City, county put up emergency funding for Bartlett House payroll

MORGANTOWN — The Monongalia County Commission and the city of Morgantown are each putting up $17,500 to provide payroll for 16 Bartlett House employees through the end of the month. 

That represents all the employees on the nonprofit’s payroll.

“It’s essential to keep the employees that are there. They know how the facility runs, for the continuity of it,” Commissioner Jeff Arnett said. “If another group is brought in, which is the solution they’re working toward to continue operations, for a seamless operation to continue it’s essential we keep the employees who are there, are engaged and are willing to stay.”  

Arnett serves on Morgantown Community Resources, the body that acts as landlord for the Hazel’s House of Hope property where Bartlett House occupies 14,040 square feet spread across the agency’s triage shelter on the second floor and client apartments on the third and fourth floors.  

MCR is currently suing Bartlett House for $264,072.92, citing breach of contract over unpaid rent and utility payments. 

Arnett said it looks as if a new entity will take over the Bartlett House space in July and work with Bartlett House in the short term in the hopes of releasing the state funding the struggling nonprofit lost earlier this year. 

Were a new entity to come in and take over completely, it would require the state legislature to reassign those dollars. 

“They’re not ready to announce that entity yet, but it’s looking really positive that it’s going to happen; that this other entity is going to take it over,” Arnett said. “There would be a melding of the two to get this funding back and get things going, but eventually the Bartlett House name would be phased out. Maybe the name of the shelter would stay the same, but that entity would phase out.” 

Commissioner Tom Bloom said this is a one-time consideration. 

“This was an emergency and we had to get these funds to them immediately so they could be paid on Friday,” Bloom said. “As you stated, this is a one-time — and I want it very clear — a one-time consideration because we realized the urgency of the situation.”  

On March 8, The Dominion Post was given a letter distributed to clients of the Bartlett House emergency shelter explaining that facility would close before the June 30 end of the fiscal year due to loss of state funding.

On May 9, it was revealed the financial crisis facing Bartlett House stretched far beyond the shelter and that the entire organization could be forced to close within 60 days without some $300,000 in emergency assistance.

In other news from Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioners announced Monongalia County was recently named County of the Year and Monongalia County’s Rennetta McClure was named County Administrator of the Year by the West Virginia Association of Counties.  

The announcement comes about a month after Monongalia County Assessor Mark Musick won the Ralph C. Boyles Memorial Achievement Award for Assessor of the Year. 

Lastly, it was noted that the county recycling center in Westover will be closed Wednesday and Thursday for holidays.  

It will reopen 7 a.m. Friday. 

Anyone caught leaving items on the ground around the closed facility will be ticketed if identified using on-site cameras.