Two years after its original groundbreaking, the center has been exercising use of its top floor since the turn of the year, and final touches on the bottom floor are close to completion, according to center director Mary Sanger. Even with only half of the center up and running, she said employees and members are getting used to all the new elbow room that the previous center didn’t quite offer.
The bottom floor, which includes storage space, an exercise room and a health center, is still undergoing minor construction, but with luck and good weather, Sanger said it should officially open to its members in March.
“[Our members] love it, even with just the top floor just being open,” said Sanger, who served as director during the last eight months at the old center. “The top floor itself is about five times bigger than what we had.”
Sanger said membership hovered just below 1,000 members at the old center. Now, she said, new members sign up daily, and the membership has skyrocketed to include about 300 more members in the center that opened three months ago.
New members, like Greta and Wayne Ramsey, were invited to attend one of the center’s new-member banquets to learn about the myriad of classes and events the center will be offering. The Ramseys moved to Jonesborough from Florida after Greta selected the area at random on a map. Halfway between Florida, Greta’s hometown in the Northeast and only 12 hours from Wayne’s hometown in Wisconsin, Jonesborough seemed like the perfect fit.
And lucky for them, they feel right at home. The Seniors Center is a huge plus, too.
“This is beautiful,” Greta said, gesturing around the card and game room. “We don't have this in a lot of towns. This is the best place you could live. We wish we would have found this place 30 years ago.”
In addition to the activities carried over from the old center, the area of which could probably fit into the game room of the new center, Sanger said that she and the other employees are now able to add a diverse set of classes to cater to interests all across the community.
Where crafting, fitness classes and card games were forced to occupy the same space, the new center’s extra space has allowed employees to plan extra classes like quilting, stained glass and tai chi classes.
“Now, having more space, we're finding [in] all the classes we offer, there's more participation,” Sanger said. “Here, everything we have has just expanded.”
The center’s progress hit several rough patches during its construction that eventually led to the town of Jonesborough formally firing the contractor hired to complete the job. So for members and employees of the center, Dec. 7 was a long day coming, and many look forward to the opportunities the bigger space can offer to the community’s senior citizens.
“I think that the center makes a statement of what seniors mean in this community,” Sanger said. “For the town to build a center like this in Jonesborough is impressive.”
Even though the new members registering every day at the center haven’t paid any fees, beginning July 1, members will begin paying a small yearly fee to help the center cover costs of instructors and materials. Jonesborough residents will pay a $10 fee, Washington County residents will pay $20 and out-of-county residents will pay a $30 fee per year.
Some classes, like the stained glass class the center will soon be offering, will incur a separate fee to help the center cover costs of the materials, and all the information on classes and events at the center can be found either in a newsletter the center sends periodically to members or by visiting www.jonesboroughtn.org and searching for the senior center.
Email Jessica Fuller at [email protected]. Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.