DOVER — The trio of Strafford County Democratic commissioners were all victorious in Tuesday’s general election, according to official results from the New Hampshire Secretary of State.
This means the Commissioners will continue with their aim to replace Riverside Rest Home with a new 215-bed nursing home nearby on County Farm Road in Dover, possibly downsized. of the original $170 million proposal.
Commission Chairman George Maglaras of Dover, Clerk Deanna Rollo of Rollinsford and Vice Chairman Robert Watson of Rochester won re-election by a wide margin over their Republican opponents.
“I am very touched by the support I received during this election. Working to help the sick, the elderly and the frail has been my life’s work and it’s good to have that recognized by voters,” Maglaras said.
The Republican candidates the trio of Democrats defeated were Fergus Cullen, a Dover resident and City Council member, fellow Dover resident Jonathan T. Otterson, and State Representative Susan DeLemus of Rochester. End of October, Cullen said the retirement home project was rushed and privatization options should be considered.
How many votes did each candidate get?
Results from the 2022 general election showed Maglaras, the former two-term mayor of Dover and longtime chairman of the city’s planning board, was the top achiever with 29,970 votes. Also a former state legislator representing the Garrison City, Maglaras, who has served on the commission since 1983, will now serve a 20th two-year term as commissioner.
Rollo received 28,832 votes, followed by Watson with 28,569.
DeLemus was the first runner-up with 21,183 votes, followed by Cullen with 20,710 and Otterson with 19,533.
The Democratic-leaning county has not had a Republican as commissioner since Catherine Cheney in 2012, county records show.
Now, with the election in the rearview mirror, Maglaras said, the commission is once again focused on passing the nursing home proposal.
What is the nursing home proposal?
The existing Riverside Rest Home, located at 276 County Farm Road in Dover, was built in 1978, has 215 beds and is a Medicare and Medicaid certified facility. Maglaras has said in the past that the new facility could be built on county land behind the Hyder Family Hospice House at 285 County Farm Road in Dover.
In recent months, the commission has proposed a new $170 million, 330,000 square foot retirement home, while pushing for the Riverside Rest Home to be converted into a transitional shelter modeled on Cross Roads House. in Portsmouth.
“It’s not just for your typical homeless population,” Maglaras said. “It’s for people displaced because of evictions, because of market forces that are happening in this area, because of affordability. This is a temporary transition situation.
Maglaras said the total square footage of the proposed nursing home would now be reduced, although the project would still require 215 beds. He added that utility infrastructure would still be built to support potential expansion of the proposed facility in the future, although he did not have an updated cost estimate for the project.
“The demand is coming,” he said of a possible expansion of the proposed facility in the future. “There’s no getting around it. The demand is there now, we are experiencing it now, and it will just gradually increase over the next 20 years as baby boomers age and progress through life. It’s just math.
When could the proposal be approved?
Maglaras said he hopes to have a workshop soon with the Strafford County delegation of New Hampshire House representatives, where he will present the amended plan, and follow it up with a vote on the proposal before current lawmakers leave office. at the end of 2022.
“I think people recognize that what we’re talking about is more than just a retirement home here. I want to keep people home as long as possible. I want to use telehealth to do this. I want to expand home and community services for the elderly and chronically ill. That’s what people want. People want to stay home as long as they can,” Maglaras said. “I very much appreciate the faith people have shown in me and my colleagues in the last elections to try to make some of them a reality. And I want to do my best to make that happen.
The nursing center would serve the current senior population and the aging baby boomer generation for decades to come, Maglaras said.
“It’s exciting. It’s going to go on for decades and decades,” he said. “I’m probably in the twilight years of my political tenure. I would like this to happen.”
A vote on the project, which would involve the delegation of state officials from the county, has been on hold since county commissioners learned that a request for $25 million in federal funding for the project was denied in mid -october.
Maglaras said the commission’s appeal was denied without reason, but they are automatically in a second round of funding led by the Governor’s Office for Emergencies and Relief and Recovery.