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Senior Center looks great, wasn’t an easy project

On Wednesday, May 9, a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be taking place at the Valley Senior Center, a first-rate facility that took two years and $2.5 million to build. It’s a fabulous addition to Valley Community Center, a building that was already one of the best centers for any c0mmunity the size of Valley in the two-state area.

The Community Center not only has an ultra-nice Senior Center, it also has a greatly expanded fitness center, which is already open.

Mayor Leonard Riley and the city council deserve much credit for bringing something like this to the city. The previous council was also supportive of the idea. No one worked any harder for a longer period of time to have a new senior center that Ray Edwards, a former member of the council and the current board chair of the Alabama Department of Senior Services. He likely will be at Wednesday’s ceremony. In all likelihood the new center is a dream come true for him.

When people tour the building and marvel at all the accoutrements, they need to understand that this was not an easy project to get done. Mayor Riley, in fact, said that it was the hardest one he’s ever been a part of. If you consider his 20-year superintendency with the Chambers County School District and all the building projects that took place over that span, that is saying a lot.

The big issue here was with subcontractors. One just walked off the job, leaving the project behind schedule. At one time it looked like there would be no way for the new center to make its projected completion date of May 2018. That date is here and the project was finished on time. There’s still some minor things to be done but all in all, it’s a most impressive-looking building.

“I think everyone will like the new senior center, especially our seniors,” Riley said at a Thursday work session.

There’s room enough for up to eighty people in the 60 and older age group to participate. Located in the Fairfax mill village, the current center has around 40 active participants. There may be a need to recruit some new members. That shouldn’t be a hard thing to do. Once eligible people go there and see how nice it is, not to mention getting to know the current active members and getting a taste of the fun their have in the senior center programs. They should be eager to join. If nothing else, you get a free meal five days a week.

A former long-time Valley Senior Center participant, the late Donald Williams, made an invaluable contribution to the new center and to the Bethlehem Church site on River Road. He left a sizable sum of money in his estate, directing that it go to the church. The work that’s going on at the Bethlehem cemetery is being funded by that. Williams will be getting some much deserved recognition both at the new pavilion that’s going up at the cemetery and in the new senior center. He’s someone who will be remembered for a long time to come.