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Falkville Senior Center addition, renovation move forward

By Michael Wetzel

For the Enquirer

A new 4,800-square-foot activity area and renovated kitchen at the Falkville Senior Center could be ready to benefit seniors and children by next fall, a Morgan County commissioner said.

Don Stisher said he was notified this week that his District 3 has been awarded a $250,000 Alabama Department of Economic Development and Community Affairs grant to make improvements to the Falkville center.

“We’ll do some in-kind services as part of our match,” he said. “About $150,000 will be our part of the match. We won’t know until the bids come in.”

He said the money will come from his district’s road and bridge fund.

Stisher said he anticipates a 60-by-80-foot activity area will be added to the east side of the facility, and he expects construction to begin in the spring.

“The larger activity area will allow the seniors to do more, and then at night and on weekends the youth teams in our parks and recreation will be able to use the center for practice or maybe even some games,” he said. “We’ll have retractable basketball goals.

“We’ll have some cheerleading activities available,” he added.

The new activity area won’t be a full-size high school gymnasium, and no bleachers are planned. Community organizations will be able to rent the activity area when it’s not in use, Stisher added.

Stisher said the commission will review architectural design plans by project contractor Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood of Montgomery, and if the plans are approved, the project bids will be let.

Stisher said renovating the kitchen in the 28-year-old building is an important aspect of the project because environmental health standards continue to evolve.

Melanie Fortenberry, nutrition site manager at the Falkville center, said the updated kitchen will include a commercial refrigerator, a three-compartment sink and a mop sink.

“We’ll have new countertops and more cabinet space for storage, too,” she said.

Once pandemic issues recede, Fortenberry said she expects the activity center will increase daily attendance. When the center closed, she said the center averaged 18 seniors a day, ranging from 60-93 in age.

“We’re all super excited. Our building is on the smaller side of the centers,” she said. “This will give our seniors a place to walk laps and play basketball and dodgeball indoors. We’re planning an exercise room, too.”

County Commission Chairman Ray Long said the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down the eight senior sites across the county, but daily meals are still distributed from the centers.

Fortenberry said presently the center distributes and delivers meals for about 27 seniors daily.

Stisher said the major part of the in-kind service performed by the District 3 shop will be the site preparation, including the undercutting of existing dirt and then hauling in suitable material for the base of the activity center. He said the center will have a concrete floor and metal walls