Garrett LLC’s big gift
firstname.lastname@example.org | Posted: Tuesday, May 12, 2015 11:00 pm
From left, Thomas
president of the Noble County Council on Aging board of directors, Cory Heitz
of Garrett LLC, Michael Heitz of Garrett LLC and Council on Aging Director
Gregg Parker stand outside the former Dalton Foundry office building, which
Garrett LLC donated to the Council on Aging, along with more than four acres.
— Five years ago, when
Gregg Parker was interviewing with the board of directors of the Noble County
Council on Aging to become the nonprofit organization’s next director, he was
asked what his biggest long-term goal would be.
answer was straightforward: find
a new home for the Council on Aging’s senior center.
didn’t really think that it was
ever going to happen or that I was going to live to see it happen,” he said
the Council on Aging
wasn’t in a position to relocate or renovate its senior center at 111 Cedar St.
in Kendallville. The organization had purchased the building in 1997. It was a
former home that had been converted into offices, but accessibility within the
two-story structure sometimes presented challenges for seniors who came there
for events, activities or services.
thing about timing, though.
Just when you think something can’t happen, all of a sudden it does.
was evident Tuesday when
Garrett LLC, the Lexington, Kentucky-based company that has torn down the
Dalton and Kendallville foundries and is working to clear and redevelop the two
sites, donated the former Dalton Foundry office building and more than four
acres to the Council on Aging.
now Parker, who didn’t think he
would ever see a new senior center, all of a sudden has one.
can’t believe it. It just fell
into our laps,” he said. “It’s like providence working or something, because
it’s just uncanny how it’s worked out so far.
it wasn’t providence. It was
actually Mary Ann Heitz, the mother of Garrett LLC founder Michael Heitz and
grandmother to her son’s son and business partner, Cory Heitz.
came a day when father and son
were showing Mary Ann Heitz the progress that was being made at clearing the
67-acre Dalton Foundry site.
were driving her around the
site, giving her a tour,” Cory Heitz said of his grandmother at an event
Tuesday celebrating the company’s donation to the Council on Aging. “And she
goes, ‘What are you going to do with this building?’
we said, ‘Probably tear it
down.’ And she said, ‘Well, you know, that’d probably be a great senior
center.’ And we said, ‘Well, actually it would be.’”
Ann Heitz, 91, knew it had
potential as a senior center because she was familiar with the existing
facility and its limitations. So Michael Heitz approached Parker about donating
the 8,200-square-foot former Dalton Foundry office building and surrounding
property at 200 W. Ohio St.
Tuesday’s event that was held
inside the office building, Thomas Pfaffenberger, president of the Council on
Aging’s board of directors, recalled that board members were meeting one day
and talking about what could be done with the senior center that was slowly
we were discussing this in our
board meeting, Gregg pops up and said, ‘Hey, I had a gentleman come in and give
us a building.’”
news elicited a collective
“What?!” Pfaffenberger recalled, drawing laughs.
news also immediately changed
the organization’s focus. Fort Wayne-based MKM Architecture + Design, which is
conducting a space needs study for the Council on Aging, already has been in
the former Dalton Foundry office building to look around as it works to come up
with its recommendations, and Parker plans to move quickly on building a garage
on the property for Noble Transit System vehicles. The Council on Aging
operates the Noble County public transportation service.
donation also helps the Council
on Aging with its $15,000 grant application to the Indiana Office of Community
and Rural Affairs. OCRA favors awarding the grant to senior center projects
that involve renovating an existing facility rather than new construction,
Parker said. If his organization wins the grant, he plans on applying it toward
converting the office building into a senior center.
envisions being able to
expand offerings at the senior center’s future home, including more activity
space — pool tables seem to be a popular request — and an exercise area inside
the facility, and gardens outside.
Mayor Suzanne Handshoe
said the donation of the property represented another gift that Garrett LLC has
given to the community. Less than a year ago, a similar event was held in the
same building to mark the start of demolition work at the Dalton Foundry site.
see the foundry coming down, and
to see that this building can be repurposed not only for our past generations
but our future, it all ties in together perfectly,” she said.
Heitz said the long-vacant
office building — Dalton Foundry shut down in 2009 — represents a lot of potential.
“This will be one of the premier
senior centers in the state of Indiana,” he said.