EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

March 19, 2013

Efforts to save senior citizen program gain sup

Commissioners to decide

(Continued)

Tombarello said yesterday options will be presented at the meeting Friday to help save the program. Those options would provide some of the money needed for operating expenses.

He said he would recommend the 24-member program begin accepting new members again, generating more revenue. The freeze was implemented earlier this year when the program’s future became uncertain, he said.

There are at least 10 to 12 people waiting to join the program, he said.

Tombarello said he’s received dozens of letters and calls from members’ families and others who do not want the program eliminated. The families are worried, he said.

“They are very emotional,” he said.

Approximately 20 people out turned to support the program at a county budget hearing Jan. 24, with nearly a dozen speaking in favor of keeping it, according to Commissioner Kevin Coyle of Derry.

DeSimone said yesterday that accepting new members would give the program a much-needed financial boost.

The subcommittee is dedicated to studying all options, with the goal of retaining the program if possible, she said.

“We’ll put our heads together to do the best we can for the community,” she said. “We’re not looking to make money, we’re looking to break even.”

She will ask that the county find an outside provider of bus transportation for program participants. She didn’t know much could be saved, but said privatization would be a much cheaper option, especially since the program needs a new vehicle.

“The bus that is being used is going to have to be replaced,” DeSimone said. “It is a significant cost.”

Russo said members’ families have united to help save the program. About 15 them gathered at her home March 3 to discuss their strategy.

“We’ve got tons of support,” Russo said. “Everyone is on the same page and we will do what it takes to keep this program.”

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