While standing at the future site on Front Street, Slater Mayor Stephen Allegri announced on Thursday, June 3, 2010 that the city would soon be accomplishing a long-term goal -- building a new medical clinic and heliport.
"Since I've been a councilman and mayor this is one of the most important things that has come about for Slater in many years," he said during a press conference held at noon on Thursday, June 3 where the facility will be located.
"This clinic will be such an asset to the community. One of the first things people ask when they come to town is what is the status of our health care," he said.
Allegri spoke about the progress already made on the project.
"This thing has gotten off to a great start -- it's just not a pipe dream. Fitzgibbon Hospital has agreed to staff and equip this facility. The city of Slater has donated this land here to build the facility and Wood and Huston Bank has agreed to donate the heliport for the facility," he said. "JI Akeman and Barbara Akeman have agreed to start the fundraiser with a donation of $60,000, so you can see we are well on our way to accomplishing this goal.
Allegri said the facility would have a full-time health clinic staffed by a nurse practioner and a visiting doctor.
"Combined with the ambulance and the heliport it could cut down on valuable lifesaving time for people," he said, adding that the heliport and ambulance will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The heliport will serve another purpose as well.
"When not used as a heliport it will be used as a basketball court for the kids in town too," he said.
Ron Ott, CEO of Fitzgibbon Hospital spoke during the press conference about the hospital's role in the project.
"Our plan is to have this clinic open five days a week with a nurse practioner and physicians," he said. " I am happy to say that Dr. (Tom) Papreck has agreed to stay on and work with us for the foreseeable future. I will assure you that we will do a good job in providing quality care here in this clinic and be a good partner with the city of Slater."
Allegri said a 501 C3 non-profit corporation has been formed - the Slater Health Care Facilities Corporation - to raise tax-deductible funds to build the clinic.
The total cost of the clinic will be approximately $360,000, Allegri said.
"We'd like to have $160,000 raised by August 1 to begin construction and start the first of September," he said.
The Akemans, who own a farm just west of the town, said as life-long area residents they made their donation to help get the project started.
"My wife is a big booster of the town and so am I. We wanted to do it and get it started," said JI Akeman in an interview after the press conference.
"I just think its something that the city of Slater really needed and I'm one of these when I think you need something, somebody has to get the ball rolling," said Barbara Akeman, who agreed to be in charge of the donation committee.
Although for now they are focusing on the clinic and heliport, another board is working on plans to add a new ambulance building to the site in a third phase of the project.
"Within the future we would like to build a new ambulance center so we will have a whole complete urgent care center in Slater," said Allegri. "This facility would not only serve the citizens of Slater but all of eastern Saline County and rural Slater. Not only that, but we'll go into Howard County and serve some of their health care needs."
"I think it is going to be a tremendous facility and a tremendous gift to the citizens of Slater," he added.
"We ask all the people to donate and donate generously so we can begin this project," he said. " If everybody would follow J.I. and Barbara's lead I think we are well on our way to breaking ground September 1."
Although they will soon be sending out letters and getting more announcements out, Allegri said those interested can make donations to the Slater Health Care Facilities Corporation and send them or drop them off at the State Bank of Slater.
"Any extra money in the future will be put into a health care fund so that if we need things that are on a health care line in the future, those funds will be available too," said Allegri.
A sign with a donation "thermometer" has been placed at the future site and will be updated as fundraising progresses.
The board members for the new facility are John Markovich president, Russ (Gene) Griffith, vice-president; Connie Hays, secretary-treasurer, with board members Tom Boehner, Leo Galloway, Kathy Jacobson, Lynn Sullivan, Jason Weiker and Harry Whitlock.
Randy Phillips of Phillips Construction in Raymore, Mo will be the main contractor on the job and the architect is Jim Bumgarner of Bumgarner Associates Architects/ Planners of Lees Summit, Mo.
Contact Marcia Gorrell at firstname.lastname@example.org