04/21/10 — County will help administer $288K grant to assist Kitty Askins expansion project

View Archive

County will help administer $288K grant to assist Kitty Askins expansion project

By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 21, 2010 1:46 PM

Wayne County commissioners Tuesday morning not only agreed to administer a $288,000 state grant for the $4 million Kitty Askins Hospice Center expansion project, but to provide $8,640 of in-kind services as well.

"We are excited about expanding," said Dean Lee, president and chief executive officer of Home Health and Hospice Care, which operates Kitty Askins. "It is a much-needed project."

About half of the $4 million has been raised over the past two and one-half years, despite the lackluster economy, Lee said.

He said doubling the number of beds at the center from 12 to 24 would help address a "chronic waiting list" that has existed since the center first opened in 1995.

The project also will create 24 new jobs -- nurses, nursing assistants and administration, he added.

It is the creation of those jobs that made the project eligible for the Rural Health Care Initiative Grant program. The program was created by the General Assembly to stimulate economic development and job creation in distressed areas for the construction and/or renovation of health care facilities. It awards $12,000 for each job created up to a total of $480,000. The 24 new jobs at Kitty Askins translate to $288,000.

The funds are actually granted to the local government and loaned to the property owner, Home Health and Hospice Care, in the form of a deferred, forgivable loan.

There are stipulations. The grants must be matched by at least an equal amount of private and/or public funds, and the job creation goals must be met and verified before the loans are forgiven. Also, the local government unit must provide cash or in-kind services equal to 3 percent of the grant awarded.

Commissioner Andy Anderson asked County Manager Lee Smith if the grant was the same as the "pass through" grants that the county has previously participated in.

"Yes, but a match is required," Smith said. "We would administer the grant with the staff of 3HC to make the match."

Commissioner Sandy McCullen asked Smith for examples of in-kind services. Smith said that a per hour dollar amount would be counted toward the $8,640 whenever he or members of the county financial staff worked on administering the grant.

Lee said ground was broken for the project on Oct. 14. Bad weather over the winter slowed work, but the pace has picked back up, he said, and construction is scheduled for completion by the end of November or the first of December. Patients could be admitted as early as January.

The motion to approve the request was approved unanimously.

In other business, commissioners approved three subdivision plats. Approved were plats for Lancaster Pointe-Section 3 on True Vine Road near U.S. 13 north of Goldsboro, 18 lots; Mary Uzzell Felzer, one lot on Lake Wackena Road at Walnut Creek; and Tony Jones, eight lots at Kelly Springs and Davis roads at Mount Olive. The county Planning Board had recommended approval of all three.

Commissioners questioned the Jones project because of its proximity to the Mount Olive Airport. County Planner Connie Price said the project would not interfere with the airport operation or with future expansion. The Mount Olive Airport Commission is aware of the project and provided a letter stating that it had no objections to it, Price said.

The board sat for a brief session as the Board of Adjustment to hear a setback variance request for Johnathan and Gwen Moore of Gator Drive.

The Moores want to build a storage building closer to their property line than is currently allowed. Price told commissioners that adjoining property owners had been contacted about the request and that a sign had been posted on the Moore property as well. No one has objected, he said. Commissioners questioned Price as to the building's use and whether it would be a workshop. Price said his understanding is that it would be used for storage only. The board approved the request.

The consent agenda included approval of a $20,000 grant from North Carolina's Eastern Region. The grant will be used to assist with the purchase of property for the Old Waynesborough Park Museum. Anderson, who represents the county on the North Carolina's Eastern Region, asked Parker if he should excuse himself from the vote. Parker said it was not necessary for either Anderson or Commissioner J.D. Evans, who serves on the park board, to do so.