Sunrise Heights Community Saves Their Home


By: Zach Richie

Lucille McBride has called Sunrise Heights, formerly Heritage of Wauneta, home for the last six years. Earlier this summer, Vetter Health Services put the community up for sale. Many residents like Lucille were worried that they would lose their homes.

"Six years ago, I had a stroke. I couldn't go back home so this was the place for me," said McBride.

Facing an uncertain future, the Village of Wauneta went to work. They raised the nearly $800,000 to purchase the facility through donations, cash reserves, and revenue bonds through local banks and a telecommunications provider.

"It's the kind of community that will step up for worthy projects. The board just reflects the spirit of the community, so for me it wasn't any real surprise really," said Page Johnston, village board member.

By saving Sunrise Heights, the village kept a major employer in town.

60 people work at Sunrise Heights around the clock and that's a sizeable workforce in a town of under 600 people. One family has five generations who have punched the clock here.

"It's been an important part of my life, family. The residents become your family as well," said Deb Andrew, director of nursing.

Sunrise Heights will host an open house barbecue and auction on Saturday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. (MST).

Karla Lipska said, "The support we've had from them was just overwhelming. I have never felt so needed in my whole life."

For residents like Lucille, they're thankful for spending birthdays at home.