2014-02-05 / Front Page

Senior center’s critical services to continue uninterrupted

Additional 30-day extension at Depot Street site also granted
By GREY PENTECOST
Courier-Times staff writer

As the search for a building in which to temporarily re-locate the Person County Senior Center continues, Diane Cox, executive director of the Kerr Tar Regional Council of Governments (COG), assured yesterday that the most critical services provided by the center would continue uninterrupted.

Cox explained that COG, which operates the center, provides services for “very at-risk” senior citizens who are homebound.

Thus, services such as in-home aide, home-delivered meals and family caregiver support services will not lapse as the center prepares to move out of its Depot Street building into a yet to be determined temporary location.

The center’s impending move stems from a recent structural analysis report indicating problems with the building’s roof support systems that would be a safety concern in the event of extreme weather conditions such as high winds and heavy snow.

Person County’s Department of Inspections asked the city to have the analysis conducted after an inspection of the property revealed structural problems.

The city sent the analysis report to the county building official on Jan. 16, and COG passed it along to its insurance provider.

After receiving this report, the center’s insurance provider notified COG that it would not continue to cover the center at its current location past 30 days.

The senior center would have to vacate the building within that time frame or continue operations uninsured.

Cox reported Tuesday that the insurance provider had granted COG the 30-day extension she had requested, giving the center a March 21 deadline for moving.

COG has not decided on a temporary location yet; however Cox said the council had “options,” including offers from community groups to let them operate temporarily out of their facilities.

Cox noted that, while COG hopes there will not be a lapse in services, a brief interruption in non-critical services is a possibility as it seeks to relocate the center.

COG operates the senior center out of the current city-owned building at no charge, said Cox, and will have to “identify funding” for the move and a possible monthly lease fee.

In the interim period, Cox said the amount of services the center can continue to provide would depend on available space.

However, she said, once COG reestablishes a permanent location for the center, it hopes to provide not only the services currently offered, but additional ones to meet the needs of the growing number of seniors.

In a letter sent Friday to City of Roxboro Manager Stephen Steese,

County Director of Inspections and Permits Sam Hobgood wrote that, after reviewing the structural analysis report by Alley, Williams, Carmen & King, Inc., he contacted a representative for the firm “to discuss the report and interpret some of their findings.”

Hobgood continued, “Based on the report and their findings, it is evident that structural deficiencies are present in the building and need to be addressed.”

He further stated, “The structural deficiencies, noted in the report currently on file, have the potential to endanger the life, health or safety of the occupants under circumstances that are not predictable. I am in acceptance of the deadline (March 21, 2014) as set forth by the Council of Governments’ insurance carrier to vacate the building.”

Hobgood also said in the letter that once vacated, all of the building’s defects must be corrected and approved “prior to any future occupancy of the building.”

He said he had consulted with three different code consultants at the department of insurance in reference to the basement.

“The headroom height is a code violation,” wrote Hobgood, “even at the time of its renovation, and will have to be mitigated. If this issue cannot be resolved, the basement can’t be used for human habitat.”

During a meeting called to discuss the senior center on Jan. 24, Roxboro City Council voted to authorize Steese to pursue a second engineering opinion on the Depot Street property.

Steese told The Courier-Times yesterday that he was in the process of scheduling the second engineer to review the building, and that the earliest date for this review would probably be sometime next week.

Hobgood noted in his letter to Steese that “any discrepancies with the original report” must be submitted to him prior to the insurance carrier’s original 30- day deadline of Feb. 19.

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