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Board mulls bond to finance BAMC

Monday night’s meeting of the Hammond Village Board was largely dominated by talk of Baldwin Area Medical Center’s plan to build a new hospital. Baldwin, Woodville and Roberts municipal governments received the same request that National Healthcare Capital consultant Tom Mayfield posed to the Hammond Village Board: a request to help finance the building through the issuance of a public bond for up to $10 million.

“Because this project is so much larger than Baldwin, we have to ask the surrounding communities for help,” Mayfield said. “The alternative is to ask Baldwin to hand us their lending capacity for the next four years.”

The total cost of the project is estimated to be $37.7 million. According to Mayfield, serving as a conduit issuer does not expose the Village of Hammond to any debt liability, which will be clearly outlined in the final documents. However, he encouraged the board to rely on village attorney Tim Scott to review the documents and determine the potential risks involved.

Brian Lovdahl, chief financial officer for Baldwin Area Medical Center, gave the board an update on the progress of the project. The center has purchased 95 acres of land behind A&W, and groundbreaking is slated to begin in October.

“We’ll be deciding on a blueprint very soon, and next month we’ll start design and development,” Lovdahl said.

The medical center is also working to keep up with the changing nature of healthcare, according to Lovdahl. Because outpatient care has become increasingly popular, the center plans to decrease the number of beds it has on site and work with outside organizations to provide care consistent with that shift. Within the last few years, the center has expanded its services to include pediatricians, psychiatric nurse practitioners and much more.

The board scheduled a public hearing for Aug. 11 on the subject.

Another prominent topic of the night was Hammond’s need for a storm shelter. According to Hammond Police Chief Rick Coltrain, public buildings like the village hall and schools are unfit to serve as storm shelters because they would be at the risk of liability for any injuries that could occur within their walls.

Scott suggested looking into an Oklahoma precedent that excuses organizations from liability when offering a service like a storm shelter, but he also warned that designating a storm shelter involves adhering to certain guidelines concerning size and layout. The board ultimately decided to look further into the matter and tabled it until the Aug. 25 meeting.

Other business

  •  Resident Bill Jacobsen raised a complaint about a local bar that had allegedly played loud and explicit music outdoors near his home. Coltrain said the band playing cooperated with officers who asked them to turn the music down, but the officers did not hear any swear words.
  •  Tom Kortas delivered the 2013 audit report and advised the board to monitor sewer utility spending, as finances are at risk for running out before the end of the year.
  •  The board approved a subdivision ordinance amendment in response to recent state legislature that restricts municipalities’ control over the means by which private developers finance improvements and the timetable for those payments. The amendment requires the village to complete an inspection before giving the go-ahead for the final plat.
  •  The board approved a beer garden permit for Ras’ on Main for Saturday, Aug. 9, and Saturday, Sept. 13.
  •  The board approved a street closure for the street dance on Aug. 8 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  •  The board approved the Cross Connection ordinance amendment.
  •  The board discussed a mowing concern regarding who is responsible for mowing the right of way. Board member Laurie Gruber said she would like to see a guideline or ordinance established to which she can direct residents. The issue was tabled until the end of July meeting.
Jenny Hudalla
A senior at Bethel University, Jenny Hudalla is pursuing degrees in journalism, Spanish and reconciliation studies. Having graduated from New Richmond High School in 2011, she served as editor-in-chief of the Tiger Rag before taking a job as editor-in-chief of Bethel's student newspaper, The Clarion. After completing her internship with the New Richmond News, Hudalla plans to move on to a career in social justice.
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