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Conclusion of construction likely to trigger reopening of Neat Repeat, but senior center to remain closed until state enters Phase 3

JASON CHANEY - A peek through the fence surrounding the construction site reveals that the entrances to the senior center are now covered and feature ADA-compliant ramps.

Remodel work on the Prineville Senior Center is progressing and should conclude before the summer ends.

But because of pandemic-related rules, regular visitors and members of the public might have to wait longer to see the finished product.

Work began in late February on the project, which includes replacement of the floors and repair or replacement of the roof, parking lot, HVAC system, kitchen appliances and access ramps. The facility is also receiving new lighting and paint.

Less than four months later, much of the work is complete and some of it is visible from the outside. The facility has a new parking lot, new sidewalks around the building and new covered ramps at all three entrances.

"The front entrance has completely changed so that there will be handicapped parking on the west side, right at the front entrance," said Senior Center Director Melody Kendall.

In addition, the second entrance door, which is just past the first set of automated doors, has been changed from a manual door to push-button entrance.

"It will make it much more accessible," Kendall said.

The roofing has been replaced as well, eliminating leaking issues throughout the building.

Obscured from public view, many of the interior repairs are complete. Renovation of the kitchen is finished, and a new oven, freezer and cooler have been installed. The building has new interior paint and lighting and the ceiling tiles have been replaced.

"The flooring is almost done," Kendall added. "It is just going to be beautiful."

The remodel project is four years in the making. After discovering flooring issues in 2016 and other structural problems afterward, Kendall began pursuing funding to fix the multitude of issues.

She turned to a Community Development Block Grant, which provides federal funds to local projects. The money is administered through Business Oregon. Because city and county governments are the only entities that can apply for the grants, the city of Prineville applied for it and Andrew Spreadborough, deputy executive director for NeighborImpact, wrote the grant.

A first attempt at the grant in 2016 failed, but the following year the city and Spreadborough made a second successful attempt, securing $972,003 to complete the extensive list of repairs.

The second attempt then hit a snag when the lone bid for the job came in well beyond the grant amount.

"So, we went back to the state and asked for the maximum amount that is in the category we applied for," Kendall said.

She learned in early January that the request, which was for $1.5 million, was approved. Griffin Construction won the bid to complete the work.

Most of the work on the senior center is expected to conclude this month, with the exception of some clean-up and last-minute details that will likely stretch into August. Once the project is complete, the Neat Repeat thrift store, which was closed because of the construction work, is expected to reopen, although the manner in which it opens is yet to be determined.

Meanwhile, the senior center reopening is subject to Oregon entering Phase 3 of its reopening process, which Gov. Kate Brown has said would require the availability of a vaccine or some other viable treatment for COVID-19.

"The only thing that we will probably be able to do is move our kitchen crew back into our kitchen (for the Meals on Wheels program)," Kendall said. "They won't have to work out of (Eastside) Church any longer."

However, once the pandemic rules subside, Kendall is eager to invite people back to the improved senior center.

"I am so excited about getting it open," she said.


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