Hospital district to ‘refinance’

Move to save $1.7 million

By Andy Winemiller -

DOBSON — The local hospital district is looking to “refinance” some debt, and county commissioners gave the go-ahead to do so.

At the first January meeting of the Surry County Board of Commissioners on Jan. 2 the board — acting in its capacity as the governing body of the Northern Hospital District of Surry County — authorized the district to issue up to $26 million in bonds.

“It’s much like refinancing your house,” said board chair Eddie Harris.

According to the district’s bond counsel, John Mize, the hospital is paying on three outstanding series of bonds issued in 1999, 2008 and 2012. The bonds will be publicly sold in late January. The move will simply garner better interest rates and lower the hospital’s debt service.

Mize told the board the sale of 2017-series bonds would mean about $1.7 million in savings for the hospital. He did not know how the hospital might use any savings.

The board also approved an amendment to an agreement with the city of Mount Airy to provide sewer services to the Interstates Water and Sewer District. The county opted to amend its plans for the project underway in the district to extend the lines west of I-77.

The amendment formalizes the city’s agreement to provide sanitary sewer services to the district, including the additional portion west of I-77.

Commissioners also got formal word the county’s parks and recreation department will not enjoy continued use of a soccer field at Millennium Charter Academy in Mount Airy. A ten-year use agreement ended recently, and when county officials began negotiating an extension to the agreement, they learned the charter school plans to build a gymnasium on the location of the field.

According to correspondence included in commissioners’ meeting packets, the county invested about $85,000 in the field throughout the course of the ten-year agreement.

A group of Elkin students and others spoke to commissioners as well. The group attended the meeting in hopes of raising awareness about the health of the watershed which serves the town.

Another Elkin resident opted to use the public forum portion of the board’s meeting to raise a concern regarding capital needs at Elkin High School.

Roy Ferguson, who retired after 22 years of service in the army, instructs JROTC at Elkin High. He has found the venue to be lacking.

“Our high school and middle school share one gymnasium,” said Ferguson.

Ferguson noted surrounding school systems have at least two gymnasiums at the high schools and one at the middle schools. In Elkin, all extra-curricular activities must share the one gym, a matter which affects Ferguson’s cadets.

“We need another gym desperately,” said Ferguson.

Move to save $1.7 million

By Andy Winemiller

Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.

Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.

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