Mercer down to last of its American Rescue Plan money


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — A sales agreement pending a building inspection for a new sheriff's department headquarters was passed this week by the Mercer County Commission as the last of the county's American Rescue Plan funds waited to be spent.

In 2021, Mercer County received $11.4 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, also known as the COVID-19 Stimulus Package. Since that time, the commission has approved American Rescue Plan grants for projects ranging from infrastructure improvements to purchasing new fire engines for volunteer fire departments.

In March, the county commission approved a $1.75 million American Rescue Plan grant to buy the Mercer County Professional Building next door to the county courthouse.

The plan is to convert the former bank building into new quarters for the Mercer County Sheriff's Department.

The department currently operates in the courthouse's basement, leaving its personnel with limited space.

Commissioner Gene Buckner recommended using the county's remaining rescue plan money, about $80,000, to renovate the professional building for the sheriff's department.

"And my recommendation is that we do not take any more funding requests and use that money to fix this building for the sheriff's department," Buckner said.

Commissioner Greg Puckett said the building would be "a great addition" for the sheriff's department and get that agency out of the courthouse's basement, but added that he would like to have a building inspection conduced before the official sales agreement to make sure the building did not have any issues. Buckner said that he did not see how an inspection would affect the sale of the property, and Puckett said it could save the county from some liability.

Prosecuting Attorney Brian Cochran spoke Tuesday about the building's sale during the commission's semi-monthly meeting. Under the sales agreement, a building inspection could be conducted within seven days after it was signed.

Inspections are commonly associated with real estate transactions, although they are optional for the buyer.

Buckner asked what would happen if an inspection is not be done within seven days and Puckett said it could be addressed with an emergency meeting.

The county commission voted to approve the agreement pending a building inspection. County Commission President Bill Archer and Puckett voted to approve the motion while Buckner voted no.

Archer said that previous American Rescue Plan applications presented during a county commission meeting on April 9 would still be considered.

— Contact Greg Jordan at

Contact Greg Jordan at