Commissioners hear Senior Services update


Times Leader Staff Writer

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The Belmont County Board of Commissioners heard from Senior Services Director Gary Armitage during its meeting Wednesday. Armitage gave an update on the department’s progress during 2017.

A major event of note was the construction of the new senior services headquarters and community center, which was completed in July with all operations transferred to the site August.

“The new community support building being open and operational is pretty much the crown jewel of our year,” he said, pointing to its state-of-the-art kitchen facilities. He also pointed out the department had provided 221,455 meals as of Nov. 30; of those 203,424 were home-delivered. He did not have last year’s meal count at hand, but added said those numbers represent an increase.

“That is a continued growth area for our services and a milestone,” he said.

In terms of staffing, the current agency payroll is 66 with one vacant part-time cook position being filled. A transportation administrator position was created and filled by Michael McBride. Two part-time center directors at the Lansing and Powhatan Senior centers were made full time, and one part-time and one full-time cook were added. Armitage added that McBride has taken on a major role in Senior Services operations.

“Prior to Mike coming on board, there were only four of us in management in the agency and three of us handled the transportation for all the different sections,” he said, adding that transportation covered medical center transportation and meal drivers. “We consolidated all that. Mike’s now responsible for arranging all the maintenance — routine scheduled maintenance on all the vehicles, oversees all the drivers and has taken that off me. It was something I had inherited when I came on board. There had been a transportation director some years ago, but it was just too much nuts and bolts on a day-to-day basis that was keeping me from focusing on my job responsibilities. … He’s overseeing about 25-30 staff.”

Armitage said as of Dec. 11, Senior Services of Belmont County provides services to 2,083 county residents older than 60, based only upon need without regard to income. No consumers are billed for any services.

The mission of Belmont County Senior Services is to provide quality health and supportive services and to minimize institutionalization, while maintaining the highest level of independent living and function.

Funds generated by a voter-approved levy come to $4,283,483.42. Together with Title III funds, donations, Medicaid waivers, state grants and other sources, the total yearly funds for the agency are $5,049,978.21.

In the November election, voters approved a 1.5-mill, five-year renewal levy for the department.

Transportation, nutrition support transportation and medical transportation services are provided during each service day. Transportation is also provided on Saturdays to meet medical needs. Trips through Nov. 30 totaled 31,443, for 296,974 total miles.

Senior services has maintained three service contracts with area home care agencies to meet light homemaking and personal care needs of the seniors. Costs of homemaker services come to $9,547.75, and personal care to $1,436.76 for a total of $10,984.51.

The department also provides non-mandated services, including offering Home Energy Assistance Program sign-up and information for county resident, a monthly mall education program the first Tuesday of each month at the Ohio Valley Mall, a monthly dinner and music night at the Centerville Senior Center, day excursions, an annual Christmas party, a senior center picnic, and a monthly newsletter. Medical equipment and information and referrals are also provided.

The total expenses for 2017 were $4,638,583.22, with the current fund balance at $3,154,631.42. Armitage said both revenues and expenditures have increased.

“I can tell you gasoline is much more expensive last year than it was this year. Food prices go about 6-8 percent each year. Medical health care costs go up every year,” Armitage said.

Two new food delivery trucks were received in February to replace the oldest trucks in the fleet. Further replacement of agency vehicles should continue into 2018. Armitage will look into a program of replacement and possible funding sources and grant money.

“Most of these vehicles are between five and seven years old, and most of them run the whole operation, don’t get shut off. The food trucks you literally can’t shut them off because you have to run them to heat and cool the food areas in the trucks, so once they’re started in the mornings they stay on all day,” Armitage said. “That takes a toll on the engines. It’s not just the miles, its the hours that they’re idling.”


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