10/17/12 — Ribbon cut for county's new facility for seniors

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Ribbon cut for county's new facility for seniors

By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 17, 2012 1:46 PM

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Eryn McAuliffe, left, director of Wayne County's Services on Aging, talks to seniors advocate Peggy Seegars, center, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Wayne County Services on Aging Senior Center. The center was named in Mrs. Seegars' honor.

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The foyer to the Wayne County Services on Aging's new Senior Center

For Peggy M. Seegars, it is the people that the county's new Senior Center will benefit and what it stands for -- not her name being on the building -- that is the true measure of the facility's value and importance to the community.

The official move into the new center is still several weeks away, but Tuesday afternoon Wayne County commissioners and invited guests gathered at the East Ash Street facility for a ribbon-cutting ceremony naming it the Peggy M. Seegars Senior Center.

"The whys (of naming it)? I could go on for a long time about the whys," said Eryn McAuliffe, Services on Aging director. "Peggy Seegars is a very strong advocate for the seniors. She has been a Senior Tarheel Legislator since its inception. She has worked tirelessly convincing the commissioners that we need a new Senior Center. If you ask any of them they will say she has been working on them for years. She is such an advocate.

"In addition to all of this work that she has done, she has financially supported it, and she has been raising funds by selling rooms. Many generous people are supporting this project, but Peggy is spearheading it all. I am very happy about it. I only hope to live up to her name."

Mrs. Seegars said that almost $100,000 has been raised in memorials.

"We still have people who are doing memorials," she said. "As you see a lot of the rooms have plaques.

The Senior Center hours will be expanded -- it will be open from 7:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. On Wednesday, it will be open from 7:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. and on Saturday, visitors can use the facility from 10 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.

Hot meals are served Monday through Friday at the center through the WAGES meal program.

Mrs. Seegars, 87, said now that the new center is on the verge of opening, she has no plans of slowing down.

"You don't give up," she said. "If you give up, it gets real boring and dull. It was real exciting."

The county purchased the former Sportsman's World building and two adjoining buildings for $1.5 million in May 2011. One of the other buildings has been renovated and now houses the county's Veterans Service office and Literacy Connections of Wayne County.

The county has about $1.6 million in the 19,000-square-foot Senior Center, plus another $200,000 worth of items going into the building. It would have cost the county close to $8 million to build a new facility, county officials said.

"You know how proud those seniors were of the place downtown, can you imagine when they get over here?" Commission Chairman John Bell said.

It is, he said, a confirmation of the board's fiscal policies over the past several years.

"If you do good management of your resources and income you can do wonders with a little bit of money and not have to go to some lender and borrow the money to do what you could pay cash for if you plan," he said. "We have a good planner in (County Manager) Lee Smith."

County finance officer Pam Holt said the county had saved about $10,000 on the furniture.

"Some of the furniture we bought from Office Depot, which is the furniture that is in the offices," she said. "The upholstered furniture and some of the tables and chests out here, we went to Clark Auction, and went to the back room at the Cloth Barn, and bought it off remnant pieces. We had the chairs re-upholstered out at Clark Auction.

"We have a lot less in it than it looks like we do and saved the county a lot of money. It has been a lot of fun. We had a great time doing it, too. Technology is state of the art. I don't think you will get any better technology than what we have here. It is something the community can be proud of. We are all proud of the way it turned out."