By SAMANTHA PIDDE
The Carroll County Senior Center and Carroll County Transit opened their doors for business this week at their new location at 17612 E. Benton St., Mount Carroll.
Last Friday, Sept. 25, movers packed up items from the center's long-time downtown Mount Carroll location at 306 N. Main St. and transported them to the new building. Senior Center Director Deb Connor said she and the rest of the staff are excited about the move.
Work on the 6,000 square-foot building began in the Fall of 2018 after Harold Andresen of rural Chadwick purchased the land from Johnston Investments, LLC, of Mount Carroll for $96,100 in early 2018.
The purchase of the property, as well as the approximately $300,000 construction cost, was provided through the Harold A. and Marilyn Kay Andresen Charitable Trust. In October 2018, Andresen told the Mirror-Democrat/Times-Journal that he felt the trust had done a great deal to help area youth through its annual Andresen Memorial and Andresen Ag scholarships.
"But we haven't done anything... for the senior people of Carroll County," Andresen said in 2018.
Andresen approached the Senior Center board of directors with a proposal of a new building for the organization. Connor and Board Chairman Russ Gies confirmed last week that Andresen will not be charging the center any rent for the space.
"We appreciate the donation from the Andresen Charitable Trust and Harold Andresen for providing the new building," Gies said.
Previously, Gies said the new building is expected to be a "great benefit" to the organization's clients, offering better parking and better access. Connor said last week that she knows parking has been an issue with some of their clients throughout the years.
"I've had people say, ‘I had to park two blocks away,’” Connor said. "So, I know parking's a big benefit."
Connor said the parking lot at the new location is expected to accommodate 70 vehicles and offers more handicapped spaces. The new space also features a large garage door to better allow for newspaper recycling drop offs.
The one-story steel building also will house the Veterans Assistance Commission (VAC) office. Connor said this will be beneficial because her office and the VAC often work together to assist citizens.
The Senior Center has been located in downtown Mount Carroll for a number of years. It had been in Metcalf Hall at Campbell Center before Bob and Mary Ann Hutchison purchased the downtown building for the senior center to use. Eventually, the Carroll County Senior Services Organization bought the building from the Hutchisons.
Connor said she will miss seeing people walking by and stopping in to check out the senior center’s crafts. She said the crafts will not be going to the new location due to space as well as a decrease in people making crafts for the center.
The Senior Center and Transit offices will continue to offer their regular services at the new location. Connor also wanted to assure the public that their phone numbers would not be changing.
The new location has been done for some months. When asked why the Senior Center is just now moving in, Connor and Gies said Andresen had "minor things he wanted to finish up and wanted to get the lot blacktopped.”
Connor said she is unsure exactly what will happen to the downtown storefront, but said she believes the board plans to put it up for sale. At a later date, the organization also plans to have a large sale of any crafts, desks, tables and other items that are not taken with them into the new space.