WILMINGTON — A reorganized Elderly Services Program (ESP) Advisory Board has made its first recommendation to Clinton County commissioners who appear ready to OK a purchase of a new van for seniors’ transportation needs.
A six- or seven-passenger van, to cost no more than $25,000, will be the only vehicle in the Community Action fleet not bought through Community Action funding, said Jane Newkirk, executive assistant and housing manager for Clinton County Community Action Program, Inc.
The money for the new van will come from the senior services levy in Clinton County.
Clinton County Community Action Program Board of Trustees President Dean Feldmeyer said a new van to transport seniors is their most pressing need. Newkirk said there presently are five or six vans for seniors and all have “very high mileage.”
Newkirk said Community Action formerly purchased the vehicles from revenue generated by Bingo fundraisers, but that source of dollars has dried up due to the economic downturn, along with the opening of multiple casinos and the presence of skilled-games shops drawing participants.
Though commissioners did not formally approve the action Monday, they’re expected to ratify the use of levy dollars for a new seniors van. Their legal counsel is working on a simple contract or memo of understanding for use of the money, Clinton County Commissioners President Kerry R. Steed said Monday afternoon.
Community Action’s seniors vans are used for home-delivered meals to eligible seniors, transporting seniors back and forth to doctors’ appointments, for grocery shopping, transporting them to the Wilmington Savings Bank Clinton County Senior Center on North Nelson Avenue and some medical transport, said Newkirk and Community Action Comptroller Ray Camp.
ESP Advisory Board Chairperson Kathi Spirk said the volunteer group’s task was to review a proposal made by Community Action, and to look at the current funding ability based on senior levy funds as well as projected future funding trends, and then make a recommendation to commissioners.
“To go on record, it was so important to all of us to determine a way to assist that would make fiscal sense, that would be a good sound recommendation that we could make, and we really want to assist Community Action and the Senior Center,” Spirk reported to commissioners.
She noted that part of Community Action’s proposal included the request for purchasing a van for senior transportation services.
After ESP Advisory Board members discussed many options for helping the Senior Center, the group unanimously recommended that levy funds be spent to purchase a van at a cost not to surpass $25,000, said Spirk.
She said in the future the advisory board will consider whether the senior services levy generates enough revenue.
“We want to listen to what the citizens of this community want, and we want to make sure the funds are available to provide those things,” Spirk added.
Clinton County Commissioner Brenda K. Woods said she had been able to sit in on a couple ESP Advisory Board meetings and hear what took place.
Council on Aging (COA) of Southwestern Ohio’s Vice President of Program Operations Ken Wilson attended the commissioners’ session Monday. COA administers the Clinton County Elderly Services Program through a contract with the Clinton County commissioners. The program receives nearly 90 percent of its funding from the 1.5-mills senior services tax levy.
COA agrees with the recommendation for a new vehicle, said Wilson.
Clinton County Community Action’s proposal originally was made to county commissioners, who sent it to the advisory board to review and make a recommendation. The proposal requested that $90,000 of Elderly Services Levy funds be directed annually toward programs and expenses of the Clinton County Senior Center, which Community Action operates.
In 2014, Clinton County Community Action sued the COA of Southwestern Ohio, contesting the council’s cancellation of home-delivered meals to 34 Clinton Countians. Later, 37 other elder Clinton Countians were advised their Meals on Wheels service would be stopped.
The COA attributed its actions to the affected seniors not meeting eligibility rules for home-delivered meals. At the time, Clinton County Community Action was under contract with COA to do care management, which included determining eligibility.
The lawsuit was resolved in 2015 when confidential terms were set.
On Monday, Feldmeyer said he would like to thank the Advisory Board and also the COA for their work on the funding request, describing it as very conscientious.
“We’re just real appreciative for the new mood of cooperation and working together,” said Feldmeyer.
In other news from the commissioners office, April was recognized as Donate Life Month. A banner promoting organ and tissue donation was raised on the southwest corner flagpole of courthouse square.
Bobbi Hoffman is the new records manager and archivist for Clinton County. A Blanchester High School Class of 2012 graduate, she holds a master’s degree in public history.
She interned in 2014 at the Clinton County Records & Archives offices, located in the County Annex building on South Nelson Avenue in Wilmington.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.