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Park Centre celebrating 25th anniversary in Newton

Almost 30 years ago, a group of concerned Newton residents formed a committee to research bringing a retirement community to the city. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, Park Centre, a WesleyLife Community, has surpassed the committee’s expectations by providing independent living for retiring adults along with assisted living and the Garden View Alzheimer’s unit.

“It was a real grass roots effort,” marketing director Margot Voshell said. “An organization didn’t come to town and say we are going to build a community, the community reached out. We are pretty proud of that.”

One member of the committee to bring Park Centre to fruition was Newton resident Dori Byers. Byers, along with her husband Don, served in many positions at Park Centre including as board members, with Don later serving on the Wesley board as president.

“I was on the first committee that explored a company that would come to Newton to build such a facility,” Dori Byers said. “At that time we had a lot of people who were retiring from Maytag and from the schools and farmers who had no place in the area to move to have smaller dwellings in an independent living in an apartment complex. That is when we went to Wesley in Des Moines and approached them about building here. They were already committed to building in Indianola but soon replied to us that would be interested in building in Newton if the community would help back it.”

Soon after, the ball started rolling and plans were put in place to build a $13 million facility on the northern side of Newton’s downtown district. The original building had 63 one, two and three bedroom units and was sold out before construction was even underway. Prior to the facility moving in its first resident, organizers were already planning on an expansion.

“Every apartment was accounted for which then prompted them to add on more apartments in 1997,” Voshell said.

Twenty-four additional apartments were added in 1997 but that was just the beginning new growth and opportunities that were coming to Park Centre. In the following years, the facility grew to its current size of 98 total apartments including eight townhomes, one guest suite, 16 assisted living apartments and 66 beds in health center. The health center also houses the 18-bed state-of-the-art Alzheimer’s Unit.

“It does stay full. With Park Centre’s history and our reputation to serve older adults, people have moved here from New Jersey, Florida, all of Jasper County and even some of the surrounding counties,” Voshell said. “I think the main reason it stays full is because of the residents. They are very involved and are a part of the all of the committees we have here. We really wanted the residents input on what they want and need and then we make it happen.”

Gerald and Dorothy Carpenter have lived at Park Centre for the past three years. Born and raised in Newton, Gerald Carpenter moved away before returning to his hometown with his wife to live at Park Centre.

“We did research and looked at some places in Florida, where we were living at the time and we looked in Illinois, we have two children in Illinois. For overall scope of choosing a place, Park Centre had the best to offer. We think we made the correct choice,” Gerald Carpenter said.

The Carpenters, along with their fellow residents, family, friends and community members will come together to celebrate 25 years of Park Centre in Newton during an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Food and drink will be served along with live music for entertainment and an extensive display of the history of Park Centre.

“The whole idea of the 25th is to really celebrate the founders, the people who had a vision and made it become a reality,” Voshell said.

As one of the founders, Byers said she is proud of the efforts of so many people to bring a much needed and well-supported facility to the community.

“I have been very proud and happy that I could have been a part of having Park Centre be in Newton I think we have served the community well and provided care and homes through the years,” Byers said. “It has always been a pride and joy that we had something to do with its beginnings in our community.”

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or

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