Pope County senior center expansion gets under way

By Tammy Keith Originally Published November 29, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated November 28, 2012 at 11:49 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Faye Reaves, center, plays the card game 11-point pitch with Mary Rosenfield, left, and others at the Pope County Senior Activity Center in Russellville.

— An addition to the Pope County Senior Activity Center in Russellville is set to be completed in March; then seniors will have plenty of room to sit at lunch, and they can exercise in a brand-new room.

Dave Gateley, site coordinator for the center, said a 2,700-square-foot area is being added to the 10,000-square-foot facility. Construction began about two weeks ago, he said.

“Basically, we’re doubling our dining-room capacity, and we’re adding a large exercise room,” he said. “We’re really cramped around lunchtimes and at special functions,” including Hamburger Fest in September, he said. “We’ve been growing substantially. Our participation continues to increase”

“It’s just a combination of everything we’re doing — all of our efforts and the staff here. We try to accommodate all the people who come in.”

Gateley said the senior center offers a lot of trips, as well as “a tremendous amount of games,” from bingo and billiards to Wii bowling.

Andi Pierce, 68, of Dover has been attending the senior center since she retired in 2006 as a senior secretary for the director of safety at Arkansas Nuclear One in Russellville.

“After my retirement trip to the Bahamas and repainting my entire house and redecorating, I was looking for something else and noticed a class … for bridge,” she said.

She has played bridge at the center on Mondays since 2007 and participates in two bunco groups, including one at the center that meets on Tuesdays. On Wednesdays, she participates in a beanbag baseball team.

The beanbag baseball team travels to other senior centers in the area.

“We are really thankful for this one here, because it’s so much nicer, but we’re running out of room,” Pierce said.

“We just keep getting more people and more people, and a lot of people use this as their second home.

“I don’t eat here every day, mainly because I have a husband at home,” she said. “I always come on the brunch day; I love that.”

Pierce said about 120 people eat at the center every day, “so the room is really packed. Some have to eat where they play cards.”

Gateley said although the room seats 120, he has seen as many as 175 people attend lunch at the center.

Pierce said she doesn’t use the exercise room because she’s a member of a local fitness center, but she said many of her friends “are really faithful.”

A few treadmills are available, but Gateley said commercial-grade equipment will be purchased. The new exercise room will be about four times larger than the current one, he said.

The project is being primarily paid for with a $444,000 grant from the Arkansas Department of Economic Development, but “we were over budget,” Gateley said.

“We had to raise an additional $70,000,” he said. The Pope County Quorum Court provided the remainder of the funding.

The center was built in 2003, Gateley said. The contractor for the addition is Cornerstone of Russellville, and Crafton Tull is the architect.

Available for seniors age 60 and older, the center is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Friday.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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