Senior Center still in need of a fix |

Senior Center still in need of a fix

Nothing has changed at the Senior Center in Truckee nearly six months after the building flooded in early January.

But construction to repair the damaged center is likely to begin in June after months of insurance hassles and other headaches, officials said this week.

“(The flood disaster) has been quite the challenge,” said Executive Director Melanie Kauffman of Sierra Senior Services. “… but on the other hand, it’s made us aware of the community and our seniors.”

The Senior Center endured extensive property damage when frozen pipes burst on Jan. 13 and again two days later during a record cold snap, flooding the kitchen and dining room.

In what used to be the center of the social scene for senior activities, now sits a quiet, vacant building in disrepair.

“We’re waiting for the OK from the contractor” to start renovations, said Judy Sharp, sit manager for the Truckee Donner Senior Apartments and Truckee Pines.

On Monday, Sharp said she wasn’t informed enough to comment further on the status of the Senior Center. She referred questions to the property owner, Cambridge Real Estate Services, based in Portland, Ore. The real estate company did not respond to a call for comment before deadline.

In the meantime, Kaufman said the agency has continued its services.

“Sierra Mountain Community Education Center is proving to be adequate and a good site for the (meals) program,” Kauffman said.

The Meals on Wheels program continues to serve about 60 home-delivered meals a day, Kauffman said. Staff is able to prepare the meals at the center and serve lunch to about 20 apartment residents who are taken to the alternate site daily by bus.

The Town of Truckee and Aztec transportation decided to waive transportation fees for seniors; otherwise the daily cost for Dial-A-Ride would have prevented some from participating, Kauffman said.

The Area 4 Agency on Aging approved the group’s request to serve home-delivered meals at the Senior Apartments. But that service’s continuation is also in question as the meal service was only supposed to be short-term. Senior Services was able to obtain a waiver from the agency that will expire May 31, Kauffman said.

Sierra Senior Services receives 30 percent of its funding from the government and 70 percent through private grants and funds, Kauffman said. The nutrition program swallows up about 70 percent of the budget, costing the organization about $278,000 a year, she said.

“We have incurred huge additional costs related to this disaster,” Kauffman said.

However, many local organizations have stepped up to the plate, donating time and money to help with the Senior Center disaster relief.

The Truckee Rotary Foundation donated $1,800 to the cause and the Lahontan Community Foundation provided $5,200 in grant funding. Community outreach stretches to the North Shore as well, with the Rotary Club of Tahoe City donating $5,000, Kauffman said.

Tahoe Forest Hospital and Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District have also offered to provide services to seniors to compensate for activities that were temporarily suspended because of damages to the Senior Center.

The Lake Tahoe Music Festival Academy program usually performs at the Senior Center in March, but this year that wasn’t going to happen so the park district arranged a private concert at the Truckee Community Center. Monthly pancake breakfasts were also able to continue at the community center.

Tahoe Forest Center for Health and Sports Performance has offered space for senior classes, such as Tai Chi and meditation, Kauffman said. Senior Services is working to arrange transportation to the center.

The flooding catastrophe has made people more aware of local seniors’ needs, the quality of resources Senior Services is able to provide, and where there’s room to improve, Kauffman said.

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