ERWIN — Several years after officials broke ground on the project, some area residents are now calling the Governor’s Bend Retirement and Assisted Living Facility home.
Officials were once again on hand at Governor’s Bend on Friday to commemorate this at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the recently opened facility.
“I want to thank the residents and families for waiting so long, but when they came, and we have 22 folks living here today, they were thrilled,” Governor’s Bend Executive Director Johnnie Lyons said. “They’re thrilled with their home, they’re thrilled with what we have here.”
The Governor’s Bend facility, which falls under the umbrella of Greeneville-based Free Will Baptist Family Ministries and began accepting residents in mid-October, has been more than four years in the making. Before construction got under way, a feasibility study was completed to assess Unicoi County’s need for an assisted living facility. Former Gov. Phil Bredesen helped secure a $3 million grant for the project, the land on which the facility is located was donated by the town of Erwin, and Free Will Baptist Family Ministries took out a $5 million low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program.
The more than 40,000-square-foot, $8 million facility, located on Zane Whitson Drive across from the FIshery Park, includes more than 50 suites made up of three apartment types — studio apartments, one-bedroom apartments with a living room/kitchen combination and two-bedroom/two-bath apartments. Services and amenities include 24-hour nursing, three daily meals for residents, maintenance, housekeeping and laundry services and travel services.
“It’s great to be part of the unexplainable, the things that only the Holy Spirit can control and can accomplish. That’s what you want to be part of,” said Dr. James Kilgore, former president/CEO of Free Will Baptist Family Ministries. “And I’m thankful for the board of trustees at Free Will Baptist Ministries for their vision and confidence in this project. Governor’s Bend is an extraordinary joint effort of local, state, federal and private nonprofit entities that came together for the common good of the people.”
Erwin Town Recorder Randy Trivette lauded the efforts of Lyons and Erwin Mayor Brushy Lewis, who Trivette and others said was instrumental in seeing the project come to fruition.
“We’re very, very pleased to have this facility in the town of Erwin and Unicoi County because there’s a great economic impact that comes from a facility like this,” Trivette said. “There’s a lot of people who are, like I said earlier, out of the county who get to move back home. You want your loved ones close to you. You want them to be able to feel like they’re at home and be in a place where they grew up and were raised, and this facility provides that for our residents of our community.”
Like U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, who also spoke at Friday’s ceremony, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey voiced his appreciation for those who helped make Governor’s Bend a reality and the collaborative efforts of private contributors and those at all levels of government. Ramsey said Governor’s Bend should provide an faith-based assisted living experience for its residents that is “second to none” in Tennessee.
“This is the perfect example of what you can do when you cooperate,” Ramsey said.