Smithville Senior Center gets $250K grant

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SMITHVILLE, Mo. -- How's this for a financial boost?

The Smithville Senior Center just received a grant of $250,000 -- and there are big plans for the money.

The senior center has been serving the community since 2004, serving more than 100 active members. Now, money arrives that will allow the members to establish their own home.

Happy news is circulating around the center's meetings. Members here have conducted their get-togethers in a number of places throughout the years, most recently, in the basement of First Christian Church's sanctuary. Now, a $250,000 grant from the Clay County Senior Service Board will enable them to create their own space, which they've wanted since the beginning.

"It will be our building," Richard Mullins, senior center board member, said. "We'll be able to rent it out. We'll have other functions. It will be our building totally."

Mullins says Steve Garrett's office should get the credit. Smithville's city administrator says he helped leverage existing tax funds to obtain the grant money. Garrett says the city was already planning to refurbish the former city annex, which hasn't been used in over a year. Soon, they'll welcome in the seniors.

"The senior population is growing all the time," Garrett said. "It's different than it was 30-40 years ago. These are active people and they want to stay active."

The former city annex is located on Main Street beside Smithville's city hall. Garrett said it measures approximately 4,000 square feet.

Mullins says his group is grateful for meeting space at the church, but a single-floor plan is a must. The city annex building is handicapped-accessible, and represents a future for energetic elders.

"It will help all the seniors get out of their houses and apartments," Adeline Palmer, senior center guest, said. "There's entertainment and games and our lunches. We just enjoy each other."

"When you get old, it doesn't mean you have to go to pasture," Mullins added. "It means you do things differently. You can still be active and enjoy life, and that's what we're doing here."

$250,000 is a shot in the arm, but the senior center leaders say they need another $20,000 to complete the renovations.

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