EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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December 21, 2013

Lawmakers want county to keep senior daycare

Senior daycare

DERRY — State representatives from Rockingham County are promising political payback for county commissioners who decided to eliminate a senior adult daycare program.

That could come in the county budget process or at the ballot box, they said.

The legislators' public attack on the commissioners came during a press conference Thursday night at the county nursing home in Brentwood.

"We castigated the two county commissioners who voted to close down the daycare center," said Rep. Walter Kolodziej, R-Windham.

He said he hopes the commissioners, Kevin Coyle of Londonderry and Katharin Pratt of Hampton, will reconsider.

"If not, they will have a difficult time dealing with us through the year and we will work against their re-election," Kolodziej said.

Commissioners split, 2-1, last month when deciding to close the program after 33 years for financial reasons.

Commissioner Thomas Tombarello of Sandown dissented.

Rep. Mary Griffin, R-Windham, was more diplomatic than Kolodziej, but no less emphatic on the need for commissioners to reconsider.

"The commissioners want to make a lot of money for Rockingham County," she said. "I think we're supposed to take care of people first."

Griffin wants the commissioners to sit down with legislators and discuss ways to spare the program, which currently serves 17 people.

"Let's work together," Griffin said.

Coyle said the program averages about 12 seniors participating daily, but has lost money for years, more than $1 million over a decade.

He said there are private companies providing the same service in Derry and Hampstead.

"We shouldn't be in competition with them and losing taxpayer dollars," Coyle said.

He represents 100,000 people in communities that include Londonderry, Derry and Windham. He said not one of them participates.

He expressed disappointment with the criticism from lawmakers.

"It's unfortunate they've taken that tack," Coyle said. "It is unfortunate they are trying to play politics with this."

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