By Tonya Fennell: CNJ staff writer
Elmer White has a dream.
The 70-year-old Grady resident is developing a plan to construct a 12- to 15-unit senior assisted living facility in the northern Curry County village of about 100.
White, whose father homesteaded in Grady in 1907, said the majority of residents in the small farm and ranch community are senior citizens.
“We (Grady) are a quiet community with good schools,” White said. “But Grady is a community of older people because young people have to move to find jobs.”
White said the proposed senior-citizen facility would aid young and old residents of Grady.
“The elderly (of Grady) would have some place to go when they could no longer care for themselves,” he said, “and the assisted living center would provide healthcare jobs for the young people of Grady who are thinking of entering the medical field.”
Funding for the project would be provided through grants and loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, White said.
“The USDA offers a wide spectrum of options for funding,” he said.
According to the USDA Web site, the Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program helps create jobs and stimulates rural economies by providing financial backing for rural businesses.
Grady Independent School District Superintendent Joel Shirley said a preliminary plan and feasibility study of the proposed project would cost between $100,000 and $500,000.
“We’re talking about a pot of money,” White said. “But, we’re hopeful.”
Shirley said the residents of Grady choose to live a rural lifestyle and would appreciate the option of a local assisted living facility.
“They (elderly) want to be here (in Grady),” he said, “and they don’t want to move to Clovis, Amarillo or Lubbock and lose the family connection of day-to-day living.”
While the assisted living center is still in the planning stages, White said he has been busy garnering support from legislators, the Curry County Commission and the Village of Grady school board.
Curry County Commissioner Tim Ashley said he strongly supports the project.
“I think it would be a great thing,” Ashley said, “because it will help keep their kids local because it will have jobs to offer and it will be good for economic development.”
Besides the 12- to 15-unit senior citizen assisted living center, White is also seeking funding for an adult daycare facility, child daycare facility, an indoor pool, and a new ambulance for the Village of Grady.
“I think it could become a reality,” White said. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”