Thelma Dixon has waited several years and figures she can wait another 2 1/2 weeks.

Dixon represents one of many South County senior citizens who are awaiting the opening of the South County Senior Center in Edgewater. County officials postponed the July 13 opening because of construction delays. Now the center -- part of the South County Government Center -- is set to open Aug. 10.

"I plan to go there two or three times a week," the 68-year-old Edgewater resident said. "I have a disabled husband, so this is great for me, because I can get out for a while."

She's also overwhelmedby the number of programs and services the center will offer: painting, ballroom dancing, yoga, ceramics, wood carving, quilting, music, Spanish, haircuts and diabetes testing.

In short, practically whatever senior citizens request.

"We just want to meet their needs," center director Dorothy Saunders said.

The director recalled telling one seniors' group that she would even offer a course in hieroglyphics if three people requested it.

The one-story brick building has an auditorium, exercise room, library/lecture room, lounge, cosmetology room, a small medical area and two arts and crafts classrooms.

The building is the county's fifth senior center. And at 15,690 square feet, it is the county's second largest. Only the Pascal Senior Center in Glen Burnie is larger.

"This has been a dream for a number of years," Saunders said.

Until now, the only county-sponsored senior center in South County consisted of three rented rooms in an old Shady Side schoolhouse. Although the facility -- known as the Lula Scott Senior Center -- offered a variety of programs, it wasn't largeenough, said Saunders, former Lula Scott director.

The Shady Sidecenter served about 65 people per day. About 150 a day will be served at the new center, Saunders said.

The Edgewater facility, however, isn't going to put the Lula Scott center out of business. Lula Scott will become a satellite center, Saunders said. And she will work with officials from Lula Scott to coordinate programs.

Elizabeth Catterton is one senior who will enjoy the benefits of both buildings. Catterton, of Deale, will continue to take a crafts class at Shady Side but also hopes to enroll in exercise and music classes in Edgewater.

"I'm like a child with a new toy," said Catterton, 67. "It's just so gorgeous. There's so much more room at the new center. I'll be there pretty nearly every day."

Saunders says she won't disappointseniors like Catterton, who want to spend a good deal of time at theEdgewater center. She hopes to run classes and meetings nonstop every weekday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Seniors interested in spending theday won't have to bring a lunch, either. A catered meal will be served every weekday around noon.

One of the most unusual services is the chance to get a haircut or shampoo.

"It just feels good to geta shampoo or haircut," Saunders said. "A great many rural seniors are dependent on vans to get to places, and they don't get out very often to get this done. I think it was very farsighted of the county to offer this service. I think it's going to be used."

The center also will offer screenings for diabetes, hearing tests and foot examinations.

For those seniors eager to stay in shape, the center will have exercise programs, including tap-dancing and weightlifting classes. The exercise room has stationary bicycles and a bar for seniors to hang onto while exercising.

"At some places they have to hang ontoa chair," Saunders said.

But the facility is more than an activity center. Those who just want to talk with friends can meet in the center's spacious lounge, Saunders said.

And seniors who can't driveto the facility can ask employees to pick them up. Saunders hopes, however, that most seniors will become members of a car pool.

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