Opinion

Senior Center may be a warming station soon | Senior Outlook | Jan. 14

Happy 2011 everyone. The turkey and ham dinners are over now, along with the eggnog and champagne toasts to the new year.

How nice it would be if the added poundage from all those holiday cookies, candies and general feasting worked as well for us as they do for bears.

We could curl up knowing we’ll stay warm and full until gentler weather arrives in the spring.

Alas, we aren’t bears, so we need to roll up our sleeves and get to work preparing for the long winter ahead.

Last month I devoted this column to a concern that many of us have shared: the need for an overnight warming station in Bainbridge Island.

Now I am happy to report that the Bainbridge Island Senior Community Center has stepped up to the plate and begun work on making this dream a reality.

At the December meeting of the BISCC Board of Directors, a preliminary plan was designed to set things in motion.

The Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management (KCDEM) is partnering with the Red Cross to help.

Susan May of KCDEM stated that with Homeland Security funding they are prepared to offer a free generator to the Senior Center for our use.

KCDEM hopes to be able to set up warming stations in all of the county’s communities, but when they can depends on when the grants needed will be approved.

A generator is also being offered to the Bethany Lutheran Church to serve as a shelter for stranded ferry commuters unable to navigate State Route 305 due to a storm or other calamity. Bainbridge Island is receiving early attention because of this concern.

Our Senior Center shelter plan becomes a beneficiary of this early attention. Remember that fact the next time you want to grumble over ferry traffic. Even an ill wind can blow some good.

While the generators supplied by KCDEM are free, the transfer switches for the generators to make them operable is not.

Raising the money for the purchase and installation of such a switch is one of the problems the Senior Center will need to handle.

Other considerations include acquiring supplies such as food, cots and blankets and transportation volunteers to bring in those who cannot reach the warming center on their own.

The KCDEM warming stations would not be overnight facilities, which is what the BISCC Board would like them to be.

Using local volunteers to take over running its shelter during the night, the Senior Center can be a 24/7 operation. It is doable.

December’s meeting ended with three action items to be pursued by designated board members: Bob King is working with the Red Cross for a site review; Huck Murdoch has contacted the city for power usage information to help determine generator size needed; and Tom Kilbane is checking with electricians and contractors about installing a switch-over panel.

We are on our way to a Winslow vicinity warming station. The longest journey begins with a single step.

Let’s have the Senior Center’s shelter be that step and hopefully similar facilities at sites in the north and south parts of the island will follow.

Marcia Rudoff writes a monthly column for the Bainbridge Island Senior Community Center.

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