Columbiana holds public hearing for senior center grant

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – The City of Columbiana held a public hearing Thursday morning to discuss applying for a grant to help pay to renovate a county-owned building into a new senior center.

If Columbiana is awarded a community enhancement fund grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, then the city and county could move forward with renovations of the old health department building at the corner of Mildred and Milner streets, across from Columbiana City Hall.

The grant deadline is Aug. 1, and the state has $4.1 million available for community enhancement projects.

Columbiana’s proposal for $250,000 will be one of 20 to 25 considered, of which 10 to 15 will be awarded, according Terry Acuff, who is writing the city’s grant proposal.

Acuff, of the Huntsville-based Community Consultants, Inc., has written several successful grant proposals for the city, including securing grants for the police and fire departments.

During the public hearing, he urged seniors to write letters explaining why they need a new senior center. Letters are due July 15.

“We have to present this need,” Acuff said. “And you’re the ones that can help me do that.”

Columbiana seniors have been meeting in a room at the Columbiana Recreation Center on Washington Street.

Renovated in 2003, the recreation building room was planned to provide space for 20 seniors at a time when only 10 or so regularly visited. Attendance spiked with the new recreation room.

“Before long, this was a thriving seniors activity center, but we outgrew it” Columbiana Mayor Allan Lowe said during the public hearing.

As part of an agreement between the city and the Shelby County Commission, a portion of the renovated building would be used as a conference room for local agencies, organizations and groups to meet. Also, the health department could locate a satellite office in the building to provide basic health services to residents.