As you leave Thomas driving down the mountain toward Parsons on US Rt. 219, you cross the bridge and the first speed sign reads . . . 40 mph. There’s a very steep hillside that almost hides deer munching on green grass and walking precariously, assuming that humans and their vehicles will avoid them. Occasionally they jump into the road.
Suddenly a new sign says it’s safe to drive . . . 45 mph . . then . . . 30 mph . . . then you can increase to 35 mph . . . and then there’s a rectangular sign that says Cortland Acres Dr. That’s fine if you know that sign means that it’s the entrance to Cortland Acres, a skilled nursing facility and rehabilitation and fitness center . . . and much, much more.
If you’ve missed the 35 mph sign, and the roadway you probably have a clear vision of a . . . 45 mph sign . . . which just happens to be located just past another roadway which leads to a retirement village behind Cortland Acres. Surprisingly few Tucker County residents know that there are 24 apartments in the retirement village as well as six two-bedroom handicapped-accessible homes.
And just a few yards beyond the entrance to the village is a sign that gives permission to drive . . . 55 mph.
The beautiful brick building that houses the nursing facility is home to as many as 94 elderly and/or handicapped persons. There are about 150 employees who nurse, clean, cook, provide activities and social services, and the myriad other duties that are needed for the care of loved ones who can no longer be at home. Every residents’ room has a bird feeder that’s always full of seeds and there’s lots of laughter of employees and residents teasing and making life more pleasant for one another.
The rehab/fitness center at the back of the building has half a dozen licensed physical fitness employees who work with the Cortland residents and many others from Tucker and surrounding counties as they recover from medical problems and accidents. The varied equipment includes a pool for aquatic fitness.
There’s a large covered pavilion out back for residents and their families and friends as well as a fenced in garden that this time of year is filled with vegetables and flowers, paths and benches.
As we enter the nursing home there may be a row of wheelchairs being pushed by volunteers. The volunteers are a vital part of the home! They make it possible for the residents to be in an occasional parade (a first for many!), visit a small zoo, go to a greenhouse and choose a pot of flowers, stop and buy a milkshake.
Next door, the residents of the retirement village plan monthly trips, too. They use one of the Cortland vans to go to Oakland or Elkins or Parsons. They may choose to visit a museum, go to a favorite restaurant for lunch, visit local thrift shops to look for bargains. Often they have covered dish dinners in the village’s Community Room.
Across the driveway from Cortland is the brand new brick Mountaintop Medical Clinic where Dr. Ed Rader and his staff see private patients. He is also among the physicians who care for residents of Cortland on a regular basis.
Tucker County EMS Squad 2 is also housed on Cortland Acres Drive with ambulances ready to leave when called.
Cortland maintenance garage is next to the emergency squad facility and houses items needed for keeping acres of grass mowed, snow plowed, trees trimmed, driveways cleared, lightbulbs replaced, walls painted, floors scrubbed–and all that’s necessary for taking care of more than 100 bathrooms!
And every time one of the employees, residents, volunteers or guests of the residents pulls out onto US Rt. 219–especially when it’s foggy or icy–they wonder how much longer it will be before West Virginia Division of Highways provides sufficient warning signals–in both directions–to protect those who live and work there and for those who drive by.