Though there is much discussion over what exactly needs to happen with the Anderson County Senior Center, everyone can agree that something needs to be done.
The Senior Center has been a hot topic in Anderson County Commission meetings for months and seems to be reaching a boiling point.
One of the main reasons being that the building the Senior Center currently occupies is too small to house the amount of seniors in Anderson County.
“It’s a nightmare.” Cherie Phillips said of the Anderson County Office on Aging and Senior Center situation.
Phillips is the Director of the A.C. Office on Aging and Senior Center.
Some things the Office on Aging provides are living wills, notary services, power of attorneys, counseling, Medicare education, emergency home visits and the list goes on.
The Senior Center side is for socialization, exercise, meals nutrition, etc.
The County took over the Office on Aging three years ago, and there hadn’t been an Anderson County Senior Center before. It will be exactly three years come this October.
The building they were granted at that time, at 195 Edgewood Ave in Clinton, was fine because Phillips wasn’t really sure what to expect.
“We didn’t really know how it was going to go when we first opened.” Phillips said.
But it didn’t take long to realize they needed a larger space.
“We outgrew this building within the first month.”
According to Phillips’ last count, there are roughly 37,000 seniors in Anderson County. Through the Office on Aging alone Phillips is serving 7,200 of them.
Phillips stated that their contract obligates them to run exercise classes but they can’t always fulfill that obligation because there simply isn’t enough space in the current building.
There is certainly not enough parking, either.
Mayor Terry Frank stated that without the kindness of surrounding businesses, whom Anderson County is essentially “mooching” off of, there would be nowhere for the patrons and visitors to the Senior Center to park.
The County recently purchased the abandoned building at 205 N. Main St. with the idea that it would become the new home to the Office on Aging and Senior Center for Anderson County.
Unfortunately, after moving several operations to the building at the beginning of September 2017, it was discovered that the building was inadequate in several ways.
“I was there the day that the building was purchased and I pointed out very obvious issues.” said Phillips. “When you see electrical panels with wires hanging out of them, you know something is not right.”
She also noticed leaks that would leave standing puddles on the floor, the bathrooms weren’t heated or cooled, nor was the annex where the kitchen was.
Phillips had her concerns but they were overlooked and the building was purchased.
Even though the new building boasted a higher square footage, Phillips said that the rooms that her group was using were no more spacious than the original building.
In theory, the new building would have been spacious enough, but the front was rented out to a driving school, the back parking lot rented out for school bus parking leaving once again, limited space for the seniors.
“The building is just not laid out properly for a Senior Center. And we are losing seniors by staying here (in the original building).” Phillips said.
Another critical issue with the building was the presence of mold. Phillips said that she was getting sick after being in the building for long periods of time.
What started out as a joke, that Phillips was allergic to the building, ended up with the discovery of potentially health threatening mold that wasn’t found during whatever original inspection there had been on the building.
By the beginning of December, operations were moved back to the original building.
As of Monday, May 21, an appraisal has been ordered for the 205 N. Main St. property in order to sell the building and recoup the money that was sunk in that deal.
And as for the Anderson County Office on Aging and Senior Center, their lease with the current building at 195 Edgewood is up in October and according to Phillips, there has to be a change of facility for the Senior Center to succeed. They are in search of the correct building as we speak.
“There is so much that this office could do for the seniors of Anderson County, if we had the right facility.” Phillips exclaimed.
If you have a suggestion for a possible or available building that would make a good home for the Anderson County Senior Center, contact Cherie Phillips at (865) 457-3259 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.