R’boro sets sights on senior center

Roseboro Nutrition Site manager Gilbert Owens confronted the board Tuesday night asking for the site to become a Senior Citizens Center.

Daily, the Roseboro Nutrition Site offers more than 50 seniors a place to go and be a part of the community. Unfortunately, that service is only available for four hours a day and Gilbert Owens, site manager, would like to offer more.

Owens presented the town’s commissioners with a request this week, them to support his efforts in changing the site to a Senior Citizens Center. Currently, there are six nutrition sites across Sampson County and only one Senior Citizens Center, that one located in Garland.

According to Owens, the Garland site serves approximately 46 seniors on a daily basis. The Roseboro Nutrition Site serves an average of 51 seniors daily, with 30 on a waiting list. Nutrition sites are typically open from 8 a.m. until noon, while senior centers are open an additional three hours a day, closing at 3 p.m.

The numbers at the Roseboro site have grown over the last three years since Owens became the site manager. In March 2012, only 27 seniors were served.

“We have definitely surpassed the number required to make us a senior center,” Owens shared.

As a Senior Citizens Center, Owens said the site would be able to apply for more grants and funding provided through the state, as well as provide more transportation for the seniors. As the nutrition site, Roseboro only offers seniors a ride to the site and a ride home from the site. However, as a center, the site would be able to offer transportation to doctor’s appointments on a daily basis.

“We will be able to offer more programs and enrich the lives of the senior citizens of this area,” Owens pleaded to the board.

The process of changing the Roseboro site to a Senior Citizens Center requires multiple steps, but the first of those is acquiring the support of the local town board — which is exactly what Owens was seeking when he made his presentation Tuesday night.

The Roseboro Nutrition Site has been a viable and important institution in Sampson County since 1973, according to Owens. For those 42 years, the site has been providing nutritional meals to seniors on a daily basis.

“We serve enough seniors to be transformed into a senior center,” he reiterated. “I am asking this board to declare their support of this effort.”

Commissioner Richard Barefoot expressed his concerns, asking if all the information Owens presented was factual, especially wondering if more grants would be available once the site is deemed a center.

“Right now, there is no commitment from the county, but where there is a center there is a vehicle provided on the site for transportation,” Owens said. “As for the grants, we will be able to apply for more grants and hopefully get them.”

Many of the services through the senior center are provided through the Department of Aging. One of those services that Garland currently receives is daily transportation for its participants. A van would be on site at the center, allowing for the seniors to have transportation from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m., the entire time they are at the center, rather than just four hours a day.

Alice Butler, mayor pro tem, shared her support of the idea.

“We have to be the first ones to make the first step,” Butler stressed.

Owens agreed.

“We will proceed with what is required once we have the support of this board,” he offered.

Additional cost to the town brought questions from commissioner Ray Clark Fisher.

According to Owens, the only additional cost to the town would for utilities for the additional three hours the site would be open each day.

“Other costs will be incurred by the county,” Owens explained.

Commissioners agreed to sign the document requesting the change from the county.

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