NEW CUMBERLAND - The Hancock County commissioners have agreed to help the Greater Weirton Senior Center pay off its mortgage, provided the city of Weirton does the same thing.
Commissioners recently agreed to contribute $14,549 to the senior center to help it pay off the balance of its mortgage, which is $29,099. The commissioners' assistance is contingent on Weirton Council agreeing to contribute the same amount as the county.
The senior center originally asked for the help in August, but commissioners took the matter under advisement until their Sept. 6 meeting.
"The purpose of the request was to reduce our expenses so that we could continue to occupy the building," said James G. Connolly, chairman of the senior center's board of directors.
Connolly said the Greater Weirton Senior Center is the only noncounty senior center in West Virginia. As such, it does not get the level of funding that other senior centers do, he said.
"In the past, the funding levels were greater from the state. ... We're on our own in terms of raising enough money to pay the mortgage, pay the bills and other expenses," he said. "We don't get subsidized like the county senior centers do."
The Weirton center serves seniors from Jefferson County in Ohio, Hancock and Brooke counties and Pennsylvania, Connolly said. Founded in 1992, it has occupied the building at 3425 Main St. for about six years, he said.
Center Coordinator Shari Dami said the center serves between 1,200 and 1,300 senior citizens a month with hot lunches, exercise programs, dances, medical checkups, tax advice, card clubs, quilting groups and pool and bingo games.
The nonprofit organization has seen its funding from the state decrease, even as the costs of running the center have gone up, Connolly said in a letter to the Hancock County commissioners.
"Your generosity would result in the Weirton Senior Center being less dependent on city, county and state funds in funding daily operations," Connolly said.
In addition to assistance from Hancock County and Weirton, the center recently received assistance in the amount of $60,000 from the West Virginia Senate, House of Delegates and Attorney General Darrell McGraw.
Connolly said he expects Weirton Council to act on the request sometime in October.