Polk County faces additional expenses to create adult day care facility

Published 6:09 pm Monday, September 21, 2009

Commissioners recently approved additional designs for alterations to a smaller building on the senior recreation center property for purposes of housing the new adult day health care facility. The construction of a new commercial kitchen addition, along with some interior renovations to the main building, is well under way on the new Polk County Senior Recreation Center on Skyuka Road in Columbus, with plans to occupy the space in late October. &bsp;

Because of fire code regulations, which are stricter than the building code, a sprinkler system must now be installed in the adult day health care building for fire suppression. This added expense, along with some additional paving and parking requirements, could place the project in jeopardy of being completed in the current fiscal year without additional funding sources.

In an effort to keep the project on track, Polk County commissioners have requested project architect Harris Architects and general contractor TNN Construction to provide change orders for the additional paving, parking, and the sprinkler system at the county meeting tonight.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Adult day health care will be near the beginning of the agenda at tonight&squo;s meeting to allow interested citizens a chance to voice their thoughts about the program.

Polk County Manager Ryan Whitson will provide the current status of the project budget along with the amount of funds needed to complete the project. &bsp;

&dquo;I am concerned about the final numbers and how the additional costs will be funded,&dquo; said commissioner Tommy Melton, &dquo;I hope this board can bring this long-awaited dream for many Polk County families to reality.&dquo;

Commissioners Ren´e McDermott and Cindy Walker and area Agency on Aging director Laura Lynch have been researching grant funding for the additional expense. &bsp;

&dquo;Since the board of commissioners lowered Polk County&squo;s tax rate to help its citizens during these hard financial times, there just isn&squo;t enough money in the budget to fund these extra expenses without outside help,&dquo; says commissioner McDermott. &dquo;The sooner we round up funds from grant sources or private donors, the sooner we can get this much-needed project completed.&dquo;

Recently, Polk County commissioners voted to select Rutherford Life Services as the service provider for adult day health care in Polk County. &bsp;

&dquo;I could not be more pleased with the selection of Rutherford Life Services,&dquo; says commissioner Walker. &dquo;My concern in selecting a provider has been about experience and quality of service from the beginning. A recent visit to Rutherford Life Service&squo;s facility reinforced my feeling that we have made the right choice for Polk County.&dquo;

In 2008, Polk County commissioners agreed to purchase the former Carolina Classical School buildings and property to house a new senior recreation center, as part of a long-term goal to move all agencies out of the aging Jervey-Palmer Building in Tryon. &bsp;

As part of the discussion on the purchase of the Classical School property for the senior recreation center, commissioner Warren Watson requested that the smaller of the two buildings be considered as a site for an adult day health care facility.

&dquo;Adult day health care has been discussed in Polk County for many years with nothing to show for the effort until now,&dquo; according to Watson, a member of the Council on Aging who participated as a ride-along on a Home-Delivered Meals route several years ago with veterans services officer Darryl Moore. &dquo;This experience showed me the great need for adult day care services in Polk County. Since that time, I have been working along with my fellow commissioners and many dedicated employees and citizen volunteers to make an adult day health care facility in Polk County a reality.&dquo;

Having experienced his father-in-law&squo;s early-onset Alzheimer&squo;s has been a motivational factor for commissioner Ray Gasperson in his effort to provide adult day health care in Polk County. &bsp;

&dquo;The benefits of adult day care go well beyond the services provided to the clients who benefit by way of an enhanced quality of life,&dquo; says Gasperson. &dquo;Frankly, the caregivers, usually family members, receive equal, if not greater benefits from the respite provided which allows them to regain a sense in normalcy in their own lives.&dquo;

Polk resident and long-time advocate for adult day health care Betsy Freeman is one of many citizens with a sense of urgency to get this project completed. &bsp;

In a recent communication to friends and supporters of this project, Freeman said, &dquo;We must show the commissioners that we want to keep up the momentum and not let this die when it is so needed for our Polk County seniors and those who care for them day and night.&dquo;&bsp; &bsp;

Freeman has asked supporters of adult day health care to attend the commissioners&squo; meeting tonight and wear a &uot;yellow or orange shirt&dquo; to show their support. &bsp;

For more information on adult day health care in Polk County, you may contact commissioners Warren Watson via e-mail at wwatson@polknc.org and Ray Gasperson at mailto:ray4polk@yahoo.com.