Senior Services note progress

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Senior Services Coordinator David Hacker gave a presentation to the Belmont County Commissioners focusing on programmatic highlights including the five-year strategic plan and goals in fiscal and program operations and administrative improvements. He also reviewed the first quarter of operating expenses and revenues and pointed out the positive outcomes, noting the department has remained within its budget even with the increased costs that were associated with the separation of senior services as its own entity.

“We’re on target to stay well within our budget. Our payroll’s on target to stay right where we predicted at the beginning of our fiscal year,” he said, adding that the total fund balance has gone from 5.2 to 5.8 from Nov. 1 to today.

He expounded on the five-year strategic plan for program and fiscal advancements. He noted the first objective is to provide cost-effective and individualized services that can meet the need of seniors in Belmont County. A formal needs assessment will be provided with the seniors. Hacker reported working with the Area Agency on Aging and the Ohio Department on Aging.

Services will include small home repair assistance, legal support services, income tax preparation, estate planning, pharmacy support programs, mental health, adult day programming, medical equipment loan programs, a mobile health screening group, lending library, driver safety programs, emergency identification programs, and long distance and coordinated transportation programs.

He noted that there are currently no local adult day programs. Also, his department is currently working with 911 on Code Red notifications.

Hacker added that plans were in place to accomplish these goals.

He also noted the senior services is working on improving efficiency in fiscal management and administration and maintaining capital investments and large equipment items, such as facilities.

“Our facility is one of the most aged in the county,” Hacker said, crediting the commissioners with working with senior services to find options that will provide efficient facilities for the kitchen and administrative offices, and a possible community facility.

He added that the department boasts a fleet of 40 vehicles. Senior services exchanges them regularly and the department is looking into ODOT grants. They are also scrupulous about kitchen equipment.

“Our kitchen equipment is very, very clean and it is well kept, but it is very aged,” he said.

In terms of human resources, the staff will become lay leaders in the state-sponsored Healthy You program. The primary goal is fall prevention, which is a main cause of life threatening and life ending injuries among seniors. Educational programs will be held for seniors and health providers.

Hacker noted service delivery highlights. Nutrition services has added a 10th delivery route. He pointed out close to 120 meal deliveries per day and it is difficult to make them all during lunch hour. Senior services produces 875-925 meals daily. The department is working with the vendor to launch a mobile application for home delivery meals in the interest of efficient record keeping. The service may be launched mid-summer.

For center services, the department continues to seek to engage members in activities that promote well-being. They have participated in recent parades. The Golden Times monthly newsletter is also popular, with information about the HEAP program and other services.

Senior services is also launching the Random Acts of Simple Kindness Affecting Local Seniors (RASKALS) program with the goal of engaging younger people in volunteer service.

Another program is the Educational Mall Day every first Tuesday of the month at the mall. More than 80 seniors participate in an educational seminar. Credit went to the mall for their cooperation.

Hacker’s department also participates in the State Association for Senior Centers Conference. This year, all senior center directors have either re-certified or began to complete the certification process to become Ohio-recognized center managers. There are nine managers.

“We are the largest county in terms of senior centers,” he said, adding that he will join the OASC board.

All transportation services have been relocated to more easily update drivers with current schedules. Technology has also been updated to allow dispatchers to monitor factors, locations and safety protocols of a vehicle in real time.

The Transportation Resources and Individualized Planning Services is also active and will allow cooperation between departments in order to provide transportation to individuals with hardships or barriers in gaining the services. The state auditor has informed the department that their special revenue fund account has been approved.

“What this program will do will allow us to be a stopgap,” he said. In one example, the veterans services board is able to transfer veterans to the hospital in Pittsburgh. TRIPS will allow senior services to transport veterans on a local basis. “We’re looking to engage other sectors of individuals who need transportation beyond just our population that get it to our levy.”

In addition, operating through SERVtracker has provided greater security and confidentiality of consumer information.

He also reported on progress in obtaining an ODOT transportation grant for capital funds for the purchase of vehicles. They had submitted for the grant of $74,000 two weeks ago for 80 percent of the purchase of two modified minivans.

Hacker also reported completing an ARC grant application for capital improvement projects. It is a match grant for up to $200,000 for the renovation or construction of new facilities.

Senior services are also working with private vendors. The department expects a donation of about $10,000 from XTO to update technology in the senior centers.

Hacker presented financial reports for January through March, adding that reports are released monthly and his department can deliver a copy to any senior center for pickup. Payroll cost for the three months is $350,950.72, with estimated payroll cost for the next 19 pays at $52,000 per pay is $988,000, with total projected payroll of $1.3 million out of a $1.35 budget.

There has also been an overtime decrease, now $1,998.29, a 66.7 reduction compared to past quarters.

Food costs are expected to total $600,000.

Hacker noted the increase in fuel costs and said the department is working with drivers for greater fuel efficiency.

He added that progress in expected in finding a new location for the Flushing Senior Center, with potential facilities at a former post office.

The basic Web site is also available at and will be updated monthly.

DeFrank can be reached at