Osceola County COA looking at new meal site

The Osceola County Commission is considering purchasing this property at 602 W. Upton, Reed City, as a new congregate meal site for the COA. (Herald Review photo/Cathie Crew)

The Osceola County Commission is considering purchasing this property at 602 W. Upton, Reed City, as a new congregate meal site for the COA. (Herald Review photo/Cathie Crew)

REED CITY -- Osceola County Commission on Aging (COA) director Justin Halladay presented the county board of commissioners with a proposal for a new meal site in Reed City at the board meeting Jan. 22.

"Not long after I became director for the COA, one of the things that came up in our meetings is the lack of a meal site in Reed City," Halladay said. "I'm coming here today to ask if the interest is truly there for a site in Reed City."

The COA provides meals to seniors 60 and older throughout Osceola County, either through home delivery or at a congregate meal site.

The county has meal sites in Evart, Marion and Tustin. Reed City residents are currently serviced at the Meadowview Apartments and the clients are mostly Meadowview residents, Halladay said.

"This is a great service for those that live there, but with no attendance from other seniors in the area, it does not completely offer meal site options to those seniors living in Reed City or Hersey, including Richmond, Hersey and Lincoln townships," he said. "Considering that Reed City has a higher population than some of these other areas, it is reasonable to think that many seniors in the area are not being served."

Halladay told the board there is a property on Upton Avenue that is for sale that he believes would be optimal for the Reed City meal site.

A former church, the site at 602 W. Upton, is a 6,000-square-foot facility that includes a kitchen and dining area and a large congregation area. It also has a basement with a large meeting room, restrooms, office space and classrooms.

Halladay said it would not take a lot to turn it into a functioning meal site. Some renovation would be needed in the kitchen area to accommodate a large stove and refrigerator, along with appropriate sinks. In addition, a camera system would need to be installed for security purposes and possibly some new flooring in the congregation area. Renovations would cost approximately $6,200, he said.

"The building is currently listed for $134,900, but from talking to the Realtor, he believes we can get it for $90,000 to $100,000," Halladay said. "I realize this is a big purchase. The COA has the funding in the contingency fund, but it would take a lot of it."

Some commissioners expressed concern about the budget for an additional facility.

BOC member Jim Custer questioned how many new employees would need to be hired and how many seniors would need to be served to balance the budget for the location.

Halladay responded that if they discontinue the service at Meadowview and bring those seniors to the new facility, they would not need to hire any new employees.

The biggest cost increase, he said, would be for the number of people being fed. However, he added, the organization receives funding from the Area Agency on Aging based on the number of seniors they serve -- so if that number goes up, the funding is increased.

According to Halladay, the COA currently serves around 160-200 seniors each day in Osceola County, and with the new facility that could increase to 200-240 a day.

"They really want the COA to push the congregate sites and money is there for those sites," Halladay said. "I can see this one being an area where a lot of people want to go. It's not just about the meals, it is the social interaction they get. That's what seniors need more than anything. There are seniors out there that could use our services and I want it to be convenient for them."

Halladay told the board the facility could be used for other needs as well.

"The basement area is something that could be very flexible based on what the county needs," he said. "It could be rented out for use as offices or storage, it could be a daycare center or a training area. In addition, the upstairs could be used for a meeting area or conference area when it is not being used as a meal site."

BOC member Timothy Michell made a motion that the board go into closed session to discuss the possible purchase of the property.

The board went into closed session for about 20 minutes. Upon returning to open session a motion was approved to authorize Halladay to negotiate a purchase price for the property within the BOC recommended limits.