"We don't get very many young senior citizens," declared Gerald Anderson. His choice of words was not an oxymoron.
He was talking with the county commission Wednesday about attendance at the new Senior Center. Anderson thinks that adding an industrial shop at the Fairgrounds facility would attract more of the barely-over-60 crowd.
He said he knew the commission was concerned about liability issues where power tools are concerned, but noted that people over 60 routinely use the county motocross track and sometimes compete in events like team roping at the rodeo arena. Woodworking and decorative metal work are fine hobbies, and with improved safety features on such tools as table saws, risk has been reduced.
Anderson, who taught high school shop for 38 years, even brought a short video infomercial showing how a modern table saw blade can stop almost instantaneously when it senses skin, producing only a nick instead of an amputation in case of an accident.
Nevertheless, the commission was not swept away by the idea.
Commissioner Mike Milovich, while allowing that craftsmanship is good recreation, ran down the list of negatives.
There are no spaces at the Senior Center that could be converted into a shop, so there would have to be a new building for it.
In addition to the brick and mortar, the county would have to pay an instructor to be on hand for safety and training.
The county might be asked to stock an inventory of wood and metal.
How much extra would insurance cost, assuming that the county could find a carrier to provide coverage?
Finally, given the propensity for sawdust to migrate, upkeep at the Senior Center could get more expensive as well.
It would also mean that the Recreation/Transportation Special Service District would have to reapply to the Community Impact Board for additional funding. Given that the CIB already awarded about $7.2 million in grants and loans, Milovich said, "My sense is that it would be pretty tough to do."
Leather working, on the other hand, would fit in the existing facility. It might, said Anderson, as long as it could be scheduled so as not to disturb any other activities at the center. There's a lot of pounding involved, he explained.