07/30/12 — Senior Center getting ready for move

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Senior Center getting ready for move

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 30, 2012 1:46 PM

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Wayne County Services on Aging Director Eryn McAuliffe stands in front of what will be the county's new Senior Center on East Ash Street. In the background a construction crew works on the canopy on front of the building that once housed Sportsman's World. The center is expected to open in October.

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Construction workers install the ceiling in what will be a large reception area at Wayne County's new Senior Center on East Ash Street. The center, which will house the county's Services on Aging, is expected to be completed by October.

Wayne County Senior Center Services on Aging Director Eryn McAuliffe is already packing, even though the Senior Center's move to its new quarters on East Ash Street is still two months away.

"I get questions every day," Ms. McAuliffe said. "The seniors see us preparing because I am trying to pack up parts of the center and go through closets and clean out things. They are very excited. It is a daily topic. We are planning to move in in October. That is the goal."

The new center will have an airlock-type door designed to keep out cold air, a large dining area, plenty of restrooms, a kitchen, an arts and crafts room and several offices that can be utilized by agencies that offer programs to assist senior citizens. A billiard room will feature two regulation-size tables and will mean the center will be able to host the local Senior Games for billiards.

"Some people may question the need for a senior center this size, but there is a term that the people in the field of aging are using called the 'silver tsunami' that represents how many people are going to be getting older as the baby boomers age into senior citizens. So actually, Wayne County is looking ahead and preparing for the vast number of seniors that are going to want and need services."

It is "wonderful," she said, to have Veterans Services and Literacy Connections who share an adjacent building on the same campus.

"This is going to make it easier for a senior who is a retired veteran to connect to the services that they need," she said. "With Literacy Connections, we are hoping to actually see if seniors, maybe retired school teachers or someone, will help with tutoring and teaching someone how to read. Our seniors are very much a part of the community."

But the new center will not just be a gathering place, she said.

"This isn't just a senior center, it is the house for Services on Aging. We have programs out in the community. We have an in-home aid program. We send certified nursing assistants out to the homes of homebound seniors to help them stay at home as long as possible. It is not that the Senior Center needs so many offices. It is just that the services for the seniors in the county -- we have a lot of them. All of our programs are free if you are a senior age 60 or older, and a Wayne County resident. That is all that is required."

There are two exercise rooms. One will feature 10 pieces of exercise equipment and have three televisions as well. The second room will be used for line dancing, chair exercise and similar programs, and will have a Wii game console. The wall separating that room from the large dinning room is movable. The meal room will seat 210 and moving the wall will expand the seating capacity to 260. The county plans to make the room available for rent.

"The benefit for that is right now when we have a program for a large group I either have to hold it at the Herman Park Center or at the Wayne Center because I don't have the space where we are now," Ms. McAuliffe said. "We will be able to hold health fairs. We will be able to hold dances."

One large room will house the in-home aid program nurse and hospital bed. The nurse also checks senior citizens at the center who do not feel well, she said.

The center will be housed in the former Sportsman's World building that the county purchased along with two outlying buildings in May, 2011 for about $1.5 million.

Wayne County commissioners in February awarded the contract for the Senior Center to the design-build team of Daniels and Daniels Construction of Goldsboro and Dunn and Dalton Architects of Kinston. Design-build is a team approach that includes the architect/engineer and contractor working together on a project from design to construction.

"This will be the outdoor area," Ms. McAuliffe said pointing out an area next to the building shared by Veterans Services and Literacy Connections. "There will be a paved six-foot-wide walkway here so that someone in a wheelchair or a scooter could come out here and enjoy the sunshine. Our goal, and obviously we won't be able to do everything at once, but our goal is, with time, picnic tables, raised garden bed, horseshoes. So this could be a miniature park area. The county is going to fence it in and there is going to be lighting so it is going to be safe and secure for the seniors."

A large canopy is being installed on the front of the building so that people can load and unload without being exposed to the weather. The porch-like area under the canopy will have rocking chairs for a "homey feel," Ms. McAuliffe said.

Next to the center itself will be a fenced-in patio where people who have memory problems will be able to safely enjoy the outdoors, she said.

GATEWAY is looking at installing a bus stop and shelter on East Ash Street since the larger buses will not be going into the parking lot. Work already is under way to install a sidewalk in front of the Senior Center near the to-be-built bus stop.

"Most of our seniors ride GATEWAY vans and that is more for disabled persons," she said. "They will be able to drive right up the door. But the senior who live in Goldsboro that are capable of walking, I can get a much lower rate and save transportation and they can ride the bus."

LCD panels will be located in different areas of the building so that people will be able to watch videos, different television stations, and announcements of events happening in the building itself, said Chris Cowan, senior information technology specialist for the county.

"The key thing with this building is that it is going to be flexible and it is going to be built for five, 10, 20 years down the road," he said. "It isn't built for today.

"It will have a computer lab they will be able to train senior citizens on and in different places the staff will be able to connect and do different things and mount things as needed."

The large dining area will have two drop-down projection screens.

"A speaker can get in there and show both screens, the same presentation or have two different laptops on if they want to," he said.

"The PA system in there has the capability if someone has a hard time hearing things they can bring in their own radio and turn to a certain radio dial and they will be able to hear the speaker on their headphones. The way we looked at it you can buy some higher tech ones that are very pricey. The ones we are going to do you can go out and buy a $10 FM radio and be able to put headphones on and listen."

Wi-fi connections will be available, too.