The Monette Senior Life Center held open house Thursday, June 24, to reveal recent renovations made to the center.
Monette Housing Authority Executive Director Barbara Suber gave a brief history of the center since ground was broken for its construction on Oct. 3, 1993.
"I submitted the application, on behalf of the MHA, to the U.S. Department of HUD for funding on March 25, 1992," Suber said. "The City of Monette donated $50,000 to the project in order to enlarge the original plans by 1,000 square feet. We began construction of a 3,150 square foot multi-purpose community building, and it opened in March 1994. The building originally contained a Head Start/daycare center on the south end of the building and a senior area on the north end. A branch of the Craighead County Health Department was located in the center section. At first the senior center was made available for rentals but discontinued a few years later.
"After the Buffalo Island Central School District opened its own Head Start and pre-K program, we discontinued the Head Start program as well as the health department section, leaving the entire building for an expanded senior center. The St. Bernards Senior Life Program has managed the Monette senior program since July 1, 2002."
After the ice storm of 2009, MHA obtained capital funds for HUD to make adjustments and renovations to the center in order to provide a shelter for the entire community. It has a complete kitchen facility. The entire facility, plus the bathrooms are handicapped accessible. A shower has also been added. A large generator was purchased for emergency use. The fire department has 150 cots in storage for use at the shelter. A new recreational field is in the planning process on the east side of the building.
"To my knowledge, this is the only building in Monette that has been constructed under earthquake resistant guidelines," Suber said. "Now, I didn't say tornado - but earthquake. I learned a long time ago that the tasks that lie ahead of us are never as great as the power behind us. This center makes a difference in the lives of so many people in our community every day."
St. Bernards Senior Life Center Manager Becky McDaniel Ewart reviewed the services provided to the Monette Center.
"We provide meals, transportation and socialization for eight senior centers," Ewart said. "We provide and deliver 800 meals a day to the centers. The quality of the meals is excellent. Seniors must be age 60 to sign up for the $3 meals, but we encourage anyone over 50 to attend as well. Socialization is so important."
Nelroy Wright is the site manager for the Monette Center and Dorothy Reid delivers means to people who are homebound.
Former Mayor Robert Flannigan and current Mayor Chub Qualls were in attendance at the open house along with former MFA maintenance supervisor Rev. Arthur Phelps. Monette Senior Life Center members, city officials and members of the MHA Board of Directors were also in attendance. Refreshments were served following the program.
Monette Housing Authority Executive Director Barbara Suber gave a brief history of the center. (Town Crier photos/Nan Snider)
Monette Senior Life Center founders and leaders pictured are, from left: MHS Executive Director Barbara Suber, Monette Mayor Chub Qualls, former Mayor Robert Flannigan, St. Bernards Senior Life Manager Becky Ewart, Monette Site Manager Nelroy Wright, and Home Meal Deliverer Dorothy Reid.