Tim Walker
AMR Reporter

An Emergency Meeting of the Pocahontas County Commis- sion was held July 1 for the purpose of discussing “Pocahontas Memorial Hospital issues.” The notice for this meeting was sent out at 9:50 a.m., only about five hours before the meeting was scheduled to occur at 3 p.m.

Hospital Board members Janet Ghigo and J.L. Clifton, along with PMH Chief Executive Officer Mary Beth Barr and PMH Chief Financial Officer Rebecca Hammer all attended, representing PMH. The purpose of the meeting was to further discuss the potential USDA Loan application by PMH for repairs and expansion. This matter had been discussed at the last regular session of the commission on June 18 resulting in the commission taking no action to authorize the hospital to apply for a “post application” for the $4.5 to $5-million loan. The hospital has already received approval on their “pre-application” but cannot proceed with the loan application unless the commission authorizes them to apply for the post-application.

At the emergency meeting, it was pointed out that a private donor has already paid an Architect $70,000 to create the drawings for the potential project. Once again, Commissioner Walt Helmick expressed reservations about the hospital assuming such a large debt. Commission President David McLaughlin joined Helmick in his concern about water and sewer issues with the project. Marlinton Mayor Sam Felton again said that, while it is possible the Town of Marlinton could extend its sewer and water lines to PMH, it would require approval from Town Council as well as other approvals and permits, and was far from being a certainty to happen. For those reasons and also because commissioner Jessie Groseclose was unable to attend the emergency meeting, Helmick and McLaughlin decided to once again take no action on authorizing PMH to submit the post-loan application.

The commission’s regular meeting was held the following day, Tuesday, July 2, at 8:30 a.m. At that meeting the commission:

• awarded the only bid received for the purchase of 500 blank 911 road signs; the purchase of the poles and hardware for the signs; and the printing of road names on the signs. That bid was for $73,975 and was submitted by Shinaberry Graphics. 911 Director Mike O’Brien said they are considering having Day Report clients do the actual installation of the signs, which would be a huge cost savings to the county. Commissioner McLaughlin said he recalled the original estimates several years ago which would have had the commission paying more than a half million dollars for the purchase and installation of the signs.

• approved the employment of Nick Helmick, a law student, as a part-time summer employee in the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Commissioner Helmick abstained from this vote.

• appointed West Virginia State Police Sergeant David Simmons to fill Herbie Barlow’s unexpired term on the County 911 Advisory Board, with that term set to expire on June 30, 2020.

• approved a $311,330 Coal Severance Tax Fund budget revision and resolution as required by WV Statute.

• approved a Proclamation in support of the 2020 Census Count Task Force, as requested by U.S. Census Bureau representative Carol Bush.

During the Mail Items portion of the meeting, administration secretary Sue Helton reported that Spruce Knob/Seneca Rocks Telephone sent a letter advising they are closing their office in Green Bank because of staffing issues.

Commissioner McLaughlin reported that the county received a check in the amount of $860,759 as a settlement for their PELT Grant lawsuit.

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