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9/6/2013 6:00:00 AM
Senior Nutrition Program in danger of being lost due to deterioration of community center
The cabinets need to be updated or replaced at the Community/Senior Center.
The cabinets need to be updated or replaced at the Community/Senior Center.
Jeff T. Meyers from the Riverside County Office on Aging stands under the eaves that have been uncovered for a year, leaving the insulation exposed and leaving access to birds and vandals.
Jeff T. Meyers from the Riverside County Office on Aging stands under the eaves that have been uncovered for a year, leaving the insulation exposed and leaving access to birds and vandals.

Jaclyn Randall
Associate Editor


BLYTHE - The Riverside County Office on Aging, the organization that operates the Senior Nutrition Program at the Blythe Community/Senior Center, has been advised that upgrades need to be made at the center or they face relocation or the possible discontinuance of the program.

During a routine County of Riverside Department of Environmental Health inspection performed earlier this year in February, the center was found to be operating with several hazards.

On the outside of the building located on the corner of N. Broadway and W. Chanslorway, the eaves were uncovered over a year ago, exposing the building's insulation and giving access to nesting birds. The exposed insulation is also believed to be providing access to vandals since there were two break-ins within the last year with no obvious signs of entry through any doorways or windows.

On the inside of the building the storage room vents were deemed inadequate by the Health Department. In addition, the department noted that the cabinets are old and chipping away and the Formica countertops in the kitchen need to be replaced with stainless steel and a prep sink needed to be installed.

Not cited by the Health Department but nevertheless identified as needing to be fixed was a circuit breaker that trips each time the sockets are used on one side of the hall, which shares a wall with the storage room. This is problematic due to the freezer holding the items needed to serve the elders. The Health Department also noted that the ceiling tiles needed to be replaced with a material that was not porous. The current ceiling tile is made of a porous material and has soaked up the steam and grease causing it to buckle in places.

Since the Senior Nutrition Program is operated by the Riverside County of Office on Aging and they do not own the center, they are not allowed to make any renovations to the building. To bypass some of the issues, the Office on Aging has purchased their own stainless steel cart where they prepare the meals that serve the elder population and has made a commitment to the Health Department that the violations would be addressed.

The city of Blythe owns the Community/Senior Center and was made aware of the center's conditions in June after the Health Department performed a follow-up visit. It was at this time that Office on Aging Contracts and Services Officer Jeff T. Meyers requested that the June report and the original report from February be sent to City Hall.

"They [Health Department] are looking for a contingency plan to get these problems fixed," said Meyers.

The city council was notified of the problems in June but did not realize the seriousness of the problems until Aug. 30 during a tour of the building.

"I never realized what bad of a shape that the building was in," said Blythe Mayor Oscar Galvan. "But now I know and see it and I will bring it to the attention of the other council members and see about getting the place upgraded."

The Office on Aging serves two meals a day to 60 seniors a day, Monday through Friday (excluding holidays) through the Senior Nutrition Program.

There are an additional 30 seniors who are served through the home delivery program who receive hot meals, five days a week, and enough packaged food to get them through the weekend and holidays. During the winter months, the number of seniors who eat at the center increases to over 120 seniors a day.

The Office on Aging is not the only program to utilize the center. The city rents the building out to private parties and other organizations who use the kitchen and hall. Plus, the Blood Bank uses the facility for community blood drives and the Community Action Partnership, who are de facto operators, use the facility as a Cool Center and a host of other activities that offer a break from the heat.

Doris Morgan, a volunteer for the Office on Aging, and who also offers free tax preparation services from January through April, serves as an advocate for the seniors and the center wants to see the city make the necessary repairs at the center.

"The condition of the current building is in disarray and needs to be fixed. There are lots of seniors who use the building and the programs and it is unsafe," said Morgan. "It is a city building and they also use the building for their own functions. Something needs to be done."

The Office on Aging Deputy Director Rachelle Raman stated that the Office on Aging had made several attempts to contact City Manager David Lane to no avail.

"We just want to work together and get the problems addressed," said Raman.

Meyers pointed out that the Health Department has not given them a set date on when the repairs should be done, they are just looking for a reasonable contingency plan that shows that they are working on getting the repairs completed.

"We have to give them an update every 30-60 days showing that we plan on getting the repairs done within six months to a year," said Meyers.

After the tour, Evans said, "I vow to make a commitment and make a change at the Community Center."

The Community/Senior Center was dedicated in 1986. Office on Aging and the city entered into a lease agreement in 2009 for $300 with a three percent step increase each year. Office on Aging also pays 60 percent of the utilities and 100 percent. As per the contract, the city is responsible for the air conditioner and heating upkeep, plumbing, electrical, windows and structural parts. The county is responsible for janitorial services and cleaning supplies.

"We need to rally together as a community and make a difference. We need to come together and make it happen together," said Evans.

"Despite the current state of affairs, we have to get something done especially for the seniors," said Galvan. "We have to fix the community center."



Related Stories:
• Blythe Community/Senior Center reopens remodeled and improved
• Blythe Community Center repairs discussed at council meeting


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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2013
Article comment by: just me

Where's Wheete? You have to be a relative of the mec chief you sound just like him...Thank you Doctor David Brooks for putting your commander in place at the council meeting last night very well done...Hope you still have a job at the hospital, because I feel he felt some shame ...

Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2013
Article comment by: Where's Weete?

Why hasn't Bob Weete, champion of the oldtimers weighed in on this issue??? His pal, Paul Ryan, ran for the office of the vice-president claiming that the government should NOT be on the hook for these takers (seriously, putting out money to help the Social Security and state pension welfare generation??) but that churches and other philanthropic organizations (many of which Weete is a proud member) have the moral obligation to fund. So come on already-- how about a fundraiser to feed Gramps and Gram, or should they have raised their children better so as to have the support of that generation to keep them well fed???

Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2013
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

@ el pica dude. Yes Lane is Lane, and he will do what he does best. Nothing.

So whose fault is it? It's the people or persons, that are his boss's. The City Council, and The Mayor.

As you said. The best way to fix Blythe is to clean house. Maybe then, that will stop some of these good ole boy shenanigans that are played out here in Blythe.


Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Article comment by: @ El Pica

You hit the nail on the head, Why keep David Lane? The answer is because he got it in his contract that it would take at least a 4-1 vote to fire him and Deconinck and Cusick wouldn't fire him for all the tea in China. Otherwise it would have been done long ago. Lane does not care about this building because it is not a big money maker, but it does make money. If you own a house and rent it out, it is not the renter's responsibility to install a new kitchen, it is the owners (The City of Blythe). You also don't have a house that is nearly 30 years old and do not have any upkeep except to sweep and mop. Remember all of this at Election time. Deconinck has gone on for too long

Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

In the End who is the Boss of Lane? The Mayor, and the City Council. Right? So if you can't tell your City manger how to manage the City, why then? What business do you have hiring someone you can't control or manage. In the end it fall's on the feet of the Mayor.

Just like people here nag as to what the IRS did, In the end Obama is the boss. The same here, the Mayor is the boss.

They notified City hall in Feb, and also in June.
Yes lane is in charge of managing the city. Again who is in charge of Lane? The same person, or people that is in charge of making sure that lane is doing his job. So did these people not vote to extend Lane's contract, plus a raise? If he is so inept, why keep him?


Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Article comment by: Phantom Nose

El Pica Buyas, you are so wrong. The Mayor does not have any power except for his one vote on the Council. Taking care of City resources and making recommendations to the Council about extraordinary needs for maintenance or upgrades is the responsibility of the City Manager. That's why he gets paid a lot of money. However, the present City Manager seems intent on letting Blythe fall apart while he finds excuses to either blame his predecessor or members of the Council who have figured out that he isn't doing his job. What has been going on at City Hall just isn't right.

Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Article comment by: hey el pica

You really dont have a grip on reality do you?

Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Article comment by: @ EL PICA BUYAS

The maintenance of City assets should be in the budget. You should not have to go to the Council to do normal city building maintenance. You plan and budget for it!!!!

Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

Hey people wake up it is not lane's fault here. The Mayor would have said, that he would have it fix right away. And not say that he would take it up with the city council.

Does the City Council not first have to vote on a resolution to get funding to fix this center? Then don't they have to get bids for the job?

So if Lane can do all of this, without the Mayor, and the City Council. Then it is his fault. but if not then we must place it where it belongs.


Posted: Monday, September 9, 2013
Article comment by: @ boy howdy

Im with you, lets have a public forum where David Lane and Steve Smith answer questions from the audience instead of questions they give Jim morris ,at least the paper lets everybody comment, even those who oppose thier view.

Posted: Monday, September 9, 2013
Article comment by: Boy Howdy

David Lane should be known of all the problems in Blythe. Its not a very big town. Just get in your Pt Cruiser and drive two minutes to a city location and check it out every so often. This town has to change. The street are falling apart, the police department is falling apart, the city council is a joke, our city manager is a joke. Instead of sending in question to the radio station, WHY NOT HOLD A TOWN MEETING AND ANSWER REAL QUESTIONS FROM THE PUBLIC!!!!!!!!!! Are you scared yall might not have answers?????

Posted: Monday, September 9, 2013
Article comment by: Y. Clark

Hunger does not discriminate, it is no respecter of persons. For Seniors on a fixed income this meal is everything. Will you be inviting them to your home for the 2 meals 5 days a week. Programs such as these receive allocations with specific guidelines. There is always a staff budget. Where is your client relations manager or director of the Seniors program? Meeting the required skill that position easily pays 16.00 per hour. That building is rented out to other organizations and why haven't we put back into this buildings maintenance?

Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2013
Article comment by: Phantom Nose

I wonder who pays for lunches at he college.

Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2013
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

This sad, so many wars on this, or that. That someone lost the ball here. You know, I do not like Lane very much, but is this his fault?

Whose job is it to keep the city appraised of the situation of the Community center? Did they report it on a timely basis? Not once or twice? And if they did then who did they reported to?

So if someone does not report a problem then how is someone suppose to fix that problem? So if Lane was told of the problem, and he ignored it then it's his fault, and he is responsible. But if he did not know, then you should ask why was he not informed.



Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2013
Article comment by: @ center war

you reckon they get a senior discount plus...They go there to discuss how they can make Blythe a better place for them..They have proved it is for sure not the community they are interested in...


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