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Picketers urge more public support to keep nursing home

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 May 2013 at 12:00 am

Picketers urge more public support to keep nursing home

Photos by Tom Rivers – Tim Good, a cleaner at The Villages of Orleans, was one of about 50 picketers who lined Main Street in front of the County Clerks Building today during the Orleans County Legislature meeting.

ALBION – In a rally wasn’t as big as advertised, about 50 people stood along Main Street, with most holding signs in support of keeping The Villages of Orleans as a county-owned nursing home.

“Don’t Sell Our Soul,” proclaimed a sign held high by Grace Denniston, the retired Office for the Aging director. She praised the nursing home employees for being so public in challenging the County Legislature’s decision to transfer the facility to a local development corporation, the Orleans County Health Facilities Corporation.

“I’ve been in privately owned nursing homes and they’re not nearly as nice as ours,” Denniston said. “I may need this someday for me. You never know.”

The Legislature made the decision in February to transfer the site to an LDC. The three-member LDC will meet at 1:30 p.m. May 15 at the Orleans County Health Department’s Conference Room, 14012 Route 31 in Albion. The LDC will hear a proposal by Harris Beach for legal services and the Bonadio Group for accounting services, as well as consider potential consultants to help with the selection process for a new operator of the 120-bed facility.

Grace Denniston brought along her granddaughter Payton Denniston to show their support for a county-owned nursing home.

Supporters of keeping the nursing home publicly owned filed a lawsuit against the county, trying to bring the sale of the facility to a public referendum. James Punch, acting State Supreme Court judge, said he will make a decision in the matter in about a month.

The nursing home supporters say they will keep going public with their opposition to the LDC and the Legislature’s push to sell The Villages.

Tim Good of Albion has worked as a cleaner at the nursing home for 17 years.

“The residents honestly are like family,” he said today while holding a sign protesting the possible sale. “We have to protect them. They’re my family. That’s why I’m here.”

Gary Kent, a former county legislator, wants more community members to attend the peaceful pickets the second and fourth Wednesdays from 2 to 5 p.m. That’s when the Legislature often meets at the County Clerks Building.

“We’ll just keep calling attention to it,” he said. “I know it’s ambitious but we want to surround the entire courthouse block.”