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Herkimer County sells Country Manor to Valley Health Services

By By PAT BAILEY

HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Herkimer County Legislature voted 11-5 on Wednesday to sell Country Manor adult living facility to Valley Health Services, a privately-owned company.

Some lawmakers call it a win-win for both Herkimer County and residents of Country Manor. However, those who have opposed this sale for months say those residents and the ones who care for them will suffer.

For years, the county has run Country Manor, which costs taxpayers just over $1 million a year. As it stands, the county will pay Valley Health Services that same price of $1 million, but over the course of three years, to take over the facility. Some lawmakers, Wednesday, said that deal, as crazy as it sounds, will still save taxpayers money and residents of facility will still be taken care of.

"Those services were not taken away, those services are still being provided they're provided by a different agency that's all," said 11th District Legislator Vincent Bono. "We did not do them efficiently."

3rd District Legislator Steve Keblish Jr, who represents the district Country Manor is in, also voted in favor of the sale.

"I believe voting 'no' on this proposal will be telling Valley Health Services we are better at managing a facility like this than you are," Keblish said.

However, not everyone voted in favor of the sale. In fact, five lawmakers voted against the sale.

A "no" vote is what most at Country Manor wanted, especially JoAnne LeClair. She used to work at Country Manor and now is the head of the union that the current 50 employees are a part of. LeClair said she fears for their future.

"Even if they did go to work for Valley Health they would no longer be county employees," LeClair said. "They would lose their benefits, their health insurance and their current pay rate along with any time they earned."

Along with the $1 million from the county, Valley Health Services will also receive a $4.2 million grant from the State of New York to help with the take over. Lawmakers Wednesday said that money will go for renovations and upgrades at Country Manor.

The final details of the sale still need to be worked out between attorneys. Even when that is done, the take over could still be a couple years down the road, lawmakers said Wednesday.

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