Friday, September 17th, 2021
County hires auctioneer to sell county home items
By William Kincaid
CELINA - County commissioners have secured an auctioneer to unload items from the 161-year-old Mercer County Home before the structure is razed, likely before year's end.
Commissioners also have awarded a contract to relocate on-site electric services that power nearby facilities and homes.
They set a date of Oct. 5 to accept and open sealed bids for demolition of the building. The facility for generations offered custodial care to men and women who could not live on their own without some level of daily or hourly support.
Commissioners tapped Coldwater Auction Service to conduct an auction at 10 a.m. Oct. 9 at the now vacated building at 4871 State Route 29. Auctioned will be an array of refrigerators, washers, freezers, coolers, tables, cabinets, a natural gas stove, pizza oven , printers, china, office furniture, a piano and various other items.
Other items for sale, perhaps of interest to medical- or military equipment collectors, are a Polaroid Picker portable x-ray machine from the Korean War and a U.S. Army folding operating table that were discovered when officials cleared out the cellar, commissioner Jerry Laffin said. Bicycles and other items stored in the county-owned Spriggs building, located next door to the Celina Fire Department, will be put up for auction at the same time, Laffin said.
For a full listing of items, visit coldwaterauctionservice.net. Laffin said proceeds likely will return to the county's general fund.
Laffin also noted that on auction day the public will be allowed to enter and view the men's residence on the first floor of the county home. Other areas will be off limits due to liability concerns.
Commissioners received four proposals for client-management services and to conduct the public auction - Tim Levi of Celina, 3% seller commission and 10% buyers premium; Grube Auctioning of Fort Recovery, 15% plus expenses; Coldwater Auction Service, 15% of gross proceeds with no buyer premium; and Arling Evers Auctioneers of Osgood, one-time fee of $3,000 with the county responsible for marketing and porta-toliets.
Commissioners and maintenance supervisor Dave Dorsten studied the proposals and took into consideration factors such as auctioneer experience and past service, according to the commissioners' resolution.
Commissioners agreed to enter into a personal property auction agreement with Coldwater Auction Service.
Commissioners also awarded a $66,800 contract to sole bidder Koester Electric Inc. of Coldwater for the installation of an 80 kilowatt generator, automatic transfer switch and electric relocation at the site.
Electricity to the county home site is supplied from a boiler building that also powers a wastewater treatment plant east of the county home, the county jail, the Silver Lakes housing development and the Menchhofer Woods subdivision along Fleetfoot Road, officials have said.
Koesters Electric will install a generator at the wastewater treatment plant, Laffin said, and a portable generator will be operated as the work unfolds.
Laffin said the county home likely will be torn down before the end of the year. There are no plans at this time to build anything on the property once it's cleared, he said.
The remaining nine residents of the county home have found new living accommodations. Support to transition and relocate the residents was provided by Mercer County Job and Family Services, the Mercer County Board of Developmental Disabilities and Foundations Mental Health Service, according to a report issued by commissioners.
Some went to assisted living and nursing care facilities and others to apartments. Using funds from the county home's budget, commissioners agreed to pay one month's rent and deposit on apartments for residents found to be capable of self-sufficient living.
Commissioners in late January agreed to close and eventually raze the building, citing a lack of residents, inadequate facilities and cost-prohibitive renovations.
Asbestos abatement, building demolition and site improvements are estimated at $400,000. Other anticipated expenses include employee unemployment, $170,000, and resident transition, $70,000. The expenses will be covered with 2021 county home revenue of $1.4 million made up of $616,800 in 2020 carry-over funds, $775,000 in tax levy collections and $10,000 in board and maintenance funds, per a report issued earlier this year by commissioners.
A levy is the main source of the home's funding, although residents who are able to pay for a portion of their expenses do so. The levy brought in $775,381 in tax income in 2020, according to the report. County home residents who paid fees for room and board provided $27,811 in 2020.
Voters renewed the levy to operate from Jan. 1, 2020, until Dec. 31, 2024. However, Laffin said the levy will only continue to collect until the end of this year and is expected to bring in roughly $775,000 in 2021.
Most counties had an operational county home in the 1900s but the majority have since closed. The Mercer County Home was one of only eight county homes still in operation in Ohio.
The number of residents had waned over the years, from 34 in 1994 to 22 in 2004 and an average of 12 residents in 2020. It then dropped to nine residents, according to the report.
Commissioners said the availability of other federal- and state-funded programs has expanded, and other local agencies such as nursing homes have expanded to serve the same clientele as the county home.
The home had typically served people who could not live on their own without some level of daily or hourly support. However, it also was a non-certified care facility due to its design and lack of licensed medical staff.
Because it was not a licensed care facility, the home was not eligible for Medicaid or Medicare funding, Optional State Supplementation Payments or Supplemental Social Security payments of behalf of the residents.
The facility also wasn't suited for people who needed extensive medical care, according to the report. With small individual rooms, group bathrooms and limited handicap accessibility, the building didn't easily serve the needs of residents today, according to the report.