Groundbreaking for the new Webb House Retirement Center was held Thursday morning at the Webb property on Jennings Lane.
The new facility will be built on the grounds where the original Webb House stood before it was destroyed by fire on Sunday, May 29, 2005.
Gary Keckley, architect and designer of assisted living facilities, says the new Webb House, like the original one, will be a great asset to the community. \"This is a tribute to the Webb family, not just this generation but for all the generations that preceded Alan, because this is a ministry. It has to be a business, but it's a business that can be a ministry, and their (Webb's) hearts are in this. This is going to be beauty from ashes. It's going to be beautiful for a lot of different reasons. It will have a lot of features that build on the history and the reputation that you enjoyed at the Webb House before and some new ones. It's going to be a beautiful building from a design style because it's going to have a character that is unlike any that I've ever been a part of and that is specifically coming from the heart that Alan and Lora are putting into this. It's also going to be a beautiful building because it will build on the beauty created by those of you who worked here before and who will work here again. This business is about love. Nursing homes and hospitals give care and this business is about giving love. This group of folks are good at this.\"
Alan Webb, owner of the Webb House, says this day marks a new beginning and he looks forward to the day when the new facility is completed. \"The day after the fire, the most often asked question was ?are you going to build back'? My immediate answer was ?yes'. Had anyone been hurt in the fire, my answer probably would have been different. As a matter of fact, you could've probably just buried me in the ashes and rubble, because it would have been very devastating. I admit I had some very down and out times this last year. I had two things that kept me going and pulled me up from the depths of despair. One of them was the words in my favorite church hymn ?Because He Lives'. The second was a card that I got from a young lady after the fire. In it, she wrote the words, ?from our ashes shall arise beauty'. She was referring to Isaiah (chapter) 61 (verse) 3. The Bible verse and the song are the two things that pulled me through the last year. I promise you when the Webb House is rebuilt, you'll see reminders of those two things through the house. I promise to do my best to make the new Webb House better than ever for the seniors of DeKalb County and surrounding areas. I promise to make it a safer and happier place than before. This place will be a home to all that live there, not just a room with meals. If Lora and I can do anything to help any of you, we'll do our best.\"
Among others making remarks during the groundbreaking ceremony were County Mayor Mike Foster and Smithville Mayor Cecil Burger.
The new Webb House is scheduled to open by early next year.