The first round of bidding for Carbon County's nursing home has ended and interest is high.

Commissioner William O'Gurek, chairman, said that the county has received a total of 11 bids for Weatherwood, the Carbon County Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Weatherly, during the first round of bidding, which closed at 5 p.m., Friday.

"Obviously, the commissioners are pleased with the response," O'Gurek said. "We believe the high level of interest is a tribute to the people who work at Weatherwood, because, obviously, those who toured the facility liked what they saw in terms of the facility and the people."

The bids are now being reviewed by Marcus & Millichap, Real Estate Investment Services of Philadelphia, the company hired by the county to serve as the agent for the sale; and a recommendation will soon be made about which companies best meet the criteria Carbon County has set.

"We talked to our broker and attorneys and discussed what we will be looking for in the second round of bidding," O'Gurek said. "Of extreme importance to us is how the potential successful buyer will work with the county to protect the interest of the residents and employees of Weatherwood."

Areas that Millichap will look at during the bid reviews include the bidder's experience and reputation in the nursing home field; knowledge of the services provided by the home; the strength of the company's financing; and meeting the objectives of the county.

"The decision to sell the nursing home was a tough one and this process is difficult in terms of having to make decisions about the home," O'Gurek said. "But one thing the commissioners want to stress is that we believe Weatherwood is a community asset. Weatherwood is not closing. It is very valuable to this community in terms of meeting the residential needs of an aging population and in providing jobs for many individuals and their families. The commissioners' decision on selling the home will be based with strong consideration to which of the bidders best represents to us their willingness to look out for the residents and employees."

A second round of bidding for the 200-bed facility will then take place.

This round will include the submission of final bids by the approved companies for the property. Bidding will conclude at 5 p.m., March 12.

After the second round of bidding closes, Marcus & Millichap and the county will take about a month to review all final offers and determine which entity will be the best choice to take over Weatherwood.

A final decision is expected to be made by May 31, with transfer of ownership taking place in the next few months.

The sale of Weatherwood has generated a lot of interest in the nursing home world since it was officially put on the market on Jan. 14.

Over the last few months, 47 interested parties have signed confidentiality agreements, which allowed them to access all necessary information, and over a dozen companies opted for tours of the facility.

Currently, Weatherwood has been operating with a $3 million deficit, which is one of the main reasons county officials used when making the decision to sell the nursing home.