LIMA — When Diane Bishop first began to plan the Allen County Council on Aging’s move from its former location at 215 N. Central Ave., she scouted out 17 buildings throughout the county. But one in particular kept catching her eye on her commute to work.
“I would look on my left, and I kept thinking, ‘That would make a great building for the Council on Aging,” Bishop said.
At the time, the 32,000 square-foot building at 700 N. Main St. — with vaulted ceilings, a second floor and attached garage — was used as a warehouse. Bishop, however, had a vision for its future use, and Wednesday night, more than 15 years after those early morning commutes, she stood at the podium inside of the newly-renovated space and praised the efforts of her staff and contractors that helped her bring that dream to life.
“It’s a fabulous building, but the spirit and energy inside this building, there is no comparison,” Bishop said while fighting back tears. “There is no comparison.”
Today, Bishop has retired, and her replacement Executive Director Michael Hensley is the one who gets to manage the county’s Council on Aging in the new space.
“This building is the culmination of many years of hard work,” Hensley during the ribbon-cutting ceremony held Wednesday night. Consisting of staff offices at the front, an elderly day care center taking up the majority of the space in its middle, and a garage set aside for its transportation programs, the updated building means the ACCoA now has expanded space for activities, like bands and exercise, and due to the council’s ownership, the organization can save on operational budgets by eliminating rental costs.
The ACCoA purchased the building in 2016 for roughly $400,000. With the additional cost of $976,000 for renovations, the project’s final price tag is roughly $1.4 million, which they saved over a course of decades, Hensley said.
One of the major benefits of the new building has been a staff dedicated to creating the right space for its customers. Lorain Lovett, coordinator of the Elderly Day Care Center, played an instrumental role in designing and preparing the space for its elderly customers.
“When we got this building, … and (Bishop) said you got a day care center, put some plans together for what you want,” Lovett said. “I was so tickled.”
Although Lovett is no architect, she said she would often tour other elderly day care centers whenever she found the time, even using hours from vacation schedules when visiting new places, to find out what she would like to incorporate if she ever had the chance to plan a space. As she worked with design professionals, she kept true to her suggestions when she could and used her decades of experience as a guide. The wide open, well-lit and brightly-colored space with blue and orange walls shows her influence.
“Really, when we got it all done,” Lovett said, “it was a dream come true.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.