TAYLOR COUNTY—For the first time in months, community members were welcomed before the Taylor County Commission to discuss areas of business concerning the county on Tuesday night.
One of the areas of discussion at the meeting included the turning over of the property where the Taylor Health Care Center is located. During the meeting, the Taylor County Development Authority, Inc (TCDA) met with the commission concerning the transaction.
According to TCDA Board President Shaela Duckworth, an agreement had been reached with American Medical Facilities Management (AMFM), who currently operates the nursing care facility.
“They have agreed that if we turn the land over to them, they have plans to build a new facility, that will continue to help bring income into the county,” she said.
Because there was no guarantee that the new building would happen on paper, Taylor County Commission Board President Orville Wright was left a little unease about what would happen to the property in the event construction didn’t occur.
“They are an extremely credible outfit,” voiced Prosecuting Attorney John Bord, who also serves as the President of the Grafton City Hospital Board of Directors. “They have facilities in other areas of West Virginia.”
He revealed that AMFM had looked at other possible locations for their new building, but one of the factors that weighed on their decision was that the City of Grafton wanted the facility to stay within the city limits.
“One of the concerns was that they would just pull up and leave, take the jobs and the beds and be gone,” said Bord. “However, they could not find a site, although the city has tried hard to find another site that would allow them to stay within city limits.”
According to TCDA Executive Director Patricia Henderson, the city would be requiring that should a site be found outside of city limits, that area would have to be annexed, which could be costly for AMFM.
A decision was reached by the two groups to sign the land where the current facility sits over to AMFM with the understanding that construction on a new facility would occur.
“They have been very patient with this process,” said Commissioner Sam Gerkin, who serves on the TCDA. “They could have packed their bags and left the county, but they have shown commitment, to me, that they do want to stay in Taylor County and Grafton. I think it is a win-win for everyone involved.”
Again, Wright questioned what guarantee they would have that the construction of the new facility would take place.
“When they bought the beds, they made a $2-3 million commitment, and at any point of time, they could have pulled out and moved those beds to anywhere else in the state,” said Bord. “They have shown that they wanted to stay in Taylor County. They have expressed that they intend to build a new building at the cost of approximately $5 million.”
The TCDA members revealed that they had attempted to bid out the property to different entities in the state, but no one submitted offers, and they believed this to be the best decision.
Wright, determined to make sure that all parties involved were comfortable with the transfer of the property to AMFM were in agreement, asked various questions about the transaction.
“This isn’t even the county’s property. It belongs to the city,” he voiced. “Why haven’t they developed their own development authority to give it away?”
He said that he felt the responsibility to ask the questions to ensure that everything was being handled in a proper way. He was assured by the TCEDA members and Bord that he hadn’t asked questions that hadn’t been asked by their entities, as well.
After a lengthy discussion, Wright recused himself from voting on the matter, stating that there might be a conflict of interest due to him serving on the hospital’s board.
Gerkin and Commissioner Tony Veltri voted to approve the TCEDA’s proposed transfer of the property to AMFM. It would then be the responsibility of the authority to ensure the transaction was completed.