'It breaks our hearts': Officials plan to close Clarksburg senior center
CLARKSBURG — With board members of the Clarksburg Council On Aging heading into their advanced years — and with no one else stepping up — the group has decided to close the senior center and disband as of July 31.
"It breaks our hearts to do this, but our health just won't let us keep going," said Shirley Therrien, vice chairwoman of the board.
She noted that the board needs seven members, but with several vacant positions, and one board member having died last week, five remain. The oldest is 97, another is 95, and yet another is 90. Therrien herself is 82.
"We just lost another that was 95, and nobody wants to volunteer their time to help us," Therrien said. "I'm at my wits' end. So we just can't do this anymore. If anybody else wants to come in and do the job, they're welcome to."
The group informed the Clarksburg Select Board at the beginning of the month that it was giving 30 days' notice to end their lease for the town-owned building.
The center's first paid director, Leah Sherman, was hired in October 2018 to work five hours a week.
She said it's unfortunate she has to end her job so soon after starting, but there aren't any other options as things stand.
"All of them are falling ill and they are totally exhausted," Sherman said of board members. "They've been doing this for 20 years or more."
Sherman noted that the Tuesday night bingo has been the most popular programming. But attendance during regular hours on Monday and Wednesday is very light — often with the only folks there being board members.
"It's bad," Sherman said. "I'm really sad — I was really looking forward to putting my heart and soul into this with other programming, but it never took off."
According to Ron Boucher, Select Board chairman and interim town administrator, a group of four residents is exploring options to keep the center open in some form.
"I'm going to let some people take a look at other options," he said. "If they don't come up with anything, we may look at leasing out that building."
He noted that whatever winds up there, it will have to be financially self-sustainable.
"It's not something the town is going to want to carry the burden for," Boucher said.
Scott Stafford can be reached at email@example.com or 413-629-4517.
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