Senior Center contract goes to W.Va. firm

September 05, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Gov. Cecil Underwood is expected to attend a groundbreaking ceremony Oct. 9 for a $1.2 million renovation and addition to the Berkeley Senior Center at 217 N. High St.

The Berkeley County Commission Thursday awarded the $1,171,000 contract to W. Harley Miller Contractors Inc. of Martinsburg. County Administrator Deborah Sheetenhelm said three bids had been submitted for the project.

The project would double the size of the center, adding 6,500 square feet, according to Eileen Dooley, the director of Berkeley Senior Services, the nonprofit organization that runs the center and a number of other programs for senior citizens.


The expansion is being funded through a number of sources, including $625,000 from the Small Cities Community Development Block Grant program. Part of that was spent for demolition of the older parts of the High Street School that houses the center.

What remains of the old school, which dates back to the 1870s, is the cafeteria, which was added in about 1960, Dooley said. The county, which owns the building, provided a $125,000 match through in-kind services, including the purchase and demolition of a house on an adjoining property.

The county also gave cash grants of $40,000 for each of the past two years and may do so again next year, Dooley said. Former Gov. Gaston Caperton handed over a $50,000 state grant while still in office and Underwood is expected to be bearing a check when he comes to the groundbreaking ceremony.

Dooley said Berkeley Senior Services has received legislative grants over the past two years totaling $185,000 that were arranged by Del. Vicki Douglas, D-Berkeley.

Berkeley Senior Services has its own capital campaign, co-chaired by board members Norma Lee Sutherland and Bob Sanders. Since January, Dooley said the campaign has raised $280,000 toward a goal of $350,000.

The center serves between 100 and 200 people a day, according to Dooley. Berkeley Senior Services helps meet the needs of about 1,000 senior citizens a year through its various programs.

Meals are served at the center, but the kitchen also is used to prepare meals that are delivered to residents and seniors living in Ambrose Towers and Senior Towers.

The additional space will provide not just room for more seniors, but greater flexibility.

"You have to move the tables and chairs any time you want to do anything" in the center's multipurpose room, Dooley said.

That room will be turned into a wellness facility for aerobics classes, exercise programs and exercise equipment once the new multipurpose room is completed.

The center will be able to double its adult day care service from 13 to about 25 people a day. That program allows people with Alzheimer's disease or other mental and physical afflictions to be taken care of during the day while their regular caregivers are at work or running errands.

Dooley said the center will have lifelong learning classes for seniors. Toward that end, seniors have been collecting cash register receipts from Roger's County Market. So far, they've collected enough to buy three computers.

Commissioner D. Wayne Dunham said the project had been bid out earlier this year, but all the bids came in too high, so the county advertised for a new round.

"It's going to be a real revitalization program for that part of High Street," Sheetenhelm said.

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