March 13, 2013

Riding the sequester in a rural area


---- — PLATTSBURGH — The federal sequester is on and a non-event, so far, for the Senior Citizens Council of Clinton County.

“We received quite a bit of funding from the Office for the Aging,” said Maria Alexander, the council’s executive director.

“I called Crystal (Carter, director of the Clinton County Office for the Aging) last week. We budgeted for it in the beginning of the year, and it will not have any impact this year on us. It’s a good thing. We’re not losing any funding.”

The sequester was passed as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, also known as the debt-ceiling compromise. Since congressional leaders failed to come up with a bipartisan plan to cut $1.5 trillion over a decade from the federal budget, automatic cuts went into effect March 1.

The Senior Citizens Council receives about $1.2 million from the Office for the Aging for the Clinton Country Nutrition Program for the Elderly.

In 2012, the Nutrition Program for the Elderly served 162,500 meals at its congregate-meal sites and to its home-delivered-meals clients. About 1,500 different people were served.

“That’s a lot of food, and that’s about average,” said Marcella White, director of the Clinton County Nutrition Program for the Elderly.

Those living in senior housing tend to use the congregate sites more frequently, averaging 850 a year.

“Some people only come once a year,” White said. “They come for a special event there and do not come on a regular basis. The home-delivered meals, it tends to be the same group over time.”

The trend is healthier eating, more exercise and services such as the Nutrition Program, which allows seniors to age in place at home.

“We get a lot of people who have had a hip replacement or knee replacement who would be on for a little while,” White said. “We are getting new clients.”

The rural nature of Clinton County does not replenish the senior population as quickly as in more populated areas.

“We’re finding people move into assistance living or pass away or something,” White said.

The Senior Citizens Council received $160,000 for programming at the Senior Center, the Senior Sentinel and Aging Matters, a radio program aired by Hall Communications.

“We’re on every other Sunday for 15 minutes on five radio stations,” Alexander said.

This funding also supports the Senior Community Services Employment Program.

“It’s a job-training program for low-income people ages 55-plus,” Alexander said. “They have to be income eligible to be in the program. We send them to host agencies, so they get job skills in the hopes of getting unsubsidized employment.”

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