by: Barbara Sherman, Karen Gardner

TIGARD - Don't be fooled - after months of construction, the (new) doors are open at the Tigard Senior Center, and activities and programs are once again being held at the facility.

According to Director Karen Gardner, the center is scheduled to offer most of its regular activities beginning April 1, which is April Fool's Day.

On Feb. 25, lunch was cooked for the first time in the center's new kitchen and served in the remodeled dining room, while the rest of the building remained under construction.

Many people in King City and Summerfield utilize the Tigard Senior Center, which has been undergoing a major remodeling job, and a larger-than-usual crowd showed up for the inaugural lunch.

In addition to the regular meals served at the center and the Meals-On-Wheels program based there, Loaves and Fishes started serving hot meals once a month in King City Town Hall in May 2004 and added a second meal each month in January this year. The meals are served on the third Tuesday and fourth Monday of the month.

'Adding one day has increased the attendance at both,' Gardner said. 'About half the people come to both meals.'

Loaves and Fishes and the Tigard Senior Center have partnered with Riverwood Assisted Living to bring meals to King City.

At the senior center, the Riverwood activity director picks up the food, which is put into hotel-sized containers to keep the various foods hot or cold, transports it to Town Hall and brings back the empty containers.

'Loaves and Fishes volunteers, mainly from King City, serve the food,' Gardner said. 'The King City Civic Association provides the space for free and handles the set-up and take-down. They give us very good support. Because of the welcome of the civic association, the program has become very successful.'

On the last Monday in February, the senior center sent 56 lunches to King City.

The Tigard Senior Center was originally constructed 27 years ago and was showing its age.

Since the remodeling, 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 next to the entrance, where a new 619-square-foot addition was built.

A fireplace separates the library and new lecture room from two entrance doors that lead into the original reception area and gift shop.

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

Kel-Tec Construction Inc. is the contractor for the job.

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

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