SPRING IS IN THE AIRfor the senior center | NevadaAppeal.com

SPRING IS IN THE AIRfor the senior center

Steve Ranson
The new reception area at the new senior center is taking shape.

The months are counting down until Churchill County’s new $4.3 million senior center swings open its doors to begin a new era.

The 15,000-quare foot center north of the county museum on Maine Street enters the construction homestretch with much of the remaining work left for the interior.

“They (Ray Ferguson Construction and subcontractors) should have the building finished by the end of March, and all change orders for final work done in April,” said Churchill County Commissioner Bus Scharmann, who along with other county officials toured the William N. Pennington Life Center last week.

Although three more months remain to wrap up interior work, Scharmann is beginning to circle an opening date for the center. He said the center could open the first week of May, but nothing is decided.

“The weather was not as detrimental (in following its schedule) as the jail,” added Cliff Van Woert’s, the county’s building official.

County Manager Eleanor Lockwood, Van Woert and about six others spent a winter morning visiting county buildings and stayed additional time at the senior-center construction site. The small group shuffled through the dining area and kitchen, over to the crafts center and then to the reception area and offices.

Lisa Erquiaga, director of the center, said the new dining area will be able to accommodate 300-350 people for lunch depending on the seating configuration. The current facility on Court Street handles between 70 to 100 seniors for the mid-day meal. Because of the growing number of senior citizens in Churchill County, Erquiaga said the center has been attracting more seniors and guests and will continue to do so when the new building opens.

Small offices located in the building’s northern section will offer information for seniors, and another office, said Erquiaga, would be ideal for a beauty salon.

“We’re looking at leasing for a beauty salon, and if any wants to relocate, call me,” Erquiaga said.

Another small office facing onto the lounge will offer space for Nevada Legal Services, which assists seniors at least once a month. The tour took the county officials from the office space to the north wall where they saw a conference room with its own “warming kitchen.”

Erquiaga said the conference room is self-contained and may be used for night meetings.

“This will be one of our income generators to support the center,” she said.

As with Scharmann, Erquiaga said she is excited to know the contractor is on target and more than 75 percent of the building is finished.

“I was happy to hear that,” she said with a wide smile. “Every time I come over here, I get more and more excited. Each day has something new with the projects.”

One area that is still under construction will house the center’s offices and conference area. Although the end of construction is nearing, Erquiaga is already visualizing where the Christmas tree will stand and what each area will look like.

Guests to the new center will also be pleased to see the additional parking, Erquiaga pointed out. She said a canopy will be built at the northeast corner to provide cover for a bus-loading area.

Both the city and county applied for a grant in 2014 to the William N. Pennington Foundation and in 2015 signed a construction agreement to build the new center. A $2 million grant from the Pennington Foundation, which is matched with contributions from the city, county and the Coalition of Senior Citizens, is covering the first two phases, which includes the base bid for construction with a section of the building shelled out to complete in the second phase.

A proposed beauty salon, retail space, multi-purpose rental area and a wellness exam area are included in the second phase.

Churchill County, according to the latest U.S. Census information, has 7,000 residents 55 years and older, which is 25 percent of the county’s population. Scharmann previously said Churchill County will have more than the national trend as the area continues to rise in the number of older citizens fueled by the Baby Boomers who have begun to retire and are becoming senior citizens.