STEUBENVILLE - PrimeTime Interim Director Judy Owings laughed when asked about the construction workers walking out of the new senior citizens center Thursday morning.
"This is like one of those home renovation shows on television where they literally work to the last minute. But we are ready for our open house today and will be ready to open for business in July after we complete a little more regulatory paperwork," Owings said while she took a break from the open house tours.
Two days after the rezoning of the former Temple Beth Israel on Lovers Lane was approved by Steubenville City Council, officials from PrimeTime Office on Aging and Tri State Health Services Inc. were ready to show off the renovations to the building that will serve as the area senior citizens center.
OPEN HOUSE — The new senior citizens center on Lovers Lane isn’t open for business yet, but Tri-State Health Services Inc. held a ribbon cutting and open house for the facility Thursday. Taking part in the ribbon cutting ceremony were, left, Denise Galownia, Sister Pauline Herbert, Deanne Conrad, Desi Gampola, Patricia Fletcher, Keith Murdock, Mayor Domenick Mucci, Judy Owings, Rhonda Parrish, Bill Demjan, Mary Free and 6th Ward Councilman David Lalich. - Dave Gossett
A steady stream of visitors walked through the building, checking out each room in the center and relaxing in the banquet room or cafe.
"Today concludes a lot of years of effort and planning. And, it is a good feeling to know this center is now becoming a reality. Most of our PrimeTime services will be moving from Trinity Medical Center East to the senior citizens center once we open in July. We will still maintain our transportation and meal services at Trinity East, but eventually we will move those office to this location," Owings said.
"I appreciate the help we have received from everyone in the community. There has been a demand for a senior citizens center for a long time and we have accomplished that goal," she added.
Owings said the center will be named after it opens in July.
"The services we will offer include health and wellness programs, recreational opportunities, arts programs, educational opportunities, volunteer opportunities, social and community action opportunities, information and assistance, intergenerational programs, support groups, meal and nutritional programs, transportation services and special services to address local needs," said Owings.
The former synagogue, purchased by Tri-State Health Services earlier this year, now includes two lecture halls, a conference room, a banquet hall, a gift shop and a small theater.
"Surveys have shown a need for a central senior citizens center in Jefferson County. Approximately 18 percent of our county's population is 65 or older and between 25 to 50 percent of our local population is 50 years of age or older. The temple was exactly what we were looking for," Owings told the city's Planning and Zoning Commission in May.
"I feel such a sense of accomplishment today. We can properly develop programs for our area senior citizens. I believe this will be a real success for many years to come," Owings added.
"I am proud the senior citizens center is located on Lovers Lane. This is a very open facility with plenty of parking. I don't think anyone will have any reservations about coming here. Visitors will feel safe and comfortable. I welcome it to the neighborhood," said 6th Ward Councilman David Lalich.
"I'll stop by and I'll bring my granddaughters," he added.
"We have needed a senior citizens center for a very long time for communication and fellowship. This is a very nice place, and my wife and I will definitely join here. We already belong to the YMCA and this will be a good place to see other people," said city resident William C. Watson.
Joseph "Slugs" Smarrella has already offered to volunteer at the center when it officially opens.
"I have been coming in here and checking on the progress of the construction work for the past month. I currently go to the Weirton senior citizens center and I am excited we are finally going to have one in Steubenville," said Smarrella.
Sanford and Claryne Berman stood near the remaining seats of the former synagogue.
"We will have our final services during our High Holy Days in September. And that will be it. They did a beautiful job in here, but it is a little sad to see the end of our synagogue," said Berman, who has served as president of the temple for a number of years.
"This synagogue was built in 1966 after Temple Beth-El on North Fifth Street and B'Nai Israel Temple on South Fifth Street agreed to merge and move to Lovers Lane. This will be a real asset to the community and a lasting legacy from the Jewish people to the community," noted Sanford Berman.
"And, we plan to join the senior citizens center. So we will still be here," commented Claryne Berman.