Community concerned Senior Center faces closure

MANISTIQUE– One local Senior Center has been open since 1979 and is possibly facing closure if an upcoming operational millage fails.

“There’s quite a bit of fear, I’ve been at the Senior Center since nine months after it opened. I’ve been here 38 years and I’m worried, I’m a little bit worried. We failed and we’ve never failed before like we did this past one so there’s a little bit of worry there,” Executive director Connie Frenette said. “But I really think our community will come together for us. We’re one of only three senior centers that runs on its own and I think we can still keep doing that with our support, there’s always that fear but without it I just don’t know where we’re going to go.”

The Manistique Senior Center provides services and fun for all eight townships of Schoolcraft County. The last millage proposed asked for renovation to the Senior Center along with operational funds which was turned down by 160 voters. Frenette sat down with several voters who opposed the original millage and has since made changes in hopes for a yes this time around. On November 7th community members will vote on passing the new millage which will go specifically towards necessary operational costs for the center for five years. The center is now asking for an increase from .4697 to up to .62.

“It’s just a little bit of an increase but we have only done one increase since 1984 and we all know how utilities and expenses go up,” Frenette said. “We also lowered it one year because we are very frugal and we try to keep the cost down on everything.”

“The seniors that we’re fighting for have sacrificed most of their life, it’s now out turn to make sure they’re well and happy,” Manistique City Council Paul Walker said. “Most of these seniors have worked and paid taxes their entire life and we need to keep the promises that they made for our future.”

If the new millage proposal does not pass the center has two options- shut down or be taken over by another agency, possibly out of another county. Back in 1994 the County Commissioners took away the Senior Center’s $10,000 county allocation- causing another loss in funding. Since the loss the center has been received an indirect charge from the county- this past year alone totaling over $17,000.

“The seniors in our area, a lot of them don’t receive a pension, they rely on social security,” Frenette said. “So it’s a place for them to go socialize, go to a potluck, do a bus trip, enjoy our open house when we have it yearly. It’s a good place for them to feel comfortable socializing.”

Seniors rely on the center for other services too a main service-the Medical Loan Closet which loans wheelchairs, shower chairs, canes, and more. The center provides a plethora of services a few more being Hearing aid services, Elder Law services, clinics, and homestead tax are just a few other ways the center gives back.

Frenette said if the community wishes to help the best way is word of mouth.

Feel free to stop by the Senior Center- meet the staff and see everything it has to offer.