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Issue of August 20, 2014
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Euchre is popular among those who meet weekdays at the Frenchtown Community Center. Come Oct. 1, the seniors don't know where they will meet for meals and fellowship. Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor (click for larger version)

Senior meals to halt at Frenchtown


September 25, 2013 | 08:35 AM

August Smith has seen the senior meals provided by LifeSpan Resources from both sides. He used to deliver the meals to shut-ins; now, the 90-year-old is on the receiving end, partaking of the weekday lunches at the Frenchtown Community Center.

Come October, Smith and dozens like him don't know where they will gather to share a noon meal and socialize. That's because Spencer Township Trustee Donald Satterfield notified LifeSpan that he is terminating a rental contract agreement he has had with the agency.

The contract was signed Dec. 29, 2009, and states that the agreement will "remain in effect on a continuous basis" until either party desires to terminate it and gives written notice 30 days in advance.

The letter from Satterfield is dated Aug. 28; however, it is postmarked Sept. 14. LifeSpan officials received it Sept. 16.

Satterfield said in the letter that "Spencer Township can no longer continue to provide utilities, including gas, electricity, water and telephone at no cost to LifeSpan as these expenses far exceed the donation of $100 per month paid by LifeSpan." It further states that the contract agreement will terminate effective Oct. 1.

Sandy Dubois, who is the LifeSpan coordinator for the Frenchtown site, said this is the only site that LifeSpan pays to use. The number of users varies from 20 to 30 a day but increases to 60 diners on bingo days.

The approximate 6,120-square-foot building, located across S.R. 337 from St. Bernard Catholic Church, also serves as station No. 3 for the Ramsey Volunteer Fire Dept., which houses five vehicles in about half of the building. There also is a maintenance area, with a refrigerator, ice maker and washer and dryer for the fire department, a small dispatch center and rest room, in addition to the multi-purpose room, complete with a small kitchen, available for rent to the community. The community center also is used a polling place.

The $515,000 community center/firehouse was built in 2005 with a Indiana Dept. of Commerce Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $256,000. Because township trustees can't submit applications for block grants, the Harrison County Board of Commissioners made the request. The balance of the needed funds came from riverboat money.

Dubois was told the electric bill for the community center is $600 a month. Some, like Murl Simon, questions that since Harrison REMC only has one meter for the building. Simon said the five Ramsey fire vehicles are constantly being charged when not in use, with one also charging an air compressor. Dubois said there has been considerable maintenance work done recently that included the air conditioner, stove and ice maker.

"We realize expenses have gone up," said Jerry Babcock, adding that the seniors who use the Frenchtown site were willing to increase what they pay for meals from $2 to $3 a day, with the additional money going to help with the building's expenses, at least until some other arrangement could be worked out.

Barbara Kepley of Depauw, along with her husband, John, have been using LifeSpan's services in Frenchtown for about three or four years.

"We fell in love with Sandy," Barbara said. "She makes it so fun."

About losing the site, she said, "It's not right. It's a community center. Some (seniors) are not going to get a square meal" if the site is closed.

Dubois said meals aren't all the participants get Monday through Friday. She schedules programs about disabilities and identity theft and services such as blood-pressure checks. Those who gather there also enjoy one another's company and can play cards, bingo or other games.

Leota Rennirt said she and her husband, Fred, attend church, go to doctor appointments and meet friends at the community center. "We don't go anywhere else," she said.

Satterfield is the one who told the Rennirts and others about the senior meals when the site first opened.

"Donnie fought tooth and nail to get this (building)," Larry Colin said. "I just don't understand" his decision.

LifeSpan has been providing hot, nutritious meals to Harrison County residents since the organization's inception. The first meal site was at the Corydon United Methodist Church before it was relocated to the Joe Rhoads Senior Citizen Center. The second site, added in the early 1980s, was in the Frenchtown area but was moved to the New Salisbury area in 1992.

"I'm just hoping something can be done," Barbara said.

  1. print email
    September 26, 2013 | 08:26 AM

    Let me see if I understand this correctly...the bill for the firehouse is $600 a month because they are keeping the trucks and compressor on charge. How is that the fault of the people who are benefitting from the services that Lifespan is offering? ...

