Last week’s announcement that Little River Health Care (LRHC) Network has purchased the former H-E-B Building and will consolidate all its clinics there is good news on so many levels.
LRHC now employs more than 500 persons in three counties and about half are in Milam County. When Alcoa closed in 2008-9 it employed just over 1,000. So LRHC is now about one-fourth an Alcoa so far as Milam County jobs are concerned.
And health care in Rockdale is definitely a growth industry.
The obvious benefit for local and area residents will be to have all four LRHC clinics in the same place. Currently one is on North Main and three are in various places around Richards Memorial Hospital.
When the hospital clinics relocate that will let planners start on something that’s been long needed, an update of the 40-year-old hospital.
And, frankly, having the former H-E-B building occupied again after almost nine years, will be a huge morale boost for the town.
Super Walmart opened in 2005, vacating the large building adjacent to H-E-B. That supermarket was originally built as a Foodland, then became a Super S.
H-E-B purchased the building from local developer Wayne Brinkley and opened a Pantry Foods store. It became a full-fledged H-E-B in 2002.
H-E-B vowed to stay and fight when Super Walmart came to town and spent $150,000 to upgrade the store. But the fight didn’t last long. H-E-B closed its Rockdale store Sept. 4, 2005.
For years the two huge buildings sat vacant, like a pair of missing front teeth. Things improved when a pawn shop and medical supply building opened in the old Walmart building.
And now, in 18 months or so, there are again prospects for scores of vehicles in that huge parking lot and activity throughout the building.
There’s a lot to be said for morale—think of how Rockdale felt as Alcoa shut down in 2008-9—and this is a morale booster of the first order.—M.B.