County plans to sell Sunrise homeThe Lake County Board of Commissioners approved entering into a letter of intent with Ecumen for the sale of the county-owned Sunrise Nursing Home Tuesday. It will now into negotiations on the final “details.”
The Lake County Board of Commissioners approved entering into a letter of intent with Ecumen for the sale of the county-owned Sunrise Nursing Home Tuesday. It will now into negotiations on the final “details.”
Commissioner Rick Goutermont said the board would have done a sale more than two years ago but didn’t rush into anything to take into account the employees and residents of the facility.
“That’s always been my concern,” commissioner Rich Sve said.
Commissioner Brad Jones voted against the measure. He said he was not aware of many of the details of the sale and would not vote for something “blindly.”
Ecumen has managed Sunrise for 16 years. Ecumen also manages the Sunrise on Superior apartments.
Goutermont said the county does not have the expertise or resources to run a care facility and it shouldn’t be a responsibility of the county. He also cited a tough economy as a reason to sell.
Union representatives have expressed concerns about health insurance, salaries and Public Employees Retirement benefits.
Goutermont didn’t think employees would be seeing many changes around the facility and Ecumen would honor the right for employees to join a union.
Managers at Sunrise did not want to speak about the sale because it is in the very early stages of development. The home employs about 100 people with about 50 residents.
John Korzendorfer, vice president for campus operations for Ecumen, said at this point there are no solid numbers for how much they would pay the county for the facility. It wants a deal done by the end of the year. He said Ecumen would also “need the people that we have” now to run Sunrise.
Ecumen, based out of Shoreview, operates senior housing facilities and services throughout Minnesota including owning Lakeshore and Bayshore in Duluth. It is a non-profit organization led by a 17-member board of trustees.
Other Minnesota counties have left the nursing home business. Last year, St. Louis County commissioners voted to lease its county-owned Chris Jensen Health & Rehabilitation Center in Duluth to Minneapolis-based Health Dimensions Group Inc.
Under the agreement, Chris Jensen’s more than 200 workers would no longer be county employees but instead would work for the new company.
Marlow timber land
Lake County is hoping for a fee purchase of about 4,900 acres of Roy Marlow’s timber lands through the help of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. The council would purchase the land through funds raised from a .3 percent state sales tax increase voters approved a few years ago. Most of the land would border along the Superior National Forest. Board members said they support the purchase of the land to help protect the forests, jobs and economy in the area.
The Department of Natural Resources is also looking for a conservation easement for some of Marlow’s land so it could be used by the public. Marlow would still own it.
Marlow purchased 39,000 acres in what is believed to be among the largest forest land purchases by a private individual in recent state history. The purchase, which Marlow said took “years” to put together, makes Marlow among the largest individual landowners in Minnesota. His Lake County land, in 40-acre parcels, is spread throughout the county in close to 1,000 chunks from Two Harbors to near Ely. Some parcels are clustered together into larger plots, some as large as 640 acres.
The board passed a resolution recognizing the importance of adequate cell phone coverage in rural Lake County after work was stopped on the cell phone tower going up in Fall Lake Township east of Ely and near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Last month, a group called the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness filed suit against AT&T Mobility in Minneapolis to have the court consider further review of the tower location and height. An Aug. 4 date was set to hear the case.
Commissioner Tom Clifford said AT&T is looking for support from government groups.