COMMISSION ON AGING
December 11, 2019
11:00 call to order
Present: Mary Dale Lancaster, Sarah Atwood, Ingrid Heller, Jean Rexford, George Cohen, Hilda Rhodes, Janet Metzger, Angelica Fontanez, joining the meeting later: Dev Patel, SW. Minutes: Kathleen Brandt
1) Approval of November Minutes: Jean Rexford, Janet Metzger
2) Public Comment: None
3) Chair’s report (Part A) (Mary Dale Lancaster):
Snow emergency notification issues:
Following a discussion, the COA has adapted the following delay schedule for itself:
COA meetings will follow the school schedule. If schools are delayed for 3 hours or less, we will begin the COA meeting at 12 pm. If the delay is more than 3 hours, or if schools are cancelled, we will postpone the meeting to the following week.
Places to find out about school closures: News12.com, reddingelementaryps.org, er9.org
4) Social Service Director (Angelica Fontanez )report: Meeting with Steve Gniadek, Comptroller, regarding finances for the Heritage Center. The meeting was positive and the proposed budget was met with support. Some highlights: A pay increase has been proposed for Social Worker Dev Patel. With our increase in demand, a good social worker is critical to the continued success of the services. Mr. Patel has proven to be a valuable asset to the department. Ruth Moran’s administrative assistant’s 15 hours a week salary was OK’d. Mr. Gniadek will ask First Selectman Julia Pemberton about “Agencies Serving Resident,” which is a budget line item in Angelica’s budget, over which she has no control. Perhaps it can be placed in some other section of the overall budget.
Mary Dale suggests that Angelica document the increase in numbers of people receiving services, so we can present concrete numbers to the Board of Selectmen. Angelica mentioned that the program “Redding Shares the Warmth” has ample money available, but that money may need to be used before the end of the heating season. Question whether “Redding Shares the Warmth,” must ONLY be allocated for fuel. Dev recalls that the State Energy assistance is dependent on the state administration – this fund protects in case the state doesn’t grant assistance There may be a grant from State that can help with a new van. It would not cover the van driver Mike’s salary, but there are other programs that might help cover the cost of that. Social Worker does some grant work, but there are other grants that have tricky and complex language. There’s a real skill to it.
The assistant to Ruth Moran’s ( Senior Center Coordinator) computer is so outdated, that many tasks cannot be done from the office, and instead must be done work on a home computer. Steve Gniadek has an account for computers, but Social Services would need to budget for the software. Any new chairs should come from town building budget. Usually ordered by the head custodian with input from Ruth Moran (who has found appropriate chairs), and with the OK from First Selectman Julia Pemberton and Steve. Chair: Since we are asking for money, let’s be sure to ask for everything. Town prefers known vendors. Janet Metzger: we do need to let the town know ahead of time, sooner rather than later. Angelica has a budget presentation in January.
Wish List: Town Controller Steve Gniadek likes idea of a COA wish list, even though it doesn’t include projected costs have yet – it will help plan for the future.
Social Worker monthly report: 17 visits to food pantry, Increase in fuel requests. See attached report. Huge food pantry drives from several agencies which were very welcome.
Chair Report: (Mary Dale Lancaster) Part B: .Maintenance update: to date, we are not aware of any maintenance checklists for each room. Such checklists would be helpful both in maintaining rooms, and making requests for services. It was noted that the batteries for the remote control for the shades in the meeting room have been requested since last spring. The outside of the building itself is looking shabby, especially from the back where peeling paint and rotting wood are unsitely and may cause deterioration of the building. Of note: the building services not only the Heritage Center, but Park and Rec and many town-wide and other private events in Redding. It serves a vital role in town. It is said that there are personnel issues involving lengthy absences among the maintenance staff that remain unresolved. These types of issues support the request for a Maintenance Oversight Administrator.
5) Director of Senior Service (Ruth Moran): Ruth is absent due to illness. See attached report. Focus this month is on Holiday Luncheon. People are upbeat about programming.
6) Report about building needs (Jean Rexford, Kathleen Brandt (attached): Both met with head custodian Willy Ruiz & Ruth Moran. Building aging, 20 years old, assessment: we have growing pains. There are programs where 24 people are stuffed in a small room. We went around space to look at what can be changed. We think it’s time for the town to consider major & minor renovations. Easy: take out wall between card room and computer room, r take out wall between computer room and library. More serious revamping: add on to the building. We could add on behind building. The Social Worker requires a larger and private space. Because of the important role Angelica play with seniors, it is important to keep the social worker in this building. Willy suggested that front outer wall by gym is dead space and the building could be expanded there. Park and Rec office space is mirror image to the Heritage Center, and they have more square footage and fewer office folks. Due to lack of space, Park & Rec uses Heritage Center storage areas.. Overriding question: how is town of Redding preparing for expanding aging population.
Janet Metzger: 20 year anniversary is good time to reassess. Library is not an inviting space for some reason. It does not appear that people come here to hang out. Hilda: having people come in during book group to use computers is very disruptive.
Critical area: Angelica must have proper privacy and space to meet HIPAA requirements.
7) 12/18 meeting: Public meeting with BoS, BoF and BoE at 7:30 at RCC. Members are encouraged to attend this meeting. It is an opportunity to present our needs and wishes to the town. A discussion ensued about the format of COA presentations We need at least four members to come to this meeting and present our wish list. We want it tapered, not totally pie in the sky.
The selectman have their budget meeting the next day. BOE and BOF will there. Might be good time for us to present.
8) Old business: Research re: neighboring town senior programs: Social Work department has it all in 3 ring binder with all reports in their office. Jean: suggest MD mention this research in her intro, let them know we are working actively.
At the next meeting, we will further discuss communication and perhaps talk about housing, as well as make calendar for rest of the year.
9) New business:
The chair shared that Fairfield did a formal and in-depth comparison in 2012 of senior centes. This report would be a useful format for compiling our own report.
Meeting adjourned at 12:20. Next meeting will be held on January 8. We will set the agenda for the year at that meeting.