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Whispering Pines employees fear pending job loss

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Laura L. Merle of Watertown petitioned the Jefferson County Board of Legislators on Tuesday night to consider filling open positions in various departments with employees who will lose their jobs early next year when the Jefferson County Home for the Aged closes.

Mrs. Merle, a Home for the Aged employee, emphasized the loyalty and dedication she and her fellow employees demonstrated to the home and the county, pointing out many of the employees chose to stay despite the impending closure.

“We've chosen to stay here to take care of our residents who we took care of as if they were our own family,” she said.

Reading from a prepared statement, Mrs. Merle also highlighted the staff's seasoned and experienced nature, pointing out the 11 full-time county home employees have a combined 218 years of experience.

“We have one who has 30 years in,” she said. “We have about four that have 20 or better and the rest 10 or better.”

Mrs. Merle made it clear the employees were not asking the county to create jobs for them, but rather find openings for them in the county government. She concluded her statement by saying, “What we are asking is for you to look into your departments and fill your vacancies with qualified, loyal and dedicated employees.”

The Jefferson County Home for the Aged, which is also known as the Whispering Pines Adult Home, has beds for 50 residents. It was initially slated to close in the third quarter of 2013 but now may close as early as the spring after the construction of Samaritan Summit Village is completed.

Scheduled to open early next year, Samaritan Summit Village will have a total of 288 beds, comprising a combination of 168 skilled-nursing beds and 120 assisted-living beds in separate wings. It will not be run by Jefferson County.

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