Carroll County looking at senior center hours, contemplate earlier closing times

Community members take part in activities at South Carroll Senior and Community Center

On any given day, Carroll County’s senior centers are bustling with activity, be it with exercise classes, sewing groups or card games.

On a Monday in January, seniors from the southern end of the county went in and out of the South Carroll Senior and Community Center. On one end, groups moved around the gym playing pickleball, the thwack of ball-against-racket echoing around the room. On the other end, pop music blared out of speakers as another group participated in Zumba.


As it stands now, the five centers throughout the county — in Westminster, Taneytown, North Carroll, South Carroll and Mount Airy — are open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. But, in less than two weeks, the Board of County Commissioners is scheduled to discuss changing the hours of all five centers, and having them close at 4 p.m. each day.

Seniors are somewhat mixed on the possible change.

John Aymold, of Eldersburg, said he’s been coming to the senior center for a year. On this Monday, he was playing pickleball, though he said he also sometimes comes to walk in the gym.

Aymold said he hadn’t heard about the possible change, though he thought it was a bad idea.

“Some of the seniors — this is the only place they come,” he said. “If there wasn’t a senior center in Carroll County, people would just be sitting at home.”

Many come for the activities and the lunch, but most are there for the companionship, he said.

The issue was first brought to commissioners at the Jan. 11 meeting, though the board did not make a decision, and instead wanted to make sure there was enough time to get community feedback. Anyone interested in providing feedback on the potential changes in closing times can reach Patty Whitson, Community Services supervisor, at or 410-386-3809.

Christine Kay, director of Citizen Services, said the change in time would be to help staffers who work at the centers get done everything they need to. Kay said each center is staffed with two full-time employees, and as programs have grown and centers have seen more participants, the staffers are on the floor more interacting with the seniors and don’t have time to do all of the work needed.

“It’s always a difficult decision when you’re looking to cut back on service,” Kay said. “[A change in hours] will allow for staff to be able to focus on … planning and programming.”

It will give staffers extra time to get that work done when the seniors are no longer in the building, she added.

Kay said by 4 p.m., most people have left the centers. On average, between 4 and 4:30 p.m., there are five people at the centers, she said.

“From an operations standpoint, it just kind of seemed to make sense,” she added.

Whitson said the five centers see more than 600 combined daily participants. But over the last few months, she said, they’ve looked at how many people are in the centers after 4 p.m., and it’s a small number.

She said managers at the center have been talking to the seniors, and the feedback they’ve received so far isn’t negative.


“It’s really not been a problem,” she said, though she added that they welcome anyone with comments or concerns to reach out.

While some don’t think closing early is a good idea, others don’t think closing 30 minutes earlier will make a difference.

Barbara Becker, of Eldersburg, was working on sewing Monday. She said the only thing she could think of that would be affected is her afternoon card game. But, she said, they can move the game’s start time to noon instead of 12:30 p.m.

“We can work around it,” she added.

Husband and wife Otha and Beatrice Grant, of Eldersburg, agreed. Beatrice Grant said she thought 4 p.m. was fine for the centers to close.

“A half an hour,” Otha Grant said, “I don’t think is a big difference.”