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Senior Center staff defends care of elders

Trantham remarks draw fire
Senior Center staff defends care of elders (**see note below)

By Jesse Keane, Thursday, 25 August 2005
For the Tundra Drums

Amber Petersen, coordinator of the Adult Day Program at the Chief Eddie Hoffman Senior Center, arrived with other center employees at the Aug. 9 Bethel City Council meeting to object to a radio discussion on KYUK critical of the center.

“We were accused of neglecting, abusing, and ignoring our elders,” she said. “We were accused of shirking our responsibility to make sure elders are taken care of.”

These accusations, she said, were supported on the show by a city council member. “He said that all the horrible things that had just been spoken about the senior center were absolutely true and correct.”

Petersen was joined at the microphone by colleagues and elders. Mary Gregory, a supporter of the senior center, said, “If anyone wants to challenge us, let them try it for one day.”

Mayor Hugh Dyment cautioned his fellow council members on their public statements. Words are very powerful, he said.

“As council members, if we are going to speak in public, we should have the facts at hand,” Dyment said.

Councilman Dave Trantham, who spoke on KYUK about the senior center, expressed frustration that the senior center employees had not tried to speak with him directly before appearing before the council.

“I’m surprised that the mayor allowed it,” he said. “This was probably an attempt to discredit or embarrass me, but it didn’t work.”….


Neglect of Bethel Elders again – 2005/10/19/neglect-of-bethel-elders-again/

The radio discussion was about neglect, not abuse, by the operators of the Senior Center (see letter to the editor, Delta Discovery, posted here letter-to-the-editor-on-neglecting-seniors/ Interesting that the City staff directed the
ad hominem attack on Mr Trantham and did not respond to the charges of neglect.

Mr Trantham called in as a citizen; never identified himself as a city councilor; and never spoke for the City Council.

Mr Dyment is a “weak–mayor” [see Wikip] who functions as discussion facilitator for the Council as a whole. Or serves in this case to threaten first amendment protection of free–speech. This is the same Mayor Dyment who believes the City’s restrictive religious oath of office should stay in place or be considered simply as “ceremonial deism”. Not too many small time mayors can get in whacks at the entire first amendment, with facts on neither hand.

Bethel Senior Center Building Grants

Alaska Division of Community Advocacy:

Fiscal Year Grant Type Recipient Project Description Project Status Lapse Date Award Amount Total Disbursed Total Reported Balance Staff Contact

2002 CDBG City of Bethel Senior Center Renovation/Upgrade Active In Progress Not Entered $280,772 $171,456 $171,456 $109,316 Judy Haymaker

1981 Legislative City of Bethel Senior Citizens–Cost Overrun Closed File is Closed Not Entered $400,000 $400,000 $400,000 $0 Geri Henricksen

AHFC 1997 Funded Lulu Heron Elderly 16 Units Funded with Senior Housing Fund Completed $0 $3,147,806 N/A N/A

MOA Transfer Senior Center Passes

Passed 15 August 2005 Joint ONC/COB Work Session

Memorandum of Agreement

Between the City of Bethel and Orutsararmiut Native Council on the Transfer of the Senior Center and its Service Responsibility

This Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the City of Bethel (City) and Orutsararmiut Native Council (ONC) is intended to facilitate the transfer of the Senior Center, senior service responsibilities, and pertinent assets related to the provision of services at and through the Center from the City of Bethel to the Orutsararmiut Native Council. All assets and lease arrangements mentioned in this Agreement pertain to the transfer of the Senior Center from the City to ONC for the express purpose of ONC providing services to low-income seniors and other qualified individuals beginning on September 1, 2005 and continuing indefinitely.

The City of Bethel has been awarded two grants from the State of Alaska, Department of Health and Social Services, that support the provision of senior services: (1) Nutrition, Transportation and Support Services grant, and (2) Home and Community Based Care grant. This MOA is contingent on the State of Alaska, Department of Health and Social Services, awarding the same or similar grants to ONC for the provision of senior services during Fiscal Year 2006.

