Letcher Circuit Judge Sam Wright said he will review proposals from three firms interested in leasing Golden Years Rest Home after a court-appointed receiver and the attorney general’s office asked Wright to authorize the receiver to execute a temporary operating lease.
Assistant Attorney General David Spenard said during a hearing on August 12 that Letcher County Golden Years Rest Home does not have the financial capacity to continue to operate in its present capacity.
“The amount of expenses it takes to house these residents and keep them in a reasonably safe environment is in excess of the amount of revenue the facility is currently generating,” said Spenard. “The cost to improve the facility are signifi- cant enough that they will require additional capital that Golden Years currently does not have and to that extent if we don’t execute a plan then we would ask the court’s permission to close the facility and authorize the receiver to begin the process of placing these residents in other facilities. We are making this recommendation because this is currently our present option available to keep the facility open.”
Linda Bell, who was appointed by the court as receiver of the personal care home on June 9, testified that Golden Years owes about $88,000 in banks loans and $45,000 in smaller bills, including $20,000 to Gordon Food Service and $8,000 to Kentucky Power Company. Bell said she stopped making payments on the bank loan in order to have enough money to make payroll. Several years of state and federal taxes also have not been paid, she said.
“We’re making payroll,” said Bell. “We’re keeping the food coming. We’re just hanging on by a thread. We’ll never have any money to pay anything else.”
Bell and Spenard asked Wright to allow William Shackleford, owner of Venture Home of Paintsville LLC, to enter into a one-year lease agreement. For 17 years, Shackleforld has owned a 56-bed personal care home in Paintsville.
Whitesburg attorney James D. Asher, who represents former Golden Years administrator James F. “Chum’ Tackett, raised concerns about Venture Home’s status as a for-profit, limited liability company while Golden Years is not for profit.
Bell said Shackleford is the best choice of those who have expressed interest in taking over the operation of Golden Years because he has money needed to immediately begin repairs.
“ The thing about Shackleford’s company is he has money available to where he could start renovating the facility as soon as possible (so) we wouldn’t have to relocate any of our people,” said Bell. “The thing that concerns me the most about our residents is it is the only home some of these people have ever known.”
Bell said one man had lived there many years with four brothers and sisters who have all died.
“He has his own little daily regimen he goes through,” said Bell. “I can’t see him ever being relocated anywhere else. Any disruption in their daily routine may have bad mental or physical effects on them.”
Bell said if Shackleford signs the lease residents can be moved to one floor of the home while another floor is being renovated, adding that Shackleford has the technical and financial knowledge to operate Golden Years.
“For somebody to come in and offer a solution, it was a breath of fresh air,” said Bell. “Everything was so positive.”
Shackleford testified that the Golden Years facility “is probably the poorest maintained building I have been in in years.”
“It is not falling apart, but there are delayed areas that need to be fixed,” said Shackleford. “The vast majority is correcting the delayed maintenance issues. This is something that has been neglected for a very long time.”
Shakleford said most of the needed repairs were cosmetic.
“There are a lot of things I may not know,” said Shackleford. “You don’t know what you don’t know.”
Bell also pointed out that Shackleford intends to keep the home in Jenkins.
“We want to keep the facility in Jenkins,” said Bell. “The community of Jenkins has supported us.”
Bell said town merchants, churches and the City of Jenkins have offered help in forms of clothing donations, cleaning and moral support.
“It has become a facility for the whole community where they have a project now,” said Bell. “They are thrilled it will be under new management regardless.”
Bell testified that Golden Years is licensed to care for 44 residents, but currently has only 27.
“We didn’t want to move people in not knowing what the future holds for Golden Years,” said Bell.
Asher asked Bell about the possibility of getting the occupancy level up to generate the revenue to keep the facility operating under present ownership.
“That isn’t going to make much of a difference in this situation,” said Bell.
“In 60 days you concluded this couldn’t be done and turn it over to a for-profit?” Asher asked.
Shackleford said if he could get at least 32 to 35 residents at Golden Years, he could break even.
Bell described the current staff as a “skeleton crew.”
“We have gone to 12-hour shifts to just try to keep enough coverage for the facility,” she said. “We have not hired any new employees because we didn’t have any money. I cannot go out and hire anybody when I can’t guarantee them a paycheck.”
Bell said she has also been dealing with a stack of state-issued citations.
“We have tried to answer them as best we can,” said Bell. “They were all related to previous administration. We have submitted a plan.”
During Bell’s testimony she said she did not publicly advertise leasing Golden Years, but welcomed bids from firms that inquired about it.
Shackleford said advertising the sale or lease of Golden Years would be a waste of time.
“The image of this facility is so poor,” said Shackleford. “The past history of this facility is atrocious. I think it would scare 99 percent of people in the business.”
Kentucky River Community Care Inc. and Community Connections also submitted proposals.
Kentucky River Community Care Inc. is a nonprofit organization based in Jackson. If it is chosen to run Golden Years, residents would be temporarily moved to other sites while the Jenkins building is repaired.
Community Connections, a for-profit organization, would want to move residents to another location and asks that the City of Jenkins fund construction of a new building which would be leased to Community Connections.
Asher accused the attorney general’s office of having too much control over Bell.
“ If you had a true receiver and weren’t trying to control the proceedings on the sidelines I wouldn’t have any objection,” said Asher. “The AG does not need to be on this side of the fence.”
Asher also questioned how the attorney general’s office could pursue both criminal and civil cases against Tackett.
“ What this case is about is publicity and press releases,” said Asher.
At the end of the three-hour hearing on August 12, Wright said after he reviews the three proposals he will either rule on them or set a new hearing date.
“We just have a financial crisis that just can’t go on much longer,” said Bell.