Committee, county seek FQHC for Grayson

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Grayson County has agreed to partner with the Grayson County Senior Advocacy Committee to bring a Federally Qualified Health Clinic to the area

By Shaina Stockton

INDEPENDENCE — The Grayson County Board of Supervisors has agreed to partner with the Grayson County Senior Advocacy Committee, in an effort to bring a Federally Qualified Health Clinic (FQHC) to Grayson County.
Senior Advocacy Committee Member Sandra Troth made the request during the board’s Nov. 9 meeting. According to Troth, the board asked the committee previously to put together a subcommittee, to assess the feasibility and advisability of securing a FQHC for the county.
“At our first meeting, we discovered there were no Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant funds for this period for rural areas, and only $94 million for the entry country for healthcare efforts — as contrasted with $130-plus million available for Virginia Rural Initiatives alone in April 2017,” said Troth.
Discouraged by these funding changes, the committee looked into alternatives to a FQHC. The committee met with the Mel Leaman Free Clinic in Marion, the Southwest Community Health Systems’ medical director and board chair, and managers of the Appalachian agency for Senior Citizens (AASC). Troth said all three entities showed an interest in partnering with the county to provide services; particularly, for citizens towards the western and more rural end of the county.
Since that time, Troth noted that it is now anticipated that the HRSA funds will be restored after the new federal budget is approved. With this news, the healthcare subcommittee recommended that the county “make preparations to apply to HRSA for New Access Point HRSA grant funding as it becomes available. Also, that the county seek additional available HRSA grant funding to furnish and staff a facility.”
The committee also recommended identifying other funding sources, to help bring an FQHC to Grayson County as soon as possible.
“Since it is not exclusive to senior citizens, but all citizens, we recommend that a new committee or task force be formed to address and complete the many steps necessary to achieve this goal; further, that this task be removed from the purview of the GCSAC and that Bill Shepley chair and direct the activities of the new committee/task force,” Troth said.
County Administrator Bill Shepley told the board that he would be happy to help the committee, stating, “I support this group. They have done a great job to get us to this point.”
Shepley told the board that he expected that it would take some time — possibly a year or so — to get through the grant process. “But we need to get things rolling,” he said. “There is nothing better we could do for this community, than make healthcare more accessible.”
A motion to approve the committee’s requests was made by Supervisor Eddie Rosenbaum, seconded by Brenda Sutherland, and approved unanimously.

In other action:

• The board approved a budget amendment request from the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office, to repay the remaining balance of the rural development loan, in the amount of $661,962.
The loan was obtained to purchase the former Grubb building, where the sheriff’s office is now located; in addition to patrol cars.
The county confirmed last Monday that the amount of interest saved with early payoff of the 40 year loan totals $500,000.

• The board approved the following list of board appointments:
Building Inspection Board of Appeals — Edwin Ward (four-year term, expires Dec. 31)
BRCEDA — Kenneth Belton (four-year term, expires Dec. 31)
District III Governmental Cooperative — Brenda Sutherland (one-year term, expires Dec. 31); Mary Young (alternate, expires Dec. 31)
Twin County E-911 — William Shepley (four-year term, expires Dec. 31)
Mt. Rogers ASAP — Reese “Sadler” Nester (three-year term, expires Dec. 31)
Mt. Rogers PDC Transportation Rural Technical Committee — Brenda Sutherland (two-year term, expires Dec. 31); Amber Shuler (alternate, expires Dec. 31)
Planning Commission — Daniel Boyer (four-year term, expires Dec. 31; Brian Walls (expires Dec. 31); Lisa Hash (expires Dec. 31)
New River Highlands RC&D – William Crawford (one-year term)
Social Services Board – Kate Irwin (four-year term, expires Dec. 31)
Zoning Board of Appeals — Gary Ballard (five-year term, expires Dec. 31)
Eagle Bottom Housing Board — Mike Hash (Supervisor for project district), Kenneth Belton, Jimmy Lineberry (member of Eagle Bottom Community, not involved in project), Mitch Smith, Jada Black

•  The board offered the following letter from the county’s legal counsel, in response to recent news reports concerning an investigation of county treasurer expenditures:
“Many of you are aware of the recent reports in the press regarding expenditures made by the treasurer using the county credit card account. On behalf of he entire board of supervisors, I want to assure the public that we take the expenditure of public funds very seriously. As soon as we became aware of these issues, we took action through legal counsel to obtain more information and to make sure that all expenditures were made for public business only. We obtained more information from the treasurer, along with a partial refund of these expenses. During the pendency of any investigation, it is imperative that public comments from this board be limited in order to allow the proper authorities to complete their work. However, we wish to advise the public that we have instructed our legal counsel to follow up with the treasurer to verify that each of the questioned expenses was either for a verifiable public expense, or if certain expenses are not verified, that they are returned to the county.
“We think it is important to note that in this case, the process is working as intended. The expenditures in question were identified through our internal processes, and the County has taken action to ensure that public funds are used only for public business. We have and will continue to work through our legal counsel and appropriate authorities to make sure all questions raised about these expenditures are properly and fairly resolved.”