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Published: Thursday, 12/14/2006

Committee seeks site for new senior center

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Senior citizens living in the southeastern part of Wood County will soon have another senior center to visit that's closer to home.

Representatives from the Wood County Committee on Aging (WCCOA) have just begun meeting with officials from four Wood County villages to determine where its newest senior center should be located.

Villages being considered for the new site include Bradner, Risingsun, and Wayne in Montgomery Township, and Pemberville in Freedom Township.

Representatives from those villages have met twice this year as part of the Senior Center Exploratory Committee to hash out which area would be the best location for the center.

"It needs to be somewhere people will feel comfortable going," said Denise Niese, executive director of the Wood County group.

The committee's most recent meeting was on Monday at Northeast Senior Center in Walbridge. There, the committee discussed the need to feel the pulse of the communities in the southeastern portion of the county to see what the seniors need and desire because each of the five senior centers are tailored to those who regularly visit. The Wood County

Committee on Aging has senior centers in Rossford, Perrysburg, Walbridge, Bowling Green, and North Baltimore.

"Every center has its own type of energy," Ms. Niese said. "It is driven by the participants. You're not stuck on a cruise ship and have to do what the cruise director wants you to do."

Pemberville Mayor James Opelt said he designed a survey to hand out to seniors in Pemberville asking them their age, whether they'd be interested in a senior center in their community, how often they would visit, and activities they'd like.

For consistency, Ms. Niese asked that the same survey be given to the seniors in the other communities under consideration so the answers can be evaluated side-by-side.

Requirements for the new center are that it be open at least 30 hours a week, be a minimum of 2,500 square feet, and have an average of 25 participants a day, Ms. Niese said.

Risingsun Councilman Rachel Dissauer said if her village is not deemed the best site for the center, she hopes that either Wayne or Bradner will be.

"We're a sister community with Wayne and Bradner, and it would be handy," she said.

Bradner is about three miles away from Wayne and less than six miles from Risingsun, whereas Pemberville, which is closest to Bradner, is seven miles away from it.

But Mr. Opelt said Pemberville should be in the running because it has a large concentration of senior citizens, several buildings that could become the new center, and many festivals year-round that the seniors would enjoy.

"We feel that the majority of the seniors are in our area and we also feel that we could find a site," he said. "We are looking at a couple of different places."

Ms. Niese said she expects a recommendation on the site will be made by August.The committee will next meet at 10 a.m. Jan. 22 in Bradner.



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