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Land purchased for new hospital; McDaniel gives all clear

IDABEL, OK - On Monday morning after a lengthy agenda, all three members of the McCurtain County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to purchase just short of 112 acres of land at the Idabel Airport, in part, for the construction of a new McCurtain Memorial Hospital.The land purchase was made possible utilizing ARPA funds that the county received during the pandemic.

Local attorney, Don Shaw, spoke at this mornings meeting. Mr. Shaw said that he has been working on the land deal for several months and while he tried, he was unsuccessful in getting a response directly from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with respect to any restrictions that might exist by building a hospital that close to the existing airport.

A letter sent by Mr. Shaw to the FAA several months ago went unanswered as of this mornings meeting.

Also on hand at this mornings meeting was local Emergency Management director, Cody McDaniel. Mr. McDaniel has extensively researched and communicated back and forth with the FAA on the land and through emails and other written communication assured the Commissioners that there were no concerns with moving forward to purchase the land insofar as constructing a hospital there.

"With the hospital being built to the east of the runway, so long as it is not more than 150 feet high, there is no concerns with the hospital being constructed there," McDaniel said.

Hospital president and CEO Brian Whitfield was also present.

"I have said all along that I believe the location to be the perfect spot for a hospital - just so long as there is no restrictions on us building there after spending all of this money," Whitfield said. "But, if we have clearance and this has all been fully vetted, this is a good decision," he continued.

Mr. Shaw said that the 112 acre purchase would cost a little over $2.2 million. Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, John Wayne Williams, said that the intention is to section off approximately 15 acres for a new hospital and the remaining land would be used for future economic development.

The land purchase will now be set for a closing date.

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