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'Support Our Seniors' Group Holds Town Hall About Senior Center Concerns

Members of Support Our Seniors gathered for a town hall meeting Thursday.

Posted: Nov. 9, 2017 6:45 PM
Updated: Nov. 9, 2017 7:09 PM

ASHLAND, Ore. -- The battle continues over a center that helps seniors. Members of the Ashland Senior Center are clashing with Parks and Recreation over a decision to "re-organized" the center. 

Avram Chetrom, SOS member, said he is unhappy with the decisions made so far. 

"They simply laid people off and dismantled a safety net that many many seniors really cared for and counted on to be their family," Chetrom said. 

Parks and Recreation Director Michael Black said members of the commission are making decisions based off the public's concern.

"I feel like the message that they're trying to get out is being received," Black said. 

 He said one of those decisions was not moving the senior center from Homes Avenue to the Grove. 

According to the City of Ashland website, Parks and Recreation said this project is "an effort to serve those who are 55 and older in Ashland, and to research ways to increase revenue and ensure the program's resiliency for years to come."

"It seems like one of the commisson's serious goals is to generate some more money," Chetrom said. 

APRC had originally looked at a 20 percent cost recovery for the program after comparing it to others in Oregon. 

Black said revenue is no longer one of the main reasons for re-organizing. 

"Don't expand the senior program to get cost recovery, but expand the program to serve the citizens and if the by-product of cost recovery is increased then that's a good thing and that's positive and we'll celebrate that," Black said. 

SOS members said the commissioners laid off several employees who had been with the program for years. 

Sandra Sawyer, SOS member, said Christine Dodson was let go and was the center's manager. 

"She was unusually highly qualified," Sawyer said. 

"They have made no attempts to find qualified replacements or to do anything other than put temporary park employees without any qualifications in senior care," Chetrom said. 

Black said the commission will now start looking for a new manager for the program as well as continuing to move forward with the ad hoc committee created to help make decisions about the program. 

SOS members said they did not feel the five people picked to be on the committee had the qualifications necessary to be making decisions about the senior center. 

"The five members of this committee that we've picked have a great deal of information that they already have from volunteering at the senior center, from working at the senior center, and from being part of activities as a participant at the senior center," Black said. 

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