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Expected completion date for Heritage Living pushed to July

Heritage Living Center Director Kurt Hansen presented the board of commissioners with an update on the progress of the nursing home building project during the regular Hubbard County Board meeting held Tuesday morning.

Hansen explained that construction on the second wing has begun. Currently, the steel studs and drywall are going in and the first floor is nearly completed with the sheetrocking. The mechanical systems are being installed and the contractors have begun pressure-testing the pipes. The siding is scheduled to go on later in March.

"It's progressing nicely, however, the opening of that second wing has been delayed," he said.

The completion was originally scheduled for May and has now been pushed back to July. Hansen did not know when in July the project will be complete.

After the structure is completed, it will need to be inspected by the fire marshal and the state Department of Health.

"We're about to start what is probably going to be the most challenging part of the building project and that is where we tear down the kitchen," Hansen said.

The kitchen operations will be shut down in order for it to be gutted and the kitchen will be remodeled with new equipment installed.

"Staff have been busy working on optional food preparation plans," Hansen explained. "As you know, the new building contains two prep kitchens and short term we will be converting them and cooking a lot of food in there."

"It's going to be interesting to see how that goes, I have no doubt that our dietary staff will be up to the challenge and make that work," he continued. "They have been able to work through everything, thus far."

Hansen explained that even though the project is slightly delayed, they remain on budget.

"It just takes a little longer than was first hoped," he said. "But we want a building that's done correctly. We want a building that's done well and that's going to last."

Hansen also addressed the commissioners regarding Equitable Cost-Sharing for Publicly-Owned Nursing Facilities (ECPN) which was established as a way to allow non-state governmental entities that own nursing facilities and choose to contribute funds toward the operation of those facilities to receive federal match for their contributions.

According to Hansen, Hubbard County had previously participated in the program from 2011 to 2015 at different levels.

"When we first started out, we just kind of dabbled in it, meaning that the county contributed so much money and got these dollars back. Until it sunsetted, we were all in. We were putting in as much money as we could to get as much as we could back," he explained. "Since then the value based reimbursement system has been implemented and we've been able to benefit from that."

The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) has not yet received approval to implement the program and has decided to initiate the application process prior to federal approval in an effort to expedite the process if and when approval is received from federal government.

"If the federal government does approve it, it could go into effect as early as April 1 or any month thereafter," Hansen added.

Hansen also explained that, according to DHS, the non-federal share must be paid by the owner from its resources, which would be Hubbard County.

"You couldn't use nursing home funds that are designated within our own accounts," he clarified. "It has to come from the owner."

Hansen told commissioners that utilizing the ECPN would create additional revenue that could be utilized to help make paylines and provide more cash to help Heritage Living Center move forward from their building project.

"We're seeing paylines grow for nursing assistants, LPNs, RNs, everybody," he said. "The labor market is very competitive and it could give us a chance to push more money toward our staff."

According to the spreadsheet received from DHS, if Hubbard County contributed $27,929 from April 1 through Dec. 31, it could potentially create over $84,000 for Heritage Living Center in revenue.

The federal government would match the county's contribution one-third to two-thirds. The county contributes one-third at $3,103 per month and would receive $9,000 or so for that month, Hansen explained. He added that the actual revenue amounts would depend on the number of patient days per year.

The county had passed, by resolution, pay equity contributions for the building project. The county has already contributed $1.2 million to the project with $300,000 remaining.

Hansen suggested that if the contribution were taken from those funds it would be a good source and use of the county's money.

After much discussion, the board approved to implement the ECPN upon the approval from the federal government.

In other business county commissioners:

• Approved bids from Tri-City Paving Inc. in the amount of $1,831,510.93 for milling, reclam and bituminous overlay on County Roads 14 and 48.

• Approved the low bid from Tri-City Paving Inc. in the amount of $528,628.10 for milling and bituminous overlay on County Roads 80, 82 and 107.

• Approved the low quote from Vogt's Dirt Service for aggregate surfacing on County Road 29.

• Approved the purchase of a utility tractor in the amount of $91,200, a bat-wing flex mower in the amount of $19,900 and a snow blower tractor mount in the amount of $13,200 from Midwest Machinery Co. in Wadena.

• Approved a low quote from Gaslin Garage Door in Bemidji in the amount of $4,123, which includes the materials and labor to replace an overhead door and opener at the recycling center.

• Approved the purchase of a new 1½-ton, 4x4, extended cab truck with a dump box from Park Rapids Ford in the amount of $47,550. The dump box and toolbox will be installed by Crysteel Truck Equipment from Fridley in the amount of $13,720.94.

• Approved the low quote of $65,085 from Hammers Construction in Perham for the construction of a picnic shelter at Heartland Park.

• Approved the phased retirement request option for Karen Vandeventer at the Veteran Services Office.

• Approved the request of the Assessor's Office to outsource the printing of field cards to Arrow Printing in Bemidji for $2,046.90.

• Adopted a resolution supporting the Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program and 2017-2019 grant application operated by Mahube-Otwa.

The next Hubbard County Board meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Tuesday, March 21 at the Hubbard County Government Center.