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Commentary - Senior Center needs change in management

By Paul C. Anderson, Senior Center Board member, Alexandria, MN

I had decided to let the Senior Center issue rest, but after reading the last issue of the Alexandria Senior Center newsletter, I was convinced that I had to defend myself.

These three pages in the newsletter are full of lies and innuendoes prepared by Ann Westerberg and Joyce Martinson, president of the board. I will try to explain to the readers of this uninformative piece of literature what some of these lies are.

There is not now nor has there ever been any affiliation between Nutrition Services Inc. (NSI) and myself. For 14 years I was on the board of directors, one year as chairman, of West Central Area Agency on Aging. We were the people that were responsible to get federal funding for the congregate dining and Meals on Wheels. I do feel that NSI is doing a good job at preparing and serving these Meals on Wheels. That is my opinion and of course, Ann has hers.

My only concern is that the seniors are well taken care of in this center. At the present time, more and more are leaving this center.

I was never invited to talk to her behind closed doors as she has spelled out in her document. The only time Glenwood or Knute Nelson was mentioned was at one time I mentioned that these were a possible solution in the event NSI's contract was ever denied.

Here are a few other items that I have brought before the board. This senior center is receiving funding from the city of Alexandria and the townships of Alexandria and LaGrand. This is public funding (your tax dollars). My problem is where tax dollars are used the taxing authority should be receiving an annual audit statement. I have asked for this and found there have been no official audits. I have asked for annual financial statements but have not been able to get them.

There, in some cases, have been no notices of meetings. Case in point: The regular meeting to be held on July 8, 2013 was cancelled for some unknown reason. A special meeting was then held three days later and two of us board members did not receive notice. At this meeting there was a motion to remove me from the board. This motion was defeated. A motion was made to retain an attorney and was passed. Why, I have no idea. Who will pay for this attorney?

There was also, as I understand it, a motion to cancel the contract of NSI, which passed. What now will happen to those seniors who depend on their noon meal being delivered?

I did not invite the newspaper to the regular meeting of June 10, which is supposed to be an open meeting for the public just as the City Council or Douglas County Board meetings are public.

There are so many unanswered questions regarding the management of the Senior Center. I have asked many questions and have received no answers to: Why no audit, why no annual financial statement, why are members leaving, why are organizations taking their meetings elsewhere, why are special meetings not posted as required by law, why are regular meetings not advertised, and why are members not attending board meetings?

It is about time the seniors who own this building and are offended by the attitude and action taken by the management stand up and attend their meetings, which are unadvertised and held the second Monday of each month. My only hope is that we can hold this thing together with a change in management and build it back to where it was and could be again.

In closing, I must state that I am innocent of all charges leveled at me by Ann Westerberg and Joyce Martinson. Let's get rid of the secrecy of activities and get a positive attitude back into the organization by creating more activities and membership.