Thursday, October 20, 2011

Seniors celebrate new digs

Rep. Carl Gatto addresses the crowd
It took nearly 18 years to build, but perhaps it was worth the wait. Palmer Senior Center has moved to its new building on South Chugach Street and has a new name - Mat-Su Senior Services. Anyone who visited the old building, just down the street, is familiar with the cramped rooms, lack of storage and abundance of files that seemed to appear in every corner, including a bathroom.

The new place has oodles of storage, a large and welcoming dining hall, roomy kitchen and plenty of office space for the numerous services offered for local seniors.

Kitchen staff made a field of tasty treats.
At the grand opening Wednesday, local and state dignitaries were on hand to congratulate the seniors on their perseverance in obtaining funding for the new center. Rep. Carl Gatto, who represents Palmer and has been pushing for project funding for several years, said as a former fireman, he cringed at seeing the state of the old senior center.

"If anything was a fire hazard, that building was one," Gatto said. He called the new building "the Taj Mahal for seniors."
Gift shop volunteer Lynne Atkin shows cozy wrist
warmers to Senior Center driver Caralee Kleewein and her
 mother, in foreground, Mona Smith, of Anchorage. 

It certainly is an improvement over the old center and there are many fun new spaces, from a library and TV room with floor-to-ceiling shelves and a game room with a pool table, to a roomy workout area with a flock of exercise equipment and several meeting areas. Perhaps one of the nicest additions is a gift shop near the front doors that sells lots of Alaska made items. It was one of the most popular attractions at the grand opening celebration and is open to the public throughout the week.

-- Rindi White

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