By Justin Strawser

SUNBURY - Northumberland County Commissioners voted Thursday afternoon to reopen the Elysburg Senior Action Center for three days a week, and they will research whether to do the same for Upper Northumberland Senior Action Center in Dewart and Riverside Senior Action Center.

The commissioners voted Nov. 20 to close these three senior action centers, which have a total of 148 members, on Jan. 31 due to financial constraints plaguing Northumberland County Area Agency on

Aging (AAA). The closures would have reduced the number of centers from 11 to 8.

Both Commissioners Vinny Clausi and Richard Shoch, who voted in favor of closing the centers last month, admitted they "made bad decisions." They said they received dozens of calls in support of the Elysburg location.

"I feel like trash, and I have to do what's best for the people of Northumberland County," Clausi said.

Lori Dobson, president of The Learning Center Educational Day Care, provided a petition of names to the commissioners in favor of keeping the senior action center open.

The Learning Center, which is located in St. Mark's Lutheran Church, shares the building with the senior action center. The learning center coordinates different events with the children and seniors.

Larry Wary, a member of the St. Mark's, said it was expensive to keep the senior action open. However, he thought the church members would prefer to keep it open at least once a week.

However, Clausi said the commissioners changed their mind about keeping it closed.

The Elysburg Senior Action will be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, unless a holiday falls on one of those days. Operation will not exceed three days a week.

A motion by Shoch to reopen the centers in Dewart and Riverside died for lack of a second.

The commissioners then voted to consider the possibility of opening the other two centers on a part-time schedule. They will revisit the issue at a future meeting.

Commissioner Stephen Bridy, who was the only commissioner to vote against closing the centers in the first place, said there are several points that should be considered in the research, including monitoring the times when people come to the centers, appointing members to be volunteer supervisors, hiring one director for all three centers, conducting a demographic study and changing the name to remove the stigma of the word "senior."

Shoch also suggested implementing a new model for the centers. He said a manager for all three centers would be more appropriate than having three individuals managers. He suggested volunteers from the community or center could also keep the centers open longer.

"If there are no volunteers, maybe that will tell us in the future which ones don't have the support from the community," he said.