By Joe Morey
The new Lac Courte Oreilles Elder Nutrition Center is under construction in the community of Reserve nearby to the current facility and according to Director Rosalie Gokee, is on schedule to be completed sometime late February, early March of 2024.
“The new building will include a larger seating area for congregate meals; will have a separate room for activities with a couch and chairs for seating as well as an area for computer accessibility; will have a physical therapy workout room; and bathrooms and the entrance to the building will be handicap accessible,” Gokee told LCO News. “The parking lot will be blacktopped with a covered area for drop off which will be a big improvement from the current location. There will also be a gated patio seating area.”
The new facility, paid for by a Neighborhood Investment Fund Program grant awarded to the Tribe in 2022 in the amount of $3,134,320 aimed at helping serve ‘vulnerable populations’ at Lac Courte Oreilles, will be much larger than the current facility. The new 7,200 square foot will have a walk-in cooler; walk-in freezer; walk-in pantry, commercial dishwasher; more office space; conference room; four stall attached garage; and more storage space.
“A generator will be onsite in the event of a power outage to preserve food that is critical to the nutrition program that provides congregate and home-delivered meals,” Gokee explained.
Currently, there are a variety of services and activities offered to elders and disabled of the LCO community, which, as Gokee states, will continue and be expanded on as needed.
“Increased staffing is not anticipated, however, with more space available it will make it possible to work collaboratively with other departments or agencies to come to offer services at the center to assist elders and the disabled. There will be a need for maintenance staff which is anticipated to be absorbed by current staff through increased hours,” Gokee said.
Members of the LCO Elder Advisory Council attended the planning meetings and actively participated in the design and decision making regarding the new center, and according to Gokee, their input was important and welcomed.
The current elder center building is owned by the LCO Housing Authority, and considerations are being made that once vacated, it may be turned into a community center for Reserve.
The funding for the new facility was part of a nearly $650 million investment allocated by Governor Evers for community building and recovery efforts statewide. The Neighborhood Investment Fund program was announced in August 2021 and is administered by the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA). Grants awarded ranged in size from $1 million to a maximum of $15 million and were funded through the American Rescue Plan Act.