Hammond Senior Center to close
Rumors have swirled through Hammond lately that the Senior Center may close. Site manager for both the Hammond and Roberts Senior Centers Jordan Pechuman found out almost two weeks ago that it’s true.
“I don’t think it’s been handled well,” Pechuman said. “There has been no formal announcement to the people.”
Pechuman, who has been the site manager since February, said he found out from a board member after a HSC board meeting two weeks ago, since he had to leave the meeting early. He said he has received no detailed explanation.
According to St. Croix County Aging and Disability Resource Center Administrator Brad Beckman, no formal public announcement has been made yet.
Beckman said it was discussed at the last HSC board meeting, but it won’t be publicly announced until the Council on Aging and Disabilities meeting 9 a.m. Nov. 21 at the St. Croix County Government Center county board room. Beckman said announcing it there is a formality.
Beckman said the HSC board, Trinity Lutheran Church in Hammond where the seniors meet and staff at the ADRC were aware of the closing, but that word must have gotten out in the community.
“I don’t think anyone’s really surprised,” Beckman said.
Beckman said the two driving forces behind the closing, which he said is temporary, was Pechuman’s notice that he’s leaving at the end of November and the fact that numbers aren’t good for the Hammond group.
Pechuman confirmed he is leaving because he bought a restaurant in Frederic. He said he informed the board two or three months ago that he was looking to run his own business again. He also said his leaving has nothing to do with HSC closing.
Pechuman said the possibility of the HSC closing had been mentioned, but that he hasn’t been told why it’s closing by the ADRC.
According to Pechuman, funding for the meals provided to seniors comes from the ADRC.
The seniors themselves do fundraisers for projects, like making their own Christmas cards, compiling cookbooks or crafting, Pechuman said.
Hammond area seniors have had the opportunity to meet twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, at Trinity Lutheran for a hot meal. Pechuman said between six and 12 seniors come, depending on the time of year. The HSC also serves eight to 12 homebound seniors meals, Pechuman said.
“It’s about them getting out and seeing people for awhile,” Pechuman said. “Some take their meals delivered, but that’s what they look forward to twice a week is coming out and visiting and eating lunch. They also get together once in awhile for meals or to go to a show, but that’s on their own time.”
Beckman said the closing of HSC may be temporary and will be revisited in six months to evaluate the need for a center. He said Hammond seniors will still be able to get meals home-delivered.
He also said the Roberts Senior Center will still be open Mondays and Wednesdays, and Baldwin’s is open four days a week if seniors are looking for somewhere else to go. The Roberts location is not closing.
“More people attend there than in Hammond,” Beckman said. “There’s room for growth.”
Beckman also said everyone involved with the HSC has done a great job, but the attendance numbers just aren’t there. He also mentioned funding cuts at state and federal levels as being a possible factor in closing the HSC.
Hammond resident Charles Grant, the husband of Hammond/Roberts Senior Center board president Vera Grant, said he goes there often with his wife, and the closing is a shame. He said that’s all some people have to look forward to and he hopes the ADRC is telling the truth about the closing possibly being temporary.
Vera Grant said it’s the only social outing many Hammond seniors have, and for some, the only chance for a square meal.
“I just feel really bad,” Vera said. “Those that go really need it.”
Paulette Anderson, director of the Hammond Arts Alliance, wishes she had lobbied more to keep it open and implores area seniors to lobby for the HSC to reopen in May.
“This town is dying,” Anderson said. “We have no bank, no grocery store. Once it’s closed it won’t be back.”
Anderson said the HSC has $4,000 in its treasury, which will be spent by the Hammond-area seniors. She said the ADRC agreed to give Hammond seniors free meals through December.