In a three-year process that ended in the termination of the town’s contractor hired to build the center, the final leg of the center was completed by employees of the town and inmates from the Northeast Correctional Complex.
Before the main tours began downstairs, hundreds of members gathered in the dining hall for a quick presentation from officials with the Senior Center and from the town, thanking the multitudes of people responsible in ensuring the completion of the center. Mayor Kelly Wolfe took the podium to shine a light on the town employees and inmates who pulled together to finish the job.
“You can't tell the difference between what the professionals did up here and what we pulled off downstairs,” Wolfe said. “We're proud of the inmates and we're proud of the fact that the state invests resources to let those folks who have skills and trade skills and talents come out of the jail and work and give back to the community. That's a big deal.”
Senior Center Director Mary Sanger said that the center has seen an increase in guests — adding more than 600 members since December. The center’s increase in popularity spiked as the doors opened to the new center, even with just the main floor opened for its first few months of business.
After lunch, members were invited to take an official tour of what the rest of the center has to offer. Downstairs, guests can find themselves in a fully equipped exercise room, a group exercise room, a space for shuffleboard, a billiards room and a wellness resource center, including a quiet, secluded space for members to enjoy massages.
“We're very impressed with the results,” Wolfe said. “We see smiles on all of our seniors' faces just like we did when we dedicated the main floor.”
Center members Ron Boynton and Don Reilly took advantage of the empty billiards room to shoot a round of pool while most guests had lunch upstairs. Boynton said that he has been a member at the center for about four years, and said he’s considering teaching pool to other members at the center. The old center didn’t have a pool table, as the 5,000-square-foot building was limited on activities for a lack of space.
“This is tremendous,” he said. “It’s a beautiful billiard room. For the pocket billiard player, it’s all you could want.”
And even with the building finished, the journey isn’t over for the center.
Wolfe said the town of Jonesborough will be submitting a grant application with the state that would help the town add a park to the space behind the center in addition to extra parking. If all goes according to plan, Wolfe said the park and parking lot would take over the space currently occupied by the city garage, which would move to the sewer plant.
But with the application of the grant still on its way to submission and many more steps to take, Wolfe said it’s one step at a time for the town and the center.
Email Jessica Fuller at [email protected]. Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.