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Seniors complain Sunland Park Senior Center still without staff

By: Genevieve Curtis

Sunland Park, N.M.-- The senior center in Sunland Park has no full-time staff, and as the city starts to move past major public corruption, seniors say they want to know when the center will be fully operational again.

The senior center coordinator was a position eliminated by the previous City Council, and that means hours have been cut and there isn't permanent staff overseeing the center.

Some of the seniors said they want to have someone at the center to coordinate activities, respond in case of emergency and help run day-to-day care.

They said sometimes, the restrooms are dirty and not well-maintained.

"We have people to give us food but no one to manage the food, no one pays attention to us at all. No one cleans here, the bathrooms sometimes are all dirty. There has to be someone here," said Carolina Renteria, a regular at the center.

But the mayor of Sunland Park, Javier Perea, said someone from the senior food program should be at the center during its hours of operation, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

He also said Public Works cleans the building every day and showed KFOX14 a report showing the center passed a state inspection.

However, in the report from Nov. 6, the inspector noted there has been a great improvement since the Oct. 28 inspection and that, the smell has diminished greatly.

Perea said he would like to hire someone full-time oversee the senior center soon, but there are several steps that need to happen first.

"We need to get a city manager in place, department heads in place, and then move down the chains as we go along and have somebody in place," said Perea.

Perea added there will need to be policies created before the center can be open from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

"We have to adopt some policies for that particular department; it's been created, but there's no real policy there. Once we adopt a proper policy for the maintenance of that building and what rules and regulations the seniors can follow," he said.

If all goes according to plan, Perea said, he hopes to get someone in the position by January or February.



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