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Changes coming to IVH

A multi-phase project began earlier this year on the campus’ grounds

T-R PHOTO BY MIKE BURVEE Where a grass patch once stood now can be found a meditation garden. The space provides an escape for residents at the Iowa Veterans Home as well as an area to enjoy the outdoors. The garden area opened earlier this month and was designed for resident use but is also available for the public when visiting. More projects are designed for the campus in the next few years, with more donations needed to begin work.

After receiving a large donation given to the commandant a small group of staff members at the Iowa Veterans Home came together with a plan in putting it to use.

The plan includes getting rid of an old water feature, which has been broken for months.

“It was an eyesore,” said Denise Ulery, public service executive for IVH. “We then analyzed the surrounding space and came to the conclusion it was underutilized.”

From there a multi-phase project was borne, with the first being just recently completed.

The weekend leading up to July 4, a meditation garden was open to the residents and public. The project didn’t take very long, with the process beginning in April.

The IVH worked alongside local DCI Group and a landscape architecture firm — JBC, located in Kansas City, Mo. Day Construction was awarded the contracting bid which included a fountain, pathway, benches, lighting, landscaping and a wooden fence surrounding a nearby greenhouse.

Before the project began the space wasn’t useable or accessible to residents. Brick walls blocked off a large section of grass with two trees, which were kept.

“I’m extremely pleased with how this turned out,” Ulery said. “Residents are just now starting to gravitate towards it and I’ve only heard positive things from them.”

Many have expressed appreciation for the newly developed space. It’s become a place where they can relax as well as interact with friends and family.

In the center stands a fountain made up of two 100 year old sugar kettles, found online by Ulery and then later installed.

The corner space is surrounded by windows which allowed many residents to keep track of the work and when it had finally been completed.

A second piece of the first phase included an adjacent greenhouse getting renovated and outfitted for better resident use. A plaque commemorates a donation from District 6 of the American Legion Auxiliary.

Only the first step

With one phase down, three more remain to be complete. Phase two will include installation of a new gazebo in addition to updating the existing planting boxes.

The new boxes will allow easier access for those in wheelchairs and will include more watering stations placed near them.

“Right now people in wheelchairs have to line up parallel to their plantings and then twist to work on them,” Ulery said. “The newer ones will be raised higher to allow a wheelchair to fit under and allow them to work facing it.”

She mentioned that staff and residents are most excited about the upgrade because of how many are used as is.

The final element in the second phase is to include more seating in a patio area while pouring new sidewalks.

There is no estimate when this part will be complete as it relies on incoming donations.

“We’re hoping we can get this part done sometime next year,” Ulery said. “It really depends on how much money we bring in, it’s a much larger project than the meditation garden.”

To donate funds to the IVH contact Mike Hines at (641) 753-4309 or michael.hines@ivh.state.ia.us; or Aimee Deimerly at (641) 753-4406 or Aimee.Deimerly@ivh.state.ia.us.

All phases of the project are geared toward making the living experience the best it can be and also allowing for more interaction between family and friends.

“These spaces aren’t just for residents’ use,” Ulery said. “We want to draw in more of the public to our campus, many haven’t been.”

She also said when it’s all said and done the access points not via building will be fenced off. This will allow residents to make full use of the space even at night, and make them feel safer when doing so.

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Contact Mike Burvee at (641) 753-6611 or mburvee@timesrepublican.com

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