Work begins at Firefly Creek Ranch
Last weekend, the property that used to be home for the assisted living facility, Country View Estates in Guthrie Center, took its first steps toward a new lease on life.
By 9:15 a.m. on Saturday, the facility’s parking lot was filled with cars, carrying volunteers bearing mops, buckets, brooms and space heaters to help begin the transformation into an adult board and care home, called Firefly Creek Ranch.
For the past two years, Brenda Rose — who currently works in nursing care management — had a business plan in mind. She wanted to create an affordable, farm-style living facility for older people who could no longer reside alone. Residents would have access to a staff that assists with personal care needs, like dressing and laundry. Being licensed as a “non-medical adult board and care home” would help keep the cost of residency lower than other locations, by bringing in medical services through local organizations on an as needed basis. Most importantly, Rose wanted to create an environment residents could call home. Her dream facility would allow residents to engage in art projects, work in a garden, bake, and participate in a variety of other activities.
It took nearly a year of meeting with the Guthrie County Board of Supervisors, promoting her cause, planning and praying, until Rose was able to purchase the property and buildings at 2345 Redwood Ave. from the county for $1 late last year.
On Saturday, February 11, the main building was opened up and explored, lights were turned on, and after around two years of the property being vacant, the first phase of work began.
“It’s really starting to come together now,” Rose said. “It’s just amazing that the whole thing has come to pass.”
The main building has a sprawling floor plan, with three floors of bedrooms, bathrooms, and miscellaneous spaces. Volunteers started the morning off by cleaning the inside of the building so Rose could get a better idea of what she has to work with. Due to having the heat and electricity turned off for years, the walls were covered with black mold. There were dead insects littering the floors, and many of the appliances were stained and damaged from having the water turned off. Together, Rose, her husband Skip Carver, and the volunteers sprayed down the walls with a peroxide solution, picked up garbage, cleaned the windows and swept the floors.
“We are grateful to Country View Estates for caring for their people and their building,” Rose said in a Facebook post.
She added, “(The previous owners) put a lot of improvements back into the building, it’s really in pretty good shape. I’m ready to face whatever comes our way.”
After looking around, Rose was excited with what she saw. Although construction needs to be done, the space has the potential to be a cheerful, welcoming facility once it is finished, she said. In her vision, many of the downstairs bedrooms will be converted from two-person rooms to single-occupancy spaces. More bathrooms would be added to the upstairs bedroom wings. A mural of a rural landscape in purple and blue hues would be a perfect addition to the front entryway. And she can see rooms on the ground floor being great for an activity area and a garden area.
Rose has already enlisted the help of contractor Mike Potthoff, of Hardwood Associates, to help put together a model room, and estimate project costs. Painting the first floor hallway of the main building will begin once the weather warms up, and volunteers with a passion for painting are encouraged to come out and help.
“Our challenge will be to put in really warm entryways, and make this place feel like home,” Rose said.
Later in the day, Carver went outside to explore the grounds, when he found a “treasure.” While the property is currently overgrown and brown from the cold weather, upstairs in one of the barns was a well-preserved loft under a curved roof, which holds the potential to be a social gathering area after being refinished. Plus, several of the other buildings on the property would be the ideal locations for a woodworking barn and an art studio.
In the spring, Rose will tackle landscaping to make the outside of the building match her plans for the interior.
Rose would like Firefly Creek Ranch to be up and running by July 1, 2017. But the months leading up to her targeted opening will be filled with hard work. The first goal is to obtain a water meter so system testing can begin, boilers can be inspected and hot water will be available for cleaning. Finding a source of start up funding, whether it be through a non-profit grant, small bank loan, or donations, is also on the to-do list. To get the ball rolling, Rose is creating a charitable contributions fund with Lincoln Savings Bank in Clive.
“I want to be open as soon as possible, it’s just creating a place we would want to go,” Rose said. “It’s all a process unfortunately, and it’s so slow.”
Rose plans to be out working on the property as often as possible to turn her dream of offering affordable care in Guthrie County into a reality. More volunteer-based clean up days will be scheduled in the upcoming weeks, and fundraising activities are also in the works.
“My word at the end of the day (is) undaunted,” Rose said after the weekend spent cleaning. “It feels satisfying. I’ve been thinking about this a lot for a long time. These are some wonderful first steps.”