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New hospital for Riverland Medical Center moving forward

 

NATCHEZ — Plans for the construction of a new hospital for Riverland Medical Center are “moving along” board chairman Jim Graves told the Concordia Parish Police Jury Monday.

Graves said the hospital hopes to break ground in the next month before the rainy season starts.

“We finished our business with the USDA as far as getting the money,” Graves said.  “We will be closing sometime in the middle of December.”

The United States Department of Agriculture approved in August a loan application of $30 million to build the new hospital.

The entire project, which will be built on U.S. 84 between Ferriday and Vidalia near Marsala Beverage Company, is expected to cost $36 million, Graves said.

“We have a $30 million loan from the USDA and $6 million guaranteed with the local banks,” Graves said.

New market tax credits and capital outlay money from the state, Graves said, would probably, “wipe out the $6 million or get close to it.”

“We will save the parish $6 million dollars,” Graves said.

Graves said the board is also working with USDA to start construction before the USDA portion of the financing is closed.

“We are getting into the rainy season. If we don’t start working here pretty quick we are not going to,” he said.

Graves said construction is expected to take 18 months from start to finish.

Graves also announced that hospital administrator Billy Rucker would be stepping into a new position Nov. 1. Rucker will be concentrating on the new hospital’s construction, Graves said.

“He will be on site and going to meetings in Baton Rouge and Alexandria and getting that project done.”

Riverland Chief Operating Officer Sam Ellard will take Rucker’s place as the hospital’s new administrator, Graves said.

Police Jury President Jimmy Wilkinson asked Graves to give an update on the prospect of finding a buyer for the old hospital.

“Right now we are up to five people who have expressed interest in the hospital,” Graves said. “One guy wants the building today and wants to write a check for it.”

Graves said the hospital would soon put out a request for proposals to be fair to all who are interested in the property.

 

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