Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Blaine Manor sale will help create new facility

By John Chapman

When St Luke's Wood River Medical Center opened Nov. 1, 1999, Blaine County took over the management and financial responsibility of Blaine Manor, Blaine County's only long-term care facility. The county commissioners appointed me, Rick Baird and Mary Ann Mix as a board of trustees to manage Blaine Manor.

The county commissioners made it clear to the board of trustees that they were not happy with taking over the responsibility of running Blaine Manor and making the financial subsidy required to keep the Manor in operation. The commissioners charged us to come up with a plan whereby they could get out from under the financial burden of Blaine Manor. They made it very clear to us that they would have to close Blaine Manor unless we found another way.

We then set out to do so by hiring AMDC, from Chicago, to conduct a feasibility study to see if we could remodel the existing Blaine Manor building in Hailey and/or add on to the existing building to make it financially feasible. The feasibility study concluded that the building needed millions to repair and that there was not enough property to add additional space to make it pay for itself. They concluded that the only way to make the project feasible was to construct a facility that contained three levels of care: independent living, assisted living, and long-term care. They told us that only this type of facility could be self-sufficient. They further indicated that we would need at least 20 acres to build such a facility.

The Board of Trustees of Blaine Manor then formed the Blaine Manor Foundation, which became a 501 C 3 organization; hired Faus Geiger as development director; and proceeded to raise money from the community so that we could purchase some real property that would be large enough for a three-level senior community. We then located a 20-acre parcel up Croy Canyon, outside of Hailey, and entered into an option to purchase the land for a favorable price.

When it became clear that we would need more help to accomplish our goal, we changed the name of the Blaine Manor Foundation to the Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation and expanded the board to include many community leaders. We were able to raise substantial money from the board and others, including the County Commission, and were able to purchase the 20-acre site.

We then contacted, over three years, several national firms who specialize in constructing and managing senior communities to construct our project. Several firms turned us down because our proposed project was too small. We were then very fortunate to come across Graystone Communities, the largest firm of its type who has constructed 341 senior communities in 41 states. Their CEO, Michael Lanahan, who happens to have a home in the Wood River Valley, agreed to consider doing our project here. Since we are not experts in constructing and managing a three-level senior facility, we are delighted to have Graystone on board with us.

In addition, Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation has entered into an agreement with McDonough Corp., a nationally know "Green Architect," to design an environmentally sustainable plan for our project. We have also agreed that all Blaine Manor residents will be moved into the new facility when it opens.

The Blaine Manor Board of Trustees and the Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation have worked for over six years to develop a plan to relieve the Blaine County taxpayers of subsidizing Blaine Manor. With the help of all the citizens of Blaine County, we feel we can be successful in constructing a new retirement community to replace the aging Blaine Manor. I urge everyone to support this project and vote "yes" on May 22 to permit the county to sell Blaine Manor and turn over the proceeds to the Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation.


John Chapman is a board member of the Trustees of Blaine Manor and Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation

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