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New homes help seniors maintain independent living

RONAN – Beth Preston wanted in as soon as she saw the plans for the new independent living facility for the east side of Eisenhower Street, but she had to wait for The Peaks to be built along with the road that leads to it. “I was living alone in a big house, and I wanted something different,” Preston said.

As a person considering her living situation later in her life, she wanted things to be easier. She said she wanted someone to handle the hassle of household duties like lawn work and home repairs, and she really didn’t want to deal with the stairs any longer, fearing she might fall. “I wanted to focus on other things,” she said, things she enjoys - like spending time with her daughter. She also wanted to retain her independence, so when she heard about a new independent living facility, she was excited. She moved into one of ten new homes in April.

Owners Lindsey and Sage Dorrington were glad to see the last bit of construction on the facility finished up during the first week in July. They said there is a need for independent living facilities and many of them from Missoula to Spokane have a long waiting list. So far, four of the units at The Peaks are already full.

Construction on The Peaks took about a year, but the entire process started about three years ago. Back in 2014, the couple decided they wanted to focus their lives around something that would allow them to spend more time together as a family. They had a young daughter and they would soon have another one born after construction started. After a bit of brainstorming, they decided they wanted to run an independent living facility.

Lindsey said running an independent living space for people more than 55 years of age sounded perfect to her. She spent a lot of time with her grandparents in Ronan as a kid, and they were involved with the senior center, so they took her along. 

“I developed an appreciation for people outside of my generation,” she said. “I like to think of the world events they have experienced, the things they’ve lived through, and the wisdom they have.”

With their idea in place, the couple needed a location, so they looked at several places. They were living in Kalispell, but they decided to check out properties available in Ronan. 

“We wanted to move to Ronan to be closer to family,” Sage said. “When we saw the mountains at this location, it was exactly what we were looking for. We designed it so that every home faces the mountains and called it The Peaks after the mountains.”

They purchased the property with the help of several private investors and utilized local people to build it from breaking ground to putting in the final trees in the landscaping process.

“This was built for the people by the people,” Lindsey said. “It’s a labor of love. We have a mile long list of local people in Lake County that worked on this.”

The weather didn’t always cooperate during the construction process that went on through the winter after starting in May 2016. “It was a wet October and a snowy winter,” she said. “But we had to keep working. We needed to get the first place done by November because we had someone that needed to move in.”

And they had to build a road that connected with the rest of town. The address isn’t even on Google maps yet. “We had the road built and then we donated it to the town,” she said.

The 1,000 square foot upscale homes were designed to be senior friendly on a single level with wider doorframes for mobility. Each home has one larger bedroom and one smaller room, a kitchen with granite counter tops, a living room, and a garage. 

As far as chores, the owners provide many services to their tenants including some meals, housekeeping, yard work, composting and snow removal.

And there is a central dining area within another building for people to socialize, attend wine and cheese tasting events or watch the 75-inch television. Another room in the same building contains a gym with exercise equipment. “They can watch Jane Fonda workout videos if they want to,” Lindsey said. 

Outside, the community garden is being developed so that the beds sit up high so people don’t have to bend down so far to work the soil if they want to. And across the road, the owners and their family live in a home as part of the community. For more information, call 406-676-7325.

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