County closes deal on senior center

County officials closed on a business deal on Friday, July 7, with local businessman Michael Farley for the county’s recent purchase of the building on 205 North Main Street for use as a senior citizens center. Cherie Phililps, Director of the Anderson County Office on Aging and Senior Center, was handed the keys to the building by Farley on Friday. Several county officials and volunteers with the senior center were present in front of the building when Phillips was given the keys. Standing in front row holding the keys is Cherie Phillips (center) with Commissioner Steve Emert (Dist. 3) left of Phillips and Farley on her right. Other officials present included Chuck Fritts, Steve Griffith, Gail Berry, Felicia Foust, Steve Day, Robert McKamey, Phil Yager, Shain Vowell, Sharon Clapp, and Phil Warfield. — Heather Miller
Friday, July 7, was a day of celebration for Anderson County senior citizens.

On Friday, county officials finalized their plans to relocate the Clinton Senior Center, currently located on 195 Edgewood Avenue, to a larger facility on 205 North Main Street in downtown Clinton by officially closing on a deal they had made with local businessman and attorney Michael Farley last month to purchase the building.

At their regular monthly commission meeting in April of this year, Anderson County Commission approved a resolution for a $1.4 million capital outlay note to pay for expenses associated with the relocation of the senior center to the Farley building, the Oak Ridge General Sessions Division II Court renovations on Emory Valley Road, and various capital outlay projects for the county.

Of the $1.4 million, $600,000 is going toward the purchase of the senior center.

Commission also approved at their May commission meeting spending an additional $15,000 to purchase furniture, lighting, Christmas decorations, and audiovisual equipment as part of the purchase deal.

County officials said the cost of the additional supplies would normally cost $35,000 or more, and said Farley’s asking price of $15,000 was a huge savings for the county — an offer they could not afford to refuse.

“This is great for the seniors and great for the county,” stated Anderson County Law Director Jay Yeager, on Friday.

Yeager and other county officials and senior center and office on aging representatives gathered in front of the Farley building at 11 a.m. Friday morning where senior center director Cherie Phillips was handed the keys of the building shortly after the county had closed on the business deal with Farley.

It was a symbolic gesture marking the transition of ownership from privately owned business to county owned and operated facility, as well as the culmination of hard work and lobbying on the part of all who have been involved with the senior center’s long-term objective to have a center large enough to accommodate the county’s growing senior population for years to come.

County officials believe the building on 205 North Main, with its 15,600 square footage and 122 parking lots, will be more than enough to accommodate local seniors.

The building was formerly used by Farley to host large events, and officials with the senior center and the county are planning on continuing using the facility to host events, in the hope that event planning will generate revenue for the senior center.

So not much will change regarding its use. Although the county has closed on the purchase and seniors now have the keys to the building and can start hosting events there, it will take some time to make the building “move in” ready, officials said.

“The county agreed to allow Farley time to move out. He’s having a public auction in a few days to get rid of some of this stuff,” Yeager said, pointing to a large room full of assorted items and equipment Farley had been using to store items for events. “They can move everything in by Sept. 1.”

The Senior Center and Anderson County Office on Aging provides a variety of services to some 6,800 elderly residents, in a county senior population of about 28,000.