Columbiana senior services needs help, director says

The head of Shelby County’s senior services said the city of Columbiana &uot;must step up to the plate&uot; and build or find a new place for local seniors to meet.

Sue Tedford, Shelby County senior services director, spoke before the Columbiana council earlier this month to request help for the city’s seniors.

&uot;They are in a less-than-ideal situation,&uot; Tedford said.

Columbiana seniors currently gather in the Columbiana Housing Authority meeting room.

Tedford said, however, since they share the space with other groups, they can’t leave crafts, quilts or possesions there overnight.

&uot;They don’t feel like they belong there,&uot; she said.

Tedford noted that five municipalities and the Shelby County Commission have improved or built their seniors more updated facilities.

She said, in fact, the Shelby County Commission built the seniors of North Shelby, the Heardmont Park Seniors Center.

In Alabaster, she said, city leaders worked to remodel an old house in the Siluria community to make it into a senior center.

&uot;In Alabaster, the whole community rallied around the seniors,&uot; she said.

In Calera, she said, the city gave the seniors the old library building.

&uot;They haven’t always been this good,&uot; Tefford said referring to the facilities. &uot;It took some nudging. I know you have plans, but all we ask is that you put them a little higher on your list of priorities.&uot;

Columbiana Mayor Allan Lowe said he has been working hard during the last year to secure a building for Columbiana’s seniors.

He said the city has targeted the old health department building, owned by Shelby County, which currently is used to store court records.

In addition, Lowe said he has contacted James Dedes, executive director of the Shelby County Economic and Industrial Development Authority, about securing a $250,000 grant to launch improvements to the Columbiana senior program.

He said Dedes told them they had a good chance of securing the loan but only after securing the title to the county’s building.

&uot;That building is tremendously under-used,&uot; Lowe said. &uot;Before I can take this any further, we have to have possession of that building.&uot;

Lowe said he will soon make another request to the county commission about obtaining the building, noting Commissioner Larry Dillard was supportive of his request.

&uot;This building could be used by the whole community, not just the seniors,&uot; Lowe said. &uot;It’s something that would benefit all of our citizens. We know right now the conditions (for seniors) are less than perfect.&uot;