It's like giving a daughter away on her wedding day.
That's how one Carbon County Commissioner felt when the county made the formal announcement Thursday, that they had signed a letter of intent with a company in western Pennsylvania to sell Weatherwood, the Carbon County Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Weatherly.
"It's very much like giving away a daughter who is part of you," said Commissioner William O'Gurek, who will be giving his own daughter away on her wedding day next year. "It is an emotional time for us to say that we are going to sell Weatherwood and actually take that step. We've been going through that process and it's been a tremendous learning experience for all of us.
"I'm proud to say, that the commissioners have signed a letter of intent to sell Weatherwood to Guardian Elder Care of Brockway."
O'Gurek added that Guardian Elder Care has impressed county officials and believes that they will continue to operate Weatherwood in the same way Carbon County has for more than three decades.
"I'm 100 percent confident in these three gentlemen owners Raymond L. Calhoun and Peter Varischetti and Eddy J. Inzana, president and CEO and their company," he said. "I believe we made the right choice in finding someone who shares our belief and our philosophy to keep Weatherwood the community asset that it is in terms of jobs and most importantly, the quality of care."
Following the formal announcement, Commissioners Charles Getz and Wayne Nothstein; as well as Randall Smith, county administrator, provided their thoughts on the sale.
Getz, who originally opposed selling the 200-bed facility, said that he was happy with the choice.
"I was concerned with who would own the facility," he said. "But, as we spoke to companies, I was really impressed with Guardian and when I met you in person, I was really assured that we were making the right decision to sign a letter of intent.
"I am glad that we chose you, because in my heart, I know you'll do what is right for the people up there, the people who work there, and that you will continue to make Carbon County's Weatherwood a great place for residents."
Nothstein echoed O'Gurek and Getz's thoughts, saying that he had talked with numerous counties that had sold their nursing homes, and thinks the county has made a good decision.
"I am very pleased with the selection," he said. "From day one when we interviewed Guardian, we were impressed. I'm very confident that they will provide the quality of care for our residents and do their very best for our county employees."
Smith, who was part of the committee heading the sale, added that there are many similarities between Carbon County and Guardian Elder Care.
"We liked the values that Guardian talked about and they seemed a lot like us," he said. "We're sort of rural. We all come from small towns and I believe that makes for a pretty good fit between Guardian and Carbon County."
He added that Guardian was the first company to take a tour of the facility and they had set very high standards from the start.
"After every tour, we (the committee) sat down and reviewed our experience with meeting the people we gave tours to. Every time, we came back to Guardian. We liked Guardian."
The representatives from Guardian Elder Care were thrilled with the upcoming sale, saying that they are excited to start this new venture.
Calhoun said that the company is focused on providing the same kind of care Carbon County has given to the residents at Weatherwood.
"Our primary focus is rural areas in Pennsylvania for exactly the same reasons Randy said," he explained. "We're comfortable in the hills and valleys and rural areas. We talk the same talk and have the same values. The Weatherwood facility seems like it will be a very good fit with our values."
Varischetti and Inzana echoed Calhoun's thoughts on the sale and the relationship between the two entities.
"Thank you for your kind words and for the opportunity," Varischetti said. "We're very excited for the opportunity to purchase Weatherwood. It's a wonderful community in Carbon County."
He compared the residents of Carbon to the residents of Jefferson County, where Brockway is located.
"The people of Carbon remind me of the people of Jefferson," he said. "They are good, hard working people. They have a passion about their county. We're very excited about getting into Weatherwood and meeting the families and residents. We look forward to working with the employees."
Inzana pointed out that one of Carbon County's own, Kathy Gillespie, is on his leadership team at Guardian and when they visited Weatherwood, the welcome she received from everyone was heartwarming.
He added that he was told by the county's broker that "Weatherwood is one of the nicest buildings you will ever enter."
He said they were right.
The company said that admissions criteria will remain the same as Carbon County had it and that they will be working with the staff to determine the best way to provide continued care for Weatherwood's residents.
"Our first and foremost priority is making sure the residents remain cared for, so whatever it takes to ensure that, that is what we'll be doing," Inzana said.
Negotiations between Carbon County and Guardian Elder Care are now taking place. The county hopes to have a contract agreement signed in the very near future, with a transfer of ownership to take place before July 1.
The official sale price of Weatherwood has not been announced.
O'Gurek said that once negotiations have been completed and a purchase agreement has been signed, the county will release the sale price.