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Bridgeport council OKs resolution for UHC plan

by Jeff Toquinto

THE BRIDGEPORT NEWS

BRIDGEPORT -- Following the lead set by several other Harrison County groups, Bridgeport City Council unanimously approved a resolution Thursday supporting the new United Hospital Center proposed for the area.

The resolution will be sent to UHC President Bruce Carter. Carter has said all resolutions and letters of support will be included in the hospital's certificate of need to the West Virginia Health Care Authority.

The support may be critical as both UHC and Fairmont General are proposing new multi-million-dollar hospitals to be built at roughly the same time and in roughly the same location. UHC's planned $190 million facility and Fairmont General's proposed $75 million facility will both be located close to Interstate 79. Although Fairmont has yet to name a site, UHC's would be built at the Jerry Dove Drive exit in Bridgeport.

Carter, Bridgeport City Manager Kim Haws and others have said the Authority will likely approve just one of the certificates of need submitted by UHC and Fairmont General. With that in mind, area officials have been asked to show their support for the Harrison County project.

"Most public entities are falling in line with support, and it's needed," said Council member Walter Barth. "... The hospital will benefit the county and the region along with Bridgeport."

In other business, the council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance for lease-revenue bonds to pay for the new Bridgeport City Hall.

The WesBanco bonds, which are set for 15 years, are for up to $3 million. City officials don't expect the entire amount to be needed and are optimistic on covering all debt within five years.

At a meeting just before the council meeting, the Bridgeport Building Commission approved a similar ordinance. The commission will own the building and lease it to the city.

The new City Hall, said City Manager Kim Haws, is on schedule to open by July 1. The building, which is the former Rish Equipment Building along U.S. 50 eastbound, is currently being remodeled to the city's specifications.

Following the regular session, the council went into an executive session to discuss real estate. The Thursday meeting was held due to the regularly scheduled meeting falling on Monday's Memorial Day Holiday.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jeff Toquinto is the editor of The Bridgeport News. For additional information on this meeting, pick up next Thursday's edition of The Bridgeport News.

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