Sybene Senior Center rich in history

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 30, 2008

BURLINGTON — It just doesn’t look like a senior citizen center. On top of a bank overlooking the Ohio River stands the Sybene Senior Center in a structure at once picturesque and architecturally intriguing.

That’s because what is now the headquarters for a variety of services for those 60 years or older in Lawrence County was once part of old Lock 28. There it brought boats through one of the narrow parts of the Ohio River before the waterway was rechanneled.

As best as historians can date it, Lock 28 was built around 1920 as part of the now defunct Cincinnati District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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When the Greenup Locks and Dams were built in the late 1960s, Lock 28, among others, became obsolete.

The locks and supporting structure that once ran across the river were pulled up. But the old power house that fueled the locks remained.

The county got the property assigned to it in 1978. Two years later, the Lawrence County Commissioners provided the first funds for building a multi-purpose senior center. That was added to other grants to add an addition to the renovated power house that is now the Sybene Center.

A groundbreaking was held June 2, 1983, and the center was opened Oct. 15, 1984.

Today, a variety of programs that served senior citizens of Lawrence County are handled at the Sybene Center.

“It is the focal point of service delivery for senior citizens services,” Marilyn Howard of the Community Action Organization, said. “We coordinate all home-delivered services, meals, personal care, medical transportation to doctors’ offices and a congregate site where people come in five days a week to have a hot noon-day meal.”

Throughout the facility are venues for a variety of activities including an exercise room with treadmills and other equipment, a computer room where seniors can do research on the Internet, even receive e-mails from relatives;

and craft and ceramic rooms, where seniors may work on on-going projects.

There are also billiards and pool rooms for men and women and places where friends can meet for card games or Bible study.

All seniors need to do is show up to participate in any of the activities the center offers.

“You just pick your activity and show up,” Darlene Green, on-site manager, said.

The medical transport service usually requires a three-day notice. Also the facility is the headquarters for the Meals on Wheels where on average 210 meals daily are made and sent out to seniors.

There is also a personal care service where staff can come to a senior’s home to take care of housework or with baths, even grocery shopping.

On the grounds are flower gardens done in memory of seniors whose families wants their participation at the center honored.

And if the ghosts of the lockmasters could speak, they would probably be pleased the old place has a new purpose.