Berkeley Springs Senior Center closes several days due to heat

by Kate Evans

The Berkeley Springs Senior Center is still without air conditioning despite work last week to install new parts. The facility, located at the former U.S. Silica corporate headquarters on U.S. Route 522, is in their third summer without consistent air conditioning.

The senior center closed its doors on June 18 and June 19 and again this Monday and Tuesday due to a heat advisory.

Senior Life Services board vice-chair Brenda Hutchinson said the center is taking the decision whether to close the building to seniors on a day-to-day basis.

Seniors can’t take the heat especially if they have medical conditions, she has said.

Hutchinson expected the center would probably remain closed to seniors in this heat until the air conditioning is fixed.

Acting Executive Director Tammy Kees told Hutchinson in an email Monday morning that the inside temperature of the building was 90 degrees at 8 a.m. when Kees made the decision to not open the building to seniors that day.

“We have old people here and employees can’t be expected to work in these conditions,” Hutchinson said.

The senior center is still delivering meals to residents and home health aides are still caring for people in their homes. A lot of people count on the organization daily for services, she noted.

Staff and seniors took a road trip to the Paw Paw Senior Center last Friday for bingo and other activities in the air conditioning there.

The agency has been encouraging seniors to go to the Paw Paw center if they can for meals and activities.

The problem

Senior Center board members requested financial assistance for needed repairs from the Morgan County Commissioners on June 6. County officials agreed to give $30,000 to the group.

Hutchinson said that one compressor that they thought only needed new valves is apparently bad and needs to be replaced. Another compressor was also bad and was just replaced. It took two weeks to get the part from Baltimore and cost $13,000, she noted.

Johnson Control’s   replacement of four different air conditioning parts was estimated to cost $23,000 and wouldn’t cover labor or freon or other problems that could arise, according to Kees.

Hutchinson said what’s been happening is that one air conditioning unit would be running while the other unit was down which put a strain on the other unit. Dirty filters were also adding strain on the units.

Senior Life Services administrative assistant Sydney Placido said last Friday that new condensers had been put in along with new filters.

Hutchinson said that a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system for the entire building would cost around $400,000.

The Senior Center can be contacted at 304-258-3096.