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Published: Wednesday, 12/13/2006

Oregon prepares senior-needs survey


At least 300 Oregon senior citizens will be getting a phone call by the end of the month asking them to take a survey meant to determine the needs and wishes of the city's senior population.

The plan by city administrators was to get their hands on the information before moving forward on developing new programs for senior citizens, based on the need.

They're also looking at a possible plan for a new senior center - an idea that's been discussed for years.

City administrators were ready late last month to begin conducting the $8,000 survey developed by the Area Office on Aging of Northwest Ohio to be administered by pollster Stan Odesky.

The survey is geared toward those persons who are ages 60 and older. About a third of Oregon's nearly 20,000 residents are at least 60 years old.

But after members of Oregon City Council got the survey in their hands recently, several of them expressed reservations regarding what they said were several "invasive questions."

The question that received the most flack was the one asking if seniors have difficulty using the toilet.

"While they may seem intru-sive, the Area Office on Aging is using those questions they've asked many communities in order for them to get a better understanding of the needs of a community like Oregon," city Administrator Ken Filipiak said.

Councilman Mike Seferian was a bit more blunt when expressing his problems with the survey in general and its lengthiness.

"I don't have a lot of confidence in surveys," Mr. Seferian said. "I thought it was nuts. I think it's crazy to think someone would

think good information would come out of this. The conclusion that they draw would have as much value as two dead flies."

In response, Oregon Mayor Marge Brown said she put the survey on hold for several days until it could be slightly revamped.

The most controversial question was taken out, and additional questions tailored more toward the possibility of a new senior center were added, including whether senior citizens would be willing to pay for it in the form of a new levy.

The revamped survey is 51 questions long, with many subsequent questions, depending on a person's answer.

Yet even with all the sub-questions, Mayor Brown said the survey can still be conducted in about 10 minutes.

After the survey has been conducted, the mayor said, she and Mr. Filipiak plan to comb through the information, which will be fed into a report for analysis so Oregon officials can determine the types of services the city should be providing.

The mayor said she envisions a senior center becoming the cornerstone of a bigger building project - one that would include a community center with a stage for concerts and plays.

"We would make it a true community center," Mayor Brown said.

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