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Weatherwood retirement benefits are secure, officials tell employees

Published January 22. 2010 05:00PM

Carbon County officials are reassuring Weatherwood employees that their retirement benefits are secure.

During the monthly meeting of the county retirement board on Thursday, Robert Crampsie, county controller and secretary of the retirement board, said he has been receiving numerous phone calls from employees, asking what will happen to their retirement benefits after Weatherwood, the Carbon County Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Weatherly, is sold.

"Every employee in Carbon County at this point in time," Crampsie said, "their benefits are funded at 100 percent and that goes for every employee, including the ones at Weatherwood. Any accrued benefits that the employees at Weatherwood have up until there would be, if there is, a date of termination are 100 percent funded. What that means is we have enough resources in the retirement fund to meet our current liabilities but also our future liabilities."

He added that the 279 Weatherwood participating employees will be informed of the options they have in regards to their retirement benefits in the near future.

Crampsie said he plans to schedule meetings to meet with employees to go over their options and provide enough information to help them make an informed decision on their accounts.

Options include anyone less than five years of service will either have to take a refund of their contribution or complete a role over of their funds.

Anyone with five years of service or more can either vest and keep the money in the county retirement fund system until they reach a normal retirement age, or take a refund.

"I want to give them the information I feel they will need to make an informed decision," Crampsie said. "I think it's contingent upon us to give them all the information they need."

Over the next few months, the Crampsie's office will be working diligently to inform all Weatherwood employees, answer any questions in regards to retirement contributions and benefits, and complete all transactions.

In a related matter, Carbon County Commissioner William O'Gurek, chairman, announced that more than 30 companies have requested information on Weatherwood and six of those companies have scheduled tours of the facility.

"There have been serious inquiries and we're very pleasantly surprised," he said.

Last week, during the weekly meeting of the commissioners, the board formally announced that they are selling the 200-bed facility, which has been experiencing financial problems over the last few years. Currently, the home is looking at a $3 million deficit this year.

During that meeting, the commissioners voted to approve entering into an agreement with Marcus & Millichap, Real Estate Investment Services of Philadelphia to serve as the agent for the sale, hire Ballard Spahr LLP of Philadelphia as the special counsel for the sale, retain the services of the Susquehanna Group Advisors Inc. of Harrisburg, and officially list Weatherwood as "for sale," with a minimum purchase price tag of $8 million.

Over the next few months, offers on the facility will be accepted in two rounds. Initial offers will be accepted until 5 p.m., Feb. 26.

After the initial offers are received, the board and the companies hired to handle the sale will review all offers. The second round of bidding will then begin. The initial round will be used to weed out unsuitable buyers.

The second round, which will be for final bids, will conclude at 5 p.m. March 12. The board will then again review all offers and determine which entity would make the best owner to take over the facility and provide continued care to the residents.

A final decision will be made by May 31, with closing and transfer of ownership expected by June 30.

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