Work almost done on senior center: Building scheduled to host health fair, polling location in November

Published 5:52 am Friday, October 21, 2016

Public Works Director James Hall said that the Bogalusa Senior Center will be open in a matter of weeks.

The center, on Willis Avenue, has been closed since March after storm waters from the Bogue Lusa Creek flooded the inside of the building. Since then, seniors have been meeting at ESM United Methodist Church, but with the election and a senior health fair around the corner, the building will have to be re-opened soon.

Nancy McBeth, the director of the Washington Parish Council on Aging, said she expects the building to be fully operational by Nov. 14, but the building will be in use before that. Either way, the day her staff can move back into their building cannot come soon enough.

“Oh, my gosh, we are just enormously happy to be this close and we are so appreciative of what the Methodist church has done as far as to allow us to be there this length of time,” she said. “But our seniors and our staff are looking forward to being back home and back in our building so we can serve them and get back to our normal business. Our business has been somewhat decreased because we’ve not been able to provide the full range of the services we normally do, because we’ve not had a facility open.”

Those services include Medicare Part D counseling, a particularly valuable service since the Medicare Part D’s open enrolment began Oct. 15.

The Part D is a prescription drug benefit that subsidizes the cost of prescription drugs and insurance premiums for anyone on Medicare.

The open enrollment period ends Dec. 7, and McBeth said seniors often need help navigating the system to make sure they get the best benefits.

“Many of our seniors have come to us (in Franklinton) to help assist them to make sure they’re getting into the right plan. Without us having an office open in Bogalusa, that could be a problem so hopefully we’ll have a place to help people on that end of the parish by the Nov. 14,” she said.

McBeth said if anyone would like to schedule an appointment to discuss benefits before that, they can call the Franklinton office at 985-839-4535.

More immediately, the center will be open for a senior health fair, Nov. 4. McBeth said an empty building could actually be an advantage because in most years the staff have to move furniture outside to accommodate the health fair.

The center is also expected to be open Nov. 8 as a polling station, although that, too, will not require any special accommodation from the Senior Center.

Hall said there’s a good chance the work that is still going at the center could be wrapped up quicker than expected.

“He’s close,” said Hall, of the contractor. “He’s real close. He’s had problems getting doors because doors are hard to get after the Baton Rouge flooding.”

Hall said the project would have been completed sooner except the August flooding put a run on materials, so even basic supplies like doors have been hard to come by. On Tuesday, none of the interior rooms had doors yet, though doors are on their way.

The contracting company itself had to sign a contract with the city early, due to the Baton Rouge flooding. The company did not have to spend any time cleaning or tearing out ruined materials, however, as all that had been done months earlier by volunteers.

Volunteers tore out old sheetrock, cleaned and dried out the space, meaning the contracting company had only to install whatever had been damaged.

Nevertheless, progress has been slow. The city agreed to the contract in late August, but now, nearly two months later, bathroom stall partitions are only just being installed.

“We just got those partitions in last week,” Hall said. “But I’m pretty sure we’ll be out of there by Oct. 31.”