Sunset Knoll Care and Rehab. Center, located at 401 West 5th Street in Aurelia, will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary on July 7th and 8th, 2012, and the public is invited to attend two events which have been planned for that weekend.
On Saturday July 7th, Sunset Knoll will host its annual Garden Party from 9 - 11 a.m., with tours of the Memory Garden and refreshments available for residents, families, friends and the community. On Sunday July 8th there will be an Open House from 2 - 4 p.m., during which time there will be tours of the home and garden and displays throughout the building, along with refreshments.
In April of 1960, a corporation, Sunset Knoll, Inc., was formed for the purpose of "building, owning and operating a Retirement Home for the elderly" in Aurelia. The original Advisory Board members were Lowell Hills, Alvin Peterson, Lars Mork, Enoch Nelson, Eric Gustafson, Gil Bowen, George Wharton, Jr., John C. Christensen, Robert S. Forbes and John D. Lockin, and their goal was "to provide our elder citizens with pleasant, dignified surroundings in which to live, at the lowest cost compatible with good business practice."
The home was constructed on land known as the Marsh property on the west edge of Aurelia, and was to have an initial 50 unit capacity. It was the corporation's plan that the home be designed and equipped to provide nursing home care for a number of occupants as well as facilities for occupants who did require nursing care.
Architects Associated of Sioux City was selected to make preliminary drawings, and these were presented to the public on July 15, 1960. At the first annual meeting of stockholders, the following were nominated to serve as directors for the Corporation: H.H. Deyloff, President; Richard D. Berge, M.D., Vice President; John W. Christensen, Treasurer; John C. Lockin, Secretary; Vernon M. Peterson, Director; and Paul T. Stieneke, Director.
On June 1, 1961, bids were accepted for construction of the home, and Paul Park Co. of Storm Lake was named the general contractor, at a total construction cost of over $300,000. Construction began that same month.
The original building consisted of an east and west wing, with a dining room, living room and kitchen between the two wings. There were a total of 48 beds available for residents.
Sunset Knoll held an Open House, attended by more than 1600 people, on Sunday, July 8, 1962, and ten staff members welcomed the first three residents on Monday, July 9, 1962. Thirteen additional residents were admitted by the end of that month.
There have been many additions and changes to the facility over the past 50 years. In April of 1976, construction began on an addition containing a new 20- bed Residential Care Wing, dining room, new kitchen, beauty shop, activity room, staff lounge and a generator room/staff entrance. The first residential care resident moved in on July 13, 1977.
The addition of a multi-purpose room was completed to the west of the dining room in March of 1990. This area also contained a chapel and storage for tables and chairs.
In February of 2002, an addition containing a laundry room and physical therapy room was completed, along with renovation of the nurses' station, business offices, common areas and hallways. A new wireless call-light system and a heat and smoke detection system were also installed.
In 2004, the Memory Garden was started with construction of sidewalks and raised planting beds. Many generous donations - of not only funds, but also plants, benches, fountains, trees and time - were received from many area people.
In the summer of 2006, the first Independent living duplex was completed, and in December of 2008,renovation of the north wing was completed, turning the double occupancy rooms into private rooms, as well as decertifying the residential care. In May of 2009, renovation of the east wing was completed, converting the double occupancy rooms into private rooms. This final renovation gave the home four double occupancy rooms and 36 private rooms, for a total of 44 skilled / nursing care beds.
Even though the changes to Sunset Knoll have been numerous over the past 50 years, the one constant has been the wonderful caring and support of the people of Aurelia and the surrounding communities.
Area churches, pastors, ladies' groups, Kiwanis, 4-H clubs, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, schools, businesses, Sunset Knoll staff and Board of Directors, the Sunset Knoll Auxiliary and residents' families have all played an important part in the lives of the residents, and Sunset Knoll's Anniversary Celebration is just a small way to thank the many, many caring hands that have touched the lives of Sunset Knoll residents over the past 50 years.