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Setting the record straight on Ashland Senior Center

By Michael A. Black

I appreciate the fair approach that the Daily Tidings has taken with our senior program reorganization. I am writing this email in response to a letter to the editor in the Dec. 14 paper. I know none of us can control what people say or how they feel, but I have read and reread the same incorrect information too many times.

I get it that this is a tough time for everyone, but it’s tougher because the public has been led to believe that their elected and appointed officials don’t care about seniors. This is simply not true. The Senior Center never closed, not even for a day. We have had qualified people in the center throughout the program review and reorganization. We are now partnering with Rogue Valley Council of Governments to have their senior services in our center every Wednesday.

It's noteworthy that one professional member of the interim Senior Center staff decided not to continue after being subjected to multiple personal affronts from persons protesting the Parks and Recreation Commission's efforts to revamp and enhance the senior program.

Until Aug. 31, the Senior Center staff consisted of 1.7 full-time positions: a manager and four part time employees. On Aug. 30, the part-time employees notified the Human Resources Department they were quitting. The next day, with no notice to me, the four part-time employees turned in their written resignations and walked off the job. I did not fire anyone at the Senior Center. There were plans to ask a few of those who quit to stick around during the transition — I even extended this offer to one of those employees who said she would get back to me and never did.

The Senior Center manager's position was eliminated in recognition that the significant changes to be made at the Senior Center would require a substantially revised position description and skill set. Once the Ashland Senior Program Advisory Committee finishes its work, a new position description will be developed, and anyone with the requisite skills and experience will be able to compete for the position.

The Ashland Senior Program Advisory Committee is developing recommendations for establishing a more comprehensive and effective senior program.

The goal of the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Parks Department is to have a senior program just as outstanding as our parks. We will make it happen.

— Michael A. Black is the Ashland Parks and Recreation director.