Holmes Co. Home facing more costs from storm damage

Holmes Co. Home  facing more costs from storm damage

Image Credit: Dave Mast

Deb Miller, Holmes County Home executive director, met with the Holmes County commissioners on Monday, July 25 to update them on progress being made at the County Home on several different issues.

One that arose recently was the damage to the County Home’s property suffered during the June 14 derecho storm that Miller said caused an estimated $30,000 worth of damage to the property, most of that being from tree damage and ongoing cleanup efforts while there was additional damage to outlying buildings and the generator enclosure.

Miller said finding a company to construct the generator enclosure has been challenging because the initial structure was custom built. She said the insurance adjuster informed her they had up to one year to find someone to rebuild the enclosure, so there is not an immediate rush to rebuild the enclosure.

Most of the tree damage occurred to the woods and the pasture behind the home, where high straight-line winds wreaked havoc.

“The insurance company said it will cover the fence repair, but it won’t pay for any of the tree loss or removal,” Miller said. “We are hoping that some of the other funds through the FEMA paperwork we have been working on might come through.”

Miller said they have completed the task of taking photos and recording all the damages, and that information has been passed along. The state is currently in the re-evaluation process to determine if and where funds would be applied.

Miller said she has been in discussion with Kurt McDowell, who farms the County Home land. Miller said he will complete the harvest before taking any steps toward cleaning up portions of the downed trees.

She said Alan Kozak, who has cattle on a portion of the County Home land, has been working with Miller to clean up wherever possible. In addition, Miller said the County Home maintenance man can do small cleanup jobs, but the entire undertaking is so immense it will take a professional logging company to come in and cut down and remove the damaged trees.

“He went through and counted 93 trees that were down, and that is too much for him to handle,” Miller said.

She said a company came in and assessed the damaged trees, and many of them were not harvestable.

She said the building housing the residents was not damaged and that the County Home staff did a remarkable job on the morning of the storm to keep residents calm and safe. She added they used approximately $4,000 in diesel fuel to power the generator during the week in which the power was out following the storm. The generator runs the entire County Homes.

The County Home continues to operate on a minimal staff, and Miller said finding capable new employees continues to be a struggle, as is the case throughout the county and nation.

According to Miller, boarding care remains down, a number that shrunk during the pandemic and has been slow to recover, especially since Miller doesn’t want to tax a staff that is already low in numbers.

She did praise the staff she does have, noting they willingly moved to four 12-hour day shifts to help accommodate the smaller staff.

“Nobody is overwhelmed, and the residents are still receiving the quality care that we are known for,” Miller said. “That goes back to the wonderful employees we have. They are there for the right reasons, and they are stepping up to do what we have to do to keep the building staffed.”

Miller said she was grateful to a local company that donated gas cards to the employees to help them cover travel expenses to and from work.

The County Home currently has 27 residents, which is down from the pre-COVID era, and Miller said while they have a waiting list, she doesn’t want to tax the current staff, preferring to wait until they can bring in more staff to adjust to a larger resident population.

She did say they will receive two new residents from Hilltop Nursing Home, which recently closed its doors.

“Those two gentlemen will fit nicely into our current population, and we can bring them in without overwhelming the staff,” Miller said.

From an expense standpoint, Miller said the home is currently on par with what it was operating at last year, noting they are currently at 32% of estimated expenses compared to 31% at the same time last year.

She said revenue is up almost $4,000 compared to last year, the majority of that arising from income tax revenue.

“With boarding care income down because of our low numbers, to be up $4,000 in revenue is something with which I’m pretty pleased,” Miller said.

The County Home also completed the demolition of the old pump house that was no longer in use. Miller said J. Miller & Son Excavating did the work, and the project went well.

“They ran into a few hiccups with a couple of minor things, but overall, it went well. Everything is moved, it’s been seeded and it really changed the landscape there for the better,” Miller said.