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Stephenson Co. Board rejects $1.6 million offer to purchase Walnut Acres

The Stephenson County Nursing Center Committee voted unanimously last week to reject the offer, and tonight the full board followed suit, denying the sale of Walnut Acres by a 19 to two vote.
Walnut Acres is saved from private purchase.
Walnut Acres is saved from private purchase.(WIFR)
Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 9:50 PM CDT
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FREEPORT, Ill. (WIFR) - The longest-serving long-term care facility in Stephenson County has a new life after the county board votes late Thursday night to reject a $1.6 million purchase proposal.

The Stephenson County Nursing Center Committee voted unanimously last week to reject the offer, and tonight the full board followed suit, denying the sale of Walnut Acres by a 19 to two vote.

“I’m sure there are some board members that are wanting another offer, that’s not my opinion,” said Casey Anthony, board nursing center chair.

There were 1.6 million reasons for the Stephenson County Board to accept Saba Healthcare’s offer to buy Walnut Acres Nursing Center. But, Nursing Center Chair Casey Anthony believes the board made the right choice by overwhelmingly voting against the sale.

“I’ve always been on the side of wanting to keep the nursing home to keep that asset in the county hands for the benefit of our community,” Anthony said.

Anthony says the county needs to think about quality of care over quantity of money. Many local residents have been fighting to keep a Stephenson County staple like Walnut Acres a part of the community.

“They just don’t understand why in the world we’d wanna sell this place and we just know that it would change tremendously if it sold,” said Freeport resident Ed Klein. “It will no longer have the same kind of care and to be able to really to take care of our least fortunate citizens who really need a spot like this.”

Walnut Acres has been serving Freeport for more than a century and a half and Klein has fought to save it for the last six years. But despite Thursday night’s victory, Klein knows more work lies ahead.

“When you have a facility that’s been around that long, over 160 years, there will be up and downs and you can’t just get out of it because now this is a down time and we’re struggling, okay but there’s a reason this thing’s been around and it has served the people very very well,” Klein said.

A spokesperson with Saba Healthcare says he is not surprised with tonight’s vote and the company will continue to come back with larger offers until the county accepts it.

Anthony says in the future if any other offers are made to purchase Walnut Acres, she intends to fight to keep the facility with the county.

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