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Members air gripes to senior center's leaders

Apr 22, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge, Staff Writer

Several senior citizens stayed after the Riverton Senior Citizens board of directors meeting April 17 to meet board member Jay Vincent with complaints that they feel are being ignored.

After the short meeting ended, 17 seniors spent an hour voicing concerns about the direction of the center.

Frank Tanner was one of the seniors who approached Vincent.

"We are dismissed when the meeting is adjourned, and we aren't being given the opportunity to express how we feel," Tanner said. "I believe if I have a concern, I should feel the freedom to be able to come and express my concerns to the board."

Board response

Vincent acknowledged Tanner's comments.

"Although I appreciate your stamina, I feel like at times we continue to rehash the same issues," Vincent said.

"We can't keep rehashing the same topics at every meeting. At some point we need to stop focusing on all of the problems and move forward."

A few of the seniors said the center was in decline and fewer people were coming to the center as a result.

"When people come to this center they should be made to feel at home, and I don't feel like that is the case right now," Tanner said.

Participation

Director Tina Saunders said that if they felt the center was in decline, the complaining members ought to participate more.

"You should start coming to more activities and eating more often at the center if you want it to improve," Saunders said.

Tanner said he didn't eat in the dining hall often because he enjoyed eating at home.

"My wife is a good cook, and I would prefer to eat her meals," Tanner said.

Kay Lanham said she hoped the issues would resolve themselves so everyone could move forward.

"I know as people get older we do tend to get a little more cantankerous," Lanham said.

Marlys Bias said she felt some of the board members treated people rudely.

"The way we are addressed when we want to speak is like a slap in the face," Bias said.

The seniors acknowledged there are good people serving on the board of directors, but they feel anyone who might have a concern about the senior center should be heard.

They said everything should be made public, and they currently do not feel as if the board is being up-front in all areas of how the center is run.

"It is the board's obligation to be accountable to anyone that would have a concern about the center," Tanner said.

Vincent agreed and encouraged anyone who might have issues with the way things are being run to come to the board.

"The only thing I would hope is that if you do have a concern to come to us at the center rather than write letters to the editor in the newspaper, making the center seem as if it is a bad entity. That is divisive," Vincent said.

Tanner said he agreed but feels that if people have concerns about a program meant for them, they have earned the right to express their opinion about how that program is being run.

"I have a lot of things I would still like to do in my life and don't want to spend all my time focusing on these issues, but I would like to know that I have earned the right in my life to be able to say what is on my mind," Tanner said.

Vincent said he was happy to have had the discussion with everyone.

"People make mistakes, and no one is perfect, but we just have to get past this, and I don't anyone to feel slighted or not listened to," Vincent said.

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