August 9, 2022

COA Staff Determined to Overcome Difficulties

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The Council on Aging staff settled into their new location at Francis Farm last December, but the past few months have proved challenging. The Omicron variant mandated the wearing of masks on the property, which had an impact on the number of activities and programs being offered to the town’s seniors. Now that the case numbers have dropped, the facility is planning more events for the coming months.

“I really can’t wait to get back to where we were before,” said COA Director Linda Sherman at Wednesday’s joint meeting with the Board of Selectmen. “Because we’re here, we can do even more than we could do at the other COA. I feel we’re lucky to be here.”

The building’s kitchen hasn’t been used due to the lack of availability of drinking water. The state needs to issue a permit to authorize the use of the water. “The kitchen shouldn’t be holding you back,” Selectmen Chairman Skip Vadnais told Sherman. “You have the ability to bring food in here if you want to.”

Sherman said the COA will soon start a Walking Club a few days a week. Exercise classes and coffee gatherings are also very popular.

The COA staff had been working out of offices on Winthrop Street after fire destroyed the 55 Bay State Road facility in September 2020. The 7200 square foot building was a total loss and the insurance proceeds will be used to purchase materials and equipment for the new COA.

Voters at last May’s town meeting approved the purchase of the 47 acre property at a cost of $2.8 million. The building which had been used as a museum will now serve as the town’s polling location. The “white building” is serving as the facility for health services and the Veterans Service Officer.

One of the attendees was a town resident who chastised both boards for not being able to work out the problems at the senior center. “You all have your backs up against the wall with all the individual issues,” the resident said. “You have to put those aside. This can’t go on like this. You’re all seniors. This is your Council on Aging and you need to talk and you need to let all these people know who show up in a wheelchair or a van that you’re there for them.”

“We’ve got to talk things out,” Vadnais added. “There’s no simple solution. We’re here to move ahead and have a dialogue.”

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