About 50 seniors aired a wide range of grievances at the Carson City Senior Citizens Center in a special meeting with the center's governing board, advisory board and two city supervisors.
Issues included staff attitude, lack of parking, quality of meals served in the dining room, condition of the pool hall, accounting for funds, expansion of the center's facility, and an allegation that a staff member made inappropriate remarks to a volunteer.
In that incident, the staff member allegedly handed a butcher knife to a woman and jokingly told her to "castrate" the male volunteer.
The knife incident, for which the employee reportedly received a verbal reprimand, was discussed only briefly at Friday's meeting. Bob Kennedy, governing board chairman, said "the employee doesn't have to be fired and as far as I'm concerned, it's been handled."
The male volunteer, who said there were several witnesses to the incident, has reported it to the Carson City Sheriff's Department.
Supervisor Jon Plank said Friday's gathering was valuable and opened his eyes to the number of issues troubling seniors who use the center. Plank said he will report on the seniors' concerns to the rest of the supervisors.
Plank, who serves as liaison for the city, said additional training would benefit employees. "I'm not sure why" such training was stopped, Plank said. "Public service takes continual reminding."
Four members of the center, T.J. Gioia, Noma Perkins, Marlin Hancock and Jim Kurtz, acted as representatives of the seniors at the meeting. Each offered suggestions to help improve the areas of concern.
"We're not here on a witch hunt," said Gioia. "We're not out to hang anyone. We wanted to come here, sit down and work out solutions to these problems."
Sensitivity training was mentioned to help the staff better deal with seniors; hiring a new cook to improve the quality of the food; better communication in all aspects; training of volunteers; and availability of the director to seniors.
Gioia requested financial records from the center (a non-profit organization) with no results, apparently in conflict withInternal Revenue Service regulations that say financial statements are to be made available.
"I have been coming here for 10 years," said member Joe Snyder. "I don't think there are 231 volunteers here. And I'm tired of the flippant attitude of the staff and people around here. But my biggest beef is the quality of food."
JoAnn McCain, whose husband Jim participates in workout programs at the center, said she spoke with Director Jamie Lee regarding a staff member and Lee's response was "I don't want to hear it."
Lee, who came in from maternity leave for the meeting, declined to comment.
Governing Board Director Bruce Scott said most problems were communications issues and he didn't believe volunteers should have to put every grievance in writing before they can be resolved. He said Lee and Howell should be the first persons to contact with problems. If Lee or Howell cannot resolve an issue, seniors should have the choice to go to the advisory council to help solve the problem. Scott said the advisory council should be utilized more by the seniors.
Gioia said no fire drills have been conducted in more than five years, and he was concerned because more disabled seniors are present in the facility. Advisory Council Chairman Les Groth took responsibility for the lack of drills. "These are of great concern to me and I let the ball drop," said Groth. "I will take care of it.
"I also am very upset that it sounds like we (advisory council) aren't doing our job. I feel we have. We are trying to make everyone happy. I would like to be able to drop this thing and get everything back in shape. I would appreciate it if you would come to me with your problems first."
Kennedy said he hopes the meeting will help seniors see satisfactory results.
The governing board agreed to review all complaints at its next meeting and report the findings in the center's Dec. 1 newsletter.
"We'll look at the complaints," said Kennedy. "Some of them are legitimate.
"And we (governing board) are in support of the staff we have."