VNA grant prioritized

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A request for a $600,000 grant for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association to buy and expand the Haven Assisted Living Center was given top priority by a countywide committee this week.

Also, Routt County commissioners voted to contribute $25,000 toward the $1.3 million project.

"We're extremely pleased to have governmental support on this project," said Sue Birch, executive director for the VNA.

If approved, a grant from the Colorado Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Program would help the VNA purchase and improve the Haven. The county prioritization committee gave that request priority over one from the city of Steamboat Springs to build an addition to the city's public works shop.

Routt County, the town of Hayden and possibly Moffat County are sponsoring the project's application for a grant from the Energy and Mineral Impact Fund.

Jan Fritz, director of home care for the VNA, said the Haven would become increasingly important in the community as baby boomers get older.

"We are trying to be forward-thinking and looking at where the aged population will be in the next 20 to 30 years," Fritz said. Without the Haven, those seniors would be "totally displaced," she said, as there are not other options in the community to meet such a need.

The VNA and the West Routt Rural Health Council, which owns the Haven, have been working since last spring to generate funds to pay off the center's debts and create a reserve operating budget, ensuring the Haven's future.

Routt County commissioners approved their $25,000 donation -- half of what the VNA had requested -- on Tuesday.

"It's something that No. 1, we believe in, and No. 2, it's visible action and that will be important when (the project) goes before the energy impact committee," Routt County Commissioner Dan Ellison said.

The City Council tabled a similar request for $50,000 until Nov. 16.

Birch urged residents to express their support for the project to the city and said there will be further opportunities to get involved with the fund-raising project. An additional $167,000 already has been generated from foundations and individuals.

The cost of the project is estimated at $1.3 million, which includes $460,000 for buying the property, $730,000 for an expansion and $100,000 to install telecommunications equipment to link the Haven and the two existing VNA facilities, according to the grant application.

The city of Steamboat Springs is asking for $500,000 from the Energy Impact Fund to expand the city's public works shop. The shop is used to repair and maintain the city's vehicles, including ambulance, fire and police vehicles, as well as snow plowing and street maintenance vehicles, according to the city's application.

That project costs $1.2 million, and the remaining funds would come from the city.

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