Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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July 16, 2012

New health department design could save county $600,000

PRINCETON — A reduction in size could equal savings when a replacement for the Mercer County Health Department building is constructed in Green Valley.

During a recent presentation to update the Mercer County Commission on the project’s progress, architect Todd Boggess of E.T. Boggess Architect, Inc. said it would be possible to reduce the new building’s size. This became possible when the Mercer Charitable Clinic decided not to be based in the new facility. The clinic is currently operating at the St. Luke’s Professional Building in Bluefield.

“They feel like they would not be able to afford the space they would be leasing from the county,” Boggess said. “They told that they are getting a great deal where they are, and it is working out good at their current location.”

Representatives of the free clinic could not be reached for additional comment.

Architects have been working to keep the project within budget, he said. Now that the free clinic will not be at the health center, the additional square footage that was in the design can be reduced. The future building’s size could be cut by 2,000 to 2,500 square feet, he said.

Based on current bids, the savings could be close to $600,000, he said.

“We will need to make the necessary design changes and rebid with the new scope,” Boggess said.

Swope Construction in Mercer County was the low bid contractor. The current budget for construction is “a little over $4 million,” Boggess said. Work is underway to redesign the building and work out a new bid schedule.

“We want to seek new bids as soon as we can,” Boggess said.

There could be some budget shortfall for furnishings, equipment and computers, he added.

Melody Rickman, RN, administrator for the Mercer County Health Department, said the department might need funding to pay for new furnishings. Much of the furniture at the former facility was as old as the facility itself.

“The money we have will pay for the building, but we’re going to need money for furnishings because the furnishings we have are as old as the old building. Most of them are at least 50 years old,” Rickman said.

The health department has spoken to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s office and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., about finding additional money, Rickman said.

Boggess estimated that the furnishings and equipment could cost up to $300,000, depending on their quality. Since the furniture and other items could be used for up to 40 years, it is important to purchase ones with good quality.

“We really want to get the best that we can get, probably medical-grade type furnishings for the facility,” Boggess said.

“We need to get it done,” Rickman said of the overall project. “We’re coming up on our third year of paying rent.”

The county commission will support the search for funding, Commissioner Jay Mills said. Besides helping to find government grants and other sources, foundations will be encouraged to contribute.

“We want to have something we’re proud of when it’s done,” Mills said.

— Contact Greg Jordan at


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