A group of concerned parents got one step closer to realizing their dream of providing a stable residential home for intellectually disabled individuals with the purchase of a one-acre lot at Quigley farm this week.

Last year, they petitioned the city of Hailey to amend its building code to allow the facility in a residential zone. This month, they are closer to building it.

“We are dedicated to offering an environment of inclusivity and empowerment so that our residents may achieve maximum independence and quality of life as members of our community,” said Marie Cochran, the mother of 19-year-old special needs student Emma Cochran.

Cochran and her friends Tifny Lago and Cori Mooney share the worries and challenges that come with having a child with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They joined forces about two years ago to find a way to ensure that their children would be cared for if they were no longer able to provide care themselves.

“Where would they live, who would take care of them after we were no longer able to, would they have friends, and what would their quality of life be?” Cochran said.

The solution was to build a residential facility that would shelter these individuals if and when it became necessary, as often happens when young people choose to leave their home and start making a life for themselves.

43 North (named for the latitude of the Wood River Valley) has raised $407,000 so far from friends and special needs parents in the valley. They spent $275,000 on the lot where they plan to build a 12-room $3.5 million facility.

Cochran said that without a facility like the one planned by 43 North, people like her daughter Emma would have no local residential options when they grow up, other than living at home or moving to a care facility outside the community.

“As parents, we may not outlive them, so we need to find a secure place for them in this community,” she said.

Continued fundraising and business planning are underway, Cochran said, with building plans and renderings being drawn up by local architect Jolyon Sawrey.

“Most of these rooms will be reserved for individuals who have grown up in the Wood River Valley and whose families are here to stay,” Cochran said. “These will be full time residents.”

Cochran said at least one room will be reserved for short term stays in case someone needs a place for their loved one to stay while they need to leave town, or if a visitor has a family member that would benefit from a stay at 43 North while they are in the valley.

Cochran said the Wood River Valley is an ideal place for such a supported living community.

“The Wood River Valley has a support network that outranks any other community we have experienced,” she said. “We moved here or we stayed here because of the vast resources available for families like ours. This beautiful place is where our kids were raised and where they call home. Over their entire lives, they have built relationships with community members, employers, volunteer organizations, and have enjoyed all that our valley has to offer. They are truly our local heroes.”

Cochran said realtor Sheila Liermann helped in the acquisition of the property and helped during a rewrite of the proposed zoning code change to ensure the facility’s long-term feasibility.

“A shout out to David Hennessy [Quigley Farm developer] for the great community he is developing and for cheering us on in our endeavor,” Cochran said.

Learn more at www.43northinc.org.

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

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