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Eastern end center to open for seniors

CHESAPEAKE — On Friday seniors in the eastern end will once again have a drop-in center for meals and craft activities and will celebrate the opening with a Thanksgiving Dinner a few weeks early.

Modular units at the Chesapeake Community Center originally set up for Headstart classes for the Chesapeake school district have now been turned into a senior center.

“All are handicapped accessible with a deck on the front side,” Bill Pratt, county commissioner, said. “It provides a place for seniors to congregate and get a cheap meal they didn’t have on the county. It is a handy location, easy to get in and out of. A nice place to be.”

The community center site replaces the senior center that had been at Sybene for decades. That was owned and operated by the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization.

The Sybene closure followed the defeat of a senior citizen services levy in November of 2011 that the CAO had promoted. That significantly cut senior programming in the county, including the shutdown of the Sybene Center the next summer.

The one-mill levy, defeated by only 95 votes, would have brought in $800,000 a year for five years. That would have kept current programs at full capacity, plus allowed the CAO the chance to provide other services to senior, CAO leaders said.

Transforming the modular units into a center where meals can be served was done by contractor Mike Finley, who built a partition with serving window. Finley donated his work.

The county commissioners also contributed to creating the center. Pratt donated a refrigerator and microwave; Freddie Hayes Jr., chairs and tables and Les Boggs a 40-cup coffee pot and cash to provide incidentals.

“I hope they get plenty of pleasure and a place for fellowship,” Boggs said. “Most senior citizens don’t ask for much. They just want some fellowship.”