State Rep. Darlene Taylor

State Rep. Darlene Taylor

THOMASVILLE — Thomas and 13 other Southwest Georgia counties learned via recent emails from the SOWEGA Council on Aging their senior centers would close permanently.

District 173 state Rep. Darlene Taylor, (R-Thomasville), has "very serious concerns" about the Thomas County Senior Center and the regional decision to close the physical location.

"The care of our elder population, especially now, is on everyone’s mind, and we all need to be involved," she said.

Taylor, who attended the Tuesday advisory team meeting, said that on the state Department of Aging website it is stated the agency is to be driven by “customer,” not organizational, need.

"Further, they are to do business through teamwork and collaboration, and they are to practice shared decision-making, and everyone’s contribution is valued," Taylor said. "In this case, they have not followed their own principles. There was no consultation with local legislators, local governments or even the local center 'team members.' This was not done."

An advisory team on the matter conducted its first meeting Tuesday.

Advisory team members are:

• Wiley Grady

• Moses Gross 

• Wanda Warren 

• Elaine Mays 

• Kathy Megahee 

• Tom Everett 

• Rebecca Cannady 

• Andre' Marria 

• Angela Williamson 

Ex-officio members are:

• Pat Howard 

• Mike Stephenson

• Celeste Tyler

"Right now, we are in the process of getting information," said Mike Stephenson, county manager.

Stephenson said he thinks everyone understands the importance of senior citizens and programs the local Senior Center offered.

The head of the the SOWEGA Council on Aging, Izzie Sadler, attended the Tuesday meeting remotely.

Stephenson said information about funding and programs available for a congregant setting, such as a senior center, is being compiled.

"I am grateful our community and Thomas County and the City of Thomasville will not let our seniors down," Taylor said. "Services will continue. For many, this is their only contact with others. It is their center, it is their social world, and they need a say in it. They deserve better. To expect them to go online to the department website and find resources is ridiculous."

Taylor is pursuing state resources to continue the local Senior Center and its services.

Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820 

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