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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Focus groups to address needs of county’s seniors

Monday, March 4, 2013

By CHARLES BOOTHE - Staff Writer

A strategic plan for dealing with issues related to Franklin County's aging population is being developed, and part of that plan is a series of community meetings.

Those meetings, called focus groups, start this week to gather information for the plan.

"We are inviting people in the community who are either personally involved with seniors as a caregiver or a provider of services or as an organization, charity or entity," said Dr. Susan Beatty, the Gills Creek representative on the the Franklin County Department of Aging Service Board of Directors.

The focus groups this week will be held today at Antioch Church of the Brethren in Callaway at 4 p.m. and on Tuesday in Rocky Mount at the government center conference room (B-75), also at 4 p.m.

Focus groups will also be held on Monday, March 11 at 4:30 p.m. at Redwood United Methodist Church; Thursday, March 14 at 6:30 p.m. at Faith Fellowship Church; Monday, March 18 at 4 p.m. at the Blue Ridge Institute in Ferrum; and Thursday, March 21 at Trinity Ecumenical Parish at 4 p.m.

A community town hall meeting on the issue is tentatively set for Saturday, March 23 at 10 a.m. at the community center (old train depot) in Rocky Mount.

A move to address issues surrounding the expected growth of the county's aging population began in June last year when Beatty told the board of supervisors that a "silver tsunami" was coming.

By the time most 2012 Franklin County kindergartners graduate from high school, one out of every four residents in the county will be at least 65 years old, she said.

"We don't have a strategic plan for the future needs of 25 percent of our population," she said, adding that current funding for the department of aging services is "dramatically out of proportion" to what is spent on other needs.

The 65-plus age group will be the second largest population category in the county by 2030, she said, with about 15,000 residents. A strategic plan to handle the needs of those residents must be developed and implemented, she added.

The county has strategic plans to address several other areas for future needs but lacks one for seniors, she said, and this plan will be consistent with plans already developed for the state and the region.

In November 2012, the board approved a request from the county's department of aging services' advisory committee for $3,000 to hire a facilitator for the project.

Ferrum College is also involved. Peg Wimmer is leading a class to study aging issues. Helping with the strategic plan development is part of the class curriculum.

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