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Marker to be constructed on former hospital lot

Cailey Moore
Staff Writer

Tuesday’s Pocahontas County Commission meeting was a morning of remembrance and giving as individuals from across the county appeared before the commission with a variety of requests.

BJ Gudmundsson, representing Preserving Pocahontas and Ms. Hoberta Sommerville, of Front Royal, Virginia, was the first to speak. Sommerville, the daughter of Anna May Rob – a granddaughter of Frank Mann from the Indian Draft, Edray and Clover Lick area – approached Gudmundsson last year with the hope of establishing a memorial to both her mother and the hospital.

According to Gudmundsson, Sommerville’s mother, a graduate nurse, was one of three nurses working and living in the hospital at the time of the December 1928 fire that destroyed the building.

“Hoberta grew up with her mother telling her about the night of the fire,” Gudmundsson recounted. “They were the first ones to smell the smoke. They had patients on the first floor, and they helped the firemen get the patients out of the hospital. Nobody’s life was lost.”

Following the fire, Rob went on to work as a nurse at Mt. Hope, where she remained for the rest of her career.

“We’re hoping to be able to put the memorial on the former hospital lot,” Gudmundsson said. “I know that the town maintains the lot and that the county owns it, and because of that, we would like to place an easily moveable marker in the instance that anything would be built there.”

The marker would be similar to the interpretive signs found on the Civil War trail and would feature photos of the hospital and Sommerville’s mother, as well as the history of the fire.

“That way, there can be a little bit about why it was named a memorial hospital, in memory of the soldiers and later on, expanded past WWI,” Gudmundsson added. “People used to recognize that history when the hospital was in town. They walked and drove by it everyday, but with it up on the hill, nobody walks there. You’re going to the hospital intentionally when you’re going up on the hill, and I think it would be a nice way to memorialize that history of the hospital’s life as it once was.”

In addition to the memorial, Sommerville has plans to help the youth of Pocahontas County by creating a nursing scholarship at Pocahontas County High School.

The commission voted in favor of allowing the a memorial marker to be placed on the former hospital lot, now known as Gazebo Park.

In other news:

  • The commission approved the transfer of 911 employee Bridget Shaw from part-time to full-time 911 dispatcher with benefits at the same rate of pay.
  • A number of individuals appeared before the commission with requests for contributions:
    • The commission granted a $3,000 contribution to Stephanie Meadows and the American Red Cross, contingent upon receiving an itemized budget.
    • The Pocahontas County Prevention Coalition was awarded $5,000 for
    • Camp Oak Marr Executive Director and Co-Founder John Myer was awarded $2,500 to be used for general maintenance and support.
    • The commission granted $4,000 to the Pocahontas County Reading Council. A check will be written to the Board of Education with specifications that the money be given to the council.
    • Bill McNeel and Joe Smith appeared before the commission with a request for $5,000 to be used toward the Marlinton Depot. Due to a lack of estimates, McNeel and Smith’s request was tabled until a later date.
  • The commission approved a resolution to designate Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation as Pocahontas County’s lead economic development authority for the 2015-2016 year.
  • The commission moved to adopt the Pocahontas County Clerk’s Record Management and Preservation Board resolution in support of a grant application in the amount of $10,000.
  • The commission appointed Greg Taylor as the Pocahontas Memorial Hospital representative to the Pocahontas County Emergency Services for an unexpired term, ending June 30, 2016.

The next regular County Commission meeting is scheduled for November 17 at 5:30 p.m.

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