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Polk considers paying to put Saluda Center addition in the dry

Total estimate for addition is $51,480

Polk County Commissioners directed interim county manager Marche Pittman to speak with Saluda contractor Don Mintz regarding how much it will cost to put a Saluda Center addition in the dry.

Commissioners met Monday, Aug. 5 and heard both support and caution regarding funding some of the addition. The majority of commissioners said the center addition is an emergency, while one commissioner and one Saluda resident cautioned the board about setting precedence for nonprofit funding.

Commissioner Tom Pack said he would like to see the county participate on some level of funding and suggested the county pay to put the addition in the dry, such as windows, doors and siding and that the center do finishes such as electrical and plumbing.

The Saluda Center deck suffered damage recently because when first constructed, it was built with untreated wood because at the time it was planned to be fully enclosed. The center has since replaced most joists and done repairs and is planning to enclose the deck for additional space.

The total estimate for the enclosure is $51,480, with half of that amount, or $25,740 due now for work to begin.

Commissioner Ray Gasperson said he supports the center but thinks the county has to really consider reactions from other community centers.

Saluda Center board chair Karen Bultman said Saluda’s center serves the same needs as the Meeting Place I (in Columbus) and II (in Green Creek) and it all comes from the hard work of Saluda citizens.

“It’s just not feasible to bus our people to Columbus,” Bultman said.

Gasperson suggested a policy on how to respond to nonprofits when asked for funding.

Commissioner chair Michael Gage said the Saluda center is a senior center and has to meet certain characteristics to be a senior center, indicating he supports the funding.

Commissioner Ted Owens said Saluda has a need and this is an emergency, so he thinks the county needs to take care of it.

Saluda resident Ellen Rogers said she is a supporter of the Saluda Senior Center, but she feels strongly that by giving this money, commissioners are beginning a slippery slope.

“What comes next?” Rogers asked. “The county doesn’t have unlimited resources.”

Rogers said the county has services it has to pay for plus the county pays for the Saluda Senior Center director. She asked if commissioners have received information on how many participants the center has and if they are from Polk or Henderson County. She also asked if Henderson County or a grant source has been approached to ask for funding of the addition. She said after some inquiries, the county might discover that $25,000 could go to other needs.