Senior centers need more state funding

To Gov. Jim Justice,

After talking to our legislators, we have learned that the West Virginia Commissioner of Senior Services, Robert Roswall, has been asking for the same amount in funding for the West Virginia Senior Centers for the past several years. If Mr. Roswall cared about this program, he would have increased the budget requests to allow for the increased costs that the senior centers have had.

Pocahontas County’s Senior Center program loses money each month on C-1 and C-2 meals, because the reimbursement from the state of West Virginia has not been changed since 2002. You have to realize that food and salaries have been increasing over the last 17 years. There should be an increase from $5.25 to $10.50 for C-1 meals and from $5.75 to $11.00 for C-2 meals, so that this seniors program can survive.

When the minimum wage was increased a few years ago, there was no increase in the funding for the senior centers to cover that wage increase, but the senior centers had to increase the amounts that they paid those employees who worked for minimum wage.

Roswall and his entire staff should be ashamed of themselves, because they care more about paperwork than they do about making sure that our seniors program continues to have enough funds to operate.

The only reason that the Pocahontas County Seniors Program is still open is due to the fundraising by volunteers and the hard-working staff (on weekends for no pay) and donations from the good people of this county. People in Pocahontas County care, and we have hope that someday in the near future that Roswall and staff will get on board with caring also.

It seems that the commissioner and staff only care about a paycheck and “eating” at the public trough. Let’s start 2019 with all positive things and get the West Virginia State Seniors Program the funding that is needed for 2019, instead of struggling along with the funding level of 2002. It would be nice to hear someone in Charleston say that instead of cuts we are going to do our jobs and get more money from the governor and the West Virginia Legislature so that the West Virginia State Seniors Program can get caught up with what is the pricing of food and labor now. We wish you good luck with this so that there will still be a Seniors Program in the years to come.

The average age for the people who are served lunches from the Green Bank Center is above 80. For most of those who come in to the senior center for a C-1 meal and those who receive home delivery meal C-2, this is their main meal. Otherwise, they eat sandwiches or cereal or nothing at all. At least one half of the men are veterans.

These problems are not just in Pocahontas County.

We enjoyed your state of the state speech Jan. 9. Thank you for trying to help our great state. The budget for the West Virginia Seniors Program needs to be increased and brought up to date with the current fiscal expenses of the 21st century.

Stop by anytime to eat or visit with us. We have a great staff, an excellent cook and many good and caring people.

Walter Byrd

Marlinton

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