Editorial: Give county feedback on senior center closure times

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

Next Thursday, the Board of County Commissioners will be considering a slight change to the hours of operation for Carroll’s five senior and community centers, closing at 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, versus the current closing time of 4:30 p.m. While a half-hour doesn’t seem like a lot of time, for many older residents, the time spent at the senior centers is cherished.

“Some of the seniors — this is the only place they come,” Eldersburg resident John Aymold told us in between games of pickleball earlier this week. “If there wasn’t a senior center in Carroll County, people would just be sitting at home.”


On any given weekday, roughly 600 seniors drop by the five centers — located in Westminster, Eldersburg, Taneytown, Mount Airy and Hampstead — to participate in a wide variety of programs and services, ranging from music lessons, woodcarving and quilting to yoga, Zumba and even belly dancing. In addition to physical activities and educational opportunities, the centers also offer wellness and nutrition classes, including daily meals for those 60 and older, and social and recreational opportunities.

That’s not to mention the camaraderie among those who attend these programs. It’s no secret that Carroll County’s population skews a bit older than many surrounding counties, and the health and mental benefits of both physical activity and social interaction among seniors is well-documented, so we hate to see any changes that might limit those opportunities available to Carroll residents.

However, we understand the concerns of those who run the centers. Each center has two full-time employees, and there are a number of scenarios — meetings, picking up supplies, scheduled leave and sick days, for example — that leave them with just one staffer working on site. And, more recently, according to those in charge, it’s becoming difficult to complete administrative tasks and assist with programming during the current shifts.

The thought is by closing the doors at 4, staff will be able to use the last half-hour of their day to complete those necessary administrative duties. The alternative, we suspect, would be to hire more staff. With plenty of other funding priorities on the commissioners’ plates, that likely wouldn’t be an appetizing scenario.

Staff who run the centers think it will have a minimal impact. Typically, they say, there are fewer than five people at each center after 4 p.m. Formal programming typically ends by 3:30 and public transportation schedules would still work out with a 4 p.m. closing time.

And based on comments from a majority of the people taking part in activities at the South Carroll senior center earlier this week, it seems they would be willing to adjust if necessary.

Still, we hope that seniors who frequent the centers will provide feedback — positive or negative — to help the commissioners make the right decision on Feb. 1. Anyone interested in providing feedback on the potential changes in closing times can reach Community Services Supervisor Patty Whitson at or 410-386-3809.