December 12, 2022

Randolph County voters back measure to keep care center open

Randolph County residents delivered an overwhelming vote to keep the community’s nursing home in public hands. A referendum to sell an unused portion of the nursing home to a private company passed with 67% of the vote.

In recent years, the nursing home’s population has fallen from nearly 120 residents to 49. The building is more than 70 years old and in need of serious repairs and maintenance to keep it up to code. The solution local officials devised was to rent the unused portion of the home to a private company for use as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility, which would bring in enough money to prevent the closure or sale of the nursing home.

Members of AFSCME Local 2402, which represents the employees at the home, engaged in a robust campaign to educate voters in their community. Julie Clutts, a certified nurse assistant and executive board member of the local, said they left no stone unturned, papering the community with flyers and a sending a barrage of emotionally resonant social media posts.

“I told everyone I ever saw,” Clutts said. “We went door to door with flyers. We hung them at post offices. We were heavy on social media, doing interviews with the residents, staff and families as to why they were voting yes.”

If the referendum failed, the county would have likely been forced to close the home, putting dozens of AFSCME members out of work and forcing almost 50 elderly residents of the home to relocate, in many cases to nursing homes that would be more than an hour away.

Clutts said the excitement watching the “yes” votes roll in on Election Day was palpable.

“They made the announcement to the residents in the dining hall that it passed, and there were just cheers all across the room,” Clutts said.

Council 31 Staff Representative Randy Lynch led the effort to pass the ballot initiative, with help from retired Staff Representative Steve Joiner.

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