Update on Transition at the Life Center

  • 2021-07-02, 05:00 AM (update 2021-07-07, 11:58 AM)
  • Rachel Dahl
Update on Transition at the Life Center Rachel Dahl

As the senior center transition moves forward and the Pennington Life Center is restructured under the purview of Churchill County Social Services, several items are making their way to the County Commissioners agenda.

During the Thursday, July 1 Commission meeting, Edrie LaVoie, the retired Lyon County Human Services Director was approved as an independent contractor to provide consulting services for the restructuring of the Life Center. She will be tasked with the organizational and fiscal management as the Center is folded into the Social Services Department.

“As we moved into the transition at the Life Center,” said the Director of Social Services, Shannon Ernst, “I have not said I’m an expert by any means with senior services, so I did reach out to one I know is an expert.”

LaVoie worked for Lyon County for over 30 years and has completed three transitions from non-profit organizations over to the county through various senior structures. She will now assist Churchill County with the development of grants, budgets, and the organizational structure of the Life Center and will be paid $1,500 per week, for a period up to 13 weeks.

Ernst said her staff has been working at the Center on the budget, closing of the Life Center activities, opening the new ones, and applying for two new grants this week. “Her assistance is greatly needed, and although we have asked for 13 weeks, we are anticipating it will be a lot shorter,” Ernst said.

Jim Barbee, county manager said, “I just want to reinforce how important this contract is. We’ve been learning a and very quickly in our engagement on the transition of the Life Center, but we still don’t know what we don’t know, and she definitely does.” He said the county wants to continue to make the transition as smooth possible and ensure that Churchill County seniors have all access and every opportunity available to them.

“We are so lucky that Edrie is available and that she will come,” said Commission Chair Pete Olsen. “It is huge that we will be getting all the paperwork that we need straightened out.”

Additionally, Commissioners approved two full-time Office Specialists and one full-time Office Assistant who will serve as the receptionist for the Center, along with one part-time Bookkeeping Assistant who will work in the Social Services Department. These positions will replace the current office positions at the Center and will fall under Social Services.

Commissioners also approved the class specification for Senior Food Specialist and assigned that position to pay grade 39.

Employees of the Coalition for Senior Citizens who formerly worked at the Center have been invited and welcomed to apply.

“It’s just really been taking us some time to evaluate the structure,” said Ernst, “and overall, what the need is for the staffing to ensure we are meeting the needs of the participants and hopefully more participants in the future.”

Olsen said this has been a monumental undertaking and he thanked all the county staff who have gone above and beyond. “I was at an event there last night and it was nice to see the seniors, a bunch of kids, nice music, and I hope for many more times like that ahead.”

Barbee said the transition continues and, “We are making some good advancements in bridging positive relationships with the existing staff and working with those folks to make application for positions. We have several applications that have been filled out and submitted and so we will continue to march forward.” He said the dance the night before was very successful with 50 people attending. “They definitely like their Johnny Cash, and Rolling Stones.”


Rachel Dahl



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