New life center to be dedicated |

New life center to be dedicated

Aly Lawson
Senior center staff members converse and laugh while finishing up the first meal prepared at the new William N. Pennington Life Center on south Maine Street. From left, volunteer Edna Dianda, volunteer coordinator Jen Freeman and volunteer Connie Sexton.

The new William N. Pennington Life Center at 952 S. Maine Street will be dedicated Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. in the facility’s dining room followed by a ribbon cutting, tours and special lunch.

Churchill County invites the public to this historic event as the center is dedicated to the community. The $5 million facility offers 16,000-square feet of space for seniors to enjoy dining services, socializing, recreation and art opportunities, salon and medical services as well as a variety of other resources.

“After 40 years, our community is honoring our seniors with this beautiful facility,” said Commissioner Bus Scharmann. “Again, Fallon and Churchill County stepped up to the plate and did the right thing.”

The center is located in the heart of historic downtown Fallon; neighboring the county’s museum, Maine Street is lined with local businesses, restaurants and a movie theater, all within walking distance of the new center.

Commissioners Pete Olsen, Carl Erquiaga, Scharmann and other officials including foundation representatives will be present for the dedication festivities. Since the lunch — provided by the county — is being prepared in the new kitchen, there will be no tours of that space during the grand opening. Lunch will be pulled pork and beef, baked beans, yellow squash, coleslaw, pineapple poppy seed salad, corn on the cob and cake.

Meals on Wheels participants will receive the same lunch on that day in their homes so they can celebrate along with everyone else.

“I am so lucky to be part of this operation and to have been given the opportunity to make the move into this gorgeous new building,” said Lisa Erquiaga, executive director of the senior center. “I am so grateful for everyone who has helped in making this happen. I am extremely honored to be in charge of this organization and have the existing Coalition for Senior Citizens to thank for hiring me one year ago.”

Made possible by the William N. Pennington Foundation, Churchill County and the city of Fallon, the Ferguson Construction project — with architect Frank Woodliff III — will replace the smaller 40-year-old former senior center that was located at 310 Court Street.

The original senior center was started by the Soroptimist International of Fallon and dedicated on June 17, 1977. The new project’s groundbreaking commenced March 16, 2016, stretching a little over a year to completion.

This new state-of-the-art facility includes a commercial kitchen where over 100 meals per day will be served to seniors in the dining room, while another 190 will be prepared and delivered to local homebound seniors through the Meals on Wheels program.

The county said the existing senior center had served the community well for the past 40 years but with a growing population of seniors it was time to invest in a new facility, where opportunities and resources can flourish.

“The William N. Pennington Life Center is another example of the extraordinary things this community achieves when dedicated individuals work together to address a need in our community and make the seemingly impossible, possible,” said County Manager Eleanor Lockwood. “This project would not have come to fruition without the immense generosity of the William N. Pennington Foundation, which was directly attributable to county CFO Alan Kalt’s commitment to making this project a reality.

“Alan had a vision and worked tirelessly to ensure adequate funding was secured so that we could move forward. However, this project would not have started without the dedication of the Coalition of Senior Citizens and the senior center director, who saw the need and did not give up. We are indebted to all of you. Thank you.”

Scharmann, who serves as the coalition president, also said he wants to acknowledge the coalition’s dedication and commitment. He noted two years ago the coalition was divided into three sub-committees: New Facility Justifications, New Facility Design and New Facility Financing.

The commissioner also said Gary Laca, Mel Formaster, Judy Pratt, Dona Eveatt, B.J. Selinder, Kelly Frost and Mark Feest deserve thanks and appreciation for their leadership. Scharmann added the center also wouldn’t have been possible without the effort of Kalt and called his work with the Pennington Foundation on behalf of the county “magnificent.”

“Thank you to the Pennington Foundation for making this dream a reality,” Scharmann concluded. “We are incredibly grateful for their donation.”

William N. Pennington’s foundation provides grants to Nevada-based organizations in education, community services, healthcare and medical research.

Churchill County’s Julie Guerrero contributed to this story.