Wednesday, May 23, 2007

1 Voters say ?yes? to Blaine Manor sale

Blaine County voters gave an enthusiastic thumbs up Tuesday to the county's plan to sell the Blaine Manor nursing home in Hailey and transfer the proceeds to the nonprofit Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation.

With all of the votes tallied, those in support of the plan held the day with roughly 91 percent of the vote, or a total of 1,224 yeas, while those against the plan pulled in just 9 percent of the vote, or 120 nays.

Altogether, the 1,344 voters who headed to the polls Tuesday represented an approximately 12 percent voter turnout. Blaine County has a total of 11,259 registered voters.

By comparison, nearly 66 percent of registered voters turned out for last November's mid-term election.

Tuesday's advisory vote, which required a simple majority to pass, was to confirm the county's decision to sell the 25-bed facility and transfer responsibility for running a county nursing home to the private, nonprofit foundation. The sale of Blaine Manor is expected to generate somewhere in the neighborhood of $6 million.

With the Blaine Manor vote a success and proceeds from the sale eventually headed its way, the Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation will be responsible for building and operating a new $20 million continuing-care facility in Croy Canyon, west of Hailey. As a requirement under a 10-year contract for services with the county, the facility will be open for all residents in Blaine County.

The new facility is proposed for a 20-acre site located on an undeveloped bench one mile west of Hailey that the foundation already owns.

Construction of the new facility and its operation by the foundation will relieve the county of subsidizing Blaine Manor to the tune of $600,000 to $700,000 annually.

"It's too large a portion of our budget," Blaine County Commissioner Sarah Michael said during an interview earlier this month.

Another concern that served as an impetus for the vote is Blaine Manor's deteriorating condition.

"The facility is falling down and is in need of major repairs," Michael said.

The sale of Blaine Manor and the subsequent takeover of senior nursing care by the Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation will prevent the county from having to eliminate that service, Michael said.

Under the foundation's service agreement with the county, all current Blaine Manor residents will be transferred to Croy Canyon Ranch once it opens for business. The agreement also requires the foundation to provide 16 Medicaid beds in the skilled nursing portion of the facility.

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