New senior center opens doors

Senior citizens from senior centers across the county attended an open house at the new Belmont County Senior Services center. Many commented on the spacious meeting hall and efficient kitchen facilities. T-L Photo/ ROBERT DEFRANK

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Tuesday marked the long-awaited grand opening of the new Belmont County Senior Center, which welcomed residents from across the county to tour the facilities.

Construction of the building took almost two years and cost more than $6 million. It offers an updated headquarters, an efficient kitchen and food delivery system to handle demands of 1,000 meals daily, and an expansive meeting and social hall.

Senior Services Director Gary Armitage joined in welcoming the county’s seniors.

“We’ve got a tremendous attendance here today. We’ve got representatives from all of our centers,” he said.

Guests included the Belmont County Board of Commissioners, including Commissioner Mark Thomas, who had served on the board during much of the planning and construction. He also greeted members of the public who turned out to visit the new facility.

“The commissioners want to thank the taxpayers of Belmont County for providing the daily service for our seniors. The construction of this building has been somebody’s plan for probably 25-30 years, and to have it completed today is a great thing,” he said. “We have a building that will be a long-lasting legacy to all of Belmont County.”

Former Commissioners Matt Coffland and Ginny Favede, who served during construction of much of the building, also were on hand Tuesday.

“We’re glad to see this facility her for the seniors to enjoy,” Coffland said.

“This is something that has been planned for decades,” Favede said. “This is the fulfillment of a promise to the senior citizens of Belmont County. … The senior citizens of Belmont County are unequivocally the most important component of the community. We want their older years to be an opportunity to enjoy their lives.”

Commissioners Josh Meyer and J.P. Dutton were also present, welcoming seniors and viewing the grounds. A representative of U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, was also present.

Architect Jeremy Greenwood of Green Core Designs added that American Electric Power will provide the county a rebate of $5,000 in recognition of the use of energy-saving insulated concrete forms and other efficient material during construction.

Members of the public took the opportunity to tour the facility, viewing the kitchen, management centers and delivery system.

“It’s beautiful, and we thank the commissioners for all their work. They’ve just done a wonderful job. It’s been a lot of years in the planning, but they all deserve a big hand from the people of Belmont County,” Bob Farmer of the Flushing Senior Center said. “I think it’s nice that there’s a great big meeting room. Before, they had to go to individual places to have the meetings. But this kitchen, serving the people who are shut-ins, is the most important thing for everybody.”

“They’ve really spent a lot of time, and effort, and money, but the whole thing, it’s worth it to the senior citizens of Belmont County,” Bill Dorsch of the Lansing Senior Center said, adding that he was impressed with the tour.

“It’s very nice. It’s a great improvement from where they had it at the old place,” Nancy Whittington of the Powhatan Senior Center said.

“I can’t believe that they could even make it so nice,” said Irene Pulay of the St. Clairsville Senior Center.