The Pottawatomie County Commission unanimously agreed to devote up to $17,000 towards kitchen repairs at the Wamego Senior Center estimated to cost about $34,000 during their meeting Monday.
Wamego Senior Center spokesperson Ross Hill says they serve about 150 meals per day with roughly 30,000 being served last year.
Commissioner Dee McKee says that while she appreciates the work done by the center, the meal service can cause problems for small-town grocery stores.
“All the food they bring in and say ‘come get the free this and free that,'” McKee said. “That closes the grocery store in those towns pretty soon because all the profit off of all the food that was given away free is probably getting close to their profit margin.”
Hill says there are other reasons behind struggling grocery stores, such as people choosing to shop in different towns.
“We had a very nice little grocery store in Belvue,” Hill said. “They went out of business because everybody worked in Topeka or Manhattan. So they’d stop in Manhattan, wherever, and buy their high-dollar items where there’s profit and then they’d come back to Belvue and buy bread and milk, which there’s no profit in.”
At another point in this discussion, commissioner Pat Weixelman expressed frustration with the county not putting funds from lightly-used areas of the budget towards programs such as the senior center’s meal program.
“It sounds like we’re wanting to put the ax on the senior center here,” Weixelman said. “It just kind of chaps my a– that the money is in there in those accounts and it’s just sitting there and we could be using it for some of these programs and we don’t.”
The Wamego Area Senior Citizens Association will be able to utilize the Wamego School District’s kitchen in the interim during renovations.
The portion of the project not paid for by the county will be funded by the Wamego Area Senior Citizens Association.
In other Pottawatomie County Commission news:
A meeting to decide who will be replacing Pottawatomie County Commissioner Travis Altenhofen will take place this Thursday.
Precinct committee members in District 3 of Pottawatomie County will vote on a group of candidates before eventually choosing Altenhofen’s replacement.
County clerk Nancy McCarter says while she doesn’t know who the candidates will be, she has heard of four people who could be in the running.
“They will be nominated that evening,” McCarter said. “Right now, there is a potential of four that I have heard of but they have to be nominated from the floor and seconded before they can become a candidate that night.”
Pottawatomie County Republican Party Chairman Norman Stutzman will be in charge of the meeting.
It will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Sunflower Room in Westmoreland.