It’s a typical afternoon at the Peggy M. Seegars Senior Center.
The parking lot is full.
Some seniors are taking advantage of the mild weather by sitting on the front porch in rocking chairs.
Inside, a computer class is in session. Bridge and pinochle games are being played in other rooms. Still others are working out in the exercise room.
The center has more than 1,000 members, but there are times later in the day when the center is not as busy, prompting Paula Edwards, director of Wayne County Services on Aging, to ask Wayne County commissioners to approve a reduction in hours effective March 1. The commissioners approved the change at their Feb. 5 session.
Currently, the center opens daily at 7:30 a.m. It is open to 8:30 p.m., except on Wednesday when it closes at 6 p.m. It is open from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The center will continue to open at 7:30 a.m., but on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday it will close at 7 p.m.
The center will also close at 5 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday. Saturday hours will be 8:30 a.m. to noon.
“Being director almost four years now, my observation and seeing the utilization of the senior center really, the latter part of the evening it is not being used,” Edwards said. “I presented to our advisory board on Nov. 13 about my concerns of being opened until 8:30 in the evening.
“They had voted to present to you a change in the hours and supported it by 100 percent during the meeting. We are currently opened 67 hours a week. That’s 27 hours over the 40 hours that the county normally provides. I am just recommending that we reduce it by 10 hours.”
The hours will not limit or disrupt existing evening programming, Edwards said.
The top programs are bingo on Monday and line dancing on Tuesday. The programs will just start 30 minutes earlier — 5:30 p.m. instead of 6 p.m., she said.
“I spoke to the volunteers who run the programs,” Edwards said. “Actually, they would like to get home earlier themselves. I don’t think 30 minutes will affect the programming.”
On Friday evenings, the only people at the center are staff and maybe one or two seniors reading or working on the computer but not enough to justify staying open late, she said.
Safety and security are concerns as well, she said. A security guard could be needed, she said.
The changes will not interfere with special events, just as the quarterly Friday night dances that go on until 10 p.m., Edwards said.
Commissioner Wayne Aycock said he did not want to take anything from senior citizens but that he encouraged Edwards to continue to monitor the number of participants even closer to see if further adjustments might be needed.
Edwards said she has been doing that for the past two years and will continue to do so.
The reason for the extended hours is that some senior citizens still work and come by the center after work, she said.