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January 28, 2014

County sells Otsego Manor to top bidder

A divided board of trustees for the Otsego County Health Facilities Corp. on Monday decided to sell the 174-bed Otsego Manor to Focus Ventures LLC of Rockland County for $18.5 million.

Three of the corporation’s seven trustees split with the majority by voting to sell the facility to VestraCare, which operates Susquehanna Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Johnson City.

Those supporting that bid said they were more impressed with the quality of care VestraCare offered. One of the dissenters, William Dornburgh, has publicly questioned the financial underpinnings of Focus Ventures, saying he is concerned whether the company is stable enough to run the Manor.

Those voting for Focus were businessman Richard Eastman, former Oneonta Mayor Kim Muller and Otsego County Reps. Katherine Stuligross, D-Oneonta, and Don Lindberg, R-Worcester.

Those supporting the VestraCare bid, in addition to Dornburgh, were Dr. Donald Pollock and Carol Kirkey of Oneonta. The wives of Dornburgh and Pollock are Manor residents. Kirkey’s husband died there as a patient.

Until Focus obtains a state license to operate the Manor, the county will continue to run and manage the facility, which has been losing money to the tune of an estimated $500,000 per month. The completion of the transfer to Focus could take up to a year, officials said.

The trustees voted just after 4 p.m. Monday, following a closed-door executive session that ran about 90 minutes. A reporter for The Daily Star objected to the meeting being held in secret, pointing out that the newspaper had published the amounts of the bids from the two finalists. However, the local development corporation’s attorney, Shawn Griffin, advised the panel it was appropriate to close the meeting.

Sources told The Daily Star that VestraCare sweetened its initial bid of $15 million to more than $16 million before the meeting. Griffin said the new offer was brought to him directly by VestraCare executives and he briefed the trustees on it.

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