Senior Center dedicated as Railroad Days gets rolling

Senior Center dedicated as Railroad Days gets rolling

The old hardware store on the corner found new life Friday morning in downtown Russell as local residents and elected officials opened the city’s new senior center during the official kickoff of the annual Railroad Days celebration.

“I’m thrilled to be a resident of Russell and that I will be able to use this center when I become a senior citizen myself,” said Debbie Gaines of TSHD Architects, the company responsible for the renovation to transform the old Rail City Hardware building into a place where seniors will be able to meet and eat, as well as dance or exercise. Gaines said the architects incorporated several features in the floorplan to accommodate the building’s use by older people, including their desire for lots of open space that can easily be adapted for different functions.

The space also features a coffee/lounge area near the front doors, she said, adding lots of thought also went into the front porch. “The benches are used daily by the community members,” Gaines noted.

Ruth Hopkins, the center’s co-director along with Carolyn Buckholz, said she anticipates the facility will be used for many different purposes and hopes to see the center’s library fully developed as they work to meet the needs of the community.

“We’ve got a lot of readers,” Hopkins said with certainty, adding everyone involved is simply thankful to have such a fine space.

“We just want to get in, get used to it and get settled … then we’ll think ahead,” she said, predicting the center will also be rented out for community functions.

The center will serve as a place for seniors from a broad area, Hopkins said, with participants coming from within the city as well as Raceland, Flatwoods, Ashland, Wheelersburg, Ohio “and just all over.” Noting the presence of Russell resident Naomi Hillman, Hopkins said her rewards as one of the directors most often come from the blessings they receive while working with a genuinely great group of people.

“She made a lot of this food,” Hopkins said of Hillman, noting the 90-year-old woman lives at Morning Pointe and used her microwave oven to create treats including bon-bons, turtles and chocolate-covered crackers included in the refreshments on the counter. “She’s wonderful. That’s the pay we get … the satisfaction of working with these ladies.”

State Rep. Tanya Pullin, D-South Shore, spoke inside the senior center after the ribbon-cutting ceremony, and presented a special book for the library’s collection. The bound, hardback volume was the state’s official record of transactions within the general assembly, she explained, and includes an account of Russell Mayor Bill Hopkins’ visit to Frankfort on the day legislators approved a citation recognizing efforts to create the new senior center.

Outside the center, rock music pumped down the streets and echoed along nearby alleys as Railroad Days 2013 began with a number of people strolling the streets for a first glance at the goodies offered by vendors, despite the threat of rain from cloudy skies above. The festival action was expected to get into swing Friday afternoon, with activities including the first round of a highly competitive spike-driving contest, as well as main stage entertainment by L.T. Fugeman, Bobby Blanton, the Rail City Dulcimer Society, Katie Owens, Jeremy Adkins, Outrider and The Fugitives.

Railroad Days continues today with a second heat as well as the finals of the spike-driving contest along with a bean bag toss and a tug-of-war contest. The main stage again comes to life at noon with a performance by Cat Cirner, followed by Midnight Ride at 1 p.m., Emmanuel’s Voice at 2 p.m. and Soul Cafe at 3 p.m. After a break to allow the finals of the spike-driving contest and other events, including a balloon toss, Jessica Baldridge will take the stage with Phil Osborne at 6 p.m., followed by Carrier at 7 p.m., City Heat at 8 p.m. and The Reaganomics bringing the festivities to a close with a performance at 9 p.m.

An elaborate model railroad layout is also on exhibit in the old Russell gym, and the HealthNet helicopter will land at the old depot at 3 p.m., allowing visitors an up-close view of the medical chopper.

For more information about Railroad Days, call (606) 834-0007 or 836-9666. For more information about the new Russell Senior Center, call (606) 831-1759 or 922-8989.