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Tigard Senior Center is (half) open

The kitchen/dining room are now in use; the rest of the remodeled facility should be completed soon
by: Jonathan House, NEW SPACE SUITS EVERYONE — Tigard Senior Center kitchen coordinator Theresa Thornton (left) carries more food out of the kitchen while a line of volunteers dishes up food Feb. 25 to be delivered for the Meals-on-Wheels program.

TIGARD - After one false start, the Tigard Senior Center reopened for lunch Feb. 25, when a big crowd showed up for the first lunch served in the remodeled facility.

'We had more people than usual,' said Director Karen Gardner. 'They were very excited to see how it's turning out.'

The senior center, which has been closed for several months, was supposed to start serving lunch again Feb. 18, but that plan had to be set back a week while finishing touches were put on the kitchen and dining room.

'There's lots of stainless steel now,' Gardner said.

The center was originally constructed 27 years ago and was showing its age.

The tiny kitchen has more than doubled in size and was outfitted with new commercial-grade and properly vented equipment. Although the larger kitchen uses up some of the original dining room space, the library at the other end has been moved by the entrance, where a new 619-square-foot addition is being added.

A fireplace will separate the library and lecture room from two entrance doors leading to the original reception area and gift shop.

The main-level restrooms are totally renovated, and a handicapped-accessible restroom is being added on the lower level along with a new flooring and paint.

During the remodel, the meal service was switched to the dining hall at Tigard American Legion Post 158, and other classes, clubs and programs were shifted to sites around the city and beyond.

Before the move, the senior center offered a salad bar, and at the legion hall, seniors could choose their portion sizes for the entrees and desserts as well, which is how the new set-up works in the senior center.

'It worked out like we planned,' Gardner said. 'We sort of got them prepared at the American Legion.

'Everyone's really delighted. The equipment is wonderful. The city has worked hard to do it right.'

Kel-Tec Construction Inc. is the contractor for the senior center job, and Gardner estimates that the center should be fully operational by late March or early April.

'I'm trying to avoid saying we'll open on April Fool's Day,' she said. 'The next round of community college classes starts March 31, so we're hoping to open around that time.'

In addition to serving lunch daily at the Tigard Senior Center and delivering Meals-on-Wheels, the center also sends hot lunches to King City twice a month.

'We sent 56 lunches to King City Town Hall Monday,' Gardner said.

The Washington County Community Block Grant program awarded the city $307,000 in 2007 to pay for part of the renovation. The city of Tigard contributed $373,000, and Loaves and Fishes agreed to contribute $100,000.