Welch Tours Cedar Hill, Touts Partnership with HUD

By Chris Garofolo
U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, right, speaks with Doris Whitcomb during his Tuesday afternoon tour of The Village at Cedar Hill in Windsor. Mary Louise Sayles, the owner of Cedar Hill, stands in the background.
U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, right, speaks with Doris Whitcomb during his Tuesday afternoon tour of The Village at Cedar Hill in Windsor. Mary Louise Sayles, the owner of Cedar Hill, stands in the background.

U.S. Rep. Peter Welch toured The Village at Cedar Hill Tuesday afternoon, using the Windsor-based nursing facility to illustrate the importance of synergy between the federal programs and private business.

Welch, D-Vt., walked through Cedar Hill to showcase the developments made within the expanding care center, praising the partnership between the local owners and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as success story he can bring back to Capitol Hill.

HUD gave the go-ahead earlier this year for a $9 million insured mortgage as part of Cedar Hill Continuing Care Community’s $10.64 million expansion. The project, currently underway with a completion date of January 2015, will add a 20-patient memory care unit and 20 independent, assisted-living apartments.

“This was accomplished with enormous local leadership, but one of the tools that was essential to them being successful was the federal HUD loan guarantee program. There’s a lot of debate about government, but this is an example where you got to have that partnership,” said Welch, who is up for re-election in less than a month. He is facing Republican challenger Mark Donka, of Hartford, in the race to serve as Vermont’s sole representative in the U.S. House.

“The hard, challenging work is the work these folks did, but the tool of financial guarantee from HUD is something that really made a difference and that’s something that only the federal government can do,” Welch continued. “For me, this is an important example of why the federal government has got to be a constructive partner if we’re going to be able to, in this case, help folks live out their final years with dignity in a comfortable, family-oriented kind of place.”

Mary Louise Sayles, Cedar Hill owner and a licensed nursing home administrator, said it was a long, tough battle to get the facility where is it today.

“We were a couple of middle-aged women who were trying to do something on their own, create an environment that we wanted and trying to get the funding was really a battle” she said.

Sayles operates the facility with her daughter Patricia Horn, the both of whom joined the congressman on his walk-through of the campus. Sayles founded Cedar Hill in 1988 with the now-deceased Judy Brogren.

“It’s amazing what you’ve done,” Welch told Sayles. “When I was a Windsor County senator, I remember when Cedar Hill was just a tiny little place in the center of Windsor, but it had this vision of quality care locally for people.”

While touring the facility, Welch was greeted by former Perkinsville resident Doris Whitcomb, who hosted the first house party for a young Welch when he initially ran for the Vermont Senate in 1980.

“How could I forget you? You got me elected,” he said to Whitcomb, getting on one knee to speak to her in her wheelchair. “I’m in politics because Doris got me here, so I’m really excited [to see her].”

This story originally appeared in the 10-22-2014 issue of The Eagle Times