Norway-Vulcan Senior Center deserves support

In April 2016, the Norway-Vulcan Senior Center opted to go its own way with the meals and other services it has provided since the 1970s.

Last month, it served up 632 meals made in its own kitchen, rather than having them prepared off site, as had been the plan when it made the break from the Dickinson-Iron Community Services Agency, which runs all of the other senior center meal sites in Dickinson County.

This isn’t the time to rehash the events that led to the break from DICSA more than two years ago. Nor does it likely do any good to chew over what happened in November, when the Norway center sought $56,000 from the annual senior millage only to see the county board reduce its share from $36,241 to $34,794.

That decision, however, has prompted center officials to turn Tuesday to voters in three municipalities — city of Norway, plus Norway and Waucedah townships — for the additional money they say is needed to maintain the site and expand what it can offer, at the level of quality they think their patrons have come to expect.

The proposal is for .5 mills, or 50 cents per $1,000 of taxable value, from 2019 through 2022. If passed, it would generate about $27,657 in Norway, $28,900 in Norway Township and $23,400 in Waucedah Township in the first year, for a total of $79,957.

The center has managed so far to augment what it receives in senior millage money through donations and fundraisers such as selling pasties, baked goods and crafts. They also raised the suggested donation for meals from $4 to $5. And the Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress, or UPCAP, reimburses the center for some of its costs.

But having its own millage would make for a reliable, consistent funding source that would not be under another agency or governing board’s control — so the center will get more than “just the crumbs,” said Susie Slining, center director.

The center now pays for more than just food for meals. Utilities cost about $800 or more a month. Insurance is $5,500. They recently had to replace a washing machine. And they’ve tried to upgrade the former theater they use as a senior center with more efficient lighting and toilets that use less water.

They also have long taken pride in the quality of what they provide, Slining said. The center’s cook has culinary training, Slining said, and they have three on the kitchen staff who are state-certified for safe food handling.

It serves noon meals Monday through Thursday, plus two evening meals a month on the first Monday and third Wednesday. Other activities include exercise classes, bridge and other card games, crafters, ceramics, senior coloring and bingo.

The Norway-Vulcan Senior Center millage will be alongside two county-wide senior center millages that are on the ballot for renewal. These should not be viewed as in competition, Slining stressed.

“We’ve been telling everybody vote the two renewals,” Slining said, “and also vote for ours.”

But the stakes are somewhat higher for the Norway-Vulcan Senior Center measure: If even one of the three municipalities says no, it fails.

“Somehow, come hell or high water, we will continue on,” Slining said. “But this place is vital to this community, and the surrounding communities.”

The use is there. The need is there. Hopefully, the voter support for the Norway-Vulcan Senior Center will be there Tuesday as well.