TUCKERMAN, AR (KAIT) – It has been said there are no free lunches. That is certainly true for senior citizens in one region eight town. Because of budget cuts and a shortage of funds, the senior center in Tuckerman will no longer serve lunches. Instead, citizens are now being asked to go to the center in Newport, and that isn't sitting well with residents in Tuckerman.
"You can't imagine how upset some of us were. My husband's dead and it's good for me to come up here," say Tuckerman resident Marie Dunavion.
"This impacts thirty to forty people a day. They came in and said this was the last meal that was going to be served," say Tuckerman resident Jan Paschal.
Crowley's Ridge Development Council provides the services through the white river area agency on aging. "At the Tuckerman center we've had to eliminate the congregant meal with is the hot meals that we serve in the center," says Loyd Price with CRDC.
"We're already virtually out of funds for this area," say Christy Appleton with the CRDC.
She says the funds primarily come from the cigarette tax, "With people quitting smoking and not buying as many cigarettes in Arkansas that's been vastly cut this year." And it shows. The budget for 2010 was decreased 17% from the previous year. So, the CRDC had to make changes in these smaller towns. "We are still delivering home delivery meals and we are making it available for anyone in Tuckerman who still wants hot meal we will transport them to Newport and they can have to same services provided at the Newport center."
Senior centers have not had an increase in funding since 1993, and with the recent consolidation residents feel like a piece of their heritage is gone. "We have no movie, we have no community center we have no place for people to go and I just hope everyone understands it could happen to you," say Paschal. "We understand that each town wants to maintain its identity and I'm sorry for the Tuckerman loss but they still have their senior center. They still have their identity," says Appleton. She says the merger has been coming on for a long time, and even though folks are upset about it now, she hopes that it can turn into something positive. "I hope that they can go to Newport and they can all mingle and have their congregant meal together play games."
She says this is nothing new, many counties are now doing it this way, including woodruff, and hopes it will help form a stronger bond in the county.