Supes warm to vets’ center concept

Pine Haven would offer services after new home opens

PHILMONT–Once the new Pine Haven skilled nursing facility is built and running on County Route 11, what to do with the current one?

Veterans and public officials are lining up behind a proposal to convert the facility to a veterans’ service center for Columbia County and surrounding communities.

At a meeting at Pine Haven Tuesday, April 13, county Veterans’ Service Director Gary Flaherty said the vision for such a center goes well beyond nursing care. Changing battlefield procedures and improved emergency medical care, he said, mean that “fewer young soldiers are dying … more are coming back,” with many needing rehabilitation, both physical and psychological. And, he said, there is no long-term care option for veterans in Columbia County; they must go to Albany, where waiting lists are long.

Other services that might be provided are respite care, to give families a break; daytime programs, and dialysis.

As for long-term care, Ghent Supervisor Lawrence Andrews envisioned a “more cottage-like, homelike” layout, with flexible, individualized scheduling: “Why should they all have to have breakfast at the same time?” This was one of the concepts that impressed members of the county Board of Supervisors committee that evaluated nursing home options and recommended building a new home in Philmont.

An expanded menu of service options would require significant upgrades and alterations at Pine Haven, which was built in 1978 and is currently configured as a 120-bed skilled nursing facility.

Columbia County is just the spot for a service center designed for veterans, said Gallatin Supervisor Lynda Scheer, who noted that the county is home to about 7,600 veterans, more than 10% of its population.

Philmont Mayor Clarence Speed called the idea “just outstanding” and welcomed the jobs it would bring to the village. He said Philmont’s water and wastewater systems have more than enough capacity to handle both the old and new Pine Haven facilities.

Asked if there is support from the Board of Supervisors, Hudson’s Bart Delaney said, “I’d be surprised if there wasn’t.”

Army veteran Al Wassenhove called the proposal for a veterans’ center “a history-making event” for Columbia County and the Village of Philmont. He said county American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts are 100% behind it, and will push hard.

The next step is for the county and its vets to determine what services should be offered and what the center’s coverage area should be, said William Krauss, executive deputy director of the state Division of Veterans’ Affairs.

At a Village Board meeting the night before, trustees:

*Heard from Community Day organizer Dick Howard that the July 10 fireworks display will take place at the Philmont Rod and Gun Club, and from Trustee Douglas Cropper that the day will also include a car show.

*Voted to accept the tax rate of $10.03 per $1,000 assessed value. Mayor Speed remarked that the rate remains the same as the current year, even though the village has bought a new truck for the Department of Public Works.

*Heard Prospect Street resident Norma Rudback ask that “cracks and holes” in the sidewalk in front of her home be repaired. Trustee Brian Johnson said that sidewalk and one on Elm Street are first on the list to be repaired this season.

Village Clerk-Treasurer Eilene Morris reminded the public that the board’s meeting time has been moved to 7 p.m. the second Monday of each month.

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