PEPPERELL -- The Council on Aging dealt with several business items on Monday, including appointing a new kitchen supervisor and addressing concerns from local seniors.
The COA appointed Dennis Valcourt as the new kitchen supervisor, a 10-hour per week paid position managing the kitchen's operations and overseeing the staff of volunteer cooks.
Valcourt was chosen based on his culinary school training and years of experience working in restaurant kitchens.
The position is funded through combination of a state grant and the donations that the food service program brings in, said COA Director Marcia Zaniboni.
The COA also set a goal for itself in 2014 of revising the organization's policy manual, which has not been edited in many years.
"I think working on the COA manual will be somewhat laborious because we've got to go through it section by section," said COA Chairwoman Cathy Forrest.
Zaniboni suggested developing a policy regulating the use of the senior center's transport van, which has been in use since September. With the van nearing capacity on some days, Zaniboni recommended setting priorities for who the van should be available to first and for what purposes.
Although COA member Virginia Malouin suggested two other goals, providing a wide range of programs and opportunities to seniors while remaining affordable and providing oversight to all aspects of the budget, the COA did not formally adopt these as goals.
The extent of activities provided by the senior center is limited to the center's staffing level, which the senior center already works hard to maximize, Zaniboni said.
The council also addressed two complaints from seniors.
Velma Klatka raised concerns about seniors from other towns or out-of-state using the senior center's programs.
Zaniboni called the issue "a problem created by doing a good job," and said that while Pepperell seniors get priority in signing up for events, she believes in keeping the door open to all.
"We don't ask people when they come through the door how old they are or what town they're from," Zaniboni said.
"My personal opinion is I don't like to limit who comes here. I want Pepperell seniors to have priority, but I don't want to exclude people," she said.
Bob Newton brought up a complaint after a letter that he addressed to the COA board regarding participation in an executive session meeting last month was not delivered on time.
The executive session on Dec. 18 was to address concerns that had been raised by some seniors about the character of some of the senior center's leaders. Seniors were allowed to attend the meeting to speak privately to the COA, but a person's character cannot be discussed in an open meeting.
The letter listed the names of several seniors who were invited to the session but were planning not to attend, largely because of its timing near the holidays, Newton said.
The COA claims the letter was simply lost, and that it could have been misplaced by any of the senior center's volunteers at the reception desk. It was not found until weeks after the executive session.
Newton said that while he could understand the letter being lost in the shuffle, the lack of a response by the COA was unacceptable.
"What I can't understand is the lackadaisical attitude of the board on this matter," Newton said.
"You've got to be more responsive to our needs as seniors. It's your job, and if you can't do that, maybe you shouldn't be board members," he added.
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