Clay County’s Board of Commissioners approved borrowing more than $2 million dollars to build its new sports complex during its Jan. 2 meeting. County attorney Merinda Woody said two bids were received to fund the complex, which will include high school softball and baseball fields, a multipurpose gym and a play court.
At Woody’s suggestion, the commissioners chose the $2,605,298 financing bid from BB&T. The bids were 10-year financing at 2.24 percent or 15 years at 2.53 percent. United Community Bank provided the other bid of 10 years at 2.36 percent or 15 year at 2.44 percent.
Woody said choosing the 10-year from BB&T would save almost $200,000 over their 15 year. Chairman Rob Peck said the 10 year from BB&T would save about $90,000 over the same terms from United Community Bank. Peck also confirmed the payments would be semi-annual and would also include a one percent prepayment penalty if paid in the first half term of the loan.
Later in the meeting, Acting County Manager Debbie Mauney shared information about several hundred thousand dollars in grants the county will receive. Mauney, who is the director of Clay County Health and Human Services, said branches of the county government will receive nine grants totaling $560,181.
“Our county has taken advantage of these grants and worked hard,” she said. “I am so proud and our departments are to be commended.”
The Nantahala Health Foundation awarded the following grants:
• $95,000 for Clay County Emergency Medical Services to establish a community Para medicine program.
• $90,000 for the Clay County Public Health Department to support expansion of mobile dental services.
• $27,000 for Clay County Transportation to support expanded transportation services for Clay County residents needing employment transportation.
• The amount was not available, but Southwestern Child Development received a grant to support expanded childcare eligibility for children 0-3 years old in the six western counties, including Clay.
• Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation awarded grants of $90,000 for Clay County Public Health to support expansion of mobile dental services. Fourteen thousand was awarded so Clay County DSS may offer secondary trauma counseling to first responders, DSS social workers, paramedics and 911 employees.
Other grants were also awarded to county entities.
• A HRSA grant of $40,000 for three years was awarded for a collaborative project with the sheriff’s office, the health department and DSS to have a peer support person.
• A LINKAGE grant of $31,500 for three years was awarded to support existing salaries for providing education to inmates of the Clay County Detention Center.
• $79,689 Students in Crisis grant was awarded by the Department of Public Instruction to support school safety. This partnership between DSS and Clay County Schools will fund a social worker for the second year.
• DHHS Grant Energy Programs awards $46,592 per program. This allows DSS to provide heating assistance; $24,846. Sixty three of the funds have already been spent from 104 applications processed. She said DSS had applied for $20,000 more.
Grants were awarded to other agencies within the county. The Clay County Food Pantry, Matt’s Ministry and United Way each received $40,000 to address senior food insecurity with a collaborative project called the Clay County Senior Food Project. “This is going to be a huge help to the seniors in our community,” Mauney added.
Hinton Rural Life Center was awarded a grant for home repairs and mold remediation while Clay County Schools received an award for a counselor at Hayesville Middle School. Neither of those amounts were announced.
“It’s amazing the number of people who came together from different departments. I think Clay County came out and applied for everything they had. I think we will be looking at some larger grants,” Mauney said. “Dr. Peck and I have been working on some other things.” Mauney thanked the commissioners for supporting the initiatives. More information will be provided about some of the grants in a subsequent newspaper article.
In other business, Erlanger CEO Mark Kimball presented a PowerPoint presentation about his organization’s work in western North Carolina. “Part of our goal is to provide communities like Clay County with access to healthcare services,” he said. Kimball gave names of several new physicians being brought to the area and shared renovations being done to accommodate physicians.
He showed pictures of the new Hayesville clinic while explaining the clinic’s hours. Patient visits have increased 102 percent. It was a capital investment of about $1 and half million dollars. Kimball introduced Dr. Karen Davis who will be the primary care physician on staff at the Hayesville clinic beginning Monday, Jan. 6. Davis said she is moving from Colorado, but her husband is originally from North Carolina. They bought a home and intend to stay in the area.
During the meeting, Clay County’s director of Public Health Stephanie Johnson asking commissioners to approve writing off some bad debts of more than $5,000. She also explained the N.C. Debt Set-off program which includes any unpaid patient charge of $50 or more, but several collection invoices have been sent. Charges less than $50 do not go through that program, but invoices are also sent at 30, 60, 90 days for those. “We try to work out payment plans with people,” Johnson said. “For the most part, it works out.”