Updated: Apr 9
MOUND CITY – The owner of a former nursing home in Prescott, Jesse Willard, approached the Linn County Commission on Monday, March 28, to discuss a variety of ways that the county could help him and support a nursing home in the county.
Willard owns the building that was the former Prescott Country View Nursing Home, and he has spoken with commissioners several times in the past about getting help to open a nursing home there.
Willard started out telling the commissioners that he would like to use his building for either apartments and housing or an elderly care center. He said that he would like to partner somehow with the county.
Willard told the commissioners about a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant that was coming out this summer with a 75/25 match. He said that the match for grant of around $1.2 million would be about $300,000.
He also asked the commissioners about supporting his non-profit nursing center with American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. He threw out other options including leasing the building for free for three years.
Willard said he personally would like to see a nursing home in the building. He said he would like to see the question put on the ballot to see if the people of the county supported having a nursing home in Linn County.
Commissioner Danny McCullough asked how much it would cost to have an election to determine if people in the county were interested in having a nursing home at Prescott.
County Counselor Gary Thompson said that, once it was decided what the question was for the election, it had to be an advisory election separate from other elections.
David Lamb, County Clerk, said that it would cost several thousand dollars to set up an election.
Commissioner Rick James said that was not all that Willard was asking for. James pointed out that Willard was also asking for 25 percent of a USDA loan.
James asked McCullough and Commission Chair Jim Johnson if they want to tax the people for a nursing home at Prescott.
McCullough said that his fight was that James’ district had a hospital district, and he did not understand why there was not a countywide health board. He said that the county was charging James’ district tax dollars that were being put in a savings account, and he did not think that was right.
County Clerk David Lamb said that he wanted to make it clear that the county was not taxing and putting the money in a savings account. The hospital district was taxing the people and putting it in a savings account.
McCullough said, “It should be countywide, and that’s what helps Jesse.”
Johnson said we can’t dissolve the Lincoln-Scott Hospital District without members on that board agreeing to the dissolution.
McCullough said he agreed with that, but there’s $1.4 million in the hospital district’s saving account. He asked Johnson if he had a problem with not having a hospital district in the south.
Johnson said he did not have a problem with that because McCullough’s area had one for a long time for the former Country View nursing home in Prescott, and that facility eventually closed. He added that he did not think that government belonged in the medical business.
What’s the difference of the money that we put into the power plant lake, that we don’t even have a contract there anymore, said McCullough.
Johnson told Willard that he could come back at a scheduled time and they could talk more about it.
James walked out of the meeting and discussion with Willard before it was concluded citing a need to attend another meeting.
At previous meetings last year, the commission had explained to Willard that he needed to decide what areas of the county he wanted to tax for the hospital district and then get signatures on a petition to put it on the ballot.
At that time, Willard wanted the LincolnTownship to be in the district because of the power plant’s valuation in that township. But Lincoln Township already had its own hospital district.
The commissioners had told Willard to ask the Lincoln hospital district if it would be willing to dissolve and join with the rest of the county for a hospital district for the Prescott nursing home. It was unclear whether he talked with them or not.
Last September, the commissioners told Willard that if he got 51 percent of the registered voters signature on a petition to put a hospital district on the ballot, they would be obligated to do that. Apparently that was not done.
Commissioner Rick James had told him that if a new nursing home started up, Prescott would not be the location that he would put it in because of the distance to a hospital and how hard it would be to hire 40 to 50 people to work there.