POMEROY — A first step toward turning over ownership of the old Middleport school building from the Village of Middleport to the Meigs County Council on Aging for the development of a new Senior Center has now been taken.
In late December, Middleport Village Council voted to begin the property transfer process, and the Board of Trustees of the Meigs County Council on Aging voted to proceed. The goal of the project is to add space for expanded services.
What this means is that once the building is transferred and funding grants are secured, renovation will begin on the vacated school building in preparation for moving the Senior Citizens Center there from its current location on Mulberry Heights in Pomeroy.
Beth Shaver, Council on Aging executive director, said that conversations about the possibility of securing the building as a location for a new center have been ongoing with Middleport officials for several years.
“We’ve outgrown where we are now. There’s no space to expand, and we need to make a move,” said Shaver. “We have been planning for this future for over ten years, and the future begins now.”
Mayor Michael Gerlach described the proposed move as not only good for providing expansion opportunities for the Council on Aging but an excellent development opportunity for the Village of Middleport.
Shaver envisions the Council on Aging once the move occurs as “much bigger” than a senior center. She sees it as a “mixing of generations within one building, a place offering services and programs for all ages, and as an ever-expanding community center.”
Since there is an auditorium with seating for several hundred, she views it as a place for performing arts of all kinds. She said plans call for a renovated cafeteria where not only can seniors enjoy lunch, but full-scale banquets and receptions can be held. As for the Wellness Center, the plan is to expand the entire exercise program, to have showers available, and to use the surrounding open space for a variety of activities for everyone from youth to elders.
Youth activities will be encouraged, she said, and the size of the building will mean that programs like Yesteryear where senior volunteers work with students from schools on enrichment activities can be held on site.
“As times change, we have to change,” said Shaver, noting that the building will provide space for all kinds of activities, like game rooms, craft areas, education space and social activities.
She also noted that there will be plenty of parking on a flat lot, that in time adult day care will be offered, and that volunteer opportunities will grow and provide meaningful occupation for many older adults with talents to share.
She listed as added bonuses to the project — “It will bring a landmark building back to life, it will bring construction jobs during the renovation and add a few permanent jobs upon completion.”
There will be very little change to the physical structure, and the renovations will stay true to the original architectural design, she added. The emphasis now is on securing sources of funding, a project that the Meigs County Council on Aging is spearheading.
This is just the beginning of plans we have put in place,” Shaver concluded, acknowledging that things won’t happen overnight, that “everything will take time.”