  2. print email
    Shameful
    September 26, 2013 | 09:40 AM

    Shame on you Donnie Satterfield! My grandmother enjoyed the fellowship of those lunches and when she wasn't able to attend Mr. Auggy Smith as she called him would deliver the meals to her. Our seniors need fellowship and deserve to be taken care of! Double shame on you! Treat others as you would like to be treated. When you are too old to get out and there isnt anyone to deliver you lunch one would hope you will remember this desicion. Just shameful....

    Marly Thevenot Howard
  3. print email
    Let me get this straight...
    September 26, 2013 | 02:47 PM

    ...so we can go to the County Council to fund programs at the YMCA, but when it comes to senoir citizens, we kick them out. Is that about what this boils down to? OH...WAIT. I GET IT. This has to do with "freeloaders," like the folks on food stamps and such. NOW it makes PERFECT sense. Either that, or "somebody" expected the senior CITIZEN lunch site to fund the entire cost of operating the building, fire station and all...and when that didn't happen, they got upset with these older CITIZENS and gave them the boot. Funny, but I thought this was called the Frenchtown COMMUNITY Center...not the Ramsey Volunteer Fire Department building ONLY.

    A. Concerned Citizen
  4. print email
    September 26, 2013 | 03:31 PM

    The community center is controlled by the township trustee, not the county council. The council has no authority or ability to impact what is going on in Spencer Township.

  5. print email
    September 27, 2013 | 04:41 PM

    This building was built for fire protection of Spencer Township residents & also as a voting place for them. They were having to vote at Unity Chapel which was located in Jackson Township. I have talked with members of the fire dept. those trucks are plugged in but only use electric when the batteries are running low. Now wouldn't you want those vehicles up & running when you need to call 911?
    Mrs. DuBois has stated that they have people coming from all over Harrison & Crawford county. So I ask why should my tax paying dollars of Spencer Township pay for people in not only surrounding counties, but also other townships? Why are you the people asking your township trustees from, Jackson, Blue River, Harrison, Morgan, etc., to pitch in & pay?
    You also ask for money to be appropriated to the senior meals. Well townships don't do that. If they did then they would have to do that for all age groups!
    Why has no one questioned LifeSpan? What are they doing with all the money they collect from these meals if they don't pay rent anywhere else?
    Let's face it they elderly will still get their meals delivered to their homes & if you want to socialize invite people over. If you want free health classes the hospital offers them all the time. It is just a simple case of you feeling entitled!
    Shame on you for spreading untruths about Mr. Satterfield! For telling people not to do business there! It's every American citizens right to voice their opinion, but don't threaten or slander them on a personal level!
    ...

  6. print email
    This is absurd
    September 27, 2013 | 07:54 PM

    Surely, even apologists such as Susie Weigle can understand its a really bad idea to take away services for the most disadvantaged and even homebound, in the community. In fact, if the center closes, those, like my grandfather, will be completely socially isolated, excepting family. If I were a trustee, I'd pay the extra rent myself, or find a way to generate money over the absurdity of the current plan. So, Donnie and the Board need to fix it, in favor of not closing, or an impact on rent. Just do your jobs.

    Jaime Patterson, August Smith's Granddaughter
  7. print email
    September 27, 2013 | 09:41 PM

    Some things to consider when reading this article:
    According to Ms. Dubois this is the only facility LifeSpan pays to use.
    o Do they get other facilities for free?
    o Why can't the people using the Frenchtown facility shift to LifeSpan's facilities in Corydon and New Salisbury?
    Ms. Dubois is quoted as saying the number of diners increases to 60 on bingo days.
    o Wouldn't this generate income to offset expenses and create a solution to this financial problem?
    o Doesn't this increase in the number of people on bingo days create more expense for Spencer Township's budget?
    Ms. Dubois is quoted in the article saying ". . . considerable maintenance work has been done recently that included air conditioning, stove and ice maker."
    o Aren't these items being used daily by LifeSpan at this facility?
    LifeSpan and Spencer Township has had a contract since December 29, 2009. This is approximately 3 years of continuous use of these appliances for anywhere from 20-60 people by Ms. Dubois' estimates.
    o Wouldn't reasonable people expect maintenance costs for this kind of use?
    Ms. Keply is quoted as saying "Some (seniors) are not going to get a square meal."
    o Doesn't LifeSpan deliver? According to the first paragraph in the article Mr. August Smith used to deliver meals to shut ins for LifeSpan.


