By THERESA MARTHEY
The Preston County News & Journal
TERRA ALTA, W.Va. — Uncertainty continues to loom over Terra Alta’s Hopemont Hospital. That’s because on Monday the state Legislature will consider a bill that, if passed and signed by the governor, will force the 100-year-old facility to be sold off. If that happens, the biggest loser could be the Town of Terra Alta itself.
“The hospital has a monthly water bill averaging between $1,800 and $2,200 per month,” Terra Alta Town Clerk Belinda Ball said. “And the sewage bill is approximately $3,200 per month.
“We also have a yearly fire fee, but since the hospital is outside of town limits, they do not pay it,” Ball added.
“Hopemont Hospital sits on 785 acres,” Baylor said. “Are they proposing selling just the land the hospital sits on, or are they selling the whole 785 acres?”
Baylor said if Hopemont Hospital closes, it would be a huge loss to the area in jobs.
“Unless they pass the legislation to rebuild on the site or close by, we would lose those jobs in the county,” Baylor said. “I would assume those employees spend money in Terra Alta, and that will impact the town.”
Baylor said the PCEDA had some interest in the past in the land around the hospital, especially across W.Va. Route 7 where the railroad tracks go through.
“If the owners would consider subdividing the property, I think there would be a lot of interest,” Baylor said. “But with the previous company interested in the property, we never received an answer back from the owners about subdivision.”
According to records in the Preston County Assessor’s Office, the West Virginia Farm Management Commission in New Martinsville owns the property.
Shop ’N Save Express Manager Nellie Dixon said if the hospital is sold and relocated out of the area, the store will lose some business.
“We have approximately 20 to 30 employees who shop here all the time or on their way home from work,” Dixon said. “It is sad that nearly 100 jobs will be lost in Terra Alta.
“The employees are going to have to leave the community to find work,” Dixon said. “There are no jobs here.”
Dixon also talked about the BB&T Terra Alta branch that is set to close, and Delano’s Warehouse is also liquidating and closing.
“Coffee is an item the employees coming from Kingwood get in the morning on their way into work,” Manager Crystal Shaffer said. “Another is cigarettes and tobacco products.”
Shaffer is not sure how closure of Hopemont would affect business, and she didn’t want to speculate.
“We are busy all the time, so if there will be a big drop-off in business, I don’t know,” Shaffer said.
Retired Hopemont employee Diane Poling said she would hate to see Hopemont Hospital close and possibly leave the area.
“I don’t think it is a good idea,” Poling said while in Shop ’N Save Express. “For the residents, it is their home, and the people around her depend on that income.
“That doesn’t include just the employees, but these businesses,” Poling said.
A bill to sell Hopemont Hospital, as proposed by Gov. Jim Justice was reintroduced in both the House of Delegates and Senate on May 23. On May 24, an amended Senate Bill 1011 was passed and sent to the House of Delegates.
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