Dedication and ribbon cutting held at new Manila Senior Center
The grand opening of the new West Mississippi County Senior Citizen building in Manila was well attended with an estimated 125 guests. The event was held Tuesday, Oct. 9, with a ribbon cutting, tour of the new facility and a luncheon.
Manila Mayor Wayne Wagner welcomed everyone.
“As my good friend, the late Judge Randy Carney, always said, ‘it is a great day to be in Mississippi County,'” Mayor Wagner said. “It is an especially great day to be in Manila. This building would not have been possible without the help of Judge Carney.”
Mayor Wagner introduced Tommy Carney (Judge Carney’s father) and Mrs. Randy Carney.
Tommy Carney spoke breifly before offering a dedication prayer.
"I came to monthly meetings with my son and I always enjoyed visiting in Manila," Mr. Carney said. "Randy thought a lot of Manila and the senior citizens here."
Mayor Wagner said things like this building are not made possible by one person.
The crowd gathered in the Airport Community Center where the seniors have been meeting for the last few years. The new center is adjacent to the Airport Center and is connected with a walkway.
“Twenty-five years ago Governor Tucker was here for the dedication of this building (the Airport Center) and Governor Hutchinson was here for the groundbreaking of the new high school,” Mayor Wagner said. “Today, we are here for this dedication. We need to be proud of our country, our state and our town. We have so much to be proud of. This community is very fortunate. I hope everyone here will tell every child how fortunate they are to live right here.”
Mayor Wagner gave a review on how the new building became a reality.
"It started four and a half years ago right here with a bingo game with 26 people attending," Mayor Wagner said. “Council members Linda Donovan and Donnie Wagner got it started asking why Manila couldn't have a senior center. It all started from one bingo game. The council let me hire Kenny Jackson to help write grants.
“Small communities do not have the money to do all of this. It was working together with our county, state and federal agencies."
Mayor Wagner said Manila and Blytheville senior centers received a $205,000 grant each. It was not enough for either one to build a building. Judge Carney helped Manila, and Blytheville agreed to let Manila resubmit the grant application for the total grant. With the grant and other donations, the $500,000+ building was built.
Mayor Wagner recognized the local, county and state officials in attendance along with representatives from the Mississippi County Senior Citizens, builders, architects and other guests.
He also thanked several individuals and businesses for donations to help with the furnishings, landscaping etc.
Senator Dave Wallace talked briefly commending Manila on being the fastest growing town in the area.
“Manila has great leadership,” Sen. Wallace said. “Good council, good mayor, and a good police department. I attended a meeting with a new organization, Moving Manila Forward. It is good to see young people excited about making their town grow. Getting the money/grants, it not easy. Thanks to your leadership working hard to get it done we are here today for this event.”
Senator Wallace introduced Rep. Johnny Rye thanking him for working hard for all of Buffalo Island and Poinsett County area.
“Our county does not have borders,” Mayor Wagner said. “What is good for Blytheville and Osceola is also good for Manila and other Mississippi County towns. Also, what is good for Manila is good for Blytheville and Osceola.”
Mayor Wagner introduced Amanda Adams, administrator over the Mississippi County Senior Centers, and she introduced several guests involved with the senior citizens and Whitney Shepard, Manila site director.
“We look forward to working with you going forward,” Adams said.
Shepard thanked everyone for the beautiful building. She said the council, Osceola and Blytheville senior citizens, and county officials have been very helpful.
“We are proud of our new building,“ Shepard said.
She encouraged senior citizens to join them.
“We will pick you up and take you home,“ Shepard said. “We have good food and activities every day.”