County puts the brakes on backing for Glen Haven Village loan

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By Joe Foreman, Editor

Following the advice of Assistant Mills County Attorney Tyler Loontjer, the Mills County Board of Supervisors has rescinded its commitment for an assured income loan guarantee agreement for the proposed Glen Haven Village project.

The action of the supervisors puts the future of the proposed skilled-care facility in doubt, although all three members of the county board expressed a desire to move forward with the assured income guarantee if questions and concerns over the legality of the agreement are answered.

The approximately $2 million in loan guarantees requested of the county by the Glen Haven Board of Directors, would serve as collateral on USDA Rural Development loan funding being pursued by the Glen Haven Board to build a new skilled-care facility that would replace the deteriorating, 54-yeard-old Glen Haven nursing home. The $2.8 million appraised value of the Linnwood Estates assisted living facility, owned and operated by non-profit Glen Haven, and a $200,000 assured income guarantee from the City of Glenwood, would provide the additional collateral.

“As long as we’re not in violation of the Iowa Code, I have no problem with it, but I don’t see how we can move forward when our attorney won’t back us,” supervisor Lonnie Mayberry said.

Addressing the issue at the May 15 meeting of the board of supervisors, Loontjer said he’s conducted several weeks of research on the matter and is of the opinion that entering into an assured income agreement on the Glen Haven Village project would put the county in violation of the state constitution. He said the constitution prohibits a governmental entity from getting into an assured income relationship with a private corporation.

  Phil Warren, who spearheaded a $1 million capital campaign for the Glen Haven project, and Glen Haven board member Larry Raabe were both in attendance at the May 15 supervisors meeting.

Raabe stressed the “urgent need” in the community to provide care services for elderly and those individuals who cannot care for themselves. He noted that the existing Glen Haven facility has outlived its usefulness.

“Glen Haven has passed its useful life,” Raabe said. “We’re running to the end of the clock on it. It simply needs to be replaced.”

Raabe and Warren referenced Chapter 15A of the Iowa Code which pertains to the use of public funds to aid in economic development and authorizes” the state, a city or county to provide grants, loans, guarantees, tax incentives and other financial assistance to or for the benefit of private persons.” A provision in the chapter defines economic development as a “private or joint public and private investment involving the creation of new jobs and income or the retention of existing jobs and income that would otherwise be lost.”

Raabe noted Glen Haven is the only skilled-care facility of its kind in Mills County and closure will result in the loss of  services to those in need and about 100 jobs.

Along with Mayberry, supervisors Richard Crouch and Carol Vinton both said they still want to see the Glen Haven Village project become a reality and are hopeful the legal concerns Loontjer has can be addressed.

 Vinton said, “I think we’re with you guys, as long as we’re legal and don’t own a nursing home.

“This is just a little bump in the road. It will get fixed.”

Crouch has publicly voiced his support for the project several times and spoke up again at last week’s meeting.

“This is something that we need in this area,” Crouch said. “If this falls through and Glen Haven closes, what do we have left? Linnwood, and that’s it. For our elderly people that have lived here all their lives, they’ll have to move away from here and spend all their money at Risen Son and Fox Run. If we don’t have a facility for our elderly here, we’re a very poor community.”

Raabe said there’s no doubt the Glen Haven Village project would be in serious jeopardy without the backing of the county.