Community Action Program closing senior center in Meredith

MEREDITH — The Community Action Program of Belknap-Merrimack Counties, Inc. (CAP) this week announced the closure of the Inter-lakes Senior Center, which operated for many years at Trinity Episcopal Church before moving to the Community Center in April 2006. The center served the towns of Meredith, Center Harbor and New Hampton.

In a prepared statement, the agency explained that it was "faced with making this very difficult decision due to rising costs and funding reductions."

The CAP rented space and use of the kitchen at the Community Center between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, offering a congregate luncheon that in recent months regularly drew less than a dozen seniors.

Pam Jolivette, director of elder services at the CAP, declined to specify the operating budget for the center. However, last year the CAP, which was paying $1,200 per month in rent, approached the Board of Selectmen with a request to halve the rent. The board chose to reduce the rent by a third, to $800.

Jolivette said yesterday that as pressures on its funding have mounted the agency reviews the costs and utilization of all its cost centers, including its 10 senior centers. She said that the agency "deeply regretted its decision and offered its "sincere appreciation" to the volunteers, civic groups, businesses and town officials whose contributions ensured the success of the center for so many years.

Jolivette hastened to stress that "the Elder Services Department of the CAP "will continue to provide all current services for residents of Meredith, Center Harbor and New Hampton." Meals-on-Wheels will be delivered five days a week. The Rural Transportation Program will continue to offer rides for medical appointments, grocery shopping and other errands.

Senior citizens from the three towns are welcome to enjoy lunch at any of the agency's other nearby senior centers in Laconia, Belmont, Tilton, Franklin and Alton. In addition, the CAP is exploring the possibility of offering a community luncheon once or twice a month in the area.