Community turns out for groundbreaking ceremony of care center expansion

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS Chatfield Mayor Russ Smith speaks about the city's gain through the renovation of the care center.

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS Chosen Valley Care Center's eldest resident, Marvin Rabe, 105, attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the addition to the care center. He even got to lift a shovel of sand with help from administrator Craig Backen.

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS Concept drawings on display in the care center dining room show how the addition and renovation project will look when finished.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Chosen Valley Care Center’s (CVCC) administration, staff and residents got into some good dirt for growing last Thursday, Oct. 3, as CVCC held its groundbreaking ceremony for the expansion of the skilled nursing facility and physical therapy department, as well as the addition of an acute care wing, a project that has been in the development stage for the past two to three years. 

Dignitaries on hand included the residents – those who have called CVCC “home” and look forward to having private rooms and sunnier places to rest as the day goes by – as well as CVCC Board of Directors members Mary Patten, Mike Thieke, Treasurer Dan Hollermann, Vice President Amy Vreeman, President Gary Bren, Secretary Angie Bicknese, Pam Holte, Sheryl Bennett, Mary L. Allen and Maureen Ruskell, CVCC Founders’ Committee members, representatives of Benike Construction, Fillmore County Commissioner Mitch Lentz and CVCC administrator Craig Backen.

Backen was grateful to be able to stand before the gathering of Chatfield residents and CVCC residents and their families and tell about the plans for the renovation and addition that will update CVCC’s halls, lend organization for staff as they care for residents and make living there more comfortable. 

“I’d like to emphasize that this was a team effort,” said Backen. 

Backen and Hollermann pointed out that the last construction project at CVCC was 14 years ago, when the assisted living apartments were built on the south end of the campus to provide homes for people who would like the security of knowing that there’s someone there if they need a hand. 

Hollermann addressed the crowd, informing the people there that the board of directors already had a big vision of what CVCC would become long before the news became public this past December.  

“We chose a contractor and an architect long before we sat down and invited you.  We had Benike Construction at the table…we’ve invited everyone here today, everyone short of the governor and the president,” he said.

And with that, he introduced Chatfield Mayor Russ Smith, who told a personal story that highlighted the value of what is being provided by this project. 

“Chatfield’s role in this project was pretty simple – being the conduit for financing – and that’s what the city provided,” he said. “But there’s one thing that’s being provided that we probably don’t think about.  As a 9-year-old living in Nebraska, we would go down to see my grandma and grandpa.  My grandma lived ‘here,’ and my grandpa lived across the street.  I didn’t know Parkinson’s from a parking lot at that time, but I knew that he was in a wheelchair and that his hands shook a lot.  I’d go over there to visit him, take him outside, and for years, I didn’t think about it, but my mom told me later that he liked it when I would come over because most people would come to see him and push his wheelchair really fast, but I would take him outside and push him slow, stop to pick up bugs…he would enjoy his time outside and with his grandson.  The city of Chatfield is looking forward to this project because we can help provide that.”

Lentz observed that each time he visits CVCC, he learns more about the people who live there and about his own connections to the home, such as that his mother-in-law used to work there.  “This project will be an awesome resource for the community,” he remarked, thanking everyone who’s contributed to its development thus far and who intends to carry on into the future. 

Hollermann reported to the audience that the project is expected to last approximately two years and that the community – outdoors and indoors – will have the privilege of watching as Benike’s crews work to build the addition and renovate the halls. 

Activities director Kate Glor introduced CVCC’s eldest resident, Marvin Rabe, who marked year 105 this past August, and was part of the lineup of residents who agreed that it would be a perfect day to start construction of a new wing at the care center.  She stated before Backen lent a hand to Rabe in lifting a shovelful of sand, “We have a lot of very special residents here, but we have one resident who’s very special to us and also 105 years old, Marvin Rabe.” 

As the observations concluded, so did Hollermann’s statements as he pointed out that when the ceremony was begun, the sky had been gray and cold, but that the sun had come out to shine on everyone who’d joined the day’s festivities. 

Backen then invited everyone to come indoors to warm up and enjoy cake and coffee in the dining room, where conversation kept humming like the summertime bees.