Hampshire County Development Authority settles Wellness suit - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Hampshire County Development Authority settles Wellness suit for $1.1 million

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ROMNEY, WV -

by MARLA PISCIOTTA

For The State Journal

Calculating the figures on the Hampshire County Development Authority's balance sheets filed for September and October, the Hampshire Wellness and Fitness Center lawsuit settlement is $1.1 million of the $1.4 million asked for originally.

From that figure an unknown amount is to be paid to Valley Health for their part of the suit and $126,000 will be paid to the Hampshire County Commission for legal fees paid to the attorney's on behalf of the authority.

Members of the authority confirmed paying the $126,000 during a recent county commission meeting.

Over the course of more than a year a total of $351,000 was given to the authority by the commission to help with the financial drain encountered as a result of design and construction defects at the Wellness Center. 

After receiving the reimbursement of legal fees, the commission is owed a balance of $225,000. 

However, during the Nov. 12 commission meeting commissioners voted to roll back that money into the authority's revolving loan fund, and deemed the $225,000 a grant.

The $1.4 million civil suit was filed Feb. 24, 2012 by the Hampshire County Commission and the Hampshire County Development Authority to recover damages and losses they say were suffered.

In September 2012, all parties signed an agreement to set up mediation on the suit.

Parties involved in the mediation include defendants Somerset Steel Erection Co. Inc., Rummel, Klepper and Kahl, architect Robert T. Eckels and Somerset Steel Erection Co. as a third-party plaintiff vs. Consolidated Electric, Air-Row Sheet Metal Co., Hetrick Masonry and G.A. Largent and Associates as third-party defendants.

The mediation agreement forbids anyone involved to release the settlement terms to the public.

Final papers of release have not been filed in circuit court, Judge Charlie Parsons said Nov. 18.

"That order has to be passed around for all parties to sign," Parsons said.

He said he had not received any papers from the authority's attorney, John Meadows, Steptoe and Johnson.

Jason Hicks is president of the authority.

"I'd like to comment, but I along with the entire EDA are bound by the formal agreement not to comment on this subject," Hicks said. "Averting the settlement amount, I can say that it has been a very painful process that has been extremely consuming throughout our involvement.

"Now that we have settled old business, we are better able to focus on assisting with the economic opportunities of Hampshire County."