Voters encouraged to say yes in referendum for new Portage County Health Center

STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) – Supporters of a referendum that would provide $4.5 million to help fund the construction and operation of a new Portage County health care center held a vigil for candles on Friday to remind voters to get out and vote “yes” on Tuesday.

The health center was built in the 1930s and modernized in the 1970s. Residents have to share bathrooms and showers, the HVAC system is inadequate for the building’s needs, and staff say the layout doesn’t is not as effective as it could be.

Still, the Center maintains a five-star rating for the services it provides, with long-term care for people who cannot afford a private facility.

“The private sector isn’t interested in taking Medicaid patients because you can’t make money,” said Nancy Roppe, site administrator for the Save the Portage County Health Care Center.

Meleesa Johnson’s mother, chair of the health center committee, lives at the center.

“She had a stroke in 2019, and she came here for a short time and she recovered well, and then she came home and couldn’t live on her own. She actually told me she didn’t live anywhere else, so I better make sure the referendum goes through,” Johnson said.

If the referendum passes, it would require an annual property tax increase of $67.70 per $100,000 of value.

“I think, and I hope the rest of the voters agree with me, that it’s worth preserving, and we’re willing to spend the money to preserve it,” Roppe said.

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