"I heard how their budget for next year has been cut, and I'm concerned how the county's senior centers will avoid cuts in service next year," Benedict said.
Fulton County's state representative received $30,500 in state General Improvement Funds (GIF) to use for community improvement projects.
Benedict decided to give $5,000 to the Fulton County Aging Program, which operates senior centers in Salem, Viola and Mammoth Spring.
"We are really appreciative," said Aging Program Coordinator Connie Godwin. "The donation is coming at a very good time."
Godwin is worried about having to shut down one of the centers and reduce days of operation at the others, because Fulton County has cut its contribution to the senior centers by half, as it works to reduce next year's county spending by $100,000.
Godwin had asked for $30,000 from the county but, unless the county's financial picture improves, the centers will receive only $15,000.
|"The county cut us by $5,000 last year and state funding has not increased in years, so we have just barely been getting by," said Godwin.|
On the positive side, word of the budget cut has resulted in some increased public support.
"We raised $980 on our recent cinnamon roll sale," said Godwin. "Some people bought extra, and some gave us more than the cost of the rolls to help us out. Others have said they will try to make some contributions later."
On Saturday, Dec. 3, the Mammoth Spring Chapter of Modern Woodmen of America will sponsor a Breakfast with Santa at the Mammoth Spring Senior Citizen Center. The breakfast will cost $5 for adults and $3.50 for children under 12. Modern Woodmen will match the proceeds, up to $1,250.
"We know the senior centers are struggling and I asked a few months ago about helping with a fundraiser," said Trena Spears who runs the Modern Woodmen office in Mammoth Spring.
"With our matching funds, the center plans to buy a new fire extinguisher, a food chopper and home delivery trays," said Spears. "We hope everyone will come out and help support the center."
Rep. Benedict said she is concerned about how little the state currently spends to help senior centers. "We spend four times more on psychiatric care for teenagers than we do for all senior citizen programs," said Benedict.
She hopes to work for an increase in funding for senior programs in the 2012 legislative session, which will be devoted to fiscal issues.
Benedict used more of her GIF allocation on Monday, Nov. 21, when she made a large contribution to the Fulton County Fair Association.
At the association's annual dinner to honor fair volunteers, Benedict presented a $10,000 check to help fund a planned expansion of the Miller-Hickenbottham Exhibit Building at the fairgrounds.
The association wants to add a 50-foot by 50-foot addition to the east end of the building, to display food, horticulture and, perhaps, art exhibits during the county fair.
The project will free up room in the main building for more commercial exhibit space.
"We're very pleased with Lori's contribution," said Fair Manager Carolyn Lewis. "I have applied for a $15,000 grant from the Department of Rural Services and, if it is approved, we would have $25,000 to get started on the expansion, with hopes of having it finished by next year's fair."
The fair association would finance the remaining cost of the $45,000 project.
Rep. Benedict said she will announce soon what other community projects she will assist with the remainer of her GIF money.