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Commentary - Response about senior center is primarily fiction and innuendo

By Roger and Suzanne "Corki" Hegland, Alexandria, MN

To ensure there is no misunderstanding here, we are the parents of Devon, the NSI food service manager, and have visited the Senior Center many times. Here is our point by point response to the June 26 Joyce Martinson letter:

The information given in her response is primarily fiction and innuendo. It appears to us to be a smokescreen to divert attention from the real issues.

We do not see how Paul Anderson could have an "agenda" to close the Senior Center. There is no proof to substantiate the claim. To attribute that to him is patently absurd. How would he have the power/authority to do that? Mr. Anderson is a volunteer with NSI and a board member who happened to disagree with the director. We are sure Ms. Martinson did contact both Knute Nelson and Glenwood to get her information on NSI's moving there, right? I think not, since there never has been a plan! Then where did she hear this or get that idea? Who is responsible for the solvency of our Senior Center?

NSI does pay the Senior Center a monthly utility reimbursement and we have heard it is substantially higher than what is paid to corresponding centers. Get the facts. The misleading statement she made has it appear like it is NSI's fault the Senior Center is in dire financial straits. We are also aware that NSI has paid for repairs to items that are the legal responsibility of the Senior Center, but because it has been so difficult to get it done, NSI has paid.

If you want to get a better picture of the financials for the Senior Center, their tax form 990s are public knowledge and available online at

If in fact, as Ms. Martinson stated, that the top priorities are the seniors, where is the evidence or proof? Where is the creativity and has the board or director visited any businesses or spoke at any of the charitable organizations to make a pitch for help? Where are the denials for grant requests? Where is the woodworking shop? What happened to Weight Watchers? Lack of parking, you say? Or was there another reason? Where is the Quilting club? Etc., etc., etc. How many fundraisers were held in the last six months? We just heard on the radio that Bremer has substantial grant money available for non-profits. Is there anything in the works to apply?

It is so unbelievably preposterous that Mr. Anderson wants to close down the Senior Center or even has the authority to do it that it belies all logic. In our opinion, these statements are completely without foundation and someone should really make an effort to get the facts. Trying to deflect the blame for the possible closure is totally irresponsible. It is passing the buck in its purest form!

Why is all this tension allowed to continue? How can the president of the board not know how seniors think? How can the board president not foresee the financial problems and not take action? We are seniors; quite possibly wanting to live in this facility at some point in time.

We have had occasions to stop in at the Senior Center and must say it is beautiful and clean, but nobody is home. It is cold, not welcoming at all. There is nothing to do there, no activity. It is the Senior Center for crying out loud, why is there nothing to do there? Please don't tell us it is because of the economy. Other Senior Centers (for instance in Hoffman) in the surrounding area have many things for seniors to do and they don't blame everyone else for their woes.

We hear on the radio that St. Mary's has all kinds of educational information (such as, estate planning, Medicare information, grandchildren, hearing aids, etc.) meetings, for all seniors, free, by the way. Some of the other senior housing places in Alexandria offer activities for seniors, but nothing much seems to be going on at the Alexandria Senior Center. One has to ask, "Why?"