By BECKY HARRIS
Log Cabin Staff Writer
Independent Living Services has purchased the Adult Education Center at 615 E. Robins from Conway Public Schools.
Dr. Greg Murry, school superintendent, said the building was purchased several years ago to also provide a home for the district’s maintenance and food service.
"About 18 months ago, the school district bought the SAS shoe factory to consolidate those services, and once we made that move, we no longer needed the Robins Street building. We were happy to sell to ILS," Murry said.
As part of the 2012 changes, Sallie Cone Elementary will convert to a Pre-K school, and Adult Ed. will move to the back wing of Sallie Cone.
Adult Ed. will remain at its present location until June 30, 2011.
"We’re not sure where Adult Ed. will be in the intervening time, but we’re looking at a location inside the district’s annex on Lee Street," Murry said.
The 32,500 square-foot building sold Wednesday for $850,000. After renovations, the total cost is expected to near $1.2 million," said Jackie Fliss, executive director of Independent Living Services. Financing is provided by Centennial Bank.
liss said ILS is now operating at several locations across town in a total of 17,000 square feet.
"We are very crowded," Fliss said.
Once Adult Ed. moves, that portion of the building will be for ILS classrooms, computer labs, case managers, human resources, development, the nurse, transportation, therapy services and administration.
ILS will renovate the rear of the building for more classrooms and more accessible restrooms.
"We’ll build a commercial grade kitchen so we can prepare our meals instead of having them catered," Fliss said.
ILS will also have room to park its buses in a locked yard. Currently, they are parked at Conway Apartments, an ILS facility, where the buses sometimes cause accessibility problems for emergency vehicles, Fliss said.
Fliss is entering her 11th year as executive director of ILS.
"One of my goals has been to purchase a building that would bring all our programs together in one place. This certainly fits that need," she said.
The building will combine Profiles Enrichment Center and Profiles Productions, now located across town from each other.
"We’ll be able to hire more consumers as transportation costs and logistics didn’t allow us to move the workers from the Enrichment Center to Productions and to their homes easily.
"That was a real important part of our wanting a large building," Fliss said. "They’ll be able to walk a few steps from Profiles and go to work at Productions.
"Because our consumers will have instant access to our case managers, they’ll have better options for services," Fliss said. "We’re just so excited."
Independent Living Services was founded in 1970 to provide housing and services for persons with developmental disabilities. It now has more than 375 employees in Central Arkansas and serves 200 consumers.
ILS began as a group home for eight men and was supported by volunteers, including the Junior Auxiliary. It was the first of its kind in the state.
It began with an operating budget of $12,500. Today’s budget is more than $6 million, Fliss said.
Profiles Enrichment Center at Deer and Chestnut streets provides day services for more than 100 adults who receive transportation, lunch and classes in computers, music, art, personal finance, physical, speech and occupational therapy.
Profiles Productions on Jim Lane is an enterprise that employs more than 40 people with disabilities. It has contracts from manufacturers to handle small tasks and last year recycled more than 50 tons of paper.
Following renovation, all these programs will move to the new location.
(Becky Harris can be reached at 505-1234 or by e-mail at email@example.com)