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Armstrong explores sites for senior center

| Thursday, Jan. 19, 2006

Once a week, senior citizens from the top of Armstrong County ride the bus to the senior center in Kittanning to do some socializing.

They take part in activities, exercise a little, chat some and eat lunch.

And while there are currently 11 Armstrong County Area Agency on Aging senior centers placed around the county, there is none in the area between one in Bradys Bend and one in Dayton.

For seniors residing in Madison, Mahoning and Redbank townships and South Bethlehem Borough, that may soon change.

The Area Agency on Aging is exploring options to open a center there.

Community and county leaders say they agree with the need.

"We have the population in that area to do that," Armstrong County Commissioner Rich Fink said.

According to Nancy Wright, the agency's center supervisor, the 4-year plan (2004 to 2008) with the county identified a high concentration of seniors in that area.

There are nearly 900 citizens that are 60 years old or older there, Wright said.

In Redbank Township, 60 and older is 25 percent of the overall population; 23 percent in Mahoning Township; and 28 percent in South Bethlehem Borough. The agency only has data for 65 and older in Madison -- 16.5 percent.

The new center, which will start out operating one day a week, is in the preliminary stages of development. Officials are looking at potential sites including two in Distant -- the Church of God and the fire hall, according to Wright.

The county's Planning Commission has participated in helping to find a site.

The selected center has to have state approval and be in accordance with federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations.

"People are saying they would enjoy having a center," Wright said. "There's still a lot of groundwork to do to make it happen."

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