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Originally published: 2013-10-12 21:56:18
Last modified: 2013-10-12 21:57:03

Commerce official clarifies: Blowing Rock Rural Center grant a go

by Anna Oakes

A N.C. Department of Commerce official recently confirmed the state plans to honor the $585,495 Rural Center grant to Blowing Rock.

The grant will help fund the costs of water and sewer infrastructure for the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System's new Chestnut Ridge at Blowing Rock facility, a 112-bed post-acute care center that will replace the Blowing Rock Hospital.

The state ceased funding to the nonprofit N.C. Rural Economic Development Center in July after a state audit revealed several areas of concern. Gov. Pat McCrory announced the N.C. Department of Commerce would assume control of the grant program, and Laura Kendall was hired to oversee the transition.

"The Blowing Rock grant has state obligated funds designated for this project," Kendall said in an email. 

The governor's office has periodically released a list of grant payments that have been processed since July, but the Blowing Rock grant has not been among those listed.

"The Rural Center has over 400 grants outstanding, (and) only those receiving payments" have been announced thus far, Kendall explained. The grant payment to the town of Blowing Rock will not be made until construction begins, "so the project would not appear on the payment requests processed list at this time," she said.

Rob Hudspeth, ARHS Foundation senior vice president for advancement, said the state's actions to halt funding to the Rural Center were initially concerning but that ARHS officials were assured this summer that the grant was in "good standing."

"It's definitely not an issue anymore," Hudspeth said.

The grant will provide about a third of the estimated $1.37 million cost of water and sewer needs associated with the project. 

Hudspeth said the project also applied for a $300,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission in April of this year and that it is currently being evaluated by the governor's office prior to submission to the ARC.

Chestnut Ridge at Blowing Rock is planned for a 68-acre property off of U.S. 321 across from Edmisten Road. The $20 million facility will provide rehabilitative services, long-term nursing care, Alzheimer's support and palliative care.

For more information about the project, visit http://www.chestnutridgeblowingrock.org.