Senior Center marks its official ‘grand reopening’

Published 5:26 am Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Bogalusa Senior Center, which provides a community-gathering place for those of an advanced age, was closed for many months after floodwaters from the Bogue Lusa Creek ruined the building and all of its contents. The local Council on Aging center celebrated its grand reopening on Friday, and the crowd was both large and grateful.

“I think it’s fantastic that senior citizens have a place to gather and develop friendships again,” said participant Donna Carroll. “It’s like a big family, with everybody united and playing games together. It’s a really nice place to be doing what you love. During the flood, we all worried about the center and about each other.”

Willene Ellzey, who is credited as the board member who insured the glass walls of the center, concurred.

“I missed it so much because I have a lot of friends that come over every day,” she said.

Tommy Margiotta said he’d been coming to the center since 2003.

“I look forward to coming every day,” he said. “This is home right now.”

The celebration was attended by dignitaries, including State Rep. Malinda White and Lynette Sharp, a representative of State Sen. Beth Mizell, Washington Parish Sheriff Randy Seal and Bogalusa Mayor Wendy Perrette. Also attending were former mayor Mack McGehee, who managed to pass the millage that got the center built, former parish COA executive director Jane Rester, who worked with McGehee to start the local center, as well as Bogalusa City Council member Gloria Kates, who is also on the COA board.

Washington Parish Council on Aging executive director Nancy McBeth gave details about the flood’s severity.

“After getting 24 inches of flood waters, the building had to be gutted and our contents were a total loss,” she said. “Also, we had six parish transit buses that were a total loss — water was up to the roof lines.

“Elizabeth Sullivan Memorial Methodist Church graciously allowed us to use space at the church until we were able to get back in the building. We resumed serving meals at ESM a week later and we had two transit buses running. The Ascension and Terrebonne Council’s on Aging donated a total of six buses to us to replace the six we lost, and we resumed full operations with transportation April 1. We began to move back in the building on Nov. 7.”

It would still be a while before the seniors got their “home” back.

But by Friday, after what seemed like an eternity, local senior citizens were again able to eat lunch, work together on puzzles, and otherwise socialize in their home town, and everyone was enthusiastic.