Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Ground broken for assisted living center

Tom Klein
Posted 6/14/13

ORR – After some false starts with other contractors, Orr finally broke ground on Wednesday for a new assisted living center.

The project has been in the works for years, according to Orr Mayor …

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Ground broken for assisted living center


ORR – After some false starts with other contractors, Orr finally broke ground on Wednesday for a new assisted living center.

The project has been in the works for years, according to Orr Mayor Joel Astleford, but came together rapidly once Spectrum Health Co. became involved.

“I just want to thank everyone involved in making this happen,” said Astleford. “Spectrum has a very good track record and they make everything smooth from groundbreaking to finish.”

Astleford also singled out City Clerk Louis Redmond and Assistant Clerk Cheri Carter for their efforts in helping make the project a reality.

Spectrum’s 35-unit facility will serve up to 39 residents with both assisted living and memory care units. Ryan Companies US Inc., the Minnesota-based contractor, plans to begin construction on the $3.9 million facility on June 17. Spectrum has scheduled a January 2014 opening date.

“We’re very delighted to be here in Orr,” said Merle Sampson, CEO and owner of Spectrum. “This will be our fifth project in five years on the Iron Range, starting with Ely in 2008.”

Sampson said the city and other related partners helped smooth the path for the project.

A $350,000 grant for infrastructure improvements, such as extending water and sewer lines, was secured through the city and the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board.

In addition, the city sold the land for the facility to Spectrum for $1 and funded a feasibility study for the project.

The center is expected to provide employment for 25 to 30 people and will have positive economic effects that will ripple throughout the community.

“We’ll be buying grocery products and a lot of other things locally. We’ll be purchasing construction materials locally and use local labor where appropriate,” said Sampson.”All of that will help the economy and community locally.”

The new Carefree Living community will offer high quality accommodations, services and personal assistance designed to promote independent lifestyles within a safe and secure setting. Services include 24-hour staffing, housekeeping, laundry, activities, all meals and snacks, medication management and registered nursing availability. Additional services such as bathing and dressing assistance are available and based on need.

Sampson said research identified a need in the area for additional assisted living.

“The marketing study showed that there were 1,700 seniors over 65 within a 40-mile radius,” said Sampson. “We’re confident that the Cook and Orr facilities will be complementary instead of competitive.”

Meanwhile, councilors approved several actions associated with construction of the new facility during the Orr City Council meeting on Monday.

The council approved a development agreement for the Orr Care Free Living Center and also acted on an easement to the site to allow the city access to its water tower.

In other related action, councilors approved conditional use and building permits for the structure.

Based in Eveleth, Spectrum Health Co. has over 30 years of experience in the delivery of home care, assisted living and memory care. Spectrum’s branch companies provide health and personal care services for people of all ages in all types of residential settings and have over 500 employees in 15 Minnesota communities.

Spectrum owns the Carefree Living Assisted Living/Memory Care facilities in Brainerd, Burnsville, St. Cloud, Ely, Cook and Silver Bay, and also owns residential care facilities in Virginia and Ely.

Most recently, Babbitt Carefree Living, a 38-bed facility featuring an assisted living, enhanced care and a memory care unit was opened in Babbitt in January of 2013 and currently employs 25.

For employment information with Spectrum Health Companies, visit Spectrum’s website at


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