By NIKKI YOUNK
FLORENCE, Wis. - Senior citizens in the Aurora-Homestead area will have a new place to go for their community meals while potential mold issues are being addressed at the Homestead Senior Center.
Nikki Younk/Daily News Photo
Possible mold and air quality issues have caused the temporary closure of the senior citizens meal site in Homestead, Wis.
During the Florence County Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) Board of Directors meeting on Wednesday, the board voted to temporarily move meal services to the old Hillcrest School in Aurora.
The Homestead senior citizens meal site, which is located within the Homestead Town Hall, has been closed since July 15.
ADRC Director Barbara Bauer told the board that there is a concern over possible mold and air quality in the building.
She continued to say that the Homestead Town Board discussed the issue at its Aug. 29 meeting and will conduct a mold and air quality test on Sept. 24.
However, Bauer noted that it will take between three days and two weeks to get the results. Then, the town board would have to take action at its October meeting, she added.
ADRC Board Chair Susan Theer felt that it was not fair to keep seniors waiting that long.
Since the closing of the Homestead site in July, seniors can either receive home-delivered meals or go to the community meal sites in Florence or Fence. There is currently no community site for seniors in the Aurora-Homestead area.
"I think the key thing is they want to be together again," said Theer. "Some have told me 'this is the only place I go, this is my socialization.'"
Bauer also informed the board of survey results that she gathered at a recent listening session for seniors held at the Hillcrest School.
Out of 37 people who attended, 35 completed surveys. Eighteen people said that they would like to wait for a resolution with the Homestead center, 13 people said that they would like to explore alternative locations for community meal services, and four did not respond.
"The numbers are very close," said Bauer. "But no one had anything bad to say about the Hillcrest School."
Theer pointed out the positives of the Hillcrest School: it is barrier free, already has a community kitchen operated by the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC), and has a room that the ADRC could convert into a lounge for seniors.
According to Bauer, the ADRC will still need to work out a memorandum of understanding with NWTC and Florence Schools in order to use space at the Hillcrest School.
She said that the ADRC could probably use the NWTC kitchen three days a week to start, then go to four days a week after Jan. 1. For off days, she suggested that the ADRC could operate a cold salad and sandwich bar instead.
Board member Karen Wertanen made a motion to enter into a memorandum of understanding with NWTC and Florence Schools and proceed with offering meal services at the Hillcrest School on a temporary basis.
The board unanimously approved the motion.
A date has not yet been set for when meal services will start.
Nikki Younk's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.