Closing of Lake Senior Center ruffles feathers

January 25, 2018

By Pat Maurer

The parking area at the DAV building in Lake is not handicapped accessible and in poor condition, Clare Senior Services says.

The parking area at the DAV building in Lake is not handicapped accessible and in poor condition, Clare Senior Services says.

Seniors are concerned over the County Commission’s vote last week to close the Lake Senior Center.

The review has received several letters objecting to the County’s decision, made at their January 17 board meeting.

The Disabled American Veterans building is the Lake site for meals. “The building is in bad shape and it’s not very safe,” Commission Chair Karen Lipovsky said in an interview with Review writer John Raffell last week. She said the “director felt we had to get rid of it.”

Clare Senior Services Director Lori [Ware] Phelps said, “I understand why people are upset. It wasn’t an easy decision to make the the needs of the seniors in our county are changing and that, and the condition of the DAV building, weighed heavily on our making the decision to close that site.”

She said their in-home service has increased by 300 percent over the past two years.
She stressed, “We are not closing the service to Lake area seniors, just the DAV location. We will still offer all of the same services to our seniors.” She said over the past two years, only an average of eight seniors go to the center at the DAV building daily.

Phelps said one possible plan is to open something closer to Farwell to serve both communities’ seniors. “We are also looking at locations in all of the townships in the county,” she added.

Senior Joyce Minch wrote, “I have been going to the Lake Senior Meal Site on a regular basis for over 30 years. It is not unsafe.” She added, “They say the DAV building is unsafe. The B.O.C. were told a lot of lies about the building by the Clare County Council on Aging. No one ever came to the location to see it except one commissioner over 2 years ago.” She said the center offers senior a place to socialize, play games. “It gives me a reason to get up, get dressed and get out,” she added.

Diana Scheer wrote, “ For over 30 years, Lake seniors have enjoyed the company of other seniors who attend, many who enjoy the only socialization geared to the senior population, available in our small town. Seeing this important program abruptly closed, ending not just a place for pleasant interaction, but also a good, square meal a day for each of us, is very hard to comprehend.” She added, “Many of us would like to know what this determination is based on.” She called the decision “disappointing.”

On behalf of the seniors who benefit from this program and want to save their facility, Registered Nurse Gay Ann Messier added her concerns over the decision, saying, “After voting to close the Lake Senior Center, I ask the Clare County Board of Commissioners to consider reversing their decision.

She said Garfield Township Fire Chief, Kevin Tubbs told her inspections are done on a regular basis annually for the Commission on Aging. “Approximately six weeks ago, Director Lori Phelps contacted him to do another walk through inspection. He ‘found no fire hazards or life safety issues’.”

She reported that Betty Phillips commented, “Seniors need to stimulate their minds and TV doesn’t do it. We spend more time here than with our families”.

Messier added that Helen Tubbs said, “It’s not only the hot, nutritious meal it’s the ‘social bit’ and activities that are important to these seniors.”

She said, The DAV hall hosted it’s first senior meal on November 4th, 1987. “Now [it is] the place for senior citizens looking for a good meal or just a little company.”

The article by Raffel said that Lake seniors will be bussed to other locations.

Phelps said, “Our demographics led to the business decision to relocate in order to reach more people. The Lake [DAV] site is in disrepair. I understand that the DAV is also very upset with our decision, but we are not in the business to keep their building open.”

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