CALLAWAY — Eighteen months ago Callaway Economic Development Committee planning for an assisted living facility in the village was picking up steam.
Then COVID-19 shut most everything down and work stopped.
“We had worked on some financing plans, a market study to determine the need for an assisted living facility, and we were very close to an actual start to working with an architect to start a design and, obviously, that all came to a screeching halt,” said Committee Chair Brett Eggleston.
The committee began picking up where it left off about three months ago resuming work on plans. It’s getting close to time to begin seeking financing and donations to pay for the project. Eggleston said a more permanent board will also be formed dedicated to all the decision-making processes for the entire project and its probable advisory capacity upon completion. Whether that board will be in combination with the CGLC Board or separate depends on legalities.
After much discussion, an initial mechanical drawing of how the committee views facility design was laid out by Clay Mohr of Arnold. The vision is for 12 residences of mixed studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments.
Mohr was inundated with a great deal of information to form the initial drawings and then met with a small group of people to refine them.
“It’s a living, breathing design at this time,” Eggleston said.
LaVonne Hickenbottom donated the land next to Callaway Good Life Center specifically for the facility which has been deeded and transferred to CGLC as non-taxable property for the nonprofit assisted living facility.
The next step is to conduct a community meeting at 7 p.m., Monday, July 12, at the Callaway Community Center to present drawings, information and receive public input into the project.
“It’s going to be a listening session but it is also going to an opportunity for us to share our preliminary thoughts, our ideas and get the public’s interest in the facility, first of all,” Eggleston said. “The second part of that will have to be, obviously, we have to have money to start the next phase of the project which is going to be architectural.”
The drawings provided are ideas rather than a completed design so its final look will be different as vision meets architectural design. It’s a starting point.
“We can go to an architect and say, ‘design us something like this,” Eggleston said. “We can go to them with a preliminary plan and they can form an architectural plan.”
Eggleston views the money side as three buckets of which the first is local donations, grants in the second bucket and financing in the third. This last could be either through a bank or the USDA to finance the cost of the facility for a number of years.
Eggleston said private financing through a bank is looking less likely and the USDA is appearing more and more the path that will have to be taken.
While the drawing shows one-bedroom apartments, the committee has recently learned that a second bedroom is most likely a waste of money. It was revealed that another facility in Broken Bow has trouble renting those two-bedroom apartments. One bed or even a studio apartment is more practical for most who would use them.
“It’s either empty or occupied by only one individual,” he said of the two-bedroom option.
Committee Member Caleb Poore said that while there are many options that would be desirable in an assisted living facility it comes down to what’s desire and what’s practical in terms of cost.
“It will include most of the services that most any other standard facility has, there is nothing that stands out as extraordinary there,” Poore said. “It’s going to be standard assisted living.”
Eggleston said a rough estimate to build assisted living at this level could be around $3 million.
The important thing to remember, the committee members emphasized, is that it’s apartment living. While it will be attached to Good Life Center it will not be a long-term care facility. It’s independent living with physical help only when requested.
Cost savings between the two can be realized by sharing such services as food preparation, laundry, housekeeping and medication administration as needed. This also allows CGLC to realize cost savings with more efficient use of staff.
Other cost savings could be combining equipment and supply purchases to save money for both. CGLC is operated by Rural Health Development with Administrator Vicky Hendricks.
Staffing needs are less for assisted living and regulations governing them are much less stringent than a nursing facility or hospital. Staff is minimal and is essentially an apartment manager.
The goal is to make it a home that doesn’t have the appearance of an institution. The facility will have its own resident and visitor parking as well as its own entrance where residents and visitors will come and go as they please.
Inside are common areas for sitting and viewing TV, for cooking, dining, entertaining, as well as a recreation room and exercise room. There will also be an office and meeting room for staff looking after the facility and the needs of its residents.
Poore said everything is about where it needs to be in the planning process.
“At this point, we need to start engaging the public on level of interest and donations,” he said. “I think getting the public’s desire in terms of what they want to see out of the assisted living is important. Then the board that Brett talked about is probably going start engaging the public pretty heavily to figure out the financial opportunities there.”
This will be very similar to local efforts to build the nursing home completed in 1963 under the aegis of Good Samaritan Society and Grand Generation Manor, financed by USDA funding, opening for business in 1982.
Assisted living for the Callaway community can be regarded as closing that gap between the two, Eggleston said.
It’s a means to move from one’s home, when the time comes, to Grand Generation Manor, then assisted living which are both independent living. CGLC, depending on the individual, is the final step to more managed care.
“The nursing home is another step in that aging process,” Eggleston said.