Council Hears from Senior Center Proponents

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Hermiston Senior Center
A $2 million grant will help pay for a new Hermiston Senior Center. Hermiston City Manager Byron Smith made the announcement at Monday night's city council meeting.

The Hermiston City Council was urged Monday night to seek a Community Development Block Grant to build a new senior center.

The current senior center, located on property that is home to the Umatilla County Fair, is scheduled to close down at the end of next year when the fair moves to the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center location. A public hearing was held on Monday to consider an application for a $2 million 2014 Community Development Block Grant for the purchase of property and the construction of the center.

Dennis Doherty
Former Umatilla County Commissioner Dennis Doherty speaks Monday in support of the city of Hermiston applying for a Community Development Block Grant to build a new senior center.
Former Umatilla County Commissioner Dennis Doherty has served as chairman of the senior center’s long-range planning committee. He called the block grant “the essential cornerstone” of the new senior center.

“This facility is needed and if funding is available, I think this application will be very well received,” he said.

Lifelong Hermiston resident Perry Hawkins said it is important for seniors to have a place to go.

“We need to put more emphasis on our seniors and less on ourselves,” he told the council. “They’ve been here 50, 60, 70 years. These people count and we need to make sure these people count.”

Hermiston Mayor Dave Drotzmann said he and the council would be happy to sign a letter of support for the grant, as did Hermiston Hispanic Advisory Committee Chairman Eddie de la Cruz.

Approximately $12 million in block grants will be awarded to non-metropolitan cities and counties in 2014. The maximum amount that can be awarded to any one city or county is $3 million.

The Hermiston Senior Center Board has invested $17,000 in preliminary construction plans for an 8,000-square-foot building.

If the city’s application for a $2 million grant is approved, the city would own the new facility and make it available for senior programs exclusively for five years, after which the center would be available for senior center programs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. The center would be available for community uses during all other times.

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