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New home offers independence
By SAUNDRA AMRHEIN
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 16, 2000
SPRING HILL -- They brought their pajamas and dog named Mike. With the last bit of furniture arriving Monday, the Wilsons were ready to become one of the first new dwellers of the Residence at Timber Pines on Commercial Way.
Once settled into their new digs, Allene and Robert Wilson will not have far to travel to see old friends. Two neighbors from the nearby Timber Pines gated community also moved in Monday. And all of them are a golf stroke away from the friends they left behind in the gated community.
"I'm still in bridge clubs at Timber Pines," Allene Wilson said.
The three families are the first to move into the facility, which opened its independent living apartments Monday after two years of construction. The assisted living and memory centers will open in about six weeks.
The site offers 128 apartments and suites for 160 people, with rents ranging from $1,650 to $3,700 a month. The units include the following: 84 independent apartments; 25 apartments in a secured memory center for Alzheimer's disease patients and those suffering from dementia; and 19 apartments in the assisted-living category, marketing director Tina Hall said.
Plans call for a commercial center south of the residential building that will include a restaurant, office space and a drive-through bank for a self-contained community on 28 acres.
It will be the county's first such facility with a commercial element attached, according to the county Planning Department. It is nearly in compliance with a required evacuation plan for assisted-living centers, with only a few minor details to wrap up this week, said Sue Martineau, a county emergency management technician.
Mrs. Wilson said she and her husband, each 82 years old and married for four years, decided to move into an apartment at Residence at Timber Pines to keep their independence while having some extra help.
"I fell three times in the last year. I can hardly walk, and he can't walk, and we need help," she said. "We didn't want to leave it up to the kids to move us."
Residents will be able to wear a call button, likely in bracelet form, so if they fall or need help, they can press it to relay their name and location anywhere on campus to staff members.
That was one of the features that attracted the Wilsons' friend, Pearl Nefflen, 88.
After almost 10 years alone in a villa in Timber Pines following the death of her husband, Nefflen said she's ready for something easier to manage with the help of maid service. But the former jewelry store vice president from Chicago also wanted to retain her independence instead of moving in with her adult children.
"They have their own life, and I have mine," she said.
Children of the new residents seemed excited and at ease about the move.
"You and I don't have to do anything; that's why you're here," Sue Bennett called out to her mother, Mrs. Wilson, as two staff members helped Robert Wilson out of his car and into a scooter. "From my perspective, I'm so happy they are physically here now."
So was Robert Wilson, once firmly planted in the scooter and zooming toward the front door.
"Why are we taking so much time?" he called cheerfully over his shoulder. "Let's go."
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