Senior Center to receive grant for facility work

By:  Neal P. Goswami
Bennington Banner

BENNINGTON -- The Bennington Senior Center is set to receive funding as part of a $487,000 federal grant to senior centers across the state, according to U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

The grants, announced Monday, will be used for renovations and equipment at 34 senior centers across Vermont, Sanders said.

The Bennington Senior Center will use its $18,675 grant to repair and upgrade an elevator and paint the Pleasant Street facility. The grant, awarded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is administered by the Vermont Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

"I am a strong supporter of Vermont senior centers. These centers, and the thousands of volunteers who work with them, do an extraordinary job in bringing seniors together -- making sure they get good nutrition, health care and social activities," Sanders said. "In these very difficult economic times, I’m proud to be working with them."

Scott Murphy, economic and community development director for the town of Bennington, said Sanders’ office asked the town about a year ago to develop a "wish list" for the center in case funding was available. Murphy said the center has a "pressing need" for elevator repairs.

"If we had lost the elevator, we would have to shut down the senior center," he said. "We put in for this as kind of a long-shot type of deal."

However, the funding can be used for other purposes, Murphy said. The center also needs painting to its exterior, he said.

Sanders said the latest grants brings the total federal funding for Vermont senior centers in the past five years to $1.2 million. The money has been used for various purposes, including the purchasing new kitchen equipment, repairing roofs and making centers more energy efficient, he said.