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MAYVILLE – The transfer of the Chautauqua County Home in Dunkirk to a private owner and operator for $16.5 million was approved Wednesday by the County Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee.

The purchaser is Dunkirk Realty Holdings LLC and Dunkirk Operating, the company names established by VestraCare, owners and operators of other skilled nursing facilities. Owners of the company attended a question-and-answer session recently for legislative members.

The committee’s resolution will require approval by the full Legislature at its Oct. 30 meeting.

The transaction includes the buildings and 30 acres of land on Temple Road in Dunkirk.

The resolution states “Chautauqua County can no longer sustain and afford a $2.6 million operating deficit at the county home.”

The sale would also need approval from the state Health Department.

Voting to support the resolution were Legislators Vince Horrigan, R-Bemus Point; Mark Tarbrake, R-Jamestown; Victoria James, D-Jamestown; and John Hemmer, R-Westfield.

James asked if updates on the operations of the county home could be provided by the administrator.

Horrigan said that Tim Helwig, the home’s administrator, has been asked to attend committee meetings or send a representative.

Horrigan asked County Attorney Steve Abdella about an appraisal on the property if it is sold and placed on the tax rolls.

Abdella said the value would be determined by the town of Dunkirk assessor.

The committee also accepted a $73,000 grant to help fund prenatal and early-childhood care.

Christine Schuyler, commissioner of human services, said the county has a high infant mortality rate at 8.6 percent.

She said the percentage of women who smoke during pregnancy was estimated at 24 percent, which is high.

The grant money would be used for community outreach, Schuyler said. She said two of the targeted populations will be the Amish community, where vaccines are not always completed, and Hispanic women.

She said both population groups have a high rate of teen pregnancy.

The county will hire community workers and nurses to make home visits to the targeted populations, Schuyler said.

She also requested approval to accept a $56,000 grant to promote screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer.

The grant resolutions require legislative approval in order to be included in the county budget.