  8. print email
    Playground Tatics
    September 28, 2013 | 08:19 AM

    This is simply playground Tatics! Bullying!!! Telling people to boycott Satterfield's because it's possible their playground might be taken away. Sounds like they need a time out ... Satterfield's have my business!

  9. print email
    My grandfather is now practically blind...
    September 28, 2013 | 09:10 AM

    He wont be delivering meals anymore. He did it to be kind, and was not paid for it. In fact, I'm pretty sure he used Donnie's gas station to go around delivering meals to his friends. That is why he cannot go to Corydon, his children go with him to Spencer. Also the bingo is for de minimis prizes, they do not have a charitable gaming license. The thing I want you to consider is this: obviously there are costs. But how this is being handled is poor public administration. First, you identify an issue. Then, you consider alternatives, and alert the public for their input. Then, after hearing and notice, you make changes, especially if you are changing what is in many cases, your constituents' sole social activity and community building. Elected officials are rarely this inept ... Really absurd.

    Jaime Patterson, August Smith's Granddaughter
  10. print email
    September 28, 2013 | 01:24 PM

    Some people need to read what they said on here,ridiculous.

  11. print email
    Frenchtown comm. center
    September 28, 2013 | 04:06 PM

    THIS IS CONCERNING ABOUT ALL OF THE BAD STUFF PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT THE CENTER. THE SENIORS ARE NOT ABUSING THE BOARDS HOSPITALITY, WE JUST WANT TO KEEP THE CENTER OPEN FOR EVERY SENIOR THAT GOES TO ENJOY THE FELLOWSHIP AND GAMES THEY OFFER...MY PARENTS AND UNCLE GO TO THAT CENTER ANT THEY ENJOY GOING...

  12. print email
    September 29, 2013 | 03:59 PM

    Shame on you. Mr. Satterfield has done a lot for the community and the folks. He lowered my insurance rates by getting that fire department in my township. If it wasn't for him there would be no Community Center (it's not a senior citizen center)! This building is for many people not just a few.
    He has let people have credit at his place of business ...
    The things you have said on Facebook are terrible. Not just about him, but you have named members of his family. Insinuating they are doing something illegal. Take your stand with facts, but don't try to use personal slander. You are trying to crucify him and the advisory boards standing in the community.

  13. print email
    September 30, 2013 | 10:06 AM

    From one of the other articles in the paper:

    "The proposed trustee salary for Spencer Township is $18,440. The average of the other 11 trustees is $8,765. The proposed clerk salary for Spencer Township is $8,550. The average of the other 11 is $2,011. Spencer Township also has the highest proposed employee benefits at $6,500 and supplies at $5,000."

    I suppose the question folks in Spencer Township need to be asking themselves is this: Are our tax dollars being spent wisely?

  14. print email
    September 30, 2013 | 10:30 AM

    Agreed you should be aware of what your tax dollars are being spent on. Those dollars could or might be better used in other ways.
    Here is my question I propose; is it fair to ask someone to take their income to support a group of people? If so, then why isn't everyone who is benefiting from this meal service using part of their income to help offset the cost?
    Also it's been my experience that the longer your on the job or the way you perform your job determines your pay scale.
    Has anyone looked at the other townships expenses, balances, or their budgets. Maybe, just maybe, they don't have the money in their budgets to have a pay scale like this. Maybe they are not spending their money as wisely as Spencer Township.
    There are always two sides to every story and somewhere in the middle lies the truth. ...
    Not for one side or the other, but just something everyone should be questioning.

  15. print email
    October 01, 2013 | 09:09 AM

    Do you seriously think that the township trustee for one of the smallest townships in the county should make two times the average salary of any other township trustee?

    Do you seriously contend that such high pay means that Spencer Township is spending its money wisely?

