By Teresa L. Benns
SAGUACHE—An issue regarding the possible relocation of the senior citizens center and liability insurance Saguache County Commissioners thought had been canceled was resolved last week after commissioners held a work session with seniors in the HEART building on Christy Avenue.
Fresh fruit selections, also a wide variety of bakery items provided by the Fourth Street Diner were served at the meeting.
Led by Carla Quintana, the seniors group asked commissioners to clarify some questions raised at the meeting they attended with them last month regarding the absence of liability insurance to cover seniors during craft and social activities at the center.
In answer to the question why the county canceled the insurance in April prematurely, Commissioner Tim Lovato told seniors he believed the insurance was carried under HEART and they could not carry it anymore. “It’s what we were told by our legal counsel,” Lovato said.
“We were supposed to go on our own after the first year,” one senior said.
Quintana said it was her understanding the insurance did not expire until May, but yet seniors were told they could not use the building in April. Commissioner Ken Anderson said the memorandum of understanding between HEART and the county ran until May, not the insurance. He admitted there had been a lot of miscommunication between commissioners, the attorney, HEART and seniors.
Commissioner’s Chair Jason Anderson said he had been advised that the South Central Seniors, who serve lunch in Saguache through the week, carry their own insurance to cover the lunch period. But when County Attorney Ben Gibbons “realized folks there were beyond South Central’s umbrella, he said we had to make sure people are covered.”
Another senior observed senior citizens have used the premises a long time, and this is the first time they have ever been questioned about liability insurance. J. Anderson told seniors the perfect scenario would be to have seniors be part of the county pool, but added, “Insurance can be very complex.”
In answer to how the insurance coverage worked in previous years, J. Anderson commented it was before their time and he was not sure how it had been handled.
Seniors were especially concerned that commissioners were looking at their space to possibly assign it to Saguache Public Health. Commissioners admitted they are considering consolidating some building spaces but said they also are replacing the furnace and looking at how many zones they will need to provide for heating.
The county also is considering utilizing space upstairs in the social services building that is not currently in use.
Towards the end of the meeting, seniors received a fax stating they have insurance coverage through HEART until December, removing any worries about the coverage. Quintana advised commissioners she has registered Saguache Seniors as a non-profit organization with the Secretary of State and has opened a bank account in their name.
Commissioners said they would work with Social Services Director Linda Warsh to clear up any confusion about the use of the room at social services.
Seniors apologized to com-missioners for any “unfounded rumors” spread on Facebook about the situation, denying they posted by any of those present. Quintana said in moving forward that seniors pledge to make the center a success and work more closely with commissioners.