- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 19, 2014

BETHEL, Alaska (AP) - Operators of the Bethel Senior Center say they plan to relocate because of high costs at the current location that have become unaffordable.

The center’s operations cost $614,000 last year and the operators ended up with a $65,000 shortfall, KYUK (https://is.gd/C0tPsx) reported Wednesday.

The city owns the current facility, which is maintained by the operator, the Orutsaramiut Native Council.

ONC board chairwoman Gloria Simeon said ONC has put in hundreds of thousands of dollars into upgrading the old building, but it can no longer afford to operate the center there. The center’s formal name is the Chief Eddie Hoffman Senior Center.

“Any hope that we had of the city giving the land and the facility is just not there,” Simeon said.

Grant money had covered larger shortfalls in the past. Significant local donations, however, have declined because of economic hardships and federal funding cutbacks.

ONC will be looking at using its multipurpose facility, an old bowling alley, to continue providing services.

The city of Bethel, which owns the land where the facility is located, and the tribe’s legal department are looking at the option of using the multipurpose center. Simeon is hoping to hear soon about the feasibility of that option.

She also is seeking ideas and input from locals.

The center at the current location provides more than 80 meals a day, including meals delivered to homebound clients. As many as 30 seniors visit the center during the day.

ONC ultimately wants to develop a low income housing project, which could include a facility for senior services and community involvement.


Information from: KYUK-AM, https://www.kyuk.org

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