Russell George, president of Colorado Northwestern Community College, discusses ideas about for an area senior center Monday night at CNCC. Moffat County Council on Aging has hosted several meetings about the topic and will continue to hear input from community members about what they would like from a potential facility.

Photo by Andy Bockelman

Russell George, president of Colorado Northwestern Community College, discusses ideas about for an area senior center Monday night at CNCC. Moffat County Council on Aging has hosted several meetings about the topic and will continue to hear input from community members about what they would like from a potential facility.

Moffat County Council on Aging discusses senior center idea

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— For more information on how to get involved with a proposed local senior center or community center, contact Kelly Nottingham at 970-326-8514, Evelyn Tileston at 970-824-6449 or Neil Folks at 970-326-8726 or neilfolks@wildblu...

Before any project can be started, the people involved must ask themselves a simple question.

What do you want to achieve?

That was the inquiry posed to those in attendance Saturday morning and Monday night at community meetings hosted by Moffat County Council on Aging to gauge interest in creating a senior center in the area. Held in the Colorado Northwestern Community College Craig campus Academic Building and overseen by CNCC President Russell George, the summit drew a number of people wanting to discuss the possibilities.

The first thing, George said, is to determine what is desired most by the community, be it a huge space with myriad amenities or something smaller but still functional.

Tied to that question is the one of whether people in Northwest Colorado would like to see a new space constructed or to repurpose a currently unused location.

Neil Folks, chairman of Council on Aging, said those who have weighed in on the matter have suggested that finding a new use for an old building would be best.

“There’s been very little discussion in a new building,” Folks said. “People want to know what’s out there that we can reuse or remodel.”

In previous meetings, such as one in mid-November, residents had suggested several locations that might serve well as a senior center, such as the vacated Craig Rehabilitation Services or Safeway, as well as CNCC’s Bell Tower and American Legion Post 62.

Organizers have already gathered information about Craig Rehabilitation, which would cost about $3,500 to $4,000 monthly to rent the 15,500 square foot property — complete with two floors and an unfinished basement — while Safeway’s former building is unlikely to be leased to any party other than a retailer or grocery store.

CNCC was hesitant to commit to anything with the Bell Tower.

The American Legion — also known as Shadow Mountain Clubhouse —was one, which people attending the Monday meeting brought up as a possible contender, with 10.4 total acres available on the property. With kitchen facilities and a swimming pool already in the building, it already has some of the features some might prefer from a senior center.

Even so, ensuring the pool and the overall building structure are in sound shape still remains, as does the calculation of a definite rental price.

Before any of that, the necessity of nailing down exactly what is wanted from the community is key, George said. Determine if it’s a whole gym that people would like to see, a place that’s easily accessible where seniors can convene to play a game of cards or something else entirely.

Just having a gathering place can make all the difference in seniors’ lives, said county resident Nancy Loughran, who was in attendance.

“The health of our seniors is critical on socialization, and if they have none and they’re trapped at home and not able to get out and communicate, then they don’t have a good quality of life,” she said.

Having a fully developed game plan before looking into financing will be best, George said, adding that applying for grants or similar funding will be easier once the initial stages are complete and a reasonable proposal for a senior center is put together.

“I don’t think we’ll be shooting the moon here,” George said. “People here know what they need.”

Audience member Ken Wergin suggested the idea of bringing in more age groups, which could also make funding simpler and would help.

Most in the crowd agreed the idea of bringing younger generations in on the project would be worthwhile, perhaps even going so far as to create a community center with a section partially reserved for seniors, a long-term plan that could prove effective if population trends stay on course.

According to data from the State Demography Office, the senior population of Moffat County is projected to grow by 51 percent between 2010 and 2020, Folks said, with the Baby Boomer generation expected to change a lot of statistics.

About 1,450 seniors currently live in the county, though the Council on Aging has heard input from 112 of them on their thoughts for a senior center, less than 7 percent.

Folks said he hopes to continue to get the word out to people in the age demographic, as well as those in other demographics who would be enthusiastic about getting the project underway. Another meeting date has yet to be announced, but the Council on Aging will continue to amass input from the community.

“The power is here,” he said, motioning to the people in the crowd. “It all seems impossible until it’s done.”

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

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