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W.Va. center prepares for more seniors

January 15, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Saying Berkeley County's elderly population is expected to double by the year 2000, a group of community leaders Wednesday kicked-off a fund-raising campaign to build a new $1.3 million senior center in Martinsburg.

The Berkeley County Commission on Aging has operated a senior center on High Street for years, but parts of the building have deteriorated and there is not enough room to hold activities at the center, officials said.

"With the growth we expect in this county, we will have to increase significantly," said Charles Fridinger, chairman of the Berkeley County Committee on Aging, one of several local officials who announced the fund-raising campaign at the senior center.

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Committee officials want to build a 6,000-square-foot facility that would wrap around the center's current building at 217 N. High St. A little more than $1 million has already been raised for the project, and now senior center volunteers will begin looking to the community to raise the rest of the money, said Fridinger.

Bob Sanders, one of the co-chairs of the campaign, said the $350,000 the group hopes to raise is a "comparatively small sum" compared to the total cost of the project.

The $1 million that has been raised so far came from a number of sources, including a $50,000 Governor's Office Grant, a $750,000 Development Block Grant, a $40,000 allocation from the Berkeley County Commission, a $15,000 allocation from the City of Martinsburg, and other sources.

The new facility, which will be a contemporary style building, will house exercise rooms and will allow the senior center to expand its adult day-care services. The building will also allow for expanded learning programs and the installation of computers that will allow seniors the opportunity to stay current with technology, officials said.

Fridinger said about 20 senior center volunteers and community leaders will begin raising money for the new center. The volunteers plan to target several segments of the community, including civic organizations and the business community, Fridinger said.

Norma Lee Southerland, the other co-chair of the fund-raising campaign, said there are about 18,456 senior citizens in Berkeley County. The county is becoming a popular area for senior citizens to settle in, and officials are expecting the county's elderly population to at least double in coming years.

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