Senior Center

By Jean Seegers


STATELINE – For many years, older residents of Roscoe, Rockton and South Beloit have kicked around the idea of starting a senior activity center in the area. The logistics, time and commitment involved in making it a reality has defeated many proposals.

Retired nurse Diane LaForge and her friends Jeanne Nichols and Jane Schamell are now kicking around the same idea, the difference is, this time a senior activity center may very well become a reality.

The women put the word out last March inviting the older population in the area to attend an informational gathering in the Rockton Village Hall. The response was very promising. Many ideas were explored and discussed.

It was decided that the center would be called Tri-town Senior Activity Center and would be open to anyone over the age of 50.

A second meeting was held Thursday, May 19, at Rockton Village Hall. Over 20 men and women brought ideas, enthusiasm and commitment with them.

“We have some momentum going now,” LaForge said. “We are looking for volunteers to get committees started. We are also looking into business plan sponsors and possible grants.”

Edmund Skwarlo, from South Beloit suggested getting a page on Facebook. “We could post ideas and contributions to get feedback,’ He said.

Skwarlo is also an avid walker and volunteered to lead a weekly group to walk in Rockton’s Kelly Park the first Saturday in June, at 10 a.m.

Other ideas were to set up an information and sign-up table at Rockton’s River Market.

South Beloit Mayor Ted Rehl attended the meeting and pledged his commitment to the project.  He suggested it would be wise to find who the most significant contributors are from each of the three municipalities.  “Each mayor needs to ask their community what they want.”

Rehl said the mayors have been talking and they are willing to make a commitment.

Dr. Joan Kole suggested taking a two-prong approach to getting started:  “We need to increase community awareness, and determine what kind of financial support is available.”

The group is looking for a semi-permanent meeting site. Several suggestions were made and will be investigated.

“We need to work hard and fast to find a (permanent) location soon,” LaForge said.

LaForge said Grinnell Senior Center in Beloit and Keen-Age Center in Belvidere provides programs and activities that Tri-town may be able to emulate. It was suggested that Tri-town begin by starting with all-day programs and activities on Saturdays.

Interested seniors and /or volunteers may call Rockton Planning Administrator Director Patricia Diduch at (815) 624-7600 for information regarding time and date.

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