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Juanita Pohl Center on path to offering more to visitors

Tualatin leaders consider boosting programming for all ages
by: Jaime Valdez, Members of the Tualatin Quilters spend an afternoon working on a raffle quilt at the Juanita Pohl Center.

Tualatin leaders are considering a plan to take over management and staffing at the Juanita Pohl Center.

City officials' goal is to expand recreation opportunities for people of all ages at the center and neighboring Van Raden Community Center and Lafky House in Tualatin Community Park.

The move would also free up Loaves and Fishes Centers, The Meals-On-Wheels-People, to focus on providing its successful nutrition program and meal services to seniors offered through the Pohl Center, while taking management of the facility off its team's plate.

Paul Hennon, community services director, presented the idea to the Tualatin City Council during a May 14 work session. The proposal went before the Budget Committee on Wednesday night.

'Recently, Loaves and Fishes and several Tualatin residents have suggested that the city consider assuming responsibility for managing and staffing the Pohl Center while continuing a strong partnership with Loaves and Fishes to provide the nutrition program they have offered over 30 years,' Hennon said prior to Wednesday's meeting. 'In this way, the city can better leverage its Community Services Department resources on developing recreation and social programs for older adults and people of all ages at all three buildings as a multigenerational complex.

'Loaves and Fishes can then focus its limited resources on feeding seniors, which is its primary mission.'

Currently, the city has a contract with Loaves and Fishes to manage the Pohl Center.

It will cost the city about $30,000 to take over management of the center in August. Hennon suggested that money earmarked to enhance children's area services at the Tualatin Public Library in the proposed 2012-13 budget could be used instead to pay for the Pohl Center transfer of management.

'This is a more urgent issue - the need is far greater at the Pohl Center than at the library at this time,' said Hennon, whose department oversees both the center and the library. 'It's very difficult to choose between the two because I see the need in both places. Since the new library opened in August 2008, we have seen a 70 percent increase in our circulation and overall useage.

'On the other hand, at the Juanita Pohl Center, our longtime partner has asked us to take over in order to develop a program that is broader than the program that would normally run along with its nutrition program.'

The Budget Committee is expected to approve the proposed budget this week. It will then go before the City Council for adoption at its June 25 meeting.

Loaves and Fishes will continue to offer lunches Monday through Friday at the Pohl Center, and its volunteers will also deliver warm meals to homebound seniors.

'We will continue to enjoy a good relationship with our Loaves and Fishes partners,' Hennon said.