Soon after finishing their lunchtime meals March 22, Countryside Adult Home residents (left to right) Bunny Swanson, Irene Miller and Thelma Miller react to news that county officials voted to keep the home operating.
Following an impassioned debate by Warren County leaders March 22, the county’s Countryside Adult Home — its existence repeatedly threatened in budget cutting — received a vote of support.
The 4-3 vote to keep Countryside in operation occurred soon after county supervisors reviewed an annual report on the adult home distributed by Countryside administrator Deana Park.
The report detailed the continuing costs to taxpayers if Countryside were closed — including expenses of placing the home’s 43 residents in other facilities, and the additional costs of unemployment and public assistance for the home’s 28 employees.
Park also noted in the report that the need for the home would be growing in the future as the county’s population ages — as well as the negative impact closure would have on local businesses that supply and service the facility.
But Glens Falls Ward 5 Supervisor Bill Kenny suggested that Countryside be closed, based of its $531,000 cost to taxpayers to care for 40 to 50 residents.
“Spending more than $530,000 for about 40 people amazes me,” he said. “It’s fiscally irresponsible to continue this endeavor.”
Queensbury at-large Supervisor Mark Westcott also expressed dismay over the cost, but he called for a detailed analysis to be conducted of the expenses associated with closing the home. The home has a $1.3 million budget, with most of the costs borne by the state.
The statements by Kenny and Westcott prompted a reply from Queensbury at-large Supervisor David Strainer, who noted he annually pays $144 in taxes toward Crandall Library, a sum that dwarfs the yearly cost of $8 for caring for the Countryside residents.
“To keep these people in their home, this is an easy decision,” Strainer said.
Glens Falls Ward 4 Supervisor Bill Loeb also expressed support for Countryside and its mission.
“Do we shovel these people aside? We have a moral responsibility to care for these citizens and give them a good life,” he said. “Let’s make a statement how we as a county take care of our citizens in need.”
In a similar plea, Johnsburg Supervisor Ron Vanselow spoke of how his mother Dawn was a resident at Countryside and was receiving attentive care from the facility’s employees.
“I think we need to look beyond the expense and consider what we value,” he said. “We are willing to spend a lot of money on other things, but when it comes to human beings do we balk on it?”
Vanselow also warned that moving the Countryside residents elsewhere would mean lengthy commutes for family members to visit their elders.
Questions were also raised about how closing Countryside, located in Warrensburg, would displace a local senior mealsite operated there on weekdays.
Several county supervisors — Bud Taylor and Peter McDevitt of Glens Falls and Bill Mason of Queensbury — suggested that the county should postpone any decision until a sale of Westmount nursing home be completed, as a bidder on that transaction might offer to buy the home, or provide services for Countryside residents.
County Administrator Paul Dusek observed that when Countryside was offered for sale in the past, no viable bid was received.
Regardless of the supervisors’ opinions on Countryside closure, there was a consensus that Deana Park was running the facility with expertise.
She noted that the recurring discussion of closure dismayed residents — and Queensbury at-large Supervisor Matt Sokol said the issue indeed ought to be put to rest.
The discussion was concluded with Horicon Supervisor Ralph Bentley calling for a vote to keep the home in operation.
Bentley, Sokol, Loeb and Strainer voted to keep Countryside in operation, and Kenny, Westcott and Thurman Supervisor Evelyn Wood voted against the measure.
After the meeting, Park said she was pleased with the outcome to save the home, which has served elderly county residents with modest means since the 1800s.
“On behalf of the staff and residents, we truly appreciate this vote of support,” she said.