Head of Clinton County Community Action makes a case for additional senior services dollars

By Gary Huffenberger - ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com

WILMINGTON — Community Action’s executive director made a plea this week in the commissioners office for more funds for the Clinton County Senior Center, and added that something’s got to give or services like congregate dining, seniors transportation, and wellness activities will halt about mid-year 2019.

“Going forward, looking at allocation of resources, something’s going to have to give or the services will be discontinued and [we will] go from there I guess,” Community Action Executive Director Dean Knapp said.

Clinton County Community Action, which is a private, not-for-profit organization, has a variety of senior services it operates out of The Wilmington Savings Bank Clinton County Senior Center on North Nelson Avenue, Wilmington. Earlier this month, representatives of Community Action told commissioners they need more funds to keep providing senior services throughout 2019.

For each of the past two years, the non-profit has been in the red $20,000 or so in providing senior services.

Knapp said this week that the combined $42,000 loss posted over the past two years was primarily in federally funded Title III programs “that were always woefully underfunded to begin with.”

He went on to say, “And that’s what was the real impetus for getting the [county’s 1.5-mills senior services] levy passed to begin with, is because Title III was woefully inadequate — not enough money to really provide any meaningful level of services.”

On Dec. 5, Clinton County Community Action Board Chairperson Randy Riley told commissioners the organization could use another $20,000 or $30,000 a year to break even on the services provided to local seniors by Community Action.

Riley that day also said Community Action is not asking for county General Fund money, but instead is seeking dollars from the local tax levy designated for senior residents. Riley suggested the additional funds being sought — rather than going to the Council on Aging (COA) of Southwestern Ohio — could come to Community Action.

The not-for-profit COA administers the Clinton County Elderly Services Program through a contract with the Clinton County commissioners.

In making the plea Wednesday for additional funds, Knapp noted Community Action — through a capital fund drive — raised more than 75 percent of the $1 million-plus cost of the senior center facility, which opened in 2001. The balance was paid for when Community Action obtained financing through U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

Community Action donated the land for the Clinton County Senior Center, said the organization’s executive director.

What has changed over time to account for the deficits the past two years? For one thing, Bingo has died, and it was the main fundraising mechanism, said Knapp. He said that is due to “racinos, casinos, and 24/7 gambling operations nearby.”

At one juncture, Bingo generated $1,000 a month, he said.

Another change is that the funding from United Way has gone down from $14,000 a year to $8,000 annually after United Way’s revenues fell, he said.

Furthermore, county commissioners at one time appropriated $21,000 per year toward Community Action senior services and now that’s $10,000 a year, said Knapp.

Clinton County Commissioners Vice President Brenda K. Woods told Knapp the board of commissioners will consider the funding matter at the first of the new year when a new commissioner, Mike McCarty, joins the board of county commissioners.

Clinton County Commissioners President Patrick Haley, who will retire from the seat Dec. 31, did not participate in the discussions that related to Community Action and COA. In September 2017 Haley recused himself from COA talks because his wife previously was employed by COA and had a pending administrative appeal with them, he said at the time.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.


By Gary Huffenberger