Rogers City senior center must raise $170K for repairs or could close

Courtesy Photo Seniors at the Rogers City Area Senior and Community Center get ready to play cards on Wednesday. The senior center could close at the end of the summer if it fails to raise about $170,000 for a pair of large improvement projects to the facility.

ROGERS CITY — Seniors in Presque Isle County face the reality that the Rogers City Area Senior and Community Center may be forced to close at the end of summer if officials can’t raise $170,000.

If that happens, seniors and others in the community would lose many services and a place to socialize, exercise, and enjoy recreational activities.

The senior center needs a full roof replacement, as well as a new heating and cooling system. The project will cost about $400,000 and, so far, the senior center has raised $230,000 through a loan and grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and private donations.

Senior Center General Manager Jennifer Mansfield said that, if the senior center doesn’t make those repairs, the facility would need to close because the terms of a prior USDA loan used to purchase the building required the senior center to maintain the building.

If officials can’t take care of the roof and heating and cooling system by Aug. 31, the center would default on the terms of that loan and the property would divert to the federal government.

Mansfield said the center has made all of its loan payments, but the high costs of needed improvements has made it nearly impossible to meet the terms of the mortgage.

Many seniors in the Rogers City area look forward to and benefit from a visit to the senior center, Mansfield said.

“It is part of their routine, and this is a place they come to socialize and a way they maintain their independence,” she said. “It brings them joy from playing cards, improves their minds and physical fitness, and it’s a reason to get out of bed.”

As the days slip away, Mansfield said the seniors are becoming more concerned about the fate of the facility. She said that, daily, people peek their heads into her office and want an update on how much money has been raised.

If the facility closes, programs like its food pantry, which is open five days a week and offers food to anyone who needs it, will cease, as will the center’s free medical equipment loan program, Mansfield said. The loan program provides items such as wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, and other medical equipment to people who need them. When a resident is done using the equipment, they simply return it to the center.

Rogers City Mayor Scott McLennan said the Rogers City City Council has tasked City Manager Joe Hefele with working with the center to help with grant writing to acquire more money.

The city can’t use tax funding to help with the improvements.

McLennan said that, if the senior center is forced to close, it would be a blow to the seniors and the community as a whole.

“The senior center, also known as The Center, plays an integral role in the life of our downtown,” the mayor said in an email to The News. “It is not only a gathering point for card playing, social interactions, meals, fitness classes and meetings. The Center also provides a large venue for weddings, parties, and forums. Additionally it has a loan closet for medical equipment and regularly offers food pantry services.

“The Center is a remarkable community asset,” the mayor added, “one that we must all work hard to preserve. Losing the Center would be to lose a part of our identity.”

Mansfield said people who want to donate to the cause to save the senior center can donate via a GoFundMe initiative or mail or drop off donations at the senior center, 131 E. Superior St., Rogers City, 49779.

Also, she said, people can donate to the project at the Huron State Bank by simply telling an employee they want to donate to the senior center.

Mansfield said the center is also taking pledges. She said a person can drop off a check and it will be held until just before the project begins. She said that, if it becomes clear all of the money can’t be raised, the check will be returned or destroyed.

For more information, contact Mansfiled at 989-734-2958.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 or sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ss_alpenanews.com.


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