Saturday, January 12th, 2019
Senior center plans expansion
By William Kincaid
Edna Stout has fun participating in a line dance earlier this week at the Mercer. . .
CELINA - Mercer County Council on Aging board members are eyeing a possible expansion of the senior center on Riley Street to alleviate cramped conditions due to an influx of people using a growing number of services.
County commissioners this week told Mercer County Council on Aging Executive Director Sharon Green that they have no problem with her board members' launching a feasibility study of such an expansion.
Aiming to add space to facilitate more seniors and programs, board members would like to build onto the back of the center toward the west, according to Green.
"I am looking toward the future, 15 to 20 years down the road, and we are growing," Green said. "We are up on all of our services over the previous year, so we are getting more and more seniors utilizing our facility, utilizing our services."
Last year, roughly 1,200 people used some type of service offered by MCCoA, among them senior center activities, transportation, chore services, homemaker services and meals.
Multiple agencies would like to partner with MCCoA to provide additional offerings, such as end-of-life directives, but officials have difficulty securing space with so many activities scheduled in advance, Green said.
With commissioners' permission, MCCoA in 2017 moved some of its overflowing operations next door into the former emergency medical services building. The county-owned EMS facility was vacated in late 2014 after the EMS and Emergency Management Agency consolidated into the former county engineer's office, also on Riley Street
The annex, Green said, has been a godsend.
"Not only have we been using it to continue our activities during garage sales, we now have a monthly quilting group that meets over there," she said. "Our board meets over there. We just started a non-gambling Texas Hold 'em group that meets over there."
Also, an Alzheimer's Association representative has been visiting the annex monthly for one-on-one counseling.
"We are getting wonderful use out of that building," she said.
Yet even with that building, the center remains very crowded.
"Our space is very tight. I have two employees who are sharing basically what comes down to a closet," she noted. "We'd like a dedicated boardroom."
The gym has become very confined with more seniors using the equipment. Extra storage space is also needed, she said.
"Before we do the feasibility study, I just want your blessing. It is your property," Green told commissioners.
Commissioner Greg Homan said he has no issues with a feasibility study.
"You provide a great service to the citizens of the county," commissioner Rick Muhlenkamp added. "It's much appreciated. I would think you'd expect cooperation from us here."
Council on Aging centers and programs were created by the Older Americans Act of 1965 to respond to the needs of the elderly in the communities they serve. The agencies are designed to provide advocates, planners and educators, as well as supply information and referral services.
To seniors 60 and older, the center offers a plethora of services.
MCCoA is funded by a countywide levy, the Mercer County Health Care Foundations, the Mercer County Civic Foundation, client donations and garage sales hosted at the senior center.