Natchez Senior Center ready to show off renovations

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 4, 2000

The Natchez Senior Citizen Multi-Purpose Center has decked its halls in preparation for an open house Tuesday to show off completed renovations.

Sabrena Bartley, senior center executive director, said volunteers and staff have been busy planning, cleaning and decorating for the open house, which will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Once an elementary school, a $600,000 renovation spanning a year and a half converted the building on Washington Street into a gathering place for senior citizens — one that offers activities ranging from ceramics to dominoes.

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All ages are invited to attend the open house, but Bartley said she extends a special invitation to any senior citizens who attended school at the building.

&uot;I think it’s so interesting that the same building was once used for children&uot; and now it has become a place for senior citizens, she said. &uot;The same people are still able to use their old school.&uot;

More than just a fresh coat of paint, renovations included the construction of handicap ramps and installation of an elevator.

&uot;It has opened up the entire building — all three floors — for utilization,&uot; Bartley said.

While touring the building, visitors will enjoy refreshments, door prizes and entertainment.

Soloists, a choir and an &uot;oldies trio&uot; will perform tunes ranging from gospel to jazz, and a pianist will supply the area around the indoor swimming pool with holiday melodies.

Door prizes will include free fitness packages designed for seniors, bus passes for Natchez Transit, aquatic aerobics packages and products made by Signature Works, an industry for the blind housed at the senior center.

Now that renovations are complete, fitness classes will soon begin, Bartley said. A certified instructor from Mainstream Fitness has agreed to lead the classes.

&uot;The exercise room is almost completely furnished,&uot; she said. &uot;We’re still receiving gifts and donations of equipment.&uot;

Bartley said the expanded ceramics facility is perhaps the most popular room in the center, and several seniors have been making ceramics as Christmas gifts.

An instructor from Copiah-Lincoln Community College Natchez campus teaches the classes from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Bartley said visitation to the senior center, especially among senior couples, has steadily increased as improvements became more visible.

&uot;We’ve seen a significant rise in the number of senior couples coming to the center and spending the best part of the day,&uot; Bartley said.

But physical renovations aren’t the only improvements to the senior center.

The state Department of Transportation recently chose the senior center, which manages and houses Natchez Transit, as a pilot site for a new computerized routing system.

The first in the state, the system will allow dispatchers to track individual buses &uot;street by street, mile by mile,&uot; Bartley said.

&uot;We were chosen because we’re one of the few programs where the senior center and the public transit system are intertwined,&uot; Bartley said. &uot;We are a unique setup and one that works, so we are a model for other cities.&uot;

The system is scheduled to be fully installed in January and will operate at no cost to the senior center for one year.

MDOT not only pays for the software and equipment, it offers scholarships to train the staff in how to best use the system, she said.