By SCOTT PESZNECKER
In its newly released report, the Calaveras County Grand Jury chastises the Area 12 Agency on Aging for the way it pulled its services and equipment from the Calaveras Senior Center in February.
Although Area 12 Executive Director Peggy Lee was within the law when she ordered the agency out of the senior center, the Grand Jury's annual report said the move caused "unnecessary" problems that could have been avoided.
"In addition, after the closing, the seniors who attended the nutrition site were not only deprived of the social aspects of eating communally but also of such other services (Area 12) had provided," the report states.
The county Grand Jury annually examines procedures, budgets and complaints pertaining to several county agencies.
Area 12's move from the San Andreas senior center, discussed in the report, happened after the agency racked up a $43,000 deficit while providing the county's senior meals programs.
Lee in the past has said the move out of the senior center was necessary to save money.
She is out of the office this week and unavailable for comment.
Senior Center President Ken McInturf said he thought the jury's findings were fair.
"It sounded like they told it like it was," he said, adding that the report wasn't "too critical" against Area 12.
Rob Chabot, the senior center coordinator, also agreed with the jury's findings.
"She was well within her rights," Chabot said of Lee. "But she definitely upset a lot of people. They didn't know what they were going to do for lunch programs and everything else. They could not understand."
Fortunately, the senior center and its patrons have fared well.
Seniors have been bringing food to the center four days a week. And, because seniors are donating up to $3 each, the center is also able to buy and cook food.
Chabot said he spent $450 to have a Fourth of July barbecue lunch at the senior center yesterday.