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BREAKING NEWS - Hospital purchases 38 acres as likely building site

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By Vince Luecke

TELL CITY - A tract of land along Indiana 237 may hold the future for Perry County Memorial Hospital. The health-care facility's board of trustees voted Monday to purchase 38 acres for just more than $1 million and confirmed the property is a possible site for a new county hospital. The land along the four-year-old highway could one day become a medical campus for a new hospital, emergency-medical services department and other health-related services.

A formal announcement of a new hospital hasn't been made but could come as soon as this fall.

Hospital President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Stuber said Monday the hospital's leaders continue to plan for the future and the purchase of the property, and a decision to sell three tracts of land nearby, are important steps should a building program be launched.

The purchase agreement calls for the hospital to pay $1,060,000 for 38.689 acres located across Indiana 237 from the Perry County Animal Hospital. According to courthouse records, the former Werner farm is owned by Carole Kendall Cross, Judith A. Sandler, Betsy J. Rhoads, Frederick H. Werner, June K. Wagner, Paul J. Werner, Mary J. Haag, Larry N. Werner and Gary W. Werner.

Trustees agreed to have three nearby hospital-owned properties appraised and placed up for sale. Two of the tracts were purchased in 2006 and are located on the northeast corner of the intersection of Indiana 237 and Indiana 37. The News reported in March 2006 that the hospital's board of trustees purchased more than 20 acres for $670,000. Those tracts will be marketed by the Perry County Development Corp. as a possible site for future small businesses, Stuber said.

Also to be appraised and offered for sale is a 20-acre tract on the west side of Indiana 37 purchased by the hospital in the 1990s.

Hospital leaders have been discussing for several years the possibility of constructing a new facility and approved a master study in January 2005. It set out to weigh options of updating aging heating and cooling systems and other infrastructure improvements at the existing hospital as well as the pros and cons of constructing a brand-new facility at another location. The results of the study were not released publicly but have been guiding board discussions for the past couple of years.

The oldest section of the hospital was constructed in the early 1950s with later additions increasing the number of patient rooms and expanding the facility's emergency-services department.