Twin Bridges Senior, Community Center committee creates a place for everyone

Young, old and everyone in between will benefit from the Twin Bridges senior and community center, or at least that is the hope of the committee leading the efforts of finalizing building plans and location.

The Twin Bridges Senior and Community Center Committee applied for and was awarded a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) in May. The $404,901 awarded will cover the cost of the land and construction. They have an option to purchase a piece of land on the north end of Twin Bridges, but have not finalized anything yet. The two lots of land in Twin Bridges needed for the future site will cost an estimated $65,000. The project will cost $545,868 total to complete.

Ron Nye, committee board president, said the group is in the process of working with an architect firm Schlenker & McKittrick, and hopes to break ground in the spring. He estimates the building to be about 2,000 square feet in order to house a dining room, meeting room and space to provide medical services like blood pressure screenings. The committee hopes to serve a maximum of 50 people at a time with food services.  They will focus on meeting senior needs, while providing opportunities for others in the community. The group currently runs their operation out of the Masonic Lodge as well as providing and serving meals at a local restaurant.

“We want it to be a gathering place so people can visit their friends and use it for other functions and activities,” Nondi Harrington, an independent fundraising advisor, said. “We want to include kids and families and have it used for various fundraisers–a huge, broad spectrum of things.”

The deteriorating condition of the Masonic Lodge deemed it unsuitable for continued use due to safety codes, interior and exterior structural deficiencies, limited space and age, condition and compliance issues.  This situation resulted in a feasibility study to determine and justify the need for a new center.

While Madison County does not rank high on the state’s list of poor counties, it does have lower income areas, including Twin Bridges. That fact aided in the group’s grant application acceptance. Great West Engineering found in a study during the grant planning process that there is a projected increase of a low-income aging population in Twin Bridges.

CDBG grants require the recipient to provide 25 percent of the award in matching funds. That means the committee needs to raise a little more than $166,000. Frank Colwell, the Twin Bridges Rotary Club president, said the group hopes to raise some of the necessary funds with the help of a fish he calls Wandering Wanda.

Wanda is part of the “Fish Out of Water” project designed by the Madison County Economic Development Council and her official title is “Bloomin’ Trout.” The large fish statue currently resides in front of the Ruby Valley Inn south of Sheridan. It was painted by artist Sherril Gold and donated to the Twin Bridges Senior and Community Center Committee via the Twin Bridges Rotary Club. Wanda is adorned with native Montana wild flowers such as false dandelion, blue eyegrass, wild strawberry, wood lily, cliff anemone and more.

The fundraising goal is $5,000 to give Wanda a permanent home in a garden setting at the new center, with $500 coming from rotary members.

“We want to challenge others to come up with similar amounts,” Colwell said. “Any sized donation is appreciated. It’s a fun fundraiser.”

Additional funding will come from other grants, Meals on Wheels, Area V Agency on Aging funding, The Twin Bridges Senior Center and Community Center Board of Directors and money from a two mill levy from Madison County.

Donations can be sent to Twin Bridges Senior and Community Center Committee P.O. Box 7 Twin Bridges, MT 59754.

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