The Pocahontas County Commission received an update on the Expansion Project for Pocahontas Memorial Hospital (PMH) at its April 19 meeting.
PMH CEO Andrew Bair explained to the commissioners that the project had been delayed because last August, the appraisal of the project had been rejected by the USDA Rural Development agency. Bair said that approval of the USDA’s $5.7-million loan to pay for the project depended on having that appraisal accepted. He said that after many appeals, the appraisal has now been approved and the project can begin to move forward.
Bair introduced Brenden Frederick of the Becker Morgan Group, an engineering and architectural company, who said the next step is to put together the bid for the project and advertise it.
An onsite meeting with potential bidders will be scheduled for sometime around May 3. Bids will be accepted until June 9. Frederick said the bids for the project will be single lump-sum total. Sometime around June 21, Becker Morgan will present its recommendation of the winning bid to the county commission at a special meeting. That bid will have to be consistent with the appraisal and with the loan amount. The commission will make the final selection. This will then be presented to the USDA who will take about a month to give its approval and for construction to start. Frederick believes the project can be completed by December 2022.
Bair said the 35-year loan will carry an interest rate of 2.125%, which has been locked in, and will require monthly payments of $19,000.
The commission authorized the bid advertisement.
The commissioners also laid the 2022-2023 Tax Levy. The rates are as follows:
• Class 1- $14.07
• Class 2 – which is the rate most homeowners pay – is $28.14
• Class 3 – rental rate – is $56.28
• Class 4 -municipal rate – $56.28
Commission President Walt Helmick said that these rates are actually a little less than last year, but will bring in the same amount of revenue to the county because property appraisals have increased.
The commission approved a $1,500 In-House budget revision for the Tax Office.
Commissioners John Rebinski and Helmick gave an update on the situation with the electric bill for the ARC Building. At the last meeting, the commission told Mike O’Brien to hold off on installing LED lighting until a commercial electrical contractor could come in and assess the causes for the high monthly electrical bills. Helmick said he has contacted such a company in Charleston, and they will be coming here to do that assessment. Rebinski said that some of the broken outside lights have been fixed, to improve outdoor safety.
County Clerk Melissa Bennett reminded the commission that early voting will begin on April 27 and will continue to May 7, with the Primary Election being held Tuesday, May 10.
The commission scheduled a Special Session for Friday, April 22, to test the voting machines and to discuss local channel availability on satellite TV service. They will also hold a special session to determine the expenditures for their American Rescue Plan stimulus money.
Rebinski discussed a framework for a county Demolition Ordinance. He said he wanted the county to work with owners of dilapidated properties, on a voluntary basis, by offering to help them pay for the demolition of the buildings. One thing he wants in the ordinance is that if the landowner gets the county to pay to clean up their property, and the landowner sells it for a profit, the county should be able to recoup part or all of its expense.