Ground Breaking Celebration Kicks Off Construction of Senior Center in Clarke

Officials gathered to celebrate the new Senior Center. Photo credit Mike Dowling

Wet, icy snow couldn’t stop a celebration 10 years in the making as local government officials and residents gathered for the ground breaking ceremony of the new Clarke County Senior Center. Approximately 70 people braved the slippery conditions to launch the construction phase of the project at the Clarke County Rec Center where the The 5,300-square-foot center will be built.

Officials involved in the project spoke from a makeshift stage and thanked countless people who have helped make this project a reality including Martha Myer who chairs the fund raising committee. Ms. Myer spoke of the accomplishment in broad terms saying,”This is a real celebration of a partnership between the Area Agency (SAAA), Parks and Rec, the County, and the Town of Berryville. It’s going to be a wonderful, wonderful place for all the residents of the County.” She added, “It’s been a long road, but we are finally here.”

The long timeline for the project was a consistent element of the speakers’ comments during the event and was characterized as a point of distinction for the community at large.  John Hudson, Chairman of the SAAA’s Board of Directors  said, “There were times when we thought this project was running out of steam and there came a point in the project’s life that it was sitting along the side of the road. Then all of the sudden, the SAAA got behind it, the Parks and Rec got behind it, the capital campaign committee got behind it, the Board of Supervisors got behind it, and all of the sudden we started pulling in the same direction. From there it took off and we were able to see this day become a reality.”

Board of Supervisor Member Barbara Byrd has been a staunch proponent of the center and said she was looking forward to the impact the center would have on the quality of life for our seniors and took particular pride in the kitchen and walk-in freezer the new facilities will have.

The project does include more than the senior activities center. Funds were allocated along the way for new offices for the Clarke County Parks and Rec staff. These will be located at the southwest end of the current rec enter. Much needed repairs and upgrades to the rec center are also included in the project. Daniel Sheets, who is part of Parks and Rec Advisory Board, said the project now includes a new roof, new AC system and repairs of the rec center walls.

When the speakers finished, Martha Myer counted down for the group and in unison the jubilant work crew turned over the first shovels full of dirt to launch the project.

After the ceremony, Mayor Wilson Kirby was asked what he thought the new project means to the Town and said, “Like all the other improvements we’ve had, The Barns of Rose Hill, and the new high school, it’s a sign of moving forward, it’s a sign of progress. I’m excited about it. I’m a member of the senior community and am looking forward to this great new center.”

The project is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2012.


  1. I am getting close to senior age. Maybe a decade or so away. I am all for the center. One quote I find a little distrubing, “Like all the other improvements we’ve had, The Barns of Rose Hill, and the new high school, it’s a sign of moving forward, it’s a sign of progress.” Tell me how much money is going out for these projects compared to money coming in once they are up and running?

    CDN editor:

  2. Anonymous says:

    The county should step it down for a while no? If I have to pay Loudoun level taxes in Clarke, well thats just not going to do it.

  3. The Barns was paid by donations, not taxpayer money. This should have been shot down. It is an unnecessary luxury in tough economic times.

    • This ain’t a luxury…it’s a necessity that affords the possibility to pay for itself through hosting catered events when the seniors are not there. Plus, it gives the parks staff an office upgrade sorely needed, takes the seniors out of the church where they’ve been meeting for years (as gracious an arrangement as that’s been, it’s time to move out and up).

      So often in this county, decisions like these get pushed back and pushed back that it ends up costing more than if they’d ponied up the funds earlier. But…this is a good thing.

      • What is the cost of this facility? How many “catered events” will it take to pay for this? I stand by my original statement. I see I’m getting negative votes. Why? This is taxpayer money. Have I not read that teachers in this county haven’t gotten a raise? Has anybody been to the pool lately and been in the locker rooms there? The remaining schools are in needed repair. The Sheriff’s are underpaid. A senior center? Seriously. Nothing against seniors, but where are the priorities?

        Someone help me here. What else in this county should happend before the construciton of a senior center?

        • Right Winger says:

          The priorities are on the older folks, obviously. That’s because they don’t cost as much as the younger ones, and the old fogies on the BOS like it that way.

          But we, the ignorant citizens of Clarke County, continue to vote them in.

  4. A lot HAS happened in this county before this center gets built: the joint government center, the new high school, etc.

    The simple fact is that this county, with its tendency to do things on teh cheap and push things off and push thigns off, is beginning to see that such a practice ain’t gonna cut it anymore. The seniors have been meeting in a church instead of their own facility; the parks have needed office upgrades. The SAAA, for all its recent troubles, has the funds on hand to pay for a significant part of this building.

    Yes, all of those other items are equally important…and the county is sitting on a pretty spiffy non-designated fund balance, too…but this need has been on the books for as long as the new high school was needed, and all those other things.

  5. greenhouse supporter says:

    I, for one, am glad that the seniors in the county will have somewhere to go for meals, companionship and activities. I am sure that a good number of them have contributed to Clarke County in many ways, including taxes. Go take a tour of a nursing home one day………enough said.

  6. Birdonawire says:

    Huh… It seems to me that the senior folks also pay county taxes. Perhaps they are entitled to see a little return on their money as well.

    • They are entitled to all the services that the rest of us are. and to Greenhouse supporter, I’ve been in many a nursing home. There’s one in Berryville. The residents of a nursing home are not there because they don’t have a senior center to go to and socialize, play cards, gossip etc. They are there because of the level of care they need at the end of their lives, and because no one in their family can or is willing to take on the burden.
      No one is saying the seniors do not contribute. We all contribute.

    • That type of thinking, placing need and necessity in front of the capability to pay gave this country a 16 Trillion dollar debt. if we have the cash flow, both present and also in the case when Virgina and the feds lower aid to communities because they cant pay, then fine so be it, build the building. We have the tendency to go out and build anything that is a good idea; I don’t know what the current finances of the county are, I am just asking, is this affordable. If this turns into a situation where they have to raise property taxes just to pay for this we can get into a mess. And please don’t say something like the kids got a high school, what can the seniors get? We will buy the things we need when we can afford it.

  7. greenhouse supporter says:

    Not saying we don’t all contribute. Seniors have contributed far longer than we have in so many ways and their needs are often neglected because they don’t have a voice as loud as the other citizens in the community, demanding better schools, new county office building, and hey how about those locker rooms at the pool. From what I understand, this is not just a senior center but also a facility that Parks and Rec will be using. As far as the nursing home comment……I meant to take a visit and really see how this once productive generation are treated and maybe you would have a little heart….guess not.

  8. Clarke Co Anne says:

    These Seniors were once your/our age and I’m sure they questioned whether a new school was needed to be built and worried about the taxes they would have to pay to see it built. You know… the schools that now need work…who paid for those to be built?…these Seniors did.
    As far as lockers at the pool…in their day… there was no pool. I’m sure when the costs for the pool came forward they shook their head.

    To talk of priorities then include lockers at the pool…you have got to be kidding.

    I hope you live long enough to enjoy the/a Senior Center. To be with people your own age, be able to talk about the same things because you lived in the same time. To laugh and share stories of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. To share the triumphs of what life threw at them with people that appreciate and understand

    • I think what sid was saying, that you misunderstood Anne, was that the county is voting to spend all this taxpayer money on brand new projects, (million dollars or so) yet there are upgrades needed for a fraction of the cost, that are being neglected, and if not fixed, will only end up costing us more in the long run. No one is bad talking seniors. Your bleeding heart rhetoric does not work. Of course people want to hang and socialize with people their own age. Move into an “adult” community, organize something at your church, get together with your elderly neighbors, etc. Give us a break Anne. How many of these “seniors” paid taxes in this county all of their lives? How many seniors from Frederick, and VA will use this center? I have senior parents and relatives. Do I think we should build a place for them to go during the day at the taxpayers expense. NO. Families need to step up and take responsibitly for their aging members. That’s part of the problem.

  9. I would not call this a necessity. Its a good thing yes, a necessity? No.

    • In light of other recent purchases/proposed that are
      1) New government center
      2) High School
      3) Golf course park proposal
      4) Senior center.

      Do we have the cash flow to pay for this?
      What happens when the economy really starts to fail when federal spending lowers, and it will lower, by design or necessity, it will lower. The town and county will lose state and federal subsidy, and then what? There is no desire whatsoever to increase the commercial tax base. (Coffee houses, restaurants don’t count), and it never will, The desire to hold on to the county’s rural past is strong. And that’s a good thing. But it has a price.

      We don’t have a credible town snow plow for the roads. Snow removal around here is called SPRING, yet we are building more buildings. Necessities are things that allow us to travel in inclement weather. Food banks for the elderly who have low incomes. Not places for them to gather and play cards. They need to be fed, heated during the winter, cooled during the summer provided health care before they need a building.

      • There is no point in turning Clarke into Loudoun. If it did, why not move there and eliminate driving over the mountain in bad weather and save 45 minutes a day. Clarke is a pleasant place to live, but that pleasantness limits the commercial tax base which ultimately limits what the government can do for its citizens. Sometimes I wonder if the politicians and government officials here forget that the vast majority that live here have to drive a minimum of 35 miles to get to their job. Not everyone works on the mountain at FEMA,

      • Because I Care says:

        I have to wonder, what is wrong with using existing meeting rooms either at the parks and rec building, the fairgrounds or the government center?

        How much is it going to cost yearly to keep up with maintenance and utilities for this new building?

  10. From article above – ”This is a real celebration of a partnership between the Area Agency (SAAA), Parks and Rec, the County, and the Town of Berryville. It’s going to be a wonderful, wonderful place for all the residents of the County.”

    Reading the newspaper it looks like the SAAA is serious financial trouble.

    Is the SAAA committed to help finance / run this project? How are they going to contribute?

    If they can’t contribute, are Clarke County citizens stuck with the whole bill?

    • Their part in this has already been set aside for the project. At least, that’s what a previous article reported.

  11. Previous CDN article in December – “… project is being funded in partnership with the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging (SAAA) which will cover approximately $500K of the cost while Clarke County taxpayers pitch in the remaining $1M.”

    This that $500K committment before or after the SAAA found out they have no money?

  12. Hmmm. Don’t ya Think those discussions have already taken place.