Ground broken for The Timbers of Cass CountyPublished 10:11am Monday, November 2, 2009
By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News
Ground was broken and watered substantially Friday morning for Atrium Centers’ skilled nursing facility to be known as The Timbers of Cass County Health Care and Rehabilitation Center for its lodge design.
A $9.5 million facility at 610 Uneta St. where Dowagiac Nursing Home operated before closing in the summer of 2007 will create more than 100 jobs, an annual payroll exceeding $4 million and a $3.5 million impact from taxes and goods and services purchased locally.
The $6 million construction project will consist of 61,000 square feet of new construction and renovated space.
The project on 13 acres is expected to be completed in June 2010.
Chief Operating Officer Jason Reese, from Ohio, said, “It’s a great turnout. It’s very encouraging for us to have you all here in attendance today. We’ve received great support thus far. We look forward to the close working relationships we’re going to establish in the future.”
Reese recognized Atrium’s Chairman Essel Bailey, Chief Executive Officer Donald Finney, Chief Financial Officer Keith Yoder, Vice President of Clinical Services Pam Meikle, Director of Business Development Bob Schmidt and Director of Sales and Marketing Gary Vandenberg.
Reese also introduced representatives of Shelton Construction and DMK Development in Louisville, Ky. Atrium is based in Columbus, Ohio.
“Coming to Dowagiac has been a very positive and wonderful experience for us,” Reese said. “We sincerely appreciate the warm welcome to the community.”
Reese “extended our sincere appreciation and thanks” to “individuals who reached out to us from the start,” including Southwestern MIchigan College Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. Fred L. Mathews and SMC President Dr. David M. Mathews, who have “been wonderful representatives of this community.”
Barbara Groner helped set up the groundbreaking ceremony as community liaison.
“We also want to acknowledge Sharon Harnden,” Reese said. “She’s a member of the family that originally started the first nursing home here in Dowagiac (I-Deal, demolished in September to make way for the expansion). We look forward to carrying on that legacy here in the community.”
“We’re also extremely honored to have representatives from the state, the city and the county offices,” Reese said. “First and foremost, we’d like to recognize the presence of Sen. Ron Jelinek.”
Jelinek, R-Three Oaks, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said, “As senator of the 21st District, I proudly represent Dowagiac and the surrounding area. I’m very happy to see this happen today, not only because there is a $9.5 million trust put into Dowagiac, not only because there is an opportunity for 100 or more jobs, not only because we’re looking at a care facility that will take care of 108 residents, but just the fact Dowagiac is growing and Dowagiac is going to have a facility that is going to be able to keep people here. Convenient and close to home is so important to families.”
Commissioners in attendance included Clark Cobb, Minnie Warren and Robert Ziliak and, from Dowagiac City Council, Leon Laylin and Bob Schuur, City Clerk Jim Snow, County Administrator Terry Proctor and City Manager Kevin Anderson.
Mayor Don Lyons said, “It’s been about three years now since we first got word that the nursing home was going to be closing. That was a huge and devastating loss for this community. We had friends there, we had family there. As Mr. Jelinek pointed out, it was so nice to have them close to home, convenient. It certainly facilitated being part of their lives and them being part of our lives.
“When we looked at the state of health care in our community three years ago,” Lyons continued, “there wasn’t a lot to look forward to. But what a difference three years has made. We now have a new emergency room in the hospital, we have a new health center across from the hospital that’s bursting at the seams and now we’re getting a new nursing home. I can’t think of a better look at three years than what we have accomplished with the help of our partners. I noticed Will Hodges is here. You’re new to the community, but I hope you got a sense of the warmth this community has for health care. Will is the manager of the Don Lyons Health Center and moves here from Goshen. With my experience with Will so far, he’s going to do a wonderful job.”
Lyons thanked Atrium “for their community support with the commitment they have made, not just in time, but certainly of capital. That’s very significant – the jobs, the opportunity to have loved ones close to home. I couldn’t be happier.”
“We also want to thank the local hospital for their representation here today,” Reese said. “They’ve got a number of folks here, and we certainly look forward to the close relationship we’re going to have with that organization. We also want to thank the Chamber of Commerce and Vickie Phillipson.”
Atrium operates 43 nursing home facilities across Ohio, Michigan (South Haven and Centreville), Wisconsin and Kentucky and employs 4,000 team members.
“Quality is absolutely the driving force behind everything we do,” Reese said, as wind kicked up and began tugging at the tent erected to shelter attendees from a relentless rain. “We all have a commitment to deliver the best health care to those we provide services to every day. We have the privilege of caring for 3,000 residents in our centers every single day. We take that very, very sincerely and we appreciate that opportunity to add value to their lives. We also want to make available to you a reservation list for June (phone 330-321-7323).
Rev. John Kasper, pastor of First United Methodist Church, blessed the project.