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Garrett LLC’s big gift

By Barry Rochford | Posted: Tuesday, May 12, 2015 11:00 pm

Garrett’s big gift

From left, Thomas Pfaffenberger, 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.

KENDALLVILLE — 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.

The answer was straightforward: find a new home for the Council on Aging’s senior center.

“I didn’t really think that it was ever going to happen or that I was going to live to see it happen,” he said Tuesday.

Financially, 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.

Funny thing about timing, though. Just when you think something can’t happen, all of a sudden it does.

That 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.

And now Parker, who didn’t think he would ever see a new senior center, all of a sudden has one.

“I 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.

But 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.

There 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.

“We 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?’

“And 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.’”

Mary 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.

At 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 deteriorating.

“As 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.’”

The news elicited a collective “What?!” Pfaffenberger recalled, drawing laughs.

The 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.

The 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.

Parker 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.

Kendallville 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.

“To 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.

Michael 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.

video of the beginning of the new Senior Center

DaVita Teammates Give Back to the Community

Posted: Tuesday, May 12, 2015 11:00 pm

DaVita Teammates Give Back to the Community

DaVita Kidney Care employees recently presented a check for $1,000 to Noble Transit System. Participating, from left, were Jessica Springer, Trina Gross-Pfafman, Pam Garretson, Hillary Hathaway, Noble Transit director Gregg Parker, Christina Helmer, Kim Henkle and Leslie Melson.

KENDALLVILLE — DaVita Kidney Care, a division of DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc., recently made a $1,000 contribution to the Noble Transit System.

DaVita presented the check as part of the “DaVitaŽ Way of Giving,” the company’s locally focused charitable giving initiative that helps nonprofit organizations throughout the United States grow and thrive.

Noble Transit System is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides transportation services that originate in Noble County. DaVita teammates from the Kendallville Renal Center chose to donate to Noble Transit System because of the service it provides to the community.

“During the terrible winter weather, Noble Transit System ensured their dedication to getting patients to and from health care treatments safely,” said Hillary Hathaway, a DaVita facility administrator.

Gregg Parker of Noble Transit System said the DaVita contribution will go a long way to support its mission.

“We will put these funds right back into the transportation of our riders, as most of them are transported on donation only,” Parker said.

DaVita Kidney Care is a leading provider of kidney care services and committed to improving the quality of life for those diagnosed with chronic kidney disease.


Due to rising gas prices and costs associated with an aging fleet of vehicles, Noble County Council on Aging/Noble Transit System is forced to increase fare rates for rides.

We have been able to hold our own through the past few years. We haven’t raised fare rates since 2008, but increased costs along with stagnant grant income requires this increase.

We have been committed to doing everything possible to avoid reductions in service. In order to avoid raising rates, we have cut costs in every area over which we have control. All employees agreed to take pay cuts, benefits were reduced and employee hours have been cut.

Specifically for seniors, we have been able to transport anyone over 60 years of age within Noble County for a donation. This has been supplemented by Title III-B funds provided by Aging & In-Home Services of NE Indiana. Those Title III-B funds have not increased  since 2007, and yet our senior rides have increased 41% in that same time period. We have always asked our senior riders for donations to help make up the difference. Some seniors have been very generous. Some have donated more than they would have been charged for the ride. To those seniors we are extremely grateful. The fact is that in 2011, we received $45,566 from Title III-B funds and $12,297 in donations for a total of $57,863. Our cost to provide those trips was $98,965.

Without any additional funding, we are forced to charge seniors a fare for non-medical trips beginning June 1, 2012. To help soften the blow, we are offering a reduced priced ticket for purchase to seniors. With the ticket, seniors will be able to ride anywhere in the county for $3.00 per ride.

The new rates to take effect on June 1 are:

0-5 miles……………………$4.00

6-10 miles…………………..$7.00

11-15 miles…………………$10.00

16-20 miles…………………$13.00

Over 20 miles……………...$1.50 per mile


Riders under 60 can purchase a 10 stop ticket for $1 off the regular rate for each ride.


Seniors (60 and over) may purchase a ten stop ticket for $30.00 ($3.00 per ride within Noble County).