County wants seat on senior board

PARKERSBURG – Wood County commissioners would like to have a presence on the senior citizens association board.

“We wondered if there was an opportunity for a county representative to sit on your board,” Commissioner Blair Couch told Mike Dennis, association executive director, and Deloris Chancey, president of the center board, when the two visited the commission this week.

“We had a board meeting and we talked about it and I don’t think anyone had any objections to that. Currently we have 11 board members. Our bylaws require a minimum of 10, but we can have as many as we want. We meet every other month or more often if needed,” Dennis said.

The director has served in his post for more than two years. His last meeting with the commissioners was in the spring of 2012.

Wood County Commissioner Steve Gainer asked Dennis when the center last had an audit.

“We are fully audited every year. That’s required by our federal funding sources, and we send the county commission a copy. You all have a copy of our audit,” Dennis said.

The director said projects include trying to get an updated, fully equipped kitchen so meals can be prepared onsite.

“We were contracting to have food brought in. We are trying to get some legislative money to get a convection oven and some freezers. We are hopeful by March or April to have our own kitchen. Since the kitchen is in the basement, there are venting issues, but the convection oven isn’t gas, so it simplifies some of those concerns,” he said.

“The kitchen we currently have is not equipped to prepare food for big groups,” Chancey said.

The senior center is headquartered on Market Street and offers a variety of programs and services, including a nutrition and home delivery meal program, as well as social activities for seniors, such as bingo, painting, quilting and other crafts and some transportation assistance.

“We are serving around 160 meals a day, home-delivered, Monday through Friday. We probably serve about 75 meals in the Parkersburg and Vienna centers. We also have a center, senior club in Williamstown. Our nutrition and transportation are the things people see the most. We just got a new wheelchair-accessible van,” Dennis said. He told commissioners the center is trying to get vehicles that use less fuel to cut costs.

Dennis said a health insurance program provided 200-250 helps with Medicare paperwork.

“Our family Alzheimer’s in-home respite program is always full, providing respite for the caregivers,” Dennis said. “We also have a personal care program.” Dennis said the center also offers experts to assist seniors with Medicare paperwork.

Dennis said they also offer a program that keeps people out of nursing homes for a longer period of time. “It’s also a personal care program, helping with meal prep, housekeeping, personal hygiene assistance. We have nurses who assess the needs, the maximum hours per month is 60,” Dennis said.

The county contributed $30,000 to the center in the past. After the city of Parkersburg cut off funding, the county upped its contribution to $40,000. The Community Corrections Day Report Center also leases office space from the senior center for its operations.

“For the first time the building is fully utilized either by us or rented out,” Dennis told commissioners.

Dennis said he has been notified state funding may see a 7 percent reduction this year. He said the association is looking for a number of grants to fill in gaps. The center’s total budget is about $1.5 million. “I think for all the services and programs we provide, we are a really great bargain,” Dennis said, noting the association serves about 400 seniors on a weekly basis.

Delegate Tom Azinger, R-Wood, who is a senior citizen association board member arrived after the meeting was over. No specific time was set for the meeting. The meeting was also not listed on the county commission’s agenda. At the beginning of the year, the commission changed its procedures and in many cases no time specific is assigned to meetings.

“We’ve been working hard the last couple of years, there are still problems, but I think we’ve done a good job,” Azinger told the commissioners.