Ishpeming Senior Center continues towards June completion

North Central UP

ISHPEMING, Mich. (WJMN) – Construction continues on the new Ishpeming Senior Center. Now with walls, a roof, and windows, the finishing touches are being completed. Soon the only thing missing being some seniors inside.

In a news conference on Friday, Ishpeming city manager Craig Cugini said that the center has a much deeper meaning not only to the community but to himself.

“Well I think that as a city manager, all I do is operate on the behalf of the residents of Ishpeming, but in this case this is much greater than just the city of Ishpeming, its the whole west end,” said Cugini. “It’s cities, it’s townships, its a collaborative effort to ensure that our aging population has a facility where they can seek resources or just go out for community. I have an aged mother, she’s in her 80’s and she lives in a small community and there is nothing like this where she can go and spend time and just sit and talk to folks, so she sits at home most of the time and the only time she can get out is generally through a church or some sort of club. If that’s the case in my town, I’ve done nothing to help this population.” Cugini continued, “This facility has been able to allow people to come and just socialize, I mean I don’t know just make something up, even if it just an opportunity to just play bingo together and get out of the house and spend time with other people and just have a conversation with people where you may not have had that conversation with people before. You increase the programming and create other events that they can be apart of and you are just giving them some life, beyond the doors of there home. It’s very important to give that back to the community and help, they’re who came before us and set this stage for us so we have to make sure we take care of them as they live the later portion of their life and give them something to do.”

The 2,000 square foot building will be the home to two large multi-purpose rooms, a kitchen, and endless programming opportunities that the Greater Commission of Aging can provide for the local seniors. Jason Gauthier, the project manager with RG Design Company said that he is very pleased with the progress despite the hardships Covid-19 has caused them to run into during the construction process.

“Just lead time on materials, like everybody in our industry is finding that materials are getting to be harder and harder to come by especially with our schedule, so more specifically on this project I think our biggest lead time on this project was asphalt and shingles,” said Gauthier.

Cugini said that the creation and funding of this center has been a collaborative effort from people all across the community.

“We went out and we sought a grant and that grant required a lot of partners to get the match to this grant so the greater commision on aging had a pretty significant portion of the grant matched, we’ve had some contributors and then the city all reaching out to the match, pretty significant grant totalling about $1.8 millon”

The old senior center closed in 2019. The Ishpeming Senior Center looks to be right on track for the June 2021 opening date.

“As of now, it is, assuming that our spring cooperates and conditions improve when we expect them to, we are certainly expecting to be open by June. COVID has pushed some timelines back a little bit, but with the contractor and the good team that we got we are, I think we are on schedule right now for June.”

Cugini said they are planning a grand opening celebration. He also opened up about upcoming projects in Ishpeming.

“As far as other things that are in the future if you are looking for things we’ve got the campground, I think a couple of the agencies already came to talk to us about the campground, we got a $100,000 dollar grant from rural development on that, this facility has been completely upgraded, some of you may or may not have seen or known the past but this is a pretty substantial increase for us and we are about to embark on applying for our next grant which is to work on a skate park.” Cugini continued, “So we have some DDA funds that we are going to work with a designer to start that I guess. Well before I ever got here the city developed a skate park committee and they have been sort of dormant lately, but one of the things I’ve been asked to do is to try to figure out a skate park so that is coming in the future. Hopefully, we will design this year and seek a grant at the end of the year and possibly construct next year. The apartments down the street should be opening up pretty soon, so that is an exciting thing for the town. I’m not sure when Ben will get to inviting us to a grand opening, but I am sure they will be doing something. Dan Perkins has been working on some grants and things for the Parch Creek Farms, so I think there will be some opportunities in town for that. So just a lot of things happening for the city of Ishpeming so we are looking forward to bringing more every day. We are trying to figure out the next grand thing to bring you guys and share with the community.

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