By Vicki McCullough
On Saturday, August 11, the Blaine Senior Center will celebrate its 51st anniversary, so over the next four months, Young at Heart will share the story of how it began. This piece is part two of a five-part series written by the late Evelyn Yarbrough for the Blaine Senior Center:
Dreams to build a community center in Blaine merged and the dreamers got together to form a plan. At the forefront were several questions: How we can finance it? Where can we build it? How large a building do we need? How can it be designed for multiple uses without the uses overlapping and the users being unhappy? And the very big question – how much will it cost?
One prime location for the new community center was on the site of the old senior center, ideal for boys and girls coming from school, but it presented a handful of problems.
Size was a problem that had to be solved before we could ask for a bond issue because the cost would be based on the current estimated cost per square foot of commercial buildings at the time. We knew other issues would prevail, but we needed to acquire funding first.
We put together a statement that detailed the reasons for building the community center and a request for a bond to be issued in the amount of $850,000. I read the statement to Blaine City Council and they voted to place it on the ballot.
We made a flyer and distributed it throughout town. We also made phone calls and house calls to voters. Apparently, we selected the right mix of hope and reason because our bond issue passed. We knew that there were problems and hard work ahead, but we thought that the worst was over.
That didn’t prove to be the case.
It turned out that the city had incorrectly worded the ballot invalidating the results; as a result, the ballot needed to be rewritten and another election held. The results were even more in favor than the count at the first election but the delay was very costly.
Nevertheless, we had the ‘go ahead’ to build a community center. We had already decided on the location, but we needed parking space. The half block to the building belonged to the school district. An agreement was reached with the school board. They agreed to build a parking lot on their property and to have it available as soon as the center was built.
A committee for oversight had to be formed. Our steering committee consisted of Gordon Dolman, school district superintendent, Steve Basen, the county head of the Boys & Girls Club, Gary Chapman and a representative from the county parks department. I also served on the board and chaired our meetings; Laura Amundson acted as secretary.
Our first job was to choose an architect. After pouring over applications, we finally decided on the Zervas Architects from Bellingham.
What’s on the menu at the senior center?
Friday, May 11: Vegetarian chili, sour cream and cheese, honey glazed cornbread and fruit cocktail.
Monday, May 14: Ham with pineapple, potatoes au gratin, baby carrots, garden salad, coconut fruit medley.
Tuesday, May 15: Reuben-style chicken, roasted yam, Nantucket veggies, Caesar salad, fruit Jello.
Wednesday, May 16: Broccoli bacon quiche, baby red potatoes, fresh fruit and a cookie.
Thursday, May 17: Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, Caribbean veggies, garden salad and fruit.
Friday, May 18: Chef salad, with egg, ham and turkey, oatmeal bread and fresh oranges.
Monday, May 21: Beef burgundy, brown rice, peas and onions, garden salad and coconut fruit medley.
Tuesday, May 22: Meat lasagna, Italian veggies, Caesar salad and fruit.
Wednesday, May 23: Pork loin with apple chutney, mashed potatoes, green beans and sherbet.
Thursday, May 24: Chicken cordon bleu, sweet potato, Caribbean veggies, spinach salad and pudding.
Friday, May 25: Veggie and hummus, pita, vegetable soup, garden salad and fresh fruit.
Monday, May 28: Closed for Memorial Day.
Tuesday, May 29: Baked fish, roasted yam, green beans, garden salad and fruit.
Wednesday, May 30: Chicken a la king, brown rice, steamed veggies, garden salad and fruit.
Thursday, May 31 (Birthday lunch): Turkey pot roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, crinkle cut carrots, garden salad and fruit cocktail.
Lunch is served between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday at the Blaine Senior Center.