By MARK CRANE
We have the opportunity Nov. 2 to help seniors live well within their communities by voting "yes" on the ballot proposal for countywide senior center services. This will create a new Senior Center Network run by the Grand Traverse County Commission on Aging.
The proposal will allow the Traverse City Senior Center to expand its operations to townships throughout the county with a Senior Center Network created to provide wellness, exercise, recreational, social and educational programs. These programs will be held at locations such as township offices, churches, libraries and other suitable public places. Each site will be unique and specific to the population that it will serve.
The Traverse City Senior Center will remain at its present location on West Bay with Lori Wells continuing as senior center director.
Senior centers are an important resource needed by seniors to live a healthy and vital life. With free services for legal assistance, Medicaid application assistance, preventive health screenings and more than 100 other offerings, senior centers are a way for seniors to access services and connect with their peers. Nearly 3,000 seniors in our county connect with the community through our senior center.
Currently, there are four regions that would receive programming with approval of the ballot proposal. These are: West Side (Blair/lnterlochen/Long Lake), East Side (Acme/Whitewater/Williamsburg), South County (Kingsley/Fife Lake/Paradise), and Central (Traverse City/Garfield/Peninsula).
Traverse City, Garfield and Peninsula townships would continue to be served by the Traverse City location. County residents will be able to participate at any location offering programming.
This ballot proposal will also consolidate senior services by allowing the Commission on Aging to assume operational responsibilities of the Traverse City Senior Center.
This will stabilize the operational budget of the Traverse City Senior Center and eliminate a need for funding support from local townships. Combining senior services between the senior center and the Commission on Aging will help to coordinate resources and provide a natural transition of services for seniors -- making life easier for all of us.
Additionally, the proposal will provide free senior center membership to every adult 60 and older in Grand Traverse County. The cost of this ballot proposal will be 0.1 mill for a period of six years from 2010 to 2015. A house valued at $100,000 with a taxable value of $50,000 would be charged $5 a year.
Last August, Grand Traverse County voters overwhelmingly passed the renewal proposal for the Commission on Aging. This sent a message of strong support for services provided to our seniors. The proposal on the November ballot is an outstanding value for seniors. Join me in voting "yes" on Nov. 2 for the countywide Senior Center Network.
About the author: Mark Crane has more than 25 years of health care experience in the area, with a specialization in geriatrics. Since 1995, he has been the administrator of Bortz Health Care in Garfield Township.
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