Supervisors Defer Senior Living Center Decision

The Clarke County Board of Supervisors have tentatively selected Minghini’s General Contractors of Martinsburg, West Virginia to build a $1.49M Senior Living facility and repair the Clarke County Parks and Recreation offices at Chet Hobert Park.

Minghini’s provided the low bid on the project’s base cost of $1.33 million. However, on Monday the Supervisors spent a significant amount of time debating $160K of additional costs that may – or may not – make it into the final project contract.

At Monday’s meeting the Supervisors dove into the details of the 5,300-square-foot Senior Living Center and park office repair contract looking for ways to maximize county funds and minimize unnecessary costs. When the dust cleared the Supervisors agreed to postpone any decision until their December 12th work session.

Monday’s session focused on whether a walk-in freezer and full kitchen, as well as a $58K backup generator, was needed for the facility. Supervisor David Weiss (Buckmarsh) suggested that the county might be better served using a different backup power approach for the facility and questioned the need for a full commercial kitchen.

Weiss questioned the need for what was described by County Administrator David Ash as large generator with two 1,000-gallon liquid propane tanks that could keep the facility fully operational for up to three days in the event of an emergency.

“I don’t think that we need another emergency facility when the one that we already have Johnson Williams Middle School that wasn’t even used during the last emergency” Weiss reasoned. “I just think that a backup generator is going to sit idle 99.999 percent of the time and we might be better served by a contract with someone to bring in a generator if we find that we need one.”

Weiss also said that he wasn’t opposed to a kitchen facility at the center but simply hadn’t heard the Clarke County Parks and Recreation staff members say that they felt that the facility was needed. Currently the County’s senior center is housed at Berryville Presbyterian Church where meals are served on site as well as delivered daily to about 30 homebound seniors. During the discussion several Supervisors expressed uncertainty about whether the Senior Center was planning to continue cooking meals or whether the food preparation service might be contracted out.

Past discussions by school officials have included the idea of using kitchen facilities in the new high school for community uses. Use of the CCHS kitchen rather than adding a new kitchen at the Senior Living Center could save the County as much as $72K; $44.5K in kitchen equipment, $19.6K for the walk-in freezer and an additional $8.6K for kitchen casework.

However, Supervisor Barbara Byrd (Russell) argued vigorously that the kitchen facilities were not only needed, but will provide a potential revenue source for catered events.

“If we build the senior center without the kitchen we’re cutting off our nose to spite our face” Byrd said.

The Supervisors agreed to verify the kitchen need with the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging (SAAA), the County’s partner on the project, before a final decision was made.

But while a kitchen decision may end up being simple, the generator issue appears to be more complex stemming from the high cost of running gas utility lines to the senior center.

“The estimate for running the gas service to the facility is $45K even though the gas line runs just a stone’s throw from the site” County Administrator David Ash told the Supervisors. When it became clear that a natural gas connection was going to be very expensive, Ash opted to price a liquid propane powered generator approach.

As with the kitchen, the Supervisors decided on a go-slow approach and asked Ash to come back with a scaled down cost for a smaller generator capable of maintaining only minimal heating and lighting services in the event of an extended power outage.

Although the Supervisors won’t have answers to the kitchen and generator questions until December 12th, the delay still falls within a 90-day option that the County has to accept Minghini’s offer:


Minghini’s Base Bid Price 1,329,000,00
Additions to base bid  
Contingency (5% ) 66,450.00
Fencing and concrete pad for two propane tanks 13,600.00
0ne day inspection of HVAC system 1,200.00
Building Risk Insurance 1,000.00
Alternate #9: Low pressure LP Gas in lieu of the designed 2 PSI natural gas piping 970
Other Costs  
Architect-Code Review, Design and Contract Administration & Management 45,000.00
Estimated IT Work Needed 12,000,00
Furniture Requested by CCPRD 12,000.00
Estimated Third Party Inspections 6,000.00
Total Estimated Cost of Project 1,487,220.00


Of the approximately $1.49M dollars for the Senior Living Center, approximately $1M will be paid for by Clarke County taxpayers with the balance coming from Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging despite the agency’s current fiscal problems stemming from an apparent embezzlement scheme discovered earlier this year..

In September SAAA president John Hudson attempted to bolster confidence that SAAA would still move forward with the Senior Living Center partnership despite the loss of funds saying “Although the agency is experiencing serious short term cash flow for the next several weeks, the board is taking steps to find immediate sources of funding to cover core expenses.” Hudson said.  “The good news – this financial downturn has in no way affected the ability of the SAAA to meet its total obligation with Clarke County regarding the new Active Living Center addition onto the Parks and Rec building.  That project is moving ahead nicely.”

On Monday the Supervisors approved an early disbursement of ts normal quarterly payment of $8,750 to the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging in an effort to help soften the agency’s cash flow problems. The County’s SAAA payment is normally made in January.

If the Senior Living Center contract is approved the County plans to begin construction in early 2012.


  1. This is ridiculous…yet sadly typical. Weiss and Dunning being cheap, and not thinking ahead. BOTH the generator AND the kitchen are necessary items – just think how often the power goes off in town. Heck…it went off yesterday in parts of town. Having that generator there makes sense. But, Mr. Weiss, you propose that you wait for an emergency, then call around looking for a generator? Really? Good grief.

    As for the kitchen – exactly HOW is the new CCHS kitchen supposed to be used to provide a hot meal for the seniors during a school day, when the school has to feed some 700 students? That’s the same kind of thinking that took the old equipment currently being nursed along at the current CCHS out of J-WMS ibn 1987, and forced the J-WMS students to eat lunches on trays shipped down from CCHS 1987-2000. Ridiculous. For once, I agree with Mrs. Byrd – if you don’t have a full kitchen, then you cannot fully utilize the space for catered events, receptions, etc. Think proactively, folks…plan smart and the place could pay for itself. Don’t be cheapskates, for once.