Residents find new place to call home
By KALEY CONNER
Eunice Hamel surveyed the living room of her new senior living apartment with satisfaction.
"This feels so much like home," she said. "You don't feel like you're in an apartment."
Her two bedroom, two bathroom home is one of 12 identical units at the recently opened Ellis Estates independent living complex in northeast Hays.
The facility, located at 1301 E. 33rd, provides seniors with spacious accommodations while enabling residents to continue making their own decisions, owner Wes Bainter said.
"We just thought we could do senior housing better," he said. "Our big strong suit is we never use any government funds, so we don't have all the governmental regulations they try to impose on you.
"The seniors who live here get to maintain their independence, and they also get to decide what they need."
Residents began moving in mid-July. Many had been looking forward to the move for months -- all of the apartments were spoken for long before construction was complete, said Bainter, who lives in Hoxie.
A waiting list also is starting for the project's second phase; 20 more units soon will be constructed just west of the existing apartment complex. Dirt work already has begun, and the new units are expected to be finished by next summer.
The Hays facility is one in a chain of independent living complexes Bainter has developed. Other facilities are in Stockton, Cimarron, Colby, Meade, Hill City, Smith Center and Hoxie.
Bainter said he is confident the additional units in Hays will fill up quickly.
"We don't do it halfway," he said. "We have big apartments ... a lot of room, fully handicap, wheelchair and scooter accessible -- that's important -- two bedrooms and two baths. It's quite extensive."
Each unit is more than 1,300 square feet, and residents seem to appreciate the extra space.
Norman and Rita Leiker moved into the apartment complex after deciding to sell their large Wichita home. It was quite a downsize, but they appreciated the amenities the facility had to offer, Norman Leiker said.
Rita Leiker especially appreciated the walk-in closet in the bedroom.
"That's Dillard's, by the way, she calls it," he said, referring to the spacious storage space.
"I think it's a lady's delight," Rita Leiker said, surveying her neatly organized shoe collection.
The couple moved to Hays to be closer to family. Norman Leiker grew up in the community.
"I was ready to come this way," he said.
Each apartment also comes with a garage, and there is a common area in the facility that can be used for residents to mingle or entertain large parties.
There also is a storm shelter and a small beauty salon.
For more information about the facility or to reserve an apartment, call (785) 623-0584.