Published Mon, Oct 29, 2012 3:01 pm Dateline
Updated Tue, Oct 30, 2012 2:42 pm
When Meigs County residents pull the curtain shut behind them and mark their ballots, they will decide the funding fate of what many users say is an essential community center.
The Meigs County Council on Aging, a government-supported local program promoting active, healthy lifestyles for adults, is proposing a new levy in 2012.
It would raise funds to replace outdated equipment and to bolster a depleting staff and payroll.
“We’ve got equipment that we rely on to serve our clients and to bring in the extra income that we need, but everything is getting much older, so it’s been a real challenge to keep going," says Beth Shaver, the executive director of the Meigs County Council on Aging.
The Nuts and Bolts
The proposed levy would cost the average Pomeroy household around $40 per year for five years starting in 2014. The funding goes to supporting services, ranging from daily meals and checkbook balancing to aerobics classes inside the Wellness Center on site.
In the end, it would raise about $163,000, at a time when the council is struggling to get by.
“We are dealing with budget cuts, and rising food, gasoline, and insurance, basically everything it takes to run this business,” said Shaver.
Pomeroy Mayor Mary McAngus says she believes the center needs the money to keep the doors open.
“Their refrigerator and dishwasher is going out. All of that takes money and they haven’t got it,” said McAngus.
Facing Little Opposition
When asked if the levy was taking money away from other projects in Pomeroy, McAngus was quick to point out this levy is equally as important.
“Schools are funded by levies, and they are necessary, too,” McAngus said. “This center is funded through levies and it’s necessary too.”
If the levy passes, the Meigs County Council on Aging will put money into new resources that could drastically improve its everyday operations.
Shaver says the first thing they would invest in is a new dishwasher. The equipment affects their daily meal services both at the center and throughout the area.
“Either get it replaced or fixed to the point that when they are running the dishes, they aren’t getting spray back on them or wet floors,” Shaver said. “It slows down the whole production of what goes on in there.”
Despite several other issues on the Meigs County ballot, it was difficult to find people in the community opposed to the levy.
“The seniors need support,” says Ed Zatta, owner of Swisher and Loshe Pharmacy. “They took care of us to get to this point in the community, and now it’s our turn to take care of them.”
Even among citizens who don’t currently use the center’s facilities say they support the facility.
“I don’t use it because I haven’t had to, but I may tomorrow,” says Larry Bunce, who has lived in Meigs County his entire life.
Savings and Services
When Bunce and others of the Baby Boomer generation need care and programs, Director Beth Shavers says the savings for the taxpayer is tremendous.
Based on 2009 Census figures, the average yearly nursing home costs pile up to $76,000. However, the Meigs County Council on Aging can provide year-round services that they say allow seniors to stay in their homes longer, such as Meals on Wheels, at a much lower cost of less than $6,000 per person a year.
In addition to seniors in Meigs County, the center has also created other programs to reach a wider range of ages and needs in the area.
The Wellness Center has treadmills, bikes, a full weight room and an open area for group classes like Zumba.
“Over the years, things naturally change as the generations that we serve change,” Shaver said. “At one point, it was primarily a social gathering place. Now, we have a wellness center on site that serves people from ages 18 and up, and that is to encourage active aging through a lifestyle.”
In order to reach their goal to support the entire Pomeroy community, Shaver encourages Meigs County voters to realize the center needs a small kick-start to get back on track.
“We hope that people realize that we are not asking for a hand out,” Shaver said. “We are asking for a hand up to simply help us correct the things that have happened over the past several years.”