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OREM ELDERLY WANT CENTER IN THEIR HANDS

SHARE OREM ELDERLY WANT CENTER IN THEIR HANDS

Orem's senior citizens don't need a baby sitter.

And they told the City Council just that in the public hearing Tuesday for the budget."We don't want a manager," said one older resident. "We've been doing just fine running it ourselves."

Senior citizens filling the council chamber were unhappy with the city's proposal to provide a manager for the new, larger center that replaces the Orem Friendship Center that burned down a year ago.

Many felt the proposal was insulting and implied the seniors could not manage alone. They also objected to the name change, from what's been known as the Senior Friendship Center to the Senior Citizen Center.

They asked for a year without a manager to prove they could adequately run the building.

The upset elderly audience members applauded each other and asked the council "not to fix what isn't broken."

Dewey Lunt said the senior citizens don't mind sharing the newly rebuilt center with other entities in the community, but "we want to retain control."

"We want to keep the name. We don't want to lose that," said one man.

Several citizens said Ernie Summers has done a good job of coordinating the activities and scheduling and should be allowed to continue to do so.

Recreation director Jerry Ortiz said the intention was good behind the proposal for a manager. "We don't think anything is `broken,' " said Ortiz. "We saw this as an opportunity to enhance and augment what we already have."

Mayor Stella Welsh said there was never any intention of displacing Summers or to offend the senior citizens.

"I don't believe anyone has ever said you haven't done well," said the mayor. "If the energy is there to run a larger facility, so be it, but I'm more comfortable offering you the help if you need it."

Mayor Welsh said the money to pay a professional manager should be left in the 1994-95 budget "just in case" but the council overruled her.

"Let the seniors have their year," said Councilwoman Judy Bell. "I feel deeply about the volunteers whom we might lose if we change things."