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Franklin Co. opens largest senior center

November 01, 1999

Senior CenterBy DON AINES / Staff Writer, Chambersburg

photo: DON AINES




MERCERSBURG, Pa. - There were tears in Gertie Zeger's eyes Monday when Franklin County's Tuscarora Senior Activities Center opened in Montgomery Township, Pa.

"I just wish he was here to see it," she said of her son Dennis, a county commissioner who died in 1994. She said the senior center for the area was a project he had promoted for a long time.

"This is the first time we've opened a senior center in about 13 years," said Kim Murdaugh, the director of the Area Agency on Aging. At about 10,000 square feet, it is the largest of the eight senior centers operated by the county.

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The county is renting the space at 11300 Fort Loudon Road for $1,000 a month from the Mercersburg Moose Lodge, according to Murdaugh. The county will have use of the center weekdays, with the lodge having the space on evenings and weekends.

Director of Senior Activity Centers Margaret Bream said the agency sent out 550 survey forms to residents on the southwest section of the county last spring. About 280 senior citizens sent back responses, all but five saying they favored a new center.

"We had a pretty strong showing that people were interested in a senior center and even more so in activities," said Murdaugh. Residents of the Mercersburg area have not been going to the nearest centers in Greencastle, Pa., and Fort Loudon, Pa., but that had more to do with the need for educational programs, she said.

"I just got my computer about six months ago and this is going to help me because they're going to teach computer courses here," said Velma Schooley of Mercersburg, one of about 200 people who attended the opening. She was not alone in her desire to learn about computers.

When Lou Beatty, of Greencastle, Pa., told her granddaughter she wanted to learn more about computers, "She said, 'Oh get real.' We're going to get real." She and her husband Ron plan to take computer courses at the center.

"I don't think you're ever too old to learn," said Mabel Weller of Mercersburg. She chooses from the educational programs offered at senior centers to determine which she will attend on any given day.

Murdaugh said the center wasn't open an hour Monday before people were using computers there to access the Internet. Bream said there will also be courses on photography and crafts, tai chi exercise classes and regular lectures by faculty members from Shippensburg University.

"In Mercersburg there are no places for people of any age to exercise," Murdaugh said. The center, which is equipped with exercise machines, will help fill that gap, she said.

The center is expected to serve 60 or more seniors a day with meals, classes and activities.

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