Officials upbeat on Sullivan County nursing home project getting millions in funding

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 5/12/2022 10:44:56 PM
Modified: 5/12/2022 10:44:59 PM

NEWPORT — County officials received some positive news Monday on a request for $25 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds that would pay a large chunk of the estimated $57 million cost of the planned renovation and addition to the Sullivan County nursing home.

Sullivan County Manager Derek Ferland said the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery (GOFERR), which is charged with reviewing requests for the use of ARPA funds, is looking at putting $40 million to $50 million in a fund for county nursing home capital projects, of which $25 million would be for the Sullivan County facility.

“It was certainly encouraging news, but we are not counting on anything until it gets all the way through the approval process,” Ferland said.

Ferland said Taylor Caswell, executive director of GOFERR and commissioner of the New Hampshire Bureau of Economic Affairs, told county officials in a Zoom video call Monday they are working on the “finer points to be sure they can get that done through the ARPA rules.”

“He essentially reaffirmed what the governor (Sununu) said at the Rotarian dinner (in Charlestown on April 21) and that is they are looking to create a state fund for capital requests for county nursing homes,” Ferland said.

Caswell said they have not finalized the details but anticipate the $40 million-$50 million range. The state has about a billion dollars in ARPA money, Ferland said.

The request would go before the Joint Fiscal Committee of the Legislature, likely on June 17, and then final approval is needed from the Executive Council at its June 29 meeting, Ferland said.

If the request is approved, the amount the county would have to bond for the project remains uncertain because construction costs could go up and interest rates are rising.

Earlier this year, Ferland said the county has about $11 million it can dedicate to the project and, more recently, it received a federal earmark of $2 million through a request from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.

“The delegation (of state representatives) would have to decide on how much to bond,” Ferland said.

State Rep. John Cloutier, D-Claremont, was on the call with Caswell along several other state representatives, and he said he too was pleased with what he heard as this was this first time they heard directly from the executive director of GOFERR.

“The fact he was there was a plus,” Cloutier said, adding that he thinks Sullivan County’s prospects for getting the money are good.

“We hope that because no other county has really even started construction or design work, we have a very good chance because there is no other county nursing home on the horizon that needs funds for renovations like we do,” Cloutier said.

As for a possible bond, Cloutier said that will depend on whether bids come in at or below the $57 million.

“We hope to bond around $20 million to $25 million but it depends on the bids,” he said.

If the ARPA money is approved, Ferland said some preliminary work on demolition and rerouting a steam line could begin in the fall but the bulk of the construction would be in 2023.

A working group of state legislators formed last year was charged with reviewing the project and seeing if less expensive options were possible. Ultimately the group decided the scope of the work could not be reduced and a redesign would be more expensive, as would relocating the nursing home.

The work would include gutting the nursing home’s Stearns building, making improvements to the MacConnell building and demolishing the Sanders building to clear space for an 82,000-square-foot addition.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at

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