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The building at 505 W. 8th St. could soon become the new home for the Salvation Army's Grace Place Shelter, which is currently based in Somerset. (Photo by Micheal Foley)

Grace Place to buy vacant nursing home

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The Salvation Army's homeless shelter in Somerset is hoping to change homes.

Grace Place Shelter, currently located behind St. Anne Catholic Church in Somerset, is hoping to close on the sale of a vacant nursing home in New Richmond and convert it for use as a shelter, according to Duana Bremer, director of Social Services for the Salvation Army in the St. Croix Valley.

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The building, long-known as the Maple Manor nursing home and The Deerfield Gables Care Center at 505 W. 8th St., is currently owned by Presbyterian Homes, which opened a new Deerfield facility in New Richmond last year.

"Presbyterian Homes wants to sell us the property for $1," Bremer said. "We're hoping to have approval to move forward on the closing of the property within the next month."

If all goes according to plan, the Salvation Army could have the new shelter up and running in spring 2014.

Grace Place is looking forward to the move into a property with more space. Bremer said the shelter turned away nearly 160 people in the first five months of 2013 because of lack of space.

"Right now at Grace Place it's a beautiful tudor home. You walk in and take a breath because you feel like you're home. However, we're so cramped for space."

The shelter in Somerset can accommodate 24 people in seven rooms, and the rooms in the new facility will be twice the size, Bremer said. Upon opening Bremer believes the building and staff will accommodate up to 35 people with space to someday reach a capacity of 60.

Grace Place is currently in the beginning stages of developing its capital campaign that Bremer hopes will raise the funds needed to transform the vacant space into a proper shelter. She expects the campaign to begin in November and run through January, and she stresses that there is a need for more shelter space in St. Croix County.

Bremer said that people tend to envision homelessness as a person with a "will work for food" sign, but the reality in this part of the country is somewhat different.

"That's not really what we see in rural America," Bremer said. "They are either in their cars, in campgrounds or what we call 'couchsurfing' -- staying with one friend one night and another friend the next night. The need is here, but it's not visible like it is in the Cities."

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Micheal Foley
Micheal Foley joined RiverTown Multimedia in July 2013 and serves as editor at the New Richmond News. In the past he has worked at several news outlets including Patch.com in Hudson, Wis., the Desert Sun in Palm Springs, Calif., the Leader-Telegram in Eau Claire, Wis., and the Pioneer Press in St. Paul, Minn. He began his career as a Marine Corps journalist. He served as a reporter and photographer in Okinawa, Japan, and editor of the base newspaper at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, Calif. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin–River Falls.
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