Janice Morris of the Clay Battelle Health Services Association appeared before the Wetzel County Commission Tuesday morning to request their help in providing much-needed updates to the Community Health Center of Northeastern Wetzel County, located in Burton.
The commission was actually recently surprised to find they owned the building in Burton and had been leasing the property to the healthcare center since 1978.
Morris provided the commissioners with an outline of the services the health care centers, located in Burton and Blacksville, provide and described the various areas the centers serve, including the Hundred, Pine Grove, and Greene County areas. The centers are provided with some federal and state funding and offer a sliding scale of discounts for patients. Those who are most eligible for assistance can receive their lab work, office visit, and medications for $10.
However, the 100-year-old building is in dire need of some assistance itself. Morris reported that the windows are in particularly bad shape, plaster has previously come crashing down from the walls and ceiling, and leaky gutters at the back of the building can cause the Burton center's handicapped entrance to become icy and dangerous during winter months. Morris also described the flooring at the center as poor. She quoted the center's doctor, Aaron Hoekje, when saying, "Sometimes patients associate quality of care with the appearance of the facilities." Hoekje had written a letter concerning the center to supplement the informational paperwork Morris provided to commissioners.
The centers are non-profit organizations and Morris stated that utilities are paid for through patients' fees. She stated, "Whatever you can help us with, is money we didn't have before."
Commission President Don Mason recommended Morris perhaps provide the commission with a written proposal, including a list of most immediate repairs. He also stated that Prosecuting Attorney Timothy Haught was in the process of writing a new lease for the center, seeing as the other one is approximately 33 years old. "We'll work together," Mason added.
In other news, Shawna Griffin of the Wetzel-Tyler Child Advocacy Center, accompanied by Terry Long of the Wetzel County Prosecutor's Office, appeared before the county commission to request funds to help match grant funds given to the center yearly by the state. Griffin noted that West Virginia is the only state that has child advocacy written into line items on their budget. She added that each year the required funds to match grant funds increase; this year the Wetzel-Tyler Child Advocacy Center must raise $16,000. Griffin reported that she has already approached the Tyler County Commission, though she has yet to receive a response.
Griffin stated that the center, a non-profit agency, works with both the prosecutors' offices in both Wetzel and Tyler counties. The center has recently been relocated to Paden City to the western portion of the WesBanco building. The center helps raise funds through other means, such as fund raisers, but Griffin added, "You can only have so many spaghetti dinners and bake sales."
Discussing the new location, Long stated that the Paden City facility for the center is better than the previous locations, which were located in Sistersville and Middlebourne. He added that the Paden City location is friendlier to victims and is useful to them, their families, and the interviewers.
The commissioners expressed interest in the center's cause but recommended that Griffin perhaps put her request to writing for submission to the commission.
In another matter, Allen Staggers of MonPower appeared before the commission and provided them with a short 10-minute video presentation on the company's process of restoring power. The video described the service restoration process, including the steps of damage assessment, line repairs where the most dire repairs coming first, informing the public, and evaluation performance.
Staggers stated he has been in contact with Ed Sapp, director of the Wetzel County Office of Emergency Management, who had identified all critical Wetzel County infrastructure.
Also, the commissioners approved a request from Bradley Troy, program director of AirEvac Lifeteam, and Raymond Renaud, secretary of the Marshall/Wetzel Local Emergency Planning Committee. Both appeared before the commission to request power line markings at the Antioch Church and 4-H camp areas.
Finally, bids in regards to generators for the county were tabled until the Dec. 11 meeting, 9:30 a.m.