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Office on Aging official warns of budget cuts

October 20, 2012
Morning Journal News

LISBON - The interim director of the Office on Aging in Salem approached Columbiana County commissioners this week with concerns about the effects federal budget cuts will have on the program next year if additional dollars are not found.

Fran Kenst-Hawkins said they have learned $31,081 is scheduled to be cut from the department's budget for 2013. Aside from $6,536 given to the department for an exercise program, the department's other financing is reportedly $24,000 from the county commissioners. Kenst-Hawkins said it will take between $20,000 and $24,000 per year additional to keep the office open past the end of 2012.

Julie Davis, a nurse with the program, who accompanied Kenst-Hawkins to the meeting pointed out there are about eight people who come to the office in Salem regularly for adult day care. Additionally, she said the organization provides services to hundreds of other seniors across the county.

Commissioner Mike Halleck said Joe Rossi, director of the Area Agency on Aging, recently told him the federal funding has been cut, and there will be a need for restructuring.

Davis pointed out the county's population continues to age and many rely on the services provided, including the eight utilizing the day care in many cases these people's only chance to socialize and get assistance with problems in a changing world.

"The seniors who attend our day care tell me everyday, 'You don't know how important this is for us,'" Davis said.

Kenst-Hawkins said the current trend is to keep more seniors in their homes, and money once sent to her department is being given to help hotline, which in turn refers seniors to her agency.

Halleck said the commissioners will continue to help them look for solutions.

"We are not going to solve this problem by scaring people," Halleck said. "In a changing world you sometimes have to take the dollars you have and make the most of them."

In other matters before the board:

-The board approved letting the Perry Township sanitary sewer project back out for bid. Last fall the project bids came in 10 percent over the estimate and were rejected. The project is in the process of being updated to go out for bid. It will extend sewer service for 26 residents on Brooklyn Avenue, Painter Road and Depot Road.

-The board voted for County Engineer Bert Dawson to bid for a Steel Wheel Vibratory Roller, a device to be used in the chip and seal program. Additionally, Dawson was given permission to submit applications for funding for next year's construction season.



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