Keep Senior Center Open

It probably is not prudent for the city of Weirton to take over ownership and operations of the senior citizens center serving older members of the community. Still, if the city can assist in other ways to keep the center open, it should do so.

During a recent workshop on the municipal budget, City Council members were told the Greater Weirton Senior Citizens Center is in financial trouble and is seeking assistance. Mayor George Kondik said he received a letter from the center’s board of directors asking that the city help pay off the center’s mortgage and take over operations.

Fundraising activities used to provide money for the center are bringing in less money than in the past, Kondik noted. But use of the center is up, he added.

About $90,000 is owed on a $330,000 mortgage for the center’s 3425 Main Street building, Kondik told council. He said he is seeking help from the state, Hancock County commissioners and City Council to pay off the mortgage.

Some council members expressed reservations about taking over operations of the senior center. Councilman Terry Weigel, who doubles as the city’s parks and recreation director, said that department isn’t able to manage the senior center.

Another possibility for keeping the center in operation is for it to merge with the Hancock County Senior Center in New Cumberland. That sounds like a more realistic option than city management.

Still, Kondik is right to be seeking funds for the center. State legislators representing Hancock County should push for state funding to help pay off the mortgage. And both Weirton Council and Hancock County commissioners should chip in, if their finances allow it.

Senior citizens centers like that in Weirton provide a variety of services for older people. One of them – and by no means the least important – is simply making available a place to meet and enjoy activities with others. If comparatively little assistance from city, county and state governments can keep Weirton’s center open, it will be money well spent.