AGING AND DISABILITY COMMISSION – REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
JANUARY 21, 2020
SUBJECT TO APPROVAL
The regular meeting of the Aging and Disability Commission was held at 7:00 p.m. on January 21, 2020, in the Youth Room, Eno Memorial Hall, Simsbury.
Jan Beatty, Victor Bible, Cheryl Cook, Anne Erickson, Mike Jennings, Shannon Knall, Edward LaMontagne, Kate Robbins, Arlene Zappile, Kathleen Marschall (Senior Center Coordinator), and Wendy Mackstutis (Board of Selectmen Liaison)
Lorraine Doonan, Sandee Fleet, Marvin Koff, Susan Krinski, Mark Orenstein, Diana Yeisley
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order by Edward LaMontagne, Chairman, at 7:01 p.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
The Pledge was recited.
ACCEPTANCE OF MINUTES - Regular Meeting of November 19, 2019
The minutes were approved with a correction on the final page of the spelling of Mr. LaMontagne’s name.
- Deb Bibbins, CEO of For All Ages
Ms. Bibbins noted that they are halfway through the two programs they have initiated. Eleven older adults will work with 20 students to paint the Adirondack chairs. On April 22 at 2:45 in the Program Room at Simsbury Public Library, the chairs will be turned over to the sponsors for placement throughout the town. Ms. Bibbins is still looking for two more sponsors. Sponsorship for two chairs for six months is $750, after which the chairs will be auctioned; $1000 purchases two chairs outright. The Simsbury Rocks project has garnered 160 people in town to paint the rocks that will be placed around town on May 22, 2021, for the scavenger hunt during the 350th celebration.
- Mary-Margaret Girgenti, Senior Job Bank
Ms. Girgenti noted that the Job Bank has celebrated more than 40 years in existence. She noted an uptick in requests from businesses and asked the commission to spread the word in an effort to increase further the number of business groups they service.
- John Fox, Simsbury VFW – Hidden Heroes
Mr. LaMontagne noted that he, Cheryl Cook of Community for Care, Kathleen Marschall of the Senior Center, and Kristen Formanek, Director of Social Services, met to discuss the Hidden Heroes program, which is part of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. John Fox provided an overview of the program, an initiative for the caregivers of veterans, and offered a list of action steps for Simsbury to become a Hidden Heroes City. Ms. Formanek has agreed to be the liaison with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation.
The town would keep a database of caregivers and solicit them to join the program. Mr. Fox suggests that the VFW co-sponsor the program with the Aging and Disability Commission. The current town database has about 800 names of veterans. Ms. Formanek will meet with Town Manager Maria Capriola, after which the proposal will go to the Board of Selectmen for approval. Mr. LaMontagne proposed that this commission would be willing to co-sponsor; no objections were noted from commissioners.
- Chuck Minor, Simsbury Little League board member
Mr. Minor spoke about accessibility needs at town baseball fields (Memorial Fields). Mr. Minor brought up the idea of accessibility at a recent Little League board meeting; the board was very interested in ensuring accessibility. He noticed two main areas that need work, including paving a path. He noted that restrooms are accessible. Ms. Knall noted that there was no handicapped accessible parking near the upper fields and that the ramp to the Snack Shack may not be wide enough. Challenger Division teams use these fields as well and could use the paved path. The only other field with accessibility issues is the Town Forest field. Mr. LaMontagne noted that the Town Manager will address the accessibility issues re the Performing Arts Center during the budget process and proposed to write a letter to her suggesting they also look at accessibility to the fields. Mr. Jennings noted this will be helpful in the pursuit of the AARP age-friendly community designation.
BOARD OF SELECTMAN LIAISON REPORT
Mr. LaMontagne welcomed the new liaison, Wendy Mackstutis. She noted that the Gifts of Love lease has been renewed. She also said that there will be a Public Hearing for the 2020 Small Cities grant on February 10th and that March 7th is the budget workshop. Ms. Mackstutis said she looked forward to reporting to the commission in the future.
SENIOR CENTER REPORT
Senior Center Director Ms. Marschall reported that the high school’s production of Hairspray starts on January 31st and noted that the Board of Education has provided complementary passes for seniors, which are located at the Senior Center.She also noted that tax assistance will be provided at the library again this year from February 6th through April 9th in the new Tariffville room at the library; individuals should call the Senior Center for a 90-minute appointment. Finally, she reported that the new town social worker, Rachel Loveland, started January 2nd.
- Age Friendly Community Update – Mr. LaMontagne noted that we signed up two more partners (Simsbury United Methodist Church and Simsbury Chamber of Commerce) so that we now have nine community partners. The next phase of the project is to get information from the community; the survey offered by the national AARP is 14 pages. He noted that the national AARP has advised that the survey can be adapted to each town’s needs. Mr. Bible suggested we talk to other AARP age-friendly communities in CT to see what their surveys looked like; Mr. LaMontagne agreed to contact several. At some point this year, he plans to recommend to the Board of Selectmen which of the 8 domains we choose to target. (The eight AARP domains of livability are: Outdoor Spaces and Buildings; Transportation; Housing; Social Participation; Respect and Social Inclusion; Civic Participation and Employment; Communication and Information; and Community and Health Services.) Mr. Jennings voiced concerned that the town is addressing the Age-Friendly Community initiative but not working on pursuing the renovation of the Senior Center.
- Loan Locker Update – Mr. LaMontagne noted that the doors opened December 1st at the Apple Barn. He said they had an orientation with 25 volunteers signed up and assigned days and times to handle distribution of equipment, with plenty of equipment available for loan. Ms. Marschall asked how long callers should wait for a call-back; Mr. LaMontagne said a volunteer will respond within a week at most to determine best time to pick up equipment. Fliers have been distributed and there will be an SCTV ad.
- Performing Arts Center Accessibility – Mr. LaMontagne distributed the letter he wrote to Town Manager Maria Capriola November 26th mentioning the areas of concern. Ms. Capriola responded December 16th that they support making accessibility improvements and they will be part of the budget discussion. Ms. Knall said that Linda Schofield approached her to ask if there might be a sensory-friendly area created at the Performing Arts Center.
- Spring Seminar – Mr. LaMontagne suggested that the seminar could address a number of issues in aging and perhaps offer a panel representing the variety of services available through the town. The November forum attended by Mr. LaMontagne on issues in aging, which was held during the day, attracted more than 60 people; several commissioners wondered if a daytime seminar might attract more attendees. Mr. Bible would like to establish an Education Committee meeting and will contact commissioners to invite their participation.
- Sensory Santa – Mr. LaMontagne said it was a nice event, but with fewer attendees than the previous year. Ms. Marschall noted that she’d received feedback indicating that a Friday evening was a difficult time.
- Handicapped Parking & Snow Removal – Ms. Yeisley contacted Mr. LaMontagne to say that she had spoken to Tom Roy at Town Works about snow impinging on handicapped parking spots. Mr. LaMontagne asked commissioners to be aware and contact town if violations are seen.
- Autism Certified City – Ms. Knall noted that Mesa, AZ, was declared the first autism-friendly city. Ms. Knall met with Sue Lemke, Assistant Superintendent of Pupil Services, and discussed what it would mean to broaden awareness of disabilities in general across the community. They agreed to have a roundtable with community stake holders.
- Transportation Task Force – Ms. Knall noted that a public task force was held in December initiated by Steven Hernandez, Executive Director for the Commission on Women, Children, and Seniors. The task force is looking for ideas for providing effective transportation for people with disabilities, seniors, and veterans. Mr. Cook suggested that Susan Masino is also very interested in transportation.
- Report of Nominating Committee – Ms. Robbins nominated Mr. LaMontagne as Chair, Ms. Yeisley as Vice-Chair, and Ms. Beatty as Secretary to continue in their current positions. All were unanimously approved.
- : Ms. Robbins noted that she thinks the commission should revisit the issue of a new Senior Center. The Senior Center renovation is in the Capitol Plan, but it keeps being pushed out for other projects. Ms. Knall asked if the commission could be included in any discussion with the Board of Education if a school was going to be closed. Mr. LaMontagne will send a letter to the Town Manager to ask about status of the renovation in the town’s budget priorities.
There being no further business, a request to adjourn the meeting was made by Ms. Zappile and seconded by Ms. Cook. The meeting was adjourned at 8:43 pm.
NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, February 18, 2020 at 7 pm in Youth Room at Eno Memorial Hall.