The Cherokee County Board of Supervisors expressed support for expanding a service in Cherokee that would give a much needed service, provide more use of the main building on the Cherokee Mental Health Institute campus and bring up to 16 well paying full-time jobs and four part-time jobs to the community.
Rick Forkenbrock, support services director for MHI, and Mark Buschkamp, executive director of the Cherokee Area Economic Development Corporation, were at the Tuesday supervisors meeting to discuss plans by Plymouth Life to relocate and double the capacity of its current 15 bed facility in Cherokee, going to a total of 30 beds with the addition of a ward.
Forkenbrock referred to the Plymouth Life facility as a step down facility which provides an intermediate level between acute care and release into the community. Forkenbrock said there is a waiting list for this service. He added that Plymouth Life has been an excellent partner with the state.
Buschkamp noted that Plymouth Life has been trying to get an expansion started for about two years, with the most recent plans involving use of the Voldeng building on the MHI campus which had formerly housed the Boys and Girls Home.
It was believed this building could be used by Plymouth Life with little remodeling but state officials determined that the building did not meet legal requirements for this kind of a facility.
Forkenbrock said that the Voldeng building would have been ideal place for the expansion but it will still work out well to put Plymouth Life into adjacent wards in the main building at MHI.
The request to the supervisors was to help Plymouth Life reduce financing charges, either through a low interest loan or by the county taking out a revenue bond to be paid back by Plymouth Life.
The remodeling project will cost about $180,000. The exact cost and the amount needed to be borrowed will be determined at a later date.
The supervisors were enthusiastic about a plan to create 20 new jobs in the county and indicated that they would favor a revenue bond for Plymouth Life.
Bonnie Ebel said the county can issue up to $450,000 in bonds without requiring a vote from the public.