Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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January 15, 2010

Citizens: PCH value is priceless

PRINCETON — There’s a wall of honor just inside Princeton Community Hospital’s entrance. There, rows upon rows of shiny metal plaques express the thanks of a grateful community to the people who put their pride, hard work and paychecks into building the facility on Morrison Drive.

Wednesday, an estimated 752 people, families and businesses stood listed as donors and/or patrons. The names ran the gamut, from physicians like Dr. O.J. Bailes to veterinarian James P. Bailey, and family businesses like Athens Garage to statesmen such as Homer Ball.

Nearby, a list of roughly 160 benefactors paid tribute to the people who bequeathed monetary gifts to the passionate project, even when they could give no more of themselves.

In the late 1960s, the idea of Princeton Community Hospital was reportedly born during a meeting of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, better known as the Jaycees. There, attorney Robert E. “Bob” Holroyd recalled recently, businessman Tommy Seaver suggested the group spearhead a project to build a community hospital that would replace the aging, doctor-owned Princeton Memorial Hospital at the intersection of Mercer and Main streets. From there, the leader of the local North American-Rockwell headquarters, James Morrison, took up the cause and led the charge many called impossible.

Those detractors were proven wrong, when Princeton Community Hospital opened its doors in December 1970, licensed to provide inpatient services for up to 155 acute-care clients at a time.

Darlene Hall, of Princeton, made her career as a PCH X-ray technician, and she recalled the hard work and sacrifice the project took, as she and approximately 30 other concerned citizens milled inside the hospital lobby Wednesday afternoon. They were stirred to action by a strategic planning meeting originally slated for 5 p.m., only to be canceled.

The would-be activists arrived at the hospital anyway in a show of solidarity with the community to oppose alleged sales or merger negotiations with LifePoint Hospitals.

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