by Dan Mundt
Two installations one possibility
The Crawford County Board of Supervisors discussed Tuesday how the county could use $3.267 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.
The following is an edited and condensed account.
The federal ARPA program is providing $350 billion to state, local, territorial and tribal governments to address issues arising from the coronavirus pandemic.
Supervisor Jean Heiden started the discussion by noting that a committee of county department heads last year suggested using $1.5 million for a wellness center for Crawford County citizens and $1.5 million to upgrade public health facilities in Crawford County.
She said County Recorder Denise Meeves received an offer of $69,815 to digitize historical documents in her office and needed about $5,000 more to redact some information.
Heiden said she attended meetings with City of Denison officials to discuss the use of ARPA funds.
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Representatives from Crawford County Memorial Hospital (CCMH) said they could provide land for a facility near the hospital, and school representatives said they could provide land near the Denison Aquatic Center, she said.
The needs for a community recreation center are different from the county’s needs for a wellness center, and the two likely wouldn’t fit in the same location, Heiden said.
She said she could recommend that the county match what the city is doing for a recreation center in
Denison — but she wouldn’t recommend considering rehabilitating the former Dr. Dennis Crabb building (which was most recently CCMH’s downtown clinic) for public health use sooner.
“Kyle (Board Chairman Kyle Schultz) and I have talked about it, and for the money it’s likely to take to rehabilitate, we’re still going to have an older building,” Heiden said.
Supervisor Jeri Vogt said she agreed with this assessment; Schultz said a new building would be cheaper.
Heiden said other ARPA funds could be used for a separate facility near the hospital.
“I think the two projects moving forward are very helpful for the county,” Schultz said.
He and Heiden will meet with CCMH officials Jan. 24 to see if county needs
adapt to the needs of the hospital.
Heiden said the county may also consider using some of the funds to support child care services such as new centers soon to open in Manila and Schleswig.
Heiden noted that many communities in the region have wellness centers that are instrumental in cities.
She said a facility near the hospital could include an outdoor walking path that could connect to other paths planned for the area.
Heiden said she visited Harlan’s Wellness Center and learned that their pool was the biggest source of resources.
Supervisor Jeri Vogt said someone called her to express her opposition to the idea of putting anything at the aquatic center or hospital and said that private donations, not the money of taxpayers, should be used.
Schultz said supervisors are aware of this concern.
Memberships wouldn’t necessarily pay all of a wellness center’s bills, Heiden noted.
One question that has come up in discussions about a shared facility is who would run it.
“I was pretty sure our mission was never to go out and have a county-run wellness center,” Heiden said. “I’ve never felt that direction from anyone.”
Schultz said the city has indicated it would be willing to run a facility near the aquatics center — but not one near the hospital.
Supervisor Ty Rosburg suggested a public/private component for a wellness center near the hospital that could attract businesses such as private physiotherapy practices; this arrangement would help pay for utilities and maintenance.
A GNC store, or something like it, could fit into a wellness center and fill a need in the county, he said.
CCMH plans to upgrade its physical therapy department, Schultz said.
Heiden said the pandemic has shown that some kind of community hub is needed and she wants it to happen.