Senior Center reopens after renovations

Project took six months to complete and cost $710,000

Hannah Grover
  • A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly refurbished facility was held last week
  • The renovation project included a new computer lab with five computers
  • The facility's bathrooms are now ADA compliant, and central heating and air conditioning were added

FRUITLAND — After six months of construction and renovation, the Lower Valley Senior Center here has reopened.

Herman Wilson, left, lines up a shot Friday in the game room at the Lower Valley Senior Center in Fruitland.

The $710,000 project was funded by county, state and federal money, and transformed the 47-year-old building into a modern senior center with an expanded kitchen and a computer room.

"This used to be the old Mormon church out here, and we took it and made it a senior center," Director Michelle Murray said while sitting in her office Friday.

The Lower Valley Senior Center has been at its 17 County Road 6668 location since the early 1990s, but needed significant work. The bathrooms were not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and it needed central heating and air conditioning.

"It was very costly to heat and cool," Murray said.

In 2015, the senior center received a Community Development Block Grant for $493,000 for a renovation. It also received $167,500 from the state in capital outlay funding and $50,410 from San Juan County.

Renovations began in August, and the senior center was closed during construction. The senior center had a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday and served its first meal in the new facility on Wednesday.

The work was important because it is the only senior center in this community and serves clients from the region. Ron Neff, who uses the senior center, recalled one woman who made a habit of hitchhiking to the senior center from Shiprock every morning and arriving before the gates were unlocked. The senior center also provides Meals on Wheels to community members over a wide area that includes Hogback, Kirtland, Fruitland and La Plata.

The renovations changed the appearance of the facility. Wood paneling on the walls was torn out and replaced with drywall that was painted.

The renovations included the addition of 432 square feet to the kitchen and 672 square feet to the game room, which now also includes a computer lab with five computers. The senior center also has LED lighting and a paved parking lot.

"It's more welcoming, more modernized," Murray said.

That sentiment was echoed by Neff, who said it is brighter in the facility now that it has been renovated.

"It's sure a lot better now than it was," Neff said.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

By the numbers

$710,000: Cost of the renovations at Lower Valley Senior Center

1,104: Square feet expansion of the Lower Valley Senior Center

25-30: Meals served daily at the senior center

27-40: Meals delivered daily through Meals on Wheels