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Terra Alta community leaders, residents happy Hopmont bill failed


The Preston County News & Journal

TERRA ALTA, W.Va. — Terra Alta Mayor Mark Ball breathed a slight sigh of relief on Sunday morning after hearing House Bill 3102, regarding the sale of Hopemont Hospital, did not pass during the legislative session.

Terra Alta Mayor Mark Ball

“I have been very concerned about the House Bill being passed and the potential closing of Hopemont Hospital,” Ball said. “I have been talking with Senators Randy Smith and Dave Sypolt, along with Delegate Tony Lewis who said they were going to do everything they could to keep the hospital open.”

Preston County Commissioner Dave Price, who also lives in Terra Alta, told the Preston County News & Journal he is also relieved that it looks as if other options will be explored.

“This is the beauty of the democratic way,” Price said. “We have two different opinions, and it looks like they are going to give it more thought.”

Ball said he knows there have been many rumors about what will happen to Hopemont, its residents and employees, and while Ball is concerned about them, he was also concerned about the hit to the town of Terra Alta if the hospital was closed.

“There are about 100 to 120 people who work there,” Ball said. “And those jobs are important because many of the employees live here in Terra Alta.”

“However, if the hospital had closed, the town would take a huge hit monetarily,” Ball said. “We would lose $3,200 per month in sewer fees, and $2,500 a month in water fees. That is a lot of money.”

Terra Alta Clerk Ellda Bennett said the town needed to know what is going on with Hopemont because the news was changing daily.

“The town would have definitely suffered if Hopemont closes,” Bennett said. “The employees are local, and the trickle down effect on the town would be devastating.”

Bennett was also upset with the water and sewer board officers as not one had spoken up against the closing of Hopemont.

“I signed a petition against the closing, but they have not as far as I am aware,” Bennett said. “If Hopemont would close, the town would lose the sewer and water revenue paid by the hospital, but in addition it could lose the revenue of the Hopemont employees who live in the town.”

Terra Alta Town Clerk Belinda Ball agreed with Bennett, and she also signed the petition to save Hopemont Hospital from closing.

“I don’t even live in the town,” Belinda Ball said. “But I know there are at least 50 Hopemont employees who live in the town and, if it had closed, it would have a huge effect.”

Price said the location of the Hopemont property is an excellent area, and the hospital is certified for 90 beds.

“Maybe they can move patients from other state facilities to Hopemont,” Price said. “The patients have to go somewhere, and it would be more efficient and cost effective to keep them here.”

“Maybe there is some hope because this will come up again,” Price said. “However, I am grateful they are going to give it some time.”

House Bill 3102 selling Hopemont and House Bill 2366 calling of the sale of the Raleigh County Jackie Withrow Hospital in Beckley both died in the Legislature with the end of the session.

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