After hearing about budget cutbacks impacting the Corbin Senior Citizens Center, Laurel County Judge-Executive David Westerfield didn’t want to give lip service to the problem. He prefers direct action.
During a visit to the center last Thursday, Westerfield presented center director Beverly Faulkner with a check for $2,500, and said he’s already included a similar amount in the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
Westerfield said he soon became aware of the issue when a group of people on the center’s board of directors began visiting surrounding counties asking for help. Retired businessman, Bob Terrell, led the charge.
“We discussed some things that I wasn’t aware of,” Westerfield said. “Many of my constituents were being fed here and fellowship here and we weren’t helping. I wasn’t aware of that.”
Faulkner and Terrell pointed out that many of the people who frequent the center aren’t just from the city of Corbin, but live in unincorporated portions of Knox, Laurel and Whitley counties.
“Anybody that knows me will tell you that I will help you if at all possible,” Westerfield said. “If it’s legal, and I can do it, I will be there for you.”
Mike Pawula, chairman of the Corbin Senior Citizens Center Board of Directors, said the cuts for the current fiscal year amount to about $15,000. More are expected in the coming year as well.
“This is my second year on the board. When I found out about all this stuff, I wanted to do whatever I could to keep this place going and stay in the black, and not close any days,” Pawula said.
Without further assistance, the cuts would mean the center would have to close two days a month.
Pawula said the center was a great place for his mother, who initially resisted going.
“My mom was always alone. She didn’t want to go anywhere,” he said.
He said he tricked her into going to the center by telling her he wanted to take her to get ice cream, and then said he had to stop by “a place” to meet with someone, and wanted her to go inside with him.
“There were two ladies who took her under their wings right away,” Pawula said. “The rest is history. She couldn’t wait to come here again. After that, she was always asking when we could go. It was good that she just didn’t stay in the house looking at four walls.”
Besides federal and state funding, the center receives $25,000 from the city of Corbin. Terrell said he’s asked Knox and Whitley counties to help as well. Knox County Judge-Executive Mike Mitchell visited the center late last month, but made no firm commitment. He said Whitley County Judge-Executive Pat White Jr. would likely visit in the near future.
“This is a great place that we are hoping the county governments will chip in to help support because it’s not just folks from the city of Corbin that use it. People from outside the city in the counties are using it as well,” Terrell said.