ROSEBORO — Like many other senior citizens in the western Sampson County town, A.J. Pule is ready for the town’s nutrition site to have a permanent home.
That permanent home won’t be in the town’s community building, as commissioners declared the property as surplus following public input and a request for the town to find somewhere for the senior program to be permanently housed as quickly as possible.
Vandalism and repairs forced the community building on Northeast Railroad Street to be shut down in September, forcing the senior program to find other options for housing. On Oct. 24 the seniors began meeting at C.E. Perry school, but the contract for that location will expire Feb. 28.
Pule, along with residents Laura Moore and Gilbert Owens, asked the board to reopen the community building as quickly as possible, allowing the seniors to once again have somewhere to go.
“The community building is more than people going somewhere for meals,” Pule said.
The problem is that the community building is old and in dire need of repairs. According to commissioners, these repairs, including new flooring and roof, could cost the town tens of thousands of dollars.
For years, the senior program has used the community building as its meeting location. The town, which owns the building, was renting the property out to town residents for different events such as parties. Following an incident last year, the facility was no longer being rented and because of vandalism and damage, the building was closed for repair.
“The cost to fix the community building is way above our budgeted amount,” Roseboro mayor Alice Butler said.
Butler and town clerk Tony Blalock have worked on the matter, contacting local property owners about acquiring a place for the seniors to meet. They have also talked with county officials about extending the C.E. Perry contract beyond the end of February.
“The mayor has been very instrumental in making sure the seniors were fed,” Owens said.
The board, however, has “shirked” their responsibilities as servants of the town in helping the seniors, he stated.
“I am wondering whether or not this board has a strong concern to see this program survive,” Owens explained.
The Roseboro Nutrition Site offers 49 seniors a place to go and be a part of the community, with an average daily attendance of 18. For those seniors who are unable to get out and travel, meals are delivered.
“The senior site is not only a place for feeding, it’s a place you can go to and talk to people who you can relate to,” Roseboro resident Laura Moore shared.
Taking umbrage with Owens’ comment about the board, commissioner Ray Clark Fisher spoke up and stated that he supports the senior program, and wants to see the program survive.
“I don’t shirk my responsibilities, but I do have a problem with spending a lot of money in a building that old,” Fisher said. “We need to find somewhere we can house the program in a better building.”
Owens has been fighting for the senior program since he became the site manager in March 2012. Almost two years ago, Owens asked the board to make the nutrition site a Senior Citizens Center, only the second in the county.
The Roseboro Nutrition Site has been a viable and important institution in Sampson County since 1973, according to Owens. For those 44 years, the site has been providing nutritional meals to seniors on a daily basis.
In addition to declaring the property as surplus, and agreeing to pay $200 a month toward the cost of utilities in the future location of the senior program, commissioners offered their support and declared their determination to find a new home for the nutrition program.
“We will do our best to make sure the program continues,” Fisher added.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.