The Butts County Board of Commissioners voted in regular session on Monday, January 14th to officially name and designate the Butts County Senior Citizens Center in honor of Mrs. Ida Ruth Taylor. The “Ida Ruth Taylor Senior Citizens Center”, as the facility will be known, recently opened for business after a renovation project to repurpose the building from its previous use as the Jackson-Butts County Child Development Center.
The facility, constructed in the late 1990’s was originally constructed with funds obtained by a grant with the purpose of serving as a center for young children. It provided early childhood learning programs such as Pre-K and daycare to underserved residents of the county.
Ida Ruth Taylor was an instrumental part in convincing the County to apply for the grant and then was actively involved in the operation of the center during its time in business. Prior to its opening in the new facility on Ernest Biles Drive, the center had operated out of other facilities in Jackson for many years.
Last spring, as the Board of Commissioners prepared the FY 13 budget, members of the Child Development Center made the tough decision to close after several decades in operation. Economic realities over the past few years had caused a drop in the enrollment as many parents faced loss of employment and other financial setbacks. Added to that were significant cuts by the State of Georgia that provided a substantial part of the funding needed to keep the doors open.
Taylor contacted Butts County Administrator Michael Brewer and notified him of their intention to close and Brewer quickly proposed to the Board of Commissioners that a new Senior Citizens Center would be in keeping with the spirit of the Child Development Center by offering services to another underserved segment of the population. The Board agreed and Community Development Director Douglas Manning was assigned to oversee the process of converting the center from its original use to its current use. This included renovations in some areas and cosmetic enhancements throughout to bring the building back to a “like new” condition.
Commissioner Keith Douglas, who served as an advisory member of the Child Development Center for several years and was actively involved with the programs proposed Taylor to be honored by having the facility named after her.
Previously, the Senior Citizens Center occupied a section of the Ernest Biles Youth Center, located adjacent to the building. The new Ida Ruth Taylor Senior Citizens Center has considerably more room for programs than it did in the previous center and their departure from the Youth Center freed up a great deal of needed space in that facility for youth program and office expansion.
Butts County Leisure Services Director Jim Herbert, who oversees both centers, had expressed a desire for several years to find more space for the senior citizens so that their programs could be expanded. In addition to in-house programs and social activities, seniors are able to dine at the facility and an active “Meals on Wheels” programs delivers meals to shut-ins and others who can’t get out anymore. He hopes the new center and its offerings will appeal to more seniors and bring them to the new Ida Ruth Taylor Senior Citizens Center.
A dedication plaque has been ordered for the building and will be installed above the original one, denoting the center’s service to both children and senior citizens of the Butts County area. It will be unveiled at a special naming ceremony to be held later this month.