County Commission improving Blue Ridge center
by Jazz Clark
The Morgan County Commissioners moved forward with several expenditures at their Thursday, September 6 meeting. These included a heat pump to replace the antiquated air conditioning center at the former hospital building.
Officially named the Pines Enrichment Center, the local extension of Martinsburg’s community and technical college is now located at the former hospital, The A/C unit in question sits in one of the main lobbies rented by the college.
“We’d like to become more efficient up there with heating and air conditioning and become less and less reliant on the boiler,” said County Administrator Jody McClintock.
Just to replace the compressor in the A/C would cost $1,600. For another $3,000 they
can get an entirely new unit that can heat and cool.
“Blue Ridge is working with us in moving forward in a better way to maintain that building. This is just the first step,” McClintock said.
Cost of the heat pump is $4,689 out of the county’s maintenance fund.
The commission chose Southern Air for install because that’s who they had a contract with while the building was a hospital. The company has first hand knowledge of the site, it was said.
A decision was also made to accept a quote for a cabinet-style sign at the building at a cost of $2,959.
Century Graphics of Hagerstown, the closest place to create such a sign, was chosen to build the cabinet.
The larger sign would have the name Blue Ridge and a picture, as well as space underneath to add the names of tenants as they move in.
Any other sign costs would be the responsibility of Blue Ridge.
Laura Steepleton and Patti Heaphy made a presentation to the commissioners about the danger of fracking and deep drilling for natural gas in Morgan County.
“It’s hard to take a balanced approach when the cons outweigh the pros,” Heaphy said. “The only pros are money, and money is not going to buy the contaminated water or your health or the damaged ecosystem.”
According to Heaphy, though it’s commonly heard that fracking isn’t likely to come to Morgan County, representatives are buying mineral rights. Minerals rights bought have jumped from 50 to 75 in the last few months.
She proposed a local ordinance to ban fracking.
“We have responsibility and advantage to lead the rest of the state to create a prosperous economy and healthy future,” Steepleton said.
Commissioner Brad Close was away on a business trip in Daniels and didn’t attend the meeting.
Commissioners Brenda Hutchinson and Stacy Dugan discussed a supplemental amendment with the State Division of Highways for $150,000 in additional funds for the Bath community sidewalks project.
Funds will be used to repair and enhance sidewalks on Green Street.
The commission is required to match 20% of the total, or $37,500, said Grant Administrator Carol York.
The North Berkeley Rail Trail project resolution would allow for $164,000 to be used for that project. The $41,500 match has already been paid.
The two grants are a repurposing of funding from the Paw Paw Rail Trail project.
Also given was $80,000 for the courthouse facilities improvement authority for costs associated with rebuilding of the courthouse.
There are no matching funds for the grant, so as soon as they submit the application, those funds can be drawn down.
“This is the last year for repayment of our loan to the state, and these funds will be used to supplement that cost,” Hutchinson said.