Commission on Aging funding approved

By Mike Taylor • Last Updated 10:24 am on Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Voters throughout Montcalm County took to the polls, such as the one at Montcalm Township Hall, to cast their votes on several ballot proposals during a special election Tuesday. — Daily News/Cory Smith

STANTON — Voters across the county came out more than two to one in favor of continued funding for the Montcalm County Commission on Aging in Tuesday’s election.

The commission’s request for a continuation of the previously-approved .45 millage was overwhelmingly approved, with 3,659 “yes” votes to 1,636 “no” votes, or 69 percent to 30 percent.

According to Commission on Aging Director Bob Clingenpeel, the commission has spent the last four years trying to prove to county residents just how valuable the organization is to local senior citizens.

Throughout the year, the commission provides a variety of services to seniors, including the Senior Meals Program and other programs geared toward area seniors, particularly those experiencing financial hardship.

Clingenpeel expressed satisfaction with Tuesday’s results, noting the work the commission has done in recent years has obviously resonated with voters.

“Compared to last election, it looks pretty good,” Clingenpeel said. “I’m really happy to see that support. We’re now funded through 2020.”

Clingenpeel said the commission’s mission during the next five years will be to continue the Meals on Wheels and other programs, and also reach out to younger seniors to determine which services they would like to see implemented in the future.

Some of those programs, he said, will likely look a lot like the commission’s current day trip offering, in which the commission organizes trips to places like Whitecaps baseball games for seniors accompanied by their children or grandchildren.

“We’re wanting more of our younger seniors to decide what our organization looks like in the future,” Clingenpeel said.

The commission will also move ahead with its day services program, which provides care for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s. As it stands now, just a few staff members can offer care to 10 or 15 seniors each day at a single facility.

“If we were to try to do that in private homes, we’d need at least that many staff members,” Clingenpeel noted. “We’d like to expand that service with sites in Greenville and Howard City.”

Clingenpeel also stressed that the commission would continue to focus its services where they are most needed, on the area’s neediest seniors.

Tammy McCracken, who serves as the program’s nutritional program coordinator, also expressed gratitude to the voters of Montcalm County who came out in support of the program.

“I’m beyond happy, really,” McCracken said. “I can’t begin to thank the voters enough. I think the important thing is to reach as many needy seniors as possible. The county has been hard hit and focusing on those neediest seniors is our primary goal.”

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