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New building provides comfortable place for seniors to enjoy

The library area at the senior center is full of donated books, movies and other reading materials. The lighting system in the library can be a challenge for some seniors because they are used to light switches. The lights in this area come on automatically when someone enters.

Sun Advocate reporter

Since opening last month, the Carbon County Senior Center has been a welcomed addition to the community for those who work there and for seniors in the community.

For seniors it is a place where the possibilities for activities and programs seems almost endless.

For those who work there it's a place where they can better serve the community and the seniors within it.

The construction on the center first started back in September 2009 and one year later, the building was opened to the community.

"This was long overdue," said Deborah Kobe, director with the Carbon County Senior Center. "It was definitely a long time coming."

Since opening the new center, a lot more people have come to visit and use the facilities, Kobe said.

"Things have gone very well so far," she said. "This place feels very comfortable and is very welcoming to everyone."

Kobe first started working with the Carbon County Senior Center back in 2005 and to see everything come full circle with the new center was a memorable moment, she said.

"It was amazing to see everything come together," Kobe said. She worked closely with the architects and construction workers to help make the senior center a place seniors would enjoy coming to each day.

"Its turned out a lot better than I thought it would be," she said. "Some seniors have said to me that they can't believe that this facility is in Carbon County."

The attention to detail all throughout the building was an important part during the construction, Kobe said. Everything down to the small things such as hand rails to help guide those seniors who need them throughout the center came out better than expected.

"The quality of everything in the senior center was much better than what I had pictured in my head," she said.

The involvement of the community has played a big part in the senior center so far, Kobe said. Programs, classes and informational talks on many topics are happening often, if not daily, and are aimed at keeping seniors active and informed. Community Nursing Services holds health talks and Jerri Timothy from Fitness World teaches Pilates classes during the week. Rocky Mountain Health and Retired Seniors Volunteer Program (RSVP) are involved and shuttles are available to take seniors shopping and to other stores in the area. More groups are involved and many volunteer their own time to help out including a program once a month where seniors can get their hearing aids checked for free.

Skills classes are taught to keep seniors up to date on things such as computers and newer technology. Some seniors are looking to learn more about their heritage and family history and have expressed interest in learning more about genealogy, Kobe said.

The lunch program has been highly attended so far, Kobe said. Meals scheduled for the month of November include tuna casserole, tacos, Swedish meatball,fish and fries, meat loaf and more. Each meal tries to incorporate vegetables and salads. And of course each and every meal comes served with milk. Once a month the center has a birthday lunch with a special meal complete with cake and ice cream for dessert.

A total of 204 people showed up for lunch one day last month. The most people ever showing up for a meal at the old center was 208 people for a Thanksgiving Dinner in 2005, according to Kobe.

The lunch provides a time for seniors to socialize and get good nutrition at the same time. For some, it may be the only meal of their day, Kobe said.

In addition to programs, there are other activities including line dancing, exercise, arts and crafts, ceramics, watercolor classes and one of the most popular activities, weekly bingo games. For every class or activity, there are usually a core group of seniors that will show up every time, Kobe said.

Movies are shown weekly in the theater room. During the Sun Advocate's visit to the facility the air in the room was permeated by the smell of freshly cooked popcorn from the popcorn machine in the corner of the room. Around 15 seniors gathered this week to watch a viewing of the 1986 movie Top Gun starring Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Anthony Edwards and Val Kilmer. While watching a movie with Navy pilots using call signs such as "Maverick" and "Goose", Kobe said those who showed up enjoyed watching the film.

The library area is has a wide variety of books, movies and other reading materials, all of which was donated by the Price City Library.

A billiards room is also available for use. It comes complete with four pool tables, including two professional tables. People can play just for fun but the center also holds tournaments for those who enjoy competing against fellow seniors.

An arts and crafts room sits at the end of the hallway. Seniors have all they need to create pieces colorful pieces of art including molds of turkeys, turtles and holiday themed creations.

To celebrate Halloween, a dance was held in the dining room, which also can be converted into a ball room, as people dressed up in many different costumes and enjoyed music played by a group of local seniors. Over 100 people showed up to enjoy the event and the hope for those with the senior center is that the community will get involved.

"The more people that show up, the merrier," Kobe said. Currently the next big celebration they are planning is a New Year's Eve party.

Because people have varying interests, not everyone may be interested activities that are currently available. To counter that the senior center is working to try and have activities and programs that fit the likes of everyone. In the end, Kobe said the goal is the same: getting seniors out of the house and keeping everyone as active and healthy as possible.

"The more active you are, the more healthy you are," she said. "By getting out of your home, there are chances to be more active and social. with That is very important."

Each year the senior center tries to plan out one big trip, there are shorter trips to events all around Utah and neighboring states, including a trip to the New Mexico Hot Air Balloon Festival a few weeks ago.

With the move into the new building at the fairgrounds, the transition is still ongoing.

"It has gone a lot smoother than I thought it would," Kobe said. "It's a much bigger building so we're still going to be moving things in here for awhile."

The new senior center building is quite an upgrade over the old building, located at 30 E 200 S. Throughout the day trains would pass by bringing with them lots of noise, and because of the building's location to the tracks, the office floors would vibrate. Sometimes, Kobe said, she would be on the phone and have to tell the person on the other line to hold for a few moments until the train was finished passing by. The previous center did not have the best accessibility with cars having to navigate around the train tracks to get into the parking lot. The new center, Kobe believes, has helped put new lifeblood into the community and is able to better help seniors than they could at the old building.

The attention to detail at the senior center is a point everyone who played a part in the building process can be very proud of, Kobe said. Walking through the front doors, comfy high-back chairs form a circle near a fireplace in an area seniors use while waiting for a shuttle to arrive. Walking a little further leads to the atrium with an open roof area where people can relax and read a book on a bench. Hallways split up on each side as doors lead to the dining room, game room, library, exercise area, classrooms, the theater and more. Most importantly, each room and each area is accessible to anyone visiting the center.

The office area was not neglected during the construction.

"I love my new office," Kobe said. In addition to providing a comfortable working environment, it has plenty of room for meetings and storage and is complete with views through windows showing parts of Price and the mountains in the background. "The views are amazing," she said.

While change is something many looked forward to, some seniors expressed concern that the new senior center was located too far away from where the live. A few seniors even said they wouldn't come to the new center, but, Kobe says, they are still coming.

"Some seniors said they wouldn't come to the center because of the location but some of those seniors are the same ones that haven't missed a day since we first opened the new building," Kobe said.

The senior center is also providing a learning curve for seniors and employees with all of the advances in technology.

When a person steps foot in the library area, the lights above automatically turn on. No flipping of a switch is needed. Some seniors have flipped switches and nothing happened, so they wonder what to do, Kobe said.

Also there is the new geothermal heating system and everything in the center is digital and up to the times.

"Having to learn all of the new equipment is hard but we're learning every day," Kobe said.

Going into the future Kobe is hopeful that more activities and programs can be added to help fit the needs of every senior who visits. She is hoping that more people in the community will get involved at the senior center, including those people who are near retirement but are still working.

"We don't want to narrow our focus of the senior center and its goals in the community," she said. "We hope to adapt to the times and the interests of everyone. Overall it's a beautiful facility and I hope people take advantage of using it."

The Carbon County Senior Center is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m, Monday through Friday. The center is closed on the weekends.

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