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Alice B. Tawes Nursing & Rehabilitation Center groundbreaking

Oct. 15, 2008 -- Construction on the second-generation Alice B. Tawes Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Crisfield moved into full swing today.

More than 100 civic, business and political leaders gathered on the McCready Memorial Hospital grounds to hear speeches and watch the ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony for the new eldercare facility.

Crisfield businessman Jay Tawes, who headed the community fund-raising effort, and McCready board chairman Arnold Torres of Pocomoke City arrived at the event in dramatic nautical fashion -- aboard fishing boat Capt. Keith Ward's  Prime Time II.

Torres and Tawes were greeted at McCready's dock on Daugherty Creek by Elizabeth Long, Miss Crustacean 2008, who presented both with ceremonial hard hats and silver shovels.

The Crisfield High School senior then chauffeured the two men via golf cart a short distance to a tent set up under a pair of sycamore trees, where the V-shaped building will be constructed over the next 15 months.

Tawes, the great-grandson of the nursing home's namesake, served as master of ceremonies and charmed the gathering with his homespun humor.

An "Indian Summer" day blessed the event with warm temperatures and clear skies.

Along with Tawes and Torres, other speakers on the program were Charles F. Pinkerman, the McCready chief executive officer (at time of photo), and Lisa Fitzgerald of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the federal agency that arranged the bulk of the financing for the project.

A four-story, 70,300-square-foot structure will rise 60 feet adjacent to the hospital and just behind the current 69-bed, single-story nursing home that opened in 1968. The new building is destined to be one of Crisfield's most distinctive landmarks -- with a panoramic view of the Little Annemessex River and Janes Island State Park on the opposite bank of Daugherty Creek. 

It feature 22 private and 27 semi-private rooms, which when full, will be home to 76 residents. The top floor will be assisted-living space for an additional 30 residents -- a major expansion of health-care services at McCready that will be available by the end of this decade. The old nursing home will be torn down when the new one opens.

Novella Bozman, the nursing home's director, was among those who offered remarks and spoke about the bonds her staff nurture with each resident. Bozman said some Tawes residents already are quizzing her about which floor of the new building they will get to live on.

Bozman then introduced Catherine A. Brown of Crisfield, who offered a heartfelt  testimonial about her experience as a rehabilitation patient at Tawes.

One wing of the current nursing home is closed and its residents have relocated temporarily to rooms in the hospital next door.

The ground-breaking ceremony was long anticipated. The state of Maryland authorized a "certificate of need" in early 2005. McCready Foundation board members then moved to approve plans to build a new facility specifically for the elderly and those who need transitional rehabilitation therapy. 

A multi-million dollar capital campaign was launched, which included a goal to raise $1 million in donations -- big and small -- within the community.

Funding for the $12½-million construction project will draw on a combination of publicly and privately backed loans, contributions from the community and a state grant that Del. Page Elmore and state Sen.  Lowell Stoltzfus secured from Maryland's legislature.

If you would like to help McCready reach its modest goal, here are a few suggested "ways to give."
 Fund-drive chair Jay Tawes, left, nursing home director Novella Bozman, USDA official Lisa Fitzgerald and McCready Foundation board members Arnold Torres and Robert Jones prepare for the ceremonial groundbreaking.

More groundbreaking ceremony photos can be seen at The  Daily Times' online   "Photo Gallery."

From our beloved former Chief Executive Officer ...

In 2004, the newly installed McCready Foundation board of directors began a review of all the services offered by McCready Memorial Hospital and the Alice Byrd Tawes Nursing Home.

A consultant gathered historical data and sought opinions throughout the community to guide the governing board in designing the foundation's future course.

Because the community strongly supported replacing the obsolete Tawes Nursing Home, we applied for a state "certificate of need." Our strategic planning committee envisioned a mult-million dollar, four-story building with 76 skilled nursing beds and a 30-resident assisted living center.

The year 2006 brought months of touring other eldercare facilities, interviewing architects and assembling the needed funds from a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan, a bank loan, local and state government grants, operational funds -- and a $1 million community campaign. We selected the Iott Architectural firm of Salisbury to present the schematics.

By 2007, our capital campaign headed by chairman Jay Tawes of Crisfield and honorary chairmen, state Sen. Lowell Stoltzfus and Del. Page Elmore, was in full swing.

This year, we solicited construction bids. Nason Construction of Salisbury and several sub-contractors signed on in September.

Today, surrounded by our friends and generous donors, we proudly and gratefully break ground.

Charles F. Pinkerman
Oct. 15, 2008