The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

By Brandon Cline
Managing Editor 

Proposed memory care center takes big step forward


A lengthy Ritzville City Council meeting on May 21 resulted in significant progress toward the overall completion of East Adams Rural Healthcare’s (EARH) sale of property to Gibraltar Senior Living, who plan on developing the property into a memory care center.

The property in question consists of three parcels in total; one of the parcels houses the Life Care Center, while the other two parcels are located next to the Life Care Center. At the meeting, the Ritzville City Council approved three resolutions from the Ritzville Planning Commission that were needed in order to continue the process.

In all, the three resolutions: amended the Comprehensive Plan Land Use Map and Zoning Map designation from an R-1 to R-3 zone for the parcel at 506 S Jackson St.; and agreed to approve a Conditional Use Permit for the three parcels following the annexation of the two parcels into the City’s corporate boundaries, and once the two parcels have also been designated from an R-1 to R-3 zone for the CPLU Map and Zoning Map.

Ordinance No. 2130 was also approved at the meeting following a second required public hearing. The ordinance states that the city council “deems it in the best interest of the City of Ritzville” that the two parcels “should become a part of the City of Ritzville, Washington.”

Other public hearings related to the annexation and rezoning of the parcels were held during the meeting, and more public hearings were set for the July 2 council meeting. The City cannot take action approving the Planning Commission’s resolutions until public hearings have been held.

The deal between EARH and Gibraltar is contingent upon the annexation of the two parcels in question into the City’s corporate boundaries and the rezoning of the three parcels from an R-1 to R-3 designation, which will allow for the construction of the proposed memory care center.

Stakeholders from both EARH and Gibraltar attended the meeting, including EARH CEO Gary Bostrom and Gibraltar owner Vinson Latimore. Lawyer Taudd Hume from Parsons/Burnett/Bjordahl/Hume law firm out of Spokane spoke on behalf of EARH during one of the public hearings, and thanked the City staff and Clerk-Treasurer Julie Flyckt specifically for the work that has been put in throughout the process.

Hume told the council that this process has really served two purposes: to clean up the property from an entitlements standpoint following a failed attempted annexation a number of years ago, and to bring an end-of-life healthcare facility to Ritzville that allows people to continue to live in their community.

“I think [these types of facilities] are what keeps a community vibrant, and that is the intent of what we’re trying to accomplish with these resolutions that are in front of you,” Hume said.

In other news at the meeting, the council unanimously approved a pay raise for Mayor Gary Cook from $600 to $800 a month. The figure was unanimously agreed to by the Finance Committee, said councilmember Mike Schrag, who serves on the committee.

“As all of us know, the duties and responsibilities of the mayor’s office has increased … which means more and more time dedicated [at City Hall] to do the job correctly,” said Schrag. Schrag also noted that the council approved a raise for the city councilmembers a number of years ago, but not for the position of mayor.

Mayor Cook recused himself from calling for the vote due to the conflict of interest, and the vote was called by councilmember Dennis Chamberlain in his capacity as mayor pro tem.

Councilmember Michelle Plumb shared that the Health & Wellness Committee voted to adopt a finalized wayfinding plan at its last meeting. The next step in the process is for the City to receive bids for sign fabrication, up to $44,000 that the committee has been allotted for wayfinding signage. The first signage that is expected to be addressed is on Interstate 90.

“We’re just excited about getting the correct information out there, that people can see,” said Plumb lightheartedly. Mayor Cook agreed, saying the updates are overdue.

Mayor Cook also announced during the meeting that Donna Matlock resigned from the Ritzville Planning Commission on May 8. In the letter, Matlock said her family is moving to the Seattle area early in the summer. Matlock thanked Mayor Cook, her fellow commissioners and City staff, and said she enjoyed her time serving on the commission.


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