Cramped quarters

Published 10:10 am Friday, August 17, 2012

WINTON – While no immediate action was taken in open session here last week, the Hertford County Board of Commissioners were made aware that space is becoming cramped in a county-owned building.

Hertford County Manager Loria Williams said she and Linda Blackburn, Director of the Hertford County Office on Aging, had engaged in several discussions concerning the need to expand the Murfreesboro Nutrition Site, one of three in the county that serves meals to senior citizens.

“We have discussed the possibility of purchasing a larger facility due to the current site basically running out of room due to a significant increase in the number of meals served inMurfreesboro,” Williams said.

According to information supplied byBlackburn, the current Murfreesboro Nutrition Site, located at311 Main Streetin the rear portion of the historic Walter Reed home, served 9,089 meals during the last fiscal year (July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012). In the previous fiscal year (2010-11), theMurfreesborosite served 7,633 meals.

Blackburn noted in her report to Williams that theMurfreesborosite serves that community as well asComoand Maney’s Neck.

“Given the current economy and the growing number of older adults becoming eligible for senior services, it is very likely that the Murfreesboro Nutrition Site will once again witness an increase in services this fiscal year,”Blackburnwrote in her report. “Unfortunately, the site is outgrowing its ability to meet the demand of the older adult participants.”

The currentMurfreesborofacility is a shade over 1,000 square feet, to include a dining room (that will seat 47), an exercise area with stationary bikes and treadmill, a kitchen, and bathrooms.

“The Site Manager and her assistant are very involved with not only serving congregate meals, but providing stimulating and entertaining activities for the older adult participants as well as facilitating the packing and pick-up of home delivered meals,”Blackburnnoted. “Thus, the site is at maximum capacity now almost each day of the week. We are at the point of having to closely monitor the addition of new participants to be certain that we do not exceed the allowed capacity for the building.”

“This documentation supports the need to find a larger facility to handle the growing need at the Murfreesboro Nutrition Site,” Williams stressed.

She asked the commissioners if they wanted to move forward in negotiating a price for property located across the street from the Nutrition Site. That property, the former home of the now closed Southern Health & Wellness Center, is currently in foreclosure. The original building is 1,000 square feet. There was a 3,000 square foot addition built at the rear of the building several years ago. It already has two large bathrooms and Williams said a ramp could be constructed to handle handicapped access. She added that the facility can be easily adapted to meet the kitchen requirements for the county’s Nutrition Program.

“I feel this is an opportunity we should take advantage of,” Williams said.

Fielding a question from Commissioner Johnnie Ray Farmer, Williams said the county owns the Reed home, but the county is limited to what it can do to that facility because it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“There’s not a lot we can do with it and what we are allowed to do is very limited,” Williams stressed.

The commissioners took no action in open session on the issue. If a purchase price was discussed, it was done in closed session based on State Statutes.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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