By Wendy Sweeter
This photo was taken in 2006 as City Employee Paul Jacobson and Mayor Orville Wiebers helped to move kitchen equipment into the new Senior Center. The noon meal was prepared at the Center then; now meals are transported from Sioux Falls.
The status of the Lennox Senior Center remains in limbo after six months of the lease ending.
City administrator Nathan Vander Plaats said ending the lease and handing over management to the city was a mutual agreement. Services continue at the center for seniors while the city looks for a new location for senior citizens and a potential restaurant looks at the current building.
Looking back at the history of the senior center, the senior corner started in 1979 in the old Greenfield Garage building at 2nd and Juniper. In 2005, the Life Enrichment for the Elderly (LEE) board began looking for funding for a senior center at the current location. In 2006, the seniors moved into the new building.
Currently, the senior center has Meals on Wheels delivered there every day for lunch. Vander Plaats estimates about 10-15 people go there to eat every day and another dozen meals are delivered to people. They do fitness every week, a foot care clinic once a month, a potluck once a month and coffee hour every day.
Since the Meals on Wheels program cooks all of their meals in Sioux Falls, a full kitchen is not needed anymore in Lennox. They just require a way to keep the meals warm.
The city has been looking for a new location for seniors while working on lease language with an undisclosed restaurant. They have been looking closely at the Anderson Cabinet building. If the city were to lease that building, they would need some more kitchen space, a desk area for Meals on Wheels, an automatic door and a curb cut with handicap parking out front. Vander Plaats said these are all things the city is ready to do.
“The Anderson Cabinets building is what they are looking at. It’s a shell. The owners have been using it as an event venue. It would work very well. It needs some alterations for it to work for this age group. We’re completely prepared to pay for that,” he said.
Vander Plaats said the restaurant looking at the senior center has well established roots in South Dakota and they have done well in other similar towns.
“When we look back at our comprehensive plan survey that we did last year for economic development initiative, that’s probably the No. 1 thing is we need a sit down family restaurant. That’s what this is,” he said.
The restaurant has been looking for a place on Main Street. Vander Plaats describes the corner where the senior center is as a hub of activity during the school year and the summer.
He notes that the senior center was a last resort and that they worked for months to find another place on Main Street that was willing to lease with no success.
Vander Plaats notes that they have been working on finding a place for the restaurant for almost a year. He said they have been looking at the senior center location for about six months.
“We said from the start if this goes forward we don’t want to do it if we can’t continue those services at some other location. Initially we looked at a few of the churches,” Vander Plaats said. “… Keeping people independent as long as possible, particularly now that we won’t have a nursing home in town, is extremely important and we want to continue they have those services that they need to stay as independent as possible.”