WELLSBURG – The Brooke County Commission, at its Tuesday meeting, selected Thrasher Engineering of Clarksburg to design a new central station for the county ambulance service.
The commissioners would like to build on land near the intersection of Pleasant Avenue and State Route 2 north of Wellsburg. The land was vacated by the commission in 2020 with the demolition of two dilapidated structures – a trailer and a small house – there.
Currently the ambulance service operates from a station along Route 2 at the north end of Follansbee and another near Route 67 in the Bethany area.
Commissioners are to negotiate with Thrasher the amount the engineering firm will receive for its services.
Commission Chairman AJ Thomas said the commission has put money aside and will be drawing funds from its existing budget to fund the project.
He said the commission would not take advantage of the county’s excess ambulance tax, which generates revenue for the ambulance service’s operations.
The commission had also received proposals from Matyskiela & Grant Inc. and McKinley Architecture and Engineering, both of Wheeling; and Swiss Valley Associates Inc. of Clarington, Ohio.
Thomas said, “We interviewed all four candidates, and I don’t think we could have made a bad choice with any of them. But we are confident that with Thrasher taxpayer dollars will go a long way.
County commissioner Stacey Wise abstained from the vote, saying she has a close working relationship with some of the contractors involved.
After the meeting, Thomas said the commission was not yet ready to appoint the new ambulance authority it is training.
In December, commissioners said they learned that the state’s code required public ambulance services to be overseen by a board of five to 15 members.
After announcing that they were seeking five members for the panel, the commissioners heard from six potential members, but did not close the window for letters of interest, which can be submitted to County Clerk Kim Barbetta’s office at Brooke County Courthouse.
After announcing their intention to attend a seminar next Tuesday by the Association of West Virginia County Commissioners, the commissioners were asked if they plan to meet with state lawmakers on any issues.
County commissioner Tim Ennis said they would seek federal pandemic relief and other funds for the ambulance service.
Thomas said the service has become more financially difficult in recent months. He said one of the reasons is the decline in non-emergency transport to hospitals, which is a major source of revenue for ambulance services.
Thomas said it could be that the pandemic is making some people reluctant to go to hospital.
In the remaining cases, the commissioners have said they anticipate a drop in the interest rate for the repayment of up to $ 14 million in bonds to be sold for the construction of a judicial annex.
Plans call for the building to house the county circuit, magistrates and family court facilities; the district attorney’s office and probation at the corner of Main and Sixth streets.
Other county departments will remain in the courthouse, which will be separate from the annex.
Thomas said teams from Rycon Construction in Pittsburgh are expected to start work in the near future.
Initial work is expected to include raising the land somewhat to 0.37 acres to prevent flooding from the nearby Ohio River.
Tuesday’s meeting was again held in an archives room in the courthouse’s basement.
The commissioners have met there since the teams installed a new elevator for the building. Access to the second and third floors has been restricted to the staircase, although staff are willing to meet visitors on the first floor if necessary.
Wise said she hopes that will change soon as the new elevator is complete and is expected to undergo a required state inspection later this week.
Due to their meeting in Charleston next week, the commissioners will meet at 10:30 a.m. on January 21 instead.
(Scott can be contacted at [email protected].)