Mayor speaks on closing living center

Mayor speaks on closing living center
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

TUCKERMAN, AR (KAIT) - The community of Tuckerman will soon be without a living center after the Tuckerman Living Center has proven to be a financial burden to the city.

"In the 90's, the mayor at that time, wanted an assisted living center so it was called the Tuckerman Assisted Living Center," said Mayor David Dixon. "He had great intentions and got it built up but unfortunately it was something that should have never been placed in Tuckerman because the city could not afford what was to come."

Dixon said it really started taking a turn for the worse a couple of years ago.

"We started getting down on our numbers," said Dixon. "The council voted to it then and gave the facility six months to see if it could stay afloat and it did thanks to the community."

Dixon said the community stepped up in a major way for the facility.

"They took care of the living center," said Dixon. "I am talking painting and cooking meals for the residents. It was great and it saved the city money."

He said as time has gone on, the number of residents in the facility has lowered even more.

"As long as there are six, we are in black," said Dixon. "We can keep it running and we even survived with five residents at a time, but as of Saturday, we are down to three residents."

The city was making $1,500 per resident per month, but with a drop, the city was losing $5,000 to $7,000 a month.

"In council, we were forced to have it closed by March 28," said Dixon. "This would give six weeks for the three remaining residents to find a place to go. One resident has already been looking for about a month."

Dixon said residents were not dropping because they didn't want to be there, they were leaving because they needed the extra help the living center could not provide.

"We are not an assisted living center," said Dixon. "We are not licensed to do the things an assisted living center does, such as take baths or provide medical attention. We are just a living center, which is why people were and are leaving to go to nursing homes."

Because of the closure, seven people will lose their jobs.

"I really hate this has to happen," said Dixon. "There is nothing I can do which is why we are trying to speed up CRDC to come in and take over."

Two years ago when the community stepped up to keep the living center, the Crowley's Ridge Development Council approached the city wanting to take over the facility and build a new building next to it. Unfortunately, the groundbreaking has been delayed.

"They are partnering with DHS who has a lot of money for the project but there are difficulties that are taking place that has prolonged the project," said Dixon. "To my knowledge, they are ready to go when things are figured out with DHS but they have already hired an architect and developed plans and everything. They have spent a lot of money on this so I don't think this is the end."

Dixon said the plan was to run the living center until CRDC broke ground for the new facility, moved the residents over to that facility, and renovate the current facility.

"The catch is that we would be responsible until all that took place," said Dixon. "Unfortunately even if they broke ground March 1, it would take a full year for them to even have that completed which is why we would have not been able to afford running that facility for that long."

Dixon said after March 28, the building will just sit there until a potential buyer comes along.

"We have had some people interested in the facility," said Dixon. "The moment we find out it is a for sure no go and if CRDC backs out, then we are going to explore our options. We tried to sell before but no one ever committed so we'll be back to trying to sell again."

Dixon said a part of the reason is that the facility could use several renovations, such as a sprinkler system which it currently does not have.

Regardless of what happens, Dixon said he is more than thankful for the community's effort in trying to keep the living center alive.

"I want to really commend the citizens for stepping up and volunteering and doing everything to keep that facility running," said Dixon. "It is just great to see them come together like that."

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