Buckingham Could Land New UVA Pegasus

Published 11:13 am Tuesday, January 27, 2015

BUCKINGHAM — The wings of a new $3 million UVA Health System Pegasus medical transport helicopter could be resting in Buckingham County in the future.

With the potential placement and housing of the helicopter in the county could come 16 new jobs, detailed County Administrator Rebecca S. Carter during a January 21 Buckingham Board of Supervisors work session.

Under the proposal from UVA, which is set to be formally presented at the supervisors’ February 9 meeting, the County would provide the hangar for the bird, along with accommodations for the crew, which brings the costs of operations and maintaining the building, Carter detailed.

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In a January 21 memorandum to supervisors regarding the matter, Carter explained that about one year ago, District Five Supervisor Cassandra Stish arranged a meeting with Carter, the Buckingham County Volunteer Rescue Squad’s Sonny Grey, Assistant County Administrator Karl Carter, and Tom Berry, a UVA representative.

“[Berry] expressed interest in UVA placing a medical helicopter in Buckingham County to provide faster service, not only to Buckingham County, but for the central Virginia region. Housing this in Buckingham County would require a hangar and the accommodations for four around-the-clock positions,” Carter cited, explaining that the four would include a pilot, a mechanic, a nurse, and a paramedic.

“The accommodations for these paid positions would be two bunk rooms, kitchen, and shower/restrooms…UVA has now agreed to purchase the helicopter ($3,000,000 investment) if the County will provide the hangar and accommodations along with cost of operation and maintenance of the building,” read Carter’s memo.

“That would be 16 positions…” she said of the staffing associated with the proposed project.

According to a map provided to The Herald by the County, the new Pegasus helicopter would serve approximately a 40-mile radius from Dillwyn, which includes Prince Edward, Cumberland, Albemarle, Fluvanna, Nelson, Amherst, Campbell, Appomattox, Nottoway, Amelia, Lunenburg, Powhatan, and Charlotte counties.

“If we looked at the property next to the [Dillwyn] rescue squad where there’s already a landing pad…that’s an option…We have several options we could look at. But, the most logical would probably be next to the rescue squad,” Carter detailed of the hangar facility.

Carter stated in the memo that following her most recent meeting with Berry on December 19, Buckingham’s House of Delegate’s representative Matthew Fariss met with her regarding the project. “I told him about this project and told [him] that I did not think that Buckingham County can afford to build the building at this time, that we may have several options for providing property to build the building, but that we need money to build the hangar…Fariss immediately expressed interest in the project, and said that he would file a budget amendment for this project. His interest was the service it will provide regionally and the jobs it will provide,” Carter detailed.

The veteran county administrator said she was advised by Fariss’ office that on January 19, an amendment to the state budget had been filed in the amount of $300,000. “We are surely hoping for this to be approved and appropriated.”

Carter indicated that there currently wasn’t a backup plan for the financing of the hangar facility should Fariss’ amendment not pass, responding to a question from Supervisor Stish.

“If this comes to fruition, and it gets built, we would also…talk with other adjoining counties that [would] get the service…and maybe have a coalition to help maintain the building and pay for the utilities and pay to operate the building since it would benefit so many people,” Carter said.

If constructed, the facility would belong to the County and could use it as deemed fit, Carter said responding to a question from District Two Supervisor Donnie Bryan regarding joint training in the building with the county rescue squad.

Carter termed the project as being “in the works” and said it would need the board’s approval.

“There’s a lot of training opportunity,” Carter said regarding the potential for the rescue squad to benefit from the facility. “They’re very interested in that. They would like to see it happen.”