Groundbreaking ceremonies were conducted last Friday for the planned 32,500 square foot, 55-bed facility on the ASA campus. Grading by Vannoy Construction Company is expected to begin soon for the 12-14 month project.
ASA Executive Director Jane Banks welcomed the guests to the groundbreaking. “This is certainly a great day. It’s been a long time coming,” she said. “This has been a dream of mine and the board members for many years, and I am so happy to be able to share this with you. Thanks to the board for their dedication to the project and their determination to see it through.”
That effort was explained by ASA board President Dana Tugman. It began with a dream by former ASA Director Mannon Eldreth who passed her legacy of service to Banks as her successor. These two ladies have spent their careers working toward quality of life for Ashe County’s senior adults. When the former Ashe Manor rest home in Jefferson unexpectedly closed in the fall of 2001, it left 55 rest home beds unoccupied in Ashe, and that was the beginning of Banks’ efforts to provide those beds.
Tugman said he and Banks met with the owner of Ashe Manor in January 2003, but the price was too high to purchase the facility. Soon afterwards, the Division of Health Services allotted more rest home beds to Ashe County, but the Certificate of Need went to Jim Richardson who constructed Villages of Ashe in West Jefferson.
“This simply strengthened Jane’s resolve, and she returned to the lost 55 beds and how she could obtain them,” Tugman said. They met with an attorney in health care issues, and again with the Ashe Manor owner in Raleigh, and this opened lines of communication with regulatory agencies that eventually approved ASA’s purchase of Ashe Manor.
Representatives of ASA and Ashe Manor met yet again, and the price was established in 2007, and then cancelled by the facility owner. Eventually an agreement was reached, and in October 2007 ASA closed the deal to purchase the beds (not the facility as it was determined unfit for use as a rest home). Efforts began on securing a loan for the project, and the USDA approved a loan from Cape Fear Farm Credit, a new lending program in the state.
“It is always a struggle to bring a project like this to fruition,” said Ashe County Commission Chairman Richard Blackburn. He praised Banks and Tugman and the ASA board for their efforts. “This project is good for Ashe Services for Aging and Ashe County economic development, but service to the elderly of Ashe County is the ultimate goal and crowning achievement.”
The new adult care home, to be built on the hill behind the ASA center, will have 55 private single beds, 31 of them in the assisted living facility side and 24 in a secure special care unit for residents with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
There are open courtyards for each unit; the one for the special care area will be self-contained, and each side will have a nurses’ station.
A feature of the special care unit will be no dead ends and provide a continuous, natural walking path for residents. There will also be three larger rooms in the assisted living unit for couples, whether husband and wife, or sisters, or brothers, etc. All the other rooms are individual.
Banks said she has begun an informal list of potential residents who are interested, and anyone wishing more information, or to get on a list, can contact her at 246-2461.