The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

December 14, 2012

Nanty Glo Senior Center closing, manager says

— The Nanty Glo Senior Center, a long-time fixture in the borough, appears to be the center that Cambria County will be closing because of cuts in funding from the federal and state government.

Janet Wurm, the center’s manager, said Friday that she had been notified Thursday that the center would be closed in two weeks because the “counts are down” of people participating in programs there.

The Cambria County commissioners, who said Thursday that no decision had been made, confirmed Friday that they are to meet Tuesday with the Nanty Glo seniors at their center.

But two county leaders would not confirm the center’s closing.

“Are we considering it? Absolutely. It’s a very sensitive issue, and we still have a lot of people to talk with. This decision is not final. We’re talking to a lot of people right now,” President Commissioner Douglas Lengenfelder said.

Commissioner Mark Wissinger said that any announcement on a closing would be premature, but suggested that a news release would be made next week.

“We want to go through the process what we think is proper,” Wissinger said.

Commissioner Thomas Chernisky said, “I’m not for closing any centers at this time. I’m not for closing Nanty Glo.”

Pointing to statistics that show Cambria has a large number of senior residents, Chernisky said that the nine centers are the “right” number to serve them. The county should be “rallying around the centers” and looking for other options, he said.

Wurm said she had been advised of the Nanty Glo center’s closing by Veil Griffith, administrator of Cambria’s Area Agency on Aging, and by a regional manager with Nutrition Inc., which operates the senior center programs for the county.

“I was totally shocked. I feel bad for the people who come here,” said Wurm, who has worked at the center for 29 years.

County officials have said that they expect a cut in federal funds to the agency, which administers programs for seniors.

In October, the commissioners revealed they were looking at all possible options on cuts in the senior center program when Cresson Mayor Patrick Mulhern, who is a senior citizen, expressed concern about possible closings.

Nanty Glo has had a senior center for more than 60 years, Wurm said.

Originally, it was located over a grocery store in town, then at the old Liberty Theater before moving into an activities room with a kitchen at the Briar Court apartments, 116 Briar Court, a few years ago, she said.

The center is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

While the number of seniors who come varies from day to day, often it’s 25 to 30 a day, she said.

Approximately 500 people get a meal at the center, which also is a distribution center for home-delivered meals to 57 homebound people in the Nanty Glo, Vintondale and Vinco areas, Wurm said.

“We just got new chairs, and it (dining area) looks like a country kitchen,” she said.

Center activities include card games, bingo, dances, parties, exercise programs, health talks and blood-pressure screenings.

“I was told to tell my people. It’s a done deal. People were shocked. Many of them – particularly the men – just like to come and socialize,” she said.

Jim Shandor, a retired coal miner and truck driver, said that he goes to the center “just about every day to eat” as he complained about the closing.

“The only people they cut back is on the elderly,” he said.

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