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Sybene center closed

Funding cuts cited


SOUTH POINT — An informal headquarters for community activities in the eastern end of the county has closed with no immediate plans for re-opening.

Recently the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization closed the Sybene Senior Center, located on County Road 1, and transferred its director, Darlene Green, to the Ironton Senior Center in the Park Avenue Apartments.

The center was one of the locations for daily congregate meals for seniors. The meals were prepared at the Sybene center.

“We are not doing the congregate site there but have consolidated the congregate sites,” D. R. Gossett, director of the CAO, said. “It was the only way to be effective, without duplication.”

Besides Green, one employee has been laid off.

“A lot of the work there was done by volunteers,” Gossett said.

However, besides daily lunches, Sybene was also used by seniors in the area as a place to meet to work on craft projects, take classes and socialize and by community groups needing a large meeting room.

The Concerned Citizens of Burlington used Sybene often for meetings, including its annual Candidates Forum each fall.

“We were very comfortable meeting there for all these years,” Harriette Ramsey, president of the Concerned Citizens, said. “I never thought we would have to face finding another meeting place, which I am doing right now.”

Area ballroom dance clubs also used to meet at the center for monthly dances and guests artists coming into the schools for special performances would give also community performances there.

Right now the site is used only for food preparation for the senior meals since it has a larger commercial kitchen.

“We are trying to look at some partnership-type program with other entities,” Gossett said.

In the November 2011 election a much-sought-after 1 mill senior citizens levy was defeated by a one-half percent margin. The levy would have brought in $800,000 annually for the next five years.

However Gossett said the levy was mainly to provide funds for expanding services and doesn’t cite its failure as the main reason for closing Sybene.

“It is a long trend of decreasing funding,” he said. “Reductions really come from (cutbacks) in the Older Americans Act, not so much the levy failing. Historically, we didn’t have a levy and we could operate two sites. We would love to see congregate meals back there. We want to see that center up and thriving.”