  16. print email
    October 01, 2013 | 10:23 AM

    What I think is I'm not getting all the facts! As I said I'm not for one side or the other. All I was saying is that there is more to the story than is what is being told. Do you think no one else should have an opinion?

  17. print email
    Chew on this all of you.
    October 01, 2013 | 11:43 PM

    Most people on each side of this issue needs to hold up. We all call ourselves Christians. Let me put this to all of you. Your standing in front of God and he asks you this. "What Did you do, when I was hungry. And when I was thirsty or when I was alone? What did you do I was naked or when I was sick, and was in prison?" What will be your question? I know what Jesus would tell you "I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother or sister hungry or cold, whatever you did to the least of these, so you did to Me.I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother hungry or cold, when you saw a sister weak and without friends, when you saw the least of these and ignored their suffering, so you ignored Me." Matthew 25:35-45 Instead of pointing finders let work together and lets find away that the 600 is paid so that these programs can continue. There are some on this feedback that needs to find a heart. You have to answer this, not to me. You will have to answer to God. Let that be your guide.

    Jesse Hall
  18. print email
    October 02, 2013 | 03:20 PM

    The increase costs from the seniors being at the community center exceeds the $100 a month Lifespan is paying to serve Meals on Wheels there. Possibly this wouldn't have happened had they only served the meals. Bingo and other activities have resulted in increased costs at the Community Center. The director for Lifespan at the Community Center should have known this and stayed within the agreement signed with Spencer Township. I am curious as to why the meals were stopped being served at the previous locations?

    Regardless the reason, the Meals on Wheels will still be served to seniors at their homes. No one is being denied food or going hungery. Bible verses, suggesting boycotts and all the other comments have nothing to do with facts ...

  19. print email
    October 02, 2013 | 10:08 PM

    Last night I attended the budget adoption meeting to see for myself what was going on. Emotions were running high to say the least. I've never seen anything like it. The were what seemed to be 2 ladies that were looking to pick a fight. One lady was asked to leave 3 times because of the interruptions. I notice & observed they would not let the board address one question before they were throwing out another.
    I've been following this on here & listening to people talk so I wanted to go & see for myself. It seems to me you need to take the emotion out of it & deal with the facts. I sympathize with the situation. However, with that being said, I was rooting for the seniors until one of the citizens stated to take money out of the poor relief & allocate to the seniors. That there were no poor people in Spencer Township. I thought to myself, "they really did not say that!"
    Poor relief is a neccesty. These people have had to humble themselves to ask for help for their families. This money, to my understanding, helps to pay their rent (to keep shelter for their children), helps to pay their electric or gas (to keep their children warm on cold nights), help pay the water (so that they may be able to cook, bath, drink, etc). Now I ask which should come 1st? The citizens & this article state they will still get a meal. The citizens & this article state that its about the interaction & social action. It my opinion needs come before wants. I was rooting for the seniors until I heard this. I must say that that 1statment did show a side of entitlement. You had me up until that point.

  20. print email
    in response to the statement about entitlement
    October 05, 2013 | 12:38 PM

    the statement about there being no poor people in the township was taken from a statement from the trustee when asked why there were no more people than there was needing assistance in the township. That was his response not the seniors. And as far as how much Donnie has done for this community, well what about what this community has done for him. He runs his business in a smalltown. Do you really think he could have made a living if the local community had not been loyal to him even after other stations and businesses came in. And most of them were the people he has turned his back on now.

    a concerned citizen
  21. print email
    October 07, 2013 | 06:42 PM

    He did it to be kind, and was not paid for it. In fact, I'm pretty sure he used Donnie's gas station to go around delivering meals to his friends.
    As Spencer Township Trustee, Mr. Satterfield has a fiduciary responsibility to the 1800 residents of Spencer Township. Not just the senior citizens. The Frenchtown Community Center and Fire Station #3 increased expenses in utility bills ... It's unfortunate the seniors will not have a place to socialize. But the taxpayers of Spencer Township apparently have trusted Mr. Satterfield for 39 years to do the job. That job sometimes comes with unpopular decisions. I hardly think that entitles you to call Mr. Satterfield inept ...

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