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Vaccines progress for local seniors

Majority of center’s members have received first shot

CHESAPEAKE — Typically, the Sybene-Chesapeake Senior Center is a busy location, with the small, modular unit packed for events throughout the week and the monthly Our Day dinners they host at Proctorville First Baptist Church in Proctorville drawing hundreds.

But it was just shy of a year ago that they were forced to close as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the country. With their members in the highest risk category from the virus, director Darlene Green said they chose not to reopen later in the year, with social distancing near impossible in their current facility.

In the meantime, Green said they have hosted small drive through events with no social contact. Green has also kept in touch with members and checked on their wellbeing.

She said she has known of several members who have had COVID-19, including two who died from the virus.

Once vaccinations began this year, the center’s members were among the first eligible to be vaccinated, with those age 80 and above going first, then the age being gradually lowered in following weeks.

“We have members age 65, up into their 90s,” Green said. “And we have some who are already going for their second shot.”

Green said she has assisted members in registering for the vaccinations and, so far, it has gone smoothly for those signed up.

She said the bulk of them have been going, once approved for appointments, at the site at the South Point Board of education, in the gymnasium of the former high school building.

She said the majority of her members have already received at least one of the shots.

As for the center, she said there are no plans to reopen in the immediate future, and that they are waiting until things are safe for all involved.

“Right now, things are on hold,” she said.

Also upcoming for the center is the groundbreaking for a new location, which will be at the Lawrence County Fairgrounds.

Lawrence County Commission President DeAnna Holliday said they are still waiting on final approval through Ohio University, the fiscal agent on the project, and once that is done, they will be ready to move forward on the project. She anticipates that will happen in the next few weeks.

The Ohio Legislature has approved $1 million for construction of the new facility.