Dr. Frederick Barker spoke to Union City Council Tuesday about HealthQuest, a new non-profit health care organization founded by himself and other physicians practicing in Union County. He said the organization’s first project, “Good Samaritan’s HealthQuest,” is designed to work with local institutions to promote screening and early intervention in the treatment of diseases such as cancer and heart disease. He said screening and early treatment can lead to longer and more productive lives.
Barker said HealthQuest hopes to use the county’s churches and hairdressers to make information available to the public about when they should get screened, what tests they need and where they can get them. They would also help remind people when they need to get screened and help HealthQuest gather information about the barriers keeping people from getting the medical screening they need. HealthQuest will use that information to find ways to overcome those barriers.
Though much has been done to help improve health care in the county, Barker cautioned that Union County still leads the state in many medical problems such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Barker urged city council as he did Union County Council to endorse HealthQuest’s efforts to help improve the health and quality of life for the people of Union County.
Barker also touched on the need for continued support for Wallace Thomson Hospital. He pointed out that recent announcements that several Shriners’ hospitals might be closed is a reminder that even large institutions are struggling. He urged council to make sure the hospital remains well-supported.
Power generation plant
Council voted unanimously to approve second and final reading of an ordinance authorizing the sale of the city’s peak power generation plant to Lockhart Power Co.
Under the terms of the agreement, the company will pay the city $1,510,000 for the plant; an annual capacity charge of $50,000; an annual maintenance charge of $25,000; and will also pay for the diesel fuel used by the generators. After a one year generation peak is met, the city will realize annual savings of up to $400,000 a year on the wholesale cost of power.
The plant, located at 198 Times Boulevard, has operated since 2005. It was built to provide power on a monthly basis during peak generating periods. The power generated by the facility is purchased by Duke Energy through Lockhart Power. Union buys its electricity from Lockhart Power, which gets part of its power from hydroelectric generation and the rest from Duke Energy.
The offer to purchase the facility grew out of a new 10-year agreement between Lockhart Power and Duke Energy. The contract includes the power generation provided by the city facility. Duke Energy will have the right to dispatch power generation at the facility for up to 12 hours a day or a total of 150 hours over the June-September time period. For the rest of the year, the generators will only operate during testing periods.
The sale, scheduled to take place in December 2010, must be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the S.C. Public Service Commission. The city will operate and maintain the generators until the sale is closed and Lockhart Power takes possession of the facility.
Council also voted unanimously to retain ownership of an unopened street in the Monarch area.
The .33 acre strip of land next to Kirby’s Cake Shoppe was deeded to the city in 1908 for a street that was never opened. No one knew the street — designated on the property plat as Aetna Street — was owned by the city until recently.
In February, council approved first reading of an ordinance transferring the property to J.O.C. Real Estate LLC which planned to sell it to a developer who would build a Dollar General store. The plan drew opposition from several city residents who while favoring the construction of the store, questioned the propriety of transferring public property to a private citizen. After hearing those concerns, council tabled the matter.
Prior to Tuesday’s vote, city attorney Billy Whitney said he’d been contacted by an attorney representing the realtor. Whitney said the attorney told him the company was interested in possibly presenting council with a proposals for encroachment easement that would allow to make some use of the land which would remain city property. He said he had no further information on when such a proposal might be presented to the city.