Senior Service Chaos

Dear Editor,

Although I was most troubled when the Belmont County Board of Commissioners made the decision to essentially eliminate the private entity known as Belmont Senior Services, Inc., which had successfully provided prescribed services to Belmont County Seniors for approximately four decades, and that such services, beginning Oct. 1, 2011, were to henceforth be provided by the county’s largest public agency, the Belmont County Department of Job and Family Services.

I decided to move forward and give the new designated administrator of services the “benefit of the doubt” and be optimistic that essentially that things will “work out.”

However, although optimistic I continue to have concerns based on the seemingly lack of specificity regarding the impact this absorption has had on Belmont County Seniors and taxpayers, alike.

Some examples include: it has been often times stated that the take-over has led to the operation “experiencing a significant savings and improved efficiency.”

What has been the savings to date and how are services now being provided more efficiently?

Prior to the takeover, officials had stated that matching funds were available through Job and Family Services that were not an option for Belmont Senior Services.

What are the sources of the aforementioned matching funds, how much and how to date has it impacted the operation financially?

It has been indicated that many more seniors are now being served.

How many more and in what specific program components are they being served?

The transition has been described as “fairly smooth”, but during the first three months since the takeover, the contract with Belmont Community Hospital of Bellaire has been terminated and food preparation for services was returned to the Oak View Facility, which was to be evacuated of employees, and forever Belmont Senior Services cooks were “rehired.”

The selling of the former South School property shortly after purchase, which was to be the long-term home of the senior services unit of Job and Family Services by the Board of Commissioners left many in somewhat disbelief.

Such a transition should not be experienced to be seamless, but to me “fairly smooth” may not be the most appropriate words to describe what has taken place to date.

Finally, it has also been written that “many additional duties were disseminated amongst administrative personnel already in place.” So then how does the creation of a new position with the agency that of “Information Specialist” help with the increased work load?

Thank you.


Richard Hord

Martins Ferry