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Senior center receives funding for renovation

This past winter, it was downright cold inside the Sunset Senior Center. "People sit playing cards with their jackets on," Mary Ann Malarchick said. "People play bingo with their gloves on," Mary S. Miller chimed in. But if all goes as planned, t...

This past winter, it was downright cold inside the Sunset Senior Center.

"People sit playing cards with their jackets on," Mary Ann Malarchick said.

"People play bingo with their gloves on," Mary S. Miller chimed in.

But if all goes as planned, the center's members shouldn't have to withstand the chill next winter.

The Dickinson City Commission on Monday voted to use $71,000 from the one-cent sales tax to replace drafty windows, a leaky roof and a furnace that could be as old as the building itself.

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Miller, the center's president, and Malarchick, the treasurer, along with more than a dozen center members, attended the commission's meeting in a show of support.

"As you can see by the volume that you have in the audience...they are very much hoping we can meet their request for funding," said Commissioner Rhonda Dukart who sponsored the center's request.

George Kuchynski, 76, spoke on the group's behalf at the meeting. He said the center, with its permeable roof, has been blessed by the recent lack of rain.

"We had to set out buckets in the building to catch the rain," Kuchynski said of wetter spells.

The idea to use sales tax money for the renovation came about when Dukart met with the local AARP to discuss the proposed sales tax amendment. Kuchynski was there and piped up.

"You're spending all this money around Dickinson, and I think the seniors deserve some of it," he recalled saying.

The renovation should lower heating and cooling costs, Malarchick said. The monthly heating bills last winter ranged up to $500, and with the air conditioning running in the summer, the monthly bill is about $400, she said.

The center, located at 46 First Ave. E., raises funds by hosting events, renting out space and collecting membership dues. But the center didn't have the money to pay for the renovation, Malarchick said.

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"We have to work to have ends meet, I'll tell you that," she said.

The four commissioners in attendance voted unanimously to OK the request. Commissioner Carson Steiner was absent.

The senior center was built in the mid-60s with the help of a private donation. Groups that use the center include the Veterans of Foreign Wars, AARP, American Legion, Germans from Russia, Wood Carvers Club and TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly). Seniors gather there for card games, bingo, potlucks and pie socials, like the one held Monday afternoon.

The sales tax money is also to go toward making the center's front door more accessible for people using canes, walkers and wheelchairs.

Twenty percent of the one-cent sales tax is partially allocated for seniors. Since the project's price tag exceeded that funding pot, the rest of the cost is to be covered by the 30 percent set aside for community development projects.

The other 50 percent of the one-cent sales tax goes toward paying off city debt, reducing property taxes and covering infrastructure expenses.

In other matters:

E The commission OK'd a program for designating local landmarks. The program, proposed by the city's historic preservationist Danielle Stuckle, will recognize properties without requiring the steps necessary to gain a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

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E Commissioners approved a preliminary agreement with the North Dakota Department of Transportation for the possible resurfacing of state Highway 22 from Interstate 94 to the Heart River. City Administrator Greg Sund said it is likely the city will suggest converting that stretch to four lanes and repaving the intersection at 12th Street (Museum Drive) with concrete for the sake of durability. The project would probably not begin until 2010 or 2011, Sund said.

E The city was granted more than $17,000 from Safe Routes to School, a federal program that funds projects that encourage kids to walk and bike to school. The money is to be spent on crosswalks, school signs, safety vests and bike helmets, said City Engineer Shawn Soehren.

E The commission expects to resume discussion of the area's storm warning plan on May 19 at its next regular meeting.

E Commissioners approved a bid to replace the city landfill's front-end loader.

E The commission accepted an offer on city property west of Washington Fourth Addition. Grant Kolnes, the buyer, requested verification from the city that he could build housing on the 35½-acre property. He should be able to since the area has a residential zoning, Sund said.

E Commissioners OK'd the platting of a 10-acre, single-lot subdivision east of the city on Highway 10.

E Mayor Dennis Johnson proclaimed May as Click It or Ticket/Stay Inside to Survive Month. He also recognized May 17, 2008, as Arbor Day and May 12 to 18 as Arbor Week.

E Monday's meeting was Rhonda Dukart's last as a city commissioner.

Dukart has two meetings left in her term, but scheduling conflicts will prevent her from attending them.

She has served eight years on the commission. "I'm glad I can go out helping some folks who certainly deserve it," Dukart said of the senior center's members.

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