, however the county may not be required to pay that match since it could possibly come from the state CARES funds or, if that is not possible, the Internet Service Provider would be required, as part of their bid, to roll those matching funds into their service charges.
Tuggle asked the commission to provide a letter of intent for the ARC Power grant, and authorize Region 4 to issue requests for proposals (RFPs) for internet service providers, an engineer and a lawyer for the project. The commission approved a motion to do so.
Commissioner John Rebinski addressed the commission about three issues:
1. Rebinski suggested the commission amend the Towing Ordinance to allow EMS personnel who arrive at the scene of a traffic accident where a vehicle needs to be towed, and where there is no owner request for a specific towing company, to be able to request the 911 dispatcher to call the next towing company on the rotation to begin to respond to the scene. He said currently, only the responding law enforcement officer may do that, but this can delay the arrival of a tow truck, since often the officer doesn’t arrive on scene quickly. Johnny Dean of Johnny’s Towing told the commissioners he, and the members of the Towing Committee feel the ordinance is just fine the way it is. The Commissioners decided to put off any decision on this until they hear from the Towing Committee and from the Sheriff.
2. Rebinski also provided new information about the county’s efforts to get the Satellite TV providers to offer local West Virginia Channels to county customers. He said that Direct TV has now offered to provide a local WV channel to all customers in the county, but which channel would depend on the zip code of the customer. It would either be a station out of Charleston/Huntington or one out of Clarksburg. The commissioners agreed to send Direct TV a letter accepting their offer, but to still send a letter to the FCC complaining about Dish Net’s continuing refusal to offer any local channels.
3. Rebinski informed his fellow commissioners that there is a long-range proposal under consideration to possibly, in the future, build a new, modern and enhanced 911 Center on a site near the hospital. He said it would be a good idea to join efforts with PMH to obtain new grants that would help both the hospital’s building projects and the 911 Center Project.
In other business, the commission
• approved the hire of Savanah Jackson as full-time 911 dispatcher
• authorized a $10,850 drawdown from Broadband Study Grant funds to pay invoices and administrative costs.