Notwithstanding the exceptions mentioned herein, it is the intent of the City of Bethel to transfer ownership of the Senior Center Buildings and improvements, (e.g., walkways and fencing) to the Orutsararmiut Native Council. The Orutsararmiut Native Council will be responsible for the maintenance, repairs, and improvements to the Senior Center buildings, contents of the buildings, and other assets referenced in this agreement beginning on September 1, 2005. This duty of care includes all required inspections (e.g., sprinkler & fire panels, fire extinguishers, range hood, and elevator) and maintenance and repair necessary to meet all state and federal regulations pertaining to employee and public health and safety.

Aside from the cash subsidies and in-kind donations described in this agreement, the City of Bethel will not be responsible for costs or other financial obligations incurred by ONC relative to the operation of the Senior Center and the provision of Senior Services to the community.

Parties to this Agreement

City of Bethel, P.O. Box 1388, Bethel, AK 99559, 907-543-2297

Orutsararmiut Native Council, P.O. Box 927, Bethel, AK 99559


Provision of Senior Services

This Agreement transfers the responsibility of operating the Senior Center and providing services to eligible individuals from the City to ONC. The Orutsararmiut Native Council will continue to provide services to low-income seniors over 60 years of age, minorities, and those living in a rural area as specified for recipients of Nutrition, Transportation, and Support Services grants administered by the State of Alaska, Department of Health and Social Services. The Chrissie Shantz Adult Day Care program will continue to operate in its present or improved form to serve eligible seniors, those at risk of institutionalization, individuals with disabilities, and others who qualify under the Home and Community Based Care grant program administered by the State of Alaska, Department of Health and Social Services.

Financial Support

The City of Bethel will provide a cash subsidy to ONC in the following amounts and for the following years: $200,000 in Fiscal Year 2006, ending June 30, 2006; $150,000 in Fiscal Year 2007, ending June 30, 2007; and $75,000 in Fiscal Year 2008, ending June 30, 2008. While these amounts represent a minimum cash distribution from the City, with proper justification and subsequent approval by the Bethel City Council, ONC may receive up to a maximum amount of $200,000 in Fiscal Years 2007 and 2008. The City will not give any cash subsidies to ONC in any fiscal years after the conclusion of Fiscal Year 2008, ending June 30, 2008.

The amount of the cash subsidy over the minimum amounts for Fiscal Year 2007 and 2008, but less than the $200,000 cap, is not automatically approved. The ONC Executive Director or his or her designee must show documentation that reasonable and relevant operating expenses will be incurred in excess of the ability of ONC to pay such expenses through its anticipated revenue streams and administration of funds passing through its organization. A request to the City Manager for an increase in the cash subsidy must be submitted in writing with supporting documentation attached. The City Manager will put the request on the agenda of the soonest regularly scheduled City Council meeting. Once the Bethel City Council approves a $50,000 increase, ONC may spend up to that amount before another approval is required for an additional $50,000 installment. Cash disbursements to ONC shall be made by the City Manager within 10 working days of Bethel City Council’s approval.


The land on which the Senior Center sits will be leased by the City of Bethel to the Orutsararmiut Native Council at the rate of $1.00 per year for the duration of the time that ONC operates the Center by providing services to low-income elders and other qualifying individuals. The details of the lease arrangement will be spelled out in a legal contract, signed and dated by both parties.

Senior Center Buildings

The Senior Center Buildings, located at 127 Atsaq Way in Bethel, Alaska, will be used by ONC for the express purpose of providing services to low-income seniors and other qualified individuals as delineated under the section: Provision of Senior Services. The buildings shall remain in use for the express purpose of providing senior services.


The title of the following vehicles will be given to the Orutsararmiut Native Council:

1. Ford Bronco (1993)

2. Thomas Build Freightliner mid-size bus (2001)

3. Narrow body cutaway van/bus with wheelchair lift (expected to be received by the City during summer 2006 through a Section 5310 grant award by the State of Alaska, Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF))

The transfer of ownership of the narrow body cutaway van/bus is contingent on City Council’s formal acceptance through a resolution and a signed agreement with the State of Alaska, Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, acknowledging the transfer of ownership from the City to ONC. Per the grant agreement with DOT&PF, the van/bus must be used for the provision of senior services until such time as a public transit system becomes operational. Once a public transit system becomes operational, the van/bus must become a public transit vehicle, serving the general public as part of the transit system.

Contents of the Senior Center Buildings

The City-owned contents inside the Senior Center building will be transferred to ONC for the provision of senior services, including major kitchen appliances (e.g., refrigerators, freezers), furniture (e.g., couches, chairs, tables), electronic equipment (e.g., television, stereo, computers, printers), exercise equipment, and other material goods currently found in the Senior Center.

In-kind Contributions

To help ONC provide senior services through the Senior Center; the City shall contribute the following in-kind services to ONC:

Water, sewer, and trash pick-up services for the duration of the time ONC provides senior services through the Senior Center

Routine maintenance and major repairs to the Thomas Freightliner bus at an estimated cost of $8,000 per year for a period of five years, ending on June 30, 2010

Routine maintenance and major repairs to the narrow body cutaway van/bus with wheelchair lift (if received by the City during summer 2006 through a Section 5310 grant award by the State of Alaska, Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF)) for a period of seven years, ending on June 30, 2012.

The ONC will be responsible for the maintenance and major repairs of the Ford Bronco.

Routine maintenance and major repairs to the Senior Center boiler for a period of one year, ending on June 30, 2006. Maintenance and repairs to the boiler after June 30, 2006 will be the responsibility of ONC.

Senior Advisory Board Membership

The City of Bethel shall retain one seat on the Senior Advisory Board, as it currently stands, or other citizen body created to provide advice to program administrators. The person occupying that seat will be appointed by Bethel City Council.


The signatures below of the highest elected official and highest ranking administrator from the City of Bethel and Orutsararmiut Native Council validate this Memorandum of Agreement and obligate both parties to the terms herein.

Speak Mind Bethel Senior Center

Date: Sun, 14 Mar 2004 10:17:40 -0900

Dear Newseditor,
I am the elected chair of the Bethel Senior Advisory Board. However, I am writing as a private citizen to inform the public about recent Senior Advisory Board issues.

The Senior Advisory Board (SAB) met for their regular meeting on March 9th 2004. Present were members Mary Gregory, Larry Howard, Sr., Julius Pleasant, Sr., David E. Trantham, Jr., Joan Hamilton, and myself as Chair. Also present was Louise Charles who works for the City of Bethel as Director of Senior Services and is therefore the ex officio (non-voting) member.

The Board was unable to take action at its last meeting. The SAB voted not to accept the Bethel City management’s agenda for the elder citizens of Bethel. The senior services director wrote an agenda that would not allow the SAB to discuss the senior discount for taxis, would not let the SAB discuss how to perform the grant review, and would not allow requested training from the City Clerk, Amanda Byington.

That evening, the City Council, in their regular meeting, revealed that the City has sought legal advice against the Senior Advisory Board from the City attorneys, Preston, Gates, Ellis, LLP.

The Senior Advisory Board is a volunteer citizen committee. Because the city receives funds for seniors under the Federal Older Americans Act, the City of Bethel is required to have citizen input. Members are appointed by the City Council to represent the concerns of older people to the City government and to meet the City’s grant responsibilities.

Despite this mandate, since May 2003, the City has not consulted with the Advisory Board about actions the City has taken, are taking, and will take that affect every person over 55 in Bethel (as well as those in the Delta who love them). As recently as January 21 and 22, 2004 Mayor Hugh Short and Vice-mayor Thor Williams left senior services out of their newspaper statement “Our government needs to be focusing on core services: public safety, water and sewer, roads, recreation, and economic development.”

Since October 2003, the City of Bethel senior services program director and city clerk have insisted that only the senior services director, and not the Senior Advisory Board, can decide what citizens may talk about at the SAB meetings. In addition, the SAB is the only citizen committee that has their meetings discussed in the management reports included in the public Council packets. The management reports are personal notes from the senior services director. The SAB minutes themselves are written by the senior services director. As of March 9, 2004 the December 2003 minutes have not been given to the SAB for review.

The SAB operates under the authority of the City Council according to their bylaws. The collective senior voice is an active and functioning part of the City of Bethel, with specific and defined responsibilities to older citizens that cannot be circumvented by action of the City Council and management.

Last Tuesday, acting in the interest of seniors and of all citizens of Bethel, the Senior Advisory Board stood up for the rights of older Americans, against this City government’s best efforts to dictate otherwise. I am urging everyone to participate whenever issues of elder citizens are discussed–Senior Advisory Board meetings, City Council and Task Group meetings, newspapers, talk lines, legislative teleconferences.

Let your government officials know that there are folks who believe that growing older isn’t a disease; that an active democracy isn’t a crime.

Thank you.

M. Pamela Bumsted, Ph.D.

When you visit the senior center

Senior centers have provided services under the Older Americans Act since 1965. One of the objectives of the OAA is Freedom, independence, and the free exercise of individual initiative…..and protection against abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

Not all Alaska communities are fortunate enough to have a senior center. Nevertheless, small places are able to contract with their local restaurants or a van owner to provide basic services.

Bethel has a senior center and nearly $1 million dollars a year is spent on the program. About 300 of us are old enough to be eligible to use the senior center, although fewer than 10% or so are regulars.

When next you go (if you can’t go in person, go virtually here), try these ideas—Because, not everyone has had a chance to use a wheelchair or a walker, or hasn’t pushed their grandbabies stroller, or hasn’t had a bad cataract surgery—

  • Before leaving your vehicle or taxi, take off your shoes and socks. Enter the senior center (do not use any stairs).
  • Inside, unless you have just been to the eye doctor, wear your darkest glasses or double-up sunglasses, or borrow someone’s “coke-bottle” glasses. Or, perhaps, smear a light coating of Vaseline or motor oil on your glasses. Quickly walk from the lunch room through to the other room and back again (yes, you are still barefoot).
  • Try to read a book while sitting in front of the reception desk or in the seats away from the windows.
  • Go up to the open loft area where the day program for the most frail occurs. Grab a pillow with one hand. Put the other hand behind your back or in your waistband. Quick! you have fewer than 90 seconds to get 150 feet away from the building (remember, no stairs, no elevator, no shoes). How many cars were parked in front of the bottom exit? (Grate Sidewalks (Bad gate)
  • Go to the toilet—While balancing on only one leg, sit on one of the commodes. Stand up.
  • Pretend you are Goldilocks—sit back in each of the chairs and sofas. Place your hands on your shoulders (hug yourself tightly). Now stand up.

Matt Erin sit-to-stand Image from Exercise: A Guide from the National Institute

  • Do you remember building a sled or repairing a boat in the workshop? Try to take it back in to the renovated shop. While you are there, point to the fire alarm or emergency telephone. Be sure to wash your hands of chemicals before returning to the main building.
  • Back inside the main room, lie on the floor and look up. How long have those clerestory windows been boarded over? When was that piece of cardboard tacked on the ceiling to cover where the heating stove was?
  • I don’t know how one can mimic hearing difficulties. I do know that people have said that even with the loud speakers it is very difficult to make out the Yup’ik or Cup’ik or English used in meetings.

Ask the Senior Director to see—

  • the last 5 logs of the regular fire drills
  • the certificate of national accreditation for senior centers (National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC), a unit of the National Council on the Aging, Inc. (NCOA)
  • minutes of the Senior Advisory Board for the past 5 years
  • staff roster

The following are suggested to bring with you when visiting adult day centers (from the National Adult Day Services Association, Inc.,

Adult Day Centers provide a planned program that includes a variety of health, social and support services in a protective setting during daytime hours. This is a community-based service designed to meet the individual needs of functionally and/or cognitively impaired adults.

The following list will help you decide which day center is the right one for you.

SITE VISIT CHECKLIST (retrieved 2005)
Yes / No Did you feel welcomed?
Yes / No Did someone spend time finding out what you want and need?
Yes / No Did someone clearly explain what services and activities the center provides?
Yes / No Did they present information about staffing, program procedures, costs and what they expect of caregivers?
Yes / No Was the facility clean, pleasant and free of odor?
Yes / No Were the building and the rooms wheelchair accessible?
Yes / No Was there sturdy, comfortable furniture?
Yes / No Loungers for relaxation? Chairs with arms?
Yes / No Is there a quiet place for conferences?
Yes / No Is there a place to isolate sick persons?
Yes / No Did you see cheerful faces on staff and participants?
Yes / No Do volunteers help?
Yes / No Are participants involved in planning activities or making other suggestions?

And don’t be a such a stranger; it’s your center.

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