SIDNEY — There were bowls of “dirt” pudding, complete with candy gummy worms, to “shovel” into in case the weather turned bad, but Friday, March 23, provided sunny, blue skies and mild winter temperatures for a ceremonial groundbreaking at Fair Haven, the Shelby County nursing home.
Shelby County commissioners and Fair Haven residents joined representatives of Freytag and Associates, the architects, and Thomas & Marker, the contractors, to turn up dirt for a $13 million addition to the facility at 2901 Fair Road.
Before hard hats and shiny shovels were distributed, Fair Haven Administrator Anita Miller welcomed attendees and noted that the same architects and contractors had developed an addition, Arbor Hall, in 1975.
“We don’t want to say, ‘Welcome.’ We want to say, ‘Welcome back,’” she said.
Miller introduced officers of the home’s residents council and thanked the commissioners for their perseverence in getting state approval for the current construction.
“In 1867, this farm was purchased, and in 1869, Shelby County Home began to serve our citizens. Today, Fair Haven, your Shelby County Home, has a rich history of change, growth and progress. Over the years, our mission has evolved to adapt to the needs of our community and today, we promote person-centered care recognizing that individuals want an active role in the decision-making for services and care,” Miller said.
“Once again, our Shelby County elected officials have stepped up to secure and authorize this project. In addition, it is important to share that we owe tremendous gratitude to Mrs. Betty Bennett for her contribution. Mrs. Bennett was seen at Fair Haven in a variety of roles, as a family member, a volunteer and as a humanitarian, who wanted more for others. Fair Haven has been blessed by her legacy, and we will are forever appreciative of her generosity,” Miller added. “As the administrator of Fair Haven, I am thankful and simply over the top to be part of this next chapter in our history.”
County Commission President Tony Bornhorst noted that the project had been a discussion item for a long time and “got started in earnest” three years ago.
“There’s a lot of hoops to jump through,” he said. “I’m tickled to see them pouring concrete. It does take a lot. We had a few bumps. Hats off to Anita, her staff, Freytag and Associates and Thomas & Marker. In less than a year, we’ll be standing here having a grand opening and a ribbon-cutting.”
The 30,000 square-foot addition is slated to open during the facility’s 150th anniversary year. Work is already underway. Cedar Hall, one of the home’s oldest wings, was demolished earlier this month and cement trucks roared as Friday’s ceremony took place.
Also attending were Shelby County Commissioners Julie Ehemann and Bob Guillozet; John Freytag, Dan Freytag and Amy Schweiterman, of Freytag and Associates; Matt Ludwig, of Thomas & Marker; Fair Haven Residents Council President Larry Hawes, Vice President Mary Rickert and Secretary Deborah “Debbie” Schaffner; and Fair Haven residents and staff.
Following the ceremony, everyone enjoyed the dirt pudding, as well as fried green tomatoes, fried pickles, cheese, crackers, fruit, popcorn and petit fours prepared by Fair Haven Chef Rob Schmiesing.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.