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Country Manor in "wait and see" mode after sale of the facility falls through

By By PAT BAILEY

HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) - The President of the CSEA Union 7100, the workers union at Country Manor in Herkimer, says that it's a good thing that Valley Health Services backed out of a deal to buy the facility. However, at the same time, Union President JoAnne LeClair says there is a sense of reprieve.

LeClair says the union was worried about two potential consequences from the deal - loss of jobs and the loss of a county-run service.

Late last year, county lawmakers and Valley Health Services started negotiations on a deal that would have see Valley Health Services buy the county-run Country Manor. The deal was finally made, but it was pending an assessment of how much it would cost Valley Health Services to overtake the facility.

According to Valley Health officials, that's what held up the deal - high costs to remove asbestos after construction, no affordable energy options, and the age of building.

During several Herkimer County Legislature meetings leading up to the deal, Country Manor staff had begged the board to not sell the facility, saying that jobs would be lost and care for the residents would diminish.

County lawmakers say it is costing taxpayers too much money to run the facility and selling to a private agency was the best options.

Now that the deal is dead, LeClair says it's a waiting game. She believes the county will still try and sell the facility in the near future.

"At this point, we wait and watch," LeClair said. "Now that Valley Health Services has backed out, things will go on as usual until the county makes their next decision."

So what is the county's next decision?

The public many know as early as Wednesday night. Lawmakers will be discussing the issue Wednesday evening at 6, according to Herkimer County Administrator Jim Wallace.

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