Gautier, MS (WLOX) - With a slice of the ribbon the new and improved Gautier Senior Center was officially back in business.
"I think it's great, wonderful."
Many of the smiling senior citizens say it feels good to finally have a place to relax and hangout again. Hurricane Katrina dumped six feet of water in the old center, and city officials say they had to totally remodel it.
Both Bernie Philips and Pat Martin say they felt like nomads while the center was closed, because they didn't have a permanent social spot.
"We used to meet at the convention center and First Methodist Church. Our attendance began to drop off because we were changing from place to place," Phillips said.
"We lost track of a lot of people too," Martin said.
Parks and Recreation Director Harry Williams agrees senior membership is low. He says it's disappointing the project took almost four years to complete.
"I can't say time why it took so long," Williams said about repairing the center. "I looked in the computer and found some of the old documentation; they had a list of five hundred people that use to be a part of the membership. It was just heartfelt to see how many people are missing off that sheet."
To increase participation, Williams and the senior group are sending out letters and spreading the word around town about the reopening.
"I think it is important for seniors to get out and get active. They have bingo, games, ceramics, and they are places around you can get out and go walking. We have those rocking chairs that are awesome."
The senior group is eager to welcome new friends to the fun and excitement at the center.
"The main thing is they have a place to meet and talk," Phillips said.
"We want to get everybody back," Martin said.
The senior center is located on the grounds of Gautier's City Park. Director Harry Williams said the building cost about 150 thousand dollars to repair.