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Northampton leaders discuss options for senior care

JACKSON – In the wake of the recent closing of the J.W. Faison Senior Center in Jackson, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners have decided to restart the Home and Community Block Grant Financial Advisory Committee to provide more guidance.

The decision was unanimously approved during the commissioners’ regular meeting here on Monday, July 15.

As previously reported by the News Herald, the private nonprofit organization announced its closure at the end of June citing insufficient funds. The senior center does not receive local government funding, but instead usually obtained operating dollars through the annual Home and Community Care Block Grant (HCCBG). Had they remained open, they would have received almost $88,000 through the grant.

Instead, the commissioners approved that money be labeled as contingency funds until the committee could be reformed to decide how best to redistribute it.

“Just to be clear, the Board [of Commissioners] had nothing at all to do with the senior center,” emphasized Board Chair Charles Tyner. “Now it is closed. And now we are looking into what we must do to provide those services.”

Tyner mentioned there are two other privately operating senior centers in the county—located in Severn and Gaston—but they wanted to make sure someone was taking care of senior citizens located in the central part of the county.

The chairman announced he wanted to contact the previous senior committee members to ask if they wanted to serve again. He also appointed Commissioners Geneva Faulkner and Nicole Boone to join the committee as well.

According to committee bylaws, there should be between nine to 14 members who will serve two-year terms. There were only six people listed for the previous committee, so there is a need for more people to get involved.

Both Faulkner and Boone encouraged those interested to submit applications for the committee or at least just attend the meetings.

“You could be just a person that comes and sits in, and then brings something to us to share,” Faulkner explained.

Boone noted the Upper Coastal Plain Area Agency on Aging will provide training for new committee members, so “don’t think that you won’t have any assistance if you do want to join this committee,” she encouraged.