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City to build L.I.F.E. Center

A $316,750 Community Development Block Grant recently received by the city of Bismarck will be used to construct of a new L.I.F.E. Inc. Center for Independent Living in the St. Francois County town of 1,500 residents.

The grant project is funded through the Missouri Department of Economic Development and, according to State Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington, “will improve the quality of life for Bismarck residents, as well as those living in the surrounding communities.”

The L.I.F.E. Center is a non-profit organization that assists individuals with disabilities who want to remain independent or to regain their independence. It is funded through a Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation grant and Medicaid fee for service program, along with private and corporate donations and fundraisers.

In the fall of 2016, the L.I.F.E. Center opened a satellite office in Bismarck to assist clients in town, along with those living in the surrounding area. It joined a satellite office opened in the Madison County town of Fredericktown in 2014.

Not long after celebrating the organization’s 20th anniversary in the spring of 2017, however, L.I.F.E. Center Executive Director Tim Azinger and the organization’s board of directors were forced to close the Fredericktown office when the Missouri Legislature cut $2.5 million from the budget that helped finance independent living centers throughout the state. The storefront office in Bismarck remained open.

Now, thanks to the CDB grant applied for by the city, Bismarck is going to have a new center next door to the senior center on East Main Street and Azinger couldn’t be happier.

“With all the bad news from last year this is like one nice bright ray of sunshine to feel good about,” he said. “Because Bismarck sponsored us as a city we’re going to be able to get our own office over there. We’re currently renting a space behind city hall, but when built, this is going to give us a rent-free option over there. We’ll just have to pay the utilities.”

According to Bismarck Mayor Seth Radford, this is just another example of the city government taking the steps needed to improve the quality of life for its residents, as well as draw new home construction and businesses to town.

“The city board and myself felt there was a segment of our population that had been left in the dark,” he said. “That would be our senior adults and people with disabilities. Our board took a pretty active stance to get a L.I.F.E. Center over here. The backbone to this area – whether it’s Bismarck, Farmington, or any other nearby community – is about keeping families at home.

“We had a specialized population here that wasn’t being addressed by the city or anyone else. The L.I.F.E. Center was really working hard on keeping people out of residential care, nursing facilities, if at all possible. We are working very hard to help our senior and disabled population because we believe they deserve the same quality of treatment as everybody else.

“That’s why the city board, working along with the L.I.F.E. Center, has put so much effort into getting the new facility here in town. This is also going to be a place where, if the city needs to address that specific population, we will have a place to meet with them at the L.I.F.E. Center. We’re very, very happy we got the grant and are able to address this need.”

Radford added that a groundbreaking ceremony is planned for the center sometime in April, details of which will be announced to the public in the near future.

L.I.F.E. Center's storefront location in Bismarck is located on Center Street, just around the corner from city hall. It won't be long, however, before it will be moving into a new facility being built with the help of a $316,750 Community Development Block Grant recently received by the city.

L.I.F.E. Center’s storefront location in Bismarck is located on Center Street, just around the corner from city hall. It won’t be long, however, before it will be moving into a new facility being built with the help of a $316,750 Community Development Block Grant recently received by the city.

The L.I.F.E. Inc. Center for Independent Living's main office is in Farmington, but a new $300,000 center to be built in Bismarck to replace a storefront location opened two years ago will be a boon for the organization that has been besieged by budget cuts over the past year.

The L.I.F.E. Inc. Center for Independent Living’s main office is in Farmington, but a new $300,000 center to be built in Bismarck to replace a storefront location opened two years ago will be a boon for the organization that has been besieged by budget cuts over the past year.

Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or kjenkins@dailyjournalonline